The Raizenne Legacy

The Raizenne Legacy

One fateful winter night in Deerfield, Massachusetts in 1704, a 4 year old girl named Abigail and a ten year old boy named Josiah were awakened in their perspective homes by the sounds of battle and the smell of smoke.  Both children must have been incredibly confused and frightened as their families realized that their village was under attack from enemy forces.  As the raiders moved from home to home, both children were probably guided by their parents and encouraged to hide.  Unfortunately for the colonists at Deerfield, the combined forces of Jean-Baptiste Hertel de Rouville and the Indigenous Tribes that were working with him overwhelmed the militia forces, as well as the reinforcements brought in from other surrounding settlements.  When the long battle was over, 47 were killed, and 112 settlers were taken captive.

Abigail and Josiah were among those captured by the raiding party. Josiah was a guest visiting the village, and his direct family was not there when the raid occurred.  Abigail’s four older siblings were sadly murdered during the raid, but her mother was taken captive with her.  There is no mention of her father.  In the tradition of the War of Mourning, the first Indian who touches a slave becomes their master, and therefore the settlers were distributed amongst the native warriors and removed from the settlement to their rally point.

The terrified captives were herded to a site about a mile from the camp, and from there, they were forced to march over 300 miles (480 kms) through the brutal winter conditions.  Many of the settlers were ill-prepared, and although they were provided with snowshoes to help navigate the deep snow, they were difficult to use, and the Indians quickly killed those who clearly couldn’t keep up.  With harsh weather and tight rations, even one sickly person could slow down their arduous journey.  During this time, Abigail’s mother was killed by her captor.  The stories claim that she fell into a creek, and unfortunately became ill and started trailing behind fairly early on in the trip.  With the death of her mother, poor little Abigail was all alone.    However, she was very fortunate – her master was a kind man who was reported to have carried her most of the way.   There is no information about Josiah’s trip, but it was obviously very difficult.  Scared, alone, suffering the effects of malnourishment and frigid temperatures, many of the other young children died on the journey.

The raiding party and their captives travelled up the frozen Connecticut River, up Wells River, down the Winooski River to Lake Champlain and made their way to Chambley.  It was from here that most of the force dispersed to their villages and homes, taking their slaves with them.  Of the 112 settlers captured, only 89 arrived alive to start their new lives as slaves.

Abigail was taken by her master, believed to be Haronhiateka, Chief of the Bear Clan of Sault au Recollet,   to La Mission de la Montagne to live in the longhouse of Ganastarsie.  Ganastarsie was probably the wife or the mother of Abigail’s benevolent captor and would have been the head of the household.  There, Abigail would serve the longhouse doing the work of the women and whatever chores were given to her by the family.  In two ceremonies, she’s given two new names.  Her Christian/Catholic name was declared to be Marie-Elizabeth Nims with a Catholic baptism.  Her native name was also given to her, Touatogouachi, loosely translated as “she who gets the water”.  She lived much of her young life growing up in the longhouse of Ganastarsie, most likely starting out doing tasks as her name suggests – hauling water, cleaning, and tending the small children.

Josiah was taken somewhere else upon dispersal of forces from Chambly to a facility called Fort Lorette.   Built in 1696, this Aboriginal mission and military installment is where many captives ended up after raids, especially those from the English colonies.  Not much is known about Josiah’s time here, but stories told by other children relay the need for captives to very quickly adapt to their new surroundings, language, and culture, or face ridicule from the community.  He also received two new names.  His Christian/Catholic name was declared as Ignace Raizenne at his Catholic baptism– a tribute to St. Ignace.  The native name given to him was Shoentakouani, meaning “his village has been taken from him”.

Both children lived with their Iroquois families for years, becoming fluent in both the French and Iroquois languages, and fully integrating in their new society.   When Josiah was 20, a relative offered to redeem him, paying a ransom in order to have him returned home.  Josiah flatly refused to leave his new life.  Abigail’s family also attempted to redeem her when she was 14.  She, like Josiah, also refused to leave her adoptive home.  By 1713 slavery came to an end with the war, and Abigail and Josiah were free to follow their own paths.  When Josiah was 21 and Abigail was 15, they married at the Chapel of Fort Lorette and settled down, staying at the mission with the priests and their Indian families.

