SGHS American History Classes Visit Historic Park – Ste. Genevieve Herald
From staff reports
Recently about 50 Ste. American History students from Genevieve High School attended a walking tour of historic downtown Ste. Geneviève and the Ste. Geneviève National Historical Park. This was the first field visit to the new Ste. Students from Genevieve R-II County.
The high school history department took pride in sharing the unique story of our community and making relevant connections in the lives of the students.
During the visit, Dr Michael Ruch guided the students around the city center and highlighted places of historical significance and discussed the architecture. The discussions were structured around two general themes: the French colonial history of Sainte Geneviève and the history of civil rights.
At the memorial cemetery, they discussed the origins of the town, the triumphs and tragedies of the Valle family, and how the family purchased the new cemetery south of town when the memorial cemetery was closed. Ruch also regaled the students with the story of Fenwick’s duel linked to the house opposite.
As they progressed, the students toured Felix Valle’s site and the location of the bank stolen by Jesse James. Outside of Ste. Genevieve Middle School, the group discussed their roots in the Great Depression / New Deal and the history of segregated states.
They discussed the Ste. Geneviève Race Riot of 1930 and attempted kidnapping and lynching of the postman Cap Ribeux near the Bequette-Ribault house.
The group also learned the history of Pélagie Amoureux while passing in front of the houses of Beauvais, Bolduc and Amoureux. Pelagie was a remarkable woman, born into slavery in 1805, emancipated in 1832, and who raised her family in the House of Lovers through continual trials and tribulations.
The National Park rangers then gave the group a tour of the Amoureux House, where the students learned more about the life and spirit of Pelagie. National Park rangers also took students on a tour of the grounds of the historic Green Street Tavern, the oldest verified vertical log building in Ste. Geneviève, for another look at French colonial life in Ste. Genevieve.
During the visit, Dr Ruch presented authentic French Creole violin tunes from Upper Louisiana and allowed students to learn basic violin tunes. Each student had the chance to play and learn as we discussed the Sainte Geneviève La Guignolée, a medieval French New Year’s Eve tradition.
During the visit, students undertook a brainstorming exercise on questions such as: What can you do to help shape the identity or culture of your community?
The students took the time to think about their answers and then wrote them on posters for their peers to see. Responses included: encouraging and celebrating our differences, talking to local historians, speaking out, being open-minded to other cultures and supporting festivals.
Jason Elders is a middle and high school social studies and special education teacher, and is also the first Ste. Teacher Ranger Teacher of Genevieve National Park. “Our school is enthusiastic about this collaboration with the Ste. Genevieve National Historic Park looks forward to continuing to work with the park to provide many more educational opportunities for our students, ”said Elders.