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Etienne Veniard de Bourgmont

Milton Reichart created this map to accompany his article on Etienne de Bourgmont's route to central KansasEtienne Veniard de Bourgmont was born in 1679 in Cerisy Belle-Etolie, Central Normandy, France. Caught poaching in 1698, de Bourgmont fled to North America to escape imprisonment for not paying his fines. In 1702 de Bourgmont was enlisted as a soldier in the Ohio Valley and in 1706 he became the commander of Fort Ponchartrain in Detroit, Michigan. De Bourgmont was censored for his handling of a battle with the Ottawa tribe but fled before authorities could capture him. From 1706 to 1709 he lived as an illegal trader with several other deserters in the wilderness of North America.

In 1712 de Bourgmont married the daughter of a Missouri Indian chief. In 1713 de Bourgmont traveled to Mobile, Alabama, trying to escape the warrant for his arrest and while he was there he wrote the “Exact Description of Louisiana, It’s Harbors, Lands and Rivers, and Names of Indian Tribes That Occupy It, and the Commerce and Advantages to Be Derived From the Establishment of a Colony.” Traveling back to the Missouri tribe de Bourgmont traveled up the Missouri River and wrote “The Route to Be Taken to Ascend the Missouri River.” He traveled further up the Missouri than any previous explorers. In 1719 de Bourgmont was sent to make alliances with the American Indian tribes and to bring the their leaders to Isle Daphine in Alabama, but all the chiefs except one died along the way. After escorting the one chief back to his village, de Bourgmont made his way to New Orleans, Louisiana.

De Bourgmont and his American Indian son traveled to France in 1720 and de Bourgmont was promoted to captain in the continental troops. While in France he was also made commandant of the Missouri River and commissioned to build a fort along the river. In 1721 de Bourgmont married Jacqueline Bouvet des Bordeaux from his hometown in France and a month later returned to New Orleans with his son. In 1724 de Bourgmont completed the building of Fort Orleans, which was located just east of Kansas City, Missouri. While he was there de Bourgmont traded often with American Indians from Kansas, and made many expeditions and explorations into Kansas. In 1725 de Bourgmont returned to France with his Missouri wife and son. He was elevated to the rank of squire upon his return to France, and his Missouri wife and son eventually returned to North America without him. De Bourgmont lived the rest of his life in France and eventually died in 1734.

Entry: De Bourgmont, Etienne Veniard

Author: Kansas Historical Society

Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

Date Created: June 2012

Date Modified: July 2016

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.