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Ioway Cultural Institute : History :
General History

1824 First Ioway Students attended St. Regis Seminary, Florissant, Missouri.

(Catholic Church records can be found under St. Ferdinand de Florissant.)
The Indian School St. Regis Seminary was operational from May 1824 - June 1831.
Excerpts from"The Jesuits of the Middle United States," by Gilbert J. Garraghan, S.J.
Vol. 1, Chpt. St. Regis Seminary, pp.147-169.

Letter Nov. 21, 1824, Father Van Quickenborne to General Clark;

The Seminary went into actual operation the eleventh of May ultimo with two boys of the Sac (Sauk) nation: On the eleventh of June three more were recieved of the Hyaway (Iowa) nation; thus since that time I have had total five boys. The buildings are commodious and can contain from forty to sixty students. They are nearly complete and fifty-four ft. long by seven-teen wide one way and thirty-four feet by seventeen feet the other way; three stories high, the lowest of stone, the two others of logs, brick chimneys and galleries all around. They have cost $1500. and when completed will cost $2000. (During the entire life of the school there were no more than 30 students total.)

In May 1824, the father (Van Ouickenborne) was summoned to St. Louis by the General (Clark), who informed him that some Iowa Indians had just made an offer of boys and that he might have them if he wished. Van Quickenborne agreed to take them and word to this effect being sent at once to the Iowa chiefs, who were then visiting the city, (St. Louis), they agreed to send four or six boys of their tribe to Florissant. Meanwhile two Sauk lads, one eight and the other six years of age, had been received by the superior and with these as the first students the Indian Seminary was formally opened on May 11, 1824, the feast day of the Jesuit saint, Francis de Hieronymo.

The next pupils to be entered at the Seminary were the Iowa youths who had been promised to Van Quickenborne at St. Louis. Under the protection of a party of chiefs they started, five in number, from their homes on the left bank of the Missouri River in what is now the northwest extremity of Missouri. The Sauk for some unknown reason dispatched a deputation from their tribe to dissuade the Iowa chiefs from sending their sons to the new institution. But the Iowa chiefs were not to be turned from their purpose. After some seventy miles of travel, two of the boys became ill and had to return to the Iowa camp while the three others with their parents continued on the way. On June 11, 1824, the candidates, in company with their parents, an interpreter, and Gabriel Vasques, United States agent for the Iowa, appeared at the Seminary. The Indian youths did not submit without a protest to what must have seemed to them, accustomed as they were to the freedom of the forest, as nothing short of imprisonment. As their parents prepared to depart, they began to wail in true Indian fashion, whereupon one of the scholastics took up a flute and started to play.

The music had the effect of quieting the lads and making them resigned, as far as outward indications went, to their new environment. But Vasques, the agent, warned Van Quickenborne that a sharp eye would have to be kept on the boys, as flight was an easy trick for them. Accordingly, Mr. Smedts, the prefect, rose at intervals during the first night of the Iowa's stay at the Seminary to see that his young charges were all within bounds, while another scholastic was also assigned to sentry duty. But somehow or other the watchers were outwitted. About one o'clock in the morning the Iowa made a clever escape. Their flight was soon detected and immediately a party of two were on the track of the fugutuves. These were nimble runners, for they were five miles from the Seminary when their pursuers came up to them. They made no resistance to capture and returned, apparently quite content, though determined no doubt to repeat the adventure when opportunity offered, as Van Quickenborne intimates in his account of the incident, which he concludes with the comment, "et erit saepe talis repetitio" ("this thing will happen many a time again").

Letter to his father from Father Peter Desmet, S.J., Aug.20, 1824;

"Already two chiefs of the Ayonais have brought their children to us for instruction. One of the chieftains, in giving his children to the Superior said, "Black Robe, this one is an orphan boy; the others have lost a mother whom they loved tenderly; in you they will find both father and mother. By teaching them to know the Master of life you will be giving them every good.'" Father De Smet describes this chief as "a giant in stature, tawny of skin, hair and face daubed with vermilion after the manner of savages. His ears were pierced with many holes, and from his head hung two tin tubes in the form of a cross filled with feathers of different colors. His clothes consisted of a green shirt and knee-breeches of doe-skin, attached to which were the tails of wildcats that flapped about his legs as he walked." "The children are very attentive at the instructions. They are being prepared for baptism, and we hope they will one day be apostles to their respective tribes. Many more children are on their way to our school, and if we had the means we could accommodate about eighty pupils."

