A widow and her daughters

Today’s story is about a widow who came to New France with her two daughters.  All three of these women were filles à marier.  Marie Madeleine Cousteau  was born about 1607, married in 1626 to Etienne St. Pair and bore six children. By 1639 her husband had died, and by 1647 four of her children had also.  Facing poverty, and in hopes of a better life,  she embarked with her twenty year old daughter Jeanne and her thirteen year old daughter Catherine.

Marie Madeleine quickly found a husband in Emery Cailleteau. They did not have any children, but her life was drastically changed once again when Emery was killed by the Iroquois on June 2, 1653 near the fort at Cap-de-La-Madeleine (in the Trois Rivieres area). We have documentation  in The Jesuit Relations:


In November of that same year, Marie Madeleine found another husband, Claude Houssard dit le Petit Claude, who had come to New France as an engage in 1642, and was about nine years younger than Marie Madeleine. He was one of the early pioneers in Trois Rivieres and there is a street, Rue Houssart, named after him.  Their marriage lasted for 36 years, until Claude’s death in 1689.

At some point, Claude had clearly descended into dementia.  Peter Gagne, in his book Before the King’s Daughters, quotes an article by Raymond Douville (Mémoires de la Société Généalogique Canadienne-Française, 1:4, 266-270), that explains Marie Madeleine gave land to one of her grandsons in return for his taking care of Claude because of

“the impossibility…with regards to the care that must be taken of her said husband, who is devoid of reason and in utter madness, of whom great care must be taken to clean up every mess which may be imagined and it being necessary to see to the comfort of this said man for the time that it pleases God to let him live.”

Apparently Marie Madeleine had incurred many debts in her desire to care for Claude. Her relatives helped her out by paying these debts.  After Claude died, Marie Madeleine lived another two years, dying at the age of about 84. One hope these last two years were peaceful ones for her.

Meanwhile, in 1649, Marie Madeleine’s daughter Catherine, not a direct ancestor, married Mathurin Guillet . On August 18, 1652 tragedy struck when Mathurin was killed by the Iroquois. From The Jesuit Relations, Vol. 37

 “On the 18th, 4 frenchmen were attacked by 8 Iroquois canoes, between 3 Rivers and the Cape; Maturin Guillet and La Boujonnier were killed on the spot. Plassez, a surgeon, and Rochereau, were taken away as captives.”

Catherine would then marry Nicolas Rivard dit Lavigne.

So now we come to Marie Madeleine’s daughter Jeanne, who had also come as a fille à marier. In 1648 she married Pierre Guillet dit Lajeunesse, brother to Mathurin, a master woodworker and carpenter who had come to New France around 1642. They also settled in the Trois Rivieres area, and would have a family of 11 children. One imagines his skills were in high demand in the colony.

Jeanne and Pierre had a daughter Marie Madeleine who married Robert Rivard dit Loranger, brother to Nicolas, (yes she married her aunt’s brother-in-law).  Robert is one of the names on a plaque remembering those immigrants baptized at l’église Saint-Aubin de Tourouvre, France.


Robert farmed in Batiscan, near Trois Rivieres, but the adventure and possible riches of the fur trade tempted him.  In 1689 he signed a contract with La Compagnie du Nord to trade in the area of the Abitibi lakes and Temiscamingue.  In 1695 he was part of the Compagnie Royale that traded furs. Several of his sons also involved themselves in the fur trade.

Here is where our lines get tangled, because we descend from three of Robert and Marie Madeleine’s children, Claude, Marie Charlotte, and Louis Joseph.

Claude married Catherine Roy dit Chatellerault and he was involved in the fur trade. His name is on the Cadillac Convoy plaque I’ve posted before, that honours the men who accompanied Antoine Lamother, Sieur de Cadillac, to Detroit on July 24, 1701.

Photo with permission of the French-Canadian Heritage Society of Michigan

Photo with permission of the French-Canadian Heritage Society of Michigan

Marie Charlotte and Louis Joseph both married into the Lesieur family, who are a topic for another post.

