|The Beginnings of Fee Fee|
Two hundred years ago Bridgeton was a land of rolling hills, forests, prairies, springs and rivers. A swamp was where Lambert - St. Louis International Airport is today. Deer and buffalo grazed in the fields while fish and otters swam in the rivers. The land was beautiful and fertile.
Indians had lived here for hundreds of years. One of their camps was in Bridgeton's Matthews Park. Indian pottery and arrowheads may still be found in the Bridgeton area.
The first white people who came here were French. One of them was Nicholas Beaugenou, Jr. Nicholas was known to his friends as Fifi. Americans spelled his nickname the way it was pronounced, "Fee Fee".
St. Ferdinand was the nearest settlement at the time. Today it is part of the city of Florissant. One Sunday in August 1793 seven people left St. Ferdinand to pick wild plums. Two Indians named Red Cedar and Turkey Foot attacked them. Mrs. Riviere and 10 year old Elizabeth Creely escaped by hiding in bushes but the others were killed.
The next year William Owen built a fort for protection from the Indians. Because of nearby cottonwood trees and swamps his settlement was called Marais de Liards. The name was later changed to Bridgeton.
Most of the early homes were built French style with the logs set on their ends. Most pictures show log cabins built English style with the logs laid horizontally.
Although Spain owned the land west of the Mississippi many Americans settled there. Some of these people were Baptists. They included the Musick, Sullen, Williams, Richardson, Martin, Link, Sullivan, Hildebrands and Howdershell families. Since Spain only allowed Catholic worship, the Baptists were not allowed to worship or form a church.
In the spring of 1798, John Clark came to the Bridgeton area from Illinois to hold Protestant worship services. This was done secretly since it was against Spanish law.
The United States purchased the land west of the Mississippi River in 1803. People here could now worship as they pleased. Thomas Musick, a pastor in Illinois, moved here when he heard about the purchase. In 1807, he and several families formed a Baptist church on the banks of Fee Fee’s creek.