BOOK FOUR: A New Acadia01
BOOK ONE: Acadia
BOOK TWO: The Great Upheaval
BOOK THREE: French Louisiana
BOOK FIVE: The Bayou State
he First Acadians in Louisiana, 1764
The Broussards were not the first Acadians to come to the colony. Nor, as legend would have it, did the first Acadian exiles reach Louisiana during the 1750s. E
ntrepreneur-politicianDudley J. LeBlanc, who served in the Louisiana state senate beginning in the 1940s, was a proponent of the 1750s legend. "The story of the Acadians has been told often and many people have written about it,
but no one actually knows when the first Acadians reached Louisiana," the Senator wrote in a third edition of his history of the Acadians, published in 1966 but still reflecting his original work, published in 1927. Senator LeBlanc continues: "As soon as the Acadians deported to Georgia arrived there, Governor Reynolds permitted them to leave. The unfortunate people made crude boats, others took to the woods heading for Canada or back to Acadia, while some joined Acadians from South Carolina and traveled through the great wilderness which separated them from the Gulf of Mexico and Louisiana via woods and water ways as they followed the paths of the earliest travelers down to the Mississippi River." To buttress his assertion, Senator LeBlanc quotes the research notes,
published in 1962,of two members of the Louisiana Genealogical and Historical Society: "We are mainly interested in the Acadians who went to South Carolina and Georgia, as from these a small group of those who escaped were the first to travel the well-known Canadian Route through the forests and water ways on to the Mississippi River and Louisiana." The Senator also quotes Dr. Chapman J. Milling's study of Acadian exiles in South Carolina: "Others took to the woods heading for Canada, while others, joined by escaped parties of Acadians from Georgia, made their way to Louisiana. A reference to such a party is made in an article in the South Carolina Gazette, said party leaving in May 1756. The route from Canada to Louisiana via woods and water ways, particularly the Mississippi River, was the very first route known and used by explorers, missionaries, voyagers, coureur de bois, etc. It required, we are told, approximately a month to travel from South Carolina to Louisiana." Senator LeBlanc then asserts: "As the wild ducks regularly came from Canada and the East to roost in an ideal pasture, at Cabahanoce (Indian name for duck's sleeping place), so came the early Acadians to find a haven of refuge on French soil which had been settled by the earliest Canadian and French pioneers at 'Les Oumas' or 'Houmas', twenty-two leagues above New Orleans. This thinly populated area offered rich and choice lands along the Mississippi River, at a time when concessions could be had on the vast grants. De Sennegy, whose early and authentic book on St. James is based on church archives and from family records of leading families of those days, dates the earliest Acadian arrivals in small, straggling weary groups between the year 1754-1759." The Senator adds: "Some Acadians seem to have come to "Houmas" or St. James via Pointe Coupée even before the deportation of 1755. In the registers of St. Francis Church, Pointe Coupee Acadian names appear in the entries of the early seventeen-fifties. We find names like Hebert and Richard in the books. This seems to confirm the tradition that some Acadians, having been able to get away from Acadia into Canada during the long tense years prior to 1755, came from there to Louisiana."
Despite his imprecise sources, Senator LeBlanc was pretty much correct about the British colony from whence the first documented Acadian exiles had come. He even deduced correctly the place where they settled. But he missed
by many hundreds of milesthe actual route they took, and the date on which they arrived he missed by many years.
In February 1764, while d'Abbadie still served as caretaker governor, the first Acadian exiles to reach Louisiana stepped off a boat from Mobile.
These 21 men, women, and children had come without warning, certainly without permission, and, having reached a French colony, intended to stay. Focusing on the benefits they would provide the colony, d'Abbadie did his bestto accommodate them. The family heads of the party were Jean-Baptiste Cormier, père, from Chignecto, who was 54 when he reached Louisiana,
Jean-Baptiste, called Jean, Richard, of Nappan, Chignecto, age 44,Olivier Landry, age 36, and Jean-Baptiste, called Jean, Poirier of Menoudie, Chignecto, age 26. Each of their nuclear families was related by blood or marriage, so they were essentially a single, extended family, typical of the Acadians still enduring their Grand Dérangement. The arrival of this party at New Orleans is marked by records of the St.-Louis church noting the baptism of three of their children--Jean-Antoine Landry, Joseph Poirier, and Joseph Richard--on 26 February 1764, and another baptism, that of Jean-Baptiste Poirier, fils, on 1 March 1764. It is interesting to note that the New Orleans priest who penned the baptismal records did not include the children's ethnicity. A few weeks later, on 6 April 1764, director-general d'Abbadie wrote to his superior, the French Minister of Marine: "My Lord, I have the honor to inform you of the arrival of four Acadian families, including twenty persons, who came here from New York[sic] last February." D'Abbadie continues: "The English who held them as prisoners till the signing of the peace [which occurred in February 1763] permitted them to leave, provided they would defray their own traveling expenses. Their passage from New York[sic] to Mobile cost 550 livres per family, consuming all of the hard-earned savings accumulated during their captivity." The director-general implored the Minister to include a reimbursement of the Acadians' expenses in the colonial budget and informed him that he had "ordered ... a ration of corn and rice be given to them until they can be settled."302
In truth, these Acadians had come from Georgia, to where the British had deported them from Chignecto in the fall of 1755. According to a notice in the Georgia Gazette, dated 22 December 1763, the party of 21 Acadians had left Savannah the day before aboard the Savannah Packet for Mobile, "from which place they are to go to New Orleans." They reached Port Dauphin in January, took boats up the bay to Mobile, and found the place abuzz with activity. Louisiana's director-general d'Abbadie had come to Mobile the previous October to oversee the transference of eastern Louisiana to British rule. D'Abbadie had lingered there until January, making certain that the French settlers in the region, called Alibamons, who had chosen not to stay, moved on to New Orleans, from where they would go to new settlements along the river above the city. Perhaps the Acadians reached Mobile in time to consult with the director-general, or perhaps they arrived after he had returned to New Orleans. No matter, they had personal business to take care of in this first Catholic community they had seen since the British had deported them to Georgia. After witnessing the blessing of a marriage--that of Jean Poirier and Marie-Madeleine Richard--at Mobile on 22 January 1764, they continued on to the Louisiana capital, either by ship via the mouth of the river, or by boat via Lake Pontchartrain and the Bayou St.-Jean portage. French officials welcomed them at New Orleans, issued them tools and rations at the King's expense, and sent them to the area above the Germans called Cabahannocer, specifically to a stretch of river between Nicolas Verret's plantation and Jacques Jacquelin's cow ranch on the outside of a sharp bend along the west bank of the river, where they could create a Nouvelle-Acadie of their own.303
Olivier Landry's kinship to a retired military officer who had come to Louisiana as a young lieutenant in the early 1730s may have been the reason why he and the others went to Louisiana and not to some other French possession. Olivier was a cousin of Joseph De Goutin de Ville; the Acadian officer's mother, Jeanne Thibodeau, was Olivier's paternal grandmother's younger sister. As the story goes, while Olivier and his family languished at Savannah at the end of the war with Britain, he somehow communicated with his cousin at New Orleans, who informed Olivier that the French authorities in Louisiana would welcome Acadians there. When Olivier and his fellow Acadians stepped off the boat at New Orleans, he and Joseph may have enjoyed a tearful reunion. Nor would it be surprising if Joseph was kin to other members of the party; De Goutin's eldest son Jean-Baptiste De Ville, only 12 years old, served as godfather for 3-year-old Jean-Baptiste, one of Jean Poirier's sons, soon after the party reached the city. After Olivier, Jean, and their fellow exiles settled at Cabahannocer, they likely sent out word by the remarkable Acadian grapevine that the French authorities in Louisiana had indeed welcomed them to the colony.304
These exiles could never return to their homes in Old Acadia, and only happenstance had brought them here to this tropical river valley. First at Balize, where their ship from Mobile had to clear French customs, then in the exotic city at the head of the beautiful crescent, and now on their own river bend along the wide Mississippi,i
nteresting parallels, and startling contrasts, between their old and new homes greeted the first Acadians of Louisiana:
Both Acadia and Louisiana had been founded by Frenchmen, Acadia in the early seventeenth century, Louisiana at the end of that century. The French founders encountered only a single native tribe when they came to Acadia--the Algonquian-speaking Mi'kmaq. In Louisiana, at least half a dozen tribes greeted the French founders on their first upriver journey, and the tribes spoke such different languages that a lingua franca--the Mobilian Dialect--had arisen among them. From the beginning, the French in Acadia got along well with the Mi'kmaq. The French in Louisiana, mostly Canadians, also befriended the tribes along the lower Mississippi, with one and then two bloody exceptions. Each colony in its early stage was sustained by the fur or skin trade--beaver in Acadia and whitetail deer in Louisiana. Each colony in the beginning contained its share of charismatic leaders--Biencourt, La Tour, and d'Aulnay in Acadia; the Le Moyne brothers in Louisiana. No single personality dominated early Acadian history, but the early history of Louisiana is essentially the story of one man--Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne, sieur de Bienville. FranceN
neglected both colonies throughout the time it possessed them, Acadia off and on for just over a century, Louisiana for six and a half decades. Despite persistent neglect from the mother country, each colony survived and eventually thrived. Each colony offered challenging natural phenomena that had to be overcome or endured--huge tides and brutal winters in Acadia; semi-tropical heat and humidity, insect-born diseases, frequent flooding, and destructive tropical storms in Louisiana. In each colony, as in most of North America, the chief means of communication and transportation was by water, so mastery of watercraft--birch bark canoes in Acadia, dugout pirogues and bateaux in Louisiana--was essential to survival.
o European families came to either colony during its formative years, only fur or skin traders, officers, sailors, soldiers, craftsmen, merchants, and missionaries.
Only after extended families set down roots did either colony achieve a level of self-sustainability. In Acadia, because of the long, cold winters, most of the families engaged in a higher level of subsistence agriculture, with fishing, cattle raising, and fruit production providing a surplus for trade. In Louisiana, early attempts at growing wheat failed miserably, so the essential grain had to be grown in Illinois and transported downriver; only a tropical grain--rice--could thrive on the lower Mississippi; however, when agriculture did take root in lower Louisiana, it soon transcended subsistence agriculture and moved into plantation-level production, first of tobacco and indigo, and ultimately of sugar. In Acadia, homesteads on the Fundy shore were oddly-shaped affairs, dictated by the natural distribution of dykable marshland. In Louisiana, as in Canada, homesteads took the shape of rectangular long lots fronting the river or bayou. Slavery did not take hold in Acadia; the Mi'kmaq were too powerful to allow Europeans to enslave them, and most Acadian families were so large and healthy, and their communities so tight-knit, that there never was a shortage of help in the fields and pastures. The only slaves in Acadia,
if they existed at all,
were a hand full of Africans owned by the wealthiest colonists and used only as prestige-domestics. In Louisiana, despite French policy against it, Indian slavery existed from the very beginning, first as domestics and then as farmhands, and was formally ended, not by the French but by the Spanish, only in 1769. After the founding of New Orleans, the development of a plantation economy on the lower Mississippi necessitated the importation of African chattel, an institution that not only survived but proliferated well beyond the colonial period.
when extended families did emerge in either colony, they
created their own unique créole culture shaped largely by the frontier experience. And, ultimately, during peace negotiations following two long wars between Britain and France, both colonies, the first in 1713, the second exactly half a century later, were considered expendable by the metropolitan elites. Both of these colonies were thrown away, along with the thousands of loyal subjects who had made their lives there.
If no more of these distant wanderers came to Louisiana, there was little chance that their culture would survive in this land of bayous and palmettos. Like the Canadians, Frenchmen, Africans, and Germans who had come before them, they, too, would be subsumed into Louisiana's Creole culture, and after the second or third generation, their unique Acadian identity would cease to exist. But that would have happened if only they had come. They did not know it, but
hundreds of their wandering kinsmen
were on their way to this New Acadia, where their unique identity could have a chance to endure--where it would endure in this strange new land of clashing cultures.
La Nouvelle-Acadie: The First Halifax Refugees Find a New Home in Louisiana, 1765
Though Article IV of the Treaty of Paris, signed in February 1763, had given French subjects 18 months to return to French territory, most of the Acadians held in Nova Scotia were still there in the autumn of 1764, months after the time for them to go have expired. Nova Scotia's new governor, Montague Wilmot, who had replaced Jonathan Belcher, Jr., the year before, had, in the time allotted, "tender'd to them" the oath of allegiance as well as "offers of a settlement in this Country." But most of the Acadians had rebuffed the oath as well as the offer. British leaders in Halifax, led by former lieutenant governor and current colonial chief justice Belcher, a protégé of the now deceased Charles Lawrence, still felt threatened by the Acadian presence in Nova Scotia. They were especially fearful of Beausoleil Broussard and other resistance leaders. Belcher encouraged Governor Wilmot to remove the Acadians from the province despite orders from London's Board of Trade to keep them in Nova Scotia and entreaties from the New England "planters" in the Annapolis valley to retain them as cheap but highly skilled labor. Wilmot resisted Belcher at first, so the chief justice hatched a scheme to send the Acadians from Halifax to Basking Ridge, New Jersey, to work as indentured servants on a British nobleman's land; Belcher's father just happened to be the governor of New Jersey at the time, and the nobleman was one of his father's political allies. Governor Wilmot also received a proposal to send 30 Acadian families to Chusock, New York, to work as indentured servants there. But no Acadian family agreed to either of the proposals.305
Infected, finally, by Belcher's fear of Acadian treachery, Wilmot proposed to his uncle, the powerful Earl of Halifax, the deportation of the Acadian "prisoners" in Nova Scotia to the West Indies, but the earl ignored his nephew's scheme. The Board of Trade insisted on the Acadians' immediate release and their re-settlement in Nova Scotia, as long as they took the ironclad oath.306
Their time had run out. It was time to act. Too proud to work for wages, unwilling to work as indentured servants in colonies where they could lose their religion as well as their children, unable to return to their farms in the upper Fundy basin, and determined not to take the hated oath, the Broussard party, most of them still on Georges Island, had to find a suitable place to put down new roots. The St. Lawrence valley was out of the question. They were hearing stories of how the French Canadians treated with contempt Acadian refugees who had settled among them, and the Board of Trade forbade the migration of more Acadians to Québec. Besides, Canada was as much a British possession now as Nova Scotia, and settling there would require them to take the oath. Nor was it likely that Wilmot would applaud the troublesome Broussards and their partisan compatriots settling as close as Québec to their former lands along the Fundy shore. The Illinois country and the pays d'en haut were viable options, but the British would not let them take the shortest route there via Canada, and France had just ceded the eastern part of Illinois and the pays d'en haut to Britain. Moreover, Indian rebellions, including one led by the Ottawa chief Pontiac, were ravaging the pays d'en haut, and the fighting there could last for years.307
But there were other regions of North America still controlled by France, such as the western bank of the upper Mississippi across from the old French settlements in Illinois. The French, or so most of the world believed, also retained control of the Isle of Orleans and the western bank of the lower Mississippi in what was left of French Louisiana. France also controlled St.-Domingue in the Caribbean Basin, where hundreds of Acadian exiles from the British colonies had gone recently to start a new life in the French West Indies. However, letters from Acadians in St.-Domingue detailed the horrors of the climate and maltreatment there at the hands of French officials. There was always the mother country itself, where the British had deported hundreds of Acadians during the war and to where the Acadians held in England had been recently repatriated. Even with permission from the French Crown to go there, however, a cross-Atlantic voyage would be difficult and expensive, but so would a voyage to the French West Indies. There was much for the Broussards and their kinsmen to consider, and their time had run out.308
After much deliberation, the old resistance fighters and their compatriots chose to go to the French West Indies. They asked the Nova Scotia colonial council "to subsidize their voyage to the French Antilles," but, reminding them of how much they had earned "'from the profits of their labors purchased at a high price, during the last four years,'" the council refused them. Wilmot, however, was happy to provide them with rations for the voyage, just to be rid of them. And so they would go, not as former deportees, like so many of their fellow Acadians, but as former prisoners captured after a failed resistance who were choosing to go to a new homeland, and doing so on their own hook.309
Pooling the money their sons had saved from their years of labor on land their fathers once had owned, the Broussard party,
over 200 men, women, and children,left Halifax in late November 1764 aboard a chartered English merchant schooner. They reached Cap-Français, St.-Domingue, in January and could see even in that winter month that the island's climate was unsuitable for them. They had hoped to reunite with relatives there, but many of the St.-Domingue Acadians were either dead or dying from tropical diseases, starvation, and overwork. Just as disturbing, there was little chance of acquiring productive farm land for themselves in the island's plantation-slave economy. They could see no future for their children in St.-Domingue, despite its being a French colony.310
So the Broussards chartered another merchant vessel at Cap-Français, welcoming aboard a hand full of fellow Acadians who were related to members of the party. Among them was Théotiste Broussard, widow of Joseph Hugon, who had been deported with her family from Chignecto to South Carolina probably aboard the English sloop Endeavor in 1755. She was among the dozens of Acadians who had left that British colony in November 1763 for French St.-Domingue. "So strong is the attachment of the Acadians to the superstitions of the Romish religion," wrote South Carolinian Peter Timothy in the South Carolina Gazette the previous August, "that tho' they are well used here, live very comfortably and get a great deal of money, yet they are all going to leave this province as well as Georgia, to the number of 300, merely that they may have priests among them. They propose going to Cape François, and 6 of their number are now ready to depart, to give notice of the Coming of the rest and make preparations for their reception." Perhaps to assuage their collective consciences, Peter Timothy and his fellow Carolinians refused to see the true conditions the Acadians had endured in their Palmetto colony. Unfortunately for Théotiste and her fellow Acadians who chose to go to the tropical French colony to enjoy their priests, they found nothing there but more misery, neglect, and death. Théotiste may have become a widow there, but, unlike many of the survivors of the St.-Domingue venture, she was not alone. With her were daughter Marie Hugon, age 14, and brother-in-law, Jacques Hugon of Chignecto, age 35, who had gone to South Carolina with a wife and two children but had lost them all. Théotiste managed to hook up with her Broussard cousins before the Beausoleils departed Cap-Français, and now she and her daughter and her widowed brother-in-law would try their luck in another French colony, hopefully with happier result.311
Before the Halifax Acadians left St.-Domingue, they baptized at least one of their newborns. Victor Comeau of Chepoudy and his wife Anne Michel of Annapolis Royal, widow of Michel Brun, had married probably at Georges Island in the early 1760s. Their son Thomas was born at the prison compound in 1762 or early 1763, and, by the time they left Halifax in late November 1764, Anne had become pregnant again. She gave birth to son Jean either on the long sea voyage from Halifax down to Cap-Français or in the island city and baptized the boy in the church there.312
From Cap-Français, they sailed west through the Florida Straits into the Gulf of Mexico and then on to the mouth of the Mississippi River. Their arrival at Balize was a complete surprise to the French authorities still in control of Louisiana. As official French correspondence as well as baptismal and marriage records at St.-Louis church attest, the Broussard party reached New Orleans in late February 1765. They were not the first Acadian exiles to come to Louisiana, but the Broussards and their kin were the first large group of Acadians to reach the lower Mississippi valley. Family heads of this large party also bore the names Arseneau, Babineau, Bergeron, Bernard, Boudrot, Bourg, Bourgeois, Breau, Comeau, Darois, Doucet, Dugas, Forest, Gautrot, Girouard, Godin dit Bellefontaine, Guédry, Guilbeau, Hébert, Hugon, Josset, Lagresse, Landry, LeBlanc, Levron, Martin dit Barnabé, Pellerin, Poirier, Robichaud, Roy, Semer, Surette, Thibodeau, and Trahan. Like the Broussards, most of these families came from the Chignecto/Chepoudy/Petitcoudiac area, but there also were families from Annapolis Royal, Rivière St.-Jean, Minas, and even a family that had lived on Île St.-Jean.313
While recuperating at New Orleans from their odyssey, the Broussards changed their minds about continuing on to Illinois. Cousin Joseph De Goutin de Ville,after welcoming
his kinsmen with open arms,
may have convinced them to remain in lower Louisiana. Or perhaps simple circumstance dictated the change of heart. A
cting director-general Charles-Philippe Aubry was reporting to his superiors that "the Indians are still giving the English a great deal of trouble" up in the Illinois country. Moreover, British vessels, including two frigates, now free to navigate the Mississippi for its entire length, had taken positions at Bayou Manchac, above the city, where they planned to build a fort on their side of the river, and at Natchez, where they planned to construct an even larger settlement. The Acadians may even have heard of British plans to fortify the bluffs at Baton Rouge between Manchac and Natchez. The peacefulness at New Orleans was much more conductive to their hopes and plans than the British presence and, especially, the continued fighting that would have burdened an already-difficult voyage upriver.313a
As an inducement for them to remain in lower Louisiana,
Aubry agreed to a plaintive request the new arrivals made to him. Despite a royal decree of 29 June 1764 that liquidated colonial bills and currencies, Aubry authorized the Acadians to exchange their "letters of exchange, card money, and drafts" for French currency. Local merchant Antoine-Gilbert de St. Maxent served as exchange agent for a wealthy merchant in Bordeaux, Mr. Lamalatie, who would attempt to complete the long and perhaps futile transaction for the weary exiles. St. Maxent's initial report to the French authorities, prepared at the end of April 1765, contains the names of 32 heads of family in the Broussard party, including two widows, who hoped to make the exchange, valued at 33,395 livres, 18 sols. Interestingly, Joseph dit Beausoleil's name is not on Maxent's list; perhaps he had spent his money at Halifax and Cap-Français paying for the passage of others.314
The Acadians took care of more intimate business while they lingered in the city. Soon after their arrival, on February 27, Amand Thibodeau of Chepoudy, age 31, married Gertrude, 15-year-old daughter of Charles Bourg and Anne Boudrot of Île St.-Jean, at St.-Louis church--the first recorded Acadian marriage in Louisiana. Gertrude came to Louisiana without her parents, so she likely had been orphan during Le Grand Dérangement. Joseph Girouard of Port-Royal married Ursule, daughter of René Trahan and Élisabeth Darois and widow of Alexandre dit Beausoleil's son Joseph-Grégoire Broussard, at St.-Louis church on April 8, on the eve of the party's departure from the city. The Acadians also buried some of their own. Pierre Gautrot, age unrecorded, husband of Louise Thibodeau, died at New Orleans soon after the party reached the city; Pierre left his wife with an infant daughter, Marie-Josèphe; Louise was one of the widows who appeared on the list of family heads hoping to exchange their Canadian card money. Mathilde, infant daughter of Joseph Dugas and Cécile Bergeron, died at New Orleans on March 11.315
The Acadians' reputation for hard work and loyalty to France having preceded them, Director-general Aubry was determined to keep them close. "They would actually have died of misery had we not provided them some assistance,"
Aubry wrote to the Minister of Marine soon after the Halifax refugees appeared at New Orleans
. "I thought that the honor and the humanity of our country compelled me to do something for these poor families who have been wandering for the past ten years. Their affliction is the result of their sacred attachment to their homeland and to their religion. I shall attempt to settle them on the right [west] bank of the river, as close to the city as possible."He
offered to settle them across from the city, at the site of today's Algiers. The place, however, was low and subject to flooding, thus requiring the building of high, expensive levees, and was "blanketed by dense, hardwood forests." Such a place could not be suitable for the weary Acadian exiles, most of whom were Chignecto cattlemen who had lived beside the coastal marshes of the upper Fundy shore. And then there was the question of cost. "These people," the Broussard party, Aubry informed the Minister of Marine in late April, "would have had to build levees and clear a substantial amount of land. This would have necessitated feeding these people for several years while they established themselves and became self-supporting. Such a precedent was set by the settlers of the German Coast. We find ourselves in such circumstances that I did not dare make such expenditures." Aubry had heard rumors that "The English, who often meddle in the affairs of other people, wish to induce the Acadians to join them along the Iberville River [Bayou Manchac, above the German Coast]. It is unlikely, however," he assured the Minister, "that these people, who refused to submit to English rule--both after the Treaty of Utrecht and during the last war--and who consequently were treated harshly by them, would now join the British."316
So very true.
efore Aubry could concoct another settlement scheme for them, the Broussards again seized control of their collective destiny, or so the story goes.In June 1764, cousin Joseph De Goutin de Ville had received a land grant on upper Bayou Teche in the still-undeveloped Attakapas District, west of the Atchafalaya Basin, and he likely had told his cousins about the wonders of that country. Not far from Joseph de Ville's land grant was an even larger one held by another retired army officer, former captain Jean-Antoine-Bernard Dauterive, a major cattle producer in the colony.
Ordonnateur Foucault either had gotten wind of an impending agreement between the Broussards and Dauterive, or, perhaps, he and Aubry may have been the authors of the scheme to send the Acadians to the prairie districts and thereby buttress the developing cattle industry there. In late February, weeks before the so-called Dauterive agreement was made, Foucault wrote to the Minister of Marine: "They [the Halifax Acadians] are poor and worthy of pity. Until they have chosen land in the Opelousas district, sixty leagues from New Orleans, and are able to care for themselves, I cannot refuse them assistance."317
By April, the Beausoleil brothers and several other party leaders--Joseph's son Victor, Alexandre's son Jean-Baptiste, cousin-in-law Olivier Thibodeau, and associates Joseph
dit L'OfficierGuilbeau, Jean Dugas, and Pierre Arseneau--had "agreed to tend Dauterive's livestock for six years; in consideration for their labor, they would receive not only half of the herd's increase but also the land grant Dauterive and his partner, Édouard Massé, had acquired in 1760." The Acadians could not have picked a more unlikely partner in their venture. Back in 1758, during the war with Britain, then Louisiana Governor Kerlérec had hard words to say about Captain Dauterive: "This officer is one of the most antisocial, insubordinate, hot-headed men that I have known in this colony; a schemer; and always restless. I have disciplined him often, but without success." Then, again, perhaps the Broussards, at least, had much in common with the former soldier. No matter, the Acadians had chosen to become a part of the burgeoning Louisiana cattle industry. As Professor Carl A. Brasseaux
explains: "Development of the cattle industry at Attakapas was vital, the acting governor [Aubry] argued, because 'since the cession of Mobile, we are entirely without cattle.' Finally, the cattle produced at Attakapas could support New Orleans in times of war, because the post's lines of communication with the capital were not exposed to British raids." This implies that the cattle industry at Attakapas was still in a primitive state of development when Aubry wrote those words to the Minister of Marine in late April 1765. One suspects that the Dauterive agreement was a clever way for the Acadians to acquire cattle in a hurry and to make their own contribution to the shortage of beef in the colony. Professor Brasseaux calls the place where the Acadians planned to raise their cattle "the former Dauterive-Massé concession," so the land on which they would settle at Attakapas would belong to them, not to the two cattlemen.318
No matter, Aubry and Foucault agreed to the arrangement--again, they may have been the authors of the scheme. They had just opened up the western districts to colonization by approving the settlement there of "scores of French subjects from Alabama"--the so-called Alibamon. Why not send these Acadians there as well. The exiles had raised cattle in Acadia; they could raise cattle out on the western prairies.
We ... sent seven or eight men to look over the land and locations in order to find a suitable site," one of the young Acadians remembered, "and we were told that at Attakapas there were magnificent grasslands with the finest soil in the world."In early April, Aubry named Joseph dit Beausoleil Capitiane Commandant des Acadiens aux Attakapas and directed retired French engineer lieutenant Louis-Antoine Andry, assisted by Pierre-François Olivier du Closel de Vézin, fils, to lead the commandant and his party to Bayou Teche "via Bayou Plaquemine and the network of waterways lacing the Atchafalaya Basin." There, under Andry's supervision, the Halifax Acadians would make their settlements "along a navigable river, checking carefully the high water level so that flooding can be avoided." Andry was tasked also with surveying Bayou Teche from the new Acadian settlements down to the Gulf of Mexico in hopes of establishing a quicker line of communication between the Attakapas District and New Orleans. Also accompanying the Broussard party would be Father Jean-François de Civray, a French Capuchin missionary who had served Louisiana since1737. Perhaps the vicar-general at New Orleans, Capuchin Father Dagobert de Longuory, thought that an experienced priest like Father Jean-François, who had served at Natchitoches, Mobile, New Orleans, and other posts, was the ideal choice to minister to this large group of new settlers, though one wonders if the vicar-general informed the Acadians that Father Jean-François was an habitual gambler who returned from "exile" at Mobile not long before his new appointment.319
In late April, t
he Acadians, carrying their few belongings, stepped aboard what the locals called pirogues for their journey upriver and through the Atchafalaya swamp. On their way up, they passed settlements at Chapitoulas and Cannes Brûlé before coming to the famous German Coast. There, they would have seen the neat cabins, the freshly-plowed fields, and the well-tended gardens of an alien people who had come the colony four decades before. Here, among these hardworking Germans, was evidence that this new land could yield wonders for them. One of the passengers, Jean-Baptiste Semer, age 17, remembered vividly what he saw there. In a letter to his parents, who had ended up in France, the young Acadian recalled:
"The land here brings forth a good yield of everything anyone wants to sow. Wheat from France, corn and rice, sweet potatoes, giraumont (a kind of zucchini), pistachios, all kinds of vegetables, flax, cotton ... indigo, sugar, oranges, and peaches here grow like apples in France." Breadbasket of the colony indeed! Jean-Baptiste could not have known it, but one of his grandsons, many years hence, would marry a German girl whose ancestors were living at this very place.320
Above the German Coast, the flotilla of pirogues came upon a stretch of river where the habitations were more scattered, some of them giving evidence of having been settled only recently. Here were nondescript Indian villages of tribes they had never heard of, and also several vacheries, the stench of livestock filling their nostrils for miles along the river. For the dozens of Chignecto cattlemen, however, it must have been a welcome perfume. One of the
m, Jean-Baptiste Cormier, fils of Chignecto, doubtlessly was more excited than most of his fellow passengers as they approached the
Côte Cabahannocer. Here, along the west bank, at a sharp bend in the river, dwelled four Acadian families who had come to the colony the year before. One of those families was that of Jean-Baptiste Cormier, père and his wife Madeleine Richard--Jean-Baptiste, fil's mother and father! The older Jean-Baptiste was a still-vigorous man of 56; his wife was 55. They had been deported to Georgia aboard one of the two ships that had sailed from the Bay of Chignecto on 13 October 1755 and reached Savannah two and a half months later. Jean-Baptiste, fils had been only 13 then, but somehow the boy, their second child, their only son, had become separated from the rest of the family. While his parents and sisters sailed on to a distant colony filled with Englishmen who hated them, Jean-Baptiste, fils had remained in Acadia, looked out, no doubt, by his uncles, aunts, and cousins as they survived as best they could in the wilderness of present-day eastern New Brunswick. Jean-Baptiste, fils had grown to manhood there and in the prison compound on Georges Island. He may have received word from his parents that they had come to Louisiana, and they would have told him about the wonders of this New Acadia. And here he was, a man of 23, crying in the arms of his beloved parents, surrounded by his five sisters, who had remained with their parents, the youngest sister he hardly knew. He remembered of course his older sister Madeleine, now 24, and younger sisters Marie, 19, Anne, 18, and even Marguerite, 14. But here was Anastasie, now age 12, who had been a toddler of 2 when he had last laid eyes on her that terrible autumn of 1755. Having fulfilled the dream of reuniting with his family, Jean-Baptiste, fils bid farewell to his fellow exiles and remained with his family at
Still following Lieutenant Andry's lead, the Broussards and their remaining kinsmen continued upriver to the mouth of Bayou Plaquemine. Turing into that winding stream, they followed it to Grand River, which took them to the Atchafalaya in the heart of the great swamp. They struggled for days against the current of that mighty river until they finally turned into placid Bayou Courtableau, which took them to the headwaters of Bayou Teche. The Acadians had never heard such a name for these slow-moving streams. Back in Acadia, there were rivers and creeks, all shaken by the great tides, but they had never heard of a "bayou." The name was Indian, Choctaw to be exact. Another tribe of Indians, living far below, had named this particular little stream; soon the Acadians would hear the fantastical tale of the giant snake that local Indians had slain long ago with only their spears and arrows; the great serpent's death throes had carved out the deep, twisting bed of Bayou Teche, the moss-draped oaks lining its banks timeless witnesses to the prowess of these mighty warriors, the Chitimacha.
One wonders if the Halifax Acadians came upon any of the recent arrivals in this part of the prairie. Farther up the Courtableau, not far above the confluence with the upper Teche, Frenchmen from Mobile and the Alabama River valley--the Alibamons--had moved from the river settlements above New Orleans to the Opelousas District, the first substantial group of colonists to settle on the western prairies. Most, if not all, of these Alibamons were retired French Marines who had left their homes in eastern Louisiana, which France had ceded to Britain. They hated the British as much as the Acadians did, but for different reasons. Some were natives of France, but most of them had been born in the colony. They now were a new element of Louisiana's unique French Creole culture.322
Having reached the Opelousas country, Lieutenant Andry led the Acadians south now, down dun-colored Bayou Teche, the grasslands emanating from the river in all directions perhaps reminding them of the wide stretches of marsh and prairie back in Chignecto. But the climate here was so different--so warm, so wet. The rains came hard, obscuring everything around them, hurrying along the current of the sluggish stream. They could see the dark gray clouds forming across the prairies many miles away. It reminded them of rain falling upon the ocean, at first so seemingly far away and then suddenly upon them, hard, cool, refreshing. The great live oaks with their long gray beards of moss were not the only flora they had never seen. Thick clumps of palmetto covered the ground along the edge of the swamps. Sturdy bald cypress, draped in moss, with their peculiar "knees," stood magnificently above even the oaks and other great trees. They had seen much wildlife since they had left New Orleans, that smelly little city they were glad to put behind them. Some of the wildlife was familiar--deer, turkey, bear, waterfowl of every description--but much of it they had never seen before. There were raccoons back in Acadia, those troublesome creatures, but there were no opossums or other strange mammals they were finding here, no tropical birds like the ones they were seeing, roosting and flying in such amazing numbers. There were many more snakes here, some of them deadly. But the most fantastical--and dangerous--creature of them all was the slow-moving alligator, whose narrow yellow eyes promised them a warm reception if they made the mistake of getting too close. The swamp had been full of them, but they also had seen them along the banks of the Mississippi, and there were plenty of them here, basking in the shade along the muddy banks of the Teche. If the Indians ate them, they would eat them, too. It may have been on this journey that they had been introduced to the wriggly red swamp crawfish, which looked to these northerners like stunted lobsters. Again, if the Indians ate them, they would eat them, too. They kept a constant look out for the local Indians but probably encountered none of them on their voyage down the Teche. The place where they were going bore the name of the local tribe. They were heading down to Attakapas to make a new life for themselves.
They reached their La Nouvelle-Acadie, as Father Jean-François called it, in early May.
They could not have been impressed with the Poste des Attakapas, but this not where they settled.
Aubry's instructions to Lieutenant Andry had insisted that the Acadians "reside in the village and cultivate outlying lands in the European tradition," but "it is apparent that the settlers prevailed upon the colonial engineer to establish them on widely separated parcels of land" above and below the post, "thereby duplicating the settlement patterns of their native Acadia."
Moreover, when the Acadians arrived at the post, across from Dauterive's concession, "the Acadians were denounced as trespassers by Dauterive's neighbors." They settled, instead, first below and then above the post, at le dernier camp d'en bas, or the last camp lower down, and then at
le premier camp d'en bas, or the first camp lower down,
both on the east side of the Teche at what came to be called Fausse Pointe. An especially large settlement was established at La Pointe de Répos, or Point Restful, later called La Grand Pointe or just La Pointe, along the east bank of the Teche above the post. As the new Attakapas commandant, Joseph dit Beausoleil was given his own place, "a parcel of land proportionately larger by one-half than the ones provided the other individuals," as per Aubry's detailed instructions. This place the new commandant named "Beausoleil" and may have been located near le dernier camp d'en bas.
"They have granted us six arpents ... to married people and four and five (arpents) to young men," young Semer explained his father, "so we have the advantage, my dear father, of being sure of our land (ownership), and of saying I have a place of my own.... A person who wants to devote himself to property and make an effort will be comfortably off in a few years. It is an immense country; you can come here boldly with my dear mother and all the other Acadian families. They will always be better off than in France...."
To be sure, the son painted a rosy picture of his new home to lure his parents there. In truth, the Attakapas dwellings, at first, were nothing more than crude thatched huts that would have to suffice until they had the time and the wherewithal to build more substantial structures.
"We went to Attakapas with guns, powder, and shot," Semer continued, "but as it was already the month of May, the heat being so intense, we started to work in too harsh conditions. There were six plows that worked; we had to break in the oxen (and) travel fifteen leagues to get horses. Finally, we had the finest harvest.... (We are) hoping for a very fine harvest this year, with God's help, having cleared a great deal (of land)," he reassured his father. "We have only to sow, and we already have oxen, cows, sheep, horses and the finest hunting in the world, deer, such fat turkey, bears and ducks and all kinds of game."323
But their herculean effort came at a terrible price. The rigors of travel, adjustment to a new climate, and the hard work required to prepare their new homesteads took its toll on the colonists. The first to die in the New Acadia, on May 16, was Olivier Thibodeau's newborn daughter, Marguerite-Anne, perhaps the first Acadian exile born in Louisiana. The infant was only six days old when she passed. Her mother, Madeleine Broussard, died the following day, May 17, probably from complications of giving birth, and Olivier Thibodeau was left to care for four young children, two of his own, including infant son Théodore, and two from his wife's first marriage to Jean Landry, who had died early in Le Grand Dérangement. Even worse, a mysterious epidemic struck the settlement in early summer and raged through the autumn.
"...[E]Among the victims were the tough old resistance fighters who had endured so much during their Grand Dérangement. Joseph dit L'Officer Guilbeau, age 55, died on September 1. Jean Dugas died on September 5, age 53. Alexandre Broussard dit Beausoleil, age 66, one of the oldest in the party, died on September 18, less than two weeks after his wife Marguerite Thibodeau had died at age 60. On October 8, Jacques Hugon, who had lost his wife and children in South Carolina and St.-Domingue and who had come to Louisiana with the Broussards to start a new life, died at age 35, before he had a chance to remarry. Newlywed Ursule Trahan, age unrecorded, died on October 10; her new husband, Joseph Girouard, died 12 days later; Ursule's two children, Élisabeth Broussard and Joseph Broussard le jeune, by her first husband, were 12 and 11, respectively and had to be raised by relatives. Sylvain Breau, age 52, died on October 12, the same day his wife Isabelle Darois, age 66, died. On October 20, Joseph Broussard dit Beausoleil, age 63, breathed his last at "Camp Beausoleil."324
verybody contracted fevers at the same time and, nobody being in a state to help anyone else, thirty-three or thirty-four died, including the children. ...," young Semer recalled.
Beginning in the summer, as the
epidemic took its toll on the New Acadia, settlers from La Pointe attempted to escape the malady by moving out to
Côte Gelée on the prairie between the Teche and the lower Vermilion; to
Bayou Tortue "directly opposite Dauterive's new Prairie Vermilion concession"; to La Manque on upper Bayou Vermilion; and, according to Professor Brasseaux, up to the Opelousas post.Dozens
of them even retreated back across the Atchafalaya to
Côte Cabahannocer on the river. But
most of the Teche Acadians survived the "fevers" and, like Jean-Baptiste Semer, remained at Attakapas.326
By the end of September, Director-general Aubry could write to the Minister of Marine, "We have every hope that in a very short time these settlements will become quite large, even though several Acadian leaders have died of extreme fatigue and heat." When Aubry hea
rd of Joseph dit Beausoleil's death, he appointed Édouard Massé as the new commander at Attakapas.325
Despite the deadly setback in their first months in the colony, during the following years, motivated by "[t]he persistent frontier spirit among many exiles" and the pressure of overcrowding in their original settlements, Attakapas Acadians moved from Fausse Pointe, La Pointe, Côte Gelée, Bayou Tortue, and La Manque to new settlements farther out on the prairie. These included Grand Prairie on the upper Vermilion,
Carencro at the northern edge of the district,Beaubassin on the upper Vermilion east of Carencro, the middle and lower Vermilion River down towards the Gulf, Bayou Petite Anse near a prominent rise in the marshy prairie that proved to be the tip of a huge salt dome, the shores of Lake Tasse west of Fausse Pointe, Lake Peigneur south of Côte Gelée, and Chicot Noir on the lower Teche at the southern edge of Acadian settlement.327 map
Other early settlers in the Attakapas District were a family from Mobile who settled at the lower edge of Fausse Pointe. Antoine Bonin dit Dauphine of Grenoble, France, for reasons of his own, preferred to live on the lower Teche, closer to the Acadians than to his fellow Alibamons far up on Bayou Courtableau.328
La Nouvelle-Acadie: More Halifax Refugees Find a New Home in Louisiana, 1765
In 1763, the caretaker French government at New Orleans had created the Poste des Opelousas on upper Bayou Teche and appointed former infantry lieutenant Louis-Gérard Pellerin as the first commandant of the post and the Opelousas District. At the time, the huge district was inhabited only by a hand full of Indian traders and cattlemen, the most prominent being Jacques Courtableau. This changed in late 1764 and early 1765, when French authorities at New Orleans opened the prairie districts to large-scale colonization.329
The first large group of settlers in the district were the Alibamons from Mobile and the Alabama River valley. These colonists were mostly retired French Marines on half-pay who had refused to live under British rule. About the time that the Opelousas post had been created, France, in the Treaty of Paris of February 1763, had ceded eastern Louisiana to Britain. In late October of that year, Louisiana's director-general d'Abbadie had gone to Mobile to supervise the transference of the area to British rule. The British tried to entice the Frenchmen in the region to remain, but their efforts failed. Some of the French Marines who had served at Mobile and in the frontier forts above Mobile Bay had families and were eligible for retirement on half-pay. Rather than remain in a province ruled by the hated British, they chose to migrate to western Louisiana. They followed d'Abbadie back to New Orleans in late 1763 and early 1764. Some of them honored the director-general's wishes and settled on the Upper German Coast, while others moved farther up to Pointe Coupée, an established French-Creole settlement. For some reason, the river settlements did not please many of the Alibamons, so, when d'Abbadie's successor,
Charles-Philippe Aubry,opened up the region to colonization, they crossed the Atchafalaya Basin to the western prairies, and there most of them remained. They settled at "The Coast of the Old Opelousas" and "at New Opelousas on the Right Bank" of Bayou Courtableau before securing land farther out on the prairies. Heads of some of these Alibamon families bore the names Aulien, Baptiste, Bello, Bertrand, Bissan, Brignac, Carrière, Carron, Cretien, Daquan, Demarest, Doucet, Duplechin, Durand, Fontenot, Guillory, Henry, Labeau, LaCasse, LaFleur, Langlois, LeBrande, Mane, Moreau, Patin, Penelle, Pillet, Rivard, Ste.-Manne, Taumelette, and Tesson--some of them, like Guillory and Rivard, among the oldest names in the colony. Other families came to Opelousas from Illinois, the eastern part of which also had been ceded to Britain in 1763.330
Not long after
the Alibamons and Illinoisans settled on Bayou Courtableau, 10 Acadian families, most of them also from Chignecto, reached New Orleans from Halifax via Cap-Français soon after the Broussards. During the two months between the arrival of the Broussard party in late February and their movement to Attakapas in late April, these 40 or so other Acadians evidently joined the larger party in the city. Heads of these new families bore the names Comeau, Cormier, Guénard, Hébert, Léger, Pitre, Richard, Savoie, Saulnier, and Thibodeau. Like the Broussard party, most of these exiles were from the Chignecto area, but two families had escaped from the Annapolis Royal valley.331
These Acadians, too, celebrated at least one birth and mourned at least one death during their odyssey to the New Acadia. On May 16, Michel Comeau and his wife, Marie-Madeleine Girouard, baptized their son Louis,
who had been born on April 20, perhaps aboard ship
; Opelousas District commandant Louis Pellerin and his wife Marie-Marthe Belaire served as the boy's godparents. Michel Comeau, age 31, was from Chepoudy; Marie-Madeleine, whose mother was a Thibodeau, was age 28 when she came to Louisiana. Their older son Jean, only 5 years old, had been born in the prison compound at Halifax. The oldest family head among these later-arriving Acadians would have been Timothée, called Mothé, Guénard, a native of Maryland, his father an Irish soldier who had married an Acadian girl in the early 1710s. Mothé would have been 49 years old when the party reached New Orleans. Like Michel Comeau, Mothé also had married a Thibodeau--Anne-Marie, daughter of Pierre le jeune of Annapolis Royal. Mothé and Anne-Marie were living at Annapolis Royal in 1755. Unable to escape the British dragnet there, they were deported to Massachusetts probably aboard the transport Helena, which reached Boston in late November. Mothée and Nanny, as she was called, appeared on a list of Acadians at Marlborough, Massachusetts, in 1761, with seven children. When the war with Britain ended, most of the Acadians in New England migrated to Canada, but Mothé and Anne returned to Nova Scotia, probably in search of her Thibodeau kin. Colonial officials sent them to one of the prison compounds, where they likely reunited with her family. The records are not clear, but Mothé may have died on the voyage to Louisiana, or perhaps he was one of the "seven or eight who ... died" at New Orleans. Just as sadly, Anne reached the prairie only two of their children: Joseph, age 19, and Anastasie, 14.332
The other family heads in the party were relatively young men; the eldest, after Mothé Guénard, was Pierre Thibodeau, who was only 41 when they reached New Orleans. One of the youngest family heads, Joseph Cormier of Chignecto, was only 25. His wife, Marguerite Saulnier, probably of Petitcoudiac, was pregnant when they left Halifax. She gave birth to twin daughters, Félicité and Marie-Louise, probably soon after they reached the colony. Their daughter Susanne had been born in the prison compound at Halifax and was just a toddler when the family reached Louisiana. Accompanying Joseph and Marguerite was Joseph's younger brother, Michel, age 24 and still a bachelor, who may have been pining for Marguerite's sister, Anne, called Nanette, widow of Basil Babin, whom he had known at Halifax but who had not yet come to the colony. The Cormier brothers were first cousins of the Jean-Baptiste Cormier, fils who would reunite with his parents and sisters at
Cabahannocer on the trip up to Bayou Plaquemine. The brothers,
anxious to see their uncle and aunt and five female cousins who they also had not seen for over a decade,
likely visited their relatives at
Cabahannocer before moving on to the prairies
. (One of the family heads among these later-arriving Acadians, Pierre Richard, was a nephew of the Cormier brothers' aunt, Madeleine Richard and Madeleine's brother, Jean-Baptiste, who also lived in the little river community, so Pierre Richard also would have had good reason to linger at
The Cormier brothers could have told a tale of their own of loss and separation. When they were boys, their large family had been forced by Canadian militiamen and Mi'kmaq warriors to abandon their home at
and move to Aulac, west of the Missaguash. By 1755, their father, Pierre dit Palette Cormier, had died, so their older brother, Pierre dit Pierrot, stood as head of the family. Pierrot, age 21, and probably some of his brothers, perhaps including Joseph and Michel, now 15 and 14, were among the dozens of Acadians captured at
Fort Beauséjour in June 1755. If Joseph and Michel had been in the fort, their ages would have secured their release. Not so brother Pierrot, who, along with other Acadian militiamen, was put under arrest and held aboard one of the British transports bound for South Carolina. Pierrot slipped off the vessel, swam to shore, slipped past British guards, clambered over dykes and aboiteaux, and disappeared into the woods, where he eluded British soldiers tracking him with dogs. Hearing that his family had escaped the British roundup and were heading towards Québec, he went in search of them. He re-united with his wife, Anne dite Nanette Gaudet, whom he had married earlier in the year, his widowed mother Cécile Thibodeau, and some of his siblings at Ste.-Anne-du-Pay-Bas on Rivière St.-Jean,an Acadian commun
as yet unmolested by British and New England forces. But their respite on the river was a short one. British raiding parties drove them to Kamouraska, Québec, in 1758. Family tradition says that Pierrot and his brothers Jacques and François were serving in the Canadian militia at the fall of Québec in September 1759, escaped the British, and then boarded a French frigate at Pointe-Lévy, near Québec, bound for France. As crewmen aboard the frigate, they may have fought at Cap-Rouge, above Québe, in May 1760; if so, the brothers would have been among the ship's relatively few survivors. Pierrot and his wife lived at L'Islet, Québec, on the lower St. Lawrence, from 1761-64, and then he and four of his brothers, along with their widowed mother, returned to Ste.-Anne-du-Pays-Bas in 1765.
But Joseph and Michel were not among the brothers who followed him there. Somehow they had become separated from the family early in its flight from Chignecto. Unaware of where the rest of their family had gone, the boys may have hooked up with their Thibodeau cousins, who made up a significant part of the Beausoleil Broussard resistance force operating in the upper Petitcoudiac valley, on the Bay of Fundy, and along the Gulf of St. Lawrence shore. Like the Broussards and Thibodeaus, the Cormier brothers ended up at Georges Island, Halifax, where they were counted by colonial officials in August 1763. Joseph had married Marguerite Saulnier by then, and when the Acadians at Halifax left Nova Scotia in late 1764, the Cormier brothers followed Joseph's Saulnier kin to Cap-Français and then on to New Orleans. They, along with their first cousin, Jean-Baptiste, fils, were the only Cormiers of their generation to emigrate to Louisiana. After they had become separated from their widowed mother and the rest of their family, Joseph and Michel,
while still in their teens,
never laid eyes on their immediate family again--a story all too common among the Acadian exiles.334
The Broussard party left New Orleans in late April, and the later-arrivers likely followed them. Judging by the date of Louis Comeau's baptism, however, Michel Comeau and his family, at least, may not have left the city until after May 16, unless the boy was baptized at Opelousas. Professor Carl A. Brasseaux, the leading authority on the Acadians in Louisiana, hints that the later-arrivals followed the Broussards to Attakapas but that during the summer, after a mysterious epidemic struck the Teche valley Acadians, "
At least thirty-two other immigrants sought refuge at the Opelousas post, then located along Bayou Teche below present-day Port Barre. Apparently moved by pity for the latter group, militia captain Jacques Guillaume Courtableau personally settled the exiles at Prairie des Coteaux, along the Teche Ridge in an arc contiguous to the eastern and southeastern corporate limits of modern-day Opelousas."
Most of these Chignecto cattlemen remained at Opelousas, determinedto create vacheries of their own.
When the new Spanish governor, Antonio de Ulloa, came to the colony in March 1766, he maintained the post at Opelousas but did not send more Acadian immigrants to the district. During his tour of the lower colony's settlements soon after his arrival, the governor gave only "verbal" land titles to the Opelousas Acadians. During the autumn of 1767, Spanish authorities urged Acadian families to move from the Attakapas to the Opelousas District "because, when the rivers are low, the waters of Attakapas form very toxic puddles from which develop many sicknesses and therefore become a threat to the families." In late November 1767, Governor Ulloa announced to his superior, the Spanish Minister of State, that he had consolidated the two prairie districts under one commandant, the unpopular Louis Pellerin of Opelousas. Evidently the consolidation had been in the work for weeks. A petition dated 27 August 1767, signed by nine of the Attakapas District's "most distinguished settlers"--Jean-Baptiste Broussard, Olivier Thibodeau, René Breau, Jean Trahan, Michel Trahan, Paul Thibodeau, Charles Dugas, Charles Guilbeau, and Amand Thibodeau--criticized Pellerin's performance as Opelousas commandant. The Acadian leaders recounted for the governor the unseemly conflict between Pellerin, whose morals they openly questioned, and Capuchin Father Valentin, a priest from Pointe Coupée who administered the sacraments to residents of the prairie districts and whom the Acadians cherished.
They accused the commandant of "forcing the Indians to trade only with him, telling them that as 'chief' of the post, only he had that right. It was alleged that at the most inopportune times--the planting and harvest seasons, for instance--he would demand public improvements and exact these labors from the inhabitants." Pellerin also had built a tavern within five arpents of what passed for a church at Opelousas and thereby alienated Father Valentin.The Attakapas Acadians accused Pellerin of misusing supplies the governor had sent to the prairie settlements for their relief. They beseeched the governor to appoint a new commandant for the prairie districts "more experienced at directing settlers in the establishment of a new post and less apathetic about the royal service." The petition worked. In late November, Ulloa relieved Pellerin of his post and brought him up on charges the following year. Meanwhile, Ulloa allowed the settlers at Opelousas "two majors elected by the majority of the community and confirmed by the government. This is enough for now," Ulloa informed the Minister, "but, in the future, it will be necessary to elect a corregidor who will lead them so that there won't be any discord or disorder, because the distance of about 100 leagues that separates them from us and the growth of the population require it."336a
Acadian families who settled at Opelousas after 1765, including perhaps some of the ones who were sent there in 1767, bore the names Boudrot, Bourg, Broussard, Doucet, Forest, and Landry. Several families--Boutin, Brasseur, Chiasson, Granger, Guédry, and Jeansonne--came to the colony from Halifax in 1765 or from Maryland in 1766 and 1767
and settled on the river before moving to the Opelousas prairies. Three more Acadian families, named Benoit, Lejeune, and Trahan, who, in 1769, had come to the colony from Maryland
aboard the ill-fated English ship Britannia, chose to join their compatriots at Opelousas after their harrowing ordeal in Spanish Texas.337
A land dispute in the early 1770s drove the Opelousas Acadians from Prairie de Coteaux south to
Prairie Belleveu and Bayou Bourbeaux.
n 1773, a hurricane damaged many of their homesteads. Dissatisfied with life in a district where they were a distinct minority, some of the Opelousas Acadians asked Governor Luis de Unzaga for permission to migrate to St.-Domingue, today's Haiti. Unzaga refused to let them go, so they sought permission at least to move south into the Attakapas District, where many of their relatives lived and probably where they sought to go all along. Again, Unzaga refused to let them leave, but some of them sold their lands and moved to Attakapas anyway. Unzaga, like many another powerful official who thought he could control these people, was learning a lesson in Acadian stubbornness; in the end, the governor relented. Most of the Opelousas Acadians remained in the district, however, and built up their livestock herds
La Nouvelle-Acadie: Even More Halifax Refugees Find a New Home in Louisiana, 1765
With the arrival of the Cormier, Landry, Poirier, and Richard families on the Upper German Coast in the spring of 1764, the stretch of river calledCôte Cabahannocer became
the first Acadian community in French Louisiana, predating the Acadian settlement on Bayou Teche by a year. After a flood of more Acadians came to the
in 1765 and 1766, Louisianans b
egan to call it by another name: Côte des Acadiens,
the Acadian Coast.
On 18 December 1764, Nova Scotia governor Montague Wilmot wrote to his superior, also his uncle, the Earl of Halifax, about the Acadian prisoners who had been held in the colony in the final months of the Seven Years' War: "... no reasonable proposals being able to overcome their zeal for the French and aversion to the English government, many of them soon resolved to leave this Province, and having hired Vessels at their own Expense, six hundred persons including women and children, departed within three weeks for the French West Indies, where, by the last information I have had, they are to settle for the cultivation of lands unfit for the sugar cane. And although they had certain accounts, that the climate had been fatal to the lives of several of their countrymen, who had gone there lately from Georgia and Carolina, their resolution was not to be shaken; and the remainder of them, amounting to as many more, in different parts of the Province have the same destination in view, when the Spring shall afford them convenience and opportunity." Wilmot was not sad to see them go. "Thus my Lord," he gushes on, "we are in the way of being relieved from these people who have been the bane of the Province, and the terror of its settlements."
The British governor would not know it for many more months, but these "six hundred persons" did not remain in the French West Indies. After lingering at Cap-Français, the gateway to the French Antilles, they moved on. By late winter, nearly half of them had reached French Louisiana; by mid-spring, 231 Acadians who had survived the long voyage from Halifax were on their way to the prairie region west of the Atchafalaya Basin. But what of the remaining 400 exiles who had left Halifax for the West Indies the previous December? Were they also heading to the lower Mississippi valley, following the Broussards and the Thibodeaus to that New Acadia?
