Jump to: Chapter 3: Simon Guignon
Being the youngest of six brothers is not necessarily a happy lot. Yet Emile (my Grandfather, by way of apology for any bias detected herein) struck most that he met as a happy fellow. Born in 1856 in the shadow of the Civil War, he was too young to remember the details of war and its ravages, but surely heard the stories of the Yankee soldiers and saw the saber slashes through the faces of his relatives' portraits as they hung on the walls of his home. Yet, for all my recollection and gathered family stories, it was not my Grandfather who harbored ill feelings for the North, but other relatives.
It appears that Emile did not get the education his father did. He seems to have left home at 17, probably propelled on his way by the Panic of 1873. He appears to have traveled far and wide for the next eight years before returning to the area about 1881. For certain, he spent time in Mexico working in mining ventures thereÑwhere he picked up a good working Spanish to go with his French from home and English from school and life. He landed in St. Louis where he worked as a telegraph operator and enjoyed a small bequest that his Aunt Elvena Zeigler had given him at her death in 1873.
Emile Simon Guignon (c. 1873)
While his brothers had all married wives of Irish (and other) descent, Emile returned to the ways of his father and mother by choosing from among his French relatives. He began visiting a cousin, Julia Miltenberger in St. Louis. The Miltenbergers were a prominent Alsatian family who had found their way from Erstein to the United States in various groupings. Eugene Miltenberger (1821-1879) came with his mother and several sisters to Vincennes, Indiana where he practiced law. He moved on from there to St. Louis where he joined the Bogy Bank and put his German language skills to good use in their south side district. He married Mary Ann Bogy, daughter of Joseph Bogy and settled into a real estate practice in the 1860s.
Mary Ann Bogy
Drawing on stories in my own youth, I remember hearing about Green Lake where the Miltenbergers spent summers in Wisconsin. It was there that Emile proposed to Julia in 1883. They were married at St. Anthony Church in South St. Louis on September 24, 1884. By this time or shortly thereafter, Emile himself went into real estate. Unfortunately, his father-in-law was already dead (April 1879), but connections through the Miltenbergers undoubtedly helped him get started. From the mid 1880s until 1893 Emile and several partners developed suburban real estate sites, such as Normandy Hills where he moved his family. During the early 1890s Emile and partners bought up parcels of land in North St. Louis outside the city, 750 acres total. The very considerable debt on these properties suddenly came due in the Panic of 1893 and Emile Guignon found himself, like his father in 1861, facing a grim financial future.
Emile Guignon & Julia Miltenberger in about 1883.
By that date, Julia and he already had Barat (1886-1960), Marie (1888-1944), Julia (1890-1983), and Emile S. (1891-1966). They went on to have four more children, all born in St. Louis except Estelle: Lucille (1892-1984), Elise (1895-1992), Rita (1898-1988) and Estelle (1901-1985). Emile struggled to support his family, as well as liquidate the overhanging debt from 1893. This he did in other real estate ventures in East St. Louis and St. Louis itself. He finally took the drastic step, for them, of moving across the state to the "cow town" of Kansas City (as snobbish French were wont to call it) in 1898. They settled in a handsome (but rented) house at 26th and Baltimore avenue south of downtown.
Guignon House in Kansas City, Missouri c. 1900
From letters shared between my Grandmother, Julia, and her husband, Emile, and her mother Mary Ann Miltenberger over these early years in Kansas City, several things become clear. First, Emile had to travel in order to find projects that would result in a decent living. In the meantime, there was always a shortage of cash to pay the many bills due for a family of ten. Second, there was no source of support from the once wealthy Miltenbergers in St. Louis. Mary Ann was in straited circumstances in the last years of her life, living far below the level in which she was raised and raised her own family. As I recall the stories, the two youngest sons, Willie and Johnny, were improvident sorts who cajoled their mother into investment in all sorts of poorly conceived ventures. In those years from 1880 onward, there was no steady hand to guide Mary Ann as her oldest son, Eugene, Jr. had died early and suddenly.
(From Left) Marie, Elise, Rita, Estelle, Julia, Mother, Lucille, Father, Emile, and Uncle Joe Guignon 1914
Gradually, Emile found a place in Kansas City real estate and started his own firm in 1927 with his son, Barat. It was Barat who really made a solid success of real estate, especially in the management side of commercial buildings.
