Missouri French (French: français du
Missouri) or Illinois Country French (French: français du Pays des Illinois) also known as
français vincennois, français Cahok, and
nicknamed "Paw-Paw French " often by individuals outside the
community but not exclusively, is a variety of the French language formerly
spoken in the upper Mississippi River Valley in the Midwestern United
States, particularly in eastern Missouri. The language is one of the
major varieties of French that developed in the United States and at one
point was widely spoken in areas of Bonne Terre, Valles Mines, Desloge,
De Soto, Ste. Genevieve, Old Mines, Saint Louis, Richwoods, Prairie du
Rocher, Cahokia, Kaskaskia, and Vincennes as well as several other locations.
Speakers of Missouri French may call themselves "créoles"
as they are descendants of the early French settlers of Illinois Country.
Old Mines (French: La Vieille Mine The early settlers came to ) is the name of an unincorporated community and surrounding area in southeast Missouri that were settled by French colonists in the early 18th century when the area was part of the Illinois Country of New France.mine for lead, and their descendants still inhabit the area where, through a combination of geographic and cultural isolation, they maintained a distinctive French culture well into the 20th century. As recently as the late 1980s there may have been a thousand native speakers of the region's Missouri French dialect. This culturally distinct population has sometimes been referred to as "paw-paw French" and lives in an amorphous area in Washington, Jefferson, and St. Francois counties roughly 15 miles (24 km) either side of a line from Potosi to De Soto. The community of Old Mines itself is in northeastern Washington County, six miles north of Potosi. [Wikipedia 20201028]
French at Old Mines