In 1721, The Sulpician Native mission was given land in Lac-des-Deux mountains in Oka, and the entire settlement had to make the walk to their new home in showshoes, dragging items on toboggans through the deep snow.  By this time, Abigail and Josiah had been married for several years and they had three small children.  They were granted a large estate by the church and settled in to become prosperous “cultivateurs”, or farmers, and an important part of the Mission community.  They called their new homestead  ”Risingland”, and the family and subsequent generations would live there for over 200 years.

The Raizennes had 8 children in total.  Marie-Anne, Marie Catherine, Anastasie Charlotte, Marie Madeleine, Suzanne, Simon Amable, Jean-Baptiste-Jerome, and Marie.    They were fairly affluent, as they were able to scrape together sufficient money to send their son, Simon Amable, to school at the Sulpician seminary in Montreal and to enter him into the Priesthood in 1744.  They also came up with the requisite dowry required to enable 2 of their daughters, Marie, and Marie-Madeline to become congregation Soeurs (or Nuns).  Marie (who took the name of Sister St. Ignace) actually went on to become the Mother Superior of the local congregation.  This was a huge responsibility, as the Mother Superior was not only responsible for the spiritual well-being of the community, but was responsible for the overall management of the church institution and presided over all community administrative bodies.  She possessed many privileges, and was the only person in the congregation who had the ability to correspond with the major political and religious figures of the day.

Two of their other daughters, Marie-Catherine and Marie-Anne went on to marry brothers.  Marie-Catherine married Jean-Baptiste Seguin, and Marie-Anne married Louis Seguin. Louis Seguin was a rather important figure from a well-known French founding family.  His grandfather was Francois Seguin dit Laderoute, the first Seguin to settle in New France.  It’s said that the legacy of Francois Seguin is responsible for more than 95% of the instances of the Seguin surname in America.  Louis himself was an army major, the commander of the fort at Oka, and captain of the Militia.  He must have seemed very exciting to the young Marie-Anne.  His position provided great affluence – stories say that Louis had four servants, which was very rare at the time.  He and Marie-Anne went on to have 15 children together.  In the fall of 1752, Louis permanently left Oka to stay with his family at Concession #49, above Grand-Detroit.  This is where the community of Hudson is located.

The legacy of Louis and Marie-Anne, and by extension the Raizenne Métis family, continued as several of their children had families of 10 children or more.  Many of these children became important figures in their own right in their communities, churches, and villages.  All of them are part of the incredible Métis Legacy in Eastern Canada, and their progeny can be found in many Métis genealogies to this day.

If you missed Part 1, please read it here.


35 thoughts on “The Raizenne Legacy

  1. I was delighted to find your website while trying to uncover some of my French Canadian roots. My mother’s father was Alphonse Joannette who moved west and ultimately settled in Alberta and married another recent immigrant from Quebec (Marie Eugenie LaPierre) in1901, but all connections were subsequently lost. I’ve made contact with the LaPierre side of the family, but until now I have limited success with the Joannettes. Recently I’ve been able to trace my grandfather back to Deux Montagnes, where his grandfather, Joseph-Amable Joannet married Marie Elizabeth Bertrand. Elizabeth’s father was Vital-Joseph Bertrand and his mother was Marie Angelique Seguin, the daughter of Shoentakouan (Marie Anne Raizenne) who married Louis Seguin.
    I have spent time working with Metis families in the west on educational & historical work, and have often been taken as Metis but my Mom’s family claimed to be pure French, so you have helped me solve a long standing mystery! (Unfortunately Mom passed away some time ago)
    Your historical work and your website, by the way, is one of the best I have encountered. Congratulations!

  2. This is amazing. These are my ancestors.
    Marie-Anne Raizenne and Louis Seguin had a daughter named Catherine Seguin.
    And a few more marriages and births later I was born.

    1. Ignace Josiah Raizenne Rising Shoentokouani who married Marie Elisabeth b:Abigail Stebbens Nimbs Touatogowach appear in my family tree on my father’s mother’s side.This is so amazing to read their story!

  3. In my father side, I have one grand-grand-grand-grand-father named Nerée Foubert appears tho be the son of Cleophée Lafrance and Augustin Foubert married in 1846. Cleophée Lafrance is the grand-grand-grand-grand daughter of the couple Louis Seguin& Marie Anne Raizenne qhile Augustin Foubert is the grand-grand-grand son of the couple Pierre Castonguay&Anastasie Raizenne. Many thanks for the story!

  4. My grandmother was a Seguin and her family also goes back to Louis and Marie Anne Raizenne and their son Francois de Sales Seguin. Love all this amazing history!

