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Feature on Peter Loramie. TOPIC: PEOPLE, PIONEERS, INDIANS
Written by Jim Sayre in August, 1998

LORAMIE'S LIFE AFTER SHELBY COUNTY DETAILED BY MISSOURI EDUCATOR

Peter Loramie, the relatively obscure backwoods Indian trader of the late 1700’s in what is now known as Shelby County, is better known in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, as Don Louis Lorimier, diplomat, military officer, and government official, according to Loramie/Lorimier expert and Missouri resident Linda Nash

Loramie, or Lorimier, worked for three different governments in his lifetime —French, Spanish and American, Nash said. "He played a significant supporting role in a very dynamic period of history." While commanding Spanish forces in the Cape Girardeau area, Loramie met with Meriwether Lewis at the start of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

Nash, a 25-year teaching veteran from Jackson, Missouri, spoke July 16, 1998, to more than 110 members of the Shelby County Historical Society and the Fort Loramie Historical Association.

Loramie came from a French military family, but earned very little as an army officer, according to Nash. He earned extra money by moonlighting as an Indian trader, first setting up shop near present-day Fort Loramie in 1769. It was called the Frenchman’s store. "He became a good hater of Americans," Nash said, "Because the Americans were pressuring the Indians westward, threatening his livelihood."

There is no truth to the rumor that Loramie was a Jesuit priest, Nash reported. He had three wives and the Jesuit order has no priesthood record of the name.    Loramie, burned out of his local trading post in 1782 by General George Rogers Clark, lost up to $70,000 worth of trade goods such as silver, cloth, blankets, brass kettles, bells, ribbons and vermilion. "Remember, that is in 1782 dollars. It would be a lot more than that in currenpeterloramieonhorseback.gif (69409 bytes)t dollars," Nash cautioned.

After five years engaged in the Wabash Valley fur trade, Loramie finally settled in the Cape Girardeau area and worked for the Spanish as an Indian agent charged with resolving differences between the Spanish and the Indians. He also headed the Indian militia, helping Spain defend the Louisiana territory against the encroaching Americans.

He was valuable to the Spanish, and later the Americans, because he spoke 22 Indian languages and was thus able to translate between the Indians and the settlers. "He became an able advocate for the Indians and was very fair in dealing with both sides," Nash said.

Lorimier was well rewarded for his service, receiving more than 30,000 acres of land from the Spanish, according to Nash. He was also given the Spanish title of "Don" and served as commandant of the Cape Girardeau area. The 1940’s painting (shown at right) of Lorimier by a Missouri artist shows a sophisticated figure in sharp contrast to Loramie’s local rough-cut image.

Following Spain's cession of the area to France and the later Louisiana Purchase, Lorimier finally worked for the Americans, becoming U.S. Indian agent in 1806. "He was respected by the Indians for honesty and integrity," Nash said, indicating that Lorimier spent 43 years of his life representing the Indians in some capacity. He died in Cape Girardeau in 1812 after a long bout with tuberculosis and malaria.

societymeetingatferdfleckensteinsfarm.gif (34761 bytes)

Those who attended the July 16, 1998, meeting on Peter Loramie were treated to a tour of the Ferd Fleckenstein Farm,
location of the original trading post. Ferd is shown at the far left in the blue shirt.
Photo courtesy of Tom Homan.

About Linda Nash

One of the earliest Europeans to enter our locale and one who prominently left his name on several of our landmarks—Peter Loramie— was featured at a joint Shelby County Historical Society/Fort Loramie Historical Society meeting on July 16, 1998.

Linda Nash of Cape Girardo, Missouri, portrays one of Loramie’s three wives as a living history character. Nash has 25 years of experience teaching history in Missouri schools. Loramie lived in Cape Girardo after leaving the area that later become Shelby County. He is buried there.

Nash traced the life of this famous character and concentrated on his life in Shelby County as the founder and proprietor of Loramie’s Trading Post which he established in 1769. After the Americans burned his trading post, Loramie moved west and eventually resided in the Cape Girardo area where he served as commandant of the Spanish district.

lindanashandferdfleckenstein.gif (33818 bytes)

Linda Nash is pictured here with Ferd Fleckenstein, whose farm is the site of the original Loramie trading post.
This is one of the last photos of Ferd, who passed away within a few weeks of this historical program.
Photo by Tom Homan.

 

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