French Village

This precinct emerged in the first years of the nineteenth century and was settled by families of French descent from the nearby villages of Cahokia and Prairie du Pont. While there is no longer a true village bearing its name, French Village was once a small clustering of houses and business strung along one of the better-maintained roads in the American Bottom. Rock Road (as it was then called) was one of the only limestone-surfaced roads in the state, connecting Belleville with East St. Louis. Arrayed along this road were a hotel, a general store, two blacksmiths, a boot and shoe shop, and numerous saloons, as well as the municipal administration of the township where, until 1857, residents of East St. Louis (what was then Illinoistown) voted.

While French Village may no longer exist as a distinct entity, it remains in the territorial archive as an important designation—with the Public Domain Township surrounding the precinct as well as the US Geological Survey (USGS) 7.5-minute quadrangle map bearing its name. On a more local and recent register, this former precinct gave its name to French Village Drive-In, which stood at the intersection of St. Claire Avenue and State Route 157. Like so many other drive-ins in the region, its decline saw it transformed into a pornographic theater before being shuttered in the 1980s.