  5. I am a descendant of Josiah and Abigail via daughter Anastasie. I’m curious: Why are the Raizennes called Metis here? Is it for the cultural influence instead of blood relation? There’s no evidence given that there was a Native parent.

  6. I am also a descent of this family. Louis Seguin married Marie – Anne Raizenne daughter of Ignace and Elizabeth Nimbs married 1736 04 08 Oka , Deux Montagnes

  7. I’m also linked to the Raizenne family as Marie-Anne Seguin was married to Antoine Gauthier.
    I’m puzzled after reading a lot of info on the Raizenne Legacy and that is how can one become a Metis, when both ancestors had no Native blood. Did I miss something?

    1. Jean-Marie, I too descend from the Rising/Raizenne and Nims/Nimbs marriage. And I too have not a drop of Meti and neither do 2 of my 3 sisters who have tested. And it is because of so much English in my DNA that my French DNA is only 4%. My dad was 3/4 French Canadian with the other 25% English and German, the German line being the source of my Loyalist line.

  8. My grand-mother was a Gauthier and her familly also go back to Louis Seguin and Marie-Anne Raizenne.
    I’m puzzled about the fact that both ancestors had no Native blood and are identified as Metis. In fact both were from English origin. I have no problem with the fact that le Legacy is identified as Metis! Maybe I missed something in my readings on the subject. Can someone shed some light?

  9. Anastasie Charlotte Castonguay (born Raizenne), 1728 – 1798, was my 6th, great grandmother, or so. Not sure the number. But I am from this line as well. Gregory Castonguay. Anastasie married Pierre Castonguay and thus, me down the line. Anyway. Interesting stuff.

    1. So we al are Metis from Josiah rising and Abergil Nims
      I don’t get it many someone could explain to me
      I am also related to josiah and abirgil
      Anastasia maried Jean Baptist Sabourin
      Please tel me about this

  10. I am related to Ignace Raizenne and Marie Elisabeth Nims through both their daughters Marie-Anne Raizenne who married Louis Séguin and Marie-Catherine Raizenne who married Jean-Baptiste Séguin. My great grandfather Ludger Pilon was a descendant of Marie-Anne and his wife Alvina Quesnel was a descendant of Marie-Catherine. Since neither Josiah Rising (Ignace Raizenne) nor Abigail Nims (Marie Elisabeth Nims) were native how is it that some of their descendants are Métis? We always believed we had native ancestry but no proof. It would be appreciated if someone could clear this point for me.

  11. I am also a descendent! My mom is Seguin from the same lineage Francois de Salle, Louis Seguin…… if I wanted the Métis lineage from Touatogouachi and Shoentakouani
    Fort Lorette mission before they moved to Oka! How would one access that information?

  12. Hello. This is a helpful article. I’m a descendant of Abigail and Josiah. Can the originator of this article (André Raizenne Quesnel?) comment on why they and their descendants would be considered Métis, since their ancestors are 100% European? I’m curious to know whether being raised among indigenous families qualifies them as Métis (i.e., is Métis more about culture than blood ties). I’ll really appreciate seeing the answer!

  13. Are you able to provide me with the address for the Abigail Nims, Josiah Rising home in Oka. I tried to find it on a recent visit but was unable to. I am a descendant of this family.

    Thank you!

  14. One of my ancestors was also taken in that raid. His name was Farnsworth and it was changed to Phaneuf by the Bishop of Montreal, who became his godfather and granted him a plot on the island of montreal. Claude Mathias Phaneuf

  15. I’m definitely going to do some research as I’ve been looking at these stories…

    I’m a Seguin and have heard of some of my ancestors from my mom…

    Can’t wait to see the connection.

    Michel Seguin

  16. I am also from Anastasie Raizenne
    Married Jean Baptiste Sabourin
    My mother’s name is Marie blanch Gertrude Sabourin
    1935 -1983
    My name is Jim Meere

  17. Very interesting history. Abigail and Josiah are my 8th great-grandparents. Pardon my ignorance, but are we descendants Metis if we were “adopted” into a First Nations Family and not blood related?

  18. I am descended from Ignace’s brother James. I am delighted to see how the families thrived in their Canadian home. I hope one day to visit .

    1. HI, Betty…
      A very interesting post. One of my DNA matches was a rather distant Rising descendant, from Benjamin. But I descend from Josiah and Abigail.
      Kind regards,
      Charlotte Kerns

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