St. Louis was founded by the French, soon sold to the Spanish, and then returned to the French by 1802. After the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, Americans from Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, and other states migrated to St. Louis, as did Englishmen exploring the new frontier. Native American groups were already in the area and African-Americans, both free and slave, were part of the early settlement.

St. Louis was established by city charter in 1823. By 1830 Germans and soon Irish immigrants arrived on the banks of the Mississippi, bringing their ethnic cultures with them. Jewish families arrived in the area in small numbers and in 1841 there were finally enough Jews for a congregation. Thereafter, Polish, Czech, and Italian immigrants arrived. More modern immigration has seen Scandinavians, Hispanics, natives of the Caribbean, and of many Asian countries arrive in St. Louis.

St. Louis neighborhoods formed ethnic communities with houses of worship, businesses, and shops in distinct areas. Each ethnic group left its mark on the St. Louis region. You will want to learn more about the particular areas in which your ancestors lived to determine how their ethnic heritage played a part in their lives. For more information on St. Louis’s ethnic heritage, here is an article you may want to read: “Peopling St. Louis: The Immigrant Experience.”

Last modified: 30-Jun-2016 17:54