Mt. Vernon Register-News

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November 3, 2012

JCHV offers peek at French history

MT. VERNON — The Jefferson County Historical Society will offer a unique musical look at Illinois history on Wednesday, Nov. 14.

“French Creole Fiddle and Tales from the Illinois Country” will be performed by musician Dennis Stroughmatt of Albion at 6:30 p.m. at the historical village.

“Beginning in 1699 with the building of villages like Cahokia and Kaskaskia, the foundation of The Illinois Country or ‘Les Pays des Illinois’ was set,” information states. “Over the next century, French colonists from Western France and Quebec would merge with the native populations of Illinois, Missouri, and Indiana to create a Creole culture that is still unique from its cousins in Louisiana and Canada even today.”

The program will highlight the enduring French identity of places like Prairie du Rocher and Old Mines, Mo., through ancient French folktales, haunting ballads and foot-stomping fiddle tunes, information states.

Stroughmatt, born and raised in southeastern Illinois, is an authority on French Creole music, traditions, and culture of “Upper Louisiana,” aka Illinois and Missouri and the Louisiana Purchase area.

“First introduced to local French music as a teenager in Indiana, Dennis later moved to southeast Missouri and spent over three years studying and learning to speak Illinois French Creole, play the fiddle, and sing many of the traditional songs that have permeated the region for over three hundred years,” information states. “He would also go on to live, work, and play music in the ‘Cajun country’ of Louisiana and study in Quebec, thus completing the circle of French culture in North America.”

This program is provided free of charge at the Jefferson County Historical Village, located at 1411 North 27th Street in Mt. Vernon.  For more information, contact the Historical Society office at 246-0033.

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