Austin Festival Continues Bicentennial Tradition - The Independent-Journal: Coming Events

Austin Festival Continues Bicentennial Tradition

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Posted: Thursday, May 30, 2019 9:22 am

By Neil Richards, Ye Olde Ed

June 9th thru 16th, 1963 Potosi celebrated the 200th Anniversary of its founding in 1763 by French soldier, hunter and adventurer Francis Azor, known as the Breton, because of his birthplace in Brittany, France.

The story goes that The Breton, while chasing a bear in the mining country, discovered a rich surface outcropping of lead ore at what is now Potosi. The mineral wealth drew other settlers, and a mining camp sprang up along the south side of the creek and up in the mines of the Citadel, and later a village- the mines, creek and village were named for The Breton- Mine Au Breton.

Moses Austin, a Connecticut Yankee who became ‘Missouri’s First Industrialist’ came to the area in 1797 to view the rich lead deposits, he obtained  a Spanish Land Grant and the next year (September, 1798) brought his family here.

Austin’s experience as a pewter manufacturer and lead and zinc miner and  his hard-driving character transformed lead mining and smelting into Missouri’s first industry. He built a store, large home, sawmill, flour mill, blacksmith shop, bridges and roads, a shot tower, etc.

A new town, established February 26, 1814 as the county seat, was developed on the north side of the creek. It was briefly called St. George, then became Potosi, in honor of the Spanish mining town in Bolivia.

Potosi and Mine Au Breton were separate villages until May 2, 1826 when the community incorporated under the single name of Potosi.

Bicentennial brought area residents together for a celebration which was unequaled in previous history or until today. The community rallied around the celebration and everyone worked together like never before.

Bicentennial 1963 paid tribute to the heritage and tradition which was, and is, Potosi. Period clothing, old time conveyances, bonnets and beards, horseback riders were seen everywhere.

Participation was the byword as the historic community marked its 200th Birthday with parades, publications, painted plates, picturetaking galore, food and beverage, antique and craft displays, fashion shows, games, contests, so on and so forth and closed each celebration day with an unforgettable historic pageant.

The Moses Austin Heritage Festival continues the  celebration and allows participants to become better acquainted with the community’s historic and somewhat colorful past as one of the nation’s oldest established settlements west of the Mississippi.

Your participation is urged, and welcomed whatever manner you choose to take part- it’s a celebration all can enjoy. Planners, living history performers, tourists and guests can all come together to take a brief look back at who we are and what  our place is in history.

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