[Written for 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. This week’s theme: Live Long. Note: I am revising this article. Yes, I know I only wrote it two days ago. I realized as I was writing it I had two families mixed up. This article includes the corrected information.]
I do not have any centenarians in my tree that I know of. I have written at length about the Jones woman and the longevity in their tree. Their story can be found under “Those Remarkable Jones Women“. This week I’d like to tell you about Marie Lassalle’s whose lived to be 90.
Marie was the daughter of Jean Baptiste de Miqeu (aka Miqueu, Migeu, and Micheu) and Marie Lassalle. She was born about 1725 in a village called Escou. This is her baptismal record. Her godparents were Anthoine (aka Antoine or Anthonie) Lassalle and Gracie (aka Gratie or Engrace) du Pucheu. It appears that Marie Lassalle and Anthoine Lassalle were siblings.
Escou is a small village in the Atlantique Pyrenees region. In this region women were a bit more independent than the rest of Europe (maybe the world) during this time period. The women were encouraged to learn to read early on so that they could read the Bible. They could own property prior to the French Revolution. When recorded in records, they are always recorded under their maiden name, giving them a separate identity from their husbands even at death.
This is what the region looks like today:
She never married that I know of. She did have a child with a man named Luc de Bie who was from the nearby village of Lescar. Their child, Catherine, was born in 1768 also in Escou. Marie was 28 years old when she gave birth.
Couples having children out of wedlock during this period in France and elsewhere was not uncommon. As I understand it, couples set up housekeeping until one could afford to marry. There might have been difficulties getting to a church which may have been some distance away. Also, they may have needed a special dispensation from the Catholic Church in order to marry. This could take months or years (no email service). There might have been political tensions as well. As the revolution neared, it might not have been prudent to have your connections recorded for the world to see.
Luc de Bie disappeared from the records after Catherine was born. Did he leave Marie? Did he die shortly after? I do not know. It’s entirely possible he went home to Lescar and started another family.
Her daughter, Catherine, had two children by Jean Pierre Bouchet. The first child, Jean, died soon after birth. The second child, Augustin, was born in 1798. He was my 3rd great grandfather. Marie is noted as a witness on Augustin’s birth record. Her occupation is given as couturiere which means she was a seamstress. It is not uncommon to see women in this region at this early time listed as having an occupation. They might be a seamstress, farmer, weaver, etc.
This is the snippet of the record that mentions Marie Lassalle:
I don’t want to read too much into the importance of Marie’s name being on this record. You don’t see too many women as witnesses except when it is the midwife and she is reporting that the baby was in ill health or did not make it. Mostly, you see a male, a relative or neighbor, reporting the event.
Catherine died in 1802. It is unclear where Jean Pierre Bouchet is at this time. He does not take over the child rearing of his son. He seems to have disappeared. Marie takes over. She was about 75 when she took Augustin in.
There is a curious note on Catherine’s death record. First it claims she was of a legitimate birth. We have no proof that Marie Lassalle and Luc di Bie married. After Marie’s name it says “judigante le pere”. I’ve asked a French researcher about this term. He cannot find reference to judigante in records or dictionaries. It appears that it means the father is unknown though that is not the term used in other records. With a legitimate birth, it would seem odd that the father was unknown! I wonder if it means that the father has deserted them and Marie chose not to name him. That would makes sense since he never appears in the records again. It is only conjecture though.
Marie died 11 Nov 1816 in Escou. She was 90 years old. I would imagine that as she aged, someone else would have helped with Augustin, but I have no record of it. She had no more children so there wouldn’t have been anyone else.
As mentioned above, I realized after writing this that something was wrong with my research. At first, I believe I had mixed up the parents and godparents for Marie. After reviewing my work, I found that I was originally right. But, something didn’t make sense. Her death record had her born in the 1720s. I had her birth at 1740.
It turns out I did make an error. I had given her the birth date of Anthoine Lassalle and Gracie du Pucheu’s daughter, Marie. Marie was baptized 10 Jan 1740, Escou. But, this Marie died 6 days later. Clearly not the one I was looking for!
Unfortunately, this is the end of the Lassalle line. The records for Escou being in 1737. Unless I find information that a) the Lassalle’s were in a nearby town or b) the people of Escou used a different church prior to 1737, I am out of luck. Well, it isn’t like I have a thousand or so other people to research!
Genealogists make mistakes. Even those who’ve been at in almost 30 years. This is why we constantly review our work. Often something that was unclear one day jumps out at you 3 years later.
Genealogist and writer. Creator of the Portuguese Hawaiian Genealogy and Heritage website, yourislandroutes.com