Louis Lorimier and Indian Park

I really didn’t have many memories of Indian park. It always felt a a little rundown and neglected, although it has a few more amenities these days. It’s bounded on the east by Lorimier, the south by William (and, at one time, Happy Hollow, the town dump). Louis Houck’s railroad ran past the west end of the park. There was a little BBQ stand just up the street from it.

I figured this would be an easy posting: a couple shots of the granite memorial (dedicated Oct. 7, 1946) and I’d get to bed early. Darned history got in the way of that.

Friend and leader of Indian tribes

The inscription on the marker reads, “Indian Park. Indian tribes often came here 1793 – 1812 to meet Don Louis Lorimier their friend and leader.”

I took THAT with a big grain of salt. When you’ve got Trail of Tears just north of Cape, I wondered just how much of a friend any white man was to the Shawnees who used to camp on this ground because there was a good spring nearby.

Lorimier captured Dan’l Boone?!?

A Jan. 31, 1948, Missourian clip quoted the Houck histories as saying that Lorimier and Indians, opposing the Americans, made a raid into Kentucky, captured Daniel Boone and took him and others to the principal Shawnee Indian village in Ohio on Feb. 7, 1778. Boone escaped June 16.

I guess it IS possible that he could be considered a leader.

He established Cape Girardeau in 1793. Before coming to this (Spanish) territory, he had favored the English in the war (1775) against the American colonies.

Was he married or not?

The light was really ugly on Lorimier’s grave when I strolled through the cemetery, so I blew it off with a perfunctory shot. I wish I had paid more attention.

A Missourian story – 140 Years Ago – 1809 – said that on March 23, Charlotte Pemanpieh Bougainville, consort of Lorimier, died, aged 50 years, 2 months, leaving 4 sons and 2 daughters. She was laid to rest in Old Lorimier Cemetery in the first marked grave. Lorimier speaks of his consort as  “the Shawnee woman, Pemanpieh, with whom I have lived these 4 and 20 years and upward, and whom I consider, love and regard as my wife.”

The tombstone reads, in part, To the memory of Charlotte P.B Lorimier consort of Maj. L. Lorimier…

That would indicate that she took his name, at least in stone.

“Married by the Great Spirit”

Another Missourian story says that Lorimier, prior to his coming to Cape Girardeau, had taken for his wife a half-breed Shawnee woman, named Charlotte Pemanpieh Bougainville, supposed to have been the daughter of a French-Canadian officer of that name. Tradition has it that he was married to his spouse according to tribal ritual, by standing on a mountain top at sunrise, with uplifted arms, imploring the Great Spirit to guide their every footstep on their journey through life.

My friend Shari and I noticed a fair number of graves in the old cemetery that had a wife on one side and a much younger “consort” on the other. We thought that maybe “consort” was just another word for wife in those days. Looks like that might not be exactly true.

I sure don’t remember hearing much about this in history class. I’d have paid closer attention if that kind of stuff had been part of the curriculum.

We’ll see if I can come up with more info before I do a piece on Old Lorimier Cemetery.

38 Replies to “Louis Lorimier and Indian Park”

  1. Very, very interesting. All the years I lived in Cape I never noticed the Indian Park stone. I’ll be waiting to read more. Thank you so very much for providing this information.

  2. Recent current events provide an apt analogy, for in today’s parlance Lormier was a Canadian terrorist supplying weapons and money to the Shawnee and other Ohio tribes during the Revolution. He just escaped capture by General George Rogers Clark and fled to the Spanish province of Upper Mississippi.

    Eventually he was made governor of Cape Girardeau County, a huge area, and was followed there by many of the Shawnee. They originally camped at the park.

    It was Lormier who in the mid-1790’s came up with the idea of populating the area with European settlers as a way of keeping the US east of the Mississippi. Many old Cape families abandoned what alliegence they had to the US, and crossed the Missippi for the essentially free land. Had not Napolean needed cash, who knows what now would be the official language in Upper Mississippi.

