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


One thought on “Another fille à marier, a Protestant, and a massacre

  1. Fille a marier – precursor to online dating:)

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