Caillot - LaChance Family
from France to the Mississippi River in Missouri
Nicholas was my 6g-grandfatherNicholas L. Caillot dit Lachance (originally pronounced Kye-oh, meaning "clot") was born in France. There were and still are lots of Caillots in the Rhone District, so this is a likely place for him to have been born. In a census taken in Missouri about 1798 Nicholas says he was born in France. [There were no Caillots in Canada, so Nicolas Caillot had to be from Louisiana or France.]
He evidently spent some time in New Orleans as a soldier when he first came to America. First Families of Louisiana (by Cinrad) contains "The General Roll of Louisiana Troops, 1720-70." One of those listed is "Nicolas Cailleux" who was discharged in the colony on April 1, 1756. Since this was in the middle of the French & Indian War (1754-1760), one wonders why he was released from duty, though if his term was up, perhaps he decided to not re-enlist.
[Another important event that happened at this time was the deportation of the French Acadians from Canada to Louisiana. They were expelled by the English in Sept. 1755 (See book on this topic). One year later in the Fall of 1756, the first group of exiles arrived in Louisiana. Many others had been dropped off in various other ports, but most of them eventually also made their way to Louisiana.]
About 1750 the French had began building Fort de Chartres near Kaskaskia on the Mississippi River (between Missouri and Illinois). Fort engineer, Francois Saucier, complained in 1752 about his difficulty getting and keeping skilled stonemasons and carpenters. Nicholas, who was a carpenter, was probably hired in New Orleans to go north and work on the fort. It was finally finished in 1760.
"Nicholas Calliot. . . had been a 'Knight of the Grand Cross of the Order of St. Michael' " [History of Madison County, p. 10.]
The Order of St. Michael was founded in 1469 by Louis XI and was the chief military order of France until 1578 when King Henri III founded the Order of the Holy Spirit. Originally there were only a few prominent nobles knighted in the Order of St. Michael, but by 1574, Henri III may have has had as many as 700 knights and was less selective. The Order was dedicated to Michael the archangel and every member received a gold badge of the image of the saint standing on a rock (Mont Saint Michel) in combat with the serpent. These knights met annually in a chapel in the palace in Paris.
The Order of the Holy Spirit, which for 2 centuries was the most prestigious Order of knighthood of the French monarchy, was limited to 100 French gentlemen of noble birth whose paternal ancestors, for at least three generations past, had been knights of the Order of St. Michael. Later both groups were joined into the Order of the King. Its members were known as "chevaliers de l'Ordre du Roi." The Order of St. Michael was abolished in 1830.]
The picture at left shows Louis XI, King of France and the members of the St Michael Order, painted 1470-90. In the background on the wall a painting represents the battle of St Michael, in the foreground the dogs symbolize the fidelity. The coat-of-arms of the king can be seen between two angels.
I think we can conclude that Nicholas had some measure of prominence among his peers to have been awarded the Order of St. Michael. Since he arrived in Kaskaskia, IL at the age of about 24, we don't know if his award was before in France or afterwards in America, or what may have caused him to receive this award.
Nicholas was about 24 years old when he arrived in Kaskaskia in 1756-7. This was 7-8 years before St. Louis was started (1764), and the only settlement in Missouri was Ste. Genevieve (across the river from Kaskaskia). He married Nov. 22, 1757 to 16-year-old Marie Anne Giard in Kaskaskia, IL at the Notre-Dame de l'Immaculee-Conception Church by Father P.F. Watrin. They could both read and write to sign the church marriage register. [Thanks to Delores Lay for sending me their marriage license. You can see that they all could write their names. Nicolas spelled his name "Lachanse" and it looks like Marianne wrote "Giared."]
French Canadians had explored Missouri as early as 1697. Begun in 1706, Kaskaskia was the first European settlement in the Mississippi Valley (later was the first capitol of the Illinois Territory). It was the center of French trade and government. Settlers came there from Canada and New Orleans.
[Although the documents seem to prove that Nicholas was in Kaskaskia by 1756-57, there seem to be persistent, but incorrect, family stories that claim Nicholas came to Ste. Genevieve with French aristocrats after the French Revolution about 1792.] There was also a Joseph LaChance who married in Kaskaskia, IL to Marie Therese Poupart, June 8, 1767. Since this LaChance would have been too old to have been Nicholas' son, perhaps he was a brother. On the other hand, the LaChance name was not unique to Nicholas' family. There were other unrelated families with the name LaChance, such as a man named Pepin dit Lachance who also lived in the same vicinity.