This one excerpt from "The Life of Father DeSmet, S.J.," by E. Laveille, S.J., p.53.

Abt. January 10, 1825. Van Quickenborne's satisfaction with his pupils was further increased by an incident that took place during the first year of the school's career. "We received a visit here from chiefs and twelve warriors of the Hyaway (Iowa) nation ... The boys appeared at St. Louis before these visitors while they had their talk with General Clark. They were well dressed and behaved extremely well. On entering the city one of them drove the cart in which the others were, which amazed the Indian fathers exceedingly. They were highly satisfied ...." Letter dated Jan. 10, 1825 from Van Quickenborne.

(By the summer of 1827) The Boys number only thirteen, but the house cannot accommodate any more. There is a simular school for Indian girls in the village of St. Ferdinand, .... (some of the students by 1827 are Osage)

"The boys expelled by me are not discouraged. All are highly praised. I say only what was said to me. One made his first Communion under Father De Theux and goes to the Sacraments every month and was first in catechism. Maximus, son of the Ioway chief, is in St. Charles and is spoken of highly by Father Smedts. The third is in Portage and works hard and behaves himself. The other two are so small that they can scarcely do anything." Van Quickenborne, 1830?.

"We have all the sons of the Osage chiefs of competent age to be placed in school." Report of St. Regis Seminary for the year ending Sept. 30, 1829. "Four Indian boys have been lately received. Two of these are boys about eight years old, sons of the chief of the Osage." Dec. 1828.

"I conducted home 4 sons of the principal chief of the Osages, who had received their education at our establishment." Van Quickenborne to Eaton, Dec. 30, 1830.

Their number, which during the entire life of the school did not go beyond thirty in all, included ten full-blood Indians of five different tribes, Osage chiefly, and twenty metifs or half-breeds. p.167.

Litterae Annuae Missionis Missouranae, 1823-1834, (A). The names of five Indian children attending the schools, four boys and one girl, are entered in the Baptismal Record of St. Ferdinand's church, Florissant. Mother Duchesne was godmother to Elizabeth dite Lisette Barielle, baptized April 2, 1825. The child's parents, Barielle and Shannoquoi, were Menominee (Folles Avoines) Indians.

Stanislaus, age 10 and Peter, aged 13 (the latter a son of a principal chief of the Iowa known as "Le Grand Marcheur"), were baptized June 5, 1825.

Joseph and Louis, Sauk, were baptized October 3, 1824, by Bishop Rosati, John Mullanphy and his daughter, Mrs. Chambers, being sponsors. Other Indian pupils were possibly baptized by Van Quickenborne at the Seminary. This would account for their names not appearing in the church register.

Two sons of Pahuska or White Hair, head Osage chief, their names Cleremont (or Clairmont) and Gretomonse', the later head of the tribe in 1852, were pupils at St. Regis where they were baptized. .... However, the names of Cleremont and Gretomonse' do not occur in the "Baptismal Register" of St. Ferdinand's Church, Florissant, Mo., where some of the Indian pupils were baptized. fn.p.168.

Thus, when Fathers De Smet and Verreydt ascended the Missouri in 1838 to open a Potawatomi mission at Council Bluffs, they were welcomed at a stopping-place by Francis, the Iowa chief, whom De Smet had instructed at St. Regis Seminary and who would gladly have kept his former teacher to minister to his people. p.168.

End of excerpts


Apparently this is the sum total of the students names that could be located, in their records and others, by the church by 1983. Microfilm taken of records from St. Ferdinand de Florrisant, can be ordered through LDS/FHL, it's in the orignal French & Latin mix, but it can be made out by the novice. The same film has records of first bapt. 1821 at Cote sans Dessein (MO) at the mouth of the Osage and the Missouri River and the first bapt. of the Osage at one of their villages further S/West in 1822.

There was one other account in this Chapter, of paticular interest, on visiting chiefs & warriors and their overnight stay at the school. But it was not stated specifically that they were Ioways.

On the same subject, "The Ioway Indians," by Martha Royce Blaine, p.143-4.

Contributed by Susan K. Suttle White

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