All Stories

Manuel Lisa

Manuel Lisa
1772–1820
Revolutionary War Veteran, Fur Trader

The former Hempstead family burial ground is in the oldest section in Bellefontaine. The Hempstead farm made up most of the original acreage of the cemetery. Stephen Hempstead, father of the family, was a veteran of the Revolutionary War, having served in Nathan Hale’s regiment.

One of the largest monuments in the Hempstead section is that of Manuel Lisa, the famous fur trader of Spanish descent, who built the stone building on the St. Louis riverfront known as the “Old Rock House.” Manuel Lisa married Mary Hempstead, a rather strange union for that day as he was a Roman Catholic and she a Yankee-born Presbyterian. Mary Hempstead was the first white woman to go into the Indian country along the Missouri River.