Somewhere along the way Nicholas received the nickname Lachance - "lucky" - and he and his children thereafter were known as Caillot dit LaChance [dit is French meaning "called"]. Nicholas' descendants today go by different last names. A recent search of US phone numbers shows 36 Colyott, 12 Collyott, 14 Calliott, 21 Calliotte, 10 Caillot, 200 LaChance, 5 LaShance. (Not all the LaChance families are related to our Nicholas. Some are from another individual named Pepin dit LaChance.) Most of the Frenchmen in the colonies along the Mississippi River had nicknames and they were used interchangeably with their surnames: Deguire dit LaRose, Couture [sewing] dit Lacomb, Tirard dit St. Jean, Hubert dit LaCroix [the cross], Perodot dit Ratte, Beauvais dit St. Gemme, D'Amour [love] dit DeLouviere, Caillot [clot] dit Lachance [lucky], etc.
In 1758 with the fall of Fort Duquesne and Fort Frontenac to the English, the French in the West (Mississippi Valley) were cut off from French Canada and left pretty much on their own. Then in 1759 Quebec fell, and Montreal in 1760 which completed the British conquest of the French. During the Treaty negotiations France gave the Louisiana territory to Spain (1762) in returned for Spain giving Florida to the English. In 1764 St. Louis was established and many Frenchmen left their villages on the east side of the Mississippi to escape British rule. Nicholas Caillot, however, did not move to the Spanish west bank until 1787, the same year the Northwest Ordinance was passed by the American Congress.
In Kaskaskia, Nicholas Caillot dit LaChance became a prominent resident of the community where he lived for 30 years (1757-1787). He was a master carpenter and trained two of his sons in the trade. In 1762 he was "marguillier" of the Kaskaskia parish. He was also referred to as "lieutenant of militia," which would seem to confirm his having previous military experience. And he was a warden of the church. As a literate person, he served repeated terms as a judge of the Kaskaskia court, and he owned a lot of property and several slaves. He was mainly involved in trading--mostly fur trading, but, according to one incident, he had a canoe load of brandy captured by Americans.
Nicholas and his family lived "at the termination of the Vincennes Road north of the billage and east of the Kaskaskia River." [George Rogers Clark Adventure in the Illinois, p 102]
[Read more on life of the French inhabitants of Kaskaskia]
pictured: Kaskaskia in the late 1700's.
In early July 1778, during the American Revolution, Gen. George Rogers Clark visited Nicholas' home in Kaskaskia with his army when he captured Kaskaskia for the Americans. (Marianne was pregnant with Benjamin born July 26, 1778). Nicholas probably aided the Americans because, after 13 years of British rule, many of these French people were ready to support anyone against their old enemy, and because France had by then made an alliance with the American rebels. He furnished provisions and housing for the American troops at Kaskaskia, and may have assisted Clark & his men when they crossed the river at night on July 4, 1778. He also contributed to the equipping of the expedition of Colonel de la Balme against Detroit. One wonders what personal conflict he felt when Gen. Clark sought to arrest his brother-in-law Gabriel Cerre. The Cerre family moved to St. Louis in 1779.
In Feb. 1779 Clark, with half his force made up of French volunteers from Kaskaskia, marched against the British at Fort Sackville. In May, 1780 the English and some Indians attacked St. Louis in the only battle of the Revolutionary War to take place on the west side of the Mississippi River. About 60 men from Ste. Genevieve went to help defend the town.
A severe winter in 1780 [known as "L'Aunee du Coup" the year of the blow] killed nearly all the game in the area, so that the Indians nearly starved during the succeeding winters.
The French suffered under several years of governmental mis-management and abuse by Clark's successors, Capt. Richard Winston, Col. James Montgomery, Col. John Rogers and John Dodge. In 1781 all the other inhabitants of Kaskaskia were complaining about the oppressive treatment they were receiving from all the military commanders. In one instance, Clark allowed the seizure of firewood by force of arms from the yards of the inhabitants. "When one of the children of a Magistrate [Nicolas Caillot, who was also Captain of the Militia] protested politely that he had no right to take it without authority, then this Commandant, acting with Mr. Dodge, had him imprisoned and threatened the father with the same punishment." [George Rogers Clark Adventure in the Illinois, p. 478.] In another example, Capt. Richard Winston was allowing his men to randomly shoot the animals of the French inhabitants.
