The rather obscur origins of our family was an early source of curiosity for me. The name sounding vaguely germanic and the fact it was uncommon made us somehow genuinely proud. There were many oral tradition about our roots : either our ancestor was the sole survivor or an unknown battle, or he was an immigrant from the french province of Alsace. The latter stems from a book titled : Les Canadiens-français : Origine des familles immigrés de France (N.E. Dionne, Québec : Laflamme & Proulx, 1914, p. 522). The author suggests the name Ritchot came from the alsacian "commune" of Rechotte (Territoire de Belfort). Somebody came to his/her own conclusion... Another legend was our ancestor was sent to the penitentiary colony of Guyanne before coming to New France. This stems from another book : Histoire de Saint-François-du-Lac (Thomas M. Charland, O.P., Ottawa : Collège dominicain, 1942, p. 99.). The author simply misread a word in the baptism record of our ancestor as : gyane. However, a good reading of the baptism record would have solve the mystery :
Church register of St-François-du-Lac (countyYamaska) :
9 years old
the year 1691, the 6 of January, I undersigned louis andré, from the
Jesuit compagny, acting as parish priest for the french
and the savagages (indians) baptised with the church ceremonies in the
chapel of the sieur Crevier, seigneur of the said place Jacques ritchot son of ritchot [naxonx - written between the lines] and of Suzanne
calquet. The godfather was Jean Baptiste
René Crevier dit Menoche and the godmother was
Marguerite Crevier who could not sign
Louis André from the Jesuit compagny
On September 23, again at St-François-du-Lac, his marriage is celebrated :
I Jacques Rigot from the Jesuit compagny acting as priest in the parish after the publication of three bans without any empediments have married Richot, english, baptised in his childhood with the French and Isabelle Dubois daughter of deceased René Dubois and Anne Dumont. Witnesses were Mr. Crevier charles dubois and many others.
The marriage private contract, signed the same day, and kept by Daniel Normand, notary, (
January 5, 1704) gives the same informations :
Before Daniel Normandin Royal notary […]
At this present Jacques Ridechot of english
nation, presently of
St Francois son of (crossed out word) Ridejot , and Martha
(ommited words) his father and mother on one part […]
As we see, the given name of Jacques Ritchot's father became his family name.
An article published in the periodical The Genealogist (Manchester NH : American French Canadian Genealogical Society, Vol. 17, no. 2, # 48, Spring 1991,. pp : 87-89) finally left the veil on our origins. Written by Dr. Roger H. Lawrence and titled Nason dit Ritchot, it relates how our ancestor Jacques Ritchot, son of Richard Nason and Shuah Colcord, was abducted during an attack lead by French militiamen and Abenaki indians on the small New England community of Sturgeon Creek (Maine), and was brought to New France along with 53 captives.
[to be continued]