Founded in the early 18th century, Ste. Genevieve is one of the first towns located west of the Mississippi River and the oldest permanent settlement in Missouri. It's prime location, which represented a "half-way" point between Canada and New Orleans, was in an area that would become part of the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. At the time of its founding, Ste. Genevieve formed a triad of French control over the "Illinois Country" with Fort de Chartres (the official capitol of the Upper Louisi- ana area) and Kaskaskia, Illinois (Illinois' first state capitol). Census records state that Ste. Genevieve was permanently settled by 1752 with some accounts placing the settlement there as early as 1722.
In 1763, the French ceded the land east of the Mississippi to Great Britain in the Treaty of Paris that ended North America's French and Indian War and Europe's Seven Years' War. Creoles from Canada and east of the Mississippi flocked to Ste. Genevieve after George III issued the Royal Proclamation of that same year which turned over all of the captured French land, except Quebec, into an Indian Reserve and ordered all settlers to leave or get British permission to stay. France had si-multaneously turned over the west bank to Spain to form Louisiana (or New Spain) via the secret "Treaty of Fountainebleau" in 1762. The capitol of Upper Louisiana moved from Fort de Chartres to St. Louis, some 50 miles up the Mississippi River.
The early Ste. Genevievians retained their French language, in a dialect known as "paw-paw" French. They also retained their architecture ( examples which you can still see at the Guibourd-Valle historic tour home, as well as other houses through-out the downtown area), and following the great flood of 1785, moved the town from its original site on the banks of the Mississippi to approximately two miles west-northwest to its present location.