    On previous posts Lewis & Clark’s refusal to come ashore at Cape, then the second or third largest settlement in the Louisiana Purchase, has been discussed. The conclusion was that Clark had no desire to dine with his brother’s old nemisis.

    For more see Houck, or try “The Frontiersman” by Eckert for a more engrossing read.

  3. Rats. I should have gone to see this when we were in Cape Girardeau last fall. According to the wikipedia page about him (done by a descendant) this is the same Lorimer who had a trading post just north of what is now Fort Loramie, Ohio.

    The Dairy King Motel in Fort Loramie is a good (and inexpensive) place to use as a base camp for bicycling. Practically next door is the Fort Loramie museum where you can learn a lot more about the man who gave his name to the town.

    1. John,

      This’ll give you an excuse to come back. I hadn’t visited the Old Lorimier Cemetery myself since the early 60s, so I didn’t realize how many side stories there are in the place.

      1. Hello Ken,I just came across your email from 2011.I noticed you mentioned Old Lorimier Cemetery in mybe Shelby Co. Ohio.I have family (old) but I cant find it anywhere.Could you point me to the right way?Thanks in advance.Linda Baer

        1. Linda,

          Sorry, the Old Lorimier Cemetery in the story is in Cape Girardeau, Mo. I worked in Athens, Ohio, for a bit, but this cemetery is in my hometown of Cape.

  4. Shame on me ! I will have to check this out next time, very interesting ! I do however remember the fantastic bar-b-que hut run by a railroad cook, that was out of this world ! Served on two slices of bread, one on top and wrapped in newspaper !

  5. A friend sent me an email: “How do you FIND this stuff?!  And what gets you looking to begin with?”

    I sent her this reply, in case you’re curious, too:

    The last time I was in Cape, I was cruising the streets looking for anything that caught my eye. When I got to Indian Park, I realized I had never stopped to read the granite marker, so I knocked off a couple of frames of it.

    Like I wrote, I was looking for a quick post last night and decided that Indian Park would fill the bill.

    I went to The Missourian’s website, put Indian Park into the search engine and let fly.

    This was the sixth result

    If this hadn’t been enough to fill the space, I could have thrown in a shooting that happened in the park in 2000.

    When the dead guy is named Jesus Sides, you know that demographics are changing in Cape.

    Finally, the same search turned up an editorial in paper that advocated changing the name of Arena Park because it was “dull.” It recommended changing it to the name of an Indian tribe. Of course, that was before SEMO became politically correct and send Chief Sagamore off to the Happy Hunting Grounds.

    And, so, that’s the way it happens. Like I’ve said before, producing this puppy is an exercise in non-linear thinking.

    When I sit down to write, there’s no telling what’s going to show up on the screen.

    1. Wow what all do you have on that shooting in 2000?
      I lived on Lorimier until that week of that shooting. I was in 3rd grade and the guy actually made it half way up the street before he actually died because I remember the guy died infront of our house and thats the reason I moved from cape… I wish I knew exactly what happened that day though.

  6. Fascinating. I attended Lorimier School until 6th grade and don’t remember any history of Lorimier being taught. We would sometimes sneak into Happy Hollow for an adventure because it was forbidden. Several times when I have been in CG, I have tried to get into the Old Lorimier cemetery where some of my ancestors are buried, but have never found it open. The BBQ from the hut was fantastic!

  7. We used to play basketball at Indian Park when we were young; it never seemed to be that well kept up as I remember, no nets or anything. We used to play basket ball up William Street at St Mary’s school/church but the Nuns used to run us heathens off because we were not Catholic or maybe because we were kids and making too much noise, probably the latter. There used to be an old railroad spur behind Indian Park or a part of the old Houck railroad. It set up a couple of feet higher than the old Frisco track. It was all grown up with weeds and small trees. Good place to play when you were small.

