The market had humble beginnings in 1779 as a flat meadow that farmers could come to, to sell their locally raised fruit, vegetables, dairy, and livestock. In 1795, Antoine Soulard was given a 122 acre plot that included the market grounds by his father-in-law, Gabriel Cerre. But, when the United States made the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, Antoine's claim to the land was put in jeopardy. It wasn't until 1836, after a lengthy legal battle and Antoine's death, that his widow, Julia Soulard, acquired the deed to the land. In 1841, she officially set aside two city blocks to be used as a farmers market with the caveat that it had to stay a market.