Another letter from a governor to his superior, this one written by Charles-Philippe Aubry to the duc de Choiseul-Stainville, the French Minister of Marine, from New Orleans
on 14 May 1765, answers the question: "When I first had the honor of informing you of the arrival of the sixty Acadian families from St. Domingue and their subsequent departure for the Attakapas with Mister Andry for the purpose of establishing a village," Aubry informed his superior, "I did not anticipate that they would be followed by so many others. This uninterrupted influx of new families will soon turn Louisiana into a New Acadia. At this moment I am informed that 300 men, women and children are on the lower river. Rumors presently indicate that we are no longer dealing with hundreds (of Acadian immigrants), but thousands. It appears that there are approximately 4,000 who would like to put an end to their long years of exile by settling in Louisiana." The rumors of more arrivals were largely true; only the numbers were exaggerated.
The day before Aubry's letter of May 14, Louisiana's ordonnateur, Denis-Nicolas Foucault, had informed the Minister of Marine that he had just learned "of the arrival on the lower river of 48 Acadian families. Like the families who preceded them, they came from Saint-Domingue. It appears more than 1,000 families are expected in this colony any day now." So he, too, had heard the amazing rumors that Aubry soon would report to the Minister. Foucault lamented to the Minister, "The 80 persons whom I discussed in my letter ... dated May 4, and these 48 additional families are causing me a great deal of concern." It was the ordonnateur's duty to oversee the colony's finances, which metropolitan neglect had left in dire straights. But neglect was not the only thing that had driven the colony's finances to its knees. Only a few weeks before, Foucault had overseen the expenditure of 15,500 livres, 15 sols, for "provisions, ammunition and merchandise provided by the king's warehouses in New Orleans to the Acadian families..." who were settling at Attakapas. The King's warehouses were empty now, and yet hundreds, perhaps thousands, of more Acadian exiles were on their way to New Orleans! "There is nothing easier than to give them land in the areas where the other Acadians have already settled," Foucault lamented. "However, how can we prepare them for the trip? They will need provisions, tools, ammunition and boats. These items will have to be purchased, since the royal magazines are completely empty at present. This will be very expensive," he assured the Minister, "particularly if the additional 1,000 families arrive as expected." Aubry's communication to the Minister the following day repeated the same litany of complaints, with the added, unnerving detail: "To make matters worse, the Acadians have smallpox, and will inflict a new calamity upon the colony." Aubry, like Foucault, also assured the Minister that they would do all they could for the new arrivals with what little they had to offer.
These new arrivals were the remainder of the 600 Acadians who had refused to remain in Nova Scotia, who also had chartered British commercial vessels to Cap-Français, had refused to remain in French St.-Domingue, and had chartered commercial vessels for the final leg of their journey to French Louisiana. The first party of these later-arrivals from Halifax came in May. By early August, Foucault was notifying the Minister that "Small groups ... are coming aboard the ships arriving daily from Saint-Domingue." They were still coming as late as December. However, as Aubry's and Foucault's reports to the Minister show, they did not--could not--settle these newcomers near their fellow Halifax exiles who had come before. The caretaker government did not have the resources to stage another exodus to the western prairies. After spending weeks in New Orleans recuperating from their journey, during which they also turned in their Canadian currency for possible reimbursement, the newcomers moved on to their New Acadia
. Aubry and Foucault sent them to the nearest area of vacant lands above the city--to Côte Cabahannocer, near the hand full of Acadians from Georgia who had come to the colony the year before.340a
Many family heads among these later arrivals bore the same names as the Acadians who had gone to the prairies: Arseneau, Bergeron, Bernard, Boudrot, Bourg, Bourgeois, Breau, Doucet, Forest, Gautrot, Girouard, Godin dit Bellefontaine and also Lincour, Guilbeau, Hébert, Landry, LeBlanc, Léger, Martin dit Barnabé, Richard, Robichaux, Savoie, Saulnier, and Thibodeau. And another Poirier had come to the colony. But other Acadian names could be found among the family heads of these later arrivals: Arosteguy, Babin, Barthélémy, Berteau, Blanchard, Chiasson, Doiron, Duhon, Dupuis, Gaudet, Gravois, Jeansonne, Labauve, Lachaussée, Lafaye, Lambert, Lanoux, Damours dit de Louvière, Marant, Melanson, Michel, Mire, Mouton, Part, Préjean, Caissie dit Roger, Thériot, and Vincent. Here also was a mix of Acadians from every settlement of the Fundy region, but these later-arriving parties contained a somewhat larger percentage of exiles from the Minas Basin than could be found among the Acadians who had settled on the prairies. Still, many of
the newcomers had lived in theChignecto/Chepoudy/Petitcoudiac area, as well as at Cobeguit and along Rivière St.-Jean
, so they would have found relatives among the prairie Acadians.341
Documents generated by the Canadian money exchange at New Orleans reveal at least two leaders among the Halifax Acadians who settled at
Cabahannocer.Jean-Baptiste, son of Barthélémy Bergeron dit d'Amboise, fils and Marguerite Dugas, was born probably at Annapolis Royal in c1722. He married Marguerite Bernard, and they moved to Ste.-Anne-du-Pay-Bas on Rivière St.-Jean. During Le Grand Dérangement, the Rivière St.-Jean settlements became a refuge for Acadians who had escaped the British at Annapolis, including the party who had captured the North Carolina-bound Pembroke and sailed it to the mouth of the St.-Jean in February 1756; and fugitives who had traveled overland from the Chignecto area and from as far away as South Carolina. This ended in the summer of 1758, following the fall of the French fortress at Louisbourg, when British forces under Brigadier Robert Moncton took control of the lower river. The following February, New England rangers led by Lieutenant Moses Hazen struck the settlement and massacred some of the refugees. Those Acadians who had not already left the St.-Jean valley either moved on to Canada or joined their fellow exiles on the Gulf of St. Lawrence shore. Jean-Baptiste Bergeron dit d'Amboise and his family, including at least three children, went to the shore. According to a document dated 8 March 1766, "one Bergeron" handed over "the sum of 47,076 livres (pounds), 19 sols (schillings), 6 deniers (pence), belonging to 73 families, some of whom arrived in June 1765...." Also handing in Canadian currency was "one Lachausée, 27,044 livres, 7 sols, 8 deniers, belonging to 37 families, some of whom reached this colony in various ships--in August, September, October and November...." This was Philippe de St.-Julien Lachaussée, a French physician born in Picardy in c1727. He also settled on Rivière St.-Jean, where he married Françoise, daughter of Acadian Jean-Baptiste Godin dit Lincour in c1754. Philippe's wife died soon after their marriage, perhaps from the rigors of childbirth, and he remarried to Marguerite, daughter of Charles Belliveau, on the St.-Jean in 1756. Belliveau, from Annapolis Royal, was a leader of the Acadians who captured the ship Pembroke on its way to North Carolina and who, along with other Acadians from the ship, had taken refuge on the river. When the British struck the St.-Jean settlements in 1758, the physician and his family, including an infant daughter, moved to the Gulf of St. Lawrence shore. Philippe's son Pierre-Philippe was baptized at Restigouche, at the head of the Baie des Chaleurs, in March 1761 but died probably at Halifax a year or so later. Philippe's second wife also died in the early 1760s, probably in the prison compound at Halifax. When he came to Louisiana in the summer of 1765, the physician was accompanied only by his 10-year-old daughter Louise-Françoise. He remarried at
Cabahannocer, his third marriage, to Marie-Rose, called Rose, Bourgeois, widow of Pierre Gravois, in October 1766, and she gave him two more sons, the youngest of whom perpetuated the family line in Louisiana.
Aubry and Foucault sent these 300 late-comers to the right, or west, bank of the river above the concessions of Cantrelle, Judice, and Verret. Some of the families among the new arrivals--especially the Landrys, Poiriers, and Richards--would have reunited with their kinsmen who had settled just downriver a year and a half before. In September 1765, Aubry appointed Louis Judice and Nicolas Verret as provisional co-commandants of a new district created for the
Coast of Cabahannocer, and soon two companiesof militia were organized under command of the co-commandants. Meanwhile, Aubry and Foucault could report to the Minister in late September: "All these families are hard at work getting settled...."
Sometime that autumn, a few dozen Acadians from Att
akapas, escaping an epidemic raging along the Teche, joined the newcomers at
Cabahannocer. Their family names included Arseneau, Bergeron, Bourg, Bourgeois, Darois, Dugas, Guédry, Landry, Martin dit Barnabé, Poirier, Roy, and Thibodeau. Some of them returned to the prairies, but most of them remained on the river.345
One of the duties of the new commandants was to oversee the marriage of couples in their districts by the visiting priest from the German Coast, Capuchin Father Barnabé. The earliest marriages, recorded at the end of March 1766, were those of two of Jean-Baptiste Cormier, père's daughters, Madeleine and Marie, to new arrivals Simon Mire and Michel Poirier. These early marriages were conducted in the homes of the commandants; in the case of these two couples, that of Nicolas Verret.344
Among the new settlers at
Cabahannocerwere members of a small extended family that would contribute much to the history of South Louisiana.
The Moutons came to Acadia later than most of the families who populated the colony. In 1703, during the early months of France's second long war with England, Jean Mouton of Marseille, age 14, arrived from France and settled at Port-Royal. At age 22, in 1711, the year after the British captured Port-Royal from the French, Jean married Marie Girouard of Port-Royal, a member of one of the first families of Acadia. The next year, they moved to Grand-Pré, where he earned his living as a surgeon and was called Sr. Jean by his contemporaries. Sons Jean, fils, Jacques, Charles, and Justinien, and daughters Marie-Josèphe and Marguerite were born at Grand-Pré before the family resettled at the even more distant Acadian community of Chignecto in c1725. Four more children were born to Sr. Jean and Marie at Chignecto: sons Pierre, Salvator, and Louis, and daughter Anne. The Moutons lived at Chignecto for thirty years and may have been among the dozens of Chignecto families living east of Rivière Missaguash in 1750 who were forced to relocate west of the river, in French-controlled territory. During the fall of 1755, British forces rounded up the older Mouton sons and their families and deported them along with other Chignecto Acadians to South Carolina. The three younger sons, Salvator, Louis, and Pierre, somehow escaped the British roundup. With Salvator's wife, Anne Bastarache, whom he had married at Annapolis Royal in January 1752, and their children, the Mouton brothers fled to the Gulf of St. Lawrence shore and found refuge at Restigouche, at the head of the Baie des Chaleurs. There, Louis married Marie-Modeste Bastarache, a younger sister of Salvator's wife, in October 1760. But they did not live there in peace. The war caught up to them the year of Louis's marriage when, in July, the British attacked the fort at Restigouche with overwhelming force. Pierre died in the fight, and Salvator and Louis fell into the hands of the victorious British, who imprisoned them in Fort Edward, Nova Scotia, at the former Acadian settlement of Pigiguit, for the rest of the war. Louis's daughter Anne-Charlotte was born in one of the prison compounds in February 1764. In late 1764 or early 1765, Salvator, Louis, and their families joined hundreds of other Nova Scotia detainees in their exodus to Louisiana. The Mouton brothers were among the dozens of Acadians who settled at Cabahannocer. With them was nephew Jean dit Neveu, son of Salvator's and Louis's older brother Jacques, and Neveu's wife Élisabeth Bastarache, whom he had married in Nova Scotia; their daughter Marguerite-Françoise was born at New Orleans on November 20, so Élisabeth had been pregnant on the long voyage down from Halifax. Salvator's wife Anne died soon after they reached
, and he remarried to fellow Acadian Anne Forest at New Orleans in c1768. Salvator and Louis's older brother Charles, who had been deported to South Carolina in 1755, reached Louisiana from Martinique during the late 1760s. Typically, Charles, his wife Anne Comeau, and their son Georges joined his kinsmen at Cabahonnocer, now being called the Acadian Coast. Salvator died in a New Orleans hospital in April 1773, age 40; he was survived by his wife and three children from his first marriage: sons Marin, age 20 at the time of his father's death, and Jean, age 19, and daughter Marie-Geneviève, only 8 years old. A few years after their father died, Marin, Jean, and Marie-Geneviève, along with their cousin Jean dit Neveu and his family, moved to the Attakapas District. It was there that the Mouton brothers made names for themselves as land speculators.
La Nouvelle-Acadie: A New Spanish Governor, 1766
The Spanish took their time sending a government to Louisiana. Not until June 1765, while Teche valley Acadians were struggling with a mysterious "fever" and more Acadians from Halifax were coming up to New Orleans, did Antonio de Ulloa y de la Torre-Guiral, age 49, receive notice of his appointment, made the month before, as governor of the Spanish province of Luisiana--an appointment secured by "influential friends at the Spanish court." On the surface, the native of Seville, son of a Spanish economist, seemed a wise choice for the position. He was fluent in both French and English, and he had governed before. He was not, however, one of those professional colonial bureaucrats Spain produced in such numbers, nor was he a soldier, though, as a young man, he served for a short time in the Spanish navy. He was "perhaps Spain's greatest eighteenth-century scientist," which made him well acquainted with some areas of New Spain. While in Ecuador on a scientific expedition, he and a colleague discovered the element platinum. On his way home from South America in 1745, during the War of the Austrian Succession, he was captured by the British and held in England as a prisoner of war. He befriended British scientists, who were so impressed with his attainments in the fields of astronomy, mineralogy, and natural history, they made him a fellow of the Royal Society of London. Although the war was still raging, the president of the Royal Society helped secure Ulloa's early release. In Spain, he published an account of many years in South America, established the first museum of natural history and the first metallurgical laboratory, and oversaw the construction of a celestial observatory at Cadiz. By 1751, he had become so well-known in the world of science that he was elected a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. In 1758, two years before Spain entered another war against Britain on the side of their Bourbon ally France, the Spanish Crown "sent him as governor to Huancavelica, a Peruvian province, with orders to revive production of a valuable mercury mine which had become almost inoperative during the previous decade. Ulloa not only failed to achieve this goal, but so alienated the powerful Peruvian aristocracy, upon whom the success of the venture rested, that they expelled him from the province." He left Peru in 1764, and was in Havana a year later, holding the rank of naval captain, when he was notified of his appointment as governor of Louisiana.
Ulloa did not arrive at New Orleans until 5 March 1766--nearly four and a half years after France had surrendered western Louisiana to Spain. The new governor brought with him six military officers; a commissioner; commissary of war and military intendant Juan José de Loyola, who could not speak French; Estevan Gayarré, a government auditor or comptroller called a contador; and treasurer Martin Navarro. Amazingly, Ulloa brought with him only 90 Spanish soldiers, "more than twenty of whom soon deserted." To the amazement of the French, Ulloa failed to register his commission with the Superior Council, "a routine requirement in both the Spanish and French empires." This only
compounded his perceived weakness in the eyes of the colony's French-Creole elite, who had opposed the transfer of western Louisiana to Spain from the moment they had learned of it. Ulloa's failure to register his commission wastantamount to refusing to take formal possession of the colony, which greatly confused Aubry, Foucault, and the other French officials, who had expected to hand over the reins of government to Spanish authority and then be on their way. "Sensitive about the weakness of his position," and displeased with the unenthusiastic reception, "Ulloa may have feared that to submit his orders for inspection" by the Superior Council "would give the appearance of subordination to the more secure French authorities. Whatever the reason for his action, it was a tactical error. Certification of his letters patent would have extended legal recognition to Ulloa's status as the official representative of the Spanish king. In the eyes of French Louisianians, the action would have constituted the legal act of transfer. Ulloa's refusal to go through normal legal channels created doubts in the minds of some colonists about the the validity of the cession itself." Adding to the confusion, Ulloa retained both Aubry and Foucault in their positions, Aubry as what Ulloa called commanding-general, and Foucault as colonial commissary or deputy auditor. Amazingly, because Ulloa had not formally taken possession of western Louisiana, the French government was still obligated to provide financial support for the colony! The new French Minister of Marine, Césair-Gabriel de Choiseul-Sevigny, duc de Praslin, who succeeded the duc de Choiseul-Stainville in April 1766, would no more inclined to send money and provisions to Spanish Louisiana than Choiseul-Stainville had been. Moreover, attempts to coax French officers and soldiers to join the Spanish service, thereby supplementing Ulloa's meager force, failed miserably. "There is no longer any hope that the (French) soldiers in the local garrison will decide to serve the Spanish king," Foucault wrote the retiring French Minister on April 2. "Mister Aubry has tried every means to change their minds, but his efforts have been in vain." Foucault lamented that this failure likely would delay the formal Spanish takeover; while awaiting further orders from Spain, Ulloa would have to secure reinforcements for his meager Spanish force before he could relieve Foucault, Aubrey, and the other French officials of the onerous duties they had performed for much too long. Foucault also informed the Minister that Ulloa, with Aubry and a large entourage, had begun a tour of the colony's settlements, which would further delay the formal Spanish takeover and place an even greater burden on French colonial resources.348
The Acadians on the prairies and at
Cabahannocer, meanwhile, faced more personal concerns. By early March 1766, the Teche Acadians
in their scattered communities
were busy improving their simple dwellings and preparing the soil for spring planting. They also were facing the troublesome question of land ownership. No sooner had Andry escorted the Broussards to Fausse Pointe than one of the district's cattle barons, French Creole Jean-Baptiste Grevemberg, accused the Acadians of encroaching on his land. Grevemberg claimed all of the vast prairie area west of Fausse Pointe on the lower Teche westward to the lower Vermilion River. The Acadians were living on the east bank of the Teche at Fausse Pointe, but, in July, Grevemberg nevertheless sent a "memorial" to both the acting director-general and the ordonnateur "asserting his right to the land and requesting a patent to his fourteen-year-old vacherie." Aubry and Foucault, aware not only of Grevemberg's wealth and influence but also of the delicate state of the new arrivals, "permitted the Acadians to remain on their farmsteads. Grevemberg could console himself with a concession of 7.5 square leagues (18.75 square miles)" west of Bayou Teche.349
Grevemberg's land dispute with his unwelcome neighbors did not prevent him from selling to them precious cattle with which they could create vacheries of their own. Up on the Opelousas prairie and at Cabahannocer, Acadians there also were preparing for spring planting. Meanwhile, colonial officials in New Orleans were doing what they could "to furnish subsistence to the Acadians until the next harvest," especially to the newest arrivals. When word reached the settlements that the new Spanish governor had finally reached New Orleans, the typical Acadian reaction would have been a shrug of the shoulders, a bon mot or two, and a resumption of whatever work he or she was doing. Their ancestors had endured changes of imperial masters more often than they could remember, and they, too, had changed rulers when they came to this colony, the great majority of them arriving after the world had been told that the western half of French Louisiana now belonged to Spain. They would always call France their mother country, as they had done in Nova Scotia, and as they would do here. As long as the Spanish recognized their land grants and protected them from the British, they would find them to be the most loyal of subjects. As to their cherished religion,
the British had failed to convert any of them to their noxious heresies, butthe Spanish were Roman Catholics, too. The Spanish priest who would come to their settlement to administer the sacraments would have to know French; they would not bother to learn Spanish here any more than they had bothered to learn English back in Acadia. Mass was celebrated in Latin anyway, a language few, if any of them, understood.
At least the new governor was not British, who were settling much too close to this province for their liking. He was no Belcher, no Wilmot, no Lawrence (damn his name!).How much trouble could this new governor bring to a people who were accustomed to nothing else but trouble?
In late March, Ulloa and his entourage, in four boats, began their tour of the lower Louisiana settlements, first of the German Coast, which included
Cabahannocer, then Pointe Coupée, Opelousas, Attakapas, and Natchitoches, as well as the various Indian tribes in that part of the colony. The Acadians, now, would have an opportunity to take the measure of the man. They could care less that Ulloa had not bothered to present his letters patent to the French-Creole busybodies on the Superior Council. He was here, representing a still-powerful nation. They may have been puzzled that he had brought so few soldiers to Louisiana, but they guessed that many more of them were stationed at Havana, from whence he had come.
The Acadians were impressed with the new governor, who seemed to understand their immediate needs as well as their ultimate desire. Struggling on what little the French caretakers could give them, the Acadians asked for powder and shot so that they could supplement their diet with hunting, and Ulloa complied. Their response, and what they told them about their struggles during their Grand Dérangement, affected him deeply. Back in New Orleans, following his month-long tour of lower Louisiana, Ulloa wrote a series of long reports to his immediate superior, the Marques Jeronimo Grimaldi, Spanish Minister of State. His impressions of the Acadians filled each letter. His missive of May 19 was especially revealing: "In order to assist (the exiles in becoming self-sufficient), each Acadian settlement was given a small gift of gunpowder and ammunition to be divided among themselves. When we assured them that they would enjoy full protection of His Majesty, of Your Excellency, and of myself in his royal name as long as they remained here they thanked us profusely, with indescribable joy that moved us to great tenderness and affection, and used part of the few pounds of gunpowder that were given to them to salute with their guns [which the French caretakers had given them] the monarchs of Spain and France." And then the Acadians expressed their ultimate desire to their new governor: "After indicating that they will be as loyal to His Majesty [Carlos III] as they have hitherto been to the Most Christian King [Louis XV], they requested my permission to write to their Acadian countrymen in the New England provinces so that they would get ready to flee their present captivity. They did the same with commanding General Aubry, and, although they were told to desist until the Spanish court was informed and able to reach a decision about it, I am persuaded that they will not do so because of their desire to be reunited with their friends and because of their repugnance towards the English nation."
Ulloa was correct in assuming that the Acadians were only being polite when they asked him for permission to communicate with their kinsmen in the Acadian Diaspora. Jean-Baptiste Semer, only a month before, had sent a letter to his father at Le Havre, France, containing a glowing description of the Attakapas country and a plea for his kinsmen to join him there. In Maryland, over 200 Acadians, having received word from their kinsmen in Louisiana that French officials would welcome there, were preparing to charter a British merchant vessel to take them down to Cap-Français, from whence they would repeat their kinsmen's' journey on to the New Acadia. "The Acadians [still in the British domains] have been offered the most advantageous inducements by the English government to settle among them and to recognize the English king as their sovereign," Ulloa went on. "They have written the French government regarding their wish (to leave) and have sent me a copy; yet none of the offers has changed the Acadians' minds and their sole intention is to leave the English domain which they hate unabashedly."353
Ulloa, in turn, had taken the measure of these determined exiles. "I have told Your Excellency," he continued, "that they are good and industrious people; quiet, without vices and able farmers. Mister Aubry and the other officers who have served in the last two wars in the territories from there to Canada assure me that they are good marksmen. As they proved in expeditions against the English, they are equally capable of effectively waging war against the Indians, this being especially important in this colony, where one must always rely on the inhabitants for its defense and and where skill and stratagems very different from those used against other people are required against the Indians." He was alluding, of course, to the Acadian resistance in Nova Scotia. On his visit to Attakapas, Ulloa could not have met the fierce resistance leaders; they had been in their graves a number of months now. But he would have met their sturdy sons: Jean-Baptiste, Sylvain, Simon, Pierre, and perhaps Anselme, sons of Alexandre dit Beausoleil; and Petit Jos, Victor, Athanase, François, Claude, and Amand, sons of Joseph dit Beausoleil. T
he older ones had fought beside their fathers in the woods and on the bay, and the younger ones carried memories of those terrible years. Other family heads and their sturdy older sons, at Attakapas, Opelousas, and Cabahannocer, also had fought the British and their New English minions from Fort Beauséjour up to Restigouche.
Ulloa had seen and heard much on his visit to the Acadian settlements. Aubry and the other French officers had sung their praises to him, and the governor had seen for himself the handiwork of these long-suffering farmers and fishermen: "These people are naturally good, quiet, hard-working and industrious," he informed the Minister the State. "It is to be admired that they have all prospered in very little time. In only one year, a single man, having under his care a wife, children and, in some cases, a widow, sister, sister-in-law or mother living with his own family, has cleared the 4 arpents or tanegas (1.59 acres) that have been given to him; has built a dyke to contain the river within its banks (and to keep it from) flooding the land; (and has cleared) a road over which a cart can travel. He had built a house, and cultivated land, and (built) wooden fences, although those enclose small areas. One can say that two black day laborers would not have been able to advance as much as a single one of these men, whose untiring application of work has been the cause of several deaths from fatigue. This progress shows all that necessity and perseverance can do when one puts his heart into it. The French officers were astonished by the progress made by these people" and vowed to extend them aid as long as they could. "While His Majesty determines what he wishes to do," Ulloa continued, "I have agreed to do it (assist the Acadians) also, because the sooner they begin to get some rest, the sooner they will succeed in earning a livelihood, and we will be relieved of having to provide them with the necessities of life."354a
In the concluding paragraph of his May 19 report to the Minister, Ulloa's final comment about the Acadians revealed a keen understanding of who they were: "I must tell Your Excellency," he concluded, "that the Acadians are the type of people who live among themselves as though they were a single family. (They do) not make any alliances with other French people, nor do they give their daughters in marriage to those who are not of their kind, as occurs in Spain among the highlanders of Santander. They settle their differences among themselves and help each other in every way, as if they were brothers. This quality makes them preferable for settlement over other types of people. And the government must be careful to keep them as they are, because as long as they remain unchanged, the king will be able to count on good vassals who, when the time comes, will gladly take up arms and sacrifice themselves to his royal service, in defense of his domains."355
An important element of Ulloa's tour was a general census conducted by the commandants in the lower colonial districts. Here was a first systematic counting of the Acadian exiles in Louisiana. In a document dated 9 April 1766, Cabahannocer commandant Louis Judice reported to the colonial authorities his count of the settlers in his district, the great majority of them Acadians. His survey began "on the right bank of the Mississippi River from the habitation of Jacques Cantrelle to Bayou Lafourche," and continued on the "left bank of the river from the habitation of Joseph Hébert to the village of the Alibamon Indians." Judice counted 43 men, 43 "wives," 55 boys above age 15, 56 boys below the age 15, 17 widows, 17 girls above age 15, and 35 girls below age 15, for a total of 266 men, women, and children at Cabahannocer. Living among the settlers were 16 slaves, 5 of them belonging to Jacques Cantrelle and 11 held by Judice himself. No Acadian held a slave. The commandant also counted 687 arpents of land, 95 hogs, and 97 guns, but no horses. Judice's report mentioned two Indian villages in his district, those of the Alibamon and Houma. Only 14 inhabitants in the district were non-Acadians: Commandant Judice, his wife, their two sons Louis, fils and Michel, the co-commandant's father-in-law, Jacques Cantrelle, Nicolas Verret's sons Michel and François, Joseph Wiltz, ___ Popolus, ___ Ducros, Marc Maulet, Pierre Bidau, Saturnin Bruno, and Félix Pax, the last two "established above the village of the Houma Indians" on the east bank of the river, leaving 252 Acadians on that part of the river. Two years later, Bruno, age 28, would join the Acadians on the Acadian Coast by marrying Scholastique, 22-year-old daughter of François Léger, one of the earliest exogamous marriages among the Louisiana Acadians.356
At Attakapas, in a report dated 25 April 1766, Commandant Massé counted, besides himself, only 130 individuals, 121 of them Acadians. Thirty-eight of the Acadians he counted in the "District of the Pointe"--that is, Fausse Pointe. Another thirty-eight lived at what he called "Bayou Queue de Tortue," but he obviously meant Bayou Tortue. Forty-five other Acadians lived in the "District of La Manque." The nine non-Acadian settlers were the Bonin family, the only Alibamons in the district. No Acadian, and no Bonin, owned a slave. Massé held 20 of them on his large vacherie. Up in the Opelousas District, Commandant Pellerin's census, undated, revealed a very different pattern of settlement. Pellerin counted himself and 154 other non-Acadians, most of them Alibamon, at "The Coast of the Old Opelousas" and at "New Opelousas on the Right Bank" of Bayou Courtableau. The commandant owned the largest number of slaves--24--but militia captain M. Courtableau owned 21, Alibamon Grégoire Guillory owned 10, and a dozen others, all Alibamons, owned as many as 6 and as few as 1. Pellerin counted only 38 Acadians in his district, none of whom owned a slave. Massé and Pellerin's censuses thus revealed that of the 231 Acadians who had gone to the prairies, only 159 remained--testimony to
the devastation wrought by the epidemic of the previous summer and the number of Acadians who had left the prairies.
Sadly, the Spanish general census of April 1766 counted only 411 Acadians left in Louisiana of the slightly more than 600 who had gone there. One wonders what accounts for this amazing reduction in their numbers. Did the commandants conduct their censuses in haste and fail to count all of the inhabitants? Were there still Acadians at New Orleans who were not counted in the district surveys? Did the Cabahannocer Acadians also endure a devastating epidemic during their first summer in the colony? In May 1765, before the epidemics broke out, Aubry had told the Minister of Marine that "the Acadians have smallpox." Was he referring to the Acadians who had just reached Balize, where they could be quarantined before moving up to the city, or was there smallpox among the Acadians who already had reached New Orleans? In his report to Minister Grimaldi, dated 9 May 1766, Ulloa provides another clue as to why so few Acadians had been counted that spring: "Those who come here are being settled in an area ten leagues above this capital at its nearest point," he said of the Acadians at Cabahonnocer. "Each of them has been assigned land and housing, given tools so they can work the land, and some provisions, though only in small quantities. Consequently, many of them have died in misery because there was not enough (food)." He lamented the loss of these valuable settlers and its impact on the colony. "[T]he French leaders have aided them as much as possible, assigning them two leaders to govern and guide them, but, since this does not provide their daily bread and shelter, we lose in those who die what is gained in those who come to increase the population." How did the Acadians reconcile themselves to the loss of so many loved ones during their first year in Louisiana? Ulloa, in his report of May 19, sheds light on this as well: "The Acadians themselves tell me that everyone [of them] in the English colonies will come," he assured the Minister, "and those in Canada will do the same. This is due to the fact that, despite the many (Acadian deaths) on the island of Saint-Domingue and even here during last summer, they would rather expose themselves to mortal dangers while searching for the desired freedom of religion and civil treatment than remain in the relative safety of their own land under English rule."
Ulloa soon would see for himself how true was this observation.
La Nouvelle-Acadie: Exiles from the British Atlantic Colonies Find Refuge in Louisiana, 1766-69
Like the Acadians from Georgia, the exiles in Maryland and Pennsylvania were deportees who had been shipped off to a British colony and forced to remain there until the war finally ended. And like the Acadians from both Georgia and Halifax, the exiles from Maryland decided for themselves where they would create their own New Acadia. In late June 1766, following riots at Baltimore and Annapolis in reaction to Britain's notorious Stamp Act of 1765, over 200 Acadians, mainly from the scattered communities of Oxford, Snow Hill, and Newtown on Maryland's Eastern Shore, but also from Port Tobacco on the lower Potomac River, departed the colony on a chartered English sloop and headed to New Orleans via Cap-Français. When they reached New Orleans at end of September, they numbered 224 "men, women and children, 150 in the last two categories." Fourteen of them had died during the three-month voyage, and three more died on the journey up from Balize to the city. Three of the new arrivals were newborns, but only one of them survived the rigors of the voyage. The sloop on which they came did not wait at Balize for the lighters that normally came down to take ship's passengers on the 100-mile-long trip up to New Orleans; after its stop at Balize to answer to colonial customs, it continued upriver, fighting the river's powerful current, until the lighters finally reached it on a stretch of the lower river.
These new arrivals had not secured permission to emigrate to the Spanish colony; they probably were not even aware that the Spanish had reached French Louisiana. No matter, heeding what the Halifax Acadians had been telling colonial authorities for months now, Ulloa, Aubry, and Foucault were expecting more Acadian arrivals, from whence they did not know. The physical state of the Maryland exiles when they reached Louisiana is best described by Ulloa himself: "Because these people arrived in misery and in great need (of assistance), they were helped immediately, by which had been reserved for the first needy (Acadians) who might arrive," the governor told his superior, the Spanish Minister of State, the day after the newcomers reached New Orleans. "I gave them a bull and a calf, which I had brought from up-river for consumption by myself and my companions. I did so the same night in which the boat carrying them was discovered. The shipmaster assured me that as soon as they (the Acadians) received the animals, they killed them and ate the meat raw." Ulloa, from his refuge at Balize the following December, described this act of charity as the giving of "alms ... which I hope was very pleasing to God." It certainly was most pleasing to the starving Acadians!
Following his policy of giving new Acadian arrivals "land next to those who are already settled," Ulloa sent the exiles from Maryland to what Louisianians would soon be calling the Acadian Coast, where they were given small lots in the vacant lands between the Acadians from Georgia and the upper end of the German Coast in Nicolas Verret's district on the west bank of the river. Having come to Louisiana from Maryland, these Acadians were not from Chignecto, Rivière St.-Jean, and Annapolis Royal, like the majority of the Halifax Acadians. With few exceptions, the Maryland exiles had lived in the Minas Basin before Le Grand Dérangement. This group included a large contingent from Pigiguit. Nevertheless, many of them bore the surnames of Acadian families already living in the colony: Babin, Blanchard, Bourg, Breau, Broussard, Dupuis, Forest, Gautrot, Godin, Hébert, Landry, LeBlanc, Melanson, Poirier, Richard, Thériot. But a few of them bore Acadian family names not yet seen in Louisiana: Bujole, Corporon, Daigre, Granger. The Landrys and LeBlancs, so prominent among the families of the Minas Basin, were especially numerous among the new arrivals, as were the Babins and Melansons. One family head among the new arrivals was not Acadian. François Simoneau, age 38, a native of Lorraine in northeastern France, had emigrated to Maryland by c1759, when he married Acadian exile Marie-Anne-Osite Corporon, a native of Annapolis Royal, who was 31 in 1766. They brought four children with them to Louisiana, three sons and a daughter, ages 6 to only a few weeks old. Anne, as she was called, had been pregnant when the family left Maryland in late June, and son Alexis was born aboard ship on August 10, a month and a half before they reached New Orleans.
The September 1766 arrivals were not the only Acadians who appeared suddenly at New Orleans that year. On October 6, only a week after 224 Acadians from Maryland had reached the city, Étienne-Michel, called Michel, David dit St.-Michel, age 46, his wife Geneviève Hébert, age 40, and their eight children, four sons and four daughters, ages 22 to 1, appeared at New Orleans. Michel, a native of Louisbourg, Île Royale, was, like his father, a blacksmith by trade. He had married Geneviève at her native Grand-Pré in January 1744, and they were still living there in the fall of 1755 when the British deported them to Maryland. Evidently Michel's skill stood him in good stead in the British colony, where they were counted at Snow Hill on the Eastern Shore in July 1763. A report on Acadians at New Orleans in July 1767 notes: "Michel David has arrived in the Colony on the 6th of October 1766 and he did not ask for any farming land. He has always been a blacksmith in a city and dwells on the King's property. This family has received the food supplies for the month of July." So even an Acadian family that could pay its own passage to Louisiana still needed the largesse of colonial officials until they could become self-sufficient. Michel and his family did not remain at New Orleans. By the early 1770s, they had moved on to the Acadian Coast, where Michel practiced his blacksmith trade, as well as farming, on the east bank of the river near his fellow exiles. Michel's oldest son Joseph, who was 18 years old when he came to Louisiana, also worked as a blacksmith.
By the time the first Maryland Acadians reached the colony, relations between Governor Ulloa and some of the French officials in New Orleans had reached the boiling point. Ulloa's refusal to take formal charge of the colony placed Ordonnateur Foucault, especially, in a precarious position. He and Aubry were operating more or less without instruction from their superiors in France; the last detailed directive from the Minister of Marine concerning the transfer of the colony from France to Spain had been issued to the now-dead d'Abbadie back in February 1763! As ordonnateur, Foucault was tasked with inventorying the French King's property in every corner of the colony and accounting for all expenditures so that someday French Court officials could hand to Spanish Court officials an accurate tally of what Carlos III owed his cousin Louis XV in the way of financial compensation. The fate of his predecessor Rochemore fresh in his memory, Foucault understood the consequences of failing to take proper care of the French King's finances. Moreover, Foucault and Aubry no longer were on speaking terms and in fact had become hated rivals. Despite Ulloa's failure to take charge of Louisiana and his demands on the colony's finances, Aubry still supported him, even rationalized his behavior, and this Foucault could not abide. In his fight with Ulloa and Aubry, Foucault was not above using the Acadians as a potential weapon against them. "Since I was reluctant to incur new and increased disbursements," he wrote to the new Minister of Marine on 18 November 1766, "I devised a plan, whereby, by refusing to help these wretched people [the Acadians from Maryland], I would force Mister Ulloa into assisting them. I was unable, however, to refuse the urgent pleas made on their behalf by Messrs. Aubry and Ulloa. The latter assured me that all the moneys spent since the arrival of the Spaniards, as well as necessary future expenditures, will be born by the Spanish king."365
Ulloa quarreled also with
the French-Creole elite who controlled, among other things, Louisiana's influential Superior Council. Foucault, as ordonnateur, was the council's chief judge, but, taxed by his other duties, he had long deferred that role to the colony's influential attorney general, French-Creole Nicolas Chauvin dit Lafrénière. As a result, the Superior Council,
"which also possessed administrative and quasi-legislative powers," had become "an autonomous body which, through legal and extralegal means, was able to control much of the lower colony."
Ulloa was fully aware of the power of the Council. "Ulloa's delay [in registering his commission with the Council and thus assuming control of the colony] may well have been due, as he wrote in 1769, to his fear that 'they (the councillors) wanted the Spanish governor to make himself dependent on the Council in order to subjugate him to the wishes of that tribunal.'" Lafrénière had opposed the cession of the colony from France to Spain from the moment he learned of it, so he , like Foucault, opposed Ulloa, which made him an enemy also of Aubry. Soon after his arrival, Ulloa immediately alienated the French Creoles by removing supervision of the colony's slave trade from the Superior Council, which they dominated, and entrusting it "to a board of his own selection." Just as troubling to the Creole elite, Ulloa's economic policies, made in compliance with instructions from Spain and that nation's strict mercantilist policies, angered the city's merchants and shippers, many of whom the new governor suspected were deeply engaged in the smuggling trade. Within a year of Ulloa's arrival, "acting on the governor's suggestions," the Spanish Minister of State ordered Ulloa to abolish the Superior Council and replace it with a Spanish cabildo as soon as he took formal possession of the colony. Ulloa was instructed to appoint an asesor letrado, or Spanish attorney general, on the eve of the formal transfer so that the transition could be a smooth one. Although, by the spring of 1767, he possessed the power to abolish the Superior Council and impose Spanish institutions in its place, Ulloa still was not ready for formal transfer of power. Meanwhile, he would try his best to keep secret the ultimate fate of the Superior Council. Unfortunately for him, word of it got out and "caused much consternation among the French colonial population," especially the New Orleans Creoles.
ully aware of this dangerous dynamic and his inability to control it, during the summer of 1766 Ulloa had retreated from New Orleans to the mouth of the river, where he ensconced himself at a new post near Balize, over which he flew the flag of Spain. Ulloa could rest assured that Aubry supported him, and that the Acadians, now a substantial part of the colony's population, still held him in high esteem. The Acadians were too busy fighting illness, the elements, and the endless struggle for their daily bread to pay much attention to colonial politics, though some of them may have wondered why the French fleur de lis still flew over the capitol in New Orleans and the Spanish flag flew over the new post near Balize.
As long as the Spanish governor maintained pressure on the French officials to assist them when they needed it, they could not complain.
They had seen their cousins newly arrived from Maryland settled near their fellow Acadians, so that was good.
More were coming, of that they were certain, and the governor had said he would welcome them all.
Ulloa, so far, by his words and deeds, seemed to understand their determination to reunite with as many of their kin as possible. If their New Acadia was to be a Spanish one, then so be it.364
Although Ulloa was genuinely concerned about the Acadians' welfare and understood their need to reunite with their families, as governor his principal focus had to be on larger issues, such as the colo
ny's defense.His tour of the lower colony in the spring of 1766 and many hours of conversation with Aubry, the professional soldier, revealed serious flaws in the colony's defenses. Before 1763, the British dwelled hundreds of miles from the Louisiana frontier, so only by securing alliances with the Indians could they hope to attack any part of French Louisiana. After 1763, that circumstance changed dramatically. The imperial wolf was at the door! British territory, and the certainty of British settlement, began at Bayou Manchac and continued along the east bank of the Mississippi all the way up to the pays d'en haut. Britain now held Fort des Chartres, Kaskaskia, and Cahokia in Illinois. The French had been forced to build new fortified outposts on the west bank of the river there, at St.-Geneviève and Paincourt, the future St. Louis. And Britain held Canada. In the lower colony, Aubry and Ulloa could see that the frontier with Britain was one vast avenue of invasion. "These new inhabitants [the Acadians at
Cabahannocer] and those who have been living along the (Mississippi) River, in Des Allemands, Pointe Coupée, Arkansas, and even up to Illinois occupy very little space, considering the great distances that exist between them," Ulloa informed Minister of State Grimaldi in May 1766, soon after his tour. "As I told Your Excellency ..., it is ludicrous to think that our frontier will be defended by the inhabitants who are presently there because there is no place through which the enemy cannot penetrate with no more effect than by crossing the river. Once on our side, he can go with an army unchallenged, freely, wherever he pleases, since the country is completely flat, with nothing more to obstruct his path than its trees and woods."
With the limited resources at hand, Ulloa did what he could to place obstructions into the path of a potential invader; that is to say, the British. At the mouth of the Mississippi, he abandoned the broken down French post at Balize, which Bienville had built on the east pass in 1722, and constructed
a new fortified post, Fort San Carlos, on what he called Isla Reina Católica, beside the northeast pass, not far from old Balize.He then turned his attention to vulnerable points on the river above New Orleans
where the British had gotten ahead of him. As soon as they had created their new colony of West Florida in 1763, its capital at Pensacola, the British turned to their western frontier and saw the importance of the Bayou Manchac/Amite River/Lake Maurepas/Lake Pontchartrain/Rigolets line of communication between the Mississippi and the Gulf. If Bayou Manchac could be cleared of its natural obstructions, the route would allow them to avoid the natural and manmade obstructions, not to mention the fortifications, at Balize and New Orleans, which still belonged to a potential enemy. Cleared of its natural obstructions, the Bayou Manchac route would become an all-water approach to the river above New Orleans and, in case of war, would allow British forces to attack New Orleans and its upriver settlements from two approaches, including the vulnerable rear. Most importantly, an all-water route from the Gulf through Bayou Manchac would be a commercial boon for Baton Rouge and Natchez, which the British intended to fortify. Meanwhile, in 1765, the British built Fort Bute on the west bank of river north of Bayou Manchac to protect the turn into and out of the little bayou as well as the approach to the bluff at Baton Rouge, which they renamed New Richmond. In August of that year, instigated, no doubt, by Aubry, a force of Alabama Indians attacked Fort Bute and drove the small British garrison back to New Richmond. The governor of West Florida, British naval captain George Johnstone, refused to abandon the position. When Ulloa finally reached New Orleans in March 1766, the British were hard at work rebuilding Fort Bute. By then, they had failed, and would continue to fail, to clear Bayou Manchac of it many obstructions, but the fort still held strategic value, and so it would stand.
The governor's path was clear: he must build more fortifications of his own to counter the British presence along the river. In April 1767, while Ulloa was still at Fort San Carlos, he sent an expedition of seven boats, filled with soldiers, sailors, and supplies, to several upriver sites. The first contingent, commanded by Lieutenant Frederick José de Orieta, stopped on the west bank of the river near the mouth of Bayou Manchac, where they constructed Fort Infante San Gabriel across the bayou from Fort Bute. A second contingent under Lieutenant Pedro Piernas continued upriver to Natchez, where they built
Fort San Luìs de Natchez "on the west side of the Mississippi about a league from British Natchez," where the West Floridians were building a fort of their own. The third contingent, under Captain Francisco Riu, "continued to the mouth of the Missouri where he constructed Fort El Principe de Asturias on the south bank and a blockhouse named Don Carlos Tercero El Rey on the north."
And then there were the Indians. For decades, in fact, since the first days of French Louisiana, native tribes had played a major role in the colony's defense. With only a few exceptions Iberville had befriended the petit tribes of the lower Mississippi and brought them into the French orbit. By the 1710s, Bienville, with the help of the friendly petit tribes, drove one of the tribes that resisted him, the Chitimacha, deep into the Atchafalaya swamp and, after relocating the center of the colony from Mobile Bay to the lower Mississippi, moved the petit tribes about like chess pieces to protect New Orleans and its satellite settlements. Meanwhile, Bienville befriended the Choctaw, the Chickasaw, and even some of the Alibamon and made them an important part of the colony's defenses. Everything changed after 1763, when France lost western Louisiana to Britain. Many of the tribes in the region, large and small, moved to the French-controlled side of the Mississippi to avoid British governance. Ulloa inherited this chaos, which he witnessed first hand during his tour of the lower Louisiana settlements. He wasted no time informing his superiors in Spain that he would do what he could to maintain the alliance system cobbled together by his French predecessors.368a
But it was not enough to construct new fortifications, man them with the few soldiers and sailors the colony could muster, and depend on the local Indians to come to their aid. Each fort must have a contingent of settlers who would provide a militia force to supplement the regulars and the Indians in the event of attack. If Ulloa could
coax bands of friendly Indians to move closer to his new forts, then so much the better. If he was planning to move some of the Cabahannocer Acadians to the new posts on the river, he did not have to bother. "On July 12 an English vessel arrived at Isla Reina Católica," he informed the Minister of State from New Orleans on 23 July 1767. "It is carrying 211 Acadians from Virginia, of all sexes and ages...," he added. Here was his militia force for Fort San Gabriel.
In truth, the new arrivals were not from Virginia; all of the Acadians there had been shipped off to Britain 11 years before and were now in France. Ulloa was describing a second contingent of exiles from Maryland. Their chartered ship, the English schooner Virgin, 60 tons, under master Thomas Farrold, had left Baltimore the previous April, spent 17 days at Cap-Français, and then sailed on to Louisiana. Ulloa was thrilled with the new arrivals. "I have assigned all these people to Fort St. Gabriel, next to (the) Iberville (district), so that they may settle below it (the fort) toward the city (New Orleans)," he informed the Minister of State. "I immediately ordered them to continue their trip in the same boats in which they made the crossing. They (the ships) have already returned. I advised the (fort's) commander to give them land, following the same procedures that have been used in other places where the first families have settled. As a result, that settlement is entirely composed of an able body of settlers and (it was populated) with such precision that the stockade fort and the dwellings of the employees and the Spanish troops were hardly finished when, quite opportunely, a complete suburb of a large town was added to it. If one had intentionally asked to have families sent at great expense for this purpose, one would [could not?] arrange a more timely arrival than as when they appeared."
Ulloa's cheerful summation to the Minister obscured what really happened between him and the Acadians. Having received many letters from their relatives in Louisiana, these recently-arrived Maryland exiles expected to be settled at
Cabahannocer as well. When the governor informed them that they would be set farther upriver, to a new post at San Gabriel, 25 miles above
they protested loudly and said "they had no intention of establishing themselves at their frontier post."
Ulloa was stunned by their "ingratitude." He wrote later in a memoir of this time in Louisiana: "'A group of Acadians arrived (at New Orleans) in the month of July or August 1767. We destined them for Fort St. Gabriel, but, as they put it into their heads (that we) must permit (some of them) to remain vagrants in the city (and allow) the others to occupy lands contiguous to those of the other Acadians who were established opposite the Cabannocé coast, we had all of the trouble in the world to subject them to our arrangements. It was necessary to tell them that, if they did not wish to take themselves there, it would be necessary to expel them from the colony, as it (their intransigence) was unprecedented, for His Majesty, who satisfied all needs of a destitute nation, must be allowed to prescribe these conditions (of settlement)."
Spanish officers escorted the Acadians to the new fort beginning on August 7, they arrived there on August 17, and on the following day "they began to divide the land."
Once the newcomers arrived at San Gabriel, however, they could see that they were in easy communication with their relatives at
Cabahannocer. They soon learned that their position on the river
just below and opposite the mouth of Bayou Plaquemine also placed them closer to their relatives in the prairie districts. "Their leader let me know that they were very pleased and happy," Ulloa insisted. But he had made a serious faux pas not only with these Acadians but also with the rest of them, at least the ones at
Cabahannocer. He had threatened to deport these Maryland exiles if they did not obey his instructions, an arbitrariness that reminded them entirely too much of certain British governors in Nova Scotia (damn their names!). He probably did not communicate it to the Acadians, but in his July 23 missive to the Minister of State, the one in which he had failed to mention his conflict with the San Gabriel-bound Acadians, Ulloa included this ominous statement: "The next Acadian immigrants will be sent to Fort San Luìs de Natchez," which lay far upriver, many leagues away from any the other Acadian settlements, including the new one at San Gabriel.
The 200-plus Acadians who came from Maryland in July 1767, like the September 1766 arrivals, were mostly exiles from the Minas Basin.D
uring their 12-year sojourn in Maryland,
they had lived in scattered communities throughout the eastern half of the colony: at Baltimore, Annapolis, Georgetown (on the upper Eastern Shore), Fredericktown, Newtown, Oxford, Upper Marlborough, and Port Tobacco. Also with them were a family of Acadians who had been exiled to North Carolina and Pennsylvania before joining their kinsmen in Maryland.
Again, familiar Acadian family names could be found among the new arrivals: Babin, Blanchard, Breau, Comeau, Forest, Granger, Guédry, Hébert, Landry, LeBlanc, Melanson, Richard, Thériot, and Thibodeau. The Héberts and the Landrys, again, were especially plentiful. And there were Acadian names that had not yet appeared in Louisiana: Allain, Le Borgne de Bélisle, Boutin, Brasseur, Flan, LePrince, and Rivet. The Boutins were the family who had been exiled to North Carolina and Pennsylvania. Pierre Allain had in his possession a precious bundle which he and his family had preserved through Le Grand Dérangement: several of the registers of the church of St.-Charles-des-Mines at Grand-Pré, which he presented to the priest at San Gabriel. Two family heads were not Acadian; they were not even French! Joseph Castillo, called Castille by his Acadian confreres, was a 32-year-old native of the Spanish island of Menorca; he married Acadian exile Rose-Osite Landry of Pigiguit in Maryland, and they brought four children with them to San Gabriel. Diego Hernandez, another Spaniard, had married Acadian exile Judith-Théotiste Babin in Maryland, and they brought a 6-year-old daughter to Louisiana. The new contingent also included one of
the few Acadian exiles who emigrated to Louisiana and whose name hinted at former nobility.
Anselme Le Borgne de Bélisle of Grand-Pré, age 29 when he came to Louisiana, was a direct descendant of Emmanuel Le Borgne de Bélisle, one of the most important figures in seventeenth-century Acadia; his wife was Anne Babin of L'Assomption, Pigiguit; they came to Louisiana with an infant son who had been born at Annapolis, Maryland.
By September 12, the new arrivals had finished selecting "their land," and the Spanish commandant, Lieutenant José de Orieta, began "to survey the land for distribution to the Acadian families," a task which continued into the autumn. Orieta reported to the governor on September 23: "There are 48 arpents and 30 yards' interval (between landholdings) (after leaving 2,700 yards of cleared land for the defense of the fort and (to permit) artillery fire) from the line where the land that you gave the Spaniards begins, including the land that will serve for the roads that should be built between the two possessions...," that is, between the lands belonging to the Acadians and the Spaniards who the governor hoped would settle at San Gabriel near the Acadians. Orieta added: "The rains, the hot sun, and unstable weather have been the cause of some sickness among the Acadians, but they are muddling through, thank God." He also noted that one of his officers, Agústín Moreno, was preparing to leave for Pointe Coupée, upriver, to marry an Acadian girl who had just arrived in the colony, Marie, daughter of Paul Hébert of Grand Pré. On the same day that Orieta wrote his letter to the governor, San Gabriel's physician, Jacques Le Duc, beseeched the governor to increase his compensation so that, among other things, he could hire "a young Acadian who has asked to work at the hospital" at San Gabriel. On October 20, Lieutenant Orieta reported that "On the fifteenth, at 2 p. m., all the heads of Acadians families were placed in their respective homes ... with 12 yards' interval between two landholdings (to be used) for the main road...." The lieutenant informed the governor that between "land grants nos. 25 and 26, one arpent has been measured as the site for a chapel for their assemblies and for a cemetery. This step was taken in conformity with the oldest traditions," Orieta added.374
The settlement the lieutenant laid out for them was impressive in its dimensions: "All of the concessions were initially confined to the east bank of the Mississippi River, and the forty-seven land grants accorded the immigrants stretched from a point 4,200 yards below Fort St. Gabriel to a spot six to eight miles downstream, near the present boundary between the parishes of Iberville and Ascension." Only a few weeks
after their arrival in the colony, the second contingent of Maryland exiles had a community of their own
Meanwhile, Lieutenant Pedro Piernas, commandant at San Luìs de Natchez, farther upriver, informed Governor Ulloa that construction of the fort there was progressing nicely despite illness among the soldiers and workers. On 26 September 1767, Piernas wrote the governor: "I am informed of the anticipated arrival of the Acadian families, their number, and their assignment to this fort in order to populate the settlement. When they are transferred here, they will be distributed according to Your Excellency's instructions...."
One wonders which Acadians the lieutenant was talking about. In Maryland, another large contingent of exiles was gathering at Port Tobacco on the lower Potomac. They, too, would hire a British merchant vessel and sail to Louisiana via Cap-Français, but they did not leave Maryland until December 17, nearly three months after Piernas's September 26 letter to Ulloa. Had Ulloa decided to send some of the Acadians from
Cabahannocer, San Gabriel, or even the prairie districts to Fort San Luìs de Natchez?
No matter, in the second week of February 1768, a ship with 150 Acadians aboard reached
Isla Reina Católica, at the mouth of the Mississippi. The Acadians, a third contingent from Maryland, endured Spanish customs at the fortified island and were
escorted to the King's warehouse across the river from New Orleans at present-day Algiers. Lieutenant Piernas, commander of Fort San Luìs de Natchez, and his subordinate, Ensign Andrés de Balderamma, had come down to the city to escort the Acadians up to Natchez. "They [the Acadians] were received with kindness," the lieutenant insisted. "Those who were ill, and, by the way, there was a large number of them, were given medicines and were treated by the two doctors" at the warehouse. He then gathered together the family heads and told them where they were going.
hese Acadians, predictably, had already decided where they would go. Here was the largest part of the Breau clan from Pigiguit in the Minas Basin, led by brothers Alexis, age 44, and Honoré, age 37. Their brother Jean-Baptiste, now 43, had lived among his wife's kin, the Landrys, at Oxford on Maryland's Eastern Shore during the exile, while Alexis and Honoré
had been held at Port Tobacco on the lower Potomac. Jean-Baptiste
and his family had come to Louisiana in 1766 and settled at Cabahannocer, and that is where his brothers were determined to settle. Most of the other families in the party, all of them Minas Acadians who had been deported in 1755, also had endured the exile at Port Tobacco, though a few had lived at Upper Marlborough, Oxford, and Princess Anne. Only three new Acadian family names could be found in this party--Benoit, Clouâtre, and L'Enfant. All of the others bore surnames that one could find among the hundreds of other Acadians who had come to the colony during the previous four years: Babin, Boudrot, Comeau, Doiron, Dupuis, Gautrot, Guédry, Landry, LeBlanc, Rivet, Thibodeau, Trahan, and Vincent.They
, too, had relatives at Cabahannocer, and, like the Brauds, they were determined to go there.
But that is not where the Spanish officers told them they must go.
