The Carpenter

The ancestors of the family Rassets arrived in America in 1664. Jean Rasset, son of Pierre and Jeanne Du Thy, was baptised July 11, 1643, at Sainte-Geneviève-en-Bray, at the archbishops’parish of Rouen in France. Today, it is a town in the district of Saint-Saëns.

He has two brother and two sisters born before him. As he becomes of age, he answers to the call of the king and boards passage to Nouvelle France. His name does not appear on any list of passengers known to date, but all indications are that he boarded from Dieppe instead La Rochelle because it was the nearest seaport to Sainte-Geneviève-en-Bray. If this is the case, there is a good chance he crossed the Atlantic with Jeanne Mance.

Jean Rasset appears for the first time in the census of 1666. He resides in Beauport, at Simon Denis’, sire of the Trinité. His profession: carpenter.

At the end of his contract in 1667, he commits himself to do groundwork and to operate, with an associate, a land that was owned by Françoise Dutartre, wife of Simon Denis. In 1673, he signed a new contract to clear the land, which was held by Sire Nicolas Follin.

With the money he earned, he was able to buy land at Rivière des Roches, in the Seigneurie de Maur, which later became the parish of Saint-Augustin. Less than 200 people lived at Rivière des Roches when Jean Rasset established himself. Among the inhabitants, we find Jeanne Chappeau. Born at Quebec in 1657, Jeanne is the oldest daughter of Pierre Chappeau and of Madeleine Duval. She married Jean Rasset November 21, 1678 in Quebec City.

The couple had 16 children: Jean, Pierre, Romain, Jean-Baptiste, Marie-Madeleine, Joseph, François, Jean-Baptiste, Marie-Louise, Antoine, Marie-Elisabeth, Jeanne-Françoise, Philippe and Anne, Charles and Marie-Reine.

Meanwhile, Jean Rasset was able to yield a profit with his land and his assets. He left, after his death, which occurred in October 1711, a heritage valued at 2 695 pounds.

A few years after the death of her husband, Jeanne Chappeau gave her property to her son François who committed, in exchange, to put a roof over her head, feed and clothe her and do the necessary care needed for the rest of her days. Jeanne died on May 19, 1733 at the age of 76.

The fur trader

If Jean Rasset was a carpenter and a land operator, his oldest son chose to do fur trading. The name of Jean Rasset appears as of 1705 in the registers of Tadoussac where one finds the principal trading post of Domaine du Roi, a huge land extending from the Éboulements to Sept-Iles and stretching to the north until the rivers begin to run into Hudson Bay.

In 1710, Joseph Riverin hired Jean Rasset for four years to administer the trading post at Tadoussac. At the end of this contract, he married at Quebec, on August 5, 1715 Marie-Anne Caron, daughter of Vital and Marguerite Gagnon.

The couple lived for a certain time at Quebec on Sault-au-Matelot Street. Three children, Marie-Anne, Jean-Baptiste et Agnès, were born at Quebec before the couple moved to the Côte-Nord. The registers indicate that Jean Rasset undertook a tour of the different trading posts of the Domaine. We can find him from Tadoussac, to Papinachois, to Ilets-Jérémie and, at last, to Chicoutimi where he will be buried on November 20, 1727. Three other children were born during the course of these journeys: Marguerite, Jean et Vital.

Marie-Anne Caron returned to live at Quebec with her children after the death of her husband. She died March 25, 1755 at the age of 65.

The second son

Pierre will not live as long as his father. He died young at the age of 34, on April 5, 1715. He was married for two years to Marie Gaboury, daughter of Antoine and of Jeanne Mignault. Born after his father’s death, Pierre, will survive his father.

Many of his descendants will establish themselves in the Lanaudière region. Some will establish themselves as « travellers » and will make the boat trip between Montreal and the Pays-d’en-haut. Another one, Charles, will become a trapper in Manitoba. He will marry an American Indian Ojibway. That’s why, there are lots of Métis and Indians registered in the west of Canada and the United States, which even today carry the name Racette.

The « long in waiting to be » husband

The third son of Jean Rasset, Romain waited a long time before marrying. He was 39 before he went to the altar. And it was not in the church of Saint-Augustin where, nevertheless, he had his bench since 1725. It was at Château-Richer where he found his sweetheart. Marie-Anne Cloutier, daughter of Jean-Baptiste and of Anne Morisset is 15 years his junior. The couple lived at Saint-Augustin and would have six children: Marie-Anne, Romain, Paul, Marie-Louise, Marie-Thérèse and Marguerite-Véronique.

