Valles Mines, Missouri, U S A
Founded in 1749 by Francois Valle years before he became Don Francois Valle.
The Valle Mining Company's 4500 acre property every year absorbs 21,000
tons of carbon dioxide and puts out 14,000 tons of oxygen.
This is enough to meet the needs of 63,000 people. [USDA Forest Facts]
The Colonial Era
Valles Mines 1749
Marianne Billeron, the Mayor's Daughter
Francois Valle, a Frenchmen decended from St. Saens, Dist. of Rouens, who moved to Quebec province
in Canada. He
wanted to buy lead directly from the Indians who had discovered it on top of the ground in an area far to
the South in what would later become known as the Louisiana Purchase. He came down the Mississippi River
and took up residence in Kaskaskia, IL. Being familiar with commerce on the East Coast, he traded and sent
lead back to New York and Philadelphia. Valle's lead was used by the
Continental Army in the Revolutionary War.
Soon he was doing so well that he was able to marry the Mayor's daughter.
And so Francois and Marianne Billeron Valle moved from Kaskaskia, due East across the
Mississippi River to what would later bear their name, Valles Mines (in French that would mean "The mines of
the Valles" or "the mines of the Valle Family"). As they say, the rest is history.
They lived in a log cabin built for them as a wedding present by her father Leonard Billeron
who was at the time Mayor of Kaskaskia. This log cabin (14115 Valles Mines
School Road) currently houses, some 259 years later and still in use, our
"Lost History Museum".
Eventually, the gathering of lead from the surface
gave way to digging and mining of lead below the ground. Early mines were very shallow.
But European mining practices were advancing. It soon became obvious that there
was more work to do than any one man could ever accomplish so Valle took to leasing
land to others. A village grew up and then a town and soon Valles Mines was a population
The village of
Kaskaskia was established by Jesuits in 1703 before there was a United
States. Fort Kaskaskia was destroyed by the British in 1763, a fact that did
not escape Valle's attention.
Sainte Genevieve grew directly to the West of Kaskaskia across the Mississippi
in the"Louisiana Territories", before there was a United States. When
Valle eventually moved to Ste. Genevieve and became Commandant of its fort there
in his old age, he had his chance for payback. Francois in 1780 saved his Spanish brothers
and sisters in Saint Louis from being overrun and captured by the British and their
Indian war parties as they had done to his father-in-law in Kaskaskia. This constituted
one very brave act being outnumbered 3 to 1, for which
the King of Spain made him a Don, a great honor. You can be sure the Indians thought
twice about charging a garrison firing lead cannon balls instead of the British
rocks and gravel.
The French 'Colonial Era' refers to the culture there
in the 1700's and its connection all the way back to Europe. England, France, and
Spain all wanted a piece of the New World and for good reason.
And so the fighting began. Later Valles Mines would become part of the
Louisiana Purchase under Jefferson (1803). Valles' Mines lies 30 miles west of Ste. Genevieve in the Lead Belt, founded and thriving well before
St. Louis. The Mineral Area of Missouri may have passed out of its heyday but we
have found residents of Valles Mines living as far away as Australia. If you know
anything about the area or even if you don't, please stop by and add your 2 cents
The French Colonial era uniquely defined the culture of the area for centuries. Thanks
to the annual reenactments at Fort DeChartres in Illinois and
the work of many dedicated reenactors, you can see for a few
days an entire village reconstructed in historically accurate
dress and habits from the Colonial Era.
Maybe someday they will come to Valles Mines.
The pictures shown above were donated by prize winning reenactors
at Fort DuChartres, Prairie Durocher, Illinois
and display the dress of the times with historical accuracy, all the way down
to the Indian brave's facepaint.
Lost History Museum Exhibit:
Recent construction (1954) of Missouri Highway 67 through
the Valle Mining Company property destroyed many
original hand dug mines. One museum grade hand dug mine survived
from that era, called 'The Rocky Digs'. Somehow it remains intact and
open for spelunkers (guides available)
It lies on the hillside across the creek from Valle's original front door,
a 10 minute walk from the Lost History Museum.
* VALLES' MINES started as Valle Mines when Francois Valle was single
but in French when he married his name changed too. In English it goes like this:
Just like the Jones' means belonging to the many Jones family members, so Valles' Mines came from
The Valle Family's Mines or in the simpler French, Valles' Mines. Thank you, Rand McNally, for respecting
the correct spelling on your maps.