GIARD (Girard, Gyart), ANTOINE, farmer, militia officer; b. 28 Mar. 1682 at Montreal to Nicolas Giard and Claude Prat; d. 1746 or 1747 at Kaskaskia (Ill.).
Antoine Giard’s first trip to the west may have been in 1705, when he and his elder brother Gabriel were employed by the Compagnie de la Colonie to go to Detroit. Two years later he travelled to the same post for Cadillac [Laumet*]. By 1726 Giard had made his way to Kaskaskia. There, on 12 Oct. 1734, he married Marianne Martin, née Lafontaine, a sister-in-law of Jean-François Mercier, and there he spent the rest of his life.
The Illinois economy was based on agriculture and the Indian trade. The original land holdings were grants made by the commandants in the king’s name, without seigneurial obligations. The established homes and farms were allowed to pass from one person to another by contract, often with payment in furs and produce since currency was scarce. Information on Giard derived from such contracts shows him to have been one of the more enterprising settlers. He had a house in Kaskaskia village, several farm strips in its commons, and another farm above Fort de Chartres (near Prairie du Rocher). At times he rented out farm-land to others, and agreements with engagés indicate that he did some fur-trading as well. His civic activities included service as militia officer, church warden, and administrator of estates for friends and neighbours.
A quiet, steady citizen, he went to court only once – to have nullified the gambling debts contracted by his ward, Étienne Lalande. His reputation for responsibility led to his selection in 1744 as guardian of the two daughters of François-Marie Bissot* de Vinsenne. As a guardian he looked after the leasing of his wards’ farms.
Antoine died in 1746 or 1747. His estate was settled in 1752, and the census of that year shows seven children, two of them male, in his widow’s household. One was likely the Antoine Giard who signed a document in 1750, then disappears from the records. Three daughters inherited the Fort de Chartres property, and their children married into the Saucier-Louvière, Cerré, Morrison, and Chouteau families – all prominent names in the early statehood of Illinois and Missouri and notable in the Rocky Mountain fur empire.
ANDM, Registres des baptêmes, mariages et sépultures. ANQ-M, Greffe d’Antoine Adhémar, 30 mai 1705, 5 juin 1707. Chicago Historical Society, Kaskaskia oversize papers. Randolph County Courthouse (Chester, Ill.), Office of the circuit clerk, Private papers, I, 14 Jan. 1746; Kaskaskia manuscript record book, II, “Copie des repertoire des actes laissér au greffe des Illinois,” 1734, 1744. St Louis University Library (St Louis, Mo.), Archives paroissiales de Notre-Dame de l’Immaculée-Conception des Cascaskias (Kaskaskia, Ill.). Alvord, Illinois country. Belting, Kaskaskia.