  8. This is quite interesting history. Make me wish I had spent more time checking this kind of stuff out during my 30 some years in Cape.
    Joe Whitright “45”

  9. As I understand it, Lorimier encouraged the Shawnees to settle in north Cape County along Apple Creek in order to establish a buffer against the hostile Osage to the north. There were several settlements, one of which is memorialized in the name of Shawneetown. I believe some of this is in Tecumseh: A life, by John Sugden. One thing I know I got from that book was that Tecumseh’s sister lived on Apple Creek, and Tecumseh visited her there at least once.

  10. I remember going with my dad to the dedication of Indian Park. Have no idea how old I was but I was impressed that Indians had actually lived there.

    As to being a ‘consort’ that IS another name for a wife. It usually means one that was held in great esteem by her husband. You might notice when you go to Lorimier Cemetery that Louis Houck’s wife’s tombstone has the word ‘consort’ on it.

    At one time one of the lady’s groups in Cape wanted to take Louis Lorimier’s wife’s tombstone down as it was thought that the word ‘consort’ meant something less than a wife. They were not successful, thank goodness.


  12. Thanks for writing about Louis Lorimier. I discovered in my family history a while back that a gr-gr-gr-gr.. grandmother of mine, Marie Berthiaume, had married Louis Lorimier after his wife, Pemanpieh, had died. She was also part French and Shawnee and they lived in a place called the Red House.

  13. I remember a lecture years ago that went over this same man and a few of the same points. I think the Gen. Clark was not a nice man after burning about 4 million dollars in merchandise. From the little bits Eckert wrote on Lorimer I think he was a fair man who would have traded fairly with anyone. Even James Alexander Thom didn’t paint Clark in a nice light. Lormier is one of those people in history that fascinates me what did he look like? What was the man really like?

  14. Does anyone know about when this area was made a park? I know in the mid 1800s, Lorimier gave it to the city and it kind of just ‘disappeared’ for awhile. It doesn’t show up on tax records so I was just wondering if anyone knew a bit more about that 🙂

  15. I don’t know the exact year but it was dedicated with
    the markers when I was a child so would guess somewhere in the 1940s. Bet the Missourian ran an article on it. Ask Sharon!
    By the way, consort was the term used if the husband felt the wife had participated actively in their lives it was a term of respect for the spouse.

  16. Thank you all very much! I’m at SEMO doing a project on Indian Park and this is vital information 🙂 It’s just a bit difficult to get information on a hard topic.

  17. I am, I have been told, related to Louis Lorimier. My Grandfather gave me some family genealogy that would suggest his Great-Grandfather, John Arthurs, had changed his name from De Lorimier sometime around the French Revolution and moved to England, later with his wife to Canada. My Grandfather had old letters written by De Lorimier who was an Indian Scout for the military and was a ranking officer in the French-Indian War. George Clark, my Grandfather, had done research before his death and found land grant records to John Arthurs from the King of England. The grant identifies John Arthurs as (“formerly De Lorimier”). Colonel Arthurs had in his possession some military equipment and a letter (written by John) saying it belonged to his Grandfather Chevalier De Lorimier de Parville (spelling?) who was killed in the French Revolution. I have not been able to find the link between Arthurs and purpoted De Lorimier lineage. I was told he was born in England and of French extraction but I can find nothing on his parents. Perhaps he was related to Don Louis Lorimier. I’d be curious if anyone can tell me anything about Chevalier De Lorimier and if he was related to Louis. My daughter and I are planning a trip to Cape Girardeau one of these days and checking out archives. In the meantime, if anyone knows something I’d be delighted to hear about it. Thank you very much. Claudia Paige

    1. Hi again Claudia, I would love to make contact with you! I think I may have the birth record of John Arthurs, and I also have info on Chevalier de Lorimier. Hoping you’ll see this note and are able to get in touch! Best wishes, Vicky

  18. Claudia, I remember reading somewhere that Louis Lorimier was a descendant of Chevalier de Lorimier, who was in some way a part of King Louis IV’s staff. I think he was beheaded, too.

