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

Gaspard Boucher and Nicole Lemaire

Another Girardin ancestor who came in 1635, as part of the Perche Migration, was Gaspard Boucher and his wife Nicole Lemaire.  Gaspard was born about 1599 in Mortagne-au-Perche, France.  Nicole was born in 1595, and they were married about 1619 in France.
Gaspard was a carpenter and, when he first arrived, he worked as a farmer for the Jesuits at Notre-Dame-des-Anges near Beauport. By 1646 the family was settled in Trois-Rivières, which is approximately half way between Quebec City and Montreal.  Death and burial records for Gaspard and Nicole have not been found.

We descend from their daughter Marie who was born in France.  Here is her baptismal record.

Baptism of Marie Boucher, Jan. 22, 1629, Mortagne-au-Perche, église Notre-Dame

Baptism of Marie Boucher, Jan. 22, 1629, Mortagne-au-Perche, église Notre-Dame

She was 6 years old when she came to New France with her family.  Seigneur Robert Giffard and our ancestor Zacharie Cloutier (don’t know if this is the senior or the junior) were witnesses to her marriage to Etienne de Lafond when she was sixteen.  Marie would have nine children before being widowed at the age of 36 when her youngest child was only one year old. Marie never remarried and died at the age of 77.

Here is the descent from Gaspard to Mémère:

Gaspard BOUCHER (abt 1599-?) + Nicole LEMER/LEMAIRE (1595-?)
Marie BOUCHER (1629-1706) + Etienne DE LAFOND (abt 1615-1665)
Francoise DE LAFOND (1658-1717) + Charles LESIEUR (1647-1697)
Joseph LESIEUR-COULOMB (1688-1723) + Madeleine ADOUIN (-)
Jean Baptiste LESIEUR-COULOMB (bef 1721-1756) + Francoise RIVARD-BELLEFEUILLE (bef 1727-1756)
Joseph LESIEUR DIT LAPIERRE (1754-1813) + Madeleine LESIEUR (1756-?)
Josephte LESIEUR (1778-1864) + Charles GIRARDIN (1773-1853)
Paul GIRARDIN (1801-1878) + Marie Louise BERNARDIN (1824-1912)
Napoleon GIRARDIN (1851-1929) + Onesime ALLARD (1852-1896)
Marie Emma GIRARDIN (1878-1979)

When I started this blog, I mentioned that I would also talk about some interesting relatives who are  NOT direct ancestors.  One of these is Marie’s brother Pierre Boucher.   He became an extremely important person in Trois-Rivières. As a youth he spent time with the missionaries in Huronia, and later served as a soldier and interpreter at the fort of Trois-Rivières . He was influential in saving the fort from an Iroquois attack in 1653, and in 1662 was delegated to go to France to persuade King Louis XIV that this fledgling colony required more help, specifically more soldiers.

When he returned to New France Pierre wrote a book A True and Genuine Description of New France, Commonly Called Canada, and of the Manners and Customs and Productions of that Country.  It was a combination of a natural history book, a travelogue, and a plea for France to help the colony.  An English translation of his book can be found on Google Books here.

The Dictionary of Canadian Biography states that:

“The success of Pierre Boucher’s mission marks a turning point in the history of New France. His presence among the most influential persons of the kingdom resulted in much curiosity and sympathy being aroused for his country. His report, to the writing of which he applied himself on his return, increased interest in New France. It was intelligent, sincere, rational propaganda, which reinforced on the human and economic level what was already known of this country through the Relations des Jésuites. The happiest outcome of this little work was the sending of the troops of the Carignan regiment and the coming of the Marquis de Tracy [Prouville*] and Intendant Talon*. At last France was taking the fate of its distant colony seriously.”

Pierre was eventually made Governor of Trois-Rivières. In 1668 he established the seigneury of Boucherville, near Montreal.   He died at the age of 94 in 1717. One of his grandsons was the explorer LaVerendrye.  One of his great-granddaughters was Marie-Marguerite d’Youville, the first Canadian-born person to be declared a saint.

Of course, there’s a plaque in Trois-Rivières commemorating Pierre!

Marie-Claude Côté 2003, © Ministère de la Culture et des Communications

Marie-Claude Côté 2003, © Ministère de la Culture et des Communications