Cabahannocer, where hundreds of Acadians from Halifax and Maryland had gone in 1765 and 1766, was "full" now, as was San Gabriel at Iberville. Governor Ulloa's well-thought-out colonial defense scheme called for these Acadians to settle across the river from British Natchez, where they would provide the militia force for Piernas's Fort San Luìs. For months now, the governor had intended to send a large group of Acadians there. And here they were, 150 of them, a sizable contingent for the new outpost
. Lieutenant Piernas and Ensign Balderama were crystal clear about the governor's intentions: "In the event that they would refuse to go [to Fort San Luis], they would be forced to leave the colony and to go wherever they pleased." In other words, they would be deported. The Acadians protested. The Breau brothers understood immediately what Ulloa's settlement scheme would do to their dream of reuniting with their families. They "clearly interpreted the distribution of Louisiana's Acadian population among widely scattered military posts as a diaspora and balked at the prospect of being settled 115 linear miles from" Cabahannocer. Colonial commandant Aubry stepped in and pleaded with the Acadians to cooperate with the governor, but the Breaus insisted on reuniting with their families at Cabahannocer. Ulloa then ordered Ensign Balderamma to step up the pressure by cutting off the Breau brothers' rations. Alexis and Honoré still refused to go to Natchez, and so the governor ordered them and the other families to return to the ship on which they had come. "Faced with deportation, Honoré[,] accompanied by his brother Alexis, called upon Ulloa at New Orleans, informing him that despite 'substantial (British) inducements' to remain in Maryland, he and his fellow exiles had sailed to Louisiana in order to "exercise freely their religion.'" The brothers "'begged Monsieur Ulloa to allow them ... to settle along the German Coast or that of the Acadians, for they had cost the king nothing and had consumed the small amount of money which they possessed.'"
Determined to complete his settlement scheme, which was based on the needs of the colony and not on a hand full of willful Acadians, Ulloa refused the Breaus request and ordered the deportation of the entire party. Alexis and Honoré joined their fellow Acadians aboard the ship on which they had come, but fearing arrest at
Isla Reina Católica and the breaking up of their families, Alexis and Honoré led their wives and children off the ship and took refuge "at a hut on André Jung's farm," the first of several safe houses where they found refuge. The other Acadian families also left the ship, but they were too numerous to find safe houses of their own. After rounding up the families, but unable to find Alexis and Honoré, Lieutenant Piernas and Ensign Balderamma summoned the family heads individually and ordered each of them "to declare whether or not they 'wished to establish themselves on the land assigned to them.'" The Acadians "made one more futile appeal to the Spanish for land grants at" Cabahannocer, "and when Ulloa persisted in his decision to populate San Luìs with the Breau-led Acadians, they lodged a formal complaint with French Commissaire-ordonnateur Foucault, ... first judge of the Superior Council...." Satisfied in "having the last word in the matter," the Acadians, probably under armed guard, boarded three boats that Piernas and Balderama had brought down for them and, on February 20, began the slow, arduous journey up the Mississippi to their new homes at Natchez.
The voyage upriver was long and slow and plagued by foul weather much of the way. At Des Allemands, "a two-year-old child, son of one of the Acadians, died of an illness had had endured for nine months. He was buried at Des Allemands church." They reached Nicolas Verret's plantation on the last day of February, presented a letter from the governor to the Cabahannocer co-commandant, took him aboard, and continued on their way. Verret "had been ordered by Ulloa to act as tour guide for Jacob Walker, an Irishman representing a group of potential Maryland Catholic immigrants," many of them English. Verret also was coming along "to accompany the Acadians to their destination, and, during the voyage, to point out to them the great advantages afforded by settlement in this colony."
Tragedy struck one of the families before they reached San Gabriel. "Before arriving at the Iberville settlement," Lieutenant Piernas reported to the governor, "a daughter of Anna Bro (Breaux) died. Her name was Marie de Puy (Dupuis) and had been ill with hemorrages[sic] for four years." Marie was 29 years old and still unmarried when she died.At Fort San Gabriel, more of the Acadians' relations greeted them. "A few families tried to remain at Iberville," Lieutenant Piernas complained, "but I allowed no one to stay and even forced to return and continue the journey a family who, without my knowledge, had detached itself from us and was five leagues away in the home of a relative. Only a woman remained in the hospital of the fort, because the physician said it was dangerous for her to continue travelling. Her daughter remained to assist her." More heavy rain and contrary winds detained them at San Gabriel for two days. Continuing upriver, all of the Acadian settlements lay behind them now, so the chances of any of the families escaping was considerably diminished. The party reached Pointe Coupée on March 8. "All of the Acadians are happy," Lieutenant Piernas insisted, "but are always pestering and begging as is their nature." One wonders what the Acadians thought of a Spanish officer who imagined he knew the truth of "their nature." At Pointe Coupée, the lieutenant loaded the boats with as much corn as they could carry. He hoped to take the boats the rest of the way to Fort San Luìs without stopping.
Piernas and his unhappy passengers reached Fort San Luìs de Natchez at 7 AM on March 20, exactly a month after they had left New Orleans. The Acadians now had seen for themselves how truly remote was this outpost from the other communities downriver. To appease them, Piernas gave them lodging in the post barracks, which he insisted were the most comfortable quarters at the fort. Meanwhile, Commandant Verret, who had lived among Acadians for three years now, knew that his efforts to convince them to stay would not be easy. "Upon my arrival at Natchez," he wrote the governor on March 26, "I took the Acadians on a surveying tour of the land. May I say that I found the land quite suitable for settlement. Nevertheless, the Acadians either through prejudice or obstinacy, refuse to remain here. They all agree that the land is suitable, but too isolated." The Acadian family heads concocted every kind of clever excuse they could think of to convince Verret, Piernas, and, ultimately, the governor, that this place was entirely unsuitable to them. "Their wives and their children would be exposed to Indian harassment," they told Verret, "and they themselves would live in constant fear." Verret and Piernas assured them that the Indians in the area were not hostile. When Verret, a successful planter, pointed out the fine quality of the soil around the fort, "some of the Acadians agreed," Piernas noted, but then they claimed that the land closer to New Orleans was even better than here. The Acadians pointed out an oxbow in the river near the fort and claimed that they had heard that the bed "dries out when the river falls, and it is not suitable for a settlement." Piernas "offered to settle them farther downstream," away from the ox bow, "in a place more to their liking in order to remove this inconvenience." This played right into their hands: they pointed out to the lieutenant that living farther downstream would deprive them of protection from the fort! Piernas then offered "to settle half or part of the families above the fort and the remainder below in order that all may have the protection they desire and be free of the Indian raids that they fear," but the Acadians remained unconvinced that the remote outpost would be safe from Indian attack, not to mention the British across the river. Exasperated by the constant argument, both Verret and Piernas reassured the Acadians that "In return for their full cooperation, they would always enjoy preferred status among the peoples of the colony," but, again, the Acadians did not budge. "[A]ll of my arguments and everything I deemed appropriate to tell them regarding this matter has been to no avail," Verret confessed to the governor. The young post commander, hoping some day to become a captain, was even more embarrassed by his failure to convince the Acadians they should settle at his post. "I hope, Sir," Piernas wrote to the governor a week after returning to the post, "that this turn of events will not diminish the trust you have place in me in the past. I attempted at all times to execute your orders and to do everything possible to make the Acadians comply with the wishes of His Majesty and Your Excellency." The lieutenant could not help adding: "... I have tried to watch over them and overlook their impertinent outbursts, which are so frequent that I would rather command an army than six of these families."
Again, someone who imagined he had power over these simple farmers learned a lesson in Acadian stubbornness.381
But the Acadians were not done with their agitation against an overweening Spanish authority. Three of the family heads, including Joseph Breau, "the most outspoken critic of the Natchez colonization project," demanded to be given a boat so that they could return to the city and present their case to the governor himself. Piernas, knowing the mind of the governor, granted them permission to go. Alexis and Honoré, meanwhile, successfully eluded the governor and learned quickly that they had many "friends" in the colony--French Creoles, Germans, and of course fellow Acadians--who also despised Ulloa. Alexis Breau felt so safe among them, in fact, that, with the full knowledge of colonial Commander Aubry, he purchased a farm at Cabahannocer from one of its French-Creole settlers! When Ulloa learned of it, he ordered Commandant Judice to "'send for and tie up" the impudent exiles. Judice summoned Alexis, but the Acadian, "feigning illness, sought and secured a three-day delay of sentence," and made his escape with assistance of fellow Acadians
Jacques Godin dit Bellefontaine andCharles Gaudet, who had come to Cabahannocer from Halifax three years before; Gaudet's wife was a Breau. Judice called out the militia to arrest the Breaus and escort them to the commandant at Les Allemands. The militiamen, however, openly rebelled, notifying Judice that "'they simply did not want to arrest their confrère.'" When Ulloa heard of the incident, he threatened to confiscate the property of, and then to deport, any Acadian at Cabahonnocer who helped the fugitives. Honoré and his family, meanwhile, found refuge at the plantation of Jacques Enoul de Livaudais, fils on the German Coast, where the long-time civil commandant, Karl Friedrich Darensbourg, looked the other way.
In New Orleans, Joseph Breau and his two companions only infuriated the governor further. After hearing their arguments, Ulloa "threatened the deputies with imprisonment aboard the Volante, a Spanish frigate moored in the Mississippi River, and then summarily dismissed them
with a threat to deport the entire Natchez contingent. The threats were followed by regulations establishing stringent controls over the Natchez settlers." Lieutenant Piernas, following the governor's instructions, called a meeting of the family heads in late April and delivered an ultimatum: "either accept land to be assigned near Fort San Luìs or face deportation as well as financial responsibility for the Spanish expenditures on their behalf." The tactic worked. "Facing a second diaspora," the Acadians relented.
Ulloa was undeterred in his efforts to capture the fugitive brothers and their families and to prevent any more members of the Breau party from seeking refuge in other communities. On April 4, three weeks after the party reached Fort San Luìs de Natchez, Ulloa issued a circular letter to the commandants at Opelousas, Attakapas, Pointe Coupée, Cabahannocer, and Les Allemands. It read: "Gentlemen: You will prevent any newly arrived Acadian from settling in your district. Consequently, you will forewarn all the settlers that they are forbidden to harbor them, under any circumstances. You will also warn the Acadians already settled in your district. Should they receive any Acadians, even relatives under any circumstances, they will pay dearly for their disobedience, forfeiting their land grants." The Pointe Coupée commandant, François Amirault Duplessis, a French army captain who had remained in the Spanish service, informed the governor in late April that he had posted a copy of his circular "on the (front) door of the (parish) church" and added: "It is certain that this order, instead of encouraging these said Acadians, will prompt them to cross the river with their belongings one fine day." Duplessis's determination to prevent any of the Fort San Luìs Acadians from stopping at Pointe Coupée effectively trapped them at Natchez. They had little choice now but to submit to the governor's will.385
Two of the other commandants who received the circular, René Trahan and Jean-Baptiste Broussard of Attakapas, were Acadians who had come to the colony from Halifax three years before. One wonders what these former resistance fighters thought of Ulloa's threats against their fellow Acadians.385a
was exerting so much pressure now on the commandants along the river that, not long after his circular was issued, the fugitive Breau brothers had no choice but to take their families to Fort Bute in British West Florida. One wonders, then, if any of the other Breaus at San Luìs gave serious consideration to crossing the river, too. In mid-April, Montfort Brown, lieutenant governor of West Florida, had visited Pointe Coupée on his way up to Natchez, and Commandant Duplessis had treated him with all due respect. While at Natchez, Governor Brown also paid a visit to Fort San Luìs, during which Lieutenant Piernas also extended to him every honor due his position. Evidently sometime during the visit the Briton "secretly visited" the Acadians. A few months later, he reported to his superior, the Earl of Hillsborough, that the Acadians at Fort San Luìs "had become so disenchanted with the Spanish regime that 'they wish themselves again in our colonies.'" There can be no doubt that the Acadians complained bitterly about their treatment at the hands of Ulloa and his minions, even to a British official, but Brown's conclusion about their collective "wish" was nothing more than British hubris. The Acadians at Fort San Luìs now despised the Spanish governor; there was no doubt about that; but one would suspect that they mistrusted the British even more. Despite the governor's enticements to resettle in West Florida, the Acadians remained on the Spanish side of the river. What had happened to them in 1755 was still too fresh in their collective memory.
he exiles at Natchez had no choice but to make the best of a bleak situation. "By late 1768 the Acadians had selected home sites, begun construction of their homes, completed a road from 'the first habitation' to Fort San Luìs, and agreed to organize a militia company. The industriousness persisted throughout the summer, despite an epidemic of dysentery that decimated the children." The pattern of settlement at Fort San Luìs was typical for the region. Lieutenant Piernas laid out for them "... long, narrow, contiguous riverfront sites, the northern-most of which lay approximately 2.5 miles below modern-day Vidalia, Louisiana." Unfortunately for the Acadians, Piernas placed them in an area that "lacked a sanitary source of water," hence the many cases of dysentery.384a
dults as well as children died among the Acadians at Fort San Luìs during their first months in the colony. In late April, Marthe Clouâtre, age 21, died of illness and was buried in the fort's cemetery; Marthe, who had come to the colony with her widowed mother, was unmarried. In early June, Claire Trahan, widow of Charles Breau, died at age 61 after a lengthy illness; she left three daughters and a son, all unmarried. In early July, Marguerite Dupuis, wife of Pierre Guédry, long afflicted with open sores, died of her terrible ailment; she left Pierre with a young daughter; Pierre remarried to Claire Babin at Fort San Luìs the following January. By mid-summer, the Acadians had "contracted a fever," likely malaria, but, Lieutenant Piernas assured the governor, "it was not of the worst kind. The clearing of new land causes it...." In early September, "a seven-or-eight year-old child," unnamed, died of dysentery. In late September, Jean-Baptiste Dupuis, age 38, died of dropsy. About the same time, two more Acadian children died, this time of scurvy. During September and October, more Acadians, including a 21-year-old man and a 6-year-old girl, died of "the flux." In September, Marie Breau was sent to Pointe Coupée, where she could be cared for by the post's physician; she died there on the night of October 4, a victim of "the grey flux." In late October, the post commandant reported to the governor: "The Acadians continue to die of the usual causes, except for a woman and a child whom we lost only a few days ago."
Another kind of tragedy plagued the settlement. As in all cultures, weddings among the Acadians were a time of rejoicing and celebration. Among their relatives at Cabahannocer, no fewer than 45 marriages had been celebrated between March 1766 and June 1768, all but two of them Acadians marrying other Acadians. Not so at Fort San Luìs. On June 20, Élisabeth, 20-year-old daughter of Alexandre Doiron and Anne Vincent, a widow, married Vincent St.-Pierre of Vigo, Galicia, Spain, a soldier in the garrison, probably at Pointe Coupée,
the nearest church, miles downriver. On the same day and probably at the same place,Élisabeth's sister Pélagie, age 26, married Antoine Rodriguez of Florida. The same day also, Marie, daughter of Antoine Babin and Catherine Landry, another widow, married Francisco Dies of Seville, Spain, a soldier in the garrison. On August 9, also at Pointe Coupée, Geneviève, 23-year-old daughter of Joseph Landry and Marie-Josèphe Richard, both deceased, married Sergeant Juan Bautista Beloti of Pavie, Italy; and Marianne, called Anne, 28-year-old daughter of Michel Rivet and his first wife Anne Landry, both deceased, married Corporal Ferdinand Ribolle of Fuente Vergona, Cordovan, Spain. On December 31, Anne, 24-year-old daughter of Pierre Cloistre dit Clouâtre and Marguerite LeBlanc, a widow, married Bernard Capdeville of Bern, Switzerland, a widower whose first wife also had been Acadian, at Pointe Coupée; Bernard was the post's surgeon. All of the brides were in their 20s, and all of the grooms, one would hope, were men of substance. But they also were soldiers, still on active duty and subject to the vagaries of their profession. Sergeant Beloti, in fact, less than a month after his marriage to Geneviève Landry, was ordered to accompany his commander up to Missouri, where he was expected to remain.
On the first of September 1768, Pedro Piernas, now a captain, turned over command of Fort San Luìs de Natchez to Jean Delavillebeuvre, a French officer in the Spanish service, and prepared to leave for his new post at Missouri. Judging from his many letters to the governor over the previous six months, Piernas, who never understood them, doubtlessly was glad to be free of the Acadians, and one would suspect that they were glad to be free of him, too. No matter, during his time as their commandant, he had overseen their labors, addressed their concerns, reported their marriages and deaths, and did what he could to keep them healthy. The Acadians could only hope that their new commander, a fellow Frenchman, might better understand them. They expected no such favor from their Spanish governor.
"Though the exiles accepted hard work and illness as an unpleasant fact of everyday life, they could not brook arbitrary treatment. The forced settlement of the exiles at Natchez created a legacy of bitterness among the colony's entire Acadian population, for Ulloa had clearly subordinated their aspirations for familial reunification to strategic considerations."
Ulloa had lost favor with the French Creoles of New Orleans from the moment he had come to the colony. The Germans had never thought much of him. And now he had alienated the Acadians.Ulloa's confrontation with the Breau clan evidently turned his head against all Acadians in the colony. In March 1768, three days before the Breau party reached Fort San Luìs, 11 Acadians from Opelousas signed a petition addressed to the governor, imploring him to loan them oxen and ploughs. Despite an excellent wheat crop the previous year, they still lacked the wherewithal to bring in their latest crop. "It will be years," the Acadians lamented, addressing themselves in the third person, "... before they can purchase the oxen and ploughs necessary for farming. They will continue to live in a state of misery, and will be unable to contribute in any way to the development of the colony.... They expect, barring unforeseen obstacles which could forestall your generosity, to be able to repay you at the end of the year,"
the petitioners hoped. "They will always be indebted to you for their great happiness. They will thank God for the generosity of their new master, and the generosity of the one who so worthily represents him. They have the honor, Sir, to respectfully remain your most humble and obedient servants." Ulloa's response, written on April 8, could only have angered the Opelousas farmers, who had come to the colony three years before with only the shirts on their backs: "The (Acadian) petitioners must furnish their own farming supplies as well as all things needed for their advancement," the governor decreed. "The king has not customarily furnished or loaned cattle and ploughs to new settlers. His Majesty has already spent more than enough for the settlement of the Acadians in this colony." About the same time, Commandant Judice at
Cabahannocer reported to the governor that "an English scoundrel" named John Haller had robbed an Acadian in his district. The victim and his confrères pursued the Englishman as he tried to escape to the English side of the river and caught him before he could cross Bayou Manchac. No doubt after roughing him up a bit, the Acadians deposited him in the stockade at Fort San Gabriel. They then received permission from the San Gabriel commandant, as well as from Judice, to escort the miscreant down to New Orleans, where he could face justice before the Superior Council. At New Orleans, the Acadians asked the governor to compensate them for their expenses. Ulloa wrote in the margin of Judice's report: "... in the future, the Acadians will furnish the provisions and funds necessary to transport local criminals." Here, states Professor Carl Brasseaux, was "an unprecedented departure from existing practice, in which civilian guards were paid for their services and travel expenses. Ulloa's reaction reveals the governor's increasingly hostile attitude towards the Acadians." In late July, while the family attended church services, the house of Athanase Breau of Cabahannocer burned down, destroying all of the family's possessions. Commandant Judice allowed Breau to go to New Orleans "to beseech you [Ulloa] to furnish him the necessary tools to rebuild, his having been damaged by the fire. I also urge you, Sir, to give him a musket and a three-month supply of food rations," Judice added. Ulloa did not respond to Judice until the middle of September: "I very much regret the fire at a certain Braud's house," he informed the commandant, "but it is impossible to grant his request."
If the Acadians could have read Ulloa's letter to the Spanish Minister of State Grimaldi, dated 6 October 1768, they would have despised him even more. While applauding the withdrawal of British forces from their forts along the east bank of the Mississippi, Ulloa commented: "If they had done this sooner, we could have avoided the expense of those we have established and cannot now abandon because of the settlements which are dependent upon them and must be protected from the attacks they might suffer from the Indians." And then he added: "With regard to the settlements from here to Iberville and Natchez, which naturally will continue to be extended, it may be possible to avoid henceforth the expense of the Acadians and have those who come find some way of supporting themselves with the aid of their own countrymen, or otherwise, without giving them anything more than lands when they ask for them. This would relieve the royal exchequer of quite a heavy expense. They are now of less importance, not only because there are no English to trouble us on the 500 leagues of river between here and Ilinueses [Illinois], but also because there is already a sufficient number of families to multiply the population by means of the opportunities offered them through the commerce which is being established in this province. Consequently it may now be considered as a land tilled and sown, and lacking only water to make it grow, and time for the crop to mature." Looking at the economic depression all about them which Ulloa had made only worse with his mercantilist decrees, the Acadians doubtlessly would have wondered what commercial opportunities the governor was alluding to.388a
The Cabahannocer Acadians already were angry over Ulloa's treatment of their relatives up at Fort San Luìs; his refusal to compensate them for performing their civic duty, or to help a fellow Acadian in distress, or to grant them any more assistance when they needed it, could only alienate them further from the Spanish authority.One suspects that after the spring of 1768 the governor had few friends among the prairie Acadians as well.
By the time of his letter to the Minister of State, relations between Ulloa and the three important elements of Louisiana's population--French Creole, German, and Acadian--had hit rock bottom. The colony's economy was all but wrecked; Louisiana, in fact, was facing "its hardest economic times since the French and Indian War." Early in October, about the time he wrote the letter to Minister Grimaldi, Ulloa issued yet another mercantilist decree in his war against the smuggling trade. This was the last straw. "Opposition leaders met and decided to employ the judicial system, which they controlled, to banish the Spanish governor from the colony." But the French-Creole elite, who made up most of the opposition leadership, could not stage such a dramatic coup d'état without popular support. Employing well-timed rumors, they stirred up feelings against Ulloa among the townspeople of New Orleans. They spread a rumor among the Germans, who had suffered terribly from the lingering economic depression, that "Ulloa, unable to pay for grain purchased from them" to distribute to destitute Acadians, "had renounced his government's financial obligations," which caused a panic up and down the German Coast. And then the propagandists stirred up the Acadians. Already angry with the governor for his refusal to unite many of them with their families and for his callousness towards their continued suffering, "The conspirators spread word among the exiles residing above New Orleans that the Spanish governor planned to disperse them again and sell them into slavery to defray the cost of their establishment in the colony." Amazingly, "Such charges may have been partially true; Ulloa had apparently negotiated with some British authorities who desired to indenture Acadian laborers for eighteen months."
On the evening of October 26, three French-Creole conspirators, led by Jean-Baptiste de Noyan, persuaded dozens of Cabahannocer Acadians to march to New Orleans, where Attorney General Lafrénière and other conspirators were circulating a petition calling for the ouster of the Spanish governor. The Acadians were told to march without their weapons; they would be armed as soon as they reached the city. The pretext for their action stemmed from Acadian fears that the Spanish government was determined to ruin them: they would go to the city to demand that Ulloa redeem 107,517 livres in Canadian paper currency that many of them had been holding for many years and which the French caretaker government had failed to redeem. On the way, they were joined by dozens of frustrated settlers from the German Coast. The large force of "rebels," about 500 in number, reached the western entrance to New Orleans,
the Chapitoulas Gate,on the afternoon of October 28. By then, colonial Commandant Aubry, still supporting Ulloa and his regime, had mobilized the city's garrison of 110 regulars, mostly Frenchmen who had joined the Spanish service but also hated the Spanish governor. One of the conspirators, Pierre Caresse, led the some of the militiamen, probably the Germans, to the home of François Chauvin de Léry, a kinsman of Lafrénière, "where they were supplied muskets and generous drafts of Bordeaux wine." Many of the Acadians may have spent the night at the New Orleans home of Joseph de Goutin de Ville. The following day, October 29, the Superior Council met in special session at 9 A.M. Lafrénière convinced every member of the Council except chief judge Foucault to accept the petition and its hundreds of signatures and to vote not only to banish the Spanish governor "but also every Spaniard residing in the colony."
Ulloa's governorship, such as it was, had come to an inglorious end. He, his wife, and some of the Spanish officials in the city had retreated to the Spanish packet boat Volante, which, for their safety, had anchored in the middle of the river.
The hard-pressed Aubry, with too few loyal troops to stand up to the Acadian, German, and French-Creole militia, had managed to extract a promise from Lafrénière and the other conspirators not to harm the ousted governor. Ulloa and his entourage lingered at Fort San Carlos, near Balize, for several weeks
setting sail for Havana in late November. As a final gesture of defiance, Ulloa left the Volante, under command of Captain José Melchor de Acosta, at Fort San Carlos to remind the conspirators that Spain still wielded at least token power over them. Spanish commissary
Commissary Juan Josef de Loyola, who was ill at the time of the coup d'état, also remained at New Orleans.
Meanwhile, a revolutionary council took control of the colony. When word reached Fort San Luìs de Natchez of these momentous events, the Acadians there, fearing Spanish reprisal, refrained from moving south to Cabahannocer. The prairie Acadians did not participate in Ulloa's ouster, though many of them, especially among the Opelousas settlers, probably were glad to see it. The Breau brothers came out of hiding. Alexis returned to his recently-purchased farm at
Cabahannocer, and Honoré settled there, too. Soon after Ulloa's departure, Honoré went to New Orleans to testify before the revolutionary council, which was holding an inquiry "Relating to
the Harassment Inflicted by Antonio de Ulloa, Self-styled Governor of Louisiana." The younger Breau brother spared no opportunity to traduce Ulloa. Despite a number of exaggerations--such as his claim that, among the Fort San Luìs Acadians, "Almost half of them died"--Honoré painted a vivid picture of Acadian frustration at the hands of another official who had treated them poorly.
Probably unaware of the chaos in the Mississippi valley colony, a small contingent of Acadians still living at Port Tobacco, Maryland, hired an English merchant vessel to take them to Louisiana. The oldest Acadian head of family, at age 52, was Étienne Rivet, a widower from Ste.-Famille, Pigiguit, who had four sons in his household, ages 21 to 14, and had been counted by Maryland officials at Upper Marlborough in July 1763. Étienne's sister Claire had gone to Louisiana in 1767, and five of his Rivet relations had accompanied the Breaus to Louisiana in early 1768. Evidently, Étienne, having failed to join either of the earlier parties, had made his way to Port Tobacco to join the few Acadians still lingering there.
The leader of the remaining Acadians at Port Tobacco was Honoré Trahan of Pigiguit, age 43, who was kin to all of the other members of the party. His sister Anne, age 38, widow of Jean-Baptiste Benoit, was married to 39-year-old Louis Latier, who had served at the French fortress of Louisbourg; with Louis and Anne were three Benoit children from her first marriage, ages 22, 15, and 9, and three of her children by Louis, ages 7, 6, and 4. Honoré's daughter Marie, age 22, had recently married Frenchman Antoine Bellard of Picardy in Maryland; with them was a 2-year-old son. Also in the party were five children of Honoré's sister, Marguerite, wife of Jean-Baptiste Lejeune of Pigiguit; Marguerite and Jean-Baptiste had died during Le Grand Dérangement, so the Lejeune orphans, ages 20, 18, 16, 14, and 13, were in the care of their maternal uncle and his wife, Marie Corporon, age 50. Honoré and Marie's son Pierre, age 18, was still living with his parents. Another related family was that of Pierre-Olivier, called Olivier, Benoit, age 40. Olivier was a brother of Anne Trahan's first husband, Jean-Baptiste. With Olivier was his second wife, Marie-Geneviève Brasseur, age 45, and three of their children, ages 10, 8 and 6.
Honoré and his family, like many Maryland Acadians, were natives of Pigiguit, but they, along with their Benoit and Lejeune kin, had not been exiled to the Chesapeake colony in the autumn of 1755. They had moved from Pigiguit to Baie des Espagnols on Île Royale during the late 1740s or early 1750s, and then to Mirliguèche, on the Atlantic side of the Nova Scotia peninsula, by 1754. When the British rounded up the Acadians in Nova Scotia in 1755, Honoré and his kin were among the first Acadians held at Georges Island in Halifax harbor. The British deported them, along with other Acadians from
Mirliguèche,to North Carolina in December 1755, and they landed probably at Edenton on Albemarle Sound. In c1760, North Carolina officials allowed them to leave. Most of their relatives moved to Philadelphia. Honoré and his family, including the Lejeune orphans, moved to Maryland instead, where they were counted at Port Tobacco in July 1763. Soon afterwards, relatives who had gone to Pennsylvania joined them at Port Tobacco. Two families of them--the Boutins and the Guédrys--emigrated from Maryland to Louisiana in 1767 and 1768. It now was time for Honoré Trahan and his family, as well as the Rivets, to join their kin on the lower Mississippi.
The Acadians, only 29 in number, including Honoré Trahan's French-born son-in-law, chartered the English schooner Britannia, John Steel, master, at Port Tobacco, probably in late December 1768, but they were not the only passengers aboard the vessel. Also on the Britannia's passenger list were 51 German Catholics, a French-Canadian couple, 7 "bachelors," and 12 "Britishers"--101 passengers in all. Evidently these Germans, Frenchmen, and French Canadians were as eager to escape the British colony as were the few Acadians still living there. Heads of the eight German families were Nicolas Marcoff, age 62; Nicolas Ory, age 66; Joseph Basbler, age 50; Adam La Maur, age 50; Jacob Miller, age 30; André Reser, age 39; Philip Pigleal, age 30; and widow Catharine Ausuber, age 40. The French-Canadian couple were Pierre Primeau, age 25, and Susanne Plante, age 20. Among the "bachelors" was André Meche, age 25.
The Britannia left Port Tobacco on 5 January 1769, worked its way carefully down the widening Potomac, rounded Smith Point into lower Chesapeake Bay, and, after clearing the Virginia capes, headed south along the Atlantic coast to the Straits of Florida. After clearing the Florida keys and entering the Gulf of Mexico, the schooner made straight for the mouth of the Mississippi. On February 21, after six weeks at sea, "we sighted the coast of Louisiana," Captain Steel recalled, but as they neared the end of their long ordeal at sea, Mother Nature conspired to ruin their voyage: " ... due to easterly winds and continuous fog," the captain insisted, "we were driven some eighty leagues south and then to the west of the Mississippi," deep into the center of the Gulf of Mexico. "Finding ourselves without food and water, we were obliged to put in at a small bay"--the Bahía del Espiritu Santo, where La Salle and his hapless colonists had landed 84 years before! Nearby was the presidio Nuestra Senora de la Loreto de la Bahía at present-day Goliad, commanded by Captain Don Francisco Thobar. Captain Steel and his passengers came ashore the first week of April. Evidently alerted by local Indians, Captain Thobar and a small force of Spaniards from the presidio accosted the stranded seafarers. "From him we requested a passport and food to get to New Orleans, both of which he refused us," Captain Steel recalled, "(despite the fact that a clergyman who was there, and our supercargo offered him any security he wanted)." Evidently the Spaniard suspected that the ship's officers, crew, and strange mix of passengers were smugglers or even spies. Or perhaps he saw an opportunity to enrich himself. On April 8, Thobar "seized our schooner, with all its sails, tackle, equipment, passengers, crew, and merchandise, and took everything (except the schooner) with him to a fort thirty leagues inland," Captain Steel lamented. "There he obliged the crew and passengers to work until the 21st of May, when he ordered the captain and pilot placed in stocks, keeping them so twenty-four days on half rations, until an order arrived from the governor of that province to set them at liberty." Thobar ignored the order and forced the passengers and crew to work at local haciendas to pay for their upkeep. Meanwhile, the schooner was left on the shore of Espiritu Santo Bay, a victim of the weather and the local Indians, who removed everything of value that the Spaniards had not already taken.
Finally, on September 11, after the Acadians and Germans had been held captive at the presidio for five long months, another Spanish officer, Don Rafael Martínez Pacheco, "commandant of Fort Cokesaw [Calcasieu?]," arrived at
Bahía with orders from his new superior, General Alejandro O'Reilly.Don Rafael
escort the wayward families to Spanish Louisiana, where they could finally complete their journey.
Things had changed dramatically in Louisiana since the Britannia had left Port Tobacco the previous January. Many colonists labored under the illusion that France would soon reassert its power in the colony. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The revolutionary council sent letters to France
hoping to enlist the aid of former governor Bienville, who had strenuously opposed the Spanish cession from the moment he had heard of it; unfortunately for the conspirators, Bienville had died the year before, at age 87. The conspirators also hoped that Louis XV would approve their actions against Ulloa, but he never did. In Louisiana, the final, frail thread of French control in the colony, acting governor Aubry, refused to cooperate in any way with the revolutionary council. T
he conspirators were on their own. Attorney General Lafrénière and his hand-picked Superior Council attempted to restore the colonial economy, but their efforts failed. France had not sent funds to Aubry for a number of years, and Spanish commissary Loyola, who had remained at New Orleans, refused to cooperate with the new "government." The revolutionary council's only success during the few months in which it held power was to pressure Captain de Acosta to sail the Volante to Havana by a late-March deadline. By then, Ulloa was on his way to Spain to report to the Spanish Court what had happened in Louisiana.
In April 1769, King Carlos III appointed Alejandro O'Reilly, a refugee from British oppression in his native Ireland and one of Spain's most distinguished soldiers, as governor and captain-general of Spanish Louisiana, with the mission of restoring Spanish control there.398
As an Irish mercenary, O'Reilly had fought in Italy against the Austrians during the war of the 1740s and in the Spanish invasion of Portugal in 1762. He soon rose to the rank of brigadier general in the regular Spanish army. In 1763, he was part of the Spanish contingent that secured Havana from the British, who had captured the city in 1762. Analyzing the successful British siege, O'Reilly reorganized and strengthened the Havana defenses. In 1765, King Carlos III sent him to Puerto Rico to rebuild the defenses there. Back in Havana, O'Reilly married into a prominent Spanish family; his bride was a sister of the Cuban governor. When Ulloa reached Havana in December 1768 and reported on the coup d'état of the previous October, O'Reilly was in Spain, but he hurried back to Havana to fulfill the King's commission.399
O'Reilly reached Balize from Havana on 20 July 1769. With him was a flotilla of 24 vessels carrying nearly 3,000 soldiers and sailors. He remained at Fort San Carlos and sent his aide-de-camp, Francisco Bouligny, to summon colonial leaders to the downriver post. Among the Frenchmen who reported to Fort San Carlos were Attorney General Lafrénière, still the leader of the revolutionary faction, Joseph Milhet and Pierre Marquis, prominent conspirators, and a representative of French colonial commandant Aubry, who had not wavered in his support of Ulloa's regime. Meanwhile, O'Reilly
consulted with Spanish officers and officials who had remained in the colony. This testimony, along with Ulloa's detailed reports, gave the captain-general a clear picture of who was responsible for the October coup d'état. He requested that Lafrénière address the inhabitants of New Orleans in hopes of avoiding bloodshed. Lafrénière, seeing the overwhelming might of O'Reilly's force, returned to the city and beseeched Louisianians not to resist the Spaniards. When the Germans heard of the Spaniard's arrival, they were determined to resist. Some of the Acadians at Cabahannocer,
aware of their part in the ousting of Ulloa and the penalty for treason, evidently joined the Germans in contemplating resistance
mid-August, O'Reilly and his Spanish troops had made their way up to the city. On August 18, in an impressive public ceremony, probably at the place d'arms, O'Reilly took formal possession of Louisiana from acting governor Aubry, something Ulloa had never bothered to do during his year and a half in the colony. O'Reilly's next task was just as important in establishing Spanish control of the colony. He summoned Aubry and requested a list of the Louisianians who had written, printed, and distributed the Superior Council's decree which had ordered Ulloa's expulsion. Aubry, who had stood virtually alone among French officials in supporting the Spaniard, "readily complied, implicating many members of the conspiracy to oust Ulloa. Relying on Aubry's allegations, O'Reilly summoned Lafrénière and twelve other French Louisianians to his residence under various pretexts. Once the colonists had gathered, the Spanish governor had each accused of treason, arrested, and incarcerated." Foucault, who had opposed Ulloa's policies, was not among the accused; Aubry, though he still considered Foucault to be his bitter enemy, could not find enough evidence against the former ordonnateur to justify his arrest. Aubry did take the opportunity, however, to traduce Foucault to O'Reilly. The captain-general's inquiries kept pointing to Foucault as a leader in the opposition against Ulloa, but he had no jurisdiction over high officials commissioned by the French government. O'Reilly, instead, turned Foucault over to Aubry, who promptly placed him under house arrest. Still convinced that Foucault was guilty, O'Reilly authorized Aubry in September and early October to subject the former ordonnateur to intense interrogation. Again, the two officials could find no hard evidence to implicate Foucault in Ulloa's ouster. O'Reilly ordered Foucault's property in the colony to be confiscated and sold and then ordered the former ordonnateur to be deported to France, where he would stand trial for his part in the conspiracy against Ulloa. Foucault, guarded by a French officer, boarded a ship bound for La Rochelle on October 14. Meanwhile, O'Reilly turned to the other conspirators, who suffered a very different fate.
In late August, soon after taking formal possession of Louisiana, O'Reilly appointed a Spanish tribunal to pass judgment on Lafrénière and the other conspirators. All were found guilty. Lafrénière, Pierre Caresse, Pierre Marquis, and Joseph Milhet were sentenced to death on October 24 and executed by firing squad the following day. The remaining conspirators were sentenced to long prison terms--Joseph Petit was given life, Bathasar Mazan and Julien-Jérôme Doucet, 10 years, and Jean Milhet, Pierre Poupet, and Pierre Hardy de Boisblanc, six years, all to be spent at Morro Castle in Havana. Meanwhile, to the great relief of the Cabahannocer Acadians, O'Reilly granted amnesty to all the colony's inhabitants except those who had been sentenced by his military tribunal.
While the convicted conspirators awaited their fate, the Acadians and Germans in coastal Texas began their 420-mile trek from La Bahìa to Natchitoches. They reached the Red River post on October 24, the day the New Orleans conspirators were sentenced to death. The Germans and the ship's officers and crew were escorted to New Orleans, which they reached by water on November 9. The Germans picked up tools and supplies in the city, and most of them were taken up to Fort San Gabriel to become a part of the militia defense there. The exception was the family of Jacob Miller; they lingered on the Upper German Coast before moving on to the Opelousas prairies. Meanwhile, the commandant at Natchitoches, Athanase de Mézières, attempted to hang on to the Acadians from Maryland because of their familiarity with grain production. Despite kind treatment by the residents of the Red River post, Honoré Trahan and most of his relations refused to remain there. Natchitoches, like Fort San Luìs, was just too far away from their kinsmen, and the Acadians were determined to live among their own kind. They left Natchitoches probably without permission and settled closer to their relatives. Honoré took his wife and son, as well as most the Lejeune orphans, eventually to the Opelousas District. Honoré's sister Marie and her husband Antoine Bellard followed, as did the French-Canadian couple,
Pierre Primeau and Susanne Plante. The Rivets settled on the west bank of the river at San Gabriel, where relatives from Fort San Luìs soon joined them. The Benoits also went to San Gabriel, where they, too, were reunited with relatives from Fort San Luìs.402a
Meanwhile, the Acadians at Fort San Luìs wondered what would become of them. On October 18, the leaders of the Breau party sent a letter to Governor O'Reilly repeating the complaint that they were "continuously exposed to assassination" at the hands of local Indians. Revealing their true motive, they begged permission from the new governor to join their relatives at San Gabriel and Cabahannocer.
San Luìs commandant Jean Delavillebeuvre and the post's engineer, Guy Dufossat, both French, included an addendum to the Acadians' letter verifying the post's vulnerability. After receiving the missive from the San Luìs Acadians, O'Reilly asked Delavillebeuvre, Dufossat, and the trusted Aubry for their opinions on the larger issue of maintaining the isolated post. "All agreed upon the uselessness of the post and the justice of the request of the inhabitants," O'Reilly reported on 29 December 1769. Having decided to abandon the fort, O'Reilly granted permission to the San Luìs Acadians "to select lands 'twenty to thirty leagues ... above the capital,'" that is, along the Acadian and German coast, where they had hoped to settle all along. Their 21-month exile at Natchez was over. As soon as they could manage it, members of the Breau party moved down to Cabahannocer, to San Gabriel, and to the stretch of river above and below the Fork, where a new district, La Fourche de Chemitmachas, under Louis Judice, had just been created, and at least two members of the party moved on to the western prairies. This, combined with O'Reilly's decision to release the party being held in Texas, "wedded" the Acadians "to the Spanish regime."
Not all of the new governor's decisions, however, were applauded by the colony's Acadians. In early 1770, O'Reilly decreed that all settlers along the river were required by law to maintain levees and roads under penalty of losing their land grants; this affected the hundreds of Acadians living on the river. O'Reilly decreed that the Recopilación de las leyes de lost reynos de las Indias, not the coutume de Paris, would be the colony's basic law code, and also declared that Spanish would be the official language of the province. As Ulloa had done, O'Reilly decreed that Louisianians could engage in commerce only with Spain and its possessions; the enforcement of this policy would hurt the river Acadians who, taking a nod from their ancestors, had established a flourishing smuggling trade with British merchants in West Florida. O'Reilly abolished the trade in Indian slaves, in which a few river Acadians may have engaged. As a price for universal amnesty, O'Reilly imposed an oath of allegiance to Spain on all Louisiana colonists. After re-evaluating the colony's sad state of defense, hecreated militia units for each of Louisiana's administrative districts. All able-bodied males between the ages of 16 and 50 were required to serve in these companies, and future Spanish land grants would be based on militia service. Many of these decrees reminded the older Acadians of similar treatment at the hands of British governors back in Old Acadia.
"Bloody O'Reilly," as later Louisiana historians would call him, returned to Havana in early 1770, taking most of his Spanish soldiers with him. In his place, he leftLuis de Unzaga y Amezaga
, a Spanish army colonel, as acting governor; Unzaga served in that capacity for two years and then as governor until 1777. Under the restored Spanish regime, there would be no more Superior Council dominated by French Creoles; O'Reilly had replaced that troublesome institution with a typical Spanish cabildo. Unfortunately for the Acadians, O'Reilly had seen fit to appoint French Creoles and retired French army officers to command the newly-created districts--men who, with few exceptions, looked down their noses at the Acadian "peasants." The aging Karl Freidrich Darensbourg was gone from the German Coast; one of the conspirators was the husband of one of his granddaughters, and the old commandant had figured too largely in the anti-Ulloa faction. François Simard de Bellisle would command the Lower German Coast, also called St.-Charles, after the church there, and Robert Robin de Launay would command the Upper German Coast, also called St.-Jean-Baptiste after its church. Cabahannocer, also called St.-Jacques after its church, would remain under Nicolas Verret, who had not participated in the anti-Ulloa movement. His brother-in-law Louis Judice, who also had supported Ulloa, would command the new district of Lafourche de Chitimachas, also called Ascension, just above St.-Jacques. Louis Dutisné would command at St.-Gabriel, lying just above Ascension. Jean-François Allain, fils, a Frenchman from Touraine, not an Acadian, would command at Pointe Coupée, where Acadians would be discouraged from settling.
Gabriel Fuselier de La Claire, a wealthy Creole land owner at Attakapas, would command the prairie districts of Attakapas and Opelousas; the two-year elections of prairie commandants was a thing of the past, as was the chance of an Acadian commanding at Attakapas despite their significant numbers there. The militia officers appointed by O'Reilly also reflected a French-Creole bias: not a single Acadian held the rank of captain, lieutenant, or sub-lieutenant in any of the Acadian companies. They served as sergeants, corporals, and privates, but not as officers, at least for now. Interestingly, not a single German surname appeared among the militia officers of either of the German settlements. O'Reilly had been aware of German and Acadian participation in the rebellion against Ulloa, but had French Creoles\not led the rebellion? Were not all of the rebel leaders O'Reilly had executed members of the Creole elite? And yet here they were, still lords of Louisiana, still the dominant element in every corner of the colony.
if they chose to remain in Louisiana,
the weary exiles must endure the elites there, both Spanish and French Creole
. They would obey the new governor and their new commandants as long as these leaders respected their rights. The daily struggle of feeding their families still absorbed their greater attention, and some still needed government assistance. Though many of them had lived in this New Acadia for nearly half a dozen years now, they still had little to show for it, but that, God willing, would change.
La Nouvelle-Acadie: The Acadians
Come Into Their Own
in Spanish Louisiana, 1770-1785
Except for a few who may have drifted in from the French West Indies during the 1770s, the Acadians aboard the Britannia were the last of their countrymen to come to Louisiana for 16 years. From February 1764, when the first of them arrived, to October 1769, when the Acadians from the Britannia completed their overland trek to Natchitoches, 1,300 Acadians had come to Louisiana--21 from Georgia, nearly 600 from Halifax, a like number from Maryland, and
a dozen or two from the Caribbean basin, mostly St.-Domingue. The majority had settled on the river above New Orleans, first at Cabahannocer and then at forts San Gabriel and San Luìs de Natchez. When O'Reilly released the San Luìs Acadians from their ordeal at Natchez, the great majority of them moved to what was being called the Acadian Coast--Cabahannocer, Ascension, and St.-Gabriel; only a few settled elsewhere. Hundreds of Acadians also had settled in the prairie districts, first at Attakapas and then at Opelousas. With few, if any, exceptions, when these Acadians reached New Orleans with their extended families (only a small minority came as individuals) it had been many years since they had enjoyed any sort of material comfort, so devastating was Le Grand Dérangement to their way of life. The families from Chignecto had suffered the longest--some had been driven from their homes east of Rivière Missaguash as early as the autumn of 1750. In Louisiana, many Chignecto Acadians could be found in the river settlements, but most had followed the Broussards to Bayou Teche. Many Acadians in Louisiana had lived in the Annapolis valley, from whence they had escaped in the autumn of 1755. They could be found in roughly equal numbers along the river and out on the prairies. In the decades before Le Grand Dérangement, a relatively small number of Acadians had settled away from the Fundy shore along the upper reaches of Rivière St.-Jean, but a surprising number of them had come to Louisiana from the prison compound at Halifax. Most could be found at Cabahannocer, but a few had followed the Broussards. As they had been the largest segment of the Acadian population before Le Grand Dérangement, the Acadians of the Minas Basin, including Pigiguit, made up the majority of the Acadians who had come to Louisiana. Since most of them had come from exile in Maryland, they could be found in large numbers on the Acadian Coast, though a few Minas Acadians could be found on the prairies. If one looked hard enough, one could find Acadians in Louisiana from Mirliguèche and even Cap-Sable, from Cobeguit, and even from the Maritime islands of Île St.-Jean and Île Royale. Contrary to myth, the Acadians who had come to Louisiana before 1770 represented a minority of those who still could be found in the Acadian Diaspora. More were living in France, even more on the St. Lawrence, and there may have been more of them still in St.-Domingue than in the lower Mississippi valley.
With few exceptions, the Acadians of Louisiana were farmers. For generations, they had lived in an Eden of their own making along the Bay of Fundy shore. Their homesteads had been farms, not sprawling plantations. No cash crop could grow in the rich soil they had created with their long rows of dykes and their clever aboiteaux; the long, hard winters made certain of that. They were grain farmers, orchardmen, cattlemen, traders. Only a handful of elites, seigneurs generally, owned more land than the typical among them. No slave worked their fields, pruned their fruit trees, tended their cattle, stored, prepared, and cooked their food; they themselves, their wives, their children, their many kinsmen, performed those essential daily tasks. Their immediate families were large, their children healthy, but they did not think of family in such limited terms. Their families were extended and usually near--aging parents, married siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins by the score, most within sight or only a short trip away. Infectious diseases were rare in their world, tropical fevers unknown to them. Every man and woman among them could handle a canoe. Some of them fished as much as they farmed. They were crack shots and skilled hunters--typical frontiersmen. High snows did not stop them from traveling in winter; the Mi'kmaq had taught them long ago how to make and use their clever wooden snow shoes. They lived peacefully with the Mi'kmaq until imperial politics intervened during their final years in old Acadia. Some of them shared blood, and they all shared faith, and the Mi'kmaq were not happy to see them go. Most of the Acadians took their most precious possession, their families, into exile, but their land, their farms, they could not take with them, and now New Englanders and British immigrants, some of them former redcoats, had built houses and barns upon the ashes of their old homesteads. Land is what they needed in this New Acadia. But getting land here was one thing, keeping it another.
The Attakapas Acadians were the first to secure land in the face of opposition. No sooner had they reached the lower Teche than French Creoles living near the Poste des Attakapas accused them of trespassing. Their first struggle was with large land holder Jean-Baptiste Grevemberg, who claimed a huge expanse of prairie between the west bank of the Teche near Fausse Pointe all the way to the east bank of the lower Vermilion. He considered the Broussards to be interlopers on his concession and beseeched the French authorities in New Orleans to recognize his claim. Lieutenant Andry had settled the Broussards on the east side of the Teche, across from Grevemberg's property, and, insisted acting governor Aubry, there they would remain. Grevemberg later sold the Acadians some of his cattle, but they did not forget the slight. When an epidemic struck the Teche Acadians during their first summer in the colony, some of them crossed the Teche to an area they called the Côte Gelée, north of Grevemberg's vacherie. Others, especially from La Pointe, crossed the Teche to the west bank of Bayou Tortue, where they settled a few miles northeast of Côte Gelée and directly across from Jean-Antoine-Bernard Dauterive's new concession on Prairie Vermilion, which lay between the Teche and Bayou Tortue. The large concession held by Gabriel Fuselier de La Claire along the west bank of the Teche above La Pointe limited resettlement northward towards Opelousas.
Despite these restrictions, the Attakapas Acadians, after years of struggle, managed to rise above their pitiful beginnings. In 1771, Charles Babineaux, age 48, living on the upper Teche, held 12 arpents without title but owned 5 horses and 15 head of cattle; three years later, his widow, Anne Guilbeau, owned 40 pigs, 10 horses and mules, and 33 head of cattle; in 1777, she owned 20 hogs, 7 horses, and 40 head of cattle. In 1771, Michel Bernard, age 37, also held 12 arpents without title but owned 7 horses and 16 head of cattle; three years later, he owned 40 pigs, 10 horses and mules, and 47 head of cattle. Firmin Breaux, only 22 in 1771, had moved to Cabahannocer in the late 1760s, married a Breaux cousin from Pigiguit, purchased land at La Grand Pointe on Bayou Teche from a French-Creole concessionaire, and was counted at La Pointe in 1777, when he owned 11 hogs, 9 horses, and 40 head of cattle. Michel-Laurent Doucet, age 49 in 1771, held 12 arpents without title but owned 11 horses and 25 head of cattle that year; three years later, he owned 18 pigs, 11 horses and mules, and 30 head of cattle; in 1777, he owned 50 hogs, 15 horses, and 40 head of cattle. Son Joseph dit Hilaire, age 22 in 1774, owned 6 pigs, 4 horses and mules, and 23 head of cattle; in 1777, he owned 30 hogs, 10 horses, and 40 head of cattle. Charles dit Charlitte Dugas, age 34, in 1771, held 12 arpents without title but owned 6 horses and 25 head of cattle; three years later, he owned 15 pigs, 14 horses and mules, and 40 head of cattle; in 1777, he owned 25 hogs, 10 horses, and 40 head of cattle. Younger brother Jean, who had fled to Cabahannocer in 1765, returned to Attakapas probably in the late 1760s; he was 30 years old in 1771, when he held 12 arpents without title but owned 4 horses and 14 head of cattle; three years later, he owned 25 pigs, 5 horses and mules, and 20 head of cattle; in 1777, he owned 28 hogs, 8 horses, and 30 head of cattle. Brother Pierre, who was 25 years old in 1774 and recently married, owned 8 pigs, 3 horses and mules, and 15 head of cattle that year; in 1777, he owned 15 hogs, 9 horses, and 50 head of cattle. Madeleine Michel, age 62 in 1774 and widow of Joseph dit L'Officier Guilbeau, owned 10 pigs, 2 horses and mules, and 10 head of cattle; in 1777, she owned 9 sheep, 10 hogs, 4 horses, and 18 head of cattle. Son François, age 22 and still a bachelor in 1771, held 12 arpents without title that year but owned an undetermined number of horses and 12 head of cattle; three years later, newly married, he owned 12 pigs, 5 horses and mules, and 25 head of cattle; in 1777, he owned 20 hogs, 6 horses, and 40 head of cattle. Jean-Baptiste dit Cobit Hébert, age 35 in 1771, held 12 arpents without title but owned 6 horses and 75 head of cattle; three years later, he owned 5 pigs, 5 horses and mules, and 30 head of cattle; in 1777, he owned 5 hogs, 6 horses, and 30 head of cattle. Joseph-Pepin Hébert, age 29 in 1777, owned 10 hogs, 4 horses, and 30 head of cattle that year. Simon LeBlanc, age 35 in 1771, held 12 arpents without title but owned 5 horses and 17 head of cattle; three years later, he owned 40 pigs, 8 horses and mules, and 30 head of cattle. Younger brother René dit Petit René, age 27 in 1777, owned 11 hogs, 7 horses, and 30 head of cattle that year. Claude Martin, age 35 and newly married in 1771, held 12 arpents without title but owned 6 horses and 15 head of cattle; three years later, he owned 30 pigs, 9 horses and mules, and 60 head of cattle; in 1777, he owned 50 hogs, 14 horses, 75 head of cattle, and 2 slaves. Younger brother Bonaventure, age 35 and still a bachelor in 1777, owned no hogs, 15 horses, and 38 head of cattle. Cousin Joseph Martin, age 34 and newly married in 1771, held 12 arpents without title but owned 7 horses, 10 or 20 head of cattle, and 1 slave; three years later, he owned 50 pigs, 10 horses and mules, 60 head of cattle, and 1 slave; in 1777, he owned 60 hogs, 7 horses, 60 head of cattle, and 2 slaves. Grégoire Pellerin, age 47 in 1771, held 12 arpents without title but owned 10 sheep, 4 horses, and 25 head of cattle; three years later, not long before his death, he owned no sheep, 8 pigs, 10 horses and mules, and 50 head of cattle; in 1777, his widow, Cécile Prejean, age 45, owned 25 sheep, 20 hogs, 15 horses, 100 head of cattle, and 3 slaves with one soon to be born. Jean-Baptiste Semere, the letter writer, age 23 in 1771, held 12 arpents without title but owned 6 horses and 29 head of cattle; three years later, he owned 8 pigs, 5 horses and mules, and 36 head of cattle; in 1777, he owned 2 hogs, 7 horses, 60 head of cattle, and a slave. Paul Thibodeaux, age 43 in 1771, held 12 arpents without title but owned a horse and 19 head of cattle; three years later, he owned 30 pigs, 7 horses and mules, and 30 head of cattle; in 1777, he owned 40 hogs, 10 horses, and 40 head of cattle. Olivier Thibodeaux, age 38 in 1771, held 12 arpents without title but owned 2 horses and 10 head of cattle; three years later, he owned 50 pigs, 12 horses and mules, and 50 head of cattle; in 1777, he owned 80 hogs, 22 horses, and 120 head of cattle. Younger brother Amand, age 37 in 1771, held 12 arpents without title but owned 2 horses and 10 head of cattle; three years later, he owned 20 pigs, 5 horses and mules, and 26 head of cattle; in 1777, he owned 30 hogs, 6 horses, and 50 head of cattle. Jean-Anselme, called Anselme, Thibodeaux, age 27 and still a bachelor in 1777, owned 9 horses and 36 head of cattle. Jean Trahan, age 52 and a widower in 1771, held 12 arpents without title but owned 9 horses and 18 head of cattle; three years later, he owned 4 horses and mules and 15 head of cattle; in 1777, he owned 30 hogs, 13 horses, and 40 head of cattle. Younger brother Michel, age 45 in 1771, held 12 arpents without title but owned 6 horses and 15 head of cattle; three years later, he owned 12 pigs, 5 horses and mules, and 40 head of cattle; in 1777, he owned 30 hogs, 6 horses, and 40 head of cattle. Cousin and former co-commandant René Trahan, age 42 in 1771, held 12 arpents without title but owned 4 sheep, 20 horses, and 60 head of cattle; three years later, he owned no sheep, 25 pigs, 13 horses and mules, and 68 head of cattle; in 1777, he owned 26 hogs, 25 horses, and 100 head of cattle. Paul Trahan, age 22 in 1774, owned 2 pigs, 5 horses and mules, and 8 head of cattle; three years later, he owned 12 hogs, 3 horses, and 12 head of cattle.