Grandmother and Grandfather celebrated their Golden Wedding in 1934 with the Depression making life hard all around. By then their children had mostly married and started families of their own. Lucille had joined the Good Shepard Sisters where she was to serve in many capacities over the years, especially as mother superior in houses where she helped build new facilities, e.g. San Francisco, New Orleans, Phoenix and HoustonÑshe shared in that understanding of real estate that came naturally to the Guignons. Besides Lucille, only Rita left the Kansas City area. She married Charles Z. Henkel, a banker in Chicago and after his death moved to New York City where she married Robert Rouse, another banker.
Julia and Emile Guignon on Their Golden Wedding Anniversary 1934
The local Guignons, besides Barat who stayed in real estate, were scattered in their interests or those of their spouses. Emile S. II served in the famous "Fighting 69th" of World War I with the many New York Irish. He came home to marry Helen Hays (no, not that one!) and worked in various product ventures, as well as real estate. Marie married Leo Sheridan, a transplanted Chicagoan who went on to become something of a notable among optometrists for his creation of innovative practices. Elise married the well know journalist, humorist and public speaker, Tom Collins who caught my attention as a child with books covering the four walls of his living roomÑreading must be fun! Estelle married Elliot Major whose nickname of "Gov" labeled him as the son of a former Missouri Governor. But Gov never had the least time for politics that I knew of but devoted himself to developing a rock quarry, gravel business and finally a paving company. But his real passion was for gaited show horses, which his own Uncle Ed Major helped train for the major horse shows in Kansas City and environs.
FinallyÑand lateÑmy own Mother, Julia, married my Father, Patrick D. McAnany on February 28, 1922, having stayed on with her parents after others had married and gone. Dad was himself no spring chicken at 38 years old and having stayed with his mother and dad after all had leftÑexcept Aunt Rose who never married.
And, as they say, the rest is history.
Emile S. Guignon, "Biography of Emile Guignon" in Missouri: Mother of the West. Chicago: American Historical Society 1930 Vol. 3 pp, 195-96.
Joan Collins, "History of My Family," College paper done at St. Catherine's College, St. Paul, Minnesota 1946 12 pp.
Maude Guignon, "Reminiscences," typed manuscript St. Louis, Missouri1960 57pp.
Patrick D. McAnany, "Memorandum on Some More Guignon History," June 30, 1980 typed 2pp. (Bordeaux history).
_________________, "The Guignon Family: A Portrait," Ste. Genevieve, Missouri 1995 typed 22pp.
__________________, "The Guignons and St. Domingue: Steadfast," July 2000 typed 13pp. Also, on this website.
_________________, General Jean Baptiste Bossier and descendants: A Family of Portraits," July 2001 typed 24 pp.
_________________, General Jean Baptiste Bossier 1783-1842 August 2001, typed 11 pp. (a copy on file at Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri). Also on this website.
"Ziegler and Guignon Papers (1804-1892)," archive, Missouri Historical Society, St. Louis, Missouri.
Chapter 1 Guignons of Bordeaux
Marie Adelaide Guignaire, baptism in St. Croix, July 19, 1776, found in the Archives de Bordeaux. St. Croix was a Benedictine parish on south side of the City with a Vicar named Guignon, though maybe he himself was a diocesan priest.
M. Guignon listed as negocian for three consecutive years, 1790-92 in Almanach de Commerce D'Arts et Metiers (Bordeaux).
Guignons are listed in the Livres des Bourgeois de Bordeaux Bordeaux: G. Gounouilhon, 1898 as bourgeois in 1637.
Robert Debs Heinl, Nancy Gordon Heinl, revised by Richard Heinl, Written in Blood: The Story of the Haitian People, 1792-1995. New York: University Press of America 1995, for a recent history that gives an especially gripping account of early Haitian history.
Rosine Adelaide Guignon, born St. Domingue, July 20, 1803 (sources: Maude Guignon; death notice of Rosine G. Pratte, Madison County, Missouri, February 25, 1860).
The Guignon status in Haiti is problematic since they were French but spared execution by Dessalines and perhaps issued "letters de naturalite" which made them citizens of a sort. What role Dr. Guignon played in serving in Cap Haitien to either Dessalines or Christophe medical needs is unknown, though he would have been one of the longest serving French medical doctors available to Haitian leadership. Many French doctors perished from yellow fever. All remaining wounded or sick French military were drowned by Dessalines in 1804, leaving Dr. Guignon with no official patients.
Chapter 2 Dr. Guignon
Aurora, August 2, 1805 p. 3 list of unclaimed letters as of July 31, 1805 at the Philadelphia Post Office has "Joseph Guignon."
