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Casket (Casquette) Girls

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A Casket (Casquette) Girl, also widely known as a cassette girl "filles à la cassette" refers to the women brought from France to the French colonies of Louisiana to marry. The name derives from the small chests, known as cassettes, in which they carried their clothes. They were conspicuous by reason of their virtue.

Normally women were supplied to the colonists by raking the streets of Paris for undesirables, or by emptying the houses of correction. The casket girls, however, were recruited from church charitable institutions, usually orphanages and convents, and, although poor, were practically guaranteed to be virgins. For this reason it later became a matter of pride in Louisiana to show descent from them.

The first consignment reached Mobile in 1704, Biloxi in 1719, and New Orleans in 1728. They inspired Victor Herbert to write Naughty Marietta.


In 1706, there was a "petticoat insurrection" because the young women were unhappy with this rough, unsettled land and wanted to go back to France. The sea captains refused them passage. Over the next several years as many as 500 young women known as "filles à la cassette" or "casquette girls" were brought to the Louisiana province. Each girl was given a casquette, a small suitcase, containing a wedding dress and other personal articles. Most of these girls came from orphanages, brothels, and prisons. In some cases, girls were sold by their own parents. Ursuline nuns traveled with them and stayed with them until a suitable marriage could be arranged. Source

Some of the Girls were:

  • Louise - Marguerite HOUSSEAU had come from a town outside of Paris- Tours. Married Guilliame BOUTIN.
  • Renee GILBERT had come from a town outside of Paris- Chantilly. Married Jean ROY.
  • [Marie-Catherine PHILIPPE was sixteen yeras of age, daughter of Charles PHILIPPE, a respected resident of Meaux-en-Brie....
  • Gabrielle SAVARAY, daughter of Pierre SAVARY and Jeanne FAUTISSE, had been born the 285h of January 1684 in parish of Saint-Denis where her godfather, Plomier DESELUSE had been an important merchant. Married Jean Baptiste SAUCIER.
  • Marie-Marguerite DUFRESNE, aged fourteen was a daughter of Charles DUFRESNE, Seiur Dumotel, a squire of the parish of Saint-Germain. Married Jean Baptiste ALEXANDER.
  • Marie Therese BROCHON, "...not as well born, perhaps, but of no less piety.". Married Pierre BROSSARD.
  • Angelique DROUIN "...not as well born, perhaps, but of no less piety." Married Jean B. La CROIX dit GRIMAULD
  • Jeanne- Louise BURELLE, aged twenty
  • Genevieve BURELLE, aged seventeen. Married Claude TREPANIER.
  • Marguerite BURELLE, aged fifteen. Married Gilbert DARDENNE.

The three BURELLE girls ."..needed no endorsement by Saint-Vallier, for they were to be accompanied by their parents, Etienne BURELLE and Marguerite ROUSSEAU, as well as by their yhounger brother Louis.The elder BURELLE, by profession a pastry cook, was no stranger to the New World.

Born in Paris (Saint-Severin, Ile-de-France) in 1656, he had emigrated to Cap Saint-Ignace in Canada at an early age where he married Marguuerite, widow of Mathurin DUCHERON, dit DESLAURIERS, on Nov 10, 1682. Siring four children, BURELLE migrated to Quebec from Capt Saint-Ignace, where a son Vital, was born, after which he returned to Paris with his family about the turn of the century. Eager to return to the New World, the pastry cook seized the opportunity for free passage after learning of Saint-VALLIER's search for Colonists."

  • Jeanne-Elisabeth Le PINTEAUX
  • Jeanne-Catherine de BERENHARDT
  • Marie-Francoise de BOISENRAUD (la fille superieure)

"...acted with some authority over the slightly younger girls, in concert with Sister Marie Malbecq (chosen by Saint Vallier himself) and Monsieur Le ROUX."

  • Louise-Francoise LeFEVRE died of yellow fever after arrival at Fort Louis, buried that same afternoon.

