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 What about genetics?

You may recall that the mitochondrial DNA, known as mtDNA, is transmitted from a mother to her children but only their daughters can retransmit it to their own children.  Their sons cannot retransmit mtDNA, hence it is passed down from daughter to daughter.

mtDNA contains markers known as haplogroups which vary from one population to another because they were subjected to change from the time our distant ancestors left Africa 100,000 years ago. For example, Amerindian haplogroups are different from those of Caucasians, Africans or any other group. Analysis of the haplogroups can determine when approximately, a group of people separated from another, and confirm with relative precision what human group a person belongs to (on her mother's side) and, as a corollary, the group her matrilinear ancestor belonged to. Thus, if it can be shown that the mtDNA of Catherine Pillard's matrilinear descendants is characteristic of Amerindians, it would be certain that Catherine would also be of the same origin.

What about genealogical data?

Of all the acts and documents concerning Catherine Pillard, only two refer to her origin. The first one has long been known: it is the act formalizing her marriage to Pierre Charron. It can be found in the very first register of the Notre-Dame parish in Montreal. Catherine Pillard is represented as « daughter of Pierre Pillard  and Marguerite Moulinet, from La Rochelle, Notre-Dame-de-Cogne parish ».

The second was brought to our attention recently by Mr. Guy St-Hilaire, MGA. This act relates to the second marriage of a widower Sébastien Brisson dit Laroche, hitherto second husband of Catherine Pillard, January 13, 1709 in Repentigny. This act was reprinted in the October 2010 issue of le Trait d'union (Vol. 18, No. 1).

The officiant stated in the act that the husband was « the widower of Catherine Charon, from the city of La Rochelle ». This is a detail of great importance because 57 years after her first marriage and five years after her death, it confirms that Catherine who is identified by the name of her first husband, was effectively from La Rochelle.

Actions taken by l'Association des Charron et Ducharme

Obviously, our association was prompted into action by doubts about the origin of Catherine Pillard as well as by contradictions between genetic and genealogical data. In our search for facts, we had only one purpose: to contribute where possible to the clarification of her origin. Whether the conclusion turns out to be that Catherine was French, Amerindian or of any other origin, we do not much care about because no one chooses his or her ancestors. However, it seemed to us, as it does now, that we needed to reconcile the information derived from genetics and that obtained through genealogy, without presuming a priori that one or the other was untrue. With that in mind, we undertook the following actions.

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All Charrons and Ducharmes, as well as anyone interested in these families.