James Robinson, The Philadelphia Directory for 1808 (from 1st Feb. 1808 to 1st Feb. 1809); for 1809 (1st Feb. 1809 to 1st Feb. 1810); for1810 (1st March 1810 to 1st March 1811).
Records of St. Augustine's Catholic Church, Philadelphia 1801-1830. This item was found in the Historical Society of Pennsylvania Library. Simon's baptismal record is found on p. 74 "Guignon, Simon Amabilis, born Philadelphia Feb. 16, 1806, of Louis Joseph Guignon and his wife Mary Adelaide Guig(n)ue, Catholics; baptized March 20, by the above; sponsors, Claudius Amabilis Brasier and Elizabeth Lafleur Brasier, by Rev. Matthew Carr. The church was located at 39 Crown Street and opened its doors there on June 7, 1801. The Guignons were very active during their five years at the church, as noted on p. 106.
Marguret Guignon's burial record is found in Ebenezer Methodist Episcopal Church Southwark, Philadelphia Internments 1818-1885 under the date May 17, 1819. Her age is given as 30.
Stephen A. Girard (1750-1831) is listed in the Philadelphia Directory for 1806-07 as living at 20 & 23 N. Water. A contemporary map shows Water Street to be directly East of Front Street the main N/S thoroughfare, and a half block West of the docks where Girard's ships came in. It could well be that Madame Guignon arrived on a Girard ship from Charleston on the eve of Simon's birth on Feb. 16 and was taken immediately to his house.
Both Audubon and Rozier spent about five years in Philadelphia and both give descriptions of their life and work in the City. Many biographies of Audubon exist. I've used several, including Stanley Clisby Arthur, Audubon: An Intimate Life of the American Woodsman. New Orleans: Harmson, 1937 (first critical modern biography and first to include Audubon's portrait of Guignon ancestor, Jean Baptiste Bossier); Shirley Streshinsky, Audubon: Life and Art if the American Wilderness. New York: Villard Books, 1993. Firmin A. Rozier, Rozier's History of the Early Settlement of the Mississippi Valley. St. Louis: G.A. Piernot, 1890. (Frimin was Ferdinand's son and business successor in Ste. Genevieve).
I've used various sources on histories of both Kaskaskia and Ste. Genevieve: Clarence Alvord, The Illinois Country, 1673-1818. Chicago: Loyola Press, 1965 (classic history by the leading historian on Kaskaskia and French settlement); Francis J. Yealy, S.J. Sainte Genevieve: The Story of Missouri's Oldest Settlement. St. Genevieve, Missouri: Bicentennial Historical Committee, 1935 (the first modern history using original sources by a scholar born and raised in the town); Gregory M. Franzwa, The Story of Old Ste. Genevieve. St. Louis: Patrice Press, 1967; 2nd ed. 1973; Carl J. Eckberg, Colonial Ste. Genevieve: An Adventure on the Mississippi Frontier. Tucson, AZ: Patrice Press, 1996 (most complete history up to the Louisiana Purchase).
The short account given by Simon Guignon on the trip from Philadelphia to Ste. Genevieve to the Missouri Republican on November 15, 1882 is the best source for tracking the Guignon's trip west. The "letter waiting" at the Ste. Genevieve Post Office on Dec. 31, 1810 is found in Louisiana Gazette, vol. 3, No. 134, St. Louis, Thursday, Feb. 14, 1811 in Supplement, p. 5.
The history of the Guignon house is contained in both the County Records for real estate transactions, as well as in Lucille Basler, The District of Ste. Genevieve 1725-1980. Ste. Genevieve, Missouri: Lucille Basler, 1980 (This detailed description of the historic district of Ste. Genevieve is the work of a leading advocate for preservation of the Old Town and somewhat confusing on details; but it represents the best effort before the Felix Valle House Site created the diorama of the town at the Green Tree Tavern in the 1990s; the photo in the text of the Guignon house is taken from the archives that the Valle House compiled for the diorama).
The burial sites for the Memorial Cemetery are taken from a xerox copy showing the physical layout of the Cemetery with numbered sites 1-137 corresponding to names of persons buried there on back of the copy. There are many more than 137 names as there are often multiple persons buried at the numbered sites. I think the map was done by Lucille Basler sometime in the 1970s.
