& Marie Ann LaFontaine
were Canadiens who came to Illinois separately in the first part of
the 1700's and married there in 1734. They had 3 daughters and Antoine
died by 1747. Marie Ann remarried to
Jean Baptiste Dornon in 1752, but he also died and she was a widow again
at Catherine's wedding in 1764. Her new son-in-law, Gabriel Cerré,
took over her property and she lived with them until her death in 1771 in
Kaskaskia. The Cerré family lived in her home in Kaskaskia,
where Gabriel was an important merchant, until they moved to St. Louis in
1779 after George Rogers Clark took Kaskaskia for the Americans.
[Another source says that Marianne's parents
were Jean Baptiste and Marianne (Fouillard) Girard.
At this second link she is shown as a widow marrying Francois Xavier Rollet,
June 14, 1747.]
Children of Antoine Girard & Marianne (LaFontaine):
1. Marianne Giard born
about 1741; married
Nicholas Caillot, 1757.
2. Marie Angelique Giard,
Nicolle dit Les Bois, Jan 24, 1758, Kaskaskia, IL; children:
........2a) Marie Catherine Nicolle, b. 25 Sep 1763, bap 26 Sep;
........2b) Etienne Nicolle, b & bap 7 Sep 1767;
........2c) Rosalie Nicole, b & bap 27 Nov 1774.
3. Catherine Giard,
born about 1747 in Kaskaskia, IL and died July 21, 1800 at St. Louis, MO.
She married Jean
Gabriel Cerré, Jan. 24, 1764, in Kaskaskia. He was a Montreal-born
trader (coureur de bois) who roamed
the Great Lakes to the Illinois.
Gabriel became a good friend of Nicholas Caillot Lachance
and also lived in Kaskaskia until 1779 when he moved his family to St. Louis.
He became one of the wealthiest men in St. Louis. An inventory of his estate
in 1802 showed personal property equivalent to 129,701 Livres. His household
had 61 people, including 43 slaves.
Here is an interesting adventure which happened in 1778
during the American Revolution:
Gen. George Rogers Clark had come from Kentucky with a small army of about
175 men to take control of the west and break the hold of the British on
the French and Indian population there. He was anxious to get Gabriel Cerré,
who had great influence in the Mississippi Valley, on his side as soon as
possible. On July 4, 1778, Clark crossed the river at night and took control
of Kaskaskia without a shot. Gabriel was in St. Louis at the time and was
disturbed that Clark had posted a guard at his home in Kaskaskia. He sought
to return to Kaskaskia under a promise of safe passage. It was part of Clark's
psychological game to refuse to issue an outright promise that Cerré
would not be arrested, only that he would have nothing to fear if he were
innocent of the charges against him.
"One other man whom [Gen. George Rogers] Clark
sought to arrest, was Gabriel Cerré, Kaskaskia's most important trader,
who eluded capture either by accident or design. The Cerrés lived
on the main street in the center of the village with four children between
the ages of 13 and 3 years. Pascal Leon, Cerré's 6-1/2-year-old-son,
saw Clark peering in a window. When Clark entered the house, Madame Cerré
jumped out of bed and seized the poker, threatening to break Clark's head.
Clark called on his interpreter, Michel Parrault, to explain to her that
Clark intended no harm to herself and her children, but was only looking
for her husband. She assured Clark that M. Cerré was not at home and
gave him permission to search the house. Clark took a candle and looked under
and around the bed and then withdrew without disturbing the beds where the
children lay." [The George
Rogers Clark Adventure in the Illinois, by Seineke,
1981, p 93]
Cerré had not at first been sympathetic with the
Americans, but after the seizure of Kaskaskia, he joined in their aid.
Clark at first called for Cerré's arrest. Finally, Gabriel appeared
and had a very interesting meeting with Clark in Kaskaskia [see book excerpts below]. The Cerré
family moved across the river in 1779 to St. Louis which was under the Catholic
Spanish, but Gabriel, who conducted business affairs all up and down the
Mississippi, became Clark's principal supplier and, along with many other
Frenchmen, he was happy to make a profit supplying the Americans. Cerre became
one of the wealthiest men in St. Louis.