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3 October 1704, Fountainbleu - List of Girls Who Left from Paris and Rochefort for Fort Louis in La Louisiane:

  • Francoise Marianne de Boirenaud

  • Jean Catherine de Berenhard

  • Jeanne Elizabeth le Pinteux

  • Marie Noel du Mesnil

  • Gabrielle Savarit

  • Genvieve Burel

  • Jeanne Burel

  • Marguerite Burel

  • Marie Thereze Brochon

  • Angelique Drouin

  • Marie Briard

  • Marguerite Tavernier

  • Elizabeth Deshayes

  • Catherine Christophe

  • Catherine Toussaint (did not make the trip)

  • Marie Philipe

  • Louise Marguerite Housseau

  • Marie Madeline Ouanet

  • Marie Dufresne

  • Marguerite Guichard

  • Renee Guilbert

  • Louise Francoise Le Fevre - died of yellow fever on day of arrival

  • Gabrielle Bonet

  • Marie Jeanne Marle, Conductrice

Marriages and children:

  • Francoise Marianne de Boirenaud

  • Jean Catherine de Berenhard m. Nicholas de La Salle, widower

  • Simon m. Anne Petit

  • Henry b. 22 Mar 1708
  • Marie b. 24 Aug 1709 d. 30 Aug 1709
  • Jeanne Elizabeth le Pinteux died a few days after marriage

  • Marie Noel du Mesnil - no record of marriage

  • Gabrielle Savarit (Savory) m. (1) Jean Baptiste Saucier.

  • Anne 1705-1718

  • Henry 1706-1760

  • Jean Baptiste 1707-1746

  • Jacques 1710-17?

  • Francois Saucier

  • Genvieve Burel m. Claude Trepanier

  • Genvieve b. 5 Feb 1709

  • Marie Francoise b. 25 Mar 1715

  • Francois b. 26 Feb 1717

  • Barbe Ursule

  • Jeanne Burel m. Francois Trudeau

  • Marguerite Burel m. Gilbert Dardenne

  • Jeanne b. 2 Apr 1710

  • Marie Thereze Brochon m. Pierre Brossard, master mason

  • Pierre b. 18 Jun 1708

  • Francois b. 18 Feb 1710

  • Angelique Drouin m. Jean B. La Croix dit Grimauld

  • Jean Baptiste b. 8 Feb 1709

  • Jacques b. 20 Dec 1710

  • Marie Briard m. Antoine Rivard dit LaVigne

  • Gabrielle b. 4 Aug 1707

  • Marie Genvieve b. 8 Dec. 1708

  • Marguerite Tavernier - no record of marriage

  • Elizabeth Deshayes m. Jean Bourbonnois

  • Elizabeth Angelique b. 17 Aug 1707

  • Catherine Christophe m. (1)Rene Boyer (2)Claude Parent

  • Catherine Toussaint (did not make the trip)

  • Marie Philipe m. Pierre Allain dit Rouseve

  • Louise Marguerite Housseau m. Guillaume Boutin

  • Marie Madeline Ouanet m. Francois Dupre (d. by Feb 16 1722)

  • Marie Therese b. 15 Oct 1708

  • Francois b. 18 Dec 1716

  • Jeanne Magdelaine b. 11 Dec 1719

  • Marie Charlotte b. 16 Feb 1722

  • Marie Marguerite Dufresne m. Jean B. Alexander

  • Francois b. 11 Apr 1708

  • Philippe b. 20 Jul 1710

  • Antoine b. 1 Sep 1715

  • Pierre b. 21 Nov 1717

  • Marguerite Guichard - no record of marriage

  • Renee Guilbert m. Jean B. Roy

  • Jacque b. 16 Aug 1705

  • Jean Philippe b. 24 Apr 1708, d. 1 Oct 1740

  • Louise Francoise Le Fevre - died of yellow fever on day of arrival

  • Gabrielle Bonet - married, spouse deserted

  • Marie Jeanne Marle