The Broussard dit Beausoleils, as expected, also became successful cattlemen. Jean-Grégoire dit Petit-Jos, a son of Joseph dit Beausoleil, age 44 in 1771, held 12 arpents without title that year but owned 4 sheep, 10 horses, and 45 head of cattle; three years later, he owned no sheep, 15 pigs, 8 horses and mules, and 80 head of cattle; in 1777, his holdings had increased to an impressive 20 hogs, 20 horses, 100 head of cattle, and 3 slaves. His son René, age 24 in 1777 and recently married, owned 15 hogs, 7 horses, and 50 head of cattle that year. Petit-Jos's brother François, age 25 in 1771 and newly married, held 12 arpents without title but owned 7 horses and 28 head of cattle; three years later, he owned 10 pigs, 6 horses and mules, and 36 cattle; in 1777, he owned 5 hogs, 9 horses, and 79 head of cattle. Brother Claude, married in c1772, owned 20 pigs, 10 horses or mules, and 25 head of cattle in 1774, when he was only 26; three years later, he owned 12 hogs, 10 horses, and 50 head of cattle. Brother Amand, only 24 but already a widower in 1774, owned 8 horses and mules and 45 head of cattle that year; in 1777, he owned 6 sheep, 4 hogs, 20 horses, and 100 head of cattle. Jean-Baptiste, age 40 in 1771, the oldest surviving son of Alexandre dit Beausoleil, held 12 arpents of land without title; three years later, he owned 30 pigs, 12 horses and mules, and 40 head of cattle; in 1777, he owned 6 sheep, 40 hogs, 14 horses, and 60 head of cattle. Son Mathurin, age 27 and still a bachelor in 1777, owned 29 horses and 65 head of cattle that year. Jean-Baptiste's younger brother Sylvain, age 30 in 1771, held 12 arpents without title but owned 4 sheep, 9 horses, and 15 head of cattle that year; in 1774, he owned 25 pigs, 7 horses and mules, and 57 head of cattle; three years later, he owned 20 hogs, 10 horses, and 79 head of cattle. Younger brother Simon, age 27 in 1771, held 12 arpents without title but owned 8 horses and 16 head of cattle; in 1774, he owned 20 pigs, 9 horses and mules, and 49 head of cattle; three years later, he owned 20 hogs, 10 horses, and 50 head of cattle. Younger brother Pierre, age 27 and newly married in 1777, owned 6 hogs, 30 horses, and 100 head of cattle.
Alexandre dit Beausoleil's eldest grandson,
Joseph le jeune, age 23 and newly married
, owned 9 hogs, 10 horses, and 23 head of cattle that year.
Even late comers to Attakapas were doing well by the end of Unzaga's governorship: In 1777, Victor Blanchard, age 25, who came to the colony in 1765 and moved from the river to Attakapas by the mid 1770s, owned 6 hogs, 5 horses, and 8 head of cattle. Augustin Broussard, age 29, who came to the colony in 1766 and moved from the Ascension to Attakapas during the early 1770s, owned 4 hogs, 8 horses, and 7 head of cattle. Jean-Baptiste Cormier, fils, age 35, who came to the colony in February 1765 but probably remained at Cabahannocer with his parents and sisters before moving to Attakapas during the early 1770s, owned a horse and a slave. Charles Duhon, age 43, who came to the colony in 1765 and moved from the river to Attakapas in the 1770s, owned 6 hogs, 5 horses, and 35 head of cattle. Younger brother Claude-Amable, age 41, owned 6 hogs, 4 horses, and 20 head of cattle. Claire Robichaux, age 64, widow of Jean-Baptiste dit Manuel Hébert, who came to the colony in 1765 and moved from the river to Attakapas during the early 1770s, owned a horse and 4 head of cattle. Son Joseph dit Pepin Hébert, age 38, owned 12 hogs, 6 horses, and 20 head of cattle. Jean-Charles Hébert, age 26, who had come to the colony in 1765 and moved from the river to Attakapas in c1770, owned 16 hogs, 4 horses, and 30 head of cattle. Jean-Baptiste, called Baptiste, Labauve, age 27, who came to the colony in 1765 and moved from the river to Attakapas probably in the late 1760s, owned 15 hogs, 6 horses, and 30 head of cattle. Basile Landry, age 50, who came to the colony with the Breaus in 1768 and moved to Attakapas during the 1770s, owned 10 hogs, a horse, and 6 head of cattle. Firmin Landry, age 49, who came to the colony in 1766 and moved from St.-Jacques to Attakapas during the 1760s or the early 1770s, owned 10 sheep, 13 hogs, 16 horses, and 35 head of cattle. Amand-Pierre Landry, age 31, who came to the colony in 1766 and moved to Attakapas in the early 1770s, owned 14 hogs, 6 horses, and 18 head of cattle. Joseph Landry, age 22 and a bachelor, owned 9 horses and 4 head of cattle. Marie-Josèphe Breaux, age 46, widow of Paul-Honoré Melançon and wife of François Moreau, who was not an Acadian, came to the colony in 1765 and moved from the river to Attakapas on the eve of the census, owned 8 hogs, 4 horses, and a head of cattle. Jean dit Neveu Mouton, age 30, who came to the colony in 1765 and moved from the river to Attakapas during the late 1760s or early 1770s, owned 3 horses, 5 head of cattle, and 3 slaves. Amand Prejean, age 53, who had come to the colony in 1765 and moved from the river to Attakapas during the early 1770s, owned 7 horses and 30 head of cattle. François-Joseph Savoie, age 47, who came to the colony in 1765, moved to Attakapas in the late 1760s, returned to St.-Jacques on the river in the early 1770s, was counted there in January 1777, and returned to Attakapas just before the census there, owned 3 horses, 4 head of cattle, and a slave.411a
As the early 1770s census figures re
veal, many Attakapas cattlemen also raised hogs in substantial numbers. Their pigs were butchered for home consumption, of course, but the numbers of these animals hint that, by the end of the decade, Attakapas Acadians were producing pork for the colonial market as well.
By any measure of success, including the production of large, healthy families, the descendants of the old resistance fighters, their relatives, and associates, created a thriving New Acadia on the Attakapas prairies.
The Opelousas Acadians also had to struggle to keep their land. In the summer of 1765, Jacques Courtableau, the largest landowner in the Opelousas District, had granted them refuge at Prairie des Coteaux after they had fled the epidemic on the lower Teche. Governor Ulloa had found them still living on Prairie des Coteaux when he toured the colony's lower settlements the following spring. Both Ulloa and Aubry had given them "verbal assurance that they 'would never be troubled in the possession of their properties.'" The Acadians spent the following years improving their prairie holdings, though, in the spring of 1768, they were forced to beg Ulloa for the loan of oxen and ploughs to bring in their latest crop of wheat. That same year, Jacques Courtableau acquired the land grant of the recently-ousted Louis Pellerin, "whose vague boundaries overlapped those of the Prairie des Coteaux property owners," most of whom were the struggling Acadians. When Courtableau died in the early 1770s, his widow insisted that the Pellerin grant included a woodland that Governor Unzaga had declared was "a commons for all settlers" and which bordered the Prairie des Coteaux settlement. In June 1773, the Acadians, fearing that the widow would lay claim to their grants as well, beseeched Unzaga to reaffirm their titles and "to order Mme Courtableau to stop harassing her neighbors." Commandant Fuselier de La Claire suggested a compromise, but the governor washed his hands of the affair. The dispute ended later in the year when François Marcantel, an affluent French immigrant, purchased the disputed woodland from the Courtableau estate. Shaken by the confrontation with the local elite, the Opelousas Acadians secured new Spanish grants, sold their Prairie des Coteaux holdings to French Creoles and Anglo-American immigrants, and moved south to Prairie Belleveau and Bayou Bourbeaux, where most of them engaged in cattle raising.
The Cormier brothers of Chignecto were among the successful practitioners of a type of agriculture that had been familiar to them back in Acadia. Back at Prairie des Coteaux in 1771, older brother Joseph, age 31 and a widower, had held six arpents frontage without title and owned four horses and 15 head of cattle. Younger brother Michel, age 30 and now married, also had held six arpents frontage without title but owned seven horses and 28 head of cattle. Michel, who had acquired title to a large grant from Governor Unzaga in 1771, moved to his new property on Bayou Bourbeaux by 1773, where, using the poteaux-en-terre construction method,
he built a house on level groundwith bousillage walls, a dirt floor, and a porch that encircled the house. In 1774, Michel, now also a widower but soon to remarry, owned 6 horses and mules, 16 swine, and 20 head of cattle. Joseph, who had moved to nearby Prairie Belleveau, was married again in 1774 and owned 15 swine, 15 horses and mules, and an impressive 78 head of cattle. But this was only the beginning of their success as cattlemen. Three years later, in 1777, Joseph, now age 37, owned 20 hogs, 15 horses, and 150 head of cattle. That year, Michel, now remarried and age 36, owned 16 hogs, 16 horses, and 50 head of cattle. He, too, like brother Joseph, still owned no slaves. Contrast this to their economic status nine years before when they and their Acadian neighbors had been forced to beg the governor for oxen and ploughs. The Cormier brothers had been only children back in 1750 when French-Canadian militia and Abbé Le Loutre's Mi'kmaq had driven their family across Rivière Missaguash, destroying the family's economic inde
pendence. Raising cattle, then, was something they had known only as boys, but after a decade of effort on the Opelousas prairies they had managed to create successful vacheries of their own.408
The Cormiers were among a hand full of 1765 arrivals who became successful livestock producers on the Opelousas prairies. In 1777, Charles Comeaux, age 35, Joseph Cormier's neighbor on Prairie Belleveau, owned 50 hogs, 15 horses, 100 head of cattle, and a single slave. Charles's cousin Michel Comeaux, age 43, Michel Cormier's neighbor on Bayou Bourbeaux, owned a slave, 40 hogs, 12 horses, and 200 head of cattle--one of the largest herds in the entire district. François Pitre, only 29 years old, owned 15 hogs, 12 horses, and 50 head of cattle. Joseph Guénard, age 31, owned 10 hogs, 5 horses, and 15 head of cattle. Pierre Richard, age 48, on Prairie Belleveu, owned 20 hogs, 12 horses, and 100 head of cattle. His younger brother Victor, only age 30, also living on Prairie Belleveu, owned 10 hogs, 9 horses, and 70 head of cattle. Pierre Savoie, age 36, owned 20 hogs, 12 horses, and 60 head of cattle. Sylvain Sonnier, age 41, on Prairie
Belleveau, owned 45 hogs, 11 horses, 150 head of cattle, and two slaves. Younger brother Olivier, age 25 and still a bachelor, owned 4 horses and 15 head of cattle. Brother Joseph, age 21 and a bachelor, owned 5 horses and 15 head of cattle. Pierre Thibodeaux, age 52, also on Prairie
Belleveau, owned 25 hogs, 7 horses, and 80 head of cattle.
Even late comers to Opelousas were doing well by the end of Unzaga's governorship: In 1777, L'ange Bourg, age 27, who came to the colony in February 1765 with the Broussards, moved to Cabahannocer and then to Opelousas a year or two later, and recently married, owned 10 hogs, 8 horses, and 48 head of cattle. Brother Joseph, age 26, still a bachelor, owned 12 horses and 27 head of cattle. Pierre-Paul, called Paul, Boutin, age 50, who came to the colony in 1767 and moved to Opelousas from St.-Gabriel on the river during the late 1760s or early 1770s, owned 40 hogs, no horses, and 38 head of cattle. Blaise Brasseaux, age 25, who came to the colony with his widowed mother in 1767 and also moved from St.-Gabriel during the late 1760s or early 1770s, owned 5 horses and 15 head of cattle. Joseph Granger, age 31, who came to the colony in 1766 and moved from St.-Jacques to Opelousas in the 1770s, owned a horse and 2 head of cattle. Younger brother Jean-Baptiste, age 25 and still a bachelor, owned 2 head of cattle. Pierre Guidry, age 35, who came to the colony with the Breaus in 1768 and moved to Opelousas during the early 1770s, owned 12 horses and 10 head of cattle. Charles Jeansonne, age 32 and soon to marry a sister of Blaise Brasseaux, came to the colony in 1765, moved from St.-Jacques to Opelousas in the late 1760s or early 1770s, and owned 8 horses and 6 head of cattle. Brother Jean, age 31, owned 10 hogs, 5 horses, and 18 head of cattle. Brother Paul, age 22 and still a bachelor, owned a horse and 10 head of cattle. Cousin Joseph Jeansonne, age 29 and also still a bachelor, who came to the colony during the late 1760s or 1770s, owned 8 hogs, 2 horses, and 4 head of cattle. Blaise Lejeune, age 26,
who came to the colony in 1769 aboard the ill-fated Britannia, owned 4 hogs, 3 horses, and 8 head of cattle.
Younger brother Joseph, age 21 and a bachelor,
2 head of cattle. Mathurin Richard, age 36, who came to the colony in 1767, owned 4 head of cattle. Jean dit Valois Savoie, age 26, who came to the colony in 1765 and moved from St.-Jacques to Opelousas during the mid-1770s, owned 4 horses and 25 head of cattle.Honoré Trahan, age 51, who came to the colony in 1769 aboard the ill-fated Britannia and now resided on Prairie Belleveu, owned 20 hogs, 6 horses, and 30 head of cattle. Soon Pierre, age 27 and recently married, owned 12 hogs, 3 horses, and 26 head of cattle. These latecomers also had struggled to gain a foothold in a district dominated by other ethnicities, but now they and their famil
ies could enjoy the material comforts that had eluded them for so long.
Difficulties with land along the Acadian coasts had less to do with grasping neighbors than with the existential whims of a powerful river and Spanish inheritance laws. Unfortunately, "several settlers were given lands subject to rapid erosion, particularly at river bends." When the Mississippi eroded away the front portion of a farm, which was generally no more than 6-arpents wide along the river, the family had no choice but to move to vacant land nearby or to leave the river entirely. At the same time, Spanish inheritance laws dictated that land be divided evenly among heirs, "which divided the original family land grant into progressively small tracts with each successive generation." Because of these factors, and despite "the imposition of increasingly stringent restrictions on intracolonial movement" during the 1770s, Acadians who did migrate tended to move from the river to the prairies. Still, most of the river Acadians remained in place, determined to make a decent living on the land they possessed. As a result, population density on the Acadian coasts "increased 226 percent between 1766 and 1777, rising from 241 to 786."
The relative economic prosperity of the prairie and river settlements, based, at least, on the number of animals owned, can be seen in economic data gleaned from the Acadians living at Attakapas and Opelousas in 1777 and at Lafourche des Chitimachas, or Ascension, that same year. Ascension's commandant, Louis Judice, who completed the census in April, counted
61 men, 67 women, 128 boys, 92 girls, 586 arpents, 137 slaves, 1,178 horned cattle, 158 horses, 80 sheep, 882 swine, 130 arms, 1 free savage, 12 goats, and 3 kids:
In 1777, François-Marie Babin, age 35, who came to the colony with the Breaus in 1768, held 9 arpents on the east bank of the river at Ascension and owned 9 swine and 11 head of cattle. Brother
Firmin, age 30, held 9 arpents on the east bank and owned 3 swine and 7 head of cattle.
Amand Babin, age 34, who came to the colony in 1766, held 6 arpents on the right bank and owned 20 swine, 3 horses, and 19 head of cattle. Brother Charles, age 35, held 6 arpents on the east bank and owned 10 hogs, no horses, 20 head of cattle, and 2 slaves. Brother Vincent-Ephrem, called Ephrem, age 32, held 6 arpents on the left bank and owned 30 hogs, 2 horses, 15 head of cattle, and 3 slaves. Joseph Babin, age 29, who also came to the colony in 1766, held 6 arpents on the west bank and owned 16 hogs, a horse, 20 heads of cattle, and 2 slaves. Joseph dit Dios Babin, age 23, who came to the colony in 1766, held 6 arpents on the west bank and owned 12 swine, 2 horses, and 8 head of cattle. Anselme Le Borgne de Bélisle, age 39, scion of a noble Acadian family who came to the colony in 1767, held 5 arpents on the west bank and owned 8 swine, 3 horses, 13 head of cattle, and a slave. Jean-Baptiste Breaux, age 52, who came to the colony in 1766, held 6 arpents fallow on the west bank and owned 29 swine, 3 horses, 15 head of cattle, and a slave. Joseph Breaux, age 24, who came to the colony in 1768, held 4 arpents on the east bank and owned 2 horses and 4 head of cattle. Paul Breaux, age 32, who came to the colony in 1766, held 5 arpents on the east bank and owned 21 hogs, a horse, 22 head of cattle, and a slave. Firmin Broussard, age 25, who came to the colony in 1766, held 2 lots, one 8 arpents "fallow," the other 6 arpents, both on the east bank, and owned 8 swine, 2 horses, and 14 head of cattle. Joseph Bujole, age 54, who came to the colony in 1766, held 6 arpents on the west bank of the river and owned 19 hogs, 2 horses, 18 head of cattle, and a slave. Son Augustin, age 24, held 5 arpents on the west bank and owned 7 swine, 2 horses, and 10 head of cattle. Joseph's younger brother Étienne, age 53, held 12 arpents on the west bank of the river and owned 18 swine, 3 sheep, 3 horses, 24 cattle, and 4 slaves. François Dugas, age 37, who came to the colony in February 1765 with the Broussards, held 6 arpents on the right bank and owned 9 swine, 2 horses, 20 head of cattle, and a slave. Younger brother Charles, age 27, held 6 arpents on the right bank and owned 15 hogs, 2 horses, and 11 head of cattle. Brother Athanase, age 24 and a bachelor soon to be married, held 6 arpents on the west bank and owned 10 hogs, 4 horses, and 5 head of cattle. Brother Michel, age 20 and also a bachelor soon to be married, lived with brother Athanase and owned 10 sheep, a horse, and 2 head of cattle. Jean Duhon, age 30, who came to the colony in 1765, held 6 arpents on the west bank and owned 8 swine, 4 horses, 28 head of cattle, and 1 slave. Younger brother François, age 28, held 7 arpents on the west bank and owned 3 swine, 2 horses, and 9 head of cattle. Pierre Dupuis, age 27 and still a bachelor,
who came to the colony with the Breaus in 1768, held 4 arpents on the east bank and owned 7 swine and 2 head of cattle. Firmin Dupuis, age 25,
who also came to the colony with the Breaus in 1768, held 6 arpents on the east bank and owned 8 swine, a horse, and 6 head of cattle.
Charles Foret, age 55, who came to the colony in 1765, held 6 arpents on the west bank and owned 9 swine, 4 horses, and 16 head of cattle. Son Pierre-Paul, called Paul, age 31, held 5 arpents on the west bank and owned 15 swine, 7 sheep, 2 horses, 16 head of cattle, and a slave. Son Anselme, age 25, held 5 arpents on the west bank and owned 4 swine, 2 horses, and 5 head of cattle. Charles Gaudin dit Lincour, age 26, who came to the colony in 1765, held 5 arpents on the west bank and owned 8 swine, 3 horses, 14 head of cattle, and a slave. Amand-Paul Gautreaux, age 45, who came to the colony in 1766, held 6 arpents on the west bank and owned 7 hogs, 3 horses, and 23 head of cattle. Joseph Guidry, age 45, who came to the colony during the late 1760s, held 8 arpents on the east bank and owned 15 swine, no horses, 15 head of cattle, and a slave.
Firmin Guidry, age 25, who came to the colony with the Breaus in 1768, held 6 arpents on the east bank and owned 8 swine, 3 horses, and 10 head of cattle. René Landry, age 61, who came to the colony in 1766, held 6 arpents on the east bank and owned 15 hogs, 2 horses, 24 head of cattle, and 3 slaves. Son Marin, age 29, held 2 lots, both 6 arpents, one "in fallow," on the east bank and owned 10 swine, 4 horses, and 20 head of cattle. Son Olivier, age 24, held 6 arpents on the east bank and owned 8 swine, a horse, and 9 head of cattle. Son Joseph dit Dios, age 20, a bachelor, held 6 arpents on the west bank and owned 15 hogs, a horse, and 6 head of cattle. Pierre dit Pierrot à Chaques Landry, age 56, who came to the colony in 1766, held 11 arpents on the east bank and owned 55 swine, 8 horses, 53 head of cattle, and 6 slaves. Son Jean, age 25, still a bachelor, held 5 arpents on the east bank and owned 2 horses and 6 head of cattle. Son Jean-Baptiste, age 21, a bachelor, held 5 arpents on the east bank and owned 2 sheep, 2 horses, and 6 head of cattle. Abraham dit Petit-Abram Landry, age 55 and recently remarried, who came to the colony in 1766, held an determined number of arpents on the west bank and owned 10 hogs, a horse, and 6 head of cattle. Son Étienne, age 35 and recently married, held 5 arpents on the east bank and owned 3 hogs, 2 horses, and 18 head of cattle. Son Simon, age 33, held 11 arpents on the east bank and owned 29 swine, 3 horses, 15 head of cattle, and a slave. Son Pierre-Abraham dit Pitre, age 25, held 7 arpents on the west bank and owned 9 swine, a horse, and 18 head of cattle. Vincent Landry, age 50, who came to the colony in 1766, held 3 arpents on the west bank and owned 10 hogs, a horse, and 14 head of cattle. Younger brother Pierre dit La Vielliarde, age 45, held 6 arpents on the west bank and owned 32 swine, 4 sheep, 5 horses, 29 head of cattle, and 3 slaves. Brother Étienne, age 43, held 6 arpents on the west bank and owned 20 hogs, 10 sheep, 2 horses, 25 head of cattle, and 4 slaves. Mathurin Landry, age 43,
who came to the colony with the Breaus in 1768, held
6 arpents on the west bank and owned 25 hogs, 10 sheep, 2 horses, 28 head of cattle, and a slave. Charles Landry, age 39, who came to the colony in 1766, held 6 arpents on the east bank and owned 18 hogs, 2 horses, 17 head of cattle, and a slave. Younger brother Jacques, age 34, held 2 lots, one 5 arpents "fallow, the other 6 arpents in production, both on the east bank, and owned 5 hogs, 5 horses, 14 head of cattle, and 2 slaves. Joseph Landry, age 38, who came to the colony in 1765, held 6 arpents on the west bank and owned 30 swine, 8 sheep, 5 horses, 26 head of cattle, and a slave. Basile Landry, age 27, who came to the colony in 1766, held 5 arpents on the west bank and owned 16 swine, 3 horses, and 18 head of cattle. Joseph dit Belhomme Landry, age 25, who came to the colony in 1766, held 6 arpents on the west bank and owned 20 hogs, 8 sheep, 2 horses, 30 head of cattle, and 4 slaves. Mare-Madeleine Landry, age 54, widow of Désiré LeBlanc, who had just died at age 60, who came to the colony in 1766, held 8 arpents on the west bank and owned 8 hogs, a horse, and 16 head of cattle. Son Isaac, age 31, held 12 arpents on the east bank and owned 8 swine, 4 horses, 26 head of cattle, and a slave. Son Jérôme, age 28, held 6 arpents on the west bank of the river and owned 8 hogs, no horses, 12 head of cattle, and 2 slaves. Élisabeth Boudreaux, age 55, widow of René LeBlanc, who came to the colony in 1765, held 6 arpents on the west bank and owned 15 swine, 4 horses, and 17 head of cattle. Son Simon, age 33, held 6 arpents on the west bank and owned 5 swine, a horse, and 20 head of cattle. Pierre LeBlanc, age 46, who came to the colony in 1766, held 6 arpents on the east bank and owned 12 hogs, 8 sheep, 3 horses, and 21 head of cattle. Sylvain LeBlanc, age 36, who came to the colony in 1766, held 6 arpents on the west bank and owned 15 swine, a horse, 21 head of cattle, and a slave. Joseph Marant, age 48, who came to the colony in 1765, held an undetermined number of arpents on the west bank and owned 4 hogs, 2 horses, 2 head of cattle, and 2 slaves. Charles Melançon, age 34, who came to the colony in 1766, held 11 arpents on the east bank and owned 15 hogs, 2 horses, and 28 head of cattle. Charles Prejean, age 41, who came to the colony in 1765, held 6 arpents on the west bank and owned 4 swine, 2 sheep, 3 horses, and 14 head of cattle. Younger brother Basile, age 22, held 6 arpents on the west bank and owned 10 swine, 8 sheep, 4 horses, and 11 head of cattle. Joseph Caissie dit Roger, age 31, who came to the colony in 1765, held 12 arpents on the right bank and owned 9 swine, 12 goats, 4 horses, and 20 head of cattle.415
The same contrast between the prairie and river settlements can be seen in the number of animals owned by the Acadians at St.-Gabriel in early 1777, the great majority of whom, it must be remembered, had come to the colony two years after most of the prairie Acadians arrived. The census, completed in March, was conducted by St.-Gabriel commandant Louis Dutisné: Pierre Allain, age 54, who came to the colony in 1767, held 6 arpents on the east bank of the river at St.-Gabriel and owned 30 fowl, 18 hogs, 4 horses, and 18 head of cattle. Son Jean-Baptiste, called Baptiste, age 26 and still unmarried, held 8 arpents on the east bank and owned 14 fowl, 10 hogs, 1 horse, and 12 head of cattle.
Pierre Babin, age 53,
who came to the colony in 1767,held 12 arpents on the east bank and owned 20 fowl, 12 hogs, no horses, and 14 head of cattle.
Jean-Baptiste Babin, age 38,Ignace Babin, age 36, a widower soon to remarry,
who came to the colony in 1767,held 6 arpents on the east bank and owned 20 fowl, 12 hogs, 2 horses, 20 head of cattle, and a black slave.
who came to the colony in 1767,held 6 arpents on the east bank and owned 17 fowl, 14 hogs, no horses, and 12 head of cattle.
Younger brother Paul, age 26 and still a bachelor, held 6 arpents on the east bank and owned 18 fowl, 6 hogs, and 2 head of cattle.Étienne Babin, age 28 and newly married,
who came to the colony in 1767,held 6 arpents on the east bank and owned 18 fowl, 8 hogs, 2 horses, and 10 head of cattle. Younger brother Cyprien, age 27, still a bachelor, held 5 arpents on the west bank and owned 15 fowl, 6 hogs, 3 horses, and 9 head of cattle.
Étienne Babin, age 23 and a bachelor, perhaps a 1767 arrival, held 6 arpents on the west bank and owned 18 fowl, 12 hogs, 3 horses, and 16 head of cattle. Pierre-Olivier, called Oliver, Benoit, age 48, who came to the colony in 1769 aboard the ill-fated Britannia, held 6 arpents on the east bank and owned 14 fowl, 10 hogs, and 22 head of cattle. Mathurin Benoit, age 20 and a bachelor, likely a 1767 arrival, held 6 arpents on the east bank and owned 14 fowl, 6 hogs, and 2 head of cattle. Marie-Josèphe Landry, age 39, widow of Joseph Blanchard and soon to remarry,Anselme Blanchard, age 36,
who came to the colony in 1767,held 6 arpents on the east bank and owned 20 fowl, 10 hogs, no horses, and 18 head of cattle.
who came to the colony in 1767,held 6 arpents on the east bank and owned 18 fowl, 8 hogs, 3 horses, 12 head of cattle, and 2 slaves. Jérôme Blanchard, age 18 and a bachelor, perhaps a 1767 arrival, held 6 arpents on the west bank but the census taker did not count his animals. Pierre Brasseaux, age 35,
who came to the colony in 1767,held 12 arpents on the east bank and owned 30 fowl, 16 hogs, 7 horses, and 17 head of cattle. Jean-Charles Breaux, age 44, who came to the colony in 1768, held 9 arpents on the east bank and owned 40 fowl, 19 hogs, 6 horses, 20 head of cattle, and a slave. Son Michel, age 23 and newly married, held 6 arpents on the east bank and owned 14 fowl, 12 hogs, 3 horses, and 9 head of cattle. Marguerite Landry, age 41, widow of Antoine Breaux, who came to the colony in 1768, held 9 arpents on the east bank and owned 40 fowl, 18 hogs, 3 horses, and 20 head of cattle. Son Joseph, age 23, held 6 arpents on the east bank and owned 20 fowl, 12 hogs, 2 horses, and 8 head of cattle. Marie-Josèphe Landry, age 40, widow of Joseph Breaux, who came to Louisiana in 1768, held 8 arpents on the east bank and owned 30 fowl, 18 hogs, 4 horses, and 20 head of cattle. Pierre Breaux, age 36 and still a bachelor, who came to the colony in 1768, held 6 arpents on the west bank and owned 10 fowl, 6 hogs, no horses, and 3 had of cattle. Jean Breaux, age 26 and still a bachelor, who came to the colony in 1766, held 6 arpents on the east side of the river and owned 18 fowl, 8 hogs, and 12 head of cattle. Paul Chiasson, age 31, who came to the colony perhaps from St.-Domingue in 1765, held 5 arpents on the east bank and owned 20 fowl, 8 hogs, 1 horse, and 12 head of cattle. Pierre-Sylvain Clouâtre, age 37,
who came to the colony in 1768 with the Breaus, held 6 arpents on the west bank and owned 20 fowl, 12 hogs, no horses, and 9 head of cattle.Younger Joseph, age 27, held 6 arpents on the west bank and owned 18 fowl, 12 hogs, no horses, and 10 head of cattle. Jean-Charles, called Charles, Comeaux, age 28,
who came to the colony in 1767,held 16 arpents on the east bank and owned 40 fowl, 21 hogs, 6 horses, 20 head of cattle, and 3 slaves. Joseph Comeaux, age 26,
who came to the colony in 1768 with the Breaus, held 8 arpents on the east bank and owned 18 fowl, 8 hogs, no horses, and 10 head of cattle. Augustin Dugas, age 30, perhaps a 1767 arrival, held 6 arpents on the west bank and owned 17 fowl, 5 hogs, 2 horses, and 8 head of cattle. Pierre Dugas, age 23, perhaps a brother and a 1767 arrival, held 6 arpents on the west bank and owned 16 fowl, 8 hogs, 2 horses, and 10 cattle. Alexandre Dugas, age 19 and a bachelor, perhaps another brother and a 1767 arrival, held 6 arpents on the west bank and owned 8 fowl, 4 hogs, and 6 head of cattle. Joseph Dupuis, age 41, who came to the colony during the 1760s probably from St.-Domingue, held 6 arpents on the west bank and owned 30 fowl, 10 hogs, 3 horses, and 12 head of cattle. Nephew Jean-Baptiste Dupuis, age 25 and recently married, held 8 arpents on the west bank and owned 20 fowl, 10 hogs, and 8 head of cattle. Brother Simon-Joseph, called Joseph, age 23 and a bachelor, held 8 arpents on the right bank and owned 14 fowl, 9 hogs, and 12 head of cattle. Pierre Foret, age 42, probably a 1767 arrival, held 6 arpents on the east bank and owned 30 fowl, 12 hogs, 19 head of cattle, and a slave.
Paul Hébert, age 65,Alexandre Hébert, age 42,
who came to the colony in 1767,held 6 arpents on the west bank and owned 40 fowl, 3 horses, 12 hogs, and 18 head of cattle.
Son Pierre-Paul, age 40, held 5 arpents on the west bank and owned 30 fowl, 12 hogs, 3 horses, and 14 head of cattle. Son Joseph, age 37, held 6 arpents on the east bank and owned 25 fowl,, 10 hogs, 4 horses, and 12 head of cattle. Son Jean-Baptiste, called Baptiste, age 27, recently married, held 5 arpents on the west bank and owned 15 fowl, 2 horses, 12 hogs, and 7 head of cattle. Son Amand, age 23 and recently married, held 5 arpents on the west bank, 20 fowl, 12 hogs, 2 horses, and 13 head of cattle.Paul's younger brother Ignace, age 53, held 6 arpents on the west bank and owned 30 fowl, 15 hogs, and 16 head of cattle.
who came to the colony in 1767,held 6 arpents on the west bank and owned 20 fowl, 10 hogs, 2 horses, and 10 head of cattle. Younger brother François, fils, age 39, held 5 arpents on the east bank and owned 19 fowl, 16 hogs, 3 horses, and 18 head of cattle. Brother Amand, age 37, held 6 arpents on the east bank and owned 28 fowl, 3 horses, 14 hogs, and 18 head of cattle. Brother Jean-Baptiste dit Petit-Jean, age 35, held 6 arpents on the east bank and owned 30 fowl, 12 hogs, 3 horses, and 20 head of cattle. Brother Étienne, age 33, held 6 arpents on the east bank and owned 19 fowl, 12 hogs, 3 horses, and 14 head of cattle. Brother Pierre-Caieton, called Caieton, age 30 and recently married, held 6 arpents on the west bank and owned 20 fowl, 12 hogs, no horses, and 12 head of cattle. Brother Joseph, age 28, held 6 arpents on the west bank and owned 18 fowl, 5 hogs, no horses, and 7 head of cattle. Brother Charles, age 26, held 6 arpents on the east bank and owned 30 fowl, 18 hogs, 4 horses, 14 head of cattle, and a slave. Pierre Hébert, age 40, who came to the colony in 1765, held 5 arpents on the west bank and owned 30 fowl, 12 hogs, 3 horses, and 14 head of cattle.
Augustin Landry, age 58,Anselme Landry, age 39,
who came to the colony in 1767,held 10 arpents on the west bank and owned 30 fowl, 15 hogs, no horses, 18 head of cattle, and a slave. Mathurin Landry, age 40, who came to the colony in February 1765 with the Broussards, moved to Cabahannocer, and then to St.-Gabriel, held 6 arpents on the left bank and owned 20 fowl, 14 hogs, 12 head of cattle, and 3 slaves.
who came to the colony in 1767,held 8 arpents on the east bank and owned 13 fowl, 11 hogs, no horses, and 12 head of cattle. Younger brother François-Sébastien, age 36, held 12 arpents on the east bank and owned 20 fowl, 12 hogs, 3 horses, 12 head of cattle, and 3 slaves. Brother Paul-Marie, age 33, held 6 arpents on the west bank and owned 18 fowl, 10 hogs, no horses, and 12 head of cattle. Brother Firmin, age 29, held 8 arpents on the east bank and owned 30 fowl, 9 hogs, 3 horses, 12 head of cattle, and a slave.
Joseph Landry, age 38 and a widower, perhaps a 1767 arrival, held 8 arpents on the west bank and owned 17 fowl, 15 hogs, and 12 head of cattle.Athanase Landry, age 35,
who came to the colony in 1767,held 6 arpents on the west bank and owned 16 fowl, 8 bogs, no horses, and 10 head of cattle. Hyacinthe Landry, age 34,
who came to the colony in 1767,held 6 arpents on the east bank and owned 30 fowl, 12 hogs, 3 horses, 13 head of cattle, and a slave. Brother Jean-Athanase, age 26, held 6 arpents on the west bank and owned 20 fowl, 14 hogs, 3 horses, and 10 head of cattle.
Joseph Landry, age 22 and a bachelor, who may have come to the colony with the Breaus in 1768, held 10 arpents on the west bank and owned 12 fowl, 4 hogs, and 6 head of cattle. Joseph Castille of Menorca, age 45, whose wife was a Landry, came to the colony in 1767, held 6 arpents on the east bank, and owned 18 fowl, 12 hogs, 10 head of cattle, and a slave.Bonaventure LeBlanc, age 50,
who came to the colony in 1767,held 10 arpents on the east bank and owned 30 fowl, 14 hogs, 3 horses, and 19 head of cattle. Son Joseph dit Adons, age 25, held 6 arpents on the east bank and owned 15 fowl, 9 hogs, and 13 head of cattle. Jean-Baptiste LeBlanc, age 28 and recently married,
who came to the colony in 1767,held 6 arpents on the east bank and owned 18 fowl, 10 hogs, no horses, 8 head of cattle, and a slave. Younger brother Pierre, age 24, held 6 arpents on the west bank and owned 15 fowl, 8 hogs, 3 horses, 10 head of cattle, and a slave. Joseph dit Agros LeBlanc, age 22 and a bachelor, who came to the colony in 1767, held 6 arpents on the west bank and owned 16 fowl, 6 hogs, and 3 head of cattle. Joseph-Michel, called Michel, LeBlanc, age 19 and still a bachelor,
who came to the colony in 1767,held 4 arpents on the east bank and owned 18 fowl, 2 horses, 6 hogs, and 12 head of cattle. Amand Melançon, age 49,
who came to the colony in 1767,held 10 arpents on the west bank and owned 30 fowl, 16 hogs, 4 horses, 20 head of cattle, and a slave. Joseph Orillion dit Champagne, age 29, who came to the colony in 1765, held 6 arpents on the west bank and owned 30 fowl, 14 hogs, no horses, and 12 head of cattle. Pierre Richard, age 63 and a widower,
who came to the colony in 1767,held arpents on the west bank and owned 12 fowl, 8 hogs, 2 horses, 10 head of cattle, and 6 slaves.
Marie Breaux, age 35, widow of son Amand Richard and soon to remarry, who came to the colony in 1767, held 12 arpents on the east bank and owned 30 fowl, 16 hogs, 3 horses, 18 head of cattle, and 2 slaves.
Simon-Henry Richard, age 37,Michel-Maxime Rivet, age 37,
who came to the colony in 1767,held 12 arpents on the east bank and owned 30 fowl, 10 hogs, no horses, and 11 head of cattle. Younger brother Paul, age 30 and recently married, held 6 arpents on the east bank and owned 20 fowl, 12 hogs, no horses, and 18 head of cattle. Joseph Richard, age 30, probably a 1767 arrival, held 6 arpents on the east bank and owned 20 fowl, 12 hogs, 2 horses, 12 head of cattle, and a slave. Étienne Rivet, age 60, who came to the colony aboard the ill-fated Britannia in 1769, held 10 arpents on the west bank and owned 14 fowl, 12 hogs, 2 horses, and 12 head of cattle.
who came to the colony with the Breaus in 1768, held 6 arpents on the west bank and owned 12 fowl, 7 hogs, no horses, and 9 head of cattle. Younger brother Cyrille, age 34, held 6 arpents on the west bank and owned 20 fowl, 15 hogs, no horses, and 10 head of cattle. Brother Blaise, age 30, still a bachelor, held 6 arpents on the west bank and owned 12 fowl, 11 or 17 hogs, no horses, and 7 head of cattle. François Rivet, age 26 and still a bachelor, who came to the colony in 1769 aboard the ill-fated Britannia, held 6 arpents on the west bank and owned 12 fowl, 8 hogs, and 4 head of cattle.
he census taker at St.-Jacques in 1777, Commandant Michel Cantrelle, did not list the arpents of land held or the number of animals owned by each inhabitant, so an economic comparison with the other Acadian settlements is not possible. However, the census, conducted from January to April, does provide the names and ages of the Acadian heads of families, as well as the adult bachelors, living on both banks of the Lower Acadian Coast that year. A few, still living together on the east bank, came to the colony from Georgia in 1764: Jean-Baptiste Cormier, père, age 68; Joseph Landry, age 29; Jean-Baptiste, called Jean, Poirier, age 44; Jean-Baptiste, called Jean, Richard, age 58; son Jean-Marie, age 31; and son Joseph, who would have been age 19 and a bachelor. Some came to the colony with the Broussards from Halifax
in February 1765
and moved to the river during the fall of that year: Jean Arceneaux, age 49, living on the east bank; son
Jean-Charles, called Charles, age 25, on the west bank;
son Joseph, age 21 and a bachelor, on the east bank; son Guillaume, age 18 and a bachelor, on the east bank; Jean's younger brother Joseph, age 37, on the east bank; Pierre Arceneaux l'aîné, age 46, on the west bank; Amable Blanchard, age 35, on the east bank; Joseph Bourgeois, age 41, on the east bank; brother Michel, age 36, on the east bank; Pierre Darois, age 40, on the west bank; Joseph dit Cadet Dugas, age 24 and still a bachelor, on the east bank; Joseph Guidry, age 42, on the east bank; Ambroise Martin dit Barnabé, age 43, on the east bank; Marie Cormier, age 31, who came to the colony in 1764, widow of Michel Poirier, on the east bank; and Abraham Roy, age 46, on the east bank. Most came to the colony from Halifax in 1765 aboard later-arriving vessels: Jean-Baptiste Bergeron dit d'Amboise, père, age 55, living on the west bank; son Jean-Baptiste dit d'Amboise, fils, age 27, on the west bank; Germain Bergeron, age 34, on the east bank; Pierre Bernard, age 46, on the east bank; son Jean-Baptiste, age 23 and recently married, on the east bank; son Pierre, fils, age 18 and a bachelor, on the east bank; Pierre Berteau, age 38, on the east bank; Joseph Blanchard l'aîné, age 38, on the east bank; Joseph Blanchard le jeune, age 29, on the west bank; brother Pierre, age 28 and a bachelor, on the east bank; Olivier Boudreaux, age 49, on the east bank; son Simon, age 24, on the east bank; Joseph Bourg, age 42, on the east bank; Pierre Bourg, age 27, on the east bank; Paul Bourgeois, age 45, on the east bank; Jean-Baptiste, called Baptiste, Bourgeois, age 44, on the east bank; brother Michel, age 43, on the east bank; Jean Bourgeois, age 38, on the east bank; Athanase Breaux, age 42, on the west bank; Pierre Chiasson, age 48, on the east bank; Michel Chiasson, age 18 and a bachelor, on the east bank; Joseph Dupuis, age 26, on the east bank; Charles Gaudet l'aîné, age 47, on the west bank; brother Jérôme, age 37, on the west bank;
Joseph Gaudet, age 38, on the east bank;
brother Charles le jeune, age 25 and still a bachelor, on the east bank; Bonaventure Gaudin dit Bellefontaine, père, age 62, on the west bank; son Bonaventure dit Bellefontaine, fils, age 24 and still a bachelor, on the west bank; son Michel dit Bellefontaine, age 21 and a bachelor, on the west bank; Jean-Baptiste Gaudin dit Bellefontaine, age 31, on the east bank; Jean Gaudin dit Bellefontaine, age 30 and still a bachelor, on the east bank; Simon Gautreaux, age 41, on the west bank; Firmin dit La Prade Girouard, age 28, on the east bank; François Hébert, age 42, on the east bank; brother Joseph, age 42, on the west bank; Antoine Labauve, age 51, on the east bank; twin sons Jean and Marin, age 18 and bachelors, on the east bank; Surgeon Philippe de St.-Julien Lachaussée, age 50, on the west bank; Pierre Lambert, père, age 51, on the east bank; son Pierre, fils, age 30 and still a bachelor, on the east bank; Pierre Lanoux, age 31, on the east bank; Joseph LeBlanc, père, age 57, on the west bank;
son Joseph, fils, age 27, on the west bank; son Gilles, age 19 and a bachelor, on the west bank; Marcel LeBlanc, age 43, on the west bank; Jean Leger, age 55, on the east bank; Charles d'Amours de Louvière, age 27, on the east bank; Joseph Martin dit Barnabé, age 38, on the east bank; half-brother Paul dit Barnabé, age 28 and still a bachelor, on the east bank; Joachim dit Bénoni Mire, age 41, on the east bank; Louis Mouton, age 40, on the east bank; younger brother Simon, age 33, on the east bank; Pierre Part, age 28, on the east bank; younger brother François, age 24, on the east bank; Joseph Poirier, age 37, on the east bank; Joseph Richard, age 41, on the east bank; Jean Caissie dit Roger, age 20, a bachelor, on the west bank; Charles dit Jean-Charles Savoie, age 56, on the east bank; Joseph Sonnier, age
38 and a widower soon to remarry, on the east bank; younger brother Jean-Baptiste, age 31, on the east bank;
Joseph Thériot, age 45, on the east bank; Thomas Thériot, age 32, on the east bank; younger brother Ambroise, age 29 and still a bachelor but soon to marry, on the east bank; brother François-Xavier, called Xavier, age 24 and still a bachelor, on the east bank
; Charles Thibodeaux, age 38, on the east bank; and Pierre Vincent, age 32, on the east bank. Some came to the colony from Maryland in 1766: Joseph Babin, age 32, living on the west bank; Pierre Breaux, age 37, on the east bank; Étienne-Michel, called Michel, David dit St.-Michel, age 57, on the east bank; son Paul, age 23, on the east bank; son Jean-Baptiste, age 18 and a bachelor, on the east bank; Marie-Josèphe Landry, age 39, widow of Pierre Foret and soon to remarry to a French Canadian, on the east bank; François Landry, père, who would have been age 66, probably on the east bank; son François, fils, age 36, on the east bank; Jacques LeBlanc, age 69, on the west bank; Paul LeBlanc, 34, on the east bank; Simon LeBlanc, age 25, on the west bank; Osite Hébert, age 46, widow of Alexandre Melançon, on the east bank;
son Pierre-Jacques, called Jacques, Melançon, age 27, on the east bank;brother
Joseph, age 22 and a bachelor, on the east bank; brother Étienne, age 21 and a bachelor, on the east bank; and Jean-Baptiste Melançon, age 41, on the east bank. A few came to the colony in c1765 probably from St.-Domingue: Paul Leger, age 19 and a bachelor, was working as an engagé on the east bank; and Pierre Michel, age 40, also was living on the east bank. A few, still living on the west bank, came to the colony from Maryland in 1768: Alexis Breaux, age 53; son Joseph, age 26; Alexis's younger brother Honoré, père, who would have been age 46; and son Honoré, fils, age 30. Two, living on the east bank, came to the colony from Martinique in the late 1760s: Charles Mouton, age 56; and son Georges, age 21 and still a bachelor. And a few came to the colony during the late 1760s or early 1770s perhaps from St.-Domingue:
Pierre Arceneaux le jeune, age 28, living on the west bank; and Charles Comeaux, age 52, on the east bank. Commandant Cantrelle
did offer this impressive summation for St.-Jacques: The district contained a total of 1,020 arpents of land fronting the river along both banks; 172 slaves, the largest numbers of them no doubt held by the Creole elite; 2,204 head of cattle; 388 horses; and 699 persons. Of the 134 families counted at St.-Jacques that year, 96, or 72 percent, were Acadian, which was why the area was being called the First or Lower Acadian Coast.414a
The Acadian Coast was not a major cattle-producing area, hence the smaller number of beeves there compared to the prairie districts. But the number of hogs and fowl held by the river Acadians, as well as the number of slaves they owned, testifies to their attainment of material comfort and an end to dependence on government handouts. After nearly a decade of Spanish rule and a dozen years in the colony, there was no question that the river Acadians, as well as their cousins on the prairies, had finally come into their own economically. Especially impressive were the holdings of the 1768 arrivals from Maryland, whose year and a half at Fort San Luìs de Natchez was a time of misery and want. After their release from the isolated outpost in December 1769, they hurried down to the Acadian Coast, where, after only half a dozen years of effort, they attained a level of material comfort on par with their kinsmen.414b
The Acadians attained more than material comfort during the first decade of Spanish rule in Louisiana. In 1770, Governor
O'Reilly "ordered the construction of chapels and presbyteries in each Acadian settlement and, upon learning of the manpower deficiencies in the province's religious communities, appealed to the diocese of Havana for missionaries to staff the new parishes." Roman Catholics every one, the Acadians welcomed the new houses of worship as well as the new priests. When the first Acadians had come to the colony in 1764, there were only three established church parishes in western Louisiana: St.-Louis at New Orleans, created in 1719; St.-Charles des Allemands on the German Coast, dating from 1722; and St.-François de Assisi at Pointe-Coupée, founded in 1727. Each of these parishes answered to a vicar-general, sometimes Jesuit, sometimes Capuchin, residing at New Orleans, who represented the distant Bishop of Québec. In 1763, when Canada became a British possession, the priests of lower Louisiana answered to the Bishop of French St.-Domingue. In August 1769, after General Alejandro O'Reilly took formal possession of the colony for Spain, the priests in lower Louisiana answered to the Bishop of Santiago de Cuba.418
When the Broussards journeyed to Attakapas in the spring of 1765, they took Capuchin Father Jean-François de Civray with them. Tradition says that Father Jean-François created a church parish at the Poste des Attakapas, now St. Martinville. The first edifice, called L'Église des Attakapas, or the Church of Attakapas, was a small frame structure at the post built on land donated by
. Father Jean-François did not remain at Attakapas; his final entry in the parish register, the baptismal record of Acadian Marie Pellerin, is dated 11 January 1766.
In 1773, local leaders chose a syndic, again, to oversee construction of a church at Poste des Attakapas, perhaps another, larger church to replace the first one, but there still was no resident priest there at the time. It was not unusual for Attakapas baptisms, marriages, and burials to be recorded by priests from other parishes during the 1770s. Pointe Coupée lay near a northern route across the Atchafalaya Basin and was the closest church to Attakapas during much of that period; as a result, the Pointe Coupée priest served as a missionary to Attakapas from the late 1760s. The Opelousas church, even closer to Attakapas, was founded in 1776, and the priests there served Attakapas residents during the late 1770s. In 1779, even the curé of Ascension parish, out on the river, administered the sacraments to Attakapas settlers. By 1781, however, Attakapas once again had a priest of its own--
Father Hilaire de Genevaux, who came from Pointe Coupée.
During its early days, the Attakapas parish was variously called St.-Joseph and St.-Bernard, but in the early 1790s, when Father George Murphy served as pastor, it came to be known as St.-Martin des Attakapas or St.-Martin de Tours.
The parish council of St.-Martin de Tours owned the land around the church, which included much of today's downtown St. Martinville. During the late 1790s, after St.-Martin de Tours was firmly established, a unique lease-purchase arrangement was made between the church council and the local merchants that existed for nearly a century. By the twentieth century, the parish was calling itself, rightly,
"Mother Church of the Acadians."
As Acadians from Halifax and Maryland began to fill the empty spaces along
Côte Cabahannocer, above the German Coast, church authorities sent Father Barnabé from St.-Charles des Allemands to minister to their needs. Beginning in March 1766 and continuing into the following year, the good father began to perform so many weddings at
that Co-commandant Louis Judice informed Spanish governor Ulloa in October 1767: "It is a pleasure to see these poor people marry. I expect many more marriages to take place in the near future." The co-commandant was correct. A month later, Judice was telling the governor: "I also have the honor of notifying you that Fr. Barnabé, pastor of the Des Allemands parish, has just spent six days at my home, during which time he performed five Acadian weddings. Sir, as the priest celebrates holy mass in my house and as it cannot accommodate three or four hundred persons, as was the case on the eighth of this month, the priest has proposed construction of a shed, 40 feet long by 20 feet wide. Roofed and enclosed by posts, it could serve as a church until better facilities are available. Here, the Christian faithful could congregate on Sundays and feast days for public prayer until such time as we have a (resident) priest." By July 1768, the temporary chapel was completed. Father Barnabé blessed it and dedicated it to Sts. Jacques and Philippe. On the day that he reported the completion of the "shed," 2 July 1768, Co-commandant Judice informed Governor Ulloa: "The Acadians, who, so strong in their faith, had expressed the desire for a church, will today be able to gather in this chapel and openly worship together. They have also agreed, in my presence, to pay 2 livres, 2 sols per family in order to pay for contractors. There are many Acadians, however, who refused to pay their share. I humbly beg you to authorize me to force these delinquents to pay their (church) taxes without further delay." Despite the Acadians' protests, which dragged on for two years and also involved Co-commandant Verret, Governor O'Reilly ordered the Acadians to pay their church dues. Even then, they refused
(an historian of the Acadians in Nova Scotia has remarked, "the Acadians were scarcely more willing to pay tithes than quitrents"),
and it took a direct order from O'Reilly's successor, Governor Unzaga, to force the "delinquents" to pay their dues. Meanwhile, in 1770, church authorities created a new parish for Cabahannocer, dedicated to St.-Jacques. The church lay on the west bank of the river, near Jacques Cantrelle's concession, but the area along both banks, now being called the First or Lower Acadian Coast, soon was being called St.-Jacques as well. The parish's first resident priest, French Capuchin Father Valentin, formerly of Natchitoches and Pointe Coupée, clashed with some of the Acadian men and was replaced by Spanish Capuchin Father Luis Lipiano de Tolosa in 1772. Unlike the church at Attakapas, St.-Jacques maintained a resident priest throughout the Spanish period.
In 1770, Spanish Governor Alejandro O'Reilly appointed Louis Judice to command a new district called Lafourche des Chitimachas, which lay on both banks of the river between St.-Jacques and St.-Gabriel and centered on the junction of Bayou Lafourche and the Mississippi River--the Fork.
In August, Commandant Judice conducted a census of the Acadian settlers in his new district and counted 84 families. By 1772, the area around the Fork had become populated enough for the Spanish to create a new church parish there: La Parroquia de la Ascension de Nuestro Senor Jesu Christo de La Fourche de Los Tchitimacha, located at today's Donaldsonville. The Acadians called their church and the area around it Ascension. The pastor of Ascension church, Father Angel de Revillagodos, perhaps the first Spanish Capuchin to administer a parish in Louisiana, died in the church rectory in December 1784 after serving Ascension for a dozen years. The following year, he was replaced by Father Joachim de Ajofrin and then by Father Pedro de Zamora. Louis
Judice served as commandant of Lafourche des Chitimachas well into the 1790s
In 1772, the same year that Ascension parish was created, the Bishop of Santiago de Cuba created another new church parish on the river above New Orleans. St.-Jean-Baptiste des Allemands, located at present-day Edgard, served what was now being called the Second, or Upper, German Coast, lying between St.-Charles des Allemands and St.-Jacques parishes. The first pastor at St.-Jean-Baptiste des Allemands was Father Bernardo de Limpach, a Spanish Capuchin. St.-Jean-Baptiste des Allemands was not an Acadian community, per se--most of its parishioners were Germans and French Creoles--but Acadians living on the lower end of the Acadian Coast appear in its registers.
By 1773, St.-Gabriel settlement, above Ascension, had become populated enough for a church of its own, appropriately dedicated to St.-Gabriel. The church, still standing and the oldest wooden church structure in the Mississippi valley, was built on the east bank of the river, south of the old fort; the priests at St.-Gabriel served the smaller community on the west bank of the river as well. The first pastor at St.-Gabriel was the priest at Ascension, Father Angel de Revillagodas, assisted in the first years by fathers Aloysius and Louis-Marie Grumeau. In 1779, French Capuchin Father Valentin, formerly of Pointe Coupée, St.-Jacques, and Opelousas, became pastor of the parish but left in 1782, when Father
Angel de Revillagodas again served as pastor. In 1783, French priest Father Charles N. M. D'Hermeville came to the parish and served as pastor for the next six years.
Meanwhile, out on the prairie, the population around the Poste des Opelousas grew large enough to warrant a church parish of its own. Originally a mission at the Jacques Courtableau plantation served by priests from Pointe-Coupée as early as 1756,
local residents had built a church perhaps at the post by 1767. Not until 1776, however, did the area have its own church parish, dedicated first to the Immaculate Conception and then to St.-Landry of Sées, a fifth-century French bishop. The parish's first pastor, French Capuchin Father Valentin, who had long served the area from his post at Pointe Coupée and who came to Opelousas from St.-Jacques on the river, was replaced by another French Capuchin, Father Louis Dubourg de St. Sepulchre, in 1777. Father Louis-Marie Grumeau, a French Dominican, came in 1779 and remained until 1783. During the late 1770s, the priests at Opelousas also ministered to the residents at Attakapas, who did not have a resident priest of their own until 1781.423
Finally, after decades of neglect in Nova Scotia under Protestant British rule, and after years of seeing few, if any priests, during their Grand Dérangement, the Acadians of Louisiana had churches of their own and priests to minister to their religious needs. But, like many things in Acadian life, there was a dark side to their Roman Catholic faith. Whatever their devotion to the ancient religion, Acadian
s, especially the men, "refused to extend to their new pastors the reverence the latter demanded in recognition of their social and religious positions. Moreover, the exiles, who had awaited the priests' arrival with anticipation, soon chafed under the new theocratic local regime. Indeed, many Acadians families were subjected to close scrutiny by Catholic clergymen for the first time in generations and bitterly resented the intrusion into their daily lives." During the late 1760s, some of the French Capuchins who visited their settlements "shared the aristocratic Creole's view of the exiles as ignorant peasants, definitely socially inferior to men of the cloth." After 1770, many of the Acadians' pastors were zealous Spaniards, not all of whom spoke French. These factors combined to resurrect
the Acadians' traditional anti-clericalism. Arrogant, assertive priests who interfered in their lives joined colonial officials in misunderstanding and then condemning the new arrivals. "The traditional Acadian ambivalence toward the church ... persisted: in the frontier tradition, they remained largely self-sufficient in religious matters but were nevertheless forced to rely upon the church for many essential services. The church's role in their lives, however, had to be entirely passive. Any effort by clerics to become more than a peripheral influence was viewed as a move toward church domination, and any perceived encroachment upon Acadian independence elicited a hostile if not belligerent reaction." Thus, the Acadians' devotion to Roman Catholicism masked a deeper essence in their collective souls--a stubborn independence born of long experience on the North American frontier, something which they shared with many of their neighbors in this strange new land of clashing cultures.