So now I will attempt to explain our complicated descent from these ancestors. First we have:

1-Marie Madeleine COUSTEAU/COUTEAU (abt 1606-1691)
+Etienne ST. PAIR (?-?)
2-Jeanne ST. PAIR (1627-?)
+Pierre GUILLET dit LAJEUNESSE (abt 1628-1695)
3-Marie Madeleine GUILLET (1650-1736)
+Robert RIVARD dit LORANGER (1638-1699)

Then we find we descend from three of their children until we arrive at Charles Girardin and Josephte Lesieur:
4-Claude RIVARD dit LORANGER (bef 1666-1736)
+Marie Catherine ROY dite CHATELLERAULT (bef 1673-1753)
5-Nicolas RIVARD dit LORANGER (1698-1760)
+Antoinette DUBORD dit LAFONTAINE (1715-1772)
6-Genevieve RIVARD dite LORANGER (1744-1810)
+Augustin GIRARDIN (1741-1810)
7-Charles GIRARDIN (1773-1853)
+Josephte LESIEUR (1778-1864)

4-Marie Charlotte RIVARD dite LORANGER (1680-1744)
+Charles Julien LESIEUR (1674-1739)
5-Pierre LESIEUR (1700-1761)
+Genevieve SICARD DE RIVE (1728-1798)
6-Madeleine LESIEUR (1756-1841)
+Joseph Baptiste LESIEUR dit LAPIERRE (1751-1813)
7-Josephte LESIEUR (1778-1864)
+Charles GIRARDIN (1773-1853)

4-Louis Joseph RIVARD dit LORANGER (1684-1740)
+Francoise LESIEUR (1695-1758)
5-Francoise RIVARD dite BELLEFEUILLE (bef 1727-1756)
+Jean Baptiste LESIEUR-COULOMB (bef 1721-1756)
6-Joseph Baptiste LESIEUR dit LAPIERRE (1751-1813)
+Madeleine LESIEUR (1756-1841)
7-Josephte LESIEUR (1778-1864)
+Charles GIRARDIN (1773-1853)

And then we find the final connection:
8-Paul GIRARDIN (1804-1878)
+Marie Louise BERNARDIN (1824-1912)
9-Napoleon GIRARDIN (1851-1929)
+Onesime ALLARD (1852-1896)
10-Marie Emma GIRARDIN (1878-1979)

Whew!  Clear as mud.


More filles à marier and a witchcraft trial

Today I am going to write about two Girardin ancestors who were both filles à marier.

Marguerite Charlot was born around 1627 in Paris, France.  She came to New France in 1647 and married Louis Loisel in Montreal on January 13, 1648. Maisonneuve was a witness at their wedding, as was our ancestor Gilbert Barbier, and Charles LeMoyne, an important citizen who would eventually become a seigneur.

Louis Loisel was born in 1618 in the Normandy area of France. He was a locksmith, and as he arrived in 1647, I wonder if perhaps they traveled on the same ship.

They had eight children, three of whom died as infants. Their first child, daughter Jeanne is considered the first European child to be born in Montreal and survive to adulthood She was sent to live with Marguerite Bourgeoys and be educated in her school.

In the book Marguerite Bourgeoys and Montreal, 1640-1665 by Patricia Simpson, p. 156,

we read:


We can assume the several of our early Montreal ancestors would have been educated by Marguerite Bourgeoys, whose first school was actually set up in a stable.

Louis died in 1691 and Marguerite in 1706.

We descend from Louis and Marguerite’s son Joseph who was baptized  November 25, 1654 with Maissoneuve and Jeanne Mance as godparents.

Marie Pontonnier was also a fille à marier, born in 1643 in France.  She came to New France in 1656 and chose to marry Pierre Gadois in 1657.  She must have had many men who wished to make her their wife,  because one of them,  Rene Besnard dit Bourjoly, a corporal, and an obviously unhappy rejected suitor, swore to cast a spell on the couple to make them sterile.

The spell was called “nouer l’aiguillette” and involved tying knots in the type of cord men used to close the flap on their clothing that covers their privates.

After a year of a childless marriage, Marie and Pierre sought a second nuptial blessing from Bishop Laval. When that didn’t work, they accused Besnard of witchcraft, and on November 2, 1658 we see the first trial for witchcraft in New France.  Besnard was found guilty, imprisoned, and then banished from Montreal.

You can read about it here.

After a three-year waiting period, Marie and Pierre’s marriage was annulled in 1660.  Pierre went on to marry someone else and have 14 children.