In May 1781 Nicolas and several other Frenchmen signed a petition to Governor Thomas Jefferson of Virginia asking for relief from Col. Montgomery (signatures pictured at left). Again in March 1783 they petitioned the commissioners of Virginia for relief saying Capt. Winston had plunged them into "poverty, calamity, misfortune, necessity and destitution."
Beginning in 1778 when the Americans took Kaskaskia from the British, the Spanish authorities increased their efforts to draw the French/creole population from the east side of the Mississippi to the west side. Many of these families preferred to live under Spanish Catholic rule rather than in the young American republic. Nicholas was, I suppose, very long-suffering since he remained under American rule for 9 years before he finally left his home of 30 years in Kaskaskia.
In 1785 [I'anée des grandes eaux - the year of the great water] the Mississippi river completely flooded old Ste. Genevieve and for a time made Kaskaskia an island. The residents of Ste. Genevieve moved up the hill and away from the banks and built and new town, calling the old village site "Misere." [sounds like Missouri!]
In 1787 "Nicholas Lachanse pere" (father) and his sons, Antoine, Gabriel, Francois, Joseph, Michel, Charles & Benjamin were listed on the 1787 census of Kaskaskia, Illinois. These sons are listed in order of their age! Jean Baptiste is also listed ("J Bte. Lachanse") but later in the list--maybe he was living in a little different locale than the rest of the family. Nicholas fils (son) had moved to Ste. Genevieve just before the census.
In 1787 Congress passed the Northwest Ordinance, the process by which the Americans were to settle their territory east of the Mississippi. In August, 1787 the magistrates of Kaskaskia (including Nicolas Caillot Lachanse) and several inhabitants of Kaskaskia (including Antoine Lachanse, Gabrielle Lachanse, Bapt. Lachanse & P. Chevallier) signed an agreement with Barthelemi Tardiveau, Esq. sending him to Congress to claim their land rights in Kaskaskia. Whether or not he was successful seems doubtful because of the number of people who left Kaskaskia the next year.
Finally, as so many other creoles, Nicholas became fed up with the American governement. He sold his Kaskaskia property to Tardiveau in September 1787, and in the winter of 1787-88 he moved straight across the Mississippi River to Ste. Genevieve, taking with him 14 slaves and his 9 single children (2 others were already married). From Dec 1787 to Dec 1789 135 people (13 families) moved from the East side to the West side. This may have had something to do with the Northwest Ordinance or with the governing situation in Kaskaskia.
In the late 1700's a man named "Chailloux dit La Chance" operated a ferry between Ste. Genevieve and the east bank of the Mississippi River. [The Story of Old Ste. Genevieve, p. 79.] This was probably one of Nicholas' sons.
"By the early 1790s [Ste. Genevieve] had several billiard parlors. Nicolas Caillot dit Lachance fils [son/Jr./II]...may have been the first entrepreneur to open a billiard parlor in town." [Colonial Ste. Genevieve, p. 324.] In 1792 Nicholas II sold his parlor to Francois Lalumandiere, who by the mid-1790's had 2 parlors. Nicholas II was probably prompted to sell by the following events:
"Such immoral goings-on were not to be ignored by the parish priest, Abbe de St. Pierre, and the reverend father complained of the situation to Governor Carondelet in 1792.... In St. Pierre's words 'the cries of poor housewives and the tears of half-naked children' called out for a prohibition of billiard parlors. The dens of Father St. Pierre's letter were probably drinking and gaming establishments as well as billiard parlors.
"Delassus de Luzieres reported in 1794 that all the inhabitants of the Illinois Country 'prefer any kind of strong liquor to beer,' and Ste. Genevieve was no stranger to problem drinkers....
"The early nineteenth-century traveler, Christian Schultz, remarked upon the passion for gambling in Ste. Genevieve: 'Vingt-un [the card game "Twenty-one"] is the word; and never did I see people embark with so much spirit and perseverance to win each other's money, as in this little village.'" [Colonial Ste. Genevieve, p. 325.]
