In 1805, the governor of the Louisiana Territory, appointed by President Thomas Jefferson was James Wilkinson. Not long after his appointment, many people became disillusioned with his heavy-handed tactics and his associations with Aaron Burr, which eventually led to Wilkinson’s downfall. However, some citizens of the Louisiana Territory signed petitions to urge that Wilkinson be kept on as their governor. These petitions, circulated in multiple years, contained signatures of residents as well as where the men lived.

The following is the first of several early petitions from the Louisiana/Missouri Territory.


“Understanding that reports unfavourable to Governor Wilkinson have been diligently cir[culated] throughout the United States, by which he is represented as unpopular and obnoxious to the People of this Territory.

We the undersigned, perfectly satisfied with the Administration of our Governor, and convinced that these Reports, so unfounded and injurious to him and ourselves, have taken their origin in a few discontented Spirits, unfortunately in Office in this Territory, in this public manner, evince our Confidence in the Governor, our Approbation of his Conduct and of his general Popularity.” [from Clarence Edwin Carter, Territorial Papers XIII—Louisiana-Missouri Territory, 1803–1806 (Washington D.C: Government Printing Office: 1948): 329–345.]

The signers of this petition were divided into twenty sections. Sometimes the sections provide a location, such as St. Ferdinand, others are without names. It is often possible to identify the section based on land records. It is also possible roads in that section contain the name of some of these early settlers. The sections cover the entire territory as it was in 1805.

The numbers in the “Signing Order” column indicate the order of signing. People and family members living in the same neighborhood often signed in consecutive order. If three people with the same surname signed together, chances are good that those three men are related. Cross reference these names with other records. Did they serve as witnesses in marriages and probate files for each other? Did they live on adjoining or nearby property? By analyzing the list, you can often establish a neighborhood.

The list below is organized alphabetically, but if you want to search for a particular name, click on the “Refine Search” button.

Last Modified: 11-Nov-2023 16:33