Rose Adelaide Guignon's relationship to Dr. Guignon is given as "sister" by Maude Guignon (1960), but Simon mentions a "cousin" buried in Philadelphia in his 50th anniversary account to the Missouri Republican Nov. 15, 1882. I think the Maude Guignon account is the more accurate since the two daughters born to Dr. Guignon are named for these two sisters. Who Rose Adelaide's Pratte husband might have been is not found in the Pratte history cited below. The confusion of names between Dr. Guignon's daughter Rose(ine) and her Aunt Rose Adelaide is troublesome.
A Pratte history is given in The Pratte Family of Missouri August 1994 by Rev. Thomas Joseph Graham of St. Louis. This traces the history of the family from its immigrating ancestors to the early 20th century with genealogical details on several families. I found both Evariste and Bernard Pratte listed as sons of Joseph Pratte (1774-1847) and Marie Valle, reinforcing the notion that the Ste. Genevieve elites reinforced their positions by intermarriage with social peers (see Eckberg, above). Fr. Henri Pratte (1788-1822) was the first Catholic priest born west of the Mississippi to be ordained. He became pastor of Ste. Genevieve shortly after his ordination in Quebec in 1815.
Dr. Guignon's death is recorded, as far as I know, only in the County Court where "Maris Guignon" seeks appointment as administrator of the estate of Dr. Louis Guignon on his death without a will and declares the there are three children: "Rozine, a daughter, wife of E.F. Pratte, residing in Madison County, Amable Guignon and Elizabeth Guignon residing in the town of Ste. Genevieve." Signed on October 15, 1822. The estate is inventoried starting on October 25 by Michel Amoureiux, Ferdinand Rozier and Joseph Bogy, appointed by the Court. The inventory covers 5+ pages, with the bulk items from medical practices, such a powders, remedies, etc. The personal estate totals $1148.06, including two slaves, one male age 55 called "Mango" and a 12 year old female worth $600, or more than half of the value. Real estate is not included.
St. Mary of the Barrens was started as a seminary by the Vincentian priests in 1818 and soon opened to extern students. Simon went there for several years, where among other people, he met was Fr. Cellini who became pastor at St. Michael's around 1822 and was Simon's pastor and friend for many years in Fredericktown.
Chapter 3 Simon Guignon
I have not found a reliable history of Fredericktown but there is much in larger historical works:
Louis Houck, History of Missouri, from the Earliest Explorations and Settlements until the Admission of the State into the Union. 3 vols. Chicago: R.R.Donnelley & Sons, 1908. (best early history of state); Walter A. Schroeder, Opening the Ozarks: A Historical Geography of Missouri's Ste. Genevieve District, 1760-1830. Columbia and London: University of Missouri press, 2002 (unique look at settlement with important geographic background; considerable on lead mining as well as other commerce). Goodspeed, History of South East Missouri. Chicago: Goodspeed Publishing,1888 (early regional history with brief biographies on local residents).
Simon Guignon shows up among the original settlers of Fredericktown in 1822. This seems implausible since he would have been only 16. Also, an 1818 plat of the town shows a Guignon residential site. If this is accurate, then it must have been one purchased by Dr. Guignon. The first appearance of a Guignon store is 1824, more plausible but still early. The account and day books from the Guignon store at the Missouri Historical Society from 1826-28 are the best evidence of how Simon operated his businesses (under "Guignon" archives at MHS).
The real estate transactions are found in the County records for Real Property from 1826 through about 1863. Among Simon's partners in these transactions: his wife, Mary Carmelite; his brother-in-law, Evariste Pratte; his father-in-law, Jean Baptiste Bossier; his sister, Rosine Pratte; his son, John B.; as well as several as Public Administrator for Madison County.
The portraits of Rosine Guignon Pratte and Jean Baptiste Bossier were two of eight portraits passed down in the family at the death of Carmelite Guignon in 1896. See Patrick McAnany (July 2001) for a thorough examination of these portraits and their provenance. The Rosine Pratte portrait is owned by the William Murphy family of Miami, FL. The Bossier portrait is owned by the Eugene Karst estate in St. Louis, MO. The double portraits of Carmelite and Simon are done by J. Barincou of Philadelphia about 1836 azre owned by Pierre J. Guignon of Kansas City, Missouri. The Yankee soldier saber slash marks are still evident in some of the portraits.
Goodspeed, (1888) is a good source about mining in the district, as well as Schroeder (2002). Some legal issues arising around the Mine La Mote claims are explained in Goodspeed at p. 214 that may explain why the Evarist Pratte estate shrank so drastically in the eleven years between his death and that of his wife, Rosine.