In 1793 the town of New Bourbon (Nouvelle Bourbon) was established, 2-3 miles south of Ste. Genevieve, for French royalists families living in exile. "Actually only a very few of the nobility came to New Bourbon and some of them moved away within a few years or returned to France.... When the nobility failed to show up in large numbers, the French residents of Old Ste. Genevieve and Kaskaskia laid claim to grants in New Bourbon, ....[including] Nicholas Caillot dit LaChance, a French Canadian [sic] and his nine sons". Nicholas and his sons "all [cultivated] the common field of New Bourbon and Ste. Genevieve, but afterward had grants on the Saline at Belle Pointe, on the road to Mine LaMotte, and on Big river, several of them being among the first settlers of St. Michael." (now Fredericktown) [History of Missouri, by Houck, p. 366.]
The Caillots probably continued to live in Ste. Genevieve while they cultivated fields in New Bourbon, because "at the assembly of citizens convened by Trudeau in Sept., 1793, Nicholas Caillot dit Lachance, Jean-Baptiste Pratte, and Louis Bolduc pere (father/Sr.) were chosen by a plurality of voices as syndics to oversee the building of a new church" in Ste. Genevieve. They failed in their first attempt because of sharp disagreement within the community over location of the building and apportionment of the labor and materials. But the church was finally began in August, 1794 after Trudeau had made a second trip to Ste. Genevieve to resolved the disputes. [Colonial Ste. Genevieve, p. 440.] This was the first church in Upper Louisiana and was first built in Le Vieux Village de Ste. Genevieve. It was a large wooden structure which was later moved to Ste. Genevieve. It was old and abandoned in about 1835 and a new church was built. [from History of Southeast Missouri, p. 521-522]
Marianne died May 1, 1795 at the age of 54 and was buried the next day in Ste. Genevieve. Proceedings in her estate settlement in 1796, describe Nicolas as a resident of New Bourbon (near Ste. Genevieve).
In 1797 Nicholas signed his name "N.L. Cailliot Lachance" on his daughter, Pelagie's marriage contract to Pierre Chevallier. [Pierre's daughter Cecile had married Pelagie's brother's son Nicholas Lachance III.] It appears that Nicholas pere (Sr.) always signed his name Caillot LaChance, while his sons usually used only LaChance.
On June 28, 1798 Nicholas sold a house and land at New Bourbon to Robert Bruster. Then 8 months later Nicholas died, Feb. 1799 (age 66) probably in New Bourbon. He was buried Feb. 22. [Since they usually buried the next day, he probably died Feb. 21.] 1799 was called the year of the "hard winter" and Nicholas died right in the middle of it. February must have been a bad time to have a funeral and burial!
Below is the cemetery record of Nicolas and Marianne, written, of course, in French.
The first record says, "The 22 day of February, was buried in the cemetery of the (parish?) the (body?) of Nicolas Calliott dit la Chanse, (aged 66?) years and provided sacraments for ??.." (I think some words are missing, I guessed on what I thought should be there.)
The second record says, [verbatim translation: The 2nd of May was buried in the cemetery of the parish the body of Marie Anne Giard wife of Nicolas Caliot Lachanse age of 54 years. Provided/munie the sacrament of penitance and extreme unction, died ______ for _____] In the sidebar at right it says: "Of Marie Anne Giard, wife Nic? Lachanse Pere."
These records are from the Church of Ste. Genevieve.
[Thanks to Jim Brookes for copies of these records!]
In 1799, Ste. Genevieve had 949 people and St. Louis had 925. At that time Ste. Genevieve was the biggest trading post and people came from St. Louis to Ste. Genevieve to buy supplies. Also "in 1799 the inhabitants of Nouvelle Bourbon voluntarily made a patriotic war contribution to aid the King of Spain." These included Antoine Lachance, carpenter; Paul DeGuire, armorer; Pierre Chevalier, planter; Gabriel Lachance, planter; Joseph Lachance, carpenter. [History of Missouri, p. 367.]