    1. Hi Pamela,

      I just now saw your reply. That is exciting news as we’ve tried to find the family link to our French family. The best we can find is after Chevalier de Lorimier was beheaded the family went to Ireland and his son changed his last name to “Arthurs.” My grandfather was an avid genealogy researcher and found paperwork showing de Lorimier had changed his name to Arthurs before moving to Quebec. Interesting. I don’t know where to search to find more documentation. All he had was a land grant paperwork from giving him a large parcel of farmland in Canada. The deed shows his name as (formerly de Lorimier) now Arthurs. Another second cousin found the amulets and some other uniform pieces from the Chevalier de Lorimier who was beheaded. A letter accompanied the uniform explaining his significance to the family and the being beheaded in the French Revolution. Yes, he was part of King Louis IV’s staff. Thank you again for sharing this information with me. Claudia

      1. Hi Claudia, is there any chance the name was Lorimier De Parville? I have an ancestor by that surname- John Lorimier De Parville who was a French Teacher in Corsham, Wiltshire in England? Married an Elizabeth Mockridge

        1. Hi Paul, I am also researching John Lorimier de Parville from Corsham and I was wondering if we could share information about him? I am hoping to trace his parents/grandparents to Paris, Parc Monceau area…

          1. Hi Victoria, How extraodinary that I found your post so soon after you left it here! What I can tell you, you may probably know already. I have his signature from a marriage or banns of marriage. He signed his “de Parville” but I have no idea of his parents. I read somewhere, from ancestry.com I think, that he was a teacher of French in Corsham but I have never been able to find that document again(!) I feel as though he was a french immigrant into Wiltshire but have no evidence of such. His children seem to be well document. His granddaughter via Anthony Lorimier, Louisa is my 3G grandmother. I’m curious, whats the significance of Pac Monceau ? Would love to make contact, robertongenealogy(a)gmail cheers, Paul.

          2. Hi Vicky and Claudia,
            Long time, no type!
            Currently undergoing a fit of seismic genealogical proportions during work hours. I’ve just found the ancestry.com record of Quebec Land grants here:
            Can anyone with worldwide subscription take a peep and tell us all what we need to know? I think this is the grant Claudia mentions above… may be it has some information not seen before? Regards, Paul

      2. Hi Claudia, I have done some extensive research into the Lorimier family and would be very interested to share some information with you. I’ve put together a comprehensive family tree that connects the Canadian Lorimiers with the French Lorimiers. I would be so grateful if you could contact me by email as I think we may have info of mutual interest to share. Very best, Vicky

  19. I remember being forced as a small child to play the part of Don Louis Lorimier at the dedication of this park. I believe 2 of my cousins, whom I didn’t recognize were dressed as indians. I was afraid of the indians and wanted to leave. After being taken up the hill and given a spanking, I concented to represent the family reluctantly. I believe the Missiourian had a picture taken probably taken by Fronburnger, at the time of the dedication..

  20. Hi. I just came across this. Very interesting. After Charlotte had passed away, Louis Lorrimore married my 3x great grandmother Marie Berthiaume. Her Father, Joseph, French from Northern Canada, was a gunsmith for the Shawnee. My grandmother was about 16 some reports say.
    After my grandmother had married him they had a child that passed away. Elizabeth. Joseph and Louis from my readings were quite close.
    About 18 months after their marriage Louis passed away. She then married my 3 great grand father Dr. John Logan.

  21. hi. my 4th great grandmothers was married to Don Louis Lorimer, after his first wife died he married Marie Berthiaume. her father was from french Canada and a gunsmith for the Shawnee,she was french Indian. When Lorimer passed away she married my 4th great grandfather Dr. John Logan. Then moved to Jackson county Illinois and started the town Murphysboro

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