All deaths are found in the records of St. Michael's Church. For a history of that parish, see Rev. John Rothensteiner, Chronicles of an Old Missouri Parish. Historical Sketches of St. Michael's Church, Fredericktown, Madison County, Missouri. Cape Girardeau, Mo, 1928. This centenary publication contains many entries on the Guignons, Prattes, Bossiers and many others related to the Guignon story. There is an amusing story of how Fr. Francis Cellini preached in broken English and would hesitate on a English word he couldn't quite recall, only to have it supplied by Simon Guignon, his old pupil and friend, sitting close to the pulpit.
All the probate materials are drawn from the Madison County Court records.
Many of the legal documents contained in the Ziegler and Guignon archive at the Missouri Historical Society pertain to the development of lead and other mining interests. Elvina and Conrad Ziegler sold over 5,000 acres in 1862 in an attempt to finance Conrad's continuing bout with disease and operations.
Ste. Genevieve 1861-1896
It is unclear whether Simon was ever a lawyer, although referred to in several places with "esquire" attached to his name. For sure, he never hung out a shingle and no family tradition refers to him as an attorney, unlike Conrad Ziegler whose well know practice with John Scott of Ste. Genevieve was always part of his biography. Simon appeared in court very frequently in Madison County, but this may have been a function of his commercial activities, not his training. No doubt his association with courts got his the job as Public Administrator in both Madison and Ste. Genevieve Counties. The Guignon commercial papers are archived at the Missouri Historical Society, together with those of Conrad Ziegler (see above).
There is no biography of Conrad C. Ziegler, though his prominence surely deserves something more than brief references in places like Goodspeed (1888) and Houck (1908). Many of his legal and commercial papers are now archived in the Missouri Historical Society (see reference above). His practice with John Scott associated him with one of the prominent American professionals who came to Ste. Genevieve after 1803. Scott's role in the admission of Missouri to the Union in 1821 as Delegate to Congress, placed him in a unique position to witness the beginnings of the great debate over slavery and the Union. He also was a local "character" who dressed oddly, was always armed and swore profanely and frequently, yet was withal a very respected lawyer (see Basler 1980 above and American Biography).
Elizabeth Hanlon was buried in Memorial Cemetery in 1848. Next to her are buried Elizabeth Guignon in 1863 and John Amable in 1869. This suggests that the Guignons bought the plot in 1848 while still living in Fredericktown and may have intended the extra graves for themselves.
Chapter 4. Emile S. Guignon
Two sets of letters in my possession are helpful in some details of Emile's life. The first are from his father and mother to him while he is in St. Louis, 1881-85. The second are letters to his wife, Julia, and from her, dating from about 1900.
Emile must have had a special relationship with his Aunt, Elvina Ziegler, as she left him a legacy of $1,600 (Madison County Probate Records April 10, 1875 for $1,000 and April 18, 1876 for $600). Her estate was administered by Simon. This seems to be a special family calling. He appears as administrator of J.B. Bossier's estate, for his mother-in-law, Marie Guignon, as well as Rosine and Evariste Pratte's estates. Of course as Public Administrator in both Madison and Ste. Genevieve Counties, he had plenty of practice.
The Miltenberger history is as yet untold except in a genealogical format: Val E. Miltenberger, The Miltenberger Family of Alsace. Kirksville, Missouri, 1954. The more famous of the Alsace Miltenbergers show up in New Orleans a bit earlier than Eugene's siblings, descendants of Francoise Joseph and Marie Ursule Miltenberger. There are several well known Miltenberger houses and other family artifacts in New Orleans. A high society European descendant from the New Orleans branch, Countess Alice Heine, married first the Duke de Richelieu and then Prince Albert of Monaco. So, yes, there is some Miltenberger history already written.
The Oakwood Resort at Greenlake, Wisconsin was opened just after the Civil War by David Greenway and proved to be the major recreation area for the mid west. It could accommodate up to 300 guests at a time and families often stayed for the entire summer. The Miltenbergers stayed at the St. Louis Cottage. It is the only resort building still standing. My wife and I spent August 20-21, 1983 there and discovered the ledger books for 1883 with several Miltenberger names listed.
A brief business biography on Emile S. Guignon appears in St. Louis Star-Sayings, The City of St, Louis and Its Resources. St. Louis, Mo.: Continental Printing, 1893, pp.90-91.
Last updated, May 2006
Jump to: Chapter 3: Simon Guignon