In 1998, crews from the Illinois Transportation Archaeological Research Program (University of Illinois, Champaign) conducted small scale excavations within the southern limits of the Fort de Chartres State Historic Site in Randolph County, Illinois, as part of a bridge replacement project. The excavations at the Ghost Horse Site encountered remains of an 18th century house associated with the French colonial village of “Nouvelle Chartres”.

In 2003, the Center’s director Robert Mazrim reexamined the archaeological data from the Ghost Horse site, and also conducted an in depth study of the deed  record of the village of Nouvelle Chartres using records translated and published by Dr. Margaret Brown. The reexamination of the archaeological features and artifacts from the site has reconsidered certain unusual aspects of the structure and its associated artifact assemblage.

Specifically, it is felt that the structural footprint at Ghost Horse represents a building with a history that includes substantial remodeling episodes and temporal superimposition. Additionally, the ceramic assemblage associated with these features includes unusually high ratios of English delft pottery (possibly reflecting the presence of British officers stationed at Fort de Chartres between 1765 and 1771), and fragments of an English creamware teapot (made after circa 1765) that also strongly suggests an occupation that extended into the very late 1760s or early 1770s. This is significant, as all but three of the houses in the village had been abandoned by 1765.

Further, several details contained in the deed record of one of those post-1765 properties appear to mirror many of the unusual aspects of the Ghost Horse Site. Finally, that deed record includes the names of several area merchants, as well as that of Pierre Laclede, the founder of the city of St. Louis who lived at Nouvelle Chartres during the winter of 1763-1764.

English creamware and delft from Ghost Horse.


The Beginning of the City of Saint Louis ?

The results of the 2003 study are included in Mazrim’s book on French colonial domestic archaeology in Illinois.  click HERE

Lead seal used on a bale of French

stockings, probably part of the inventory of one of the merchants who owned the property. Were these some of the first goods to be sold in St. Louis ?