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Louis de St. Denis
*Louis de St. Denis was born on this date in 1676. He was a white-French Canadian soldier, slave owner, and explorer.
Louis Antoine Juchereau de St. Denis was born in Beauport, New France (Quebec), the eleventh of the twelve children. His father was Nicolas Juchereau, Seigneur du Chesnay. His mother, Marie Thérèse Giffard de Beauport.
His parents sent him to France to acquire a higher level of education. In late 1699, St. Denis joined the second expedition of Pierre Le Moyne, Sieur d'Iberville, to Louisiana, commanding a small garrison at Fort de La Boulaye. The fort was near the future development of New Orleans to protect French interests against the Spanish and English in the region. He also commanded a fort at Biloxi Bay, where the French founded another settlement. St. Denis also explored west of the bay and up the Mississippi River, where he journeyed to the lower Red River. These expeditions to the northern areas allowed him to meet the Karankawa and Caddo tribes, from whom St. Denis learned wilderness skills specific to the area. He was a slave owner who produced and traded Africans for profit; one of them was the family of Marie Coincoin.
In September 1713, St. Denis arrived in central Louisiana at Natchitoches. Later, in 1713, St. Denis built Fort St. Jean Baptiste de Natchitoches. He traded with the Caddo Nation there and freely sold them guns; additionally, St. Denis developed a somewhat friendly relationship with the nearby Spaniards despite the objections of the French governorship. St. Denis and his men learned many hunting and trapping skills from the Caddo Indians and became fluent in the Caddo language. Soon after founding Natchitoches in 1714, St. Denis went to the territory of the Hasinai Confederacy, a group of Caddoan language tribes, and the Rio Grande's Spanish outposts along the river.
He was arrested at San Juan Bautista for violating Spanish trade "restrictions." However, St. Denis defended his case, and the city authorities suggested he lead the Domingo Ramón expedition to East Texas. He returned to San Juan Bautista and traveled to eastern Texas from 1716 to 1717, founding six missions and a presidio. In early 1716, Denis married Manuela Sánchez Navarro y Gomes Mascorro, and they had five children. He returned to San Juan Bautista in April 1717, left Spanish America, and returned to La Louisiane.
In February 1719, the French transferred St. Denis to Mexico City. However, he decided to emigrate to Natchitoches. In 1721, Denis and his wife settled at Le Poste des Cadodaquious, a French fort in Texarkana, Texas, where they lived the last years. In 1722, he was appointed commandant of Fort St. Jean Baptiste des Natchitoches. St. Denis was best known for exploring and developing the Louisiana (New France) and Spanish Texas regions.
He commanded a small garrison at Fort de la Boulaye on the lower Mississippi River. He founded Fort St Jean Baptiste de Natchitoches in northern La Louisiane, as they called the French colony. Louis St. Denis died on June 11, 1744; Manuela and his children survived his death.