Valles Mines, Missouri, U S A
Founded in 1749 by Francois Valle years. 274 years later as The Valle Mining Company, his 4000+ acre property every year absorbs 21,000 tons of carbon dioxide and puts out 14,000 tons of oxygen, enough to meet the needs of 63,000 people. [USDA Forest Facts]
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The Colonial Era - Welcome to New France

Valles Mines 1749

The Coat of Arms of the Kingdom of New France

New France and its Forts in 1750

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Pioneer women had a lonely lot, not without danger. Calling 911 would not happen for 200 years in the future.

Pioneer women had a lonely lot, not without danger. Calling 911 would not happen 
                for 200 years into the future.

Marianne Billeron, the Mayor of Kaskaskia's Daughter, Marries Francois Valle

Francois Valle was born in Beauport, Quebec, Canada in 1716. His grandfather, Pierre LaVallee, a surgeon, had immigrated to Quebec in 1665 from St. Saens, Dist. of Rouens, France. Francois, son of Charles LaVallee, wanted to buy lead directly from the Indians who had discovered it on top of the ground in an area far to the South near a French settlement called Kaskaskia, a French settlement about halfway between Quebec and New Orleans in New France.

He came down the Mississippi River and took up residence in Kaskaskia and 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").

They lived in a log cabin built for them as a wedding present by her father Leonard Billeron. This log cabin (14115 Valles Mines School Road) currently houses, some 259 years later and continually in use, our Lost History Museum.

Eventually, the gathering of exposed lead from the surface of the ground 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 center.

War Party Indians were not what you wanted to see coming to your neighborhood.

War Party Indians were not what you wanted to see coming to your neighborhood.

The village of Kaskaskia was established by Jesuits in 1703 before there was a United States. At the end of the French And Indians War in 1763, the French Fort Kaskaskia was destroyed by the British, a fact that did not escape Valle's attention. The British had won the war effectively and taken the lands on the east side of the Mississippi. They were also winning in Europe.

"Having lost Canada, King Louis XV of France proposed to King Charles III of Spain that France should give Spain "the country known as Louisiana, as well as New Orleans and the island in which the city is situated."[1] Louis proposed the cession on November 13 and Charles accepted on November 23, 1762." See The Treaty Of Fountainebleau


The British Navy had adopted the latest techology of the day, John Harrison's "H4", the super-accurate Marine Chronometer which allowed their Navy's ships to arrive within 1 mile of their plotted destination anywhere in the world. And they were not about to share it. Meanwhile back in New France, Sainte Genevieve, founded in 1735 and almost directly to the west of Kaskaskia across the Mississippi in what would someday become Illinois, had grown into a French cultural center. It connected to Valles Mines by the French Village Road,[now Y-Highway]. Fears rose that New France would be colonized by the English as they had begun in Canada. By the time he was 63 Francois Valle had moved to Ste. Genevieve where he had become Commandant of its fort and militia and he saw his chance for payback for Fort Kaskaskia. Francois in 1780 saved his Spanish brothers and sisters in [what would be later] 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 King Charles of Spain decreed Francois Valle 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 worth.]

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.

Map of The Rocky Digs