As for Marie, she married again, this time to Pierre Martin dit La Rivière, an interpreter and surgeon.  However, her life was not about to get any easier. On March 24 1661 Pierre was killed in an Iroquois ambush. On November 9 Marie gave birth to their daughter.  All this drama, and Marie was only 18!

She wasted no time marrying again, this time to Honore Langlois dit Lachapelle on December 5, 1661. Honore was a hat maker from Paris. They went on to have ten children and settled in the Pointe-aux-Trembles area . Honore died in 1709 and Marie in 1718 at the age of 75.

We descend from Marie and Honore’s daughter Jeanne.

Joseph (Marguerite Charlot’s  son) and Jeanne (Marie Pontonnier’s son) married in 1682 and settled in Point aux Trembles, on the eastern end of the island of Montreal. At one point Joseph was involved in the fur trade.

In Edge of Empire: Documents of Michilimackinac, 1671-1716, edited by Joseph L. Peyser, José António Brandão we read on page 23:

Joseph Loisel

Joseph and Jeanne raised a family of 12, at least one of which married in Kaskaskia in what is now in Illinois, so there was possibly another fur trade connection.

Joseph had a sister, Barbe, whose third husband was Francois Fafard Delorme, the interpreter in Detroit. Francois had married into the Jobin family which I talked about here.

Jeanne Langlois died in 1719 and Joseph Loisel in 1724.

So here’s our descent from these two strong women:

First we have:

1-Marguerite CHARLOT (abt 1627-1706)
+Louis LOISELLE (1618-1691)
2-Joseph LOISELLE (1654-1724)

At the same time we have:

1-Marie PONTONNIER (1643-1718)
+Honore LANGLOIS LACHAPELLE (abt 1631-1709)
2-Jeanne LANGLOIS LACHAPELLE (1664-1719)

Those two ancestors marry and we get:

3-Marie Madeleine LOISELLE (1694-1748)
+Charles TRUDEAU (1684-1742)
4-Marie Josephe TRUDEAU (1717-1762)
+Paul LUSSIER (1711-1773)
5-Louis LUSSIER ( 1749-?)
+Marie Madeleine LANGEVIN (1749-1822)
6-Christophe LUSSIER (1773-?)
+Marie Charlotte BRUNEL (1774-1806)
7-Magdeleine LUSSIER (1795-1832)
+Charles ALLARD (1787-1862)
8-Joseph Pierre ALLARD (1826-1875)
+Marie BONIN (1827-?)
9-Onesime ALLARD (1852-1896)
+Napoleon GIRARDIN (1851-1929)
10-Marie Emma GIRARDIN (1878-1979)

Another fille à marier, a Protestant, and a massacre

One of the things I love about doing this blog, is the fact that in the process of preparing each entry, I keep making more fascinating discoveries!  (If you’re reading this blog, I hope you find them interesting at least).

In my last post I talked about Joachim Girard working for his uncle Jean Jobin. There are many connections between these two families.  Jean was an uncle by marriage, his wife, Marie Girard, being a sister to Joachim’s father Michel.  Many members of the Jobin family came to New France. Joachim’s sister Marie-Madeleine married Charles Jobin, another nephew of Jean’s, making Charles a brother-in-law to Joachim.

This Charles had a sister Francoise Jobin who was a fille à marier and turns out to also be a direct ancestor of ours in the Girardin line.  Francoise was born around 1632 in Amfreville-sous-les-Monts, Normandy, but the family had moved to Paris by 1639. Francoise came to New France in 1652 and stayed in the home of Jean Godefroy, Sieur de Linctot in Trois-Rivières until her marriage in 1653 to Pierre Dandonneau dit Lajeunesse.

Pierre was born in 1624 in Nieul-sur-Mer and was baptized in the Protestant church of La Rochelle.  That’s right, a Protestant.  Despite the popular perception that New France was exclusively a Roman Catholic colony, there were Protestants there.

So, some background:  The Wars of Religion (read more here) in France between Catholics and Protestants (usually referred to as Huguenots) took place from 1562 ‘til 1598 when the Edict of Nantes gave some equality and freedom to the Protestants.

Many Protestants were among the early explorers and entrepreneurs of the new world, including Jean Francois de la Rocque de Roberva, Guillaume de Caen and Pierre Chauvin.  Even Champlain’s wife, Helene Boulle, was born into a Huguenot family, though she later converted to Catholicism.

