My Ancestors (25) – Juana Cadoret

(1) Juana Cadoret; (2) Josephine de Beck; (3) Clara Maria de los Dolores Marina de Beck Guion; (4) Alfred Beck Guion; (5) Alfred Duryee Guion; (6) Alfred Peabody Guion; (7) Judith Anne Guion

This is an excerpt from a letter written by Grandpa to his sister, Elsie May Guion, in 1940. 

The following bit of family history concerning my grandmother, Clara de Beck Guion, was compiled by my first cousin, Mrs. Florence Gay Osborne, daughter of my Father’s sister, Clara Guion Gay, about 1893. Since then, cousin Florence has died.

Alfred D. Guion

July 8, 1940


Clara Maria de los Dolores Marina de Beck Guion was a descendent of Mons. Jean Cadoret, a wealthy French nobleman who, about the middle of the 18th century, married Mademoiselle Juana _____________, a widow, whose parents belonged to the nobility of Spain. She was probably born in Castile, and when she was seven years of age was betrothed to a Spanish nobleman, many years her senior.

Juana took no pains to conceal the dislike she entertained for her future husband, in spite of his many gifts to her.

On one occasion, she prepared for his next visit to her by filling the seat of the cushioned chair with pins, pointing upward. When he called, the little Juana received him with unusual cordiality – to his great gratification – ushered him into the drawing room and offered him a chair, running quickly away without waiting for him to seat himself, which he did, rising with the utmost haste and with an angry protest to his perspective mother-in-law. The mortified lady ordered the child to be brought into the room, but she was not to be found until a prolonged search revealed her hiding place under a heap of charcoal. To be obliged to appear with face, hands and once white dress in a pitiable plight, was sufficient punishment for the dainty lady who no doubt repented of her misdoings.

Her married life with this gentleman was none too happy, and his early death left her a childless widow.

Mons. Jean Cadoret had been sent into Spain, probably as the Minister from France, where he married Juana and took her to France. Six children were born to them: Katrine, Lorenzo, Francis, Jeanne, Frederick and Josephine, the youngest, who was born in Brittany on June 13, 1780.

Her three sons had been sent to England to be educated. Lorenzo, the eldest, was studying for the ministry in the Church of England. Francis began the study of medicine, but the sight of blood always caused him to faint and he was obliged to give up his studies.

During the French Revolution, Jean Cadoret, who was an ardent Royalist, while at a public dinner, expressed himself in strong terms in favor of the King. Upon leaving the banquet hall he was met by a gendarme, who, saying “Monsieur est mon prisonier”, hurried him off to prison. He never saw his home again, but after lying in prison for several months, was guillotined. His wife and daughters made several visits to him but they were in danger of arrest and were secreted by friends in a sort of tower near Paris. As soon as possible, arrangements were made for Mme. Juana Cadoret to flee from France. She was concealed in a Cracker Barrel, cushioned and lined, let down secretly from a window and hurried on board a vessel bound for Cuba, where she would be safe under the flag of her native land. She had in Havana, a cousin, the wife of Tacon, a wealthy slave owner, and afterward Governor of Cuba. Mme. Juana Cadoret made a home for herself and in a year sent for her children.

(from the manuscript)

Her three sons had been sent to England before their father’s arrest, to be educated. Lorenzo, the eldest, was studying for the Ministry in the Church of England. Francis began the study of medecine, but the sight of blood always caused him to faint, and he was obliged to give up his studies.

A ship was bought, named by the new owners “Les Trois Soeurs”, and placed in the charge of a friendly captain. The vessel narrowly escaped being seized by the government, but the six children succeeded in reaching it with the governess without being detected. The vessel at once left port and the unfortunate family had soon bid adieu forever to their native land.

The voyage was begun in time for them to reach Cuba in the Fall before the yellow fever should begin. They were delayed, however, by contrary winds, and when about three leagues from the island of Las Noevitas, in the old Bahama Channel, they met stormy weather. The passengers awoke one morning to find the vessel on one side. A strong wind from the Gulf Stream arose every day and there was every prospect that the vessel would capsize. The passengers took their clothing and jewels, and were placed in a small boat, with biscuits and water, and rowed to the island. It was inhabited only by wild animals, to avoid which they climbed the trees. They hoisted a flag of distress, and on the morning of the third day, discovered a sail. They experienced great anxiety lest their signal should not be seen, but it was noticed and the vessel came to their rescue. She proved to be an American ship from New York, bound for Cuba. The captain – Hicks – treated them with Christian kindness, set a sumptuous table for them, and landed them safely in Cuba where Juana Cadoret gladly welcomed her children whom she had given up for lost. The voyage had taken six months and they had arrived in the midst of the dreaded yellow fever season.

The mother at once sent them with their governess to Philadelphia where the girls were placed in a boarding school on Chestnut Street. A week after their arrival, Frederick, the youngest son, was assassinated in the street, being mistaken for someone else. The two oldest girls, with their governess, disliked the climate and were dissatisfied and unhappy, and at the end of six months the whole family, with the exception of Josephine, returned to Cuba. They scarcely landed before the governess and the two young men, the older of whom was about 24, died of yellow fever. The sisters were smitten with the fever, but recovered.

(from the manuscript)

Katrine, afterwards, married Mons. Niel, a French physician, who died, leaving her two children. Hypolite, who followed his father’s profession, and Razeline. Jeanne married a Spanish gentleman who rendered her life miserable because of his mad jealousy of her beauty. At the end of four or five years, he was obliged to be away from his wife for a few hours, and having finished his business, started for home in spite of a furious storm, so fearful was he to leave her alone. When but a few miles from his home, he was struck by lightning and killed. His riderless horse reached home when a search was made for his master, whose lifeless body was discovered on the ground.


These are pictures of the manuscript created by Florence Gay Osborn, Grandpa’s 1st cousin,, in 1925. The sketches are hers. She was the daughter of Alfred Beck Guion’s sister, Clara Beck Gay. The original document is owned by another 3rd cousin I have met through this Blog.








The guillotine



The escape





The island








COLONIAL ORIGINS of the CALIFORNIA GUIONS, An Informal Genealogical Study by Ernest Jerome Hopkins, finished in 1952.

Descendants of Louis Guion,  Huguenot, of La Rochelle, France and New Rochelle, West Chester County, Provice of New York, A Guion Family Album, 1654 – 1976,Compiled by J. Marshall Guion IV, Edited by Violet H Guion, Olean, New York, 14760

A French Huguenot Legacy by Debra Guiou(n) Stufflebean, Expanded and Revised 2nd Edition, LuLu Enterprises, Inc, Morrisville, NC.



Next Sunday, I will share the story of Josephine Cadoret, the mother of Clara Maria de los Dolores Marina de Beck Guion.

Tomorrow, I’ll begin posting letters written in 1944. All five sons are in the service of Uncle Sam, Lad and his wife Marian, in California, Dan in London, Ced in Alaska, Dick in Brazil, and Dave in Missouri.. 

Judy Guion

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