Their anti-clericalism was not the only
divisive attitude the Acadians brought with them to Louisiana. For most of their time along the Bay of Fundy, they had lived in harmony with the Mi'kmaq and other tribes of the region. This changed dramatically by the early 1750s, when Abbé La Loutre turned the Mi'kmaq against them for refusing to join the fight against the British. As a result, many Acadians blamed their Grand Dérangement not only on the British but also on the bellicose French and their Indian allies. Although the Acadians of Nova Scotia were subjects of the British king and were called by British colonists the Neutral French, the residents of the Atlantic-coast colonies where they had been exiled treated them as enemies; this had as much to do with the devastating French and Indian raids along the colonial frontiers as with their French language and Roman Catholic religion. The Virginians, for example, taking council of their fears, shipped off to England as soon as they could the hundreds of Acadians that Governor Lawrence had foisted on them. The British colonies that kept them treated them like belligerents, not fellow subjects. Soon after they reached Louisiana, the exiles
could see that here, too, was a hornet's nest of imperial conflict in which the French and then the Spanish encouraged their Indian allies to oppose the British. What the Acadians had endured in faraway Nova Scotia was the rule, not the exception, in Euro-Indian relations throughout North America. "This mental framework, in which Indians were viewed paradoxically as economic partners but also as potential military rivals, was carried to Louisiana as part of the exiles' cultural baggage."
relations with the local Indians was especially acute along the Mississippi.
On the east bank of the river, across from the Fork
, stood a village of the Houma, who had been driven downriver from their traditional homeland decades before. No tribe, from the days of Iberville to the arrival of Ulloa, had been more loyal to the French than the Houma.
In September 1767, soon after Spanish Governor Ulloa settled 200 Acadians recently arrived from Maryland on the river just above their village, the commandant at Cabahannocer, Louis Judice, wrote to Governor Ulloa: "For quite some time now, the Houma Indians have wanted to go down to the city to see you. Since I know these people to be tiresome and annoying, I have always tried to discourage them. Today, however, I was unable to detain them any longer. They told me that they were going to see their father (the governor). They asked me to write you a letter, and I was unable to deny their request. It is, therefore, on their account that I have the honor to write you today." The following December, Commandant Judice, in another letter to Ulloa, alluded to Houma "insults to the Acadians." By the early 1770s, the Acadians' growing numbers and Houma recalcitrance led to more violence between the two peoples--a circumstance that reminded many Acadians of the bad times back in British Nova Scotia.
Acadians living near the Fork became so frustrated with the failure of Spanish officials, including Commandant Judice, to curb Houma hostility that they threatened to leave the colony. They did not leave, of course, nor did the commandant follow through on his threats against the tribe. By the late 1770s, Houma braves, filled with rum purchased local Creole merchants Jean-Baptiste Chauvin, were routinely stealing rice and corn from Acadians' fields and rustling their hogs. The Indians then sold the hogs to the British so that they could buy more rum from Chauvin, who hid his stash of illegal liquor in the woods behind Ascension church. "Emboldened by alcohol, Houma Indians raided Acadians by day and, when their victims resisted, fired into their homes." Again, Judice addressed the crisis by writing more letters of complaint to the governor, first Unzaga and then Gálvez, but nothing came of it. A respite in bad relations with the tribe occurred during the fall of 1785, when a dozen Houma warriors helped suppress a slave insurrection in the area. But prejudices still raged between the two peoples, and relations soon deteriorated. "The continuing feud and the unwillingness of local officials to discipline unruly tribesmen heightened the frustrations of Lafourche Valley Acadians. Intimidated by the violent tendencies exhibited by inebriated Houma tribesmen, many settlers had watched helplessly as their hogs--an important source of income to Acadians east of the Atchafalaya River in the late eighteenth century--were destroyed and a portion of their crops was removed. Seething with anger, the Acadians awaited an opportunity to vent their frustrations.
elief for the Acadians living near the Fork came in 1788, when a smallpox epidemic forced the surviving Houma to migrate to lower Bayou Lafourche. However, a small band of Choctaw who had lived with the Houma remained at Ascension. In 1789, they made the mistake of raiding the plantation of Commandant Judice's son and threatened to kill the younger Judice. The aggrieved father turned to his Acadian militia for help. They followed the commandant to his son's plantation and formed an ambuscade in the dark. When the Choctaw confronted Judice, the commandant gave the signal, and the Acadians sprang the trap. Ignoring the commandant's instructions, the Acadians opened fire on the fleeing Indians and captured five of them, which they gladly escorted to New Orleans for trial. Other Indians in the area noted the Acadians' warlike actions and stayed clear of them, so much so that Acadian-Indian contact along the river and on upper Bayou Lafourche virtually ceased.
Acadian-Indian relations on the western prairies was a different matter. When the Broussard party reached Bayou Teche in the spring of 1765, the Opelousa were too few in number to menace the Creoles and Acadians who settled in the area. The Atakapas were a much more numerous tribe, living in villages along the upper Teche; on the lower Vermilion River; on Bayou Queue de Tortue, a tributary of the Mermentau River; near Lake Arthur on the Mermentau; on lower Bayou Nezpique near its confluence with Bayou Plaquemine Brûlé; and farther out on the Calcasieu prairies. Among the prairie Acadians, to be sure, were families from the Chignecto region who had suffered at the hands of Abbé Le Loutre and his Mi'kmaq warriors, and so they would have been burdened with the same attitude towards the Indians carried by their cousins along the river. The Broussards and many of their kin, however, had no such legacy of fear and distrust. The Beausoleil Broussards were former resistance fighters who had been living in French, not British territory, in 1755, who had never embraced neutrality, and whose relations with the Mi'kmaq, who fought beside them, had always been friendly. The Broussards brought this attitude with them to Louisiana, and the Atakapas responded in kind. Tradition says that during the epidemic that devastated the Teche valley Acadians during their first months in the colony, local Atakapas treated them with herbal remedies, a kindness the Acadians would have not have forgotten. The prairie Acadians seemed to have gotten along well with the fierce Chitimacha, who lived near them on lower Bayou Teche and along the shores of Grand Lake in the lower Atchafalaya Basin.
Another factor in cordial relations between the prairie Acadians and the Atakapas was an economic tie based on cattle raising and land acquisition. The Atakapas themselves raised cattle and also were accomplished rustlers. By the early 1770s, members of the tribe were providing to the Acadians horses stolen from the Spanish in Texas. The Atakapas also rustled cattle from Texas ranches and sold freshly-slaughtered beef and cowhides to the Acadians, who may have encouraged the Indians to rustle livestock for the Acadians' growing herds. As the number of European settlers increased in the area, the Atakapas migrated westward to the Calcasieu prairies, selling their abandoned eastern lands to Acadians as well as to French Creoles and Anglo Americans. The Atakapas literally were becoming marginalized in the prairie region, which resulted in fewer contacts with the area Acadians. The same held true for the Chitimacha, whose determination to maintain their cultural autonomy confined them to a small, isolated grant of land on lower Bayou Teche.
When the first wave of Acadian immigration to Louisiana ended by 1770, the exiles outnumbered the socially- and economically-dominant French Creoles in each of their communities except one. Cabahannocer, Ascension, and St.-Gabriel on the river were being called the Lower and Upper Acadian coasts. The Attakapas region became predominantly Acadian from the moment the Broussard party arrived there during the spring of 1765; not even the creation of a Spanish colony on lower Bayou Teche 14 years later challenged the Acadians' numerical dominance in the Attakapas District. Only in the Opelousas District did the Creoles outnumber Acadians, who, despite the migration of their cousins into the district, would continue to be a minority at Opelousas. Above the Acadian coasts lay Pointe Coupée, where few Acadians settled. Below the Acadian coasts lay the German coasts, where only a few Acadians lived. Fewer still remained in the French Creole bastion at New Orleans. After the Acadian refugees from the Britannia left Natchitoches in October 1769, none of them returned to the Red River post. Moreover, i
n each of the communities in which the Acadians settled, French Creoles already had been living there.Acadian insularity alienated their Creole neighbors, as did the Acadians' poverty, stubbornness, disrespect, and their infuriating egalitarianism. That the exiles now outnumbered them in so many places did not endear the haughty Creoles to these "peasants" from the north.
But there was one thing the Acadians did possess that caught the attention of at least one element of Creole society. The Acadians, of course, brought daughters to Louisiana, many of whom were of marriageable age. To be sure, most of these young Acadian women married their own kind, and, after they reached the colony, some of them wasted little time doing it. The first recorded Acadian marriage in Louisiana,
a Thibodeau/Bourg union,occurred at New Orleans in late February 1765; the couple settled at Attakapas. On the same day in early April, also in the city, a Darois married a Bourgeois, and a Girouard married a Trahan; they also went to Attakapas, but the Daroiss moved on to Cabahannocer. In July, at New Orleans, a Savoie and a Landry married and settled at Cabahannocer. In December, again at New Orleans, a Gaudet/Bourgeois marriage was blessed; they, too, settled at Cabahannocer, where the co-commandants Louis Judice and Nicolas Verret oversaw the marriage of 39 couples in their homes from the end of March 1766 through June 1768. Two of those marriages were to non-Acadians.
Soon after they reached the colony, then, Acadians engaged in what sociologists call exogamy; in this case, marriage outside of ones culture. The earliest recorded exogamous marriage in Louisiana between an Acadian and a non-Acadian was that of Rose Thibodeau, widow of Claude Richard, and Jacques LaChaussée, fils from Côte-de-Beaupré, just below Québec, at New Orleans on 17 January 1766; Rose, a native of Beauséjour, Chignecto, came to the colony from Halifax; the couple settled at Cabahannocer. Rose died soon after the marriage, perhaps from the rigors of childbirth, and Jacques remarried to Acadian Marie-Marthe LeBlanc at Cabahannocer in early February 1768. The other exogamous marriage at Cabahannocer in its early years was that of Saturnin Bruno, probably an Italian, and Scholastique, called Colette, Léger in April 1768. Another early Acadian exogamous marriage was that of Anne Arosteguy to Bernard Capdeville of Bern, Switzerland, a military surgeon in the Spanish army, at New Orleans on 25 February 1766; Bernard remarried to Acadian Anne Clouâtre at Pointe Coupée in December 1768 when he was serving at Fort San Luìs de Natchez. The first recorded marriage between an Acadian and a Frenchman in Louisiana was that of Cécile Bergeron, widow of Joseph Dugas, a victim of the Attakapas epidemic of 1765, and Nicolas Lahure of Longwy, Lorraine, at New Orleans in March 1767; they settled at Cabahannocer. Acadian women began marrying Spaniards, most of them soldiers, soon after they reached the colony. In March 1767, Marie Granger married Manuel Quintero, a first sergeant in the Spanish service, at New Orleans; the moved upriver to the Baton Rouge area in the 1770s. Marie Hébert married Spanish soldier Agústín Moreno at Pointe-Coupée in September 1767; the couple were from Fort San Luìs de Natchez. Marie-Françoise Boutin married Juan Antonio Segovia at Pointe Coupée in April 1768; the couple were from Fort San Gabriel.
The earliest recorded Acadian exogamous marriage in the prairie districts was that of Anastasie, called Stasie, Guénard and French Canadian Amable dit Beaulieu Bertrand at Opelousas on 9 February 1766; a priest from Pointe Coupée probably performed the marriage. At the end of October 1767, Acadian Marguerite Martin dit Barnabé of Chignecto, widow of René Robichaux, married
In September 1768, at New Orleans, Marguerite Landry married
Agústín Sierra, a master blacksmith from the Canary Islands
French surgeon Antoine Borda at the home of neighbor Michel Doucet at Attakapas; this marriage also was performed probably by a priest from Pointe Coupée. During the late 1760s, Madeleine Sonnier of Petitcoudiac married Joseph Chrétien at Opelousas; Joseph became a prominent cattleman and planter in the Grand Coteau area.Catherine-Françoise Pitre of Opelousas married Frenchman Pierre Joubert dit Bellerose during the 1760s.
The first Broussard to marry a non-Acadian was Isabelle, a granddaughter of Alexandre dit Beausoleil, who married Michel Meaux of Chaillevette, Saintonge, France, at Attakapas in February 1770; the marriage probably was performed by a priest from Pointe Coupée; this was the first of Isabelle's three marriages to non-Acadian spouses.
As expected, Acadians took their time surrendering their children to French Creoles. The first recorded marriage between an Acadian and a French Creole in Louisiana may have been that of Marie-Modeste Savoie, widow of Paul Léger, and Jean-Baptiste Missonnière, "agent of College of Four Nations," at Opelousas in January 1769; the marriage was performed by a priest from Pointe Coupée. In June 1770, Marie-Josèphe Breau married François Moreau, fils, at St.-Jacques. In April 1771, Marguerite Prince married Alibamon Jean-Louise Bonin at Attakapas; the marriage was performed by a priest from Pointe Coupée. Marie Brasseaux married Hubert Janis at Ascension in October 1772; they moved to the Opelousas prairies. Marin Mouton married Alibamon Marie-Josèphe Lambert of Mobile at St.-Jacques in January 1777. Hélène Martin dit Barnabé married Alibamon Morice Fontenot at St.-Jacques in January 1778; Hélène's sister Isabelle married Morice's brother Augustin at St.-Jacques three years later. In July 1772, at Attakapas, Françoise Trahan married Jacques Fostin, fils of Illinois; the marriage was performed by a priest from Pointe Coupée. In
February 1784, Marie-Madeleine Bujole married Auguste, son of former commandant Nicolas Verret, père, at Ascension, an early, and rare, instance of an Acadian marrying into a socially-prominent French Creole family. The earliest recorded marriage between an Acadian and a German Creole may have been that of Marie David and Antoine Chauffe, originally Schaaf, of St.-Charles des Allemands, at St.-Jacques in January 1774. Later that year, at Opelousas, Michel Cormier, a widower, married Catherine, daughter of Johann Georg Stahlin, called Stelly, a former Swiss mercenary from Alberhausen,Württemberg
. Basile Deroche married Marie Edelmayer, a widow, at St.-Jacques in September 1778.
It took even longer for Acadians to marry Anglo Americans. In July 1781, Jean-Charles Comeaux, a widower living at St.-Gabriel d'Iberville, married Anne Catherine, called Catherine, daughter of Daniel Boush or Bush of Virginia, at St.-Gabriel.
South Louisiana church records reveal
483 Acadian marriages recorded during the first 20 years of the exiles' presence in the colony. Of these recorded marriages, 74, or a bit over 15 percent, were exogamous. As one scholar of the Louisiana Acadian experience attests: "... this investigator was surprised to discover how soon and to what extent Acadians were marrying non-Acadians." True, the great majority of Acadians in Louisiana,
then and in the decades to follow,
married their own kind
. However, the number of these "mixed" marriages is remarkable
considering that they occurred during a time when Acadians were struggling to establish their place in Spanish Louisiana. T
hey also hint that the Acadian culture was evolving into something different.
Unlike in old Acadia, where the Acadians were numerically if not politically dominant in most corners of the colony, Spanish Louisiana contained a potpourri of exotic European cultures: French Creoles, including Alibamons and Illinoisans; French Canadians; recent arrivals from France; German and Swiss Creoles; Italians and Spaniards; and even a hand full of Anglos, most from the Carolinas and Virginia. No matter, given the size and the potential of the colony, Governor Unzaga and his successorsknew that Louisiana was "dangerously underpopulated." This had been true when the colony had been French; the dearth of new immigrants was a major reason why France had ceded Louisiana to Spain. Ironically, just as France was handing over the colony to its Bourbon ally, hundreds of Acadians poured into Louisiana--"Frenchmen" seeking refuge in a "French" colony--but Acadian immigration had virtually ceased by the eve of Unzaga's governorship.
During his seven years as governor, few new immigrants came to Louisiana.One would think that a flood of Spaniards would have poured into the colony after O'Reilly had suppressed the French Creoles who had overthrown Ulloa, but it did not happen. Potential Spanish emigrants preferred more southern climes than the recently-acquired borderlands along the Mississippi. A dangerous people--the aggressive English--occupied the river's opposite bank along its entire length. A Spaniard who settled in Mexico or in another part of New Spain, even in what was left of the Spanish domain in the Caribbean, would not have been troubled by Englishmen living so near; Jamaica, for instance, was no threat to Cuba and Santo Domingo. Not until
Bernardo de Gálvez had been governor for two years did Spaniards come to Louisiana in substantial numbers, and most of them came not from the Iberian peninsula but from Spanish-controlled islands off the coast of west Africa.
They were the Isleños, and they came from the Canary Islands. When Gálvez succeeded Unzaga as governor in January 1777, he was ordered by his uncle, José de Gálvez, Minister of the Indies, to conduct a colony-wide census, which the colony's commandants completed in May. The results were disappointing; the census showed that, despite the Acadian migrations of the 1760s, the colony's population had increased but slightly since the Spanish succeeded the French. Acadian immigration had ended in 1769, so Gálvez had to look elsewhere for potential colonists. In 1778, he lured hundreds of Canary Islanders first to Cuba and then to lower Louisiana aboard eight vessels. So many Isleños came to the colony, in fact, that
Gálvez was able to establish four widely separated communities for them.429a
Gálvez sent the first contingent of Isleños to the St.-Gabriel area in January 1779. He settled them at Gálveztown, also called Villa de Gálvez, just south of the confluence of Bayou Manchac and the Amite River, across from present-day Port Vincent. Anglo Americans fleeing British forces in the area had started the remote settlement only a short time before Gálvez came to survey the place in late November 1778. To win the governor's favor, the Anglos named their little town after him. After he moved the Isleños to the Amite, Gálvez ordered them to build a fort at Gálveztown to intercept British traders who might penetrate the Isle of Orleans via that quarter and also to counter the build up of British defenses in the area. The town eventually numbered "some 400 people." Not long after its founding, Governor Gálvez sent a Spanish missionary, Father Francisco Lopez, to the fortified outpost. The priest boarded with the post's commandant,
Sublieutenant Francisco Collel,and said Mass in a chapel, dedicated to San Bernardo, that was attached to one end of the garrison's barracks. After Father Lopez died in an epidemic that struck the settlement later in 1779, the priest from St.-Gabriel, 15 miles away, administered the sacraments at Galveztown for most of the rest of its short history.
Meanwhile, in early 1779, Gálvez established a new post on upper Bayou Lafourche, near present-day Belle Rose,
a few miles southwest of Ascension. He called the new settlement Villa de Valenzuéla after the family of his aunt, the wife of José de Gálvez, Spanish minister of the Indies, and settled another contingent of Isleños there. The first commandant at Valenzuéla was Lieutenant Gilbert-Antoine de St.-Maxent, Governor Gálvez's father-in-law. St.-Maxent quarreled constantly with the commandant at nearby Ascension, Louis Judice, who claimed that Valenzuéla was part of his district. The Spanish gave an Acadian, Anselme Blanchard of St.-Gabriel, the contract to clear the land and build the houses for the first settlers at Valenzuéla. Blanchard, a captain in the Acadian Coast militia, succeeded St.-Maxent as commandant at Valenzuéla in August 1781. He served in the position until 1784, when complaints from the
Isleños and a Spanish officer assigned to the postled to his removal. Nicolas Verret, fils, whose father had served as co-commandant at St.-Jacques with Nicolas, fils's uncle-by-marriage, Louis Judice, succeeded Blanchard. Nicolas, fils was only 33 years old when he assumed his duties as commandant of
Valenzuéla in late 1784. During
the first year of Verret's tenure, the man who had appointed him, Governor Estevan Miró,
successor, ordered the redrawing of the boundaries between the Ascension and Valenzuéla districts. As a result of the new survey, the Ascension District ran not only along the river above and below the Fork but also along both banks of Bayou Lafourche for the first 40 arpents down from its confluence with the Mississippi. (An arpent, in this case, was equal to 192 feet or 64 yards in the English measure, so 40 arpents of length would have been about 7,680 feet, or just short of a mile and a half, though the curvature of the bayou made it difficult to set the exact boundary between the two districts.) The Valenzuéla District ran the rest of the way down the bayou, the lower part of which was uninhabited only by Indians
In early 1779, Gálvez sent another contingent of 42
Isleñosfamilies to the "high" ground along Bayou Terre-aux-Boeufs, below New Orleans. The Isleños called their settlement at first La Conception and then Nueva Gálvez in honor of the governor, but both names eventually gave way to San Bernardo, or St.-Bernard, the governor's patron saint. Of the four Isleños settlements that Gálvez established, San Bernardo was the most successful, and the most enduring, despite frequent flooding and the ravages of hurricanes; it also was
the only Isleños settlement in Louisiana that survived as a Spanish-speaking community. The governor ordered the building of a church at Nueva Gálvez soon after its establishment, but, until 1787, the settlers were ministered to by priests from New Orleans. In 1783, when more Isleños reached Louisiana, Spanish authorities sent most of them to San Bernardo, doubling the size of the settlement. Eventually, four distinct communities grew up along the bayou. Serving as commandant at San Bernardo from its inception was the French Creole aristocrat who had donated land for the settlement, Pierre de Marigny de Mandeville.431
Isleños community was Barataria, located in the coastal marshlands south of New Orleans. Like
Valenzuéla, Barataria did not survive, at least not as an Isleño community
Not even the fifth community founded by
Gálvez remained Spanish beyond the first few generations.In early 1779, the governor ordered Lieutenant Colonel Francisco Bouligny to lead 600 Spaniards recently arrived from Málaga to lower Bayou Teche, where they established Nuéva Iberia on a bend of the bayou just below the Acadian settlement at Fausse Point. The new settlement lay 10 miles south of the Poste des Attakapas, the only "town" in the area. Gálvez appointed Frenchman Nicolas Forstall to succeed Bouligny as commander of the new settlement. The Spanish families who founded
Nuéva Iberiabore the surnames de Aguilar,
Aponte or de Puentes,de Artacho, Balderas, Equra, Fernández, Garcia, Garrido (later Gary), Gomez, Gonzales, Guerrero, Iba
ñes or Ybanez, de Lagos, López, Martines, de Maura, Mígues, Molina y Postigo, Moreno, de Ortiz, Penalver, de Porras, de Prados, Romero, de Segura, Selano, Vidal, and Villatoro (later Viator). Some sources claim that
Gálvez also sent
Isleños to lower Bayou Teche. A German-American and an Irish-American also can be found in the early rolls of the settlement: John Abscher, whose name evolved into Abshire, was a Pennsylvania German, and Thomas Beard was from Londonderry, Ireland; both created families in the area.The settlers at
Nuéva Iberiasoon realized that there was not enough room for all of them in the small Spanish concession along the banks of the bayou, so some families moved westward into the surrounding prairies or to the shores of nearby Lake Tasse, today's Spanish Lake. Father Louis-Marie Grumeau of Opelousas served as missionary to the new settlement. The Spaniards soon assimilated with the French settlers in the area, especially with the Acadians farther up the Teche, whose numbers dictated that Acadian folkways would remain dominant in the area.433
No sooner had
the Isleños and theMalagueños
in their five communities than he had to turn his attention to a more pressing business, something that had been stirring for years.Hundreds of miles away, the American Revolution sputtered and raged along the Atlantic seaboard and up in the Illinois country. Taking advantage of an opportunity to embarrass the British, on 24 December 1776, Spain's Minister of the Indies, José de Gálvez, "signed a royal order that gave 'open support to the American effort to free the Mississippi River Valley of British domination.'" In 1778, France came into the war as an ally of the Americans. On 8 May 1779, Spain officially declared war against Britain, and the faraway conflict came to lower Louisiana in earnest.
Governor Gálvez acted swiftly. On June 25, soon after learning of the war declaration, he wrote a circular letter to five of his commandants in lower Louisiana:--Bellisle of the Lower German Coast, Robin de Launay of the Upper German Coast, Cantrelle of the Lower Acadian Coast, Judice of Lafourche, and Declouet of the prairie districts. The governor explained to the five commandants: "Because, in the present circumstance, we cannot take too many precautions to resist an invasion, or for some other operation that service could demand in the future, I have decided that, in one case or another, I could use militiamen and others of your commandery (who) are prepared to bear arms; that is, only those with neither wives nor children, (and) neither father nor mother for whom to care. Therefore, I have prepared a list (based on the last census), which I have enclosed...." Gálvez added: "I enjoin you to hold this order in the greatest secrecy, so that not even the officer(s) and soldiers themselves know of it until the exact moment when time comes to march, (in order) to allay the alarm it would, undoubtedly, cause, as well as to hide my plan...." Gálvez did not send marching orders to the commandants at Arkansas, Natchitoches, Pointe Coupée, and Rapides. They "were obliged ... to remain at their local stations, on alert against British encroachment from the upper reaches of the Mississippi River." The British still occupied the east bank of the Illinois country, and the governor would have been especially wary of the British force at Fort Panmure, Natchez, not far above Pointe Coupée.
British commanders in West Florida looked to their defenses along the lower Mississippi and made plans to strike New Orleans from three directions, but the Spanish struck first. In late August 1779, in the wake of a hurricane that had devastated the region, Sublieutenant Francisco Collel, commandant at Gálveztown, with his hand full of Spanish regulars and his militia of Isleños and Anglo Americans, seized seven British vessels and 125 prisoners on the Amite River and captured Fort Graham, the British post on the Amite. Meanwhile, despite the terrible damage from the August 18 hurricane, Governor Gálvez moved his Spanish regulars, Indians, and New Orleans militia from the city to Bayou Manchac, picking up the German and Acadian coast companies on the way. Meanwhile, the Attakapas and Opelousas companies made their way through the Atchafalaya Basin and reached Plaquemine in time to join the governor's forces deploying across the river at Fort San Gabriel. Accompanying the prairie companies were 15 free blacks or mulattoes, and 16 slave "hunters" who would serve as sharpshooters.
No Acadians appear in the rosters of either of the German Coast companies, but they abound in the rolls of the Cabahannocer, Lafourche, and Attakapas companies, with a hand full among the militia of Opelousas. Among the Cabahannocer Acadians on Governor Gálvez's roster were Charles Bergeron, who would have been age 23; Bonaventure Gaudin, fils, age 24; Gilles LeBlanc, age 21; Jean Gravois, called a Lachaussée after his stepfather, age 24; Étienne Melançon, age 23; François-Xavier, called Xavier, Theriot, age 26; Joseph Arceneaux, age 23; Pierre Bernard, fils, age 21; Pierre Lambert, fils, age 32; Jean-Baptiste Melançon, age 23; Jean-Baptiste David, age 20; Jean-Baptiste, called Baptiste, Bourgeois, fils, age 18; Georges Mouton, age 23; Paul Leger, age 21; Charles Gaudet, age 27; and Joseph Bourg, age undetermined. Yzaac Bourgeois also may have been Acadian. Among the Lafourche Acadians were Paul Le Borgne de Bélisle, age 16; Benjamin Landry, age undetermined; Charles Bujeau, age undetermined; Simon LeBlanc, age undetermined; Joseph Melançon, age 24; Joseph dit Belhomme Landry, age 27; Pierre Landry, age 15; Joseph Breaux, age 26; Jean-Baptiste Guidry, age 18; Pierre Dupuis, age 29; Amand Breaux, age 25; Jean Landry, age 27; Olivier Landry, age 26; Firmin Landry, age 19; Joseph Landry, age 27; Jean Landry, age undetermined; Henri, called Isidore, Robichaux, age 19; Michel Dugas, age 22; and Joseph Landry, fils, age 16. Strangely, only a single name appeared on the roster of the St.-Gabriel d'Iberville militia company: Pierre Breaux, age 38. Acadians on the Opelousas company roster included: Joseph Sonnier, age 23; Joseph Boutin, age 26; Joseph Lejeune, age 23; Jean-Charles Benoit, age 20; Jean-Baptiste Lejeune, age 30; Maitre, probably Jean dit Chapeau, Mouton, age 25; and Paul Leger, age 21, probably the same fellow on the Cabahannocer roster. Acadian militiamen from Attakapas included: Joseph Trahan, age 17; Mathurin Broussard, age 29; Olivier Melançon, age 19; Jean-Anselme, called Anselme, Thibodeaux, age 19; Germain Trahan, age 27; Marin Prejean, age 29; Joseph Prejean le jeune, age 20; Jean-Baptiste, called Baptiste, Melançon, age 19; Jean-Baptiste, called Baptiste, Duhon, age 20; a Baudrau, probably Boudreaux, perhaps Augustin dit Rémi, who would have been age 24, or Jean-Charles dit Donat, who would have been age 18; a Louvière, either François, age 20, or brother Isidore, age 16; Joseph-Théodore, called Théodore, Broussard, age 15; Jean-Baptiste, called Jean, Bernard, age 17; Cosme LeBlanc, age 19; Charles-Dominique, called Dominique, Babineaux, age 18; Théodore Thibodeaux, age 15; Michel Doucet, age 26; Pierre Doucet, age 23; Jean Doucet, age 17; and Jean Guilbeau, called L'Officier, his father's dit, age 23. Most of the Acadian militiamen on the governor's rosters were, as per his orders, bachelors, some of them only a few months away from the altar. One suspects, however, that married Acadians hearty enough to serve ignored the governor's orders and joined the fight against the hated British.433e
Gálvez launched his offensive against the British during the first week of September. His Spanish troops slipped upriver to prevent British reinforcements from reaching Fort Bute while the militia crossed the bayou north of Fort San Gabriel on September 7 and took Fort Bute by surprise. An authority on the action at Fort Bute wrote that "the militia, particularly the Acadians, behaved splendidly." Led by the governor's father-in-law, Antoine-Gilbert de St.-Maxent of
Valenzuéla, the militia lost not a single man in the assault. Later that month, on September 21, Gálvez, with his small body of Spanish regulars and his trusty militia, captured Fort New Richmond at Baton Rouge after a spirited fight. Meanwhile, an American privateer, William Pickles, captured a British armed vessel in Lake Pontchartrain and denied the British at Baton Rouge that avenue of escape. Soon after the fall of Baton Rouge, the British commander of Fort Panmure at Natchez surrendered to Captain Jean Delavillebeuvre without a fight. By early October, after a month-long offensive, the lower Mississippi valley was entirely clear of British troops and vessels.433a
Amazingly, Gálvez's force suffered only two casualties in its onslaught against the British on the lower Mississippi--both of them Acadians. Jean-Baptiste dit Petit-Jean Hébert, in his late 30s, was in the Second Company of the St.-Gabriel militia, and Maturin Landry, in his mid-40s, served in the Lafourche (Ascension) company. Both men survived their wounds. In contrast, the British lost 36 dead, 10 wounded, and 485 captured at their three forts. Another authority on the campaign writes: "In his account to the court of the campaigns on the lower Mississippi in 1779, Gálvez demonstrated great pleasure in the zeal displayed by the Louisiana militia in all of their engagements. He singled out the Acadian companies, in whom burned the memory of English cruelty in the Seven Years' War, which forced them to abandon their homes in Canada." When Gálvez, now a field marshal, attacked the British at Mobile in February 1780, he took his Acadian militia with him. Again, the exiles tasted sweet revenge against their former oppressors.434
The second Treaty of Paris of September 1783 ending the American War for Independence removed the troublesome British from the lower Mississippi valley, but they were soon replaced by an even more aggressive people who claimed the Baton Rouge area for themselves. Anglo Americans soon appeared there in ever growing numbers. St.-Gabriel Acadians, meanwhile, moved north of Bayou Manchac into the once-forbidden zone around old Fort Bute. Across the river, Acadians moved up the west bank into the area north of Bayou Plaquemine. Because of restrictive Spanish policies
, however, these emigrants from the Acadian coasts would have been few in number.435
Farther downriver, "As the population density of the First and Second Acadian Coasts grew in the 1770s and early 1780s, at least eighteen families, the patriarchs of which usually could expect not more than a small, practically uninhabitable slice of their parents' estate, capitalized upon the easing of Spanish restrictions on intracolonial movement by migrating to the virtually unchartered central and lower Lafourche Valley," below the Isleños settlement at
Out on the prairies, new Acadian communities appeared in the Attakapas District at Grand Prairie; along the Vermilion River down towards the bay;
at the western edge of the district
along Bayou Queue de Tortue; at Beaubassin on upper Bayou Vermilion; on the northern edge of the district at Carencro, west of Beaubassin; and along the Teche above La Pointe towards the Opelousas boundary and below Fausse Pointe and the new Spanish settlement at
Iberia. In the Opelousas District, Acadians were settling
at the southeastern edge of the district
Grand Coteau and on Prairie des Femmes; farther out on the prairies along Bayou Plaquemine Brûlé; even farther out on the Mermentau, Faquetaique, and Mamou prairies along bayous Mallet, des Cannes, and Nezpique; and along the Mermentau River--all excellent places for raising cattle.
Despite these intracolonial movements, the continued presence of native tribes, and the arrival of hundreds of Spanish immigrants
, much of the arable land in lower Louisiana remained unoccupied. This was especially truealong
both banks of the Mississippi north of bayous Manchac and Plaquemine, out on the prairies, and along Bayou Lafourche, so the colony could easily accommodate hundreds of more immigrant farmers. King Carlos III saw this clearly. Despite the reluctance of Spaniards
to settle in Louisiana, he
was determined to send more settlers there, even if they were not Spanish.436a
La Nouvelle-Acadie: The Seven Ships Expeditions, 1785-86
Estevan Rodriguez Miró y Sabater served as provisional governor of Louisiana from 1782, when Gálvez, now governor of Louisiana and Mobile, returned to Havana and remained there. As a reward for his victories against the British, Gálvez had been named a conde, or count, in 1781 and was promoted to Viceroy of New Spain three years later
. Miró succeeded him as governor in July 1785. At the time, Louisiana's intendente was Felix Martín Antonio, called Martín, Navarro, a native of La Caruna, who had come to the colony with Ulloa as his treasurer. There was no intendente in Spanish Louisiana until 1779, when Navarro was appointed to that position. By the time of his promotion, no Spaniard knew Louisiana and its people as well as Intendente Navarro.
On 22 October 1783, King Carlos III issued a royal decree, called a sedula, approving a scheme offered to Spain by Frenchman and former resident of Louisiana Henri-Marie Peyroux de la Coudrenière to transport the hundreds of Acadians still languishing in France to Spanish Louisiana. Both the Spanish ambassador to France, Don Pedro Pablo Abarca de Bolea, Count de Aranda, and the Spanish consul at St.-Malo, Manuel d'Asprès, sent copies of the royal order to interim Governor
Miró, who assigned to Intendente Navarro the task of "making proper provisions for the Acadians" when they reached the colony. Navarro also was tasked with overseeing the settlement of each new family. "As Governor Ulloa's subordinate in the late 1760s, Navarro had witnessed the disastrous consequences of thwarting the exiles' dream of sociocultural reunification. Rather than dictate settlement policy to the exiles in the manner of the ill-fated chief executive, he resolved to permit the Acadian immigrants to select their own homesites. Drawing upon his twenty years of experience in dealing with the exiles, he sought to secure their full cooperation by establishing and maintaining good rapport with them." Aware of the trauma of transatlantic travel, the dramatic change in climate and food, and "the Acadian scourge--smallpox," Navarro established dormitories and hospitals at Algiers, across the river from New Orleans, one hospital for males in the royal stables, the other, newly built, for females. He also "added wet nurses and orderlies to the clinic staff" to make the hospitals more efficient. While the new Acadian arrivals recuperated at Algiers, taking at least a month to do so, the intendente, in command of the royal warehouses at New Orleans, would issue to each family head the necessary tools and implements with which to work their homesteads. When the time came for the Acadians to leave Algiers, the intendente would hire "a small flotilla of launches and barges" to convey them to their new settlements.
On 24 June 1785, Count de Aranda sent dispatches to Governor
Miró and Intendente Navarro informing them that the first ship load of Acadians from France was on the way. Le Bon Papa, a 280-ton frigate under Captain Pelletier, with 156 passengers aboard, had left Paimboeuf, the port of Nantes, on May 10 and was halfway across the Atlantic. Navarro was in Mexico when he received the message and hurried back to New Orleans.He
appointed Anselme Blanchard of St.-Gabriel, recently commandant on the upper Lafourche, as a salaried commissioner "not only to welcome the exiles to New Orleans in the name of Spanish Louisiana but also to grant them entry into the province." Blanchard's primary task was to supervise the settlement of his fellow Acadians, some of whom would be his own relatives. He was to assure them "that it was the wish of the Spanish government that they should have full liberty in the selection of their future abodes."
Le Bon Papa reached Louisiana on July 29, after 80 days at sea. Blanchard greeted the 36 families at Balize and escorted them upriver to the dormitories at Algiers. There, he made a detailed list of all of the passengers, organized by families. Blanchard, who spoke Spanish as well as French, was ordered to record the names in Spanish, but he did his best to retain the French inflections. On the Bon Papa passenger list were many Acadian names already found in the colony: Babin, Benoit, Boudrot, Bourg, Braud, Broussard, Daigre, Doiron, Dugas, Gautrot, Guédry, Hébert, Labauve, Landry, LeBlanc, Léger, Lejeune, Trahan, Vincent. But many "new" Acadian names also appeared: Aucoin, Barrieau, Dumont, Grossin, Haché, Henry, Lebert, Legendre, Pinet dit Pinel, Quimine, Templé, Usé. Non-Acadian names, most belonging to French spouses of Acadians, also could be found aboard Le Bon Papa: Chiquet, Courtney, LeTullier, Stebens. Soon after the Acadians reached Algiers, Navarro granted a subsidy of 10 cents to every family head, seven and a half cents to every adult, and two and a half cents to every child, to be used to purchase the small necessities of life. Amazingly, only a single passenger, an infant, had died on the voyage, but the change in climate soon began to take its toll on the new arrivals. Ten Acadians died at Algiers, and three deserted. Towards the end of their month of recuperation, Navarro ordered Juan Prieto, custodian of the royal warehouses, to issue each family "meat cleavers, axes, hatchets, hoes, spades, and knives according to the number of active workers in each family"--something he would do for each expedition. Meanwhile, Commissioner Blanchard escorted deputies from among the family heads to inspect available land on upper Bayou Lafourche, and at Bayougoula on the west bank and Manchac on the east bank of the river in the District of St.-Gabriel d'Iberville. Back at Algiers, the deputies conferred with the family heads, and each selected his or her new home. One family chose to go to Bayou Lafourche. Another, headed by a widow, chose to await the arrival of her oldest son before going on to Opelousas. The other family heads chose to settle in the St.-Gabriel District, six of them at Bayougoula, 27 of them at Manchac. Having hired launches on which to convey the passengers, river guides, and river hands from André Chiloque and Arnaud Magnon at four dollars a day, and two barges from Étienne Plauche to carry the Acadians' baggage
at two and a half dollars per day, Blanchard led the expedition upriver on August 25. At each new settlement, Blanchard "first secured temporary housing with established settlers for the immigrants and then apportioned land grants of four or five arpents among the exiles. Blanchard remained with the immigrants until they were moved onto their lands," and soon the new arrivals were putting their tools and implements to good use.
Navarro's scheme of settlement had gone off without a hitch. He had establish the pattern he would follow for each expedition. As soon as he could, he notified minister José de
Gálvezthat the first expedition was settled. The intendente described Manchac as "'a wilderness,'" but he assured the minister that it would be "'an excellent site for the exportation of fruit.'" Unfortunately, back at Paimboeuf, Consul D'Asprès, "anxious to win a reputation for economical efficiency," had already assured that the next expedition would not be so successful.
The second ship, the 300-ton frigate La Bergère under Captain Deslandes, was 20 tons larger than Le Bon Papa. Upon the departure of Le Bon Papa carrying so many of their relatives, Acadian indifference to the Spanish re-settlement scheme had suddenly given way to enthusiasm. Hearing the reports from
Peyroux de la Coudrenière and his Acadian assistant, Olivier Térriot, d'Asprès was convinced that all of the Acadians still in France--2,300 of them--were now eager to leave the mother country and join their kinsmen in Louisiana.
On May 7, three days before the departure of Le Bon Papa, d'Après booked 273 passengers, in 73 families, for La Bergère--117 more than would cross on Le Bon Papa! He called a meeting at his residence of the 73 family heads and suggested that they elect five leaders among them "whose duty it would be to police the ship and distribute rations." D'Asprès had organized the expedition in haste, and among the passengers were Acadians who, a few years before, had argued bitterly over settling on Corsica. "To preserve peace aboard ship," d'Asprès "bade the 73 family heads ... to promise obedience" of their elected leaders "under punishment of expulsion at New Orleans" if caused any trouble on the voyage. The family heads chose Olivier Térriot, Charles Dugas, Charles Aucoin, Simon Dugas, and Étienne Dupuy to lead them. According to Térriot, the Dugass and Aucoin "were 'well fixed financially,'" but Dupuy, Térriot knew, "was 'as poor as myself.'"
La Bergère left Paimboeuf on May 12, only two days after Le Bon Papa left the same port, and reached Louisiana, also without mishap, on August 15 after 93 days at sea. The Bon Papa passengers were still at Algiers when La Bergère reached the colony, so Anselme Blanchard was able to greet the newest arrivals and record another debarkation list. Seven children had been born en route, and six elderly passengers had been buried at sea. La Bergère's passenger list included many Acadian names already in the colony, including "new" names found among the Bon Papa arrivals: Aucoin, Barrieau, Blanchard, Boudrot, Bourg, Brasseur, Braud, Comeau, Daigle, Doiron, Dugas, Dupuy/Dupuis, Gautrot, Giroir, Granger, Hébert, Henry, Landry, LeBlanc, LePrince, Pitre, Richard, Thériot, Trahan. But more new Acadian names also graced the list: Bertrand, Chaillou, Duplessis, Guérin, Guillot, Livois, Mazerolle, Noël, Ozelet, Potier, Savary, Ségoillot.
And more non-Acadians crossed on this ship, bearing the names Friou, LeTullier, Mollard, Moreau, Orry. The dormitories at Algiers were still occupied, so Intendente Navarro had to convert the customhouse at New Orleans into a temporary barracks for the new arrivals. While recuperating in the city, 12 more babies were born and four marriages were celebrated. Unfortunately, nine more La Bergère passengers died in the city from the rigors of the voyage and the oppressive heat and humidity of the late Louisiana summer.
The Bergère passengers lingered at New Orleans longer than anticipated. They did so not only because of the rigors of the voyage and the adjustment to the new climate, but also because of an oversight on the part of Consul d'Asprès back in France. To Navarro's chagrin, the consul had failed to send with the Bergère passengers their trunks and other personal baggage, so important to their resettlement in Louisiana. Navarro assumed that the baggage would arrive aboard the third expedition, but not even the fourth ship, which arrived on September 10, carried the personal items that should have been loaded back in early May; the last of the Bergère baggage did not reach the colony, in fact, until a seventh ship arrived in late December. Anselme Blanchard, meanwhile, was still supervising the settlement of the Bon Papa passengers at Manchac, so Intendente Navarro hired Jean Cambeau, at 40 cents a day, to guide the "surveyors" for the Bergère families to the unoccupied lands upriver. The Acadians could not decide where to establish their villages, so Navarro sent veteran officer Pedro Aragon y Villegas to advise them. After much thought and deliberation, most of the Bergère Acadians--67 families of 242 individuals--selected Bayou Lafourche as their new home. At that time, the Lafourche valley contained the largest expanse of unsettled territory near the Acadian coasts, where many of the new arrivals had relatives. The Bergère Acadians heading for the bayou left Algiers on October 4, and Intendente Navarro "closed his books on the expedition" four days later. These Acadians were not the first of their kind to occupy the natural levees along the upper Lafourche, but, thanks to their arrival in such impressive numbers, no other Acadian community would grow so large so quickly.
Not all of the Bergère passengers went to Bayou Lafourche. Several families chose to join relatives in the prairie districts, but they were forced by illness to linger at New Orleans longer than the others. Not until November 13 did Pedro Aragon y Villegas conduct them to Opelousas and Attakapas aboard the goleta San José, which followed the usual route via Bayou Plaquemine and the Atchafalaya Basin to Bayou Courtableau and the upper Teche. Meanwhile, one family from La Bergère chose to settle at Manchac.446
The third ship, Le Beaumont, a 180-ton frigate of medium size and late construction, was smaller than the other two vessels and also much faster. So many Acadians now were eager to join the expedition that when a family of four dropped out before the ship's departure, hundreds of Acadians offered to take their place. The most distinguished passenger aboard Le Beaumont was not an Acadian. Henri-Marie Peyroux de la Coudrenière, the organizer of the Acadian odyssey from France, was accompanied by his wife, Prudence-Françoise Rodrigue, a niece, servant Louis-François Montréal, and a friend named Le Cat. Because of his status, Peyroux was designated leader of the expedition. The Spanish also gave him a daily stipend, running from August 1784 to May 1785, and paid for his family's transportation.
With 176 passengers aboard, Le Beaumont left Paimboeuf on June 11, while the other two vessels were still at sea, and reached Louisiana during the third week of August only a few days behind La Bergère. Le Beaumont did not remain at Balize but continued up to New Orleans, which it reached on August 19--a swift 70-day voyage.According to a student of the Seven Ships' expeditions, "The greater part" of the Acadians aboard the smaller frigate "was made up of small families and newly married couples." Acadians who crossed on
Le Beaumontbore many surnames that already could be found in the colony: Benoit, Bernard, Boudrot, Bourg, Braud, Broussard, Comeau, Daigre, Doiron, Dugas, Duhon, Forest, Gautrot, Granger, Guédry, Hébert, Henry, Lalande, Lebert, LeBlanc, Lejeune, Martin, Michel, Pitre, Potier, Richard, Robichaud, Trahan, Vincent. But there also were new Acadian family names on the frigate's passenger list: Arbour, Bellemère, Clossinet, De La Forestrie, Dubois, LaGarenne, Lavergne, Molaison, Patry. And there were other non-Acadian names among the Beaumont passengers, most of them spouses, or soon-to-be spouses, of Acadians: Betancourt, Blandin, Cabon, Caillouet, Costa, Courtin, Garcia, Holley, Valet.
Intendente Navarro appointed Pedro Aragon y Villegas as commissioner for the Beaumont Acadians and instructed Anselme Blanchard to help prepare quarters for the new arrivals in New Orleans; the dormitories at Algiers and the customhouse in the city were too overcrowded to accommodate them. While the Beaumont Acadians recuperated in the city, the intendente supervised the marriages of three Acadian girls to three non-Acadians who also had crossed on the frigate, perhaps as members of the crew. Four Beaumont passengers died at New Orleans, two deserted, and a baby was born to one of the families. Meanwhile, "The surveyors of this group lost no time in determining the sites for their future homes. After two weeks of reconnoitering they decided upon Baton Rouge." Forty-one families with 145 members approved of the selection,
some preferring the east bank north of Bayou Manchac, others the west bank north of Bayou Plaquemine. Four families with 19 members chose to go to Bayou Lafourche, and four families with 20 members elected to join relatives in the Attakapas District. Two families with eight members chose crowded St.-Jacques on the Lower Acadian Coast. During the first week of September, after a short recuperation period, the Beaumont Acadians were ready to move on to their new homes.
Having been promised further rewards by the Spanish, Henri-Marie Peyroux de la Coudrenière asked Intendente Navarro to appoint him captain and to give him command
of the Baton Rouge District, where "his" Acadians had gone. Peyroux received his captaincy, but
Navarro and Governor Miró, who probably were not charmed by the smooth-talking Frenchman,sent him,
instead, to Ste.-Geneviève, in the Illinois country, and appointed Spanish officer Joseph Vasquez Vahamonde to command at Baton Rouge.449a
The fourth expedition, that of the 400-ton frigate St.-Rémi, would be the largest, and the least successful, of the seven expeditions. Again, Consul d'Asprès was at fault. Though a much larger ship than the other three,
Le St.-Rémiwas dangerously overcrowded when it left St.-Malo. This was the first of two expeditions scheduled to transport Acadians from that port, which once held the largest concentration of the exiles in France. After the failure of the Poitou venture during the 1770s, the many Acadians who had gone there from the St.-Malo area had retreated to Nantes, and there they remained. Still, dozens of Acadian families still living in the villages around St.-Malo also had signed up to resettle in Louisiana. Unfortunately, d'Asprès ignored his previous dictum about overcrowding and allowed families to sign up for the expedition "regardless of health conditions." Anxious to leave before the end of June, he called a convocation of the family heads on June 19. They chose their leaders and made their rules for shipboard conduct and the distribution of rations.
Le St.-Rémi, under Captain Nicolas Baudin, left St.-Malo on June 27, 13 days after Le Beaumont had departed Paimboeuf, on the other side of Brittany.Evidently Le St. Rémi sailed around to Paimboeuf to pick up passengers from Morlaix who had congregated at the port of Nantes.
D'Asprès thus allowed 323 Acadians and their belongings to be carried aboard the ship, as well as baggage for the Acadians who had crossed on La Bergère."As a result of that unhealthy congestion, smallpox broke out during the voyage and carried away twelve children. Scurvy caused the deaths of three women." The big frigate reached Louisiana on September 10 after a 75-day voyage, but the nightmare was not yet over.
Le St.-Rémi ran aground in the channel at Balize. Sixteen more passengers died of smallpox aboard the stranded vessel, and there was "much sickness in their camp at New Orleans." The city, by now, was overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of immigrants, with more on the way. Intendente Navarro ordered the construction of "a wooden hall 200 by 26 feet, capable of housing 800 people" at Algiers to accommodate the current and future arrivals. It was still summer in lower Louisiana, and the St.-Rémi passengers also suffered from the excessive heat as well as the strange food they were compelled to eat. The large numbers of sick passengers from the vessel, especially among the women, overwhelmed the two hospitals for the Acadians at Algiers. Navarro ordered the enlargement of the women's hospital to 45 beds. Aware of the Acadians' repugnance of French hospitals, he called the expanded women's facility Community House and made it independent of the hospitals in the city. Sadly, "the change of climate carried off many Acadian mothers. Navarro, in his solicitude for the Acadians, hired wet-nurses to care for their motherless babies." He also provided extra assistance for the elderly passengers who had fallen ill.
Again, the great majority of the Acadians aboard Le St.-Rémi bore family names familiar in the colony: Aucoin, Barrieau, Bellemère, Benoit, Blanchard, Boudrot, Bourg, Braud, Comeau, Daigle, Darois, De La Forestrie, Dugas, Duhon, Gautrot, Granger, Guédry, Guérin, Guillot, Haché, Hébert, Henry, Labauve, Landry, Lebert, LeBlanc, Lejeune, LePrince, Levron, Livois, Michel, Pitre, Richard, Robichaud, Saulnier, Thériot, Thibodeau, Trahan, Vincent. But there were new Acadian family names aboard this vessel also: Carret, Clémenceau, Clément, Darembourg, Hamon, Moïse, Naquin. Non-Acadian family names on the passenger list included French spouses, or soon to be spouses, of some of the Acadians in the expedition: Bedel, Billardin, Bonfils, Boutary, Garnier, Judice,
Juon,Lecoq, Macle, Metra. When Spanish authorities compiled a debarkation list for Le St.-Rémi, they discovered 16 stowaways, many of them young Frenchmen "engaged" to Acadian girls.
By early October, most of the sick passengers had regained their health. "The camp bustled again with activity: elections of surveyors, discussions on future settlements, the admission of nineteen new adherents, and the celebration of eight births and five marriages." By this time, Intendente Navarro had served as godfather to many of the Acadian children born at Algiers and New Orleans. "His kindness made the exiles very happy. But when he consented to be godfather for all Acadian babies whether born aboard ship or in camp at New Orleans, or during the trip up the Mississippi River, he won the heart of every one of the exiles. From that time on the Acadians loved him as a member of 'their nation.'"
As soon as most of them had recovered from their illness, Navarro called a meeting of the St.-Rémi family heads and offered them a proposition. He had heard that Acadians were good carpenters, so he offered to pay them a subsidy of $100 for constructing their own houses. "Because they were an honest people, he told them, he was confident that they would build their homes with thrift, avoid waste of time, and use only the best materials. To show his appreciation of their co-operation, he would grant them permission to apply any savings in time and material to purchase cattle for their farms." The St.-Rémi Acadians heartily endorsed the plan.
In early October, the surveyors for the St.-Rémi expedition returned to their camp and recommended settlement on Bayou Lafourche, where most of their La Bergère compatriots had gone.
families chose to join relatives at Attakapas, and two individuals elected to settle at Nueva Gálvez below New Orleans and at Baton Rouge,but the great majority of them--85 families with 303 members--agreed to go to Bayou Lafourche. The intendente tasked Anselme Blanchard with settling these hundreds of his fellow Acadians along the lower stretches of the bayou. Blanchard had to wait, however, for more of the St.-Rémi Acadians to be well enough to travel. On December 16, after the heads of families received their tools and implements, Blanchard assembled
on the levee at Algiersthe expedition members well enough to travel and loaded them aboard the
San José, recently returned from the prairies, on launches hired from
André Chiloque and Arnaud Magnon, and on a boat leased from Josef de la Puente, for the journey upriver and then down the Lafourche.
The fifth expedition, that of the 400-ton frigate L'Amitié, sometimes called by its Spanish name La Amistad, was the third to depart Paimboeuf. The four previous expeditions had left Paimboeuf and St.-Malo in May and June. L'Amitié, whose embarkation d'Asprès had entrusted to his vice-consul, Luìs Landaluze, had been scheduled to depart Paimboeuf in late June, but the big frigate did not set sail until eight days after the sixth ship, La Ville d'Archangel, an even larger frigate, left St.-Malo on August 12. The delay resulted from dozens of Acadians in the St.-Malo area failing to depart on La Ville d'Archangel. Only six expeditions had been planned in the beginning, but d'Asprès and the Count de Aranda had already realized that there would be dozens, perhaps hundreds, of "leftovers," requiring more ships. Landaluze held up the sailing of L'Amitié so that these "leftovers" would not become too numerous, but he resisted d'Asprès's efforts to pack the ship with as many as passengers as had sailed on the overcrowded St.-Rémi. When L'Amitié left Paimboeuf on August 20 it carried "only" 270 passengers--260 adults and 10 children--slightly less than had crossed aboard La Bergère, a smaller ship. Among the passengers aboard L'Amitié were more relatives of
Peyroux de la Coudrenière, who had crossed on Le Beaumont with the third expedition and awaited his kinsmen at Ste.-Geneviève.
L'Amitié, under Captain Joseph Beltremieux, reached New Orleans on November 8. Despite Landaluze's efforts to limit the number of passengers aboard L'Amitié, there was "much sickness during the voyage...." Six were buried at sea, and 27 arrived in the colony "very sick. But once they landed they recovered rapidly," so the expedition was largely a successful one. Amazingly, no passenger in the L'Amitié expedition died in the camp at Algiers. Moreover, there were 17 marriages, 10 births, and 24 "adherents."
