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:

Calteau

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.

plaque_tourouvre_baptises

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.

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2 thoughts on “A widow and her daughters

  1. Kudos to you for untangling these stories! Such complex family histories must be common from that time, when possible partners were so few.

    Marie Madeleine had such an “eventful” life, outliving three husbands. I suppose there are no first person accounts extant from that time from people such as her. It is too bad, because it would be interesting to hear her views.

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