Louis Lorimier

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Louis Lorimier (March 1748 – June 26, 1812) was born in the Etienne parish of Montreal, Quebec, Canada. He is considered to be the founder and first European settler of Cape Girardeau, Missouri, where he later served as the Spanish Land Commandant. Lorimier is also responsible for the founding of at least two Missouri counties: Cape Girardeau County, and Bollinger County, the next county to the west. Lorimier lived during a tumultuous period for the Cape Girardeau area, one in which its national ownership was transferred in rapid succession from Spain to France, and then to United States via the Louisiana Purchase of 1803.

Cape Girardeau County was first settled by mix of French Canadian and Shawnee refugees who had fled with Lorimier from Pickawillany in the Ohio Country. Lorimier had intimate ties to the French and Shawnee refugees who helped him settle the area. Lorimier's Ohio wife, Charlotte Bougainville, (January 1758 - March 23, 1808) was half French and half Shawnee, and may very well have been the daughter of Louis Antoine de Bougainville from the time of his North American campaigns in the French and Indian War. In Pickawillany, Lorimier had supported the British and had led Shawnee and Delaware Indian raids against the growing American presence. Lorimier's raids had led to an attempt by George Rogers Clark to exterminate the Indians there. Lorimier escaped with his life, and soon afterwards moved to the Spanish-held lands west of the Mississippi. By that time the earlier indigenous tribes of that area apparently were no longer present, due presumably to their lack of resistance to European diseases such as measles and smallpox that had been carried in earlier by European traffic along the Mississippi River.

While in Cape Girardeau County, Captain Meriwether Lewis met with Mr. Lorimier shortly after the Lewis and Clark Expedition had started (November 25, 1803). Captain Lewis commented favorably on one of Lorimier's daughter's in his personal notes.[1]

The second county in which Lorimier played a pivotal role was Bollinger County, for which he arranged the granting of Spanish land to George Frederick Bollinger, his family, and twenty other German Reformed families from North Carolina, including the Limbaugh family. This was technically an illegal transaction, since Spain had required that Lorimier allow only Catholics to settle in that area. However, Lorimier had been favorably impressed by George Frederick from an earlier visit he had made, and was willing to bend the rules for him and his settlers.

Loramie Creek in Ohio, where Lorimier had his trading post, is named after him, based on an English spelling of his name.[2] Nearby place names such as Fort Loramie, Ohio and Lake Loramie State Park also derive from his name.

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