The large number of marriages was the result of Intendente Navarro's efforts to marry off the many Acadian women of marriageable age who had come to the colony without husbands. As on Le St.-Rémi, a number of stowaways,
most of them love-struck young Frenchmen "engaged" to Acadian girls,12 this time, crossed on L'Amitié. Navarro also had been informed that a number of sailors aboard the ships had fallen in love with Acadian girls but feared that marrying them at New Orleans would end their wives' subsidies from the Spanish crown. Navarro had no instructions from his superiors about encouraging marriage among the new settlers, but he understood the importance of stable families in promoting the interests of the colony. "To encourage all bachelor immigrants to enter marriage with Acadian girls, he published two guarantees: first, to the stowaways and sailors, the right to settle in Louisiana; and second, to any local bachelor, the right of family head with a continuation of the usual subsidy from the government." The result was a spectacular increase in Acadian marriages. "From November 20 to December 19, 1785, there was much festivity among the Acadians. Back in Acadia a marriage was an event of communal celebration. And the Acadians clung tenaciously to their 'national' traditions. The occasion of a marriage called for dancing, games, and a rehearsal of their national history, accompanied with the usual drink of beer, cider, or 'café noir.' And this was a special occasion." This further endeared the Spanish intendente to the Acadians.
Members of the Amitié expedition bore the usual ratio of established and "new" Acadian surnames. The established names included Aucoin, Babin, Barrieau, Benoit, Bertrand, Blanchard, Boudrot, Bourg, Braud, Broussard, Chiasson, Comeau, Daigle, Damour, Doucet, Dubois, Dugas, Duhon, Durel, Forest, Gautrot, Giroir, Granger, Guillot, Haché, Hamon, Hébert, Landry, LeBlanc, Léger, Lejeune, Levron, Molaison, Moïse, Olivier, Part, Pinet, Pitre, Potier, Quimine, Richard, Semer, Templé, Thériot, Thibodeau, Trahan, Vincent. New Acadian surnames aboard the vessel were Bonnevie, Crochet, Dantin, De La Mazière, Fouquet, Gousman, Neveu, Précieux, Rassicot, Renaud. Non-Acadian names among the passengers, some of them spouses of Acadians, many of them stowaways, included Adam, Albert, Avarat,
Ayo,Bénard, Boucite, Charrié, De La Garde, Drapeau, Fardy, Galletier, Hainement, Jacques, Joanne, Laurenty, LeFaibre, LeTullier, Ménard, Metra, Simon, Valois, Viaud, Videt.
The Amitié Acadians' quick recovery from the trauma of their transatlantic voyage allowed them to remain only briefly in the camp at Algiers. Some of them--a dozen families with 37 members--chose to settle at
Nueva Gálvez below New Orleans. One, a bachelor, went to Baton Rouge; two newlyweds went to Bayou des Écores, above Baton Rouge; four families with 10 members, including Jean-Baptiste Semer's relatives, went to Attakapas to join their brother/nephew there; and one, an Acadian stowaway, joined his widowed mother and siblings at Opelousas.The great majority of the Amitié contingent, however--71 families with 224 members--chose Bayou Lafourche as their new home. Juan Prieto, manager of the King's warehouses, issued tools and implements to most of the heads of families on December 15, so the 224 Acadians from Amitié going to Lafourche may have accompanied the 303 Acadians from Le St.-Rémi who left Algiers for the bayou on December 16--527 Acadians in all!
After all of these Acadians reached their homesites on the bayou, the population of the Valenzuéla District more than doubled. Some L'Amitié passengers left for their homesites on December 16, but the rest of them--the ones going to
Nueva Gálvez and
newlyweds who Navarro allowed to remain longer in camp--did not leave for their settlements
until the middle of January.
The sixth expedition was actually the fifth ship to leave France, the fifth to reach Louisiana, and the second to depart from St.-Malo. La Ville d'Archangel, at 600 tons, also was the largest of the Seven Ships. The big frigate, under Captain LeGoaster, left St.-Malo on August 12, eight days before L'Amitié left Paimboeuf. Aboard were 309 passengers, second in number only to what the overcrowded St.-Rémi had carried in June. The expedition had been ready to leave St.-Malo in early July, but contrary winds delayed its departure for a month. At first, Luìs Landaluze was tasked with organizing the expedition, but Consul d'Asprès took over before the ship set sail. The large number of Acadian petitioners who had recently come forth, totaling 378 potential passengers, compelled the consul to employ a larger ship for the second expedition out of St.-Malo, but prudence dictated that not all of the petitioners should be taken at once. Thus, a seventh expedition was required to accommodate the "left overs" from St.-Malo. In spite of the crowded conditions aboard La Ville d'Archangel, d'Asprès was compelled to squeeze aboard another passenger, "a distinguished French colonist," Duhamel Deschenais.
A larger ship with so many passengers required a longer passage across the Atlantic, so La Ville d'Archangel did not reach Louisiana until November 4, after 85 days at sea. The long crossing caused the ships' provisions to run out days before the voyage ended, so
La Ville d'Archangelreached the colony with 38 "very sick passengers" aboard. It also ran aground in the muddy channel at the mouth of the river. Apprised of the ship's arrival and the condition of the passengers, Intentende Navarro "promptly rushed water, provisions, medical supplies, and extra help so that by November 11" the ship was able to enter the main channel of the Mississippi. At that time, Acadians from Le St.-Rémi and L'Amitié still occupied the camp at Algiers, so the intendente ordered the big frigate, with its passengers still aboard, to make the 110-mile journey up to the city, which it reached on December 3--the sixth expedition to disembark at New Orleans. Having closely observed the behavior of the Acadians in the previous expeditions as well as those who been living in the colony for the past two decades, he was fully aware of their spirit of independence and their amazing stubbornness. He boarded
La Ville d'Archangel as soon as it dockedand spoke to the new arrivals. He was glad to see that, except for the 38 sick passengers, the others were in tolerable health. He reviewed for them the pact they had made with the Spanish King over the cost of their transportation to the colony and their settlement there. He explained to them the protocols they were expected to follow once they disembarked, and he asked for their co-operation. The expediton's leaders thanked the intendente "graciously for his welcome and instructions. They told him that the expedition was unanimous in its belief that 'at long last' it had found 'its day of peace and prosperity.' They promised him as chiefs of the expedition faithfully to fulfill to the best of their ability all matters he had outlined in his speech. They assured him that everyone was eager to begin the work of colonization as soon as he would permit possession of the land their surveyors had chosen." Navarro then turned to Pedro Aragon y Villegas, commissioner for the Acadians in New Orleans, and ordered him to escort the healthy passengers to their camp in the city. The 38 sick passengers he sent not to a city hospital but to the Community House he had built for the Acadians at Algiers. Sadly, despite the extraordinary care, 15 of the passengers died.
While the surveyors from La Ville d'Archangel looked at empty land along the river between New Orleans and Pointe Coupée, Navarro did what he could to encourage more marriages. Most of the 53 families in the expedition were large ones, and many of the "children" were of marriageable age. Navarro also served as godfather for two of the expedition's newborns. Again, the passenger list of La Ville d'Archangel contained the usual mix of Acadian surnames already established in Louisiana and new ones not yet seen in the colony, though the number of new ones, understandably, was much lower than in previous expeditions. The established names included Aucoin, Babin, Boudrot, Bourg, Braud, Clossinet, Comeau, Daigle, Dugas, Dupuy, Forest, Gaudet, Giroir, Granger, Guédry, Guérin, Hébert, Henry, Landry, LeBlanc, Melanson, Molaison, Moïse, Pitre, Richard, Saulnier, Thériot, Thibodeau, Trahan. The Aucoins were especially numerous. The new Acadian surnames were Arcement, Longuépée, and Mius d'Entremont. Non-Acadian names, mostly those of French spouses, included Aillet, Billeza, Briand, Hervé, Langlinais, Le Lorre, Nogues, Richer.
Two of the passengers deserted, but 11 new adherents joined the expedition, and seven marriages among the passengers increased the number of families in the expedition.
The surveyors from La Ville d'Archangel recommended two places of settlement: Bayou Lafourche, where nearly 800 of their fellow Acadians had gone, and Bayou des Écores, present-day Thompson Creek, which the Spanish called Rio Feliciana, north of Baton Rouge in the new Spanish district of Feliciana. By late December, members of expedition had recuperated enough to proceed to their new homes. Most of them--53 families with 271 members--chose Bayou des Écores, six families with 21 members elected to join the many other Acadians on Bayou Lafourche, and a family of seven chose to remain at New Orleans. Storehouse manager Juan Prieto issued the necessary tools and implements. On 17 January 1786, Intendente Navarro hired launches, boats, and a barge from François Broutin, André Chiloque, Baptiste Anstive, Jacques Mather, and Louis Demarest, at four dollars a day for the boats and a dollar a day for the barge, and the expedition headed slowly upriver. The large Bayou des Écores contingent was established at Feliciana by the third week of February.
The seventh and final expedition of 1785 was that of La Caroline, a 200-ton brig assigned to Captain Nicolas Baudin, who had taken Le St.-Rémi to Louisiana over the summer and had quickly returned to France. The other six vessels had been frigates, which tended to be larger than brigs, so the final ship was chosen not for its size but for its speed. Her port of departure also would be different--not St.-Malo or even Paimboeuf, but directly from Nantes. Aboard were 28 Acadian families of 77 individuals, the so-called "leftovers" who had missed the departure of La Ville d'Archangel at St.-Malo and a few last-minute volunteers. Also aboard La Caroline were the last of the personal baggage for the Bergère expedition, which had departed Paimboeuf the previous May. Consul d'Asprès, aware that the French had approved of only a six-ship endeavor, tried to outfit this seventh expedition as surreptitiously as possible so as not to alarm them. He was confident that he could secure the signatures of at least 300 more Acadians for Louisiana, which would require at least two more transports, but "the French government foiled his plans." La Caroline, then, was the final expedition, the final opportunity for the hundreds of Acadians still in France who hoped to join their relatives in the Spanish colony.464a
La Caroline left Nantes on October 19, two months after La Ville d'Archangel and L'Amitié had sailed, and arrived at Balize on December 17. "The expedition enjoyed good health throughout the entire trip, losing only one member." Among the passengers was Spanish priest Father Juan Léon, on his way to serve at New Orleans. Captain Baudin deposited his passengers and their belongings at Balize, took on a cargo of wood, and hurried back to France. The intendente sent the usual contingent of vessels to convey the passengers up to New Orleans, where they spent a month recuperating from the voyage. The expedition gained more members from three births, five "new adherents," and two marriages, and lost another member through desertion.
The established Acadian family names aboard La Caroline were Benoit, Blanchard, Boudrot, Chiasson, Comeau, Doiron, Doucet, Dugas, Duhon, Gaudet, Gautrot, Hébert, LeBlanc, Lejeune, Melanson, Part, Pitre, Richard, Thériot. New Acadian surnames in the colony were Cousin, Delaune, and Lamoureux dit Rochefort. Non-Acadian family names among the ship's passengers, besides Father Léon, included Albert, Angilbert, Brossier, Hallier, LeGagneur, Montet, and Pierson, most of them spouses of Acadians. In early January, Intendente Navarro order the issuance of tool and implements to three family heads and commissioned François Broutin to escort them, along with a dozen families from L'Amitié, to
Nueva Gálvez below New Orleans.On January 17, he ordered Juan Prieto, for the last time, to issue tools and implements to the remaining 18 families of 54 members, who were joining their fellow Acadians on Bayou Lafourche and on the river at St.-Jacques. At the last moment, he permitted two of the families, numbering only five Acadians, to join the Ville d'Archangel passengers who were about to head upriver to Bayou des Écores.
And so concluded the Seven Ships' expeditions, which brought nearly 1,600 Acadians from France to Spanish Louisiana in 1785. The official Spanish report counted 1,574 Acadians aboard the Seven Ships, and an earlier report had counted 1,596, but some of them were non-Acadian spouses and children who bore their fathers' French surnames. No matter, more Acadians reached Louisiana during the five months between July and December 1785
than had come to the colony during the entire five-and-a half-year period between February 1764 and October 1769! I
f French authorities, alarmed by the success of the venture, had not shut down the operation in late 1785, Consul d'Asprès might have sent hundreds of more Acadians, including 250 just arrived from Miquelon, on additional ships to Louisiana.
he amazing influx of so many new arrivals dramatically changed the Acadian presence in Spanish Louisiana. The population of the Valenzuéla District increased dramatically, to over a thousand by early 1786, the great majority of them newly-arrived Acadians living along parts of the bayou where only Indian villages had stood. The St.-Gabriel de Manchac and Baton Rouge districts could boast hundreds of new settlers; the Upper Acadian Coast, once confined to the stretch of river below bayous Manchac and Plaquemine, now reached up towards Pointe Coupée on the west bank and across from Pointe Coupée on the east, where a new Spanish district, Feliciana, now held 300 Acadians from France. Nearly a hundred Acadian newcomers increased the population of the two prairie districts. Two dozen Acadians, many with French spouses, added to the population density along the Lower Acadian Coast. And San Bernardo, the closest Isleños community to New Orleans, was augmented by several dozen Acadians who wanted to live closer to the city.468
Spanish largesse did not end with the placement of the last Acadian arrivals along Bayou des Écores in late February 1786. Intendente Navarro's final contribution to the Acadians' wellbeing occurred after he had overseen their settlement. The daily stipend authorized by Spanish authorities for the new arrivals, to be ended only after they had become economically self-sufficient, was seven and a half cents a day for each adult and two and a half cents a day for each child. It did not take the Acadians long to realize that the meager stipend for their children was not enough to maintain their families in the Louisiana economy. Some Acadian criticized the Spanish for their plight, but most were determined to endure privation rather than complain to the intendente, who had done so much for them. When Navarro toured one of the new settlements in early 1786, however, "the beloved godfather of Acadian children quickly saw the needs of his godchildren, and opened a way for their parents to present their petition without embarrassment. He presented their needs with a favorable recommendation" to his superiors and was granted permission to award each Acadian, regardless of age or gender, seven and a half cents per day. The Acadians called him un santo--their saint.468a
The intendente and his superiors were not the only officials who recognized an important need among the new Acadian arrivals. The sudden increase in population in so many Louisiana communities compelled the Church authorities in Havana to establish new parishes where the Acadians had settled. San Bernardo, whose Isleño habitants had built a church for themselves in 1779, received its first resident priest, Spanish Capuchin Father Mariano de Brunete, in 1787. During the late 1780s, residents built a church at Baton Rouge on the site of the present city. Priests from nearby Pointe Coupée and St.-Gabriel administered the sacraments there until 1792, when Baton Rouge was given a parish of its own, dedicated to St.-Joseph. Irish Franciscan Father Charles Burke was sent to Baton Rouge perhaps because of his language skills; his parishioners were not only French-speaking Creoles and Acadians but also English-speaking Anglo Americans forced by Spanish colonial policy to "convert" to Roman Catholicism.469
On upper Bayou Lafourche, the arrival of over 850 Acadians dwarfed the original Isleños community that had been created there in 1779. A census of the Valenzuéla District in mid-1784, a few months before the Acadians from France arrived, had counted only 174 persons in 46 families, 150 of them Isleños in 40 families. By January 1788, when a "general census of the inhabitants established in Lafourche" was taken, Commandant Nicolas Verret, fils reported that the population of the Valenzuéla District had grown to 1,075 settlers, most of them Acadians from France. In January 1789, Verret counted 1,033 persons in Valenzuéla. Two years later, in January 1791, he counted 1,191. As more Acadians from the crowded river districts moved to Bayou Lafourche to find fresh land and to join their cousins already there, families from the nearby German Coasts moved south into the valley and allowed their children to marry Isleños and Acadians. Spaniards from Málaga, Canadians, Irishmen, Italians, and even Anglo Americans joined the Isleños, Acadians, French Creoles, and Germans in populating the Valenzuéla District. In April 1793, thanks to the dramatic increase in population, Church authorities, now in Havana, established a new parish there. The Spanish called it La Parroquia de la Assumption de Nuestra Senora de La Fourche de los Chetimachas de Valenzuéla, or the Church of the Assumption, built at present-day Plattenville. The first resident priest at Assumption was Spanish Capuchin Bernardo de Deva.470
the nearly 300 Acadians who had gone to
Bayou des Écores in the Feliciana District, north of Baton Rouge, were frustrated in their efforts to secure a church parish of their own. In the first months of 1786, on a triangular-shaped, 62-arpent parcel along the bayou, five miles above its confluence with the Mississippi, they had built a church, a presbytery, and a cemetery for their future use. However, the chronic shortage of priests in the colony at the time postponed the creation of a new parish at Bayou des Écores, and, in the end, one was never created there. Priests from Pointe Coupée across the river, and from Baton Rouge after 1792, administered the sacraments to the Bayou des Écores Acadians. Church authorities, now at New Orleans, created a parish for Feliciana in the mid-1790s, with chapels at nearby Bayou Sara and St. Francis. But by then most of the Feliciana Acadians had moved away.
La Nouvelle-Acadie: Adjustment and Assimilation, 1786-1803
The new arrivals now entered a period of adjustment to a world very different from the one they had left. There were similarities between their experiences in Bourbon France and in Spanish Louisiana. In France, the Acadians had been supported by government subsidies until they could become self-sufficient; the Spanish were compelled to support them as well; Intendente Navarro, in fact, even increased their subsidy in 1786 after he settled the last of them. The French government had offered the Acadians opportunities to settle in agricultural regions--on
Belle-Île-en-Mer and in Poitou, for example--instead of languishing in the port cities, where their collective skills--agricultural, not commercial--were ill-suited to their achieving self-sufficiency; the Spanish also encouraged the new arrivals to settle in areas suitable for agriculture away from the commercial hub at New Orleans. But the contrasts between the two worlds were startling. The climate of the lower Mississippi Valley was much different from that of northwestern France. Most of the new arrivals settled on natural levees along the Mississippi River and Bayou Lafourche, far different from the tidal marshes of the Bay of Fundy and Île St.-Jean as well as the agriculturally-marginal regions of northwestern France; here, they would have to build levees and drain back swamps on their narrow holdings in order to preserve and to create arable soil. And, like their cousins who had come to the colony during the late 1760s, they, too, would be subject to restrictive Spanish inheritance laws. Cattle production on their narrow ribbon lots along the river and bayou would have to be on a scale much smaller than it had been in Acadia. What they could grow in Louisiana's climate and soil were different from what they had been able to grow in Acadia and France; other than Indian corn, which was native to North America and which they had grown in Acadia, the only grain that thrived along the lower Mississippi was rice; wheat, barley, and oats could not endure the subtropical heat and humidity; if they had insisted on returning to a life as wheat farmers, the new arrivals would have been better off moving upriver to the Illinois country, not settling near their cousins in subtropical Louisiana, but settlement in Illinois, so far from the kinsmen, was something none of them had even remotely entertained.
The great majority of the new arrivals could not speak Spanish, though this was not necessary in a colony still dominated by francophone cultures; their Acadian cousins who had come to the colony two decades before still clung to their francophone language and traditions, and so would they; although many of them had spent a quarter of a century in a mother country that had welcomed its Acadian children, they were no less Acadian than their cousins who had come to this New Acadia decades before them. The biggest contrast of all, however, could not yet be discerned: the agricultural settlement schemes in northwestern France had been, for the most part, failures and therefore temporary, but the settlements here in Spanish Louisiana held every promise of success.
Spanish officials ordered a general census to be taken in the Valenzuéla District
not long after the Acadians from France established themselves there. In January 1788, the district commandant,
Nicolas Verret, fils, counted 1,075 settlers, consisting of 71 non-Acadian families, mostly Isleños, and 209 "Acadian" families, some of them headed by non-Acadians who had married Acadian women in France or soon after they had come to the colony. Of the 209 "Acadian" families, nearly a dozen of them, including two families whose heads were not Acadian, had come to the colony during the late 1760s and had moved from the river to Bayou Lafourche; the rest of the Lafourche valley Acadians were newcomers from France.
Amazingly, Commandant Verret counted only 54 slaves in his entire district. He owned 10 of them; physician and lieutenant of militia Don Juan Vives, a Spaniard whose wife was an Acadian Bujole, also owned 10; and François Mathias and Nicolas Daublin, whose wife was a "free Indian," owned 3 and 12 respectively. Only one Isleño, Miguel Suares, owned slaves; he held 3. The other 16 slaves in the district were held by Acadians, all but one of them having come to the colony during the late 1760s: Anselme Le Borgne de Bélisle, scion of a noble Acadian family who had come to the colony from Maryland in 1767, owned 1; François Simoneaux of Lorraine, whose wife was an Acadian Corporon and who had come to the colony from Maryland in 1766, owned 1; Joseph Comeaux, who had come to the colony with the Breaus from Maryland in 1768, owned 2; Germain Bergeron, who had come to the colony from Halifax in 1765, owned 2; and Pierre dit La Vielliarde Landry, who had come to the colony from Maryland in 1766, owned 11, making him the second largest slaveholder in the entire district. The only Acadian who had arrived aboard one of the Seven Ships and held a slave along the Lafourche in 1788 was Jacques Mius d'Entremont, another scion of a noble Acadian family, who had crossed on La Ville d'Archangel; he owned 1.473
The typical land holding was 6 arpents frontage on the bayou, but there were a few exceptions: Acadians Jean Sonnier, who had come to the colony from Halifax in 1765, Firmin Babin, who had come to the colony from Maryland in 1768, and Jacques Mius d'Entremont, held 8 arpents apiece;
Estevan Ernandez and
and Bernardo Rivero, probably Isleños, and
Domingue LaCoste and André LaCoste, probably French Creole, also held 8 apiece;
Lieutenant Vives and Miguel Suares held 9 apiece; the commandant, Augustin Domingo, probably an Isleño, and Acadian Germain Bergeron, held 10 apiece; and Nicolas Daublin, with his dozen slaves, held 12 arpents fronting the bayou.474
The largest cattle producer in the district was Estevan Ernandez, with 26 head of "horned cattle." Lieutenant Vives held 24 head; Acadian Germain Bergeron 20; French Creole Jean Licaire 16; Laurent LaCoste 15; Acadian Anselme Le Borgne de Bélisle 14; François Simoneaux and Miguel Suares 12 each; and Joseph Landry, who had come to the colony from Maryland in 1766, his cousin
Pierre dit La Vielliarde Landry,and Nicolas Daublin, 10 each. Most of the Acadians from France held 1 head or none, though Spaniard Luìs Juncal, who wife was an Acadian Dugas who had crossed on Le St.-Rémi, held 6 head of cattle; Acadian Charles Aucoin, and Frenchman Louis LeTullier, whose wife was an Acadian LeBlanc, all having crossed on La Bergère, held 5 head each; Jean-Baptiste Daigle, who had crossed on Le St.-Rémi, also held 5 head; and Olivier Aucoin,
François Giroir, and Prosper Giroir,who had crossed on La Bergère, held 4 head apiece.
The January 1788 census reveals that the Bayou Lafourche area was not destined to become an important cattle-producing area--by then, the prairie districts had long dominated that form of agriculture--but the number of swine being kept by many settlers along the Lafourche pointed to the growth of another hog-producing area for the New Orleans market. Compared to the commandant and Miguel Suares, who held 20 hogs each, Estevan Ernandez, who owned 22, and Lieutenant Vives, who owned 40, the Acadians from France were only beginning to increase their production of pork for the colonial market, but some of the late arrivals were off to a good start: Fabien Aucoin, who had crossed on La Bergère, owned 12 hogs; and Madeleine Dugas, widow of Jean-Baptiste Hébert, Prosper Giroir,
and Pierre Landry, all of whom had crossed on La Bergère,Louis Desormeaux, married to an Acadian Trahan who had crossed on La Bergère,
Jean-Grégoire Blanchard, Joseph Dugas,Jean-Baptiste Daigle, and Jean-Baptiste Hébert of Le St.-Rémi, Joseph Lejeune, who had crossed on L'Amitié, and
Luìs Juncal,owned 10 hogs apiece--which was remarkable considering that they had living in the colony for only two years.
Verret's 1788 census also listed "quarts of rice," "quarts of corn," and "horses" for each settler in his district. These economic categories revealed the same patterns among the settlers: generally, the higher the socioeconomic status or the length of time in the colony, the wealthier that settler would be. But, of course, there were exceptions. The commandant, Lieutenant Vives, and Nicolas Daublin held 200 quarts of corn apiece; Acadian Pierre Landry dit La Vielliarde, who had come to the colony in 1766, held 150 quarts; Laurent LaCoste held 100 quarts; Acadian Germain Bergeron, living in the colony since 1765, held 100; Miguel Suares held 80 quarts; Acadian Joseph Landry, and François and Simon Simoneaux, the last two married to Acadians, all of whom had come to the colony in 1766, held 60 quarts apiece; François's sons Joseph Simoneaux, married to an Acadian Bourg, who had lived in the colony since 1766, Acadians François Landry and Anselme Le Borgne de Bélisle, who had come to the colony in 1767, and Joseph Comeaux, who had come to the colony in 1768, held 50 quarts apiece. However, Acadian newcomer Louis Gaudet of La Caroline held 125 quarts of corn; Acadian Charles-Olivier Guillot of Le St.-Rémi held 100 quarts; Acadians Joseph Bourg of La Bergère and Charles Naquin of Le St.-Rémi held 60 quarts; and newcomers Pietro Cancieni of Venice, married to an Acadian Landry, Luìs Juncal, and Acadians Étienne Boudreaux, Joseph Dugas, Pierre Dugas, Jean-François De La Mazière, Charles Gautreaux, Prosper Giroir, Joseph Lejeune, and Pierre-Olivier Pitre, all newcomers from France, held 50 quarts apiece--again, remarkable considering the short amount of time they had been living in the colony.
Relatively few of the Lafourche settlers grew rice, but those who did, and who held the largest quantity of the grain, included Acadian newcomers: Jacques Doiron, who crossed on La Bergère, held 40 quarts of rice; François Friou, married to an Acadian Bourg who crossed on La Bergère, held 30; Jean-Pierre Bourg, who also crossed on La Bergère, held 25; Luce Breaux, widow of Athanase Bourg, who crossed on L'Amitié, held 20; Jean-Baptiste-Alexandre Daigle, who crossed on Le St.-Rémi, held 16; and Michel Aucoin, who crossed on Le St.-Rémi, and Étienne Dupuis, who crossed on La Bergère, held 15 quarts apiece. Compare this to the other "large" rice farmers on the bayou: Isleño Manuel Rouano, who held 30 quarts; and
Acadians Pierre Landry and Anselm Le Borgne de Bélisle and French Creole Nicolas Daublin, who held 15 quarts apiece.478
Verret's census also counted the number of horses held by the settlers in his district. Lieutenant Vives owned 15 steeds; Estevan Ernandez 8 of them; Acadian Joseph Landry 6; François Simoneaux 5; Acadians François Landry, Pierre dit La Vielliarde Landry, and Anselme Le Borgne de Bélisle, Isleño François Allemens and Miguel Suares, and French Creoles Nicolas Daublin, Louis Desormeaux, Jean Licaire, and Jean-Baptiste Rougee 4 apiece. Few of the Acadian newcomers owned horses.
A year later, in January 1789, Commandant Verret conducted another general census of the district. Again, he counted only 54 slaves. Now there were only 1,033 settlers in the district, 42 fewer than the year before. In 1789, Verret counted 1,515 arpents of frontage in the district, compared to 1,059 arpents of frontage the year before. In 1788, the commandant counted 188 quarts of rice, and 345 quarts the year after; 7,310 quarts of corn in 1788, and 10,665 quarts the following year. There were 453 head of cattle in the district in 1788, and 645 head in 1789. The number of horses changed dramatically, from 198 in 1788 to 406 a year later. Hog farmers in the district held 1,429 swine in 1788 and 2,592 a year later. In January 1791, Verret conducted a third general census of the district. He counted 1,191 individual settlers that year, up 158 from two years before; 109 slaves, up from 54; 1,768 arpents of frontage; 905 quarts of rice; 31,068 quarts of corn; 1,622 head of cattle; 495 horses; and 4,593 hogs.
In April 1797, Verret, still commandant at Valenzuéla, counted 1,797 habitants in his district, the great majority of them Acadians who had come from France; the district's settlers that year owned 267 slaves. In January 1798, residents in Valenzuéla District numbered 1,693, with 274 slaves.
The Acadians from France played an important part in the economic transformation of the Bayou Lafourche valley. The newcomers could see now, after a decade of living there, that here indeed was their New Acadia, a place where their children and grandchildren could fashion a lasting home for themselves.
The new arrivals along the river, meanwhile, were having a tougher time adjusting to their new environment. The Mississippi River flood of July 1788, the result of a tropical storm surge, was especially hard on "the newly arrived Acadian families living at Fort Bute at Manchac." A "Report on the amounts of corn and rice which are necessary" for their subsistence noted that "These families lost their crops during the flooding of the Mississippi." A similar report, dated 18 July 1788, listed the "Amounts of rice and corn distributed to Acadian families living in the district of Baton Rouge who lost their crops during the Mississippi flood." A third report, dated 16 August 1788, was entitled "Report on the amounts of corn which are necessary for the subsistence of the newly arrived Acadians families from France who have suffered losses of their crops during the flooding of the Mississippi River." Here, again, Acadians had to depend on government assistance to get them through hard times.
The terrible experience of July 1788 did not deter most of the new arrivals from rebuilding their riverside farms and starting over again. However, a perusal of area church and census records reveals that many of the hundreds of Acadians found on the three listings abandoned the river and moved on to other parts of the colony: Charles-Benoit Granger of Manchac, or at least his wife, Marguerite-Ange Dubois, moved on to upper Bayou Lafourche, where she remarried in January 1792; Charles Guidry died at New Orleans in September 1797, age 71, but his children remained in the Manchac/Baton Rouge area; Madeleine LeBlanc, widow of Pierre-Isidore Trahan, took her family to Attakapas, where they settled at Carencro; André-Joseph, Charles-Casimir, Élisabeth-Marguerite, Jacques-Olivier, Marie-Madeleine, and Servan-François Templet, with their mother
Marguerite LeBlanc, widow of André Templet,Madeleine Dugas, widow of Pierre Quimine, Grégoire-Ignace, Jean-Baptiste, Marie-Anne, Mathurin-Charles, and Pierre-Ignace Usé, with their widowed mother Cécile Bourg, Paul-Dominique and Jean-Baptiste Boudreaux, Charles Broussard, Édouard Daigre, Jean Delaune, Pierre-Janvier and Jean Guidry dit Grivois, père and fils, Anselme Landry, Charles-Jean LeBlanc, Amable Hébert, Jean-Baptiste-Théodore Henry, François-Marie and Simon-Magloire Babin, Marie Babin, wife of Louis William Stebens, Marguerite-Josèphe Doiron, widow of Jean-Baptiste Dugas, and Frenchman Étienne Peltier and his Acadian wife, Jeanne-Marguerite Clossinet, all moved on to Bayou Lafourche; Maximilien Henry and Joseph Doucet went to New Orleans; Simon-Pierre Daigre, fils moved to Attakapas; Victor Foret moved to Opelousas, and Daniel Benoit died at his daughter's home in St. Martin Parish in December 1825,
in his late 70s,but he probably had gone there from Baton Rouge in his final years. Their fellow new arrivals who remained on the river settled in what became Iberville, East Baton Rouge, and West Baton Rouge parishes.
The largest migration from a river settlement occurred at Bayou des Écores, in the Feliciana District. During the late 1780s, probably soon after they reached the bayou, and continuing into the early 1790s, some families, perhaps wanting to live closer to their cousins downriver, moved south to Baton Rouge and Manchac, settling on both banks of the river. In August 1793, and again in late August 1794, devastating hurricanes struck lower Louisiana. The second storm produced so much rain that Bayou des Écores overflowed its banks and destroyed most of the Acadian farms there. The Acadians had endured enough. Most, if not all, of them moved down to Baton Rouge and Manchac, some of them moved on to Bayou Lafourche, and a few moved out to the western prairies. By the late 1790s, the Bayou des Écores settlement was virtually abandoned.
Another motivation for the Acadians to abandon Bayou des Écores were rising political tensions in the area. After the American Revolution ended in 1783, Anglo Americans and British refugees began moving into the Feliciana area, where they spurned Spanish efforts to control them. After December 1803, the Americans claimed the swath of Mississippi delta north of Bayou Manchac, insisting that it was part of what they had purchased from Napoléon, but the Spanish averred that the territory north of Bayou Manchac, including Baton Rouge and Feliciana, still belonged to their West Florida province with its capital at Pensacola. If Acadians still remained in Feliciana after 1803, this political brouhaha would have been enough to send them packing; Acadians hated nothing more than the kind of political instability that had plagued them back in Acadia. By 1804, the church the Acadians had built at Bayou des Écores "had fallen into ruin and was demolished." As a result of the Acadians abandoning the area, the cultural future of the Feliciana country was determined not by francophone exiles who had come there in 1786 but by Anglo Americans who rose up against Spanish rule beneath their Bonnie Blue Flag in 1810.
Few of the new arrivals chose to settle in the prairie districts, but those who did wasted no time establishing their economic independence there. Like the descendants of the early arrivals, the Acadians from France found plenty of empty land along the bayous flowing through the prairie districts. And their older sons and daughters created families of their own, adding to Acadian numbers in the region.490
Political as well as demographic changes came to the prairie districts during the late 1780s. In early 1770, Governor O'Reilly had appointed Gabriel Fuselier de La Claire of Attakapas as commandant of both the Attakapas and Opelousas districts. Four years later, Fuselier was replaced as commandant of the prairie districts by another Attakapas resident, Alexandre Declouet, a chevalier of the Order of St.-Louis. Declouet, advanced in age, "retired" as joint commandant in March 1787. The prairie districts were separated, and Declouet was succeeded at Attakapas by Jean Delavillebeuvre, who was replaced by Louis-Charles DeBlanc of Natchitoches, still commandant at Attakapas in 1803. Nicolas Forstall, a native of Martinique and scion of a noble family, who had commanded the
Malagueñospost at Nuéva Iberia earlier in the decade, succeeded Declouet as commandant at Opelousas in 1787. Forstall was succeeded in the spring of 1795 by Martin Duralde, who remained as commandant at Opelousas until the Spanish surrendered the colony to France in December 1803. Honoré de la Chaise served as Opelousas commandant during the few months the French were again in power at New Orleans. In October 1804, after Jefferson's Purchase, American army Captain John Bowyer sent the young Frenchman packing.491
Meanwhile, in 1798, Spanish authorities moved the Opelousas Post from the bayou to the site of the present city. A new church, also dedicated to St. Landry, was built not far from the new post. Three years earlier, in June 1795, the St.-Landry parishioners had beseeched their pastor, Father Pedro de Zamora, to ask the ecclesiastical authorities in New Orleans to relocate their church. In May 1796, resident Jean Tesson of Saintogne, France, donated an arpent of land for a new church at what was then called Tesson's Point. Even more generously, local planter Michel Prudhomme, a native of Strasbourg, gave 3 x 10 arpents of land for the new church, a priest's house, and a jail on property he owned at the site.492
The Acadian presence in the Opelousas District remained demographically insignificant. The general census of 1785 counted 171 families in the district, only 30 of them, or 17 1/2%, Acadian. A general census a decade later, in 1796, counted 49 Acadian families at Opelousas, again only 17 percent of the total in the district. Most of the Acadians lived at Bellevue and Grand Coteau, with a hand full of others residing in the North Plaquemine, Grand Prairie, Grand Louis, and Faquetaique sub districts west of the present city. However, half of the district's 12 sub districts contained not a single Acadian family in 1796. Despite their small numbers, however, Acadians were among the largest stockmen in the big prairie district. In 1788, for instance, nearly a quarter century after the first Acadians came to Opelousas, Joseph Cormier of Bellevue owned 697 head of cattle and 60 horses. Cormier's neighbor, Charles Comeaux, held 643 head. Charles's cousin, Michel Comeaux of Plaquemine Brûlé, ran 500 head. Sylvain Sonnier of Bellevue owned 300 head of cattle. His neighbor, the widow of L'Ange Bourg, owned 166 head. Pierre Richard of the same area owned 140 head of cattle. His younger brother Victor owned 150 head. Michel Cormier of Prairie des Femmes, Joseph's younger brother, owned 130 head of cattle. François Pitre of the Plaisance area also owned 130 head of cattle. Joseph Bourg, the dead L'Ange's brother, owned 120 head.493
Acadians in the Attakapas District, on the other hand, remained significant in numbers if not influence. The general census of 1785 revealed that half of the district's families were Acadian.
The general census of 1785 revealed something else about the prairie Acadians--the presence of an emerging slave-holding class among the former exiles and their descendants. This new phenomenon in Acadian socio-economic behavior had in fact begun on the river, not the prairie, but by the time the Acadians from France reached Louisiana, Acadian slave holding, virtually unknown in the old country, had taken root throughout the New Acadia.
Slavery had not taken hold in Acadia; the Mi'kmaq were too powerful to allow Europeans to enslave them, and most Acadian families were so large and healthy, and their communities so tight-knit, that there never was a shortage of help in their fields, orchards, and pastures. The only slaves in Acadia,
if they existed at all,
would have been a hand full of Africans owned by the wealthiest colonists and used only as prestige-domestics. The Acadians' first exposure to agricultural slavery, then, would have been during their Grand Dérangement. Chignecto Acadians exiled to South Carolina and Georgia, and Minas Acadians exiled to Maryland would have been exposed to African slaves, especially in Maryland, where the "able-bodied' exiles worked side by side with them in the tobacco fields." Minas Acadians sent to Virginia remained in the colony for only six months, but in that time they, too, rubbed shoulders with the institution; Virginians, in fact, accused the "Neutral French" of fraternizing with their chattel and used that as an excuse for sending them on to England.
Mirliguèche Acadians exiled to North Carolina remained probably at Edenton until c1760, so they, too, would have been exposed to the institution before moving on to Pennsylvania and Maryland, where they also would have seen it.Acadians from Minas, Annapolis Royal, and Cap-Sable sent to Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Connecticut would have observed slavery on a much smaller scale than their cousins in the southern colonies, but the institution did exist in the northern colonies, in its domestic and urban permutations.
The Acadians who emigrated to Louisiana from Halifax, however, would not have been exposed to African slavery during their 10 years of exile. They were the ones who had escaped the roundup of 1755 and found refuge along the Gulf of St. Lawrence shore. Not until they arrived at Cap-Français, St.-Domingue, on their way to Louisiana, would they have encountered their first slaves. As previously stated, they would have seen little chance of acquiring productive farm land in the island's plantation-slave economy and no future for their children there, despite its being a French colony. So they moved on to the lower Mississippi valley, where they encountered the institution again, but on a smaller scale than at St.-Domingue.
By 1765, Louisiana had a long history of slave holding. First was Indian slavery, which its French Canadian founders did not favor. Most of the agricultural labor in their native Canada was performed by engagés and then, as in Acadia, by family members, not slaves. Climatic conditions precluded the development of a plantation-based economy along the St. Lawrence. In Louisiana, the climate was amenable to plantations, but severe neglect by France in the colony's formative years stifled even the most basic form of agriculture along the French Gulf Coast; as a result, Indians in Louisiana, as in Canada, were used as domestic servants, not as gangs of laborers tending fields of valuable cash crops, as on St.-Domingue and the other French islands. Louisiana's small population limited the scale of Indian slavery during its formative years under Iberville and Bienville. This changed by the end of the colony's second decade, when proprietary companies under Crozat and then Law attempted to transform the Gulf Coast colony into a profitable enterprise. By then, Louisiana had a valuable cash crop of its own. Iberville had tried to grow sugar at the site of New Orleans in 1700, but the experiment had failed. The crop that did grow well in Louisiana soil was not an import from Africa via the Caribbean but the sacred weed of the Indians--tobacco. Granted, Louisiana tobacco was not as prized as the varieties grown in the Chesapeake colonies, but it was good enough for an international market, and Law's Company made the most of it. The Company received a monopoly on the Louisiana tobacco trade and, in one of its permutations, on the French West African slave trade as well. In 1719, exactly a century after the first Africans arrived on the Chesapeake, Law's Company began importation of African slaves to work the tobacco fields at Natchitoches and along the lower Mississippi, especially at Natchez. Pointe Coupée became a tobacco-growing settlement in the 1720s and, after the Indian massacre of 1729, replaced Natchez as the largest tobacco-producing area in the colony. In the early 1720s, with the encouragement of the Company, riverside planters above and below New Orleans began the cultivation of a new cash crop, the dye-producing plant indigo, a native of India. By the late 1720s, Louisiana was exporting indigo as well as tobacco, and African chattel slavery had become essential to the colony's new plantation-based economy. In September 1724, Law's Company had issued the Code Noir, or Black Code, for Louisiana, based on the 1685 Code for the West Indies. By then, the Company, having promised to import 3,000 Africans a year, had managed to bring in only a fraction of that number, but control of the servile population was nonetheless essential. The colony's first slave revolt occurred at New Orleans in 1729, concurrent with the disastrous Natchez uprising in November of that year in which African slaves helped the Indians massacre most of the French settlers at the upriver post. In 1751, during Vaudreuil's governorship, Jesuit priests brought sugarcane to Louisiana and grew it, along with indigo, on their plantation above New Orleans; their sugar crop produced molasses and syrup, not granulated sugar. Slaves also were used extensively in the colony's burgeoning cattle industry, especially in the prairie districts. When the first large group of Acadians reached Louisiana in 1765, indigo and tobacco, not sugar, were still the mainstays of the colony's plantation-slave economy. Louisiana's population in 1765, in fact, was more African than European, as it had been for decades.496a
Two factors slowed Acadian entry into Louisiana's plantation-slave economy: an abiding tradition of egalitarianism derived from their collective experience in Acadia, and the extreme poverty that came of their years in exile. Nevertheless, soon after they reached the city in 1765, four of the Halifax exiles purchased slaves, probably on credit, from New Orleans merchants and took them to Cabahannocer. A few years later, at Attakapas in 1771, only one Acadian owned a slave: Joseph Martin held 1. No Acadian held a slave at Opelousas in 1771. Three years later, in October 1774, the same held true: no Acadian at Opelousas owned any of the district's 163 slaves. At Attakapas in October 1774, Simon Broussard owned 10 slaves, and Joseph Martin still held 1--only 11 of the 155 slaves in the district.
Not until the late 1770s, when the early arrivals from Halifax, Maryland, and St.-Domingue had finally come into their own economically, did Acadians begin to break into the slave-holding economy. The transition was slow on the prairies.At Attakapas in May 1777, Jean-Baptiste Semer held 1 slave; Claude Martin, 2; Jean dit Neveu Mouton, 3; Jean-Baptiste Cormier, 1; Joseph Martin, 2; François Savoie, 1; and Cécile Prejean, widow of Grégoire Pellerin, 3, with another on the way--13 of the district's 302 slaves. At Opelousas that same May, Michel Comeaux owned 1; Charles Comeaux, 1; and Sylvain Sonnier, 2--4 of the district's 218 slaves.
On the river, however, among the first Acadians to hold slaves in the colony, the transition to a slave-holding economy moved at a quicker pace, especially on the Lower Acadian Coast. In March 1777, at St.-Gabriel, on the Upper Acadian Coast, Joseph Landry owned 1 slave on the east bank of the river; Jean-Baptiste Babin, 1; Joseph Richard, 1; Pierre Foret, 1; Anselme Blanchard, 2; Firmin Landry, 1; François Landry, 3; Mathurin Landry, 3; Baptiste LeBlanc, 1; Jean-Charles Comeaux, 3; Hyacinthe Landry, 1; Jean-Charles Breaux, 1; on the west bank, Augustin Landry held 1; Amand Melançon, 1; and Pierre Richard, 6--26 slaves held by 19 percent of the Acadian families in the community. In April 1777, at Ascension, Jean Duhon held 1 slave on the west bank of the river; Paul Foret, 1; François Dugas, 1; Mathurin Landry, 1; Joseph Landry, 1; Anselme Le Borgne de Bélisle, 1; Charles Gaudin dit Lincour, 1; Jérôme LeBlanc, 2; Joseph Bujole, 1; Étienne Bujole, 4; Sylvain LeBlanc, 1; Joseph dit Belhomme Landry, 4; Étienne Landry, 4; Joseph Babin, 2; Pierre dit La Vielliarde Landry, 3; on the east bank, René Landry held 3; Isaac LeBlanc, 1; Pierre dit Pierrot à Chaques Landry, 6; Paul Breaux, 1; Jean-Baptiste Breaux, 1; Simon Landry, 1; Charles Babin, 2; Vincent-Ephrème, called Ephrème, Babin, 3; Charles Landry, 1; Jacques Landry, 2; Joseph Guidry, 1; and Prosper Hébert, 1--51 of the 137 slaves in the district, the 51 held by 48 percent of the Acadian families in the community. In March 1779, at St.-Jacques on the Lower Acadian Coast, Pierre Arceneaux owned 12 slaves; Pierre Bourgeois, 1; Simon LeBlanc, 7; Joseph Hébert, 4; Bonaventure Gaudin, 4; Philippe Lachaussée, 4; Joseph Gravois, 1; Joseph Duhon, 2; Honoré Breaux, 2; Alexis Breaux, 2; Charles Gaudet, 3; Athanase Breaux, 3; Joseph LeBlanc, père, 4; Joseph LeBlanc, fils, 2; Simon Gautreaux, 3; Marcel LeBlanc, 6; Jacques LeBlanc, 2; Joseph Breaux, 1; Jacques Babin, 1; Pierre Lanoux, 1; Paul LeBlanc, 2; Joseph Sonnier, 3; Olivier Boudreaux, 1; Joseph Melançon, 1; Ambroise Theriot, 1; Mathurin LeBlanc, 6; Pierre Chiasson, 2; Jean Arceneaux, 3; Baptiste Gaudin, 3; Pierre Bernard, 1; Joseph Arceneaux, 2; Pierre Part, 1; Bénoni Mire, 2; Paul Bourgeois, 1; Joseph Bourgeois, 4; Michel Bourgeois, 1; François Landry, 1; Antoine Labauve, 2; Joseph Martin, 2; Pierre Michel, 2; Ambroise Martin, 1; Catherine Comeaux, widow of Joseph Guilbeau, 1; Jean Bourgeois, 2; Joseph Poirier, 1; Baptiste Bourgeois, 6; Michel Bourgeois, 3; Joseph Gaudet, 2; Joseph Bourg, 2; Joseph Blanchard, 2; .François Hébert, 1; Charles Thibodeaux, 1; Jean Leger, 2; Jean Poirier, 7; Jean Richard, père, 3; Jean Richard, fils, 2; Pierre Bourg, 2; Joseph Landry, 1; and Firmin Girouard, 2--147 slaves held by 59 percent of the Acadian families in the community.499
By 1785, the pace of slave ownership had picked up on the prairies. In April of that year, at Attakapas, ____ Dugas held 2 slaves; Joseph Broussard dit Beausoleil, 4; F. Broussard, 2; Jean-Baptiste Cormier, 1; Jean-Baptiste Broussard, 4; Amand-Pierre Landry, 1; René Trahan, 4; François Broussard, 7; Amand Broussard, 4; Joseph Trahan, 2; Widow Trahan, 2; Claude Duhon, 1; Claude Broussard, 2; René Broussard, 1; Pierre Dugas, 2; Pierre Broussard, 8; Sylvain Broussard, 1; Widow Babin, 1; Charles Guilbeau, 1; Jean dit Chapeau Mouton, 7; Widow François Savoie, 2; Michel Bernard, 3; Amand Thibodeaux, 1; Olivier Thibodeaux, 5; Claude Martin, 7; Joseph Martin, 5; Mt., perhaps Michel-Laurent, Doucet, 3; Jean-Baptiste Semer, 1; and Widow Pellerin, 7--91 slaves held by 35 percent of the Acadian families in the community. At Opelousas that same month, Michel Cormier held 4 slaves; Joseph Lejeune, 3; ____ Pitre, 2; Pierre Guidry, 3; Paul Boutin, 3; Charles Comeaux, 4; Pierre Richard, 2; Pierre Savoie, 4; Victor Richard, 2; Pierre Thibodeaux, 3; Joseph Bourg, 1; Sylvain Sonnier, 8; and Michel Comeaux, 6--45 slaves held by 47 percent of the Acadian families there.
According to the leading historian of the Acadians in Louisiana, Dr. Carl A. Brasseaux, "The number of Louisiana Acadians owning slaves in the prairie settlements rose from only 5 percent in 1775 to 10 percent in 1785; meanwhile Acadian slaveowners in the river districts rose from 20 to 40 percent." This held promise for momentous change in Louisiana Acadian society. "As the circle of slaveholders expanded slowly in the 1770s and early 1780s, the new elite emerged--based as before on land and livestock, but for the first time having rigid social boundaries that automatically elevated the slave owners above the workers they employed. The acquisition of slaves gave the slaveholder social stature, undoubtedly appealing to some upwardly mobile Acadian immigrants who aspired to join the colony's Creole aristocracy." Acadian sensibilities prevailed at first; they were, after all, still players in the North American frontier experience. "Most of the immigrant slaveholders ... were eminently practical pioneers who realized simply that development of a habitation for commercial agriculture required amounts of labor far beyond the capacity of the family labor pool. As a consequence, in the late 1770s, many ambitious Acadians who, unlike the vast majority of the immigrants, were unhappy with the comfortable existence they had only recently attained, began to acquire young black field hands" as well as female house servants.
There was a dark side, of course, to what Jefferson described as taking the wolf by its ears. Again, Professor Brasseaux says it best: "Though median Acadian slaveholdings in many settlements ranged from only two to four slaves in the 1770s, the proliferation of the slave population--an increase of 1700 percent in some posts--necessitated changes in the Acadian life-style. Control of the slave population was initially very mild, with black laborers working shoulder to shoulder with their white masters. The presence of a large, alien, and subservient population by the 1780s nevertheless subjected the inexperienced slave owners to the constant specter of servile insurrection."
The wolf struck in November 1785, while the Acadians from France were still getting settled on their new habitations. While leading a routine slave patrol along the west bank of the river at Ascension, Acadian Pierre-Paul, called Paul, Foret, who had come to the colony from Halifax in 1765, stumbled upon the notorious "renegade freedman," Philippe, hiding in a cabin on the Widow Landry's farm. Foret and his patrolmen failed to capture the wily freedman, who, with a "lieutenant," was "plotting a massive slave insurrection." Philippe, in fact, had already organized a "company" of fugitives--the latest effort by Louisiana slaves to form a maroon community. Spanish authorities placed the Ascension District on full alert, offering a reward of 20 piastres for Philippe's head. In the weeks that followed, Philippe and his black confederates, aided by Acadian-held slaves, eluded the slave patrols scouring the area both night and day. To sustain themselves, Philippe and his insurrectionaries began to raid Acadian farms, "stripping them of provisions and arms." Commandant Louis Judice was forced to employ Houma warriors, who themselves had harassed local Acadians, and raise the bounty on Philippe and his men to 100 piastres. The Houma ambushed the rag-tag force, but Philippe escaped. He took refuge on the farm of Frenchman Nicolas Daublin, whose loyal slave, Esther, alerted her master. After an hour-long gun battle, Daublin shot and killed Philippe, and the insurrection soon collapsed.
Caught in the middle of this bloody drama, the Acadians' traditional egalitarianism gave way to darker forces in their collective conscious. "Though the crisis was resolved in the slaveholders' favor, the event served as an important watershed in Afro-Acadian relations, producing a spontaneous and radical change in Acadian attitudes toward blacks throughout Louisiana. No longer viewed as mere laborers, Negroes were now seen as inveterate schemers who posed an ever present threat to internal security. Both slaveholding and nonslaveholding Acadians consequently demonstrated no hesitation in mounting a united and openly hostile front against threats, either real or perceived, from the slave community in subsequent years." For example, when smallpox appeared at Commandant Judice's plantation in 1787, local Acadians imposed an impromptu quarantine on the place and attempted to purchase the diseased slave so that they could drown her in the river! The exiles had taken the wolf by its ears, and they were determined not to let him go.
A troubling result of Acadian slaveholding was the sexual exploitation of female slaves. According to Professor Brasseaux, "by the antebellum period, mulatto children of Acadian parentage had become commonplace in the river parishes." Acadians
"who aspired to join the colony's Creole aristocracy" were emulating a less admirable side of Louisiana's socioeconomic elite.505
The new Acadian arrivals, naturally, sought to join their earlier-arriving cousins in embracing the colony's plantation-slave economy, but, much like their established cousins, the transition was a slow one. As already seen, in January 1788, Commandant Nicolas Verret, fils counted only 54 slaves in his district on upper Bayou Lafourche, where most of the new arrivals had settled. Of the 16 Acadians who owned slaves in the district that year, only one new arrival--Jacques Mius d'Entremont--owned a slave. The others had come to the colony during the mid- and late 1760s and had moved from the river to the upper bayou by the early 1780s. Little had changed three years later. In January 1791, counted 109 slaves in the district, but only a few slaves were held by new arrivals: Fabien-Amateur Guillot, 1; Jean-Charles Theriot, 1; Louis Gaudet, 1; and Jacques Mius d'Entremont, still 1. By contrast, two earlier-arrivals still living on the upper bayou had become substantial slaveholders: François-Sébastien Landry held 5; and Pierre dit La Vielliarde Landry, 15, making him the second largest slaveholder in the district that year. In April 1797, the district's slaves numbered 267, only a small percentage of them held by Acadians, but a majority of the Acadian slaveholders now were late arrivals from France: Jean-Baptiste Foret, born at St.-Jacques, held 1; Amédée Savoie, also a native of St.-Jacques, 4; Mathurin LeBlanc, a 1765 arrival, 2; Jean-Baptiste Bergeron, another 1765 arrival, 2; Henri Robichaux, a 1765 arrival, 6; Louis Gaudet, a 1785 arrival, 3; Jean-Baptiste Doucet, another 1785 arrival, 2; Jean Roger, a 1765 arrival, 6; Jean Delaune, a 1785 arrival, 1; Joseph Bourg, another 1785 arrival, 1; Vincent Landry, a 1766 arrival, 1; Pierre-Joseph Blanchard, a 1785 arrival, 1; Marie-Osite, called Osite, Daigle, widow of Marin Bourg, also a 1785 arrival, 1; Jean-Baptiste Giroir, a 1785 arrival, 1; Étienne LeBlanc, a 1785 arrival and a bachelor, 3; François-Sébastien Landry, a 1767 arrival, still 5; Anselme Le Borgne de Bélisle, another 1767 arrival, 3; Jean-Baptiste Daigle, a 1785 arrival, 1; Joseph LeBlanc, a 1785 arrival, 2; Jean-Jacques-Frédéric, called Frédéric, Landry, a 1785 arrival and another bachelor, 1; Joseph Comeaux, a 1768 arrival, 5; Pierre dit La Vielliarde Landry, a 1766 arrival and Joseph Comeaux's father-in-law, still 15; and Jean-Baptiste Landry, another 1766 arrival, 5. One wonders what happened to Jacques Mius d'Entremont. The January 1798 census at Valenzuéla counted 274 slaves in the district and detected more Acadian slaveholders now residing there: Alexandre Landry, born at Ascension, held 3 slaves; Charles Bergeron, a 1765 arrival, 2, Pierre Arceneaux, another 1765 arrival, 4; Michel Bourgeois, a 1765 arrival, 4; Joseph-Marin Bourg, a 1785 arrival, 2; Pierre Bourg, another 1785 arrival, 2; Laurent-Olivier Blanchard, a 1785 arrival, 1; Joseph Gaudet, a 1765 arrival, 2.
The 1798 census also revealed that Louis Gaudet now owned 4 slaves, and Pierre dit La Vielliarde Landry, 16.
Slaveholding in the prairie districts also had increased dramatically by the late 1790s. A general census at Opelousas in May 1796 revealed the following slaveholders among the Acadians there: In the North Plaquemine sub district, Michel Comeaux held 12 slaves; and Pierre Doucet, 2. In the Bellevue sub district, Charles Comeaux held 10 slaves; Anaclet, son of Joseph Cormier, 7; Joseph Landry, 6; Blaise Brasseaux, 1; Jean Jeansonne, 1; Joseph Bourg, 2; Basile Chiasson, 5; Sylvain Sonnier, 11; Victor Richard, 5; Françoise Sonnier, widow of Pierre Thibodeaux, fils, 3; and Pierre Richard, père, 6. In the Grand Louis sub district, François Pitre held 4. In the Grand Coteau sub district, Joseph Boutin held 2; Paul Boutin, père, held 1; Louis-David, called David son of Pierre Guidry, held 2; and Jean Savoie, 6. And in the Faquetaique sub district, Joseph Lejeune held 2.