However, by 1627 the official French policy was that no Protestants could settle in New France.  They were however still permitted to trade there in the summer, and the merchants from Rochelle certainly did that.  Historians still debate how strictly this policy was enforced.

So, back to our ancestor Pierre Dandonneau dit Lajeunesse. There is no record in New France of an abjuration, ie. a renunciation of his Protestant faith, but it is possible that he did so before he boarded the ship. All his children were baptized Catholic.

He came in 1647 and worked for the above mentioned Jean Godefroy, Sieur de Linctot, which is of course how he met Francoise.

He has an entry in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography (see here) which says in part:

“Pierre Dandonneau was one of the most earnest and tenacious settlers in the early years of the colony. He does not even seem to have engaged in fur-trading.”

Hmm, I found this to be a rather humourous comment.  Although Pierre may not fallen under the spell of the fur trade, many of his descendants and extended family certainly chose that career path. In fact, one of their granddaughters, Marie Anne Dandonneau du Sable, married the fur trader and explorer Pierre Gaultier de Varennes, sieur de La Vérendrye.  This is the second connection I’ve found to La Vérendrye.  I wrote about the first one here.

Pierre and Francoise had 11 children. Here’s our descent from Francoise to Mémère:

1-Marie Francoise JOBIN LAJEUNESSE (abt 1635-1702)
2-Marie Etiennette DANDONNEAU LAJEUNESSE (1662-1723)
+Pierre MERCEREAU LASAVANE (abt 1649-1714)
3-Marie Charlotte Charles MERCEREAU LASAVANE (1685-1715)
4-Marie Catherine TROTTIER DESRUISSEAUX POMBERT (1708-1788)
+Louis SICARD CARUFEL DERIVE (1705-1783)
5-Genevieve SICARD DE RIVE (1728-1798)
+Pierre LESIEUR (1700-1761)
6-Madeleine LESIEUR (1756-1841)
+Joseph Baptiste LESIEUR DIT LAPIERRE (1751-1813)
7-Josephte LESIEUR (1778-1864)
+Charles GIRARDIN (1773-1853)
8-Paul GIRARDIN (1804-1878)
+Marie Louise BERNARDIN (1824-1912)
9-Napoleon GIRARDIN (1851-1929)
+Onesime ALLARD (1852-1896)
10-Marie Emma GIRARDIN (1878-1979)

So what were the new discoveries I made?

Firstly, I discovered via Google Books (see link here) that one of their daughters, Francoise, became a nun (Soeur Sainte-Apolline), a member of the Congregation of Notre Dame of Montreal.  (So much for Protestantism).

Secondly, Francoise had a niece, Marie Madeleine (daughter of her brother Charles and Joachim Girard’s sister Marie Madeleine) who married Francois Fafard dit Delorme, who was an interpreter and “founder” of Detroit with Cadillac. His name is on a plaque.

Photo with permission of the French-Canadian Heritage Society of Michigan

Photo with permission of the French-Canadian Heritage Society of Michigan

We have a direct ancestor on this plaque, but that’s another blog post.

Thirdly, one of Pierre and Francoise’s great-grandsons, Alphonse Mercereau, was an engage for La Vérendrye’s son Jean-Baptiste.Alphonse was quite likely one of the 19 voyageurs massacred by the Sioux in June 1736 in Lake of the Woods.  You can read about it here.  My source for Alphonse being one of the dead is the Bulletin de la Societe historique de Saint-Boniface, Hiver 2001-2002. This Alphonse was a first cousin to our direct ancestor Marie Catherine Trottier.

The bodies were buried at Fort St. Charles, but the fort was eventually abandoned, and the remains were not found until 1908. You can read about that here, but I warn you the pictures are somewhat disturbing. The relics and remains were transferred to St. Boniface College but a fire in 1922 destroyed most of them.  In 1976 a monument was erected in the cemetery of St. Boniface Cathedral. You can view it here. It reads:


On June 6th Father J-P. Aulneau S.J., 31,

J.B. La Verendrye, 22,

and their 19 companions

were killed on an island

in the Lake of the Woods.

They were the forerunners of the

missionaries and voyageurs

who established French civilization

west of the Great Lakes