Marcellin St. Vrain
Marcellin St. Vrain
Thanks to the St. Vrain Family and especially Christine St. Vrain
for help with this story and photographs.
Marcellin St. Vrain was born at Spanish Lake, Missouri, on October 14, 1815.  He was the tenth and last child of Jacques Marcellin Ceran de Hault de Lassus de St. Vrain and Marie Felicite Dubreuil.

After graduating from college in St. Louis in 1835, he went to Bent's Fort where he worked for his older brother, Ceran, of the Bent & St. Vrain Company.  He learned how to manage the fort and about the fur trade.  In 1837 he was put in charge of St. Vrain's Fort when it was still under construction.  

Marcellin was five feet six inches and weighed about 115 pounds.  He was reputed to be an active sportsman, a devil with women, fond of hunting, riding and horse racing.  He had a special charm and style which attracted travelers to St. Vrain's Fort. 

In 1840, he married a 13 year old woman we only know as "Red."   Sometimes she is listed as Red, Rel, Royal Red, Red Cedar, or Spotted Fawn!  Red was related to the great Chief Red Cloud of the Oglala Sioux and also a niece of Chief Crazy Horse

The "first ladies" of the trading posts and forts along the Platte River in those days had a running competition for the best garden.  Red's garden was known far and wide as always the best.

Marcellin and Red had three children, all born at the fort.  Felix was born on June 17, 1842 and Charles was next on October 17, 1844.

Some accounts show that in 1845 Fort St. Vrain was closed by the Bent & St. Vrain Company and Marcellin moved back to Bent's Fort briefly.  But, if so, he apparently returned to the fort and ran it on his own soon after this.

Their third child, Mary Louise St. Vrain, was born on March 9, 1848.  Later in this same year, Marcellin abruptly moved to St. Louis.  There are many stories told about why he left but most feel it was due to some sort of skirmish or accident with a Native American tribe that had been camped near the fort.  He left Red and their children (now aged: Felix 6, Charles 3 1/2, and infant Mary Louise) under the protection of his older brother and partner of Bent's Fort, Ceran St. Vrain.  For several years Red believed Marcellin would return to her, but instead, perhaps unknown to her at first, in 1849 he married an Irish woman, Elizabeth Jane Murphy of Florissant, Missouri.  

It is unclear whether Marcellin ever returned west.  However, he either went for or sent for his two sons in about 1851.  They were then raised and educated alongside their step-siblings.  Mary Louise stayed behind with her mother as she was only 3 years old.  When it was clear that Red and Marcellin would never be together again, Red took Mary Louise to Mora, New Mexico where she married William A. Bransford.  It is unknown whether Felix or Charles ever saw their mother again.

Felix joined the Confederate Army (Company "A" 2nd Missouri Infantry).  His regiment saw action at the Battle of Iuka, Battle of Corinth, Battle of Grand Gulf and at Vicksburg, where it surrendered on July 4, 1863.  Immediately paroled, it was merged witht the 6th Missouri Infantry, but retained the 2nd Missouri Infantry designation. The regiment continued seeing action at nearly every major battle fought in Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi and East Louisana.  Some of their battles included the Battle of Atlanta, Kennesaw Mountain, Allatoona Pass, Franklin, Mobile, and Fort Blakely.  Felix died a prisoner of the Union Army in 1864 at the age of 22.  His final resting place is unknown. 

After schooling, Charles served the last year of the Civil War with Company "E" Thirty Ninth Missouri Infantry, and was discharged at St. Louis on June 16, 1865.  He assisted his father with the operation of their flow mill until his father's death.

Marcellin died on March 3, 1871.  He was buried in Centre, Missouri.  During their marriage, Marcellin and Elizabeth had rasised 10 children in addition to Felix and Charles. 

Charles continued with the mill for a year or so after that but eventually the mill was sold.  On October 19, 1871, Charles married Mary Jane Cope of Vandalia, Missouri.  In 1890, perhaps to be nearer his sister Mary Louise, he moved his family to Sopris, Colorado.  His wife Mary died there on May 23, 1921.  After that Charles lived with his youngest daughter, Maude, in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and with his son Charles in Hastings, Colorado, until his death February 19, 1935, at ninety years of age.  He is buried in Trinidad, Colorado.

There are no known photographs of Felix or Charles St. Vrain

Mary Louise married John R. Skelly on Oct 30th, 1863 in Mora, New Mexico at the age of 15 and had 2 children.  Eventually Mary Louise and Red moved with their families and settled in Trinidad, Colorado.  For a time, Mary Louise and Red ran a boarding house in Trinidad on the site of the present Columbian Hotel.  Mr. Skelly died in 1879.  

William Bransford died on December 27, 1883 and is buried in Trinidad, Colorado.  On the south side of his headstone, the inscription reads, "Mrs. W.A. Bransford, (Red) our beloved mother died April 12, 1886."

In 1890, Mary Louise married General E.B. Sopris (the general who founded the Sopris coal camp in the valley now occupied by Trinidad Lake State Park).  Later, at the Gereral's request, the last names of her children were changed to Sopris.  Mary Louise, her daughter and grandson, attended the dedication of the monument to Fort St. Vrain in 1911.  Mary Louise died on February 14, 1916.

Return to the St. Vrain's Fort Homepage
Marcellin St. Vrain
Mrs. "Red" Bransford in later years.
Mary Louise (St. Vrain) Sopris
Albert Sopris, grandson of Mary Louise wearing a Native American costume made by Red.  Red used hair from Mary Louise and Mary's daughter, Cora, to make the wig.
Ceran St. Vrain