During the 1790s, two important technological developments, one mechanical, the other chemical, gave promise of increasing the rate of slave holding among the Acadians of Louisiana. On a much larger scale, these developments also guaranteed that the institution of slavery would remain a fixture of North American agriculture. In 1792, in faraway Georgia, a recent Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Yale College arrived at Mulberry Grove, the plantation home of Revolutionary War hero Nathanael Greene's widow, Catherine Littlefield, to serve as the plantation's tutor. Eli Whitney, born at Westborough, Massachusetts, in December 1765, had worked as a nail maker and farm laborer in his youth before attending Yale. The story of his famous invention is a familiar one: after listening to the Widow Greene and her neighbors discussing the difficulty encountered by their slaves in deseeding upland cotton by hand, Whitney fashioned his cotton "gin," which he patented in March 1794. A little known part of the story is that Whitney's original gin contained mechanical flaws, which Catherine Littlefield helped to correct. Despite his patent, Whitney made little money from his famous invention; most of the profits he and his partner earned went into lawsuits against a host of patent infringers. Nevertheless, Whitney's machine and its many imitations gave a tremendous boost to the cotton-growing industry. Not until after the Louisiana Purchase, however, did cotton become an important cash crop in Louisiana.
The second development had a more immediate impact on the economy of South Louisiana. Jean-Étienne, called Étienne, de Boré, was born at Kaskaskia, Illinois, in the early 1740s into an old Norman family of the minor nobility. When he was four, Boré's family returned to France, where, as befitted a member of his class, he was educated. At the age of 16, he became a cadet in a company of the King's Mousquetaires. He emigrated to Spanish Louisiana in the late 1760s but soon returned to France. In 1771, while serving as a captain of cavalry, he married a daughter of former Louisiana treasurer Jean-Bapiste Destréhan de Beaupré. In 1776, Boré and his wife returned to Louisiana, where she had inherited property, and he took up the life of a gentleman planter on the east bank of the river a few miles above New Orleans. There, he grew Louisiana's principal cash crop, indigo, and did well until the early 1790s, when persistent drought and insect pests diminished the colony's indigo crop, including his; at the same time, competition from Spanish Guatemala deprived Louisiana of its indigo market. On the verge of bankruptcy, Boré was determined to find another cash crop that would restore his personal fortune. He turned to sugarcane, which had been grown in the colony since the early 1750s but had produced only syrup and molasses for local use. Boré built a sugar mill on his property, planted a crop of cane, and, with the help of two of his Spanish neighbors, succeeded in transforming cane juice into granulated sugar, a process that had been tried but had never succeeded in the colony. His 1795 crop garnered him $12,000 in a market eager for the product, and a new industry was born in Spanish Louisiana.509
Acadians, meanwhile, continued to marry their non-Acadian neighbors legitimately, hastening their assimilation into the polyglot culture of Spanish Louisiana. From February 1765, when the first Acadian marriage was recorded in the colony, through 1803, the year in which Spain retroceded the colony to France and then France handed it over to the United States, South Louisiana church and civil records list 2,260 Acadian marriages. Of those marriages, 441, or 19.5%, were exogamous. Compare this to an exogamous rate of 15.3% for the 483 Acadian marriages from February 1765 through 1784, and one can discern an upward trend in the rate of Acadian "mixed" marriages.510
There were Acadian families, even among the early arrivals, with not a single recorded exogamous marriage during the first decades of their presence in Louisiana. The Allains came to the colony from Maryland in 1767, but no exogamous marriage for that family appears in area church records until November 1809. The Babineauxs arrived even earlier, in February 1765, but no exogamous church record can be found for them until July 1814. Members of the Girouard family came to the colony as early as February 1765, though most of them, using the surname Giroir, arrived from France in 1785, but none married a non-Acadian, at least not in a marriage recorded by an area church, until October 1817. The first Mires came from Halifax in 1765, but a member of the family marrying a non-Acadian cannot be found in South Louisiana church records until November 1807. The Poiriers were among the very first families to emigrate to the colony, in February 1764, but an exogamous marriage in the family cannot be found in area church records until October 1805. And then there were the Melançons, who came from Halifax in 1765 and France in 1785, but especially from Maryland in 1766 and 1767. South Louisiana churches record 37 marriages in the family through 1803, but not until May 1805 do any of those churches record an exogamous marriage in the family. But these were the exceptions. The great majority of Acadian families, small or large, early or late, engaged in their share of "mixed" marriages while Spain controlled the colony.511
Exogamous rates were especially high among Acadians in the Opelousas District, a bastion of Creole culture. The Jeansonnes, for example, first came to the colony from Halifax in 1765 and settled at Cabahannocer on the river before moving on to the Opelousas prairies by the 1770s. The first immigrant generation, while still living on the river, married fellow Acadians from the Brasseaux, Leger, and Prejean families; strangely, none of these marriages were recorded by area churches. Not until November 1790 does a Jeansonne marriage appear in South Louisiana church records, when a daughter of Jean Jeansonne married a Fontenot at Opelousas. After that, every recorded Jeansonne marriage was exogamous until September 1846, when a Jeansonne married a Pitre, a family also with a high exogamous rate of marriage not only at Opelousas but also in the Bayou Lafourche valley, where today the name is pronounced PEE-tree, as though it were English, instead of PEET, its French pronunciation. An interesting case of cultural assimilation among prairie Acadians is that of the descendants of Joseph Lejeune, who, with brother Blaise and sister Marguerite, came to Louisiana from Maryland aboard the Britannia in October 1769. Before following their maternal uncle, Honoré Trahan, to Opelousas, older brother Blaise married into the Breaux family at St.-Gabriel in November 1773. He and his family settled first on Bellevue prairie, near the present city, before moving out to Prairie Faquetaique, near the headwaters of Bayou des Cannes. Younger brother Joseph, who had been born not at Pigiguit, like his older siblings, but probably in North Carolina during Le Grand Dérangement, followed his brother to Bayou des Cannes. In c1782, Joseph married Pérrine, called Patsy, daughter of Anglo Americans Gilbert Hayes and Jeanne Jackson of Carolina and Mobile, at Opelousas. In his late 60s, Joseph remarried to Mary Ritter, probably a German Creole. He died in October 1847, in his early 90s, though his relatives told the recording priest that he was 110! By then, and since the 1820s, Joseph, his children, and his grandchildren no longer were calling themselves Lejeunes; their surname had evolved into Young, influenced, no doubt, by Joseph's first wife, Patsy Hayes, from whom all of his many children came. None of Joseph's children married fellow Acadians, though a few of his grandchildren did. Although none of his sons married fellow Acadians, older brother Blaise and his descendants still called themselves Lejeune.512
Nor is it surprising that most of the young Acadians from France who came to the Opelousas District with their families in 1785 chose non-Acadian spouses. Claude Aucoin, who crossed on La Ville d'Archangel and followed his Saulnier wife to Opelousas, was 60 years old when he remarried to a Brasseaux in November 1788, but his children married non-Acadians: Perpétué married a French-Canadian Normand; Anne-Anastasie married a French-Canadian Bertrand dit Beaulieu in December 1789; Mathurin-Casimir married a daughter of Philippe Langlois in October 1796 (her mother was an Acadian Jeansonne); and Pierre married twice, first to a Silvestre in January 1800 and then to a Fontenot in May 1818. Basile Chiasson, who crossed on La Caroline, remarried to a Thibodeaux in July 1789, when he was age 40; his son Charles-Albert, however, married a daughter of Charles Bourassa in October 1802. Angélique Pinet, who was a widow when she crossed on Le Bon Papa, remarried to Michel Blanchet of Québec in April 1787.513
Some of the later comers who chose to settle in the Attakapas District helped create multi-ethnic families of their own. Élisabeth Duhon of Rivière-aux-Canards, widow of Alexandre Aucoin, whom she had married at Liverpool, England, in October 1759, crossed on L'Amitié with seven daughters, ages 24 to 6: Marie-Madeleine married Jean-Baptiste Simon of Rennes, Brittany, France, at New Orleans in November 1785 (he also had crossed on L'Amitié, either as a crewman or a stowaway); Marie-Félicité married Carolinian Luke Faulk in October 1787; and Marie-Renée married Mathew Sellers, Jr. of Charleston, South Carolina, in February 1796. Amable-Ursule Doiron crossed on Le Beaumont with her family; her second husband was Simon Durio of Grand Coteau; her sister Marie-Hippolythe-Honoré, a native of Le Havre, married François Begnaud of Nantes in February 1786. Marie-Françoise Semer, who crossed on L'Amitié, married William Norris, Jr. of Redston, Pennsylvania and Carencro, in August 1796; William, Jr. was a Presbyterian who had to convert to Catholicism in order to marry his Acadian "girl," who was age 33 at the time of her marriage; Marie-Françoise's cousin, Anne-Françoise Semer, married Frenchman Joseph Sabot in December 1798. Geneviève Trahan, who crossed with her family on Le St.-Rémi, married French Canadian Jean-Baptiste Morin in November 1786 and died 11 months later, at age 25, perhaps from the rigors of childbirth.514
Without realizing it, the Acadians of Louisiana were creating something new in a place very different from Old Acadia. Their children and grandchildren still spoke French, but, later, some of them learned rudimentary English to communicate with their anglophone neighbors. They clung tenaciously to the Roman Catholic faith, but their priests were just as often Spanish and Irish as French. There were no tidal marshes to dyke down here; true, there were salt marshes along the coast that dwarfed anything they would have found in Acadia, but the tides were too weak to employ aboiteaux to create new fields and pastures. Farming along the river and bayous was more akin to clearing the uplands back in Acadia, as their ancestors were sometimes forced to do, except here one was clearing away the top of a natural levee, though the levees they were compelled to build along the river did resemble the dykes their grandfathers had built. On the prairies, the soil was deep and rich, ready for the plow--an implement seldom used by their parents and grandparents. Herds of cattle, some properly branded, grazed on the limitless prairies, so that was not so different. They ate very different food than what their ancestors in France and Acadia had eaten. Their houses were built out of different wood, with Spanish moss and mud mixed into the walls. Their boats were different. And, to accommodate the hot, wet climate, so was their clothing. They could not remember the last time they had seen snow of any significance, so they had forgotten how to construct Indian snowshoes. Influenced by local Africans, Germans, and Spaniards, t
hey learned to play new musical instruments. They were surrounded by so many exotic cultures here, something they had experienced only in exile. Mostly they married their own kind, but, from the beginning of their arrival in the colony, they began taking up with Frenchmen, Germans, Spaniards, Englishmen, Americans, Italians, Native Americans, Afro Creoles, and even French Creoles. Many, now, were slave owners, a few of them aspiring members of Louisiana's socioeconomic elite. ...
And so, along the river, down on the Lafourche, and out on the prairies, a new, exotic culture quietly evolved: Louisiana's Acadiens were becoming Cadiens, and someday others would call them Cajuns.515
BOOK ONE BOOK TWO
NOTES - BOOK FOUR
I have chosen this title for Book Four, instead of "The New Acadia," in deference to our Acadian cousins in New Brunswick, who insist that they are La Nouvelle-Acadie. See Rudin, Remembering & Forgetting in Acadie, passim, especially chap. 6.
301. Quotations from LeBlanc, Acadian Miracle, 311-13, italics added in sixth quotation.
Milling, Exile Without End, was first published in 1943; this researcher, however, has failed to find Senator LeBlanc's quotation in a 1990 reprinting of that work.
For Senator LeBlanc's bio, see O. C. Guillot, "LeBlanc, Dudley J. ("Couzin Dud")," in DLB, pp. 495-96. He lived from 1894-1971. His The True Story of the Acadians was published in 1927, The Improved Version in 1932, & Acadian Miracle, cited here, in 1966. LeBlanc's "health" product, Hadacol, made him wealthy. He also was a popular broadcaster & was active in the creation of CODOFIL, The Council for the Development of French in Louisiana, which, despite recent efforts by the current Louisiana governor, still exists.
That Héberts & Richards appear in the Pointe Coupée church records of the 1750s does not mean that they were Acadian members of those families. In fact, they were not. See BRDR, vol. 1b, which covers the years 1722-69. There are Héberts listed in this volume, but all of them are Acadians, & the sacramental records, 3 marriages & a baptism, are dated 26 Sep 1767, 26 Mar 1769, & 27 Mar 1769. See ibid., 1b:86. The only family name close to Hébert is Erber or Herbert, & close examination shows them to be from Île de Ré, France, not Acadia. See ibid., 1b:86-87. For the Richards at Pointe Coupée, see ibid., 1b:157-59. Only 1 Richard sacramental record is for an Acadian, a baptismal record dated 26 Mar 1769; the other 8 are for non-Acadians, & close examination of those records shows that these Richards were from France, specifically Avignon & Hannonois. The Senator also devotes several pages to a misreading of St. James church records that mention Acadians. See
Acadian Miracle, 314-15, which he insists put Acadians there in 1757 & 1759. A perusal of BRDR, vol. 2, reveals no such dates for these St. James church records relating to Acadian Poiriers & Richards.
For a critique of De Sennegy, pseudonym of Aldric Lettin de la Peychardière, see
Brasseaux, In Search of Evangeline, 20-21.
In early histories of the Acadian experience in LA, examples abound of the 1750s-arrival myth, replete with exaggerations of how many Acadians came to LA. Marchand, Ascension Parish, first published in 1931, states on p. 20: "At irregular intervals following the year 1757, a stream of the exiles continued to pour into Louisiana, until more than 4000 had taken up their abode in what is now the southern portion of the state. An interesting group of 216, who came direct from Halifax, Nova Scotia, landed in New Orleans on Nov. 16, 1766[sic]. They were sent to Cabahanosse ... which settlement soon became known as the Acadian Coast (Ascension and St. James)."
Winzerling, Acadian Odyssey, first published in 1955, states in his conclusion on p. 161: "The seven [ships'] expeditions formed but half of Acadian immigration to the state[sic] of Louisiana. For these Acadians and those other three or four thousand who, between 1755 and 1776, filtered from the American colonies and the West Indies into Louisiana, the cruel expulsions of 1755 were gone with the clouds of the Seven Years' War." In truth, "only" about 1,300 Acadians "filtered" in from Georgia, Halifax, Maryland, & St.-Domingue from 1764-69. Although Winzerling does not include any of Dudley LeBlanc's histories in his bibliography, this passage reveals the imprecision of Acadian studies as late as the mid-1950s as to the number of Acadians who came to LA in the earliest years, &, especially, when they first arrived. A decade later, Arsenault, History, published in 1966 in both French & English versions, continues the myth, in spades. The Canadian genealogist-turned-historian states on pp. 191-92, under the heading "Arrival of the First Acadians in Louisiana": "It is our belief that a number of Acadians deported in 1755 to Maryland, the Carolinas and Georgia most certainly succeeded in reaching Louisiana, in 1756. For example, we know that the Acadians who disembarked in South Carolina had no trouble getting permission to leave. Among those exiled to other American colonies, a number of them headed for the Mississippi either by sea, or by following certain rivers. Others escaped from the transports which brought them to Virginia in the fall of 1755, and before these vessels were directed to England in the beginning of 1756. It was to these first Acadians of Louisiana that Longfellow referred, in his Evangeline, when he wrote: 'Past the Ohio shore and past the mouth of the Wabash, 'Into the golden stream of the broad and swift Mississippi, 'Floated a cumbrous boat, that was rowed by Acadian boatmen. 'It was a band of exiles; a raft, as it were, from the shipwrecked 'Nation, scattered along the coast, now floating together, 'Bound by the bonds of a common belief and a common misfortune; 'Men and women and children, who, guided by hope or hearsay, 'Sought for their kin and their kind among the few-acred farmers, 'On the Acadian coast, and the prairie of fair Opelousas. 'On ward o'er sunken sands, through a a wilderness sombre with forests, 'Day after day they glided down the turbulent river; 'Night after night, by their blazing fires, encamped on its borders 'Now through rushing chutes, among green islands, where plumelike 'Cotton-trees nodded their shadowy crests, they swept with the current...'" A wonderful fiction. Arsenault continues: "Felix Voorhies, an eminent judge of Louisiana, in Acadian Reminiscences, published at the turn of the century, tells the touching story of a group of Acadians deported to Maryland in 1755 and who, a few years later, succeeded in reaching Louisiana. This story was related to him by his grandmother, an Acadian who been one of the exiles in that group. Having received help and shelter from Irish families in Maryland, these Acadians acquired horses and covered wagons and courageously began the long trek west. After crossing Virginia and the mountainous country of North Carolina, they reached the Tennessee River. They had been on the move two months. Learning that they could reach Louisiana more easily by riding the strong river currents, they sold the horses and wagons, felled trees and built rafts. They floated down the Tennessee, reached the Mississippi, Bayou Plaquemine and, finally, Bayou Teche along which they settled. This was in the region of the Attakapas post, in present-day St. Martinville. Charles Gayarré, a Louisiana historian, wrote that Acadian refugees arrived on the Mississippi in a steady stream immediately after their deportation to the English colonies and right up until the Treaty of Paris of 1763; but, it is impossible to ascertain their number." Arsenault's history, like LeBlanc's is not documented.
As late as 1979, one encounters passages such as this inRushton, The Cajuns, 78: "Upon arriving in Louisiana in 1754, Salvador and Jean Diogène Mouton and their families were thrust into the company of highly advanced Indians who, as in Nova Scotia, lived near the lands the Acadians settled." And on p. 316, his chronology: "1754--Five Mouton brothers and one nephew begin their immigration to Louisiana, the first Cajun settlers in the state." And, still under the heading 1754: "April 6--The first fully documented arrival of Cajun refugees in Louisiana: four families, totaling twenty people, who had arrived via New York." The 20 families he mentions doubtless were the ones who reached New Orleans in Feb 1764.
On p. 317, under the heading 1756, we find: "Scattered Acadian refugees dumped in Maryland, the Carolinas, and Georgia begin heading for Louisiana." And: "1757--The first chapel is established at St. James Parish, soon to become the principal settlement of the Acadian Coast along Louisiana's Mississippi River." Also: "1761--In Louisiana, the first Cajun name appears in the cattle industry's so-called brand book: Bernard." On p. 319: "1764--In December a boatload of 20 refugees turns up in New Orleans." Ruston, alas, does not document any of these misinterpretations of the historical record.
The work of Professor Carl A. Brasseaux of the University of Southwestern Louisiana, now the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, from the 1980s, helped resurrect the true history of the first Acadians in LA. His
In Search of Evangeline
, published in 1988, offers a discussion of the Evangeline/Emmeline Labiche myth, which includes the improbable movement of Acadians from MD to LA via the Appalachian passes & the Tennessee, Ohio, & Mississippi rivers, à la Longfellow's fictional Evangeline. Dr. Brasseaux points to LA historians François-Xavier Martin & René de Sennegy as the origin of the trans-Appalachian route of Acadian exiles to LA. Dr. Brasseaux states on p. 21: "Like Longfellow, [Felix] Voorhies [author of the influential fantasy, Acadian Reminiscences] depended upon his imagination for the trans-Appalachian journey, an episode for which factual information was understandably lacking, since it never took place." Professor Brasseaux adds on pp. 22-23: "The Maryland [and by extension South Carolina and Georgia] Acadians knew the dangers and difficulties of overland travel and consistently traveled to Louisiana aboard chartered merchant vessels whose departures from Maryland and arrivals at New Orleans are well documented. On the other hand, the voluminous materials relating to Acadian immigration into Louisiana fail to yield a single piece of evidence to substantiate the use of an overland route." Italics added.
Yet Dr. Brasseaux's Founding of New Acadia, published in 1987, opens chap. 5 on p. 73 with the passage: "Between 1757 and 1770 approximately one thousand Acadians migrated to Louisiana...." The number was closer to 1,300. But where does he get 1757? Which Acadians came to LA at that date? If they did not come overland, as he insists in his
In Search of Evangeline
did they come by sea? From where? Who were they? Where did they settle? On p. 105 of the same work, however, he offers this solid reasoning: "... it is certain that the overland odyssey described in Felix Voorhies' Acadian Reminiscences has no basis in fact. The vigilance of colonial forces ordered to fire at Acadians approaching the Appalachian frontier, the belligerence of trans-Appalachian Indian tribes both during and after the Seven Years' War, and the exiles' general ignorance of the interior routes to Louisiana militated against a transcontinental trek. It is also certain that few, if any, Acadians reached the lower Mississippi Valley via Quebec. Indeed, Acadian refugees in Quebec appear to have ventured no further south than Detroit, where one couple was married on January 3, 1773." An exception was Olivier Guédry, born at Boston, MA, in c1764, who was called Olivier dit Canada by his neighbors at Attakapas, where he settled by 8 Jan 1793, the day he married Félicité, daughter of fellow Acadian Alexandre Aucoin. They settled at Grand Prairie, today's downtown Lafayette. Olivier's marriage record inHébert, D., Southwest LA Records, 1-A:23, 374 (SM Ch.: v.4, #67), calls his father Augustin "of Canada."
Today's serious scholarship on the Acadians of LA continues the work of Dr. Brasseaux. For example, Oubre, Vacherie, published in 2002, states on p. 57: "Possibly, a few Acadian stragglers started to reach the French settlements of colonial Louisiana within a few years of the deportations. This has never been established as a fact, and the possibility is discounted by most researchers." On p. 73, he states: "There is another historic marker across the highway [from St. James Church] stating, 'Site of First Acadian Settlers in Louisiana. Refugees came overland 1756-57," & concludes: "Obviously, there is no documentation that anybody came overland at that early date."
302. Quotations fromBrasseaux, ed., Quest for the Promised Land, 16; this work is an English translation of the original documents relating to the Acadian exiles in LA.
See Appendix for a list of individuals & family connections in the Cormier-Landry-Poirier-Richard party. For their baptisms at New Orleans, see
NOAR, 2:xx, 167, 229, 238. See also Oubre, Vacherie, 68.
See note 303, below, for a discussion of the NY dilemma.
303. Quotation from <acadian-home.org>
, "18th Century News." See also Oubre, Vacherie, 53, 58-59.
Has anyone, using primary sources, explained why d'Abbadie thought these first Acadians came to LA from New York & not Georgia? "New England" sometimes was used as a generic term in New France for all of the English colonies along the Atlantic seaboard, but New York? Faragher, A Great & Noble Scheme, 430-31, in his recent history of the Acadians thru their Grand Dérangement, follows d'Abbadie's lead and says: "By 1763 this group of families had relocated to Charles Town, where in August they were listed on the register the South Carolina exiles sent to Ambassador Nivernois. Within weeks, however, they departed for New York, where they booked passage on a vessel bound for the port of Mobile on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. Upon their arrival there in February 1764, they were greeted warmly by French officials, who provided them with lands along the Mississippi River at a place called Cabannocé, about seventy-five miles upriver from New Orleans." In his citation for the passage on p. 533, he cites Brasseaux (1985) & Brasseaux (1994), articles found in Acadiensis entitled "A New Acadia: The Acadian Migrations to South Louisiana, 1764-1803," vol. 15, & "Phantom Letters: Acadian Correspondence, 1766-1784," vol. 23; & work by genealogist Roger Rozendal entitled "First Acadians in Louisiana, 1764," & Trek of the 1764 Acadians to Louisiana," posted on the Internet at <http://archiver.rootsweb.com/th/index/ACADIAN-CAJUN/2002-11>. In the second posting, Rozendal writes: "The Treaty of Paris ratified 10 February 1763 provided an eighteen-month grace period during which Acadians detained in British territory could relocate to French soil. It would seem the Georgia Acadians gathered in Savannah, Georgia as soon as they could and left for South Carolina where 185 of them were in the census 23 August 1763. It would seem that at least some of them did not stay long and headed for New York. There the Four Families made the decision to go to Louisiana at their own expense. It is known the group was in Mobile, Alabama by January 22, 1764 where the marriage of Jean Poirier and Madeleine Richard was solemnized. A copy of this ceremony is in Vidrine's "Loves Legacy" pp. 329-321[sic]. From there, they went on to Louisiana, arriving before February 26, 1764. Therefore, it seems likely that in a year starting in February 1763, the Four Families went from Georgia to South Carolina, then to New York, back to Georgia and ended up in Louisiana in February 1764." The going-to-New York-and-back scenario, which fails the test of logic, hangs, then, on the single reference in d'Abbadie's 6 Apr 1764 missive to the duc de Choiseul, Minister of Marine. Let's look at the primary sources more closely. The Four Families, as Rozendal calls them, were in SC on 23 Aug 1763. They appear again--who else would those 21 Acadians have been?-- in the
22 December 1763 edition of the Georgia Gazette, having left Savannah for Mobile the day before. This gave them slightly less than 4 months to hurry away from Charles Town, SC, arrive at NY, make their decision there to go to LA "at their own expense," book passage for Savannah (why Savannah?), & then book passage on the
Savannah Packet for Mobile. Did they have the time, not to mention the wherewithal, to do this much sailing back & forth? Or did d'Abbadie simply misidentify their place of embarkation when he wrote to the Minister on 6 Apr 1764?
For the blessing of the Poirier-Richard marriage, s
eeWhite, DGFA-1, 1336
. Did the
Cormier-Landry-Poirier-Richard party take a ship from Mobile to New Orleans, which would have required a stop at Balize, or did they take smaller vessels to the Bayou St.-Jean portage via Lake Pontchartrain, which would have taken them to New Orleans without going to Balize? Considering that there were 21 of them, they probably took a ship. One suspects that, with the French evacuation of eastern LA well underway, there were a number of ships going from Mobile to New Orleans that the Acadians could have taken in late Jan or early Feb 1764.
The site of the first Acadian settlement is now Moonshine/Lagan, St. James Parish. Oubre, p. 66, estimates that the distance between Verret's & Jacquelin's grants was 3.5 miles. See ibid., p. 59, for the exact location of the Acadian settlement at Moonshine/Lagan viz later plantations in the area. The Alibamons who came to New Orleans about the time that the Acadians arrived were settled downriver from the Acadians, closer to the upper German settlement. .
Marie, Pierre Thibodeau's oldest child & Olivier Landry's paternal grandmother, was born in c1661, & Jeanne, Pierre Thibodeau's 7th child & 6th daughter & Joseph De Goutin de Ville's mother, was born in c1672. Joseph Broussard dit Beausoleil's wife Agnès was a daughter of Michel Thibodeau, younger brother of Marie & Jeanne. Joseph's older brother Alexandre married Marguerite, Agnès's older sister, so there was an extensive connection to the Thibodeaus among the first Acadians to come to LA. See White, DGFA-1, 1508-09, 1517.
Oubre, Vacherie, 57, seems to be hinting at Joseph De Goutin de Ville's existence without naming him: "It is quite possible that a person born in Acadia preceded or followed closely the lead of Antoine de La Mothe Cadillac, a resident of Port Royal from 1683 to 1690 ...." Followed to be sure, but not until the late 1740s. Cadillac had not been born in Acadia, had lived there only briefly, & never considered himself to be Acadian, or even Canadian. De Goutin, on the other hand, was born & raised in greater Acadia. His father having died when he was only 9 years old, he was raised on Île Royale by an Acadian widower, the daughter of one of Acadia's pioneers.
305. Quotation from
Jehn, Acadians in Exile, 269, a letter from Wilmot to his uncle, the Earl of Halifax, dated 18 Dec 1764. For other contemporary documents, see Brasseaux, ed., Quest for the Promised Land, 25-27. See also
Marshall, Acadian Resistance, 195.
The oath, as it was worded in Nov 1764, was: "To swear and solemnly and sincerely promise before God that I shall be faithful to His Britannic Majesty, King George III, and that I shall defend him with all my might against all of this enemies, and against all assaults upon his person, his government, and his dignity. In addition, I shall make every effort to discover and to inform His Majesty and his successors of every treasonous conspiracy, or any attack against him or against them, the princes of the royal house. I promised to do all of these things sincerely and in good faith, adhering to all of the oaths declared by me without equivocal mental restrictions or secret reservations whatsoever. I take this oath, and promise with all my heart, without duress, and in all sincerity, upon the Christian faith, so help me God and the Holy Gospel." An ironclad oath, indeed. Notice, however, that this oath placed no restrictions on practicing the Roman Catholic faith.
Baskenridge, as it appears in the document on p. 26 of Brasseaux, ed., is actually Basking Ridge, in today's Somerset County, north-central NJ. Can anyone tell me where Chusock is located in NY? Wikipedia does not.
The New England planters came to the Annapolis valley in 1760, not long after especially high tides generated by a hurricane that struck the area "in the late autumn of 1759 damaged the dykes, neglected for four years after the deportation of the Acadians." See Clark, Acadia, 24, note 20.
Brasseaux, Founding of New Acadia, 33-34;
Jehn, Acadian Exiles in the Colonies, 269-70;Marshall, Acadian Resistance, 195-96.
tells us that Wilmot conceived a plan that he was certain would discourage the Halifax Acadians from remaining in Nova Scotia, including an ironclad oath "that insulted their Roman Catholic faith," &, in violation of every directive from his superiors in London, a very hard choice: "the West Indies or continued imprisonment." Marshall, however,provides no text of the new ironclad oath that insults the Roman Catholic faith. See note 305, above, for the actual text of the oath the Halifax Acadians would have taken at the end of the war, which likely was written in London, not Halifax. Only the last sentence of the oath mentions religion in any way, & it hardly insults the Roman faith. If Wilmot delivered an ultimatum to the Halifax Acadians that gave them the choice of going to the West Indies or suffering continued imprisonment at Georges Island, he did not put it in writing; Marshall cites no such document to buttress her assertion. Unfortunately, her work contains no citations at all, only a bibliography. A perusal of the contemporary documents in
Brasseaux, ed., Quest for the Promised Land, 23-27, relating to Wilmot & the Halifax Acadians supports no such oath & no such ultimatum. One suspects that the settlement restrictions placed on them if they remained in the province, the hard provisions in the actual oath, & their pride, was sufficient motivation for these long-suffering people to find a homeland elsewhere.
307. See Brasseaux, Founding of New Acadia, 32-33; Brasseaux, Scattered to the Wind, 64.
Brasseaux, Founding of New Acadia, 32-33;
Brasseaux, Scattered to the Wind, 64.
309. Quotations from
Brasseaux, Founding of New Acadia, 33. See also
Marshall, Acadian Resistance, 196-97.
Brasseaux, Founding of New Acadia, 34, 74;
Brasseaux, Scattered to the Wind, 64
Marshall, Acadian Resistance, 197.
Founding of New Acadia, 34, states: "Free to execute their designs, approximately six hundred Acadians, led by Joseph Broussard dit Beausoleil, chartered 'Vessels at their own Expense' and, in late November or early December, 1764, began the first segment of their roundabout journey to Illinois. Unable to complete their preparations before the onset of winter, however, numerous other Acadians, 'amounting to as many more, different parts of the Province,' made ready to depart for 'the same destination' in the early spring of 1765." Marshall, p. 197, who we must assume was attempting to follow Brasseaux, says: "In early December 1764, 600 Acadians accompanied Beausoleil on a ship[sic] bound for Santo Domingo, and the following spring, another 200--some from Fort Edward, others from Halifax--followed." It is true that approximately 600 (not 800) Acadians in Nova Scotia sailed from Halifax to St-Domingue & then on to LA in 1764-65, but Beausoleil's party numbered only 200; the other 400 were led by leaders such as Jean-Baptiste Bergeron dit d'Amboise & surgeon Philippe Lachaussée. See Appendix. As to 600 Acadians taking "a ship" in Dec 1764, that would have required a most remarkable merchant vessel for that day, & the result would have been horrible overcrowding & the loss of many of them on a voyage as long in distance & time as the one from Halifax to Cap-Français. There were an indeterminate number of ships carrying these 600 Acadians, their names lost to history.
Brasseaux, Founding of New Acadia, 74;
Brasseaux, Scattered to the Wind, 64.
Information on Théotiste Broussard is hard to come by, but not so her daughter Marie Hugon & brother-in-law Jacques Hugon.
See Arsenault, Généalogie, 1006, 2614; Jehn, Acadian Exiles in the Colonies, 235; Milling, Exile Without End, 42; Wall of Names, 19; Appendix.
312. See Wall of Names, 15; Hébert, D., Southwest LA Records, 1-A:199, 498 (SM Ch.: v.3, #91), Jean's marriage record, which calls him Jean Como "du Cap-François, Isle St.-Domingue." A baptismal record for Jean does not appear in NOAR, vol. 2, so he likely was baptized at Cap-Français.
Brasseaux, ed., Quest for the Promised Land, 31-33; Appendix.
313a. Quotation from ibid., p. 38. See also ibid., p. 58. The chaos upriver was, of course, the final stages of the so-called Pontiac's Rebellion, which had erupted in the pays d'en haut the year before.
314. Quotation from ibid.
, p. 54, which details the amounts exchanged for 3 of the parties from Halifax, including the Broussards. See also ibid., pp. 44-45. Aubry tells the Minister in a letter dated 30 Apr 1765: "Despite the fact that the date on these bonds [card money, etc.] has long since expired, it would be most unfair on our part, if we did not comply with their request. From the time Canada surrendered  till their arrival here, these wretched people underwent such setbacks that they were completely unaware of this new arrangement. In the sad situation in which they find themselves, this sum can be of great help to them." See ibid., p. 45. This implies that the Acadians were the ones who suggested the exchange.
"My very dear father," Jean-Baptiste Semer had written his father in Apr 1766, "I arrived here in the month of February 1765 with 202 Acadian persons, including Joseph Bro(u)ssard, called (Beausoleil) and all of his family, ... all coming from Halifax and having passed by (Haiti). Beausoleil led (the group) and paid the passage for those who didn't have the means," which may explain why the resistance leader is not on Maxent's list of card money holders. SeeBernard, Cajuns & Their Acadian Ancestors, 30, for the English translation of Semer's letter, used here.
An excellent perspective on Canadian "card money," including its use by Acadians who went to LA from Halifax, is in <http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~guedrylabinefamily/josephguedrycardmoney.html>. According to this source, 3 parties from Halifax redeemed their card money in April, June, & November of 1765, but only the Broussard party's list of Apr 1765 survived. This list is reproduced here, along with examples of the card money. For the Broussard list, see also <thecajuns.com/cardmoney.htm>.
A year after the Acadians turned over their card money to St. Maxent, they still had not received reimbursement from France, & they never would. In fact, failure of first the French & then the Spanish to redeem their worthless Canadian currency may have been a factor in hundreds of Acadians joining the revolt against Spanish governor Ulloa in Oct 1768. See
Brasseaux, Founding of New Acadia, 192 ...
315. For the Thibodeau-Bourg union, see NOAR, 2:31, 261 (SLC, B5185 & M2, 15), which calls the groom Amand Thibaudeau, "Acadian, native of Lachipoditte, Notre Dame des Neiges Parish in Acadia, Diocese of Québec," calls the bride Gertrude Bourgue, "native of Isle St. Jean, Dependency of Louisbourg," gives his & her parents' names, calls his mother Marie Commeau, calls her father Jacques, & says that all parents were deceased at the time of the wedding; Hébert, D., Southwest LA Records, 1-A:96, 743 (NO Ch.: v.1765), a copy of the marriage record, which calls the groom Pierre-Amand/Amand Thibodeaux "of La Chipoudy, Acadie," calls the bride Gertrude Bourque "of Isle St.-Jean, Acadie," gives his & her parents' names, & calls her father Jacques. The editors of the sacramental records of the Archdiocese of New Orleans note in NOAR, 2:xix: "The first identified Acadians to appear in this volume [number 2, covering the years 1751-71] were Amand Thibeaudau and Gertrude Bourgue who were married at St. Louis Church on February 27, 1765." They were therefore the first Acadian couple to be married in LA. The marriage at New Orleans may have been a blessing of a union that already existed. Wall of Names, 12, says her father was Charles Bourg, but her marriage record, cited above, as well as Arsenault, Généalogie, 2433, 2597, call him Jacques. Perhaps he was Charles-Jacques or Jacques-Charles. Her family, headed by "Cherle Bourque," was listed in the British report at Halifax in Aug 1763 next to the family of her future husband Amand, so they probably met in the Halifax prison. See Jehn, Acadian Exiles in the Colonies, 249. I am proud to say that, through my father, I am a direct descendants of this couple.
For the Girouard-Trahan union, see NOAR, 2:136, 267 (SLC, B5, 185 & M1, 16), which calls the groom Joseph Geronnard (Geraunard), calls the bride Ursule Trahan, "widow of Joseph Brossard," gives his & her parents' names, calls his mother Anne Tourangeau, & says all parents were deceased at the time of the wedding.
For Pierre Gautrot, see NOAR, 2:138 (SLC, B5, 82), the birth/baptismal record of daughter Marie-Josèphe, which lists him as "dec.," or dead, when she was baptized at New Orleans 22 Feb 1765. The Broussard party reached New Orleans in early Feb, so he must have died soon after he arrived. Louise appears on the Apr 1765 card money list in New Orleans, 1 of only 2 women on the list, implying that she was a widow. See <thecajuns.com/cardmoney.htm>. Why does Arsenault, Généalogie, 2492, in referring to his daughter's marriage, call him Charles?
For Mathilde Dugas, see NOAR, 2:105 (SLC, B5, 84), her birth/baptismal record, which calls her Mathilde Duguas, gives her parents' names, calls them Acadians, says her godparents were Andrés Antonio De Abreu Spanish officer, & Marie-Josèph (Gaucien?), & has the marginal note--"died, March 11, 1765."
316. Quotations from
Brasseaux, ed., Quest for the Promised Land, 31, 40;
Brasseaux, Founding of New Acadia, 74
317. Quotation from
Brasseaux, ed., Quest for the Promised Land, 33.
Note that Foucault said Opelousas, not Attakapas, in his late February message. This hints that the ultimate destination of the Broussard party was not decided yet but that, having rejected the site across the river from New Orleans, they likely would be going to one of the prairie districts. Not until Andry's detailed instructions, dated 17 Apr 1765, do the French officials in New Orleans say that the Acadians are going to Attakapas.
318. Quotations from
Brasseaux, ed., Quest for the Promised Land, 73, note 111;
Brasseaux, Founding of New Acadia, 74-75
, italics added to third quotation from p. 75.
Professor Brasseaux has no doubt that the Broussard party made an agreement with Dauterive. His comments about the efficacy of the Attakapas prairie for cattle raising reflects Aubry's letter to the Minister of Marine, dated 24 Apr 1765, in which the acting director-general says: "Since the cession of Mobile, we lack cattle altogether; the spot to which the Acadians are going has fine grazing land where prosperous cattle ranches can be developed to supply New Orleans. All this without the inconvenience of passing in front of the English post at the Iberville River [Bayou Manchac]. One can reach Attakapas post by means of a channel leading there, called Bayou Plaquemine, which is twenty-eight leagues distant [from New Orleans]. The round trip can be easily effected in six days." See
Brasseaux, ed., Quest for the Promised Land, 40-41.
Professor Brasseaux points out in ibid., pp. 40-41, note 73, that "Throughout the early eighteenth century, much of the cattle produced in Louisiana was raised on ranches on the islands ringing the Ala
bama and Mississippi coasts. Individual ranches contained as many as 500 head of cattle. These islands became English possession in 1763." The beeves would have been moved from that distant area to New Orleans via the "shortcut" thru lakes Pontchartrain, Maurepas, the Amite River, & Bayou Manchac; over the Bayou St.-Jean portage behind the city; or via the mouth of the river, much of it by boat.
319. Quotations from
Bernard, Cajuns & Their Acadian Ancestors, 30, the English translation of the Semer letter used here;
Brasseaux, Founding of New Acadia, 75;
Brasseaux, ed., Quest for the Promised Land, 34.
Andry's instructions, which cover pp. 33-37, of
Brasseaux, ed., Quest for the Promised Land,
dated 17 Apr, hint that the Broussard party left New Orleans in late Apr. See also ibid., p. 44.
For Pierre-François Olivier de Vézin, fils, see ibid., p. 43. His father was surveyor-general of LA & inspector of colonial roads.
For Father Jean-François, see
Baudier, The Catholic Church in LA, 128, 132-33, 142, 145, 148-49, 153, 158, 171-72, 190; Brasseaux, Founding of New Acadia, 156.
320. Quotation from
Bernard, Cajuns & Their Acadian Ancestors, 30. Semer does not identity the German Coast as the place where he saw these agricultural wonders, but where else would he have seen them? Semer's grandson, Joachim, youngest son of his second son, Urbain, married Hyacinthe Wiltz in a civil ceremony in St. Martin Parish in Apr 1879. See Hébert, D., Southwest LA Records, CD.
For the reaction of the Acadians at Le Havre to Jean-Baptiste's letter, see Duc de Choiseul-Stainville, then the French Minister of Marine, to one Mistral, perhaps the intendant at Le Havre, dated 13 Sep 1766, in
Brasseaux, ed., Quest for the Promised Land, 77. The young man's letter caused quite a stir among the Acadians in France, but the French government refused to fund their movement to LA & planned, instead, to settle them in another part of France.
321. For evidence that Jean-Baptiste Cormier, fils was a part of the Broussard party, see
<thecajuns.com/cardmoney.htm>, on which he is listed as changing 692 livres (only the Broussard party card money exchange list survived; see note 314, above).Jean-Baptiste, fils married Marguerite Bourg at Cabanocé in c1768, evidence that he remained on the river while the other members of the Broussard party moved on to Attakapas. Jean-Baptiste, fils does not appear in Attakapas District records until 1777, when he is listed in an Attakapas census with his first wife & their children; his parents were still at
Cabahannocer/St.-Jacques that year. See DeVille, St. James Census, 1777, 20; De Ville, Southwest LA Families, 1777, 13. Jean-Baptiste, fils remarried at Attakapas in Jan 1779.
322. For the Opelousas Alibamons, see
Brasseaux, Founding of New Acadia, 74.
323. Quotations from
Brasseaux, Founding of New Acadia, 76, 92;
Bernard, Cajuns & Their Acadian Ancestors, 30.
Brasseaux, Founding of New Acadia, 91-92, is clear: "The oldest of the pioneer communities, called first 'le dernier camp d'en bas' and later Fausse Pointe, was established near present-day Loreauville by late June, 1765."
The names le premier camp d'en bas & le dernier camp d'en bas were used by Father Jean-François de Civray in his 1765 burial records. See, for example, Hébert, D., Southwest LA Records,
1-A:52-53 (SM Ch.: Slave Funeral Register, v.1, #17), Augustin Bergeron's burial, dated Aug 31, which says the upper place
; ibid., 1-A:119 (SM Ch.: Slave Funeral Register v. 1, #21), Alexandre Broussard's burial, dated Sep 8, which says the lower place. The name "Beausoleil" is from Joseph dit Beausoleil's burial record, dated Oct 20, in ibid., 1-A:137 (SM Ch.: v.1, p. 78; SM Ch.: Folio B-1, Funeral), which calls him Capitain Commandant des Acadiens aux/des Atakapas. The earliest use of
le dernier camp d'en bas is from Théotiste Broussard's burial, dated 27 Jul, in ibid., 1-A:149-50 (SM Ch.: Slave Funeral Register v.1, #8-A; SM Ch.: v.1, p. 8). The earliest use of
le premier camp d'en bas is Augustin Bergeron's burial, cited above.
La Pointe de Répos was on the Teche above present-day Parks, near Breaux Bridge, & later ran up to Cecilia. La Manque,
on the prairie
between Breaux Bridge & present-day Lafayette, was later called Anse La Butte & stood on upper Bayou Vermilion.
324. Quotation from
Bernard, Cajuns & Their Acadian Ancestors, 30.
For the deaths of Marguerite-Anne Thibodeau & Madeleine Broussard, see
Hébert, D., Southwest LA Records,
1-A:752 (SM Ch.: Slave Baptism Register v.1, p. 1, #1), Marguerite-Anne's baptismal record, which also records the date of her death; ibid., 1-A:140 (SM Ch.: Slave Funeral Register v.1, #2; SM Ch.: v.1, p. 6). Olivier Thibodeau remarried to Agnès Brun, widow of Paul Doucet, at Attakapas in c1771.
For Joseph dit L'Officier Guilbeau's death & burial, see ibid., 1-A:382 (SM Ch.: v. 1, p. 11). For Jean Dugas, see ibid., 1-A:274 (SM Ch.: Slave Funeral Register v.1, #21-A). For Alexandre Broussard dit Beausoleil, see note 323, above. For Marguerite Thibodeau, see
Hébert, D., Southwest LA Records, 1-A:752 (SM Ch.: Slave Funeral Register v.1, #20). For Jacques Hugon, see ibid., 1-A:423-24 (SM Ch.: v.1, p. 13; SM Ch.: Slave Funeral Register v.1, #26). For Ursule Trahan, see ibid., 1-A:776 (SM Ch.: v.1, p. 14; SM Ch.: Slave Funeral Register v.1, #27). For Joseph Girouard, see ibid., 1-A:351 (SM Ch.: v.1, p. 15; SM Slave Funeral Register v.1, #33). For Sylvain Breau, see ibid., 1-A:116 (SM Ch.: Slave Funeral Register v.1, #24; SM Ch.: v.1, p. 13), which call him Silvain. For Isabelle Darois, see ibid., 1-A:216 (SM Ch.: v.1, p. 13; SM Funeral Register v.1, #25), which calls her Isabelle Daroy; note the remarkable differences in their ages. For Joseph dit Beausoleil, see note 323, above.
I am proud to say that I am a descendant of Joseph dit L'Officier Guilbeau, the Beausoleil Broussard brothers, &, of course, Marguerite Thibodeau.
Can anyone tell me why Father Jean-François's 1765 baptismal & funeral registers became the St. Martinville church's register for area slaves?
325. Quotation from
Brasseaux, ed., Quest for the Promised Land, 52. For Massé as Attakapas commandant, see ibid., pp. 70n., 88-89.
326. Quotations from Brasseaux,
Founding of New Acadia, 94, which calls La Pointe de Répos, La Pointe, a name also used for the later Acadian community of La Grand Pointe, between present-day Breaux Bridge & Cecilia.
Bayou Tortue, or Turtle, should not be confused with Bayou Queue de Tortue, or Tail of the Turtle, farther out on the prairie, west of the Vermilion. The Tortue flows northward into the upper Vermilion, the Queue de Tortue southwestward into the Mermentau River.
For the Attakapas Acadians who likely retreated to
Brasseaux, Founding of New Acadia, 102, says about Father Jean-François: "... in mid-September, 1765, ... eighty-two Acadians from the Attakapas post, ... like their pastor, Father Jean-François, ... fled the Teche region's raging malarial or yellow fever epidemic." Italics added. Brasseaux cites no primary source for this assertion, only Baudier, The Catholic Church in LA, 190, which says that, after building "the first little church at the post," Fr. Jean-François "did not remain long. He probably returned to France as shortly after this he disappears from the Louisiana records." Brasseaux, p. 102, note 17, adds that Fr. Jean-François's "register ends abruptly in January, 1766." This is true. See Hébert, D., Southwest LA Records, 1-A:529, 537, 615, for entries dated 8 Jan & 11 Jan 1766. However, one finds other entries in the Attakapas registers signed by the missionary after he supposedly fled the Teche--on Sep 18 (Alexandre dit Beausoleil's burial), 19, Oct 6, 8, 10, 11, 12, 19, 20 (Joseph dit Beausoleil's burial), 22, 27, 28, 29, Nov 2, 14, & 24. See Hébert, D., 1-A:18, 53, 58, 116, 119, 137, 216, 260, 274, 276, 351 423-24, 499-500, 746, 776. If Fr. Jean-François "fled" the Teche, as Brasseaux says, it would have been no earlier than mid-Jan 1766, after the epidemic had ended or at least subsided, unless the gap in the registers' entries between Nov 24 & Jan 8 means that the good father was away from the Teche from late Nov to early Jan. Perhaps it was then that he "fled the Teche" with part of his flock, only to return briefly after the epidemic had subsided. If Fr. Jean-François did return to France in 1766, he was, according to Baudier himself (p. 172), back at New Orleans in 1767, which seems improbable. No matter,
Fr. Jean-Françoisdid not return to Attakapas.
327. Quotation from
Founding of New Acadia, 95. See also ibid., pp. 96-98. Brasseaux provides approximate dates for the new settlements: 1777 for Grand Prairie, 1778 for the lower Vermilion from Lafayette down to Abbeville, 1778-81 for Beaubassin, & 1781 for Carencro. Ibid.,
pp. 93, 97, are maps entitled "Areas of Acadian Settlement, 1760s" & "Areas of Acadian Settlement, 1785," & include the original & later Attakapas settlement sites.
The names of these new Attakapas settlements can be found in many of the sacramental records in Father Hébert's Southwest LA Records, vols. 1-A & 1-B, passim, which cover the years 1750-1810.
328. See ibid., 1-A:72-77. The earliest record in Father Hébert's first volume of
Southwest LA Records, on this family is dated 25 Apr 1771, the marriage of Jean-Louis, son of Antoine Bonin & Marie Tellier, to Marguerite, daughter of Acadians Olivier Prince & Marguerite Boudrot, who came to LA from MD in 1767; see ibid., 1-A:74 (
(SM Ch.: v.1, p. 21; SM Ch.: Folio A-1, p. 11);
it also can be found in BRDR, 2:104 (PCP-4, 71); the marriage is recorded at Pointe Coupée because a priest from that church, Father Irénée, performed the ceremony at Attakapas, when that parish had no priest of its own. Some of these Pointe Coupée & Attakapas records mention Grenoble & Mobile. The family's name is not found in earlier church records in NOAR, vols. 1 & 2, & BRDR, vols. 1b & 2. One wonders if the Bonins went to Opelousas with their fellow Alibamons in 1764 & only later, certainly by Apr 1766, drifted down to Fausse Point, south of the Broussards. SeeVoorhies, J., Some Late Eighteenth-Century Louisianians, 125, for the family at Attakapas in Apr 1766. Only Antoine Bonin & one Massé, probably Édouard, are labeled "Allibamont Established At The Atakapas" in that Spanish census. All of the other "Allibamont" counted on the prairies in Apr 1766 are found in 2 locations at Opelousas.
Brasseaux, ed., Quest for the Promised Land, 75, 88, 89.
Oubre, Vacherie, 48-49;
Voorhies, J., Some Late Eighteenth-Century Louisianians, 126-27.
Brasseaux, ed., Quest for the Promised Land, 43-44; Appendix.
332. Quote from ibid., p. 44.
For Guénard, see also Jehn, Acadian Exiles in the Colonies, 90, 96; Wall of Names, 18, which does not list him & calls his wife a widow; White, DGFA-1, 775, 1521. Anne Thibodeau remarried to Alibamon François-Marie Rivard, likely a widower, probably at Opelousas in c1767. She outlived him, too, & remarried, again, to Joseph dit Françoeur, son of Jean-Baptiste Loiseau of Montréal, at Opelousas in Nov 1786. See Hébert, D., Southwest LA Records, 1-A:328, 745 (LSAR: Opel: 1786), the record of her third marriage, which gives her second husband's name.
For Comeau, see NOAR, 2:59 (SLC, B5, 92), which calls the family Comand. Interestingly, the boy's godparents Louis Pellerin, "officer on half-pay, commandant at Opelousas" & his wife. Is this a clue that this family & the other later-comers did not go to Attakapas before they settled at Opelousas? Were the commandant & his wife in New Orleans to escort the later-comers to Opelousas? Or was the boy baptized at Opelousas, & the ceremony was recorded by a New Orleans priest?
333. For the Cormier twins, see Arsenault, Généalogie, 2464, 2465, which says they were born in 1765, but the Opelousas census of 1777 says otherwise. This census & the one for Opelousas in 1771 make it clear that they were twins. See De Ville, Opelousas Post Census, 1771, 9; De Ville, Southwest LA Families, 1777, 25.
334. Some Cormier family historians insist that Joseph & Michel were sent to SC with other Chignecto Acadians in 1755, but none of the Joseph & Michel Cormiers recorded there match the brothers. See
Jehn, Acadians Exiles in the Colonies, 231, 234; Milling, Exile Without End, 41-43. For the Aug 1763, Halifax listing, which calls Joseph a Cormaie but, sad to say, does not name Michel, see Jehn, p. 249. This researcher believes that Michel, though grown, is listed as one of Joseph's 3 "children."
One family legend has Pierrot escaping with a younger brother from Fort Cumberland, formerly Beauséjour, dressed as a woman. For his actual escape from the SC-bound vessel in 1755 & his other adventures thru 1765, see Stephen A. White, "Cormier, Pierre," in
DCB on line <www.biographi.ca/index>.
For more on Pierrot & other members of the immediate family, we await Stephen A. White's DGFA-2.
335. Quotation from Brasseaux,
Founding of New Acadia, 94. See also ibid., p. 98.
letter from Aubry to the Minister of Marine, dated 30 Apr 1765, in
Brasseaux, ed., Quest for the Promised Land, 43-44,
says: "We have the honor of informing you of the arrival of several Acadian families from Saint-Domingue. Since their arrival, others have come. Notwithstanding seven or eight who have died, they constitute 231 persons. More are expected. We were able to convince them to settle in the districts of Opelousas and Attakapas, and they have departed." I
talics added. Father along in the letter, Aubry states: "This (assistance) will enable them to support themselves (both) now and later at Opelousas and Attakapas and also will facilitate (the establishment of) their settlement." Italics added. In another letter to the Minister, also dated 30 Apr, Aubry says that "Mister Andry" & his assistant have gone "to Opelousas and the Attakapas." Italics added.
The question is, d
id the later-arriving party of 40 or so Chignecto Acadians (231 minus 193 equals 38) remain at Opelousas after they reached the upper Teche, having intended to go there all along? Or, as Dr. Brasseaux says, did they follow Andry & the Broussards to Attakapas & then move up to Opelousas to escape the epidemic during the summer of 1765? There are several pieces of evidence that make one question the Brasseaux thesis, though none of it eliminates the Brasseaux thesis as a explanation for where these Acadians first settled. Note that Aubry, in his Apr 30 letters to the minister, cited above, says the 231 Acadians who had come to New Orleans had agreed to settle "in the districts of Opelousas and Attakapas." Note, also, that the godparents for Louis, son of Michel Comeau, baptized on 16 May 1765, were Louis Pellerin, Opelousas commandant, & his wife. Unfortunately, the baptismal record does not say if the ceremony took place at New Orleans or Opelousas. The baptism was recorded in the St.-Louis church baptismal register by a New Orleans priest. See
NOAR, 2:59 (SLC, B5, 92).
If the baptism took place at St.-Louis church, that means the boy's family did not leave New Orleans until the second half of May, weeks behind the Broussard party, which left in late Apr. But note that Aubry goes on to tell the minister in his Apr 30 letter that "they have departed," implying that all 231 of the Acadians who had come to New Orleans, including the later-arrivals, were on their way to the prairies. If the baptism took place in New Orleans, what was the Opelousas commandant doing in the city at that time? Had Aubry summoned him there to escort the later-arrivals to Opelousas? This makes no sense if all 231 Acadians had left the city before Apr 30. If the baptism took place at Opelousas, where the commandant & his wife resided & where the 231 Acadians would have passed on their way down to Attakapas, were the boy's parents at Opelousas on May 16 to settle, or,
as the Brasseaux thesis implies,
were they simply moving on to Attakapas? If they were going to Attakapas, why not wait until they got there for Father Jean-François de Civray to baptize the boy?