Drawing at right: Gabriel
Cerre house in St. Louis [Block 13A is the house & 13C is the slave
quarters]. Constructed about 1770, it was of stone, with a high raised basement,
and gallery across the front facade. Entry to the main rooms of the house
was from an exterior stair located at the far right. The roof was covered
with wood shingles. The Cerré family moved into this property about
Knife, a wonderful historical novel about George Rogers Clark, by J.A.
[It's location is covered today by the Gatewary Arch Parking Garage.]
Gabriel Cerré was mentioned 5 times in this book, including the interesting
story of his meeting with G.R. Clark.
On page 60: "They [Don Fernando de Leybas,
his wife Maria, and daughter Teresa] had embarked at Kaskaskia the morning
before for the remaining sixty miles up to St. Louis. Kaskaskia, though on
the east side of the Mississippi, had given Teresa a foresight of what she
might expect in this part of the world, and it had been a bewildering impression.
A ball had been held in their honor at the home of the merchange Gabriel Cerré by the leading
French and Creole citizens of Kaskaskia. Teresa had been surprised by the
amounts of imported wealth and finery these people owned--the silver snuffboxes,
the silk and velvet and taffeta dresses, the slippers, the chocolates, the
crystal and silverware, the clocks, the satin-lines trinket boxes, the mirrors
. . . Teresa had heard kaskaskia referred to as the Versailles of the West;
and while it definitely was no such thing, it did boast of more Old World
trappings than she would have expected."
On page 130: "Kaskaskia,
July 4, 1778. The de Leybas were being entertained as guests of honor by
the wife of the merchant Gabriel Cerré.
Monsieur Cerré was, as usual, away trading. The de Leybas had
sailed down the river from St. Louis on a week-long excursion, and this ball
was the culmination of their visit. They were to embark for their return
to St. Louis the next morning."
On page 164-6: "The
merchant Gabriel Cerré entered
the headquarters with an air of injured dignity. He was obviously a man accustomed
to a place high in society, and did not easily wear the suppliant or defensive
manner which his present circumstances now had forced him to assume. He was
large, sleek, and pink-jowled, with a network of flaming capillaries running
from his cheekbones into his nose. His coat of wine-colored velvet
was rumpled and his white stockings were stained with the bilge water of the
freight bateau in which he had been brought over from the Spanish side of
the river. but he was freshly shaved, redolent of some sort of cologne, and
his silvering, kinky dark hair was pulled back neatly and bound in a perfect
queue. George [Rogers Clark] confronted him with folded arms and expressionless
visage, not taking his rpoffered hand. Cerré looked like one who would
have heaped vituperation upon anyone else who had greeted him with such apparent
indifference, but he was not in the least haughty before this Virginian who
now seemed to be in charge of his fate.
" 'Mon colonel, please.
The understanding I have is that certain people in this village accuse me
of being very much in the British interest. But no. I trade at Detroit only
because the British control the trade here. I am without politics, a world
citizen, but with a deep love for France. No politics, sir. No politics at
" 'I've been told that
some of your goods are used to pay the Indians for their depredations upon
my people. That would be a bloody crime in my eyes, m'sieur.'
" 'But it is not so! I abhor the practice of employing
savages in warfare! Sir, I truly suspect--I would wager--that the whole body
of my accusers are persons who are in my debt and would love to see me ruined
so that their obligations would be nullified!'
"George ran his tongue over his eyetooth thoughtfully.
All this was as Gibault had hinted, and perhaps there was a way to verify
it. 'M'sieur Cerré, I don't want to hear any more of your story
at this time. Will you please retire to the antechamber over there and close
the door, and wait until I summon you. This little matter can be dealt with
justly, I think, if you'll let me do this my way.'
"Within fifteen minutes, all the citizens who had complained
against Cerré had been assembled in the parlor. They numbered about
a dozen, and sat or stood, fidgeting. George came in and took a seat behind
the desk. 'We're here now,' he began, 'to hear various charges made against
the merchange Cerré . . .' A babble of nasty voices went up
in the room, and George silenced it by striking the desk top with the side
of his fist. 'Before you begin, messieurs--one at a time--I believe the accused
has the lawful right to face his accusers. Cerré!'