In spite of his advanced years, Romain will have the chance to see his children and grand children grow up. He and his wife live with their son Romain who took care of the land of his father. Romain passed away a few days before Christmas in 1767 at the respectable age of 85. Marie-Anne Cloutier died 12 years later in 1779.

Romain’s land was passed down from generation to generation from then on. It became, through the years, a very prosperous farm producing dairy and grains.

The first daughter

Marie-Madeleine Rasset married on the first of May 1709 at Saint-Augustin, Jean-Baptiste Gaboury, son of Antoine and of Jeanne Mignault. It is the first of a double matrimonial alliance between the Gabourys and the Racettes since the sister of Jean-Baptiste, Marie, will marry four years later, Pierre Rasset, the brother of Madeleine.

Marie-Madeleine became a widow in 1719. However, she remarried February 16, 1722 with Eustache Bourbeau from Charlesbourg. She gave him six sons who will keep alive the family name.

Widowed for a second time, she married Charles Cotin alias Dugal at Saint-Augustin, October 6, 1738. She was 52 years. The census of 1744 at Quebec reveals that Marie-Madeleine lived on Sault-au-Matelot Street with her husband and four sons of her previous marriages. She died a few years later.

The dear son

François is the sixth son of Jean Rasset and of Jeanne Chapeau. Jean-Baptiste and Joseph who were born before him both died at an early age. Like his brother Romain, he also married later in life. According to all probability, François preferred to run the land he inherited from his parents. Let’s not forget that it is François who took care of his mother when she became a widow. His oldest brother, Jean and his sister Marie-Madeleine gave up their rights successively in 1715.

At last, François finds his soul mate at Charlesbourg. It is there that he marries on January 29, 1725, Marie-Marguerite Jobin, daughter of Jacques and of Adrienne Bourbeau. Marie-Marguerite is the niece of Eustache Bourbeau, the husband of Marie-Madeleine Rasset.

The couple would have nine children and even twins. Marie-Marguerite died on December 4, 1736, three months after giving birth to a son.

With four children to feed, François has to find a new companion. He marries on August 12, 1737 at L’Ange-Gardien, Marguerite Mathieu, daughter of Jean and of Marguerite Leclair. The couple would have six children.

The children from François’ first marriage, for the most part, will stay in Saint-Augustin while the children from his second marriage will all establish themselves at L’Assomption. François Rasset will be buried January 18, 1758 at Saint-Augustin. A large number of Racettes who live in Quebec are direct descendants of François.

The adolescent

The youngest brother of François, Jean-Baptiste will not have a chance to leave any offspring. He died at Hôtel-Dieu in Quebec on May 29, 1705 at the age of 14. We don’t know the cause of his death.

The soldier’s wife

The second daughter of Jean Rasset and of Jeanne Chappeau, Marie-Louise married July 23, 1725 at St-Augustin, Pierre Rondeau, a soldier in the company of Mr. La Ronde, originally from Saintonge. The governor of Nouvelle-France, the marquis de Vaudreuil, authorized the soldier Rondeau to marry and the bishop of Quebec agreed to the exemption of the three bans. It was urgent. The new wife was six months pregnant. She gave birth October 23, to a daughter, Marie-Françoise. Six other children will be born at Quebec where the couple were established.

Pierre Rondeau died at Quebec, December 13, 1757. Marie-Louise passed away 12 years later on November 7, 1769.

The second husband

Of all the sons of Jean Rasset who married, Antoine is the only one who would not have any children. On November 9, 1722, he married Jeanne Nolin, widow of Pierre Raté. The couple Nolin-Raté had seven children and lived at Saint-Pierre at l’île d’Orléans.

The marriage of Antoine and of Jeanne took place in the same parish. Antoine, therefore, untied the family knot at Saint-Augustin and established himself at Île d’Orléans.

Jeanne Nolin died November 25, 1733. Antoine stayed a widower for the rest of his days. The war with England forced him to leave Île d’Orléans since in 1762, he was enrolled as a refugee in Saint-Augustin. The census also indicated that he was accompanied with an adolescent of 15 years. Antoine was buried October 24, 1769.

Without having any offspring, Antoine is at the head of the genealogical tree of the Racettes. For some unknown reason, three sons of Jean-Baptiste Raté, sons of Pierre and of Jeanne Nolin, abandonned their family name to adopted the name Racette. These three brothers established themselves in the region of Saint-Hyacinthe and close to the Richelieu. There are many Racettes living in the United States who are from this line.