As to the "Opelousas and Attakapas" comments in Aubry's Apr 30 letters, note that in a detailed "List of the Provisions and Ammunition Delivered to the Acadian Families Who Sought Refuge in Louisiana," enclosed in Aubry's letter & also dated Apr 30, Ordonnateur Foucault states that this was a "List of the provisions, ammunition and merchandise provided by the king's storehouses in New Orleans to the Acadian families who arrived from St. Domingue to be used during their stay in this city and subsequent settlement in Opelousas." See
Brasseaux, ed., Quest for the Promised Land, 45-46, italics added. Judging by the number of items on the list, it pertains to all 231 Acadians who had reached the city. Evidently Aubrey & Foucault were not certain exactly where the 231 Acadians would settle on the prairie. This is affirmed by Aubry's & Foucault's detailed instructions to engineer Lieutenant Louis Andry, dated 17 Apr 1765, which mentions the Attakapas District but leaves it up to Andry & the Acadian leaders to choose the exact sites of their settlements. See ibid., pp. 33-37. Until Andry reported back to them, the 2 colonial officials could not have known if all of the Acadians had settled at Attakapas or if some had remained at Opelousas. In a letter to the Minister, dated 20 Sep 1765, Aubry & Foucault report: "All these families are hard at work getting settled. Some families are in Attakapas and Opelousas and others are on the right bank (of the Mississippi River) above the Des Allemands district." See ibid., 52, italics added.
I will follow Brasseaux here, as usual. But the question remains: Where did "
At least thirty-two other immigrants" who retreated to Opelousas settle at Attakapas before their retreat? Professor Brasseaux does not say. I would guess they settled on the Teche above La Pointe de Répos, perhaps at what later was called La Grand Pointe, & simply moved up bayou when the epidemic struck on the lower Teche. But this is just a guess The important thing to remember is that by Apr 1766, when the Spanish counted the Acadians in the region, these "thirty-two other immigrants" were still at Opelousas, & most of them were there to stay.
And what of the Canadian card money held by these Halifax Acadians? In a letter written by Spanish Governor Antonio de Ulloa to the Spanish Minister of State, the Marques de Grimaldi, dated 9 Jul 1766, the governor says: "During my visit to the Opelousas and Attakapas (posts) [the previous Mar & Apr], the Acadians settled there showed me a small coffer which contained currency of the province of Canada, the total of which is owed them by His Most Christian Majesty [Louis XV of France] and which does not constitute part of the Louisiana debt nor that of the (river) Acadians of which Your Excellency was notified in the month of March. They total 6,890 livres, 17 sols, which constitute a little more than 13,000 pesos. To have a statement on their value, I arranged for the superior of the Capuchins to take it himself to Mister Maxent, the merchant who had taken care of the money of other Acadians." Was this Canadian currency held by just the Opelousas settlers or by settlers in both prairie districts?
Brasseaux, ed., Quest for the Promised Land, 114-15, especially note 154;
Founding of New Acadia, 98-99, 171;
Frederick, "In Defense of Crown & Colony," 413-14
Father Hébert's Southwest LA Records, vols. 1-A & 1-B, passim, which cover the years 1750-1810, include the names of these Opelousas settlements in many sacramental records.
Founding of New Acadia,
93, 97, are maps entitled "Areas of Acadian Settlement, 1760s" & "Areas of Acadian Settlement, 1785," & include the original & later Opelousas settlement sites.
Brasseaux, ed., Quest for the Promised Land, 95, 96, 107. See also ibid., p. 115, note 154; Baudier,
The Catholic Church in LA, 171
The Opelousas settlers elected Frenchmen Gabriel Fuselier de la Claire & Jacques Patin as co-commandants. They served together until 1770, after which Fuselier, appointed by Spanish Governor O'Reilly, served as sole commandant of both Opelousas & Attakapas until 1774. See ibid., pp. 123, notes 159 & 160.
Two of the Attakapas petitioners--René Trahan and Jean-Baptiste Broussard--were elected co-commandants in 1768 after Pellerin'souster & were replaced by
Gabriel Fuselier de la Claire in 1770. See ibid., p. 124, notes 162 & 163.
Father Hébert's Southwest LA Records, vols. 1-A & 1-B, passim.
338. Quotation from Jehn, Acadian Exiles in the Colonies, 269, italics added.
339. Quotation from
Brasseaux, ed., Quest for the Promised Land, 49. See also Oubre, Vacherie, 70.
340. Quotations from
Brasseaux, ed., Quest for the Promised Land,46-49.
See also Oubre, Vacherie, 70.
340a. Quotations from
Brasseaux, ed., Quest for the Promised Land,51, 54. See also ibid., p. 52;
Founding of New Acadia, 77, in which Professor Brasseaux says: "Hopes for reunification [of all of the Halifax Acadians] at Attakapas were shattered. Neglected by France since the outset of the Seven Years' War, Louisiana's royal warehouses were almost completely bare by 1765. Moreover the province's depleted storehouses had been practically exhausted by the arrival of the first Acadians [from Halifax]. Foucault, who again sympathized with the exiles' plight, was unable to extend his customary generosity to immigrants who followed. ... Lacking alternative solutions [to expensive settlement on the distant prairies], Fourcault was compelled to furnish to the immigrants goods purchased from local merchants for 8,890 livres, but the May arrivals [and those who followed] were compelled to settle 'along the right (bank) of the (Mississippi) River, above the German District.'"
341. See Appendix. It stands to reason that the exiles from the prison compounds at Halifax, Fort Edward, & Fort Cumberland were the ones who had escaped the British roundups of 1755 & took refuge on Rivière St.-Jean & the Gulf of St.-Lawrence shore in today's eastern New Brunswick. Many of the escapees moved on to Canada, but others remained as close to their homes as they could. However, hunger, hard winters, & enemy harassment compelled them to surrender to the British, beginning in 1759. Because of geography, it was easier for the Chignecto-area Acadians to escape the roundup of 1755. Not so the inhabitants of the lower Minas and Annapolis valleys. They were living in British territory, & the British & New England troops who rounded up the Acadians that summer & fall were chillingly efficient in their work. The great majority of the Minas settlers, & most of the settlers at Annapolis, were shipped off to the British Atlantic colonies. Few of them returned to Nova Scotia during the war, & those who did ended up in prison camps with their cousins from Chignecto & Rivière St.-Jean until the war ended.
All of the inhabitants of Cobeguit managed to escape the British roundup of 1755. Most of them escaped to French-controlled Île St.-Jean, from where they were deported in late 1758. Some of them may have gone to the Gulf of St.-Lawrence shore in 1755, hence their presence in the Nova Scotia prisons later in the war.
Founding of New Acadia, 125, says that the Acadians established at
Cabahannocer in 1765 "were predominantly Cobequid natives," but
does not bear this out. There were Cobeguit natives in the party, to be sure, but they were not predominant in numbers compared to the many other settlements from which the party came.
342. Quotation from
Brasseaux, ed., Quest for the Promised Land, 54.
For Bergeron, see Arsenault, Généalogie, 2419, says he was born in 1722; Bourgeois, Cabanocey, 163;
Oubre, Vacherie, 70;Voorhies, J., Some Late Eighteenth-Century Louisianians, 445.
For Lachaussée, see <acadian-home.org>; Arsenault, Généalogie, 1660, 2119; Bourgeois, Cabanocey, 171;
Brasseaux, ed., Quest for the Promised Land, 54, note 90; BRDR, 2:404-05 (SJA-1, 40, & SJA-2, 12);
Oubre, Vacherie, 70;
Voorhies, J. Some Late Eighteenth-Century Louisianians, 424.
343. Quotation from
Brasseaux, ed., Quest for the Promised Land, 52.See
also Bourgeois, Cabanocey, 161;Oubre, Vacherie, 60, 70-71;
Voorhies, J. Some Late Eighteenth-Century Louisianians, 114-19.
The Georgia Acadians, remember, settled on the west bank just below Nicolas Verret in Apr 1764, about the time that Alibamons settled farther up at the edge of the Upper German Coast. Evidently the west side of the river above Cantrelle, Judice, & Verret & across from the Houma, near the present-day St. James/Ascension parish line, all the way up & beyond the Fork (Lafourche des Chitimachas),
Baudier, The Catholic Church in LA, 182;
Bourgeois, Cabanocey, 171;
Voorhies, J. Some Late Eighteenth-Century Louisianians, 424.
Cabahannocer would not get a church of its own until 1768, & then only a temporary shed. It would not have a parish of its own until 1770. See note 419, below.
See Arsenault, Généalogie, 403, 702, 1013, 1026-27, 2560-64; Arsenault, History, 165-66; Hébert, D., Southwest LA Records, CD, 1-A:585-86, & passim; West, Atlas of LA Surnames, 112-13, 182-83n; White, DGFA-1, 1238-40.
Note discrepancies in dates between Arsenault & White. Arsenault, Généalogie, 2561, 2562, gives Jean's birth year as 1755. Jean is buried in St. John Catholic Cemetery, Lafayette; his grave stone says that he died on 22 Nov 1834 at age 80 & gives his birth year as 1754. See [photo]. The grave stone date is followed here. Jean had an interesting nickname or dit--chapeau, or hat. One wonders why. See Hébert, D., 1-A:511. Family tradition says that Jean was called Chapeau to distinguish him from older brother Marin, who was called Capuchon, another kind of head gear. As a result, there are Chapeau Moutons and Capuchon Moutons of South LA.
Jean is the father of Alexandre Mouton, who became the first popularly-elected governor of the State of Louisiana in 1843.
347. Quotations from
Foucault and the Rebellion of 1768, 50. See also
Brasseaux, ed., Quest for the Promised Land, 60-61;
Kinnaird, "The Revolutionary Period, 1765-81," xviii;Oubre, Vacherie, 72; Wikipedia, "Antonio de Ulloa," which details his scientific attainments but says little about his time in LA.
348. Quotations from
Foucault and the Rebellion of 1768, 51, 52, which describes the day Ulloa arrived as "that chilly, rainy March day";
Brasseaux, ed., Quest for the Promised Land, 55. See also ibid., pp. 56-57;
Foucault and the Rebellion of 1768, 54, 69, which, on p. 54, calls Loyola simply an intendant
Kinnaird, "The Revolutionary Period, 1765-81," xvi, which calls Loyola "commissary of war and military intendant" & names the other Spanish officials who accompanied the governor.
asurer Navarro, later intendant, will remain in the colony after Ulloa was ousted & play an important part in the history of the Louisiana Acadians.
349. Quotations from
Founding of New Acadia, 92.
350. Quotation from
Brasseaux, ed., Quest for the Promised Land, 56.See
for more on Grevemberg & the Attakapas Acadians.
Founding of New Acadia, 92,
351. See ibid., pp. 79-80;
Brasseaux, ed., Quest for the Promised Land, 55-57.
352. Quotation from
Brasseaux, ed., Quest for the Promised Land, 67.
353. Quotation from ibid.,
, pp. 59-62, 65-66;
Bernard, Cajuns & Their Acadian Ancestors, 30;
Founding of New Acadia, 79-80.
354. Quotation from
Brasseaux, ed., Quest for the Promised Land, 67.
354a. Quotation from ibid., pp. 66-67.
355. Quotation from
ibid., pp. 69-70.
356. Quotations from
Bourgeois, Cabanocey, 162, 166
.For the Apr 1766 census Cabahannocer, see ibid., 161-70; Voorhies, J., Some Late Eighteenth-Century Louisianians, 114-19, 201-14.
357. For the Apr 1766 censuses at Attakapas & Opelousas, see
Voorhies, J., Some Late Eighteenth-Century Louisianians, 124-28.
358. Quotations from
Brasseaux, ed., Quest for the Promised Land, 59, 66, italics added to second quotation. See ibid., p. 49, for Aubry's comment about smallpox among the Acadians, dated 14 May 1765.
359. Quotation from
Brasseaux, ed., Quest for the Promised Land, 77-78.See
also ibid., p. 80; Bourgeois, Cabanocey, 14;
<thecajuns.com>, "Arrival of the Acadians in Louisiana";Wood, Acadians in Maryland, 31.
Bourgeois gives the date of arrival as 16 Nov 1766, & says that 216 individuals came "directly from Halifax, Nova Scotia...." She bases her statement on a letter from French Commissary Foucault to his superior, the duc de Praslin, dated 18 Nov 1766, in which the commissary says that the 216 Acadians who arrived in LA "approximately one-and-a-half months ago" came from "Halifax on an English boat chartered at their own expense." See Brasseaux, ed., p. 80. However, in a letter from Spanish Governor Ulloa to the Spanish Minister of State, dated 29 Sep 1766, Ulloa says that the English sloop carrying Acadians had arrived at New Orleans the day before, had departed "Maryland, New England" in late Jun, & numbered 224 men, women, & children. See Brasseaux, ed., pp. 77-79.
360. Quotations from
Brasseaux, ed., Quest for the Promised Land, 78, 81. For the plight of the Halifax Acadians on the Acadian Coast on the eve of the arrivals from MD, see ibid., pp 71-74, a plaintive setter from Co-commandant Verret to Governor Ulloa, dated 10 Jun 1766. Verret pleads for the construction of a hospital in his district to handle all the illness among the Acadians there. Verret's concerns are reflected in Ulloa's letter to Minister of State Grimaldi, dated 25 Jun 1766, in ibid., pp. 75-76.
361. Quotation from ibid.
For early use of the term "Acadian Coast," by Co-commandant Nicolas Verret on 10 Jun 1766, see ibid., p. 72. See Oubre, Vacherie, 60, for a map of the area, which erroneously lists the first MD arrivals as having come in 1767.
Jean-Baptiste de Noyen of New Orleans, "a wealthy New Orleans merchant and landowner," bought Jacquelin's ranch by Mar 1767, so those 40 arpents fronting the river evidently were not available to the MD Acadians. Noyen's partners in the purchase were ____ Mallet & Ordonnateur Foucault. See ibid., p. 62;
Brasseaux, ed., Quest for the Promised Land, 8687, notes 129 & 130, quote from note 129.
See Appendix for the Sep 1766 arrivals.
For the Simoneaus, see ibid.; Arsenault, Généalogie, 2593; NOAR, 2:256 (SLC, B5, 146), Alexis's baptismal record; Wall of Names, 25 (pl. 6L). Arsenault attempts to link François Simoneau to the Simons of Acadia, unsuccessfully, as church records & Stephen A. White insist. François was called "Francisco of La Lorena" in his daughter Françoise-Apolline's marriage record,
dated 10 Oct 1793.in BRDR, 2:596, 674 (ASM-2, 4), a compelling clue to his origins.
362. Quotations from
Brasseaux,Kinnaird, "The Revolutionary Period, 1765-81," xvi
Foucault and the Rebellion of 1768, 57, 61, 62-63;
. See also
Foucault and the Rebellion of 1768,
For a brief history of the Superior Council, including the evolution of its "quasi-legislative" powers & augmentation of the power of colonial attorney general, as well as the extent of its powers & duties during Ulloa's governorship, see
Foucault and the Rebellion of 1768,
For Aubry's rationalizations of Ulloa's behavior, see his letter to Minister of Marine duc de Choiseul-Stainville, dated 28 May 1766, in
Brasseaux, ed., Quest for the Promised Land, 60-64, especially pp. 61, 63-64, in which Aubry concludes: "In view of such circumstances, His Catholic Majesty [Carlos III] could not have appointed a more worthy governor than Mister de Ulloa. With his perspicacity, enlightenment, and working knowledge of this country, he will be capable of devising the best ideas the best means of preserving and defending this colony which has now become Mexico's only protection." Foucault would have written something very different.
On 1 Jan 1768, the Spanish commissary, Loyola, relieved Foucault of his financial & commercial duties, leaving the Frenchman only his judicial duties as commissaire-ordonnateur, which largely had been assumed by Attorney General Lafrénière. Foucault did not protest the "demotion" but welcomed it. See
Foucault and the Rebellion of 1768, 71, who views this as one of Ulloa's small steps in gradually assuming Spanish control of the colony.
For an example of Ulloa's efforts to counter smuggling in the colony, see
Foucault and the Rebellion of 1768, 63-64.
363. Quotation from
Voorhies, J., Some Late Eighteenth-Century Louisianians, 426. See also BRDR, 1a(rev.):59, 93 (SGA-3, 25a), his marriage record, which calls him Michel DAVID, says he was "age ca 20, resident of Louisbourg," gives his & his wife's parents' names, says she was "age ca 18" at the time of the ceremony, & that the witnesses to his marriage were René Hébert (who made his mark), Michel Hébert (who made his mark), Antoine St.-Germain (who signed), & René LeBlanc (who signed); Jehn, Acadian Exiles in the Colonies, 151;
Wall of Names, 15; Wood, Acadians in Maryland, 31, 111-12.
White, DGFA-1, 1215-16, shows that Michel David's mother was a native of Québec & was living at Haute-Ville de Québec a year before her marriage to his father, who probably also was a resident of Québec. White, p. 1216, does not give Étienne-Michel's paternal grandparents' names. His mother's parents were Jean-Baptiste, son of Jacques Monmellian dit Saint Germain and Claudine Guillet of St.-Sulpice, France, & Hélène, daughter of Jean Juineau & Anne Vuideau, probably of Québec. Jean-Baptiste & Hélène married at Québec on 30 Jan 1690.
Ulloa's letter to his superior, the marques de Grimaldi, dated 9 Jul 1766, is addressed from New Orleans. His letter to Grimaldi, dated 29 Sep 1766, is addressed from Balise[sic]. See
Brasseaux, ed., Quest for the Promised Land, 76, 79.
Ulloa would remain at Balize until the following Jul, during which time he was married. See ibid., p. 96, note 142, in which Brasseaux describes Ulloa's marriage in June 1767 as "a marriage of convenience" which produced 7 children; note 367, below. See also
Foucault and the Rebellion of 1768, 68, 70.
For Ulloa's positive attitude about continued Acadian immigration, see Aubry to Ulloa, dated 16 Dec 1766, in
Brasseaux, ed., Quest for the Promised Land,82. This letter also reveals Aubry's continued support for Ulloa, though it must have annoyed him that he now had to travel all the way down to Balize to consult with the governor.
365. Quotation from ibid., p. 80. See a sharp letter from French Minister of Marine the duc de Praslin, to Aubry & Foucault, dated 3 Feb 1767, from Versailles, that chastises both officials for the large outlays since Ulloa had arrived, reflected in 2 "bills ... drawn against the general treasury of the colony" for 234,793#5s3d & 41,189#13s2d, "notes [which] cover only general expenses for the first nine months, and those specifically incurred for the Acadian families who came to seek refuge Louisiana and which account for the supplement." The Minister continues: "No funds have set aside here [at Versailles] for this purpose. You can understand, therefore, the embarrassment the matter of these notes has caused me and that an end must be put to it." See
ibid., p. 84.
366. Quotation from
Brasseaux, ed., Quest for the Promised Land, 67-68.
Kinnaird, "The Revolutionary Period, 1765-81," xix, says of early St. Louis: "... founded originally as a trading post by Laclede and Chouteau in February, 1764, quickly grew into a village of importance and was selected as the headquarters of the first lieutenant governor of Ylinueses." The name "Paincourt" comes from
Aubry to the duc of Choiseul-Stainville, dated 28 May 1766, in
Brasseaux, ed., Quest for the Promised Land, 62
. Professor Brasseaux, in note 102, identifies Paincourt as "Present-day St. Louis, Missouri."
Brasseaux, ed., Quest for the Promised Land,38, 40; De Ville, St. Gabriel Census, 1777, Introduction by John J. Pastorek;
Kinnaird, "The Revolutionary Period, 1765-81," xvii;note 364, above.
Ulloa, in Brasseaux, ed., p. 92, calls the new post at the mouth of the river
Isla Reina Católica.
Kinnaird, p. xvii, calls it Isla Real Católica de San Carlos.
Kinnaird, p. xvii, offers this explanation for Ulloa's changing the location of the post at the mouth of the Mississippi: "The reason for this change was that the shifting currents of the river had deepened the northeast channel so that it afforded a safer passage for vessels entering the Mississippi." He adds: "On Isla Real, Ulloa constructed a governor's house, a church, barracks, hospital, warehouses, shops, and a wharf over a thousand feet in length. While he was thus employed, his fiancée, Francisca Ramírez de Laredo, daughter of the Conde de San Javier of Lima, arrived and their marriage took place."
Kinnaird, "The Revolutionary Period, 1765-81," xvii.
also ibid., p. xvi; Brasseaux, ed., Quest for the Promised Land, 83, 91-92.
Kinnaird, p. xvii, call the San Gabriel commander Juan Orieta.
Julian Alvarez, "constable of the royal corps of Maritime Artillery," in his report to Ulloa, dated 1767, evidently later that year, called the San Gabriel fort"Fort of the Infante Gabriel in Iberville." Alvarez called the San Gabriel commander Frederick Joseph de Orieta. See
Brasseaux, ed., Quest for the Promised Land, 83.
Kinnaird, p. xvii, includes colonists & Indians in the Apr 1767 expeditions, but this is premature. Judging by the reports of lieutenants Orieta & Piernas, cited above, the Ap expedition consisted only of the officers & enlisted personnel. The colonists & Indians came later.
For the name Fort San Infante de Castilla, see Ulloa to Grimaldi, 25 Aug 1767, in
Brasseaux, ed., Quest for the Promised Land, 94. In his letter to Governor Ulloa, dated 7 Sep 1767, San Gabriel commander Orieta called it Fort of the Infante St. Gabriel. See ibid., pp. 97-98.
Brasseaux, ed., Quest for the Promised Land, 58-59, 98-99, 106-07, 109;
Founding of New Acadia, chap. 10; Brasseaux, French, Cajun, Creole, Houma, chap. 4.
369. Quotation from
Brasseaux, ed., Quest for the Promised Land, 92.
370. Quotation from ibid. See
also Oubre, Vacherie, 75; Wood, Acadians in Maryland, 31-33.
Quotations from Brasseaux,
Founding of New Acadia, 80-81.
372. Quotations from
Brasseaux, ed., Quest for the Promised Land, 93, 95.See also ibid., p. 80.
373. See Appendix for the Sep 1767 arrivals. Also Oubre, Vacherie, 75.
374. Quotations from
Brasseaux, ed., Quest for the Promised Land, 99, 100, 101, 104.
The couple were married on 26 Sep. See BRDR, 1a:86, 128 (PCP-3, 236; PCP-4, 20). The bride was only 18 years old. The groom died soon after the marriage; Marie remarried at New Orleans in Jul 1780. See NOAR, 3:151, 163 (SLC, M4, 87).
Unfortunately for our story, the royal surgeon at San Gabriel did not name the young Acadian who wanted to work in the post's hospital.
Founding of New Acadia,
375. Quotation from
Brasseaux, ed., Quest for the Promised Land, 102. See also ibid., p. 101.
Quotation from ibid., 110. See also ibid., p. 166; Oubre, Vacherie, 75-76.
Brasseaux,Voorhies, J., Some Late Eighteenth-Century Louisianians, 200,
Founding of New Acadia, 82, says that Honoré Braud, a leader of the Feb 1768 party, sailed to New Orleans aboard the Guinea, but other sources say the Jane.
includes an exact copy of a "Consular certificate granted at N. Potomack, Maryland, to the vessel Jane sailing to the Mississippi with 'one hundred and fifty French neutrals with baggages," December 17, 1767," so this is the Breau party. See also
Wood, Acadians in Maryland, 34.T
he Acadians certainly chartered the Jane, under Master Richard Ryder, at Port Tobacco, MD, but perhaps they switched to the Guinea at Cap-Français, or perhaps the Guineau was a smaller vessel that took them from the mouth of the river to New Orleans.
According to Honoré Breau's deposition, dated Nov 1768, in
Brasseaux, ed., Quest for the Promised Land, 166, he & his brother Alexis, before they left MD, believed that LA was still under French rule. "They would not have come," Honoré testified, "had they known that this colony belonged to Spain."
Did the Algiers warehouse complex serve also as a kind of quarantine station for large parties of new arrivals?
377. See Appendix for the Feb 1768 arrivals.
Quotations from Brasseaux, ed., Quest for the Promised Land, 110;
Founding of New Acadia, 82. See also ibid., pp. 81, 166.
379. Quotations from
Founding of New Acadia, 83. See also
Brasseaux, ed., Quest for the Promised Land, 166-67. André Jung was a New Orleans merchant. See ibid., p. 167, note 216.
Quotations from ibid., pp. 113, 114, 116;
Founding of New Acadia, 84
. See also
Brasseaux, ed., Quest for the Promised Land,
For more on Jacob Walker, see ibid., p. 121, note 158.
381. Quotation from
Brasseaux, ed., Quest for the Promised Land, 116, 117, 120. See also ibid., p. 119;
Founding of New Acadia, 84-85,
181, notes that 10,000 Choctaw & Chickasaw warriors, allied with the British, lived "near Fort Panmure on the opposite riverbank" from Fort San Luìs. Acadians fears of Indian attacks were not irrational, & Piernas was essentially lying to them when he insisted that the local Indians were not hostile.
Piernas's efforts at Fort San Luìs de Natchez did not go unrewarded. He went on to become captain in 1768, the same year he helped overawe the Acadians at his post, a major in 1776, a lieutenant colonel in 1782, and a colonel in 1785. He also served as lieutenant governor of Louisiana from 1779-81, during Gálvez's governorship. See
Brasseaux, ed., Quest for the Promised Land, 101, note 145.
Quotations from Brasseaux,.
Founding of New Acadia, 83-85
also Brasseaux, ed., Quest for the Promised Land,119-20, 167-68.
Founding of New Acadia, 85, based on Honoré deposition in
Brasseaux, ed., Quest for the Promised Land,165-69,
calls the delegate Joseph Breau a "cousin of the fugitives Alexis and Honoré," which contradictsArsenault, Généalogie, 2439. For more on Joseph Breau's struggle with the Spanish, see
Founding of New Acadia, 87. For his family's plight while he was importuning Ulloa, see ibid.;
Brasseaux, ed., Quest for the Promised Land,143, 168-69.
In a 25 Apr 1768 report to the governor, Commandant Judice complains about the actions of the Cabahannocer Acadians: "Immediately upon my return, I hastened to execute the orders with which you have honored me regarding the two Acadian families [those of Alexis & Honoré Breau] who refused to obey your instructions. I sent a man named Jacques Belfontaine [actually Jacques Godin dit Bellefontaine] and three other men to seize the two families and take them to New Orleans. However, Sir, instead of executing my orders, these men warned those people, who chose to run away. I believe that they have every intention of crossing to the English side (of the Mississippi) and of going to Natchez. As soon as I was informed of their flight, I sent in pursuit well armed men in a boat, in conformity with your instructions, to bring them back here so that they could be sent to New Orleans." Judice added this P. S.: "I forgot to mention that one of the two Acadian families in question repaired to Des Allemands." See
Brasseaux, ed., Quest for the Promised Land,129-30, including note 172. There is no evidence that Ulloa confiscated the property of, or deported, Jacques Godin, who was a bachelor. It was Honoré who took his family to the German Coast.
For Charles Gaudet, see Judice to Ulloa, dated 30 May & 6 Jun 1768. Judice says that there were 2 other Acadians, unnamed, who assisted Godin & Gaudet in helping the Breaus escape.
See ibid., pp. 140-42, including notes 179, 180, & 182.
383. Quotation from
Brasseaux,85-86. See also
Founding of New Acadia,
Brasseaux, ed., Quest for the Promised Land,119, note 156, 130-31, 168-69.
Lieutenant Piernas revealed an amazing ignorance of the Acadian mindset in many of his missives to Gov. Ulloa. The report dated 28 Apr 1768 is especially revealing. He says of the Acadians after the forced meeting of Apr 22 in which he had issued the governor's ultimatum: "As a result, on the following day, the twenty-third of this month, they appeared, saying that they were sorry for the disapproval that they had shown and that they gladly agreed to be settled, abiding by all of Your Excellency's decisions. They would have done this earlier if the three men [Joseph Breau & his unnamed companions] who had gone to confer with you had not influenced and motivated them to do what they did. Not only in this matter, but also in many others, these three were the ones who shaped their destiny from the time they left their country to the present. It was because of them that they had to endure the trip to New Orleans after having opposed all the favorable proposals (to remain in Maryland), against the judgment of the others. Because of what has been explained, the survey of the land continues, and I have given orders to enable them to be settled as quickly as possible and to sow (their seed grain) this year." The last sentence is especially revealing;
in order to feed their families,
these poor farmers, who came to Louisiana with only the shirts on their backs, would have done, or said, anything to appease this Spanish officer, who held the power of life or death over them. That Piernas believed that Acadians could be so easily cowed, even by their own kind, speaks volumes of his understanding of their true nature. See ibid., p. 131.
384. Quotation from
Founding of New Acadia, 87.
also Brasseaux, ed., Quest for the Promised Land,125, note 166, 129-30; footnote 382, above.
Commandant Judice wrote to Gov. Ulloa on 29 Apr 1768: "The Acadian detachment that I sent in pursuit of the fugitive Acadian families [those of Alexis & Honoré Breau], as described in my letter of the twenty-fifth, was only able to reach them at the English post of Manchac [Fort Bute], where they had taken refuge. His Excellency the commander stated that whoever took refuge at his post would be welcome. According to all appearances, all the people destined to settle at Natchez have chosen to cross to the English side. I believe it is my duty, Sir, to inform you of these developments and to assure you of my zeal." See
Brasseaux, ed., Quest for the Promised Land,132.
For Brown's visit to Fort San Luìs, see
Brasseaux, ed., Quest for the Promised Land,131-32. Piernas does not mention Brown's interviews with the local Acadians, so the Briton likely conducted them surreptitiously.
There is no evidence that any of the Acadians at Fort San Luìs crossed to the British side of the river & remained there. The Breau brothers did cross the river into British West FL, but only to escape Ulloa; they did not remain there.
Founding of New Acadia, 86, 103.
Piernas mustered the Fort San Luìs militia on May 24. See Piernas to Ulloa, dated 29 May 1768, in ibid., pp. 139-40, in which he fails to identify the militia officers, saying only: "On the twenty-fourth of this month, I gathered them together to organize the militia and, from among them, I selected the eldest and most respected person as their captain. My selection was also based on his favorable disposition (toward the Spanish) and on the fact that he was the first to convey his regrets at the opposition of the others regarding settlement here. (He indicated then that) he, his family, and his brother's family would remain at the settlement, even if his companions obtained Your Excellency's permission to relocate. In view of these circumstances, I named him captain, and I had the other official positions, such as sergeant and corporal filled by lots cast by the eldest and most venerable (Acadians) in order to avoid any complaints and resentment should others be preferred because of their personality or other reasons. Immediately after all were nominated, I had the arms and ammunition destined for the militia distributed among them. I appeared in uniform and had the rest of the garrison dressed in theirs. I raised the fort's flag and, having the complete company arrayed in formation, I recognized its officers, sergeants and corporals as indicated in the attached letter [not included], which I am sending to Your Excellency, so that you may know their names and numbers." Piernas adds: "To instill in them a sense of honor and to make the ceremonial organization more solemn, I observed the necessary formalities, and, in the king's name, I advised them of the distinguished honor that was conferred on them by naming it (the newly formed company) the Spanish militia of the Most Serene Princess of Asturias and they should be known as such. This distinction should stimulate them to show gratitude and obedience in all that is asked of them in the royal service and in defense of the fort. In response, they generally exhibited a positive attitude and appreciation, being very satisfied with this favor and all the others received." Professor Brasseaux offers this wonderful piece of irony in note 178, p. 139: "The Princess of Asturias [was] Maria Luisa of Parma (1751-1819), the wife of the future Carlos IV of Spain. Carolos (1748-1819), the second son and heir of Carlos II, was named Prince of Asturias in August 1759. He took Maria Luisa, the daughter of his uncle, Felipe, Prince of Parma, as his bride in 1764. An 'outrageous flirt," she entered into numerous sexual liaisons with courtiers, the most notorious of which--with Manuel Godoy--had disastrous political consequences for Spain." Needless to say, had the San Luìs Acadians known the true character of the princess, they would have enjoyed a good laugh ... out of the hearing of Piernas, of course. So who was the captain of this oddly-named militia company? The oldest male head of family in the Breau party was Alexis Breau, age 44 in 1768, but he was in hiding. The next oldest was Basile Landry, age 41, whose brother Joseph, age 38, also was in the party; the Landry brothers, in fact, were married to Boudrot sisters. Did the Landry brothers remain at Fort San Luìs when Ulloa's successor, O'Reilly, released the Acadians from the settlement? Basile certainly did not. He emigrated to the Attakapas District in 1770s. If the militia captain was Basile Landry, one suspects that he played Piernas like a fine-tuned Acadian fiddle.
Brasseaux, ed., Quest for the Promised Land,125. See also
Founding of New Acadia, 86.
Brasseaux, ed., Quest for the Promised Land,124.
386. Quotations from
Brasseaux, ed., Quest for the Promised Land,146, 157
For the deaths of Marthe Clouâtre, Claire Trahan, Marguerite Dupuis, Jean-Baptiste Dupuis, & Marie Breau, see
Brasseaux, ed., Quest for the Promised Land,133, 142, 146, 159, note 206, 162, 163;
BRDR, 1a:28 (PCP-3, 262; PCP-4, 31)
. See also
Brasseaux, ed., Quest for the Promised Land,163, 165.
For the likelihood that the Fort San Luìs Acadians suffered from malaria in the summer of 1768, see
146-47, note 188.
Founding of New Acadia,
103, points out that the chronic dysentery among the San Luìs Acadians was the result of an unsanitary water source
In Sep, Marguerite Breau, wife of François Babin, was sent downriver to Pointe Coupée in hopes that she could get better care there than she was getting at Fort San Luìs. François accompanied his wife. See ibid., pp.
162, 164. Marguerite survived her ailment. SeeRobichaux, Bayou Lafourche, 1770-98, 8, the Ascension census of 1770.
386a. For the
Cabahannocer marriages, see Bourgeois, Cabanocey, 171-72. The two non-Acadian spouses there were grooms--Jacques LaChaussée of Canada, who married Marie-Marthe LeBlanc, & Saturnin Bruno probably from Italy, who married Scholastique dite Collette Léger.
For the San Luìs marriages, see
Brasseaux, ed., Quest for the Promised Land,137, note 175;
BRDR, vol. 1b
. Note that the Breau party was more or less a large extended family & had been forced to live at a remote outpost. As a result of being surrounded by so many cousins, these young women had a severely restricted pool of potential husbands. Nor should one forget the tug of the exotic on the human heart.
Is it significant that none of these 6 Acadian brides had fathers who were still living?
For Sergeant Beloti's orders, see
Brasseaux, ed., Quest for the Promised Land,
The only Acadian-Acadian marriage I have found at Fort San Luìs was Pierre Guédry's remarriage to Claire Babin on 23 Jan 1769. Claire was Marie Babin's sister.
387. Quotation from
Founding of New Acadia, 86.
also Brasseaux, ed., Quest for the Promised Land,126, note 168, 132; ibid., pp. 120-22, 127-40, 142, 146-50, 152-56, for Piernas's many letters to Ulloa from late Mar to early Sep, all of which mention the Acadians; footnote 383, above.
Ulloa & Piernas were so naive about the Acadians' true intentions that they expected more of them to settle at Fort San Luìs. See Piernas to Ulloa, dated 3 Sep 1768, in
Brasseaux, ed., Quest for the Promised Land,
388. Quotations from ibid., pp. 115, 127, note 169, 128, 147-48, 158. See also ibid., p. 114;
Foucault and the Rebellion of 1768, 72-73
The author's paternal ancestor, Michel Cormier, and his older brother Joseph, were among the 11 Opelousas petitioners. Knowing, as I do, the Cormier temper, I can just about imagine what Michel and Joseph's reaction would have been to the governor's cold refusal.
For an example of Ulloa's callousness towards the Germans, see a letter from Ulloa to Judice, dated 15 Sep 1768, in
Brasseaux, ed., Quest for the Promised Land,
158-59, in which the governor tells the
commandant: "German Coast residents ... must obtain a certificate from Mister D'Arensbourg, stating that they are young men who have no other landholdings. I will not permit any of the Germans to leave their settlements." See also Oubre, Vacherie, 77, 78. Darensbourg was related to colonial Attorney General Lafrénière, an enemy of Ulloa, thru a niece whose husband was the attorney general's brother-in-law. SeeDawdy, Devil's Empire,
184. Note that when Honoré Breau & his family took refuge on the German Coast during the spring of 1768 while eluding Ulloa, Darensbourg, who likely represented the attitude of his community, looked the other way.
388a. Quotation from
Kinnaird, "The Revolutionary Period, 1765-81," 75-76.
389. Quotations from
Brasseaux,. See also
Foucault and the Rebellion of 1768, 72-73
Kinnaird, "The Revolutionary Period, 1765-81," 77-81, Ulloa to Grimaldi, dated 26 Oct 1768, written on the eve of Ulloa's ouster & containing numerous references to disgruntled Acadians.
390. Quotations from
Founding of New Acadia, 88;
Foucault and the Rebellion of 1768, 80.
See also ibid., pp. 76-79.
Founding of New Acadia, 88, note 38, says: "The Acadians were apparently housed at the New Orleans residence of a man named Denville (Derneville?) on the night of October 28." Denville = De Ville?
391. Quotations from
Brasseaux, ed., Quest for the Promised Land,165, 168.
also ibid., pp. 166-67, 169; Brasseaux,
Founding of New Acadia, 88;
Foucault and the Rebellion of 1768, 84
Kinnaird, "The Revolutionary Period, 1765-81," 81-82, Ulloa to Bucareli, dated 16 Nov 1768, was written at Isla Real
De San Carlos. Ibid., pp. 83-84, Ulloa to Bucareli, dated 8 Dec 1768, was written from Havana.
Kinnaird, "The Revolutionary Period, 1765-81," 84, Loyola to Bucareli, dated 20 Apr 1769, shows that, despite the revolutionary decree of Oct 29, not all of the Spaniards were deported from New Orleans, among them Commissary Juan Josef de Loyola.
392. See Jehn, Acadian Exiles in the Colonies, 155; Wood, Acadians in Maryland, 180-81; Appendix for the 1769 arrivals.
393. See Jehn, Acadian Exiles in the Colonies, 152;
Wood, Acadians in Maryland, 154, 186;
Kinnaird, "The Revolutionary Period, 1765-81," 140-42; Oubre, Vacherie, 76.
Why were Pierre Primeau and Susanne Plante listed with the Acadian families? See
Kinnaird, "The Revolutionary Period, 1765-81,"141-42.
The author is proud to say that he is a direct descendant on his mother's side of both Honoré Trahan, Jacob Miller, & Pierre Primeau & Susanne Plante. Troy Landry, the famous alligator hunter on History Channel's popular "Swamp People," is a direct descendant on his father's side of Nicolas Marcoff, whose family name evolved into Malbrough.
396. Quotations from ibid., pp. 137-38. See also
Brasseaux,De Quesada, Spanish Colonial Fortifications in North America, 46-47, which includes a short history & a color illustration of Presidio La Bahía, TX, c1767.
Founding of New Acadia, 104;
Brasseaux says the Britain, as he calls the ship, landed at Matagorda Bay, which is adjacent to Espiritu Santo.
An imaginative account of the voyage is quoted in Oubre, Vacherie, 76, which says that "at least one German, Jean Augustin Malbrough, was born during the captivity at San Antonio[sic]."
397. Quotation from
Kinnaird, "The Revolutionary Period, 1765-81,"138. See also Oubre, Vacherie, 76.
O'Neill, "Bienville," 3:383
Foucault and the Rebellion of 1768, 84-85;
; Oubre, Vacherie, 78, which implies, erroneously, that Bienville was still alive in late 1768.
Wikipedia, "Alejandro O'Reilly."
Foucault and the Rebellion of 1768, 84;
Foucault and the Rebellion of 1768, 84-85;
McDermott, ed., The Spanish in the Mississippi Valley,
Founding of New Acadia, 88, who says that "Acadians along the lower river joined their German neighbors in offering token resistance to Spanish Governor Alejandro O'Reilly's two-thousand-man army of occupation in August, 1769";
53, who says O'Reilly had 3,000 Spanish soldiers.
Oubre, Vacherie, 78, gives O'Reilly 4500 Spanish soldiers!
He says that residents of the Acadian & German coasts "first determined to oppose the landing of the Spaniards," but says nothing of residence, so common sense prevailed.On p. 79, he cites a British source, Pittman, European Settlements, in asserting that many Germans & Acadians contemplated moving to the British side of the river to escape Spanish rule. This did not happen of course.
401. Quotation from
Foucault and the Rebellion of 1768, 85. See also ibid., pp. 86-89; Oubre, Vacherie, 79.
In France, Foucault, after a brief investigation, spent 18 months in the Bastille as a sop to the Spanish government. He was released in late June 1771 & reinstated in the royal service. The French Court even beseeched the Spanish government to restore his confiscated property in LA. In 1772, Foucault finally received promotion from naval scribe to naval commissioner, which had been promised to him back in Apr 1765--hardly punishment for his actions against Ulloa. Foucault served as ordonnateur at Pondichéry in French India in 1772. In 1776, he was transferred to Mauritius, which the French called Île-de-France. He retired from the royal service in Aug 1783 with a substantial pension and died at Tours, France, in 1803, age 79. See
Foucault and the Rebellion of 1768, 95-96.
Foucault and the Rebellion of 1768, 90. Oubre, Vacherie, 79, adds Jean-Baptiste de Noyan, one of Bienville's nephews, to the conspirators who were executed by firing squad, but Brasseaux does not mention him even among those who were sentenced to long prison terms.
Kinnaird, "The Revolutionary Period, 1765-81," 140;
Founding of New Acadia, 104;
Scattered to the Wind,
67;<thecajuns.com/britania.htm>, "Passengers on the Ship 'Britania'
;<thecajuns.com>, Glenn R. Conrad, "German Settlers in Louisiana"
; Oubre, Vacherie, 76; Appendix.
Kinnaird, p. 142, notes that, as the result of a decree issued by Gov. O'Reilly on 16 Nov 1769, the 16 families from MD, Acadian, German, & otherwise, were issued "sixteen large axes, sixteen hatchets, sixteen spades, sixteen iron pots, six drawing knives, and two hundred and sixty-seven pesos in money at the rate of three pesos to each person." Since the Germans were heading to San Gabriel & would be part of the militia there, they also were issued "one gun, twelve gun-flints, and three pounds of powder."
Robichaux, German Coast Families, 60, points out that these were the last Germans to migrate to LA during the colonial period.
Brasseaux,De Ville, St. Gabriel Census, 1777, 5, 9.
Founding of New Acadia, 104, implies that all of the Acadians who came to LA aboard Britannia were sent by the Unzaga government in mid-Apr 1770 to the west bank at San Gabriel, which would have been across the river from the original settlement near the fort. His note 22, citing a primary sources, places them "on the west bank of the Mississippi River below Bayou Plaquemine." The St. Gabriel census of 1777, however, places Olivier Benoit and his family on "the right bank, ascending," which would be the east bank of the river, though Étienne Rivet and his family were counted that year on "the left bank, ascending," which would have been the west bank. See
If Honoré Trahan & his relations had gone to the west bank of the river at San Gabriel or Ascension, they did not remain there long. They first appear in LA census records not at St.-Gabriel but at Opelousas, in 1774. SeeDe Ville, Mississippi Valley Mélange, 1:39-40.
403. Quotations from
Founding of New Acadia, 89, 104;
Kinnaird, "The Revolutionary Period, 1765-81," 146
. See also Appendix.
The British having abandoned Fort Bute, O'Reilly also abandoned Fort San Gabriel, but he maintained the settlement with its militia force there. See
Frederick, "In Defense of Crown & Colony," 398;
Kinnaird, "The Revolutionary Period, 1765-81," 157
Founding of New Acadia,
Kinnaird, "The Revolutionary Period, 1765-81," 143, 157-59;
Frederick, "In Defense of Crown & Colony," 397; McDermott, ed., The Spanish in the Mississippi Valley, 53-55;
Oubre, Vacherie, 80.
Recopilación de las leyes de lost reynos de las Indias, or Recapitulation of the King's Laws Relating to the Indies, began under Philip II in 1570 & was completed in 1680. It "embodied all of the various rules, orders, and separate instructions which the Spanish rulers had issued pertaining to the American colonies." See
McDermott, ed., The Spanish in the Mississippi Valley, 55.
C. Richard Arenas, in ibid., p. 53, points out that "the practical politician O'Reilly did not ignore the importance of the French laws and practices of long usage. He published a summary of the Spanish code in French, which language he continued to use when communicating with the various French-speaking post comandantes. Whenever possible he even settled local disputes in accordance with the local customs of the place where they occurred, without referring them to the proper judicial tribunals." Arenas concludes: "Governor O'Reilly skillfully blended the use of intimidation and peaceful persuasion into an effective policy designed to achieve his aims."
In LA, the Spanish would continue the French policy of granting, not selling, public land. Not until the Americans arrived would LA colonists have to pay for public land acquired directly from the government. See ibid., p. 54.
Founding of New Acadia,
167ff; Kinnaird, "The Revolutionary Period, 1765-81," 143, 151, 157-59;McDermott, ed., The Spanish in the Mississippi Valley,
In one of his softer measures, belying his later sobriquet "Bloody O'Reilly," the general-turned-governor pardoned Darensbourg, ordered him to sell his property on the German Coast & to reside peacefully in New Orleans, where the old fellow died in 1779, age 83. See Robichaux, German Coast Families, 142.
After O'Reilly took formal control of the colony in Aug 1769, Charles-Philippe Aubry's work was done. He left the colony late that year, after helping to interrogate his enemy Foucault, but his fate was very different from Foucault's. Aubry died in the wreck of the Père de Famille off Bordeaux, France, on 17 February 1770, within sight of home. See Brasseaux, "Aubry," 22-23. Aubry evidently departed LA with 2 chests full of Spanish silver as a reward for helping O'Reilly. See
Foucault and the Rebellion of 1768, 87, note 51. Aubry never married.
406. See Appendix for Numbers; Appendix for Families; Appendix for Caribbean Basin. This would change, of course, in 1785, when most of the Acadian in France came to LA. See Clark, Acadia, viii.
Quotations from Brasseaux,
Founding of New Acadia, 98. See also ibid., pp. 99, 171.
408. See De Ville, Opelousas Post Census, 1771,
9, in which Joseph is erroneously called "Jean Bapte.";De Ville, Mississippi Valley Mélange, 1:39-40, the 1774 cen
sus;De Ville, Southwest LA Families, 1777, 22, 25
; Cormier Family Page.
Ages here are not always the ones given in the censuses. Surname spellings are what are currently used in LA.
Poteaux-en-terre, or post in ground, also called earthfast contruction, means that the supporting posts for the house were sunk into the soil, so that the house essentially had no foundation. Bousillage is a clay-&-retted Spanish moss mixture packed between the exterior & interior walls of a half-timbered house that served as effective insulation. Early settlers in Louisiana learned the technique from local Indians.
De Ville, Southwest LA Families, 1777, 20, 22, 24, 25, 26.
Ages here are not always the ones given in the censuses but are calculated from other sources as well.
Surname spellings are those currently used in LA.
410. Quotation from
Founding of New Acadia, 92. See also ibid., pp. 93-94, 171.
411. See De Ville, Attakapas Post Census, 1771, passim; Voorhies, J., Some Late Eighteenth-Century Louisianians,
280-82; De Ville, Southwest LA Families, 1777, 8-15; Broussard Family Page.
Ages here are not always the ones given in the censuses.
Surname spellings are those currently used in LA.
De Ville, Attakapas Post Census, 1771, passim.
Ages here are not always the ones given in the censuses.
Surname spellings are those currently used in LA.
De Ville, Attakapas Post Census, 1771, passim; Voorhies, J., Some Late Eighteenth-Century Louisianians,
281-82; De Ville, Southwest LA Families, 1777, 8, 9, 12-15. Ages here are not always the ones given in the censuses.
Surname spellings are those currently used in LA.
413. Quotations from
Founding of New Acadia, 103, 106. See also ibid., pp. 114-15.
414. See De Ville, St. Gabriel Census, 1777, 1-12.
Ages here are not always the ones given in the censuses.
Surname spellings are those currently used in LA.
414a. See De Ville, St. James Census, 1777, 21, passim.
Ages here are not always the ones given in the censuses.
Surname spellings are those currently used in LA.
Founding of New Acadia, who concludes on p. 121: "Within ten years most of the exiles attained a standard of living at least equal to that of predipersal Nova Scotia. In 1777, for example, the typical Acadian resident of Ascension Parish owned 14.7 cattle, 11.59 hogs, and 1.03 sheep. These figures compare favorably with corresponding ones--12.7 cattle, 8.95 hogs, and 12.04 sheep--enumerated in the 1701 census of Mines, the area from which most of the immigrants of the late 1760s were drawn. As the void created by the dearth of sheep was filled by large flocks of chickens (22.1 in the average household in 1772), the median holdings in New Acadia [along the river in the 1770s] were at least on par with those of veille Acadie." See also ibid., p. 191.
415. See Robichaux, Bayou Lafourche, 1770-98, 9-19.
Ages here are not always the ones given in the censuses.
Surname spellings are those currently used in LA.
416. Quotations from
Founding of New Acadia, 157, 161-62. See also ibid., chap. 8, entitled "Acadian Anticlericalism," which includes, on pp. 155-56, a summation of the Acadians' relationship with the Church in Acadia/Nova Scotia: "Acadians had come to view the Catholic church in the same light as the colonial government--that is, an agency established solely to provide essential services. Such services were to be provided without disruption of the parishioners' routine secular activities and without undue financial burden. Any deviation from this conceptual framework precipitated spontaneous outbursts.... For many if not most late seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Acadians, Catholic missionaries were shadowy figures who provided the settlers minimal contact with the church hierarchy. Forced to fend for themselves, even to the point of conducting paraliturgical services, the immigrants ultimately came to divorce religion from the area's traditionally dominant religious institution. Priests consequently became little more than petty religious administrators, stripped of their cloak of religious invincibility and vulnerable to personal criticism.... Prevailing predispersal attitudes toward the church remained unchanged at the time of the Acadians' arrival in Louisiana."
See ibid., pp. 158-59, for two examples of Acadian men clashing with their parish priests.
Baudier, The Catholic Church in LA, 171, 190-91;
Brasseaux, ed., Quest for the Promised Land,145
; Griffin, Attakapas Country, 215; Hébert, D., Southwest LA Records, 1-A:615;
<cityofsaintmartinville.com/english/history/history.htm>, now closed
Founding of New Acadia, 156, calls Father Jean-François "a habitual gambler only recently returned from exile at Mobile," & concludes that "the errant missionary abandoned his post [at Attakapas] only a few months after his appointment, perhaps because of the epidemic then raging among his parishioners. He failed to return, and the chronically understaffed Capuchin order, the only missionary society remaining active in Louisiana during the late 1760s, failed to secure a replacement."
For the controversy between Fr. Bernardo de Deva & Attakapas commandant Jean Delavillebeuvre over the placement of the church building in 1791, see De Ville, Mississippi Valley Mélange, 2:63-65. Fr. de Deval served the parish only from 1790-92, so he much have lost the argument with the commandant.
418. Quotation from
Founding of New Acadia, 157. See also
Baudier, The Catholic Church in LA, passim;
Brasseaux, ed., Quest for the Promised Land,103, 105-06, 145; Clark, Acadia, 195. See also
Baudier, The Catholic Church in LA, 182;
Bourgeois, Cabanocey, 171-72;
Founding of New Acadia, 156, 167-169;
Brasseaux, ed., Quest for the Promised Land, 130;
Voorhies, J., Some Late Eighteenth-Century Louisianians,
Bourgeois, p. 9, insists that Jacques Cantrelle not only donated land for the church at St.-Jacques but built it. Oubre, Vacherie, 64, disagrees: "His [Jacques Cantrelle's] lands extended from below the present St. James Catholic Church down to around St. James Co-Op Sugar Mill, above present St. James High School.... Above his property, there was a tract of land identified on the census [at
Cabahannocer in Apr 1766] on which there were no church or buildings of any kind. Accordingly, Cantrelle's lands and the lands designated for a church were two separate entities. It was not necessary for Cantrelle to donate land. The lands for a future church were apparently assigned before Cantrelle arrived on the scene [Oubre says not until 1765-66], at a point when there were already several groups of Acadians who had settled, and it is incorrect that he gave land for a church." See also ibid., p. 63. For the 1766 census reference to 4 arpents of land "For the parish," on which also was listed 6 head of cattle & places it between Jacques Cantrelle & Louis Judice, see Bourgeois, p. 162;
Voorhies, J., Some Late Eighteenth-Century Louisianians, 116, the same census, calls the piece of land for the church "The Rectory," lists no cattle, &
also places it between Santhiago Canterelle & Luis Judice.
Co-commandant Judice lived on the west bank of the river at Cabahannocer.
Baudier, The Catholic Church in LA, passim;
Louis Judice, in fact, remarried to an Acadian, Marie-Henriette Rassicot, widow of Pierre Lecompte and native of Cherbourg, France, at Ascension church on 19 Jun 1795, when he was 64 years old & still commanding the Ascension district. The Ascension priest who recorded the marriage calls him "Captain of German Coast Militia, Commandant of this District." The bride was only 25 years old! She had come to LA from France in 1785 aboard L'Amitié. See BRDR, 2:395, 616 (ASC-2, 64), for the marriage record.
Baudier, The Catholic Church in LA, passim;
Baudier, The Catholic Church in LA, passim;
Baudier, The Catholic Church in LA, 190, 238-39;
De Ville, Opelousas History, 18
SeeDin, Canary Islanders of LA, chap. 3
Baudier, The Catholic Church in LA, passim;
Kinnaird, "The Revolutionary Period, 1765-81," xxvii-xxix
425. For the clash between Acadians & Creoles in LA, see
Founding of New Acadia, chap. 9.
426. The early-married couples were Amand Thibodeau & Gertrude Bourg on Feb 17; Pierre Darois & Marie Bourgeois on Apr 8; Joseph Girouard & Ursule Trahan on Apr 8; François-Joseph Savoie, a widower, & Marie Landry on Jul 22; & Joseph Gaudet & Marguerite Bourgeois on Dec 10. See NOAR, 2:31, 261 (SLC, B5, 185, & M2, 15); ibid., 2:31, 66, 136, 267 (SLC, B5, 185 & M2, 16); ibid., 2:167, 251 (SLC, B5, 188 & M2, 19); ibid., 2:31, 134 (SLC, B2, 189 & M2, 20).
For the Cabahannocer marriages of 1766-68, see Bourgeois, Cabanocey, 171-72;
Voorhies, J., Some Late Eighteenth-Century Louisianians, 424-25. This list also includes 6 marriages of Cabahannocer couples conducted at New Orleans, with only one date given, all of them endogamous.
See also Appendix.
427. See Bourgeois, Cabanocey, 171; BRDR, 1a:86, 128 (PCP-3, 236; PCP-4, 20); ibid., 1b:28, 170 (PCP-3, 249; PCP-4, 25); ibid. 1b:30-31, 36-37 (PCP-4, 33; PCP-3, 268);
ibid.,1b:124, 169 (PCP-4, 35; PCP-3, 272)
2:104, 608 (PCP-2, part 2, 110; PCP-4, 71); ibid., 2:297, 704 (PCP-2, part 2, 140);
ibid., 2:560 (SJA-1, 39); ibid., 2:154 556 (SJA-1, 43); ibid., 2:183, 226-27 (SJA-1, 44a); ibid., 2:291, 521 (SJA-1, 48); ibid., 2:290, 521 (SJA-1, 51a); ibid., 2:141, 390 (ASC-1, 121); ibid., 2:168, 715 (ASC-1, 155); Hébert, D., Southwest LA Records, 1-A: 58, 367-68 (LSAR: Opel.: 1766-3); ibid., 1-A:80, 546 (SM Ct.Hse.: OA-vol. 1, #3); ibid., 1-A:131, 559-60 (SM Ch.: Folio F); NOAR, 2:159, 261 (SLC, M2, 21);
ibid., 2:6, 40 (SLC, B5, 190); ibid., 