Naming The Lewis de Mun Suite
I’ve named the third, and final, suite at Lesmeister Guesthouse for a man on the lam (click to enlarge the floor plan at the end of this article).
The story is a bit convoluted, and involves Aaron Burr, Vice President to President Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Latrobe, America’s first architect, who built the first section of the U.S. Capitol.
Burr and Latrobe were friends, and they became close with Lewis de Mun, Latrobe’s right hand man on the U.S. Capitol project. de Mun, a Frenchman born in the Caribbean area, was educated as an architect in Paris.
In 1805, at the end of his term as Vice President, Burr moved into the Ohio River valley. At this same time, Latrobe sent de Mun to Ohio to deliver a set of plans for a building Latrobe had been commissioned to build there.
Burr and de Mun made their way down the Mississippi River with apparent intent on acquiring land in the newly acquired Louisiana Purchase territories, including the area that eventually became Pocahontas, Arkansas.
President Jefferson became convinced that Burr planned to set up his own country west of the Mississippi, and as such had committed treason. Jefferson had the Attorney General issue arrest warrants for both Burr and de Mun. While Burr headed back east to stand trial (he was found not guilty), de Mun ended up in Pocahontas, apparently hiding from Federal authorities. He lived several years here, and he built large and prosperous mills at the southern edge of town, on the creek we now know as Mill Creek.
The Arkansas Archeological Survey has recently investigated the remains of de Mun’s mills here, including remains of the huge logs that made up the base of the mill dam. Those logs are still submerged in the cold waters of Mill Creek.
Probably one of the only educated people in the area while he lived here, de Mun served as county clerk. It was de Mun who selected the location for the town of Davidsonville, near Pocahontas. Davidsonville was the first planned town in Arkansas, and became the location of the first courthouse, first post office, and first land office in Arkansas. Below is a photo of de Mun’s signature on a county document from 1815.
de Mun is listed in records of that time as being among the top five taxpayers in what’s now northern Arkansas and Southern Missouri. Each time voters in Pocahontas go to the polls today, they are casting their votes in Demun Township.
The story has only recently been rediscovered, of de Mun’s relationship with Burr and Latrobe, and exactly what a man of de Mun’s renown was doing here in the early 1800’s. But it’s clear that he was one of the most interesting, and connected, people to ever live here!
For a bit more of the story of de Mun and Latrobe and Burr, see the link below.