The Florissant Story
French farmers and fur trappers looked upon this valley in 1767 and called it Fleurissant, or flowering, flourishing. Some stayed to till the rich black loam and founded a village. When the Spanish took over the land, the havitaciones del establicimiento de Florzan took on the official name of St. Ferdinand until 1939 when the name was officially made Florissant.
The history of Florissant is the history of America – a time when a log stockade around a spring was the only security men knew; dauntless men of God who lived among the Indians – men such as Jesuit Father Pierre Jean DeSmet, whose name has entered American Folklore and whose base was Florissant; intrepid men who left their cabins along Coldwater Creek to found cities along the Missouri River and Santa Fe Trail.
Captain Francois Dunegant established the first civil government in Florissant in 1786 and served as the first military and civil commandant.
When Florissant was passed under the American flag in 1804 its way of life was set. French farmers plowed their fields and worshipped their God along the banks of the Coldwater Creek. Americans trickled in from the east and settled other parts of the valley.
Near the mid 1800’s came the German immigration which settled the top of the hill overlooking the French settlement along the creek. These French, Americans and Germans began to sink deep roots and became a part of the fabric of which America is made.
When World War II ended, America needed homes; it needed them near the big cities where the new prosperity waited. St. Louis had long since had its belt of suburbs snuggled about its perimeter, and many people who lived in them had never even heard of the tiny village of Florissant which lay quietly in north St. Louis County along the banks of a creek and off the main highways which served St. Louis – and had lain there so quietly long before any other suburbs existed.
Florissant was already the nucleus of a city. It had water, the beginnings of a sewer system, fire protection and acres and acres of beautiful land around it. The new suburbia was born with a crashing boom and Florissant was one of its biggest bull’s eyes.
In the Spanish census of 1797 there were 40 people in Florissant; the census of 1950 counted 3737. By 2018 the once tiny village had over 51,000 people. Active and intensely civic minded, the residents of Florissant, including the “new” people are fiercely proud of the City’s 200 years of history and work to preserve it in many different programs.
Written by the City of Florissant