Excerpted from the series "Our French Canadian Ancestors" by Tom Laforest
Antoine Casse dit Lacasse was originally from Anjou, a French province serving as the gateway to Brittany, located between Maine and Poitou. He was baptized about 1641 at the Church of Saint-Pierre in Doue, today Doue-la-Fountaine, Department of Maine-et-Loire, District of Saumur. This church, with a very plain exterior, is remarkable for its three naves built during diverse epochs.
Antoine was the grandson of house-roofers Mathurin and Pierre Beaudoin. His father Noel, baptized at Doue the 1st of February 1619, married Michelle Durand about 1640. She gave him four children of whom Antoine was the eldest and Our Canadian Ancestor.
TO THE COAST OF BEAUPRE
On Wednesday 14 October 1665 at Chateau-Richer, the Notary Claude Aubert prepared a contract of marriage between Antoine and his bride-to-be, Francoise Pitye. She was the daughter of Francois and of Claudine Poullet from the Parish of Saint Nicolas-du-Champs in Paris. Present at the signing were Romain Trepagner, Surgeon Francois Fortin and his wife Marie Jolliet, Charles Lefrancois and others. Because of an oversight, this contract was not entered in the records until the following March 28th, nevertheless the marriage took place the same day the contract was signed. Father Thomas Morel gave the nuptial benediction after having dispensed with the reading of the two banns.
THE BEAUPRE COAST
On 16 June 1666, Antoine bought some property from Jean Baron, an associate of Mathurin Tessier. This land was 3 arpents of river frontage located at Saint-Pierre, Ile dOrleans, between Robert Jeanne and Mathurin Chabot. It was formerly the land of Ancestor Savard and the price was 295 livres. Barthelemy Verreau was witness to this transaction. However, on 13 July 1667, Antoine signed it over to the brothers Adrian and Michel Isabel, before witnesses.
On 4 December 1666, Antoine broke a lease on a farm, a lease he had made with Antoine Berson, now dead. Bersons widow, Marguerite Belanger, accepted the cancellation and repossessed her property in the Fief of Lotinville, today the Ange-Guardian. She had to give him 215 livres in compensation and "a grey cloak that the said Casse vowed to have had and received from the master." She allowed him to keep the house and kitchen up until the next May; also a a place in the shed to put "his part and portion of the grain." Such a compensation leads us to conclude that Antoine must have lived there for several years. The grey cloak - did it belong to the late Berson? Our man seemed to think so; no doubt it was made in France.
David Letourneau, miller of the seigneury of Beaupre, but resident of the Ile dOrleans, decided to sell his land to Lacasse. According to this deal, concluded on 15 August 1667, David vacated a property located on the south coast of the Island, next to that of Jean Letourneau and Jean Grignon, for the sum of 200 livres payable in two installments. The seller kept for himself only "those parts which are necessary for the grain milling process of said habitation" because they could be useful to his son Jean. After one year to the day, Jeanne Baril, his wife, ratified the sale.
On Wednesday 2 November, Antoine would consent to assign "Jean Prevost of the city of Rouen come this present year to this country" to Jacques Ratte, resident of the island. It seems that Antoine had agreed to take this immigrant for four years. And another matter, on 5 December Romain Trepanger admitted to owing Antoine 19 livres and 10 sols.
Antoine, on 22 March 1669 still lived on the Beaupre coast. In order to pay the sum of 144 livres for merchandise received and delivered, Antoine agreed to pay back his creditor, Bertrand Chesnay, Seigneur of Lothainville, by Saint Michels Day. He was to satisfy this debt "in money or in pelts;" was Antoine a beaver trapper? The witness to this notarial act was named Jean Casse. Could he have been a relative? There is nothing to indicate this: Jean Casse was 35 years old in 1667 and a former domestic of Charles Bazire. A Poitevan, he had married Magdeleine Plouard, a Breton, on 22 November 1667 at Chateau-Richer. This couple returned to France, after which we lose all trace of them.
The 24th of the same month, Antoine asked Letourneau to accept 100 planks valued at 45 livres as a deduction from his debt. Robert Anest made these planks from pine wood and they were good and salable. He traded them to Lacasse for a fat pig.
AT THE ILE dORLEANS
Antoine and Francoise settled down on the Island toward the end of 1669. It is a certainty that Lacasse lived on the Island on 14 February 1670, because from there he promised to deliver on the wharf at Quebec, with Pierre Dufresne, 500 planks to Jean B. Patoullet, for a price of 40 livres.
The following April, Claude Charron, wealthy merchant of Quebec, sold a 5-year-old brown cow to Lacasse. The latter had to remit 18 livres-worth of salted butter in good condition in each of three years. If perchance, the poor beast had to give up her life because of negligence of her adopted father, the latter was to pay half her value. He had to be poor in order to accept such conditions!
Then follow several years of silence! On 18 January 1677 Lacasse sold his land on the south shore of the Island with all that was on it, to Pierre Bissonnet, for 500 livres. Up until the sale, Jean Letourneau and Francois Dumas were his neighbors. For the first time we discover the well-lettered signature of Our Ancestor next to that of Nicholas Gauvreau. The contract was made at Quebec by Pierre Duquet, notary.
Our Ancestor was always attracted by the south. From the Beaupre coast he moved to the Island, into todays parish of Saint Laurent, then on to Beaumont. It was there, on 1 July 1698, where Father Thomas Morel baptized his daughter Charlotte.
In 1672, Charles Couillard had obtained the seigneury of Beaumont from Talon. According to the census of 1681, Antoine was one of fourteen colonists established on this territory. He owned a gun, 3 head of cattle and 8 arpents of cleared land. On the Beaupre coast in 1667 he had 3 beasts, 14 arpents of worthwhile land and a hired hand: he is not improving his position. Did Antoine get his new bit of land on credit? Perhaps, because we note that he obtained the property of 4 arpents in frontage on 14 June 1682, but it was not until 1699 that it was officially conceded to him.
In those times one went to Mass at Point Levy. For special occasions the manor house of the Seigneur served as a chapel. It was there on 9 August 1681, that Mgr. de Lavel confirmed 7 people, among whom were Marie Casse, 17 years old, and her 12-year-old brother Joseph.
Lacasse owned, in company with Michel Mailloux-de-la-Durantaye, a beautiful boat complete with sails and ground tackle. Francois Frichet bought it on 18 July 1683 for the sum of 129 livres: he acted in the name of Pierre Lereau and Pierre Ducharme.
In 1687 Pierre Bissonnet, now a farmer of Durantaye, left the land that he had bought from Casse, with the half arpent of frontage that he had added to it. Two years later, on 13 March 1689, Jean Jouanne bought it for 340 livres.
LEAVING AND GIVING
On 28 March 1686, John Adam in the name of his Seigneur, conceded "three arpents of land in width and forty in depth" in order to enlarge the property of Antoine. The latter was not able to clear it, moreover he had to pay the seigneurial rents. Therefore, on 1 June 1699, he decided to abandon this concession.
Antoine and Francoise, on 26 August 1702, had come to the end of their rope. "Desiring especially to spend the rest of their days in peace and tranquility, in order to better care for their health," they made a donation to their son Charles. This heir became owner of 2 steers, 2 cows, one 14-year-old mare with her 4-month-old colt, and half of the coastal land to the northeast. In return, the son was expected to feed, house, clothe and to care for his parents until their death and afterward, to have 30 Requiem Masses said for the repose of their souls. At Quebec, the bailiff Etienne Maranda signed this donation as witness with Notary Chambelon.
This avalanche of detail should not cause you to forget that the family Lacasse worked a farm for survival. One feels that in this house there was hope for a better life which never was realized.
The Lacasse parents had 9 children: 3 boys and 6 girls. Antoine the eldest baptized at Chateau-Richer in May of 1668, died at 19 in the flower of his youth. Joseph and Charles were the fruitful ones and perpetuated the name Lacasse in Canada and the USA.
Antoine left this world in 1709 and was buried at Beaumont the first day of June. Father Jean Pinguet wrote his death certificate at Lauzon. As Francoise Pitie or Piloy, she died on 28 February 1713, at over 70 years of age, and was buried alongside her husband. She had been the godmother of the first child born at Beaumont; Francoise Mailloux, on 3 July 1679.
Joseph Lacasse worked on the construction of the first church at Beaumont; Charles was its first warden in 1711. The first Lacasse priest was born at Beaumont on 27 August 1785. His name was Joseph, son of Antoine and of Catherine Guay. He was Cure of Riviere-du-Loop, of Cacouna, of Ile-Verte and of Saint Henri-de-Lauzon.
Such is the resume of the untalented life of this humble and hard-working ancestor, father of a dignified and numerous progeny.
Among their remarkable descendants, the presence of Pierre-Zacharie Lacasse (1845-1921) calls for attention. He was the son of a farmer, Joseph and of Marguerite Mirault of Saint-Jacques-de-lAchigan. This Oblate of Mary Immaculate first exercised his missionary zeal among the Amerindians of Betsiamis. Then he preached many popular retreats for a dozen years. Following this, for a quarter-century, he devoted himself to the Manitoban Missions. His numerous activities however did not keep him from publishing a series of erudite works. He died at Gravelbourg, Province of Quebec.