May 12, 1799, in the Spring right after Nicholas Sr. died, a group of 13 families--mostly Caillots and DeGuires--petitioned Don Zenon Trudeau (Lieutenant Colonel, Captain of the regiment stationed in Louisiana and Governor of the Western part of the Illinois) for land. They had first expressed interest in this particular land to Don Trudeau by Jan., 1798. "In 1800, Francois Valle explained to Lt. Governor Delassus that he did not know what title 3 residents of New Bourbon--Paul Deguire, Francois Lachance, and Jerome Matisse--had to land near Mine La Motte upon which they had built a cabin, 'but I can tell you that their ancestors were old settlers at this post.' Tradition, family name, and customary rights counted heavily in the Illinois Country." [Colonial Ste. Genevieve, p. 154.]
Each man was granted 400 arpents of land (an arpent is about 4/5 of an acre) situated between the Saline River and Castor River (or Village Creek) in what in now Madison County, Missouri. These families moved there and began a settlement called St. Michael's. "Nicholas Calliot, the father of these men, had been a 'Knight of the Grand Cross of the Order of St. Michael' and this accounts for the name chosen for the new village." [History of Madison County, p. 10.]
From Nov. 1811 to March 1812 the whole area was affected by a series of powerful earthquakes that changed the course of the Mississippi River in some places. One eyewitness on the Illinois side said, "the ground would shake and then rock and roll in long waves." He said in these long continued rollings, the tall timber would weave their tops together, interlock their branches, then part and fly back the other way, and when they did this "the blossom ends of the limbs would pop like whip lashes; and the ground was covered with broken stuff." Large areas of land sank and were filled with water. (pictures of quake effects.) [See also: The New Madrid Earthquakes]
In 1814 flooding caused the original site of St. Michael's to be moved to higher ground and the name was changed to Fredericktown. [This area now is part of Madison Co, which was not formed until 1818, so records on them after their move will still be in Ste. Genevieve until 1818.]
Nicholas pere (Sr.) had 9 sons and 2 daughters. All of his children (except maybe 3 sons) were in the group that moved to Fredericktown. Son, Jean Baptiste stayed in Ste. Genevieve (& later moved to Arkansas), and sons, Charles & Benjamin were probably not married yet.
The group that moved to St. Michael's (later, renamed Fredericktown):
1. Nicholas Caillot II & Judith (Boyer)
2. Antoine Caillot & Felicite (D'Amour dit DeLouviere)
3. Gabriel Caillot & Marie Ann (D'Amour-DeLouviere)
4. Francois Caillot & Pelagie (DeGuire) - daughter of Andre DeGuire
5. Joseph Caillot & Julie (LaCroix) - granddaughter of Andre DeGuire
6. Michel Caillot & Elizabeth (Roussell)
7. Paul DeGuire & Marie Ann (Caillot) - son of Andre DeGuire
8. Pierre Chevallier & Pelagie (Caillot)
9. Andre DeGuire dit LaRose - father-in-law of Francois Caillot & Marie Ann Caillot, & grandfather-in-law of Joseph Caillot
10. Baptist DeGuire - son (or brother) of Andre
11. Gabriel Nicholl
12. Jerome Matis
13. Pierre Viriat
In 1800 Spain ceded the land west of the Mississippi back to the French with formal possession made in 1802. It is interesting to note that after 40 years of Spanish rule, there was virtually no Spanish influence on the culture, customs and language of these people. They spoke a conglomerate dialect of French, Indian and English until about 1840 by which time the English had gradually overpowered, intermarried, and outnumbered them.
In 1803 the Louisiana Territory was sold to the United States and the Lewis & Clark Expedition took place in 1804. When Capt. Amos Stoddard took possession of Upper Louisiana from the Spanish on Mar. 9, 1804, the French settlers were both bewildered and troubled by these changes. One report declares that the "older inhabitants took it sadly to heart." Once again they had been traded away by their own countrymen. Stoddard described the reaction of the Creoles to the deal as follows: "they seemed to feel as if they had been sold in open market, and by this means degraded..."
Missouri Territory Land Claims mentioned two of Nicholas' sons: In 1803 "John B. Caillot" settled on the bayou 3-4 miles below the village in New Madrid County; and "Francois Caillot" settled in Jan., 1809 on the Big Marsh, Ste. Genevieve. (See: Early Settlers of Missouri as Taken from Land Claims in the Missouri Territory)
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