The abandoned daughter

The life of Marie-Elisabeth Rasset is surrounded by mystery. July 17, 1723, the royal notary Dubreuil, from the prévôté de Quebec, wrote a marriage contract between Pierre Varin, originally from Dunkerque, and Marie-Elisabeth. What is bizarre, is that we cannot find any act confirming the marriage between these two fiancées. Some signs lead us to believe that this union never took place.

First of all, we loose all traces of Pierre Varin after this contract. Second, when Marie-Elisabeth married Louis Gosselin, October 21, 1748 in Quebec, the marriage license indicated that she was single. Normally, when it is a second marriage , the name of the preceding spouse appears on the act. Well, this is not the case.

Marie-Elisabeth is 53 years old when she weds Louis Gosselin, from the middle class of Quebec. Her husband is 68 years old. What made him stay single for so long? The mystery , for the moment, remains unsolved.

Nevertheless, this does not hinder Marie-Elisabeth to live a plentiful life. She dies at 83, May 12, 1779, in Quebec. Again there, the third daughter of Jean Rasset leaves us with a riddle. Her death certificate specifies that she died suddenly at the door of the confessional and that her body was buried in the cemetery for victims of smallpox.

The wife of the sacristan

The last three children of Jean Rasset and Jeanne Chappeau are born in Quebec City even if the couple still live in Saint-Augustin. Jeanne-Françoise is the first of those three children.

Like her preceding sister, Jeanne-Françoise stayed single for a very long time. On November 2, 1738, at the age of 42, she went before the notary Hyacinthe Presse for a marriage contract with Philippe Vinet alias Parisien, shoemaker at Trois-Rivières. Two days later, the marriage was celebrated in the same town.

The husband was not only a shoemaker. He was also, a choral singer and a sacristan at the church of Trois-Rivières. The couple would have only one daughter named Marie-Thérèse.

Jeanne-Françoise is the only Racette who establishes herself in Trois-Rivières during the 18th century. We don’t know, for the moment, the date of her death. We know, however, that she was already dead when her daughter married for a second time a widower of Montreal in 1782.

The youngest

Philippe Rasset also established himself and his family elsewhere than Saint-Augustin. He married on October 22, 1736 at Château-Richer, Catherine Simard, widow of Gabriel Rhéaume. The couple would have five children. The family lived at Château-Richer.

The life followed its natural course until the death of Catherine, June 26, 1753. Philippe remarried eight months later with Madeleine Delage. The marriage contract is written by the notary Antoine Crespin, at Château-Richer. It is dated February 22, 1754. L’acte de mariage has disappeared.

Philippe and his new wife will live still in Château-Richer till the birth of their first child. For unknown reason, the couple will move later on the other side of the St-Laurence River, at Cap St-Ignace. It is at this new settlement that the other three children of the couple will be born. None will get to adult age.

Philippe passes away at the respectable age of 86. His body will be buried at Château-Richer in the presence of his son, Germain who in all likelihood inherited the family land. His two other sons, Jacques-Philippe and Louis, establish themselves in the region of Montreal, respectively at Île Jésus and at St-Charles-sur-le-Richelieu.

The servant

Anne Rasset was eleven years old when her father died at Saint-Augustin. In 1716, one Marie Rasset is recorded as a servant at Jean-François Delino Martin, procureur du Roi à Quebec. The census indicates that she is 18 years old. Even if the first name and age are a little bit different, we are let to believe that it is really the last daughter of Jean Rasset and of Jeanne Chappeau.

Four months after the death of her mother, on September 9, 1733, Anne – who is called Marie – presents herself at the altar. The love of her life is named Pierre Delarme. He is originally from the parish of Notre-Dame de Rochefort. Also present at the marriage is Pierre Rondeau, husband of Marie-Louise Rasset and the brother-in-law of the bride.

Seven months after this reunion, Anne gives birth to twins: Marie-Josephe and Marie-Louise who die soon after birth. Anne would have four other children before the death of her husband.

Widowed, Anne remarries on April 13, 1744 to Jean Breussard Lavictoire, a soldier from the company of Mr. Ramezay. The marriage licence clarifies that the Governor General gave him the permission to marry. The secretary to the bishop, Mr. Boucault, also certified that the soldier could marry the widow.

The census of 1744, indicates that the couple lived at Quebec with the son of Anne, Louis Larme. One year after their remarriage, Anne gave birth , once again to twins : Louis and Jean. The two children only lived a few days. Anne was then 44 years old.

Anne died on December 14, 1776 at Hôtel-Dieu of Quebec. Her death, probably, would not be of interest if it were not for this unusual comment written on her death certificate : « Widowed from the last marriage to alias Lavictoire, she was judged senile which prevented her to do confession and to receive the st-viatique.»