"The antechamber door opened; Cerré stepped out
and glanced over the gathering. A look of contempt formed on his face and
the startled accusers began to squirm and look frightened. One or two edged
backward toward the door, and slipped out.
" 'This 'trial' is in session,' George said. 'Now who
will be the first to record his complaints against Monsieur Cerré
"A dense silence followed, then the shuffling of feet
and the clearing of throats. Cerré stared from one to another. None
spoke. The merchant's countenance grew colder and colder. One by one, eyes
on the floor, the people got up and crept out. Soon there was only one remaining,
near the front of the room, a lumpish fellow in peasant smoth. He looked
up and saw Cerré staring at him; his eyes bulged and his Adam's apple
worked. When he glanced over bothe shoulders then and saw that all the others
had left, he turned pake, got up, and lumbered toward the door, knocking
aside two chairs in his haste.
"Now Cerré stood looking across the empty room
at the open door, his lips drawn thin, hands clasped behind his back. He
turned slowly. 'Well, mon colonel?' he said. George gripped the edges of
the desk top with both hands, stared back at him for a minute, then leaned
back and laughed.
" 'As I see it,' he said, 'the case is closed.'
"Cerré was delighted witht the Virginian's system
of justice. Within another half and hour he had taken the oath of allegiance
to the United States, and ten minutes later was drinking brandy with George
and discussing cheerfully the many ways in which his travels, good, and influence
might be used in support of the new Franco-American alliance."
On page 167: "Gabriel Cerré
held a ball on the eve of George's departure to Cahokia. . . .
"He whirled about the floor now, in this same ballroom
at Cerré''s house which he had invaded only a month before .
On page 185-6: "In his mind now he saw a connection, a sort
of vein work, consisting of Gabriel Cerré
in Kaskaskia, de Leyba in St. Louis, Vigo everywhere in the territory, and
Olvier Pollock and Governor Galvez in New Orleans far down the river. Through
them flowed the lifeblood of his triumphant but desperate little army. Lead
and powder. Grain. Meat. Clothing. Tools and canvas and weapons and paper
and rope, wax, cotton, quinine, tallow and salt and rum. And all of this
flowed according to the power of an ephemeral sothing called credit. His
signature and the name of the Virginia Assembly, written on hundreds of ledger
sheets and vouchers of paper. . . ."
Children of Catherine Giard & Jean Gabriel Cerré:
........3a) Pascal Leon Cerré, born about 1772
........3b) Marie Therese Cerré, married Auguste
Chouteau, the stepson of Pierre Laclede, one of the founders of St. Louis.
[In 1763, a French fur trapper named Pierre Laclede, along with Auguste Chouteau,
set out from New Orleans to explore the Illinois Country to establish a trading
post. In 1764, he chose the west bank of the Mississippi River, north of
the River des Peres and south of the Missouri River. In 1784, the site was
cleared and temporary cabins were built. Laclede named the settlement St.
Louis in honor of the patron saint of the king of France.]
........3c) Julia Cerré
........3d) ?maybe Antoine Cerré [He or another
Antoine Cerré married Françoise LaCroix; their daughter Marguerite
Cerré married Gabriel
Caillot in 1824.]
Pictured at right is
Gabriel Pascal Cerré
Marie Francoise Giard, mar 1st Charles
Lefebvre, 19 May 1778 at Kaskaskia. She is listed as being from Cahokia.
m 2nd Francois Saucier 7 Oct 1839 at St. Louis. Saucier is listed as widower
of Angelique Roy-Lapense.
Marie-Anne Giard, mar 23 Feb 1789 at St. Louis to Eugene
Joris Dorsiere of Sardinia
would like to check my database to see if the information on your family
is correct, go to my ancestor
file then search for the name of one of your ancestors. (Only those born
before 1930 or no longer living are listed by name. I have names of the living,
but they are not displayed in the online database.) Please email me if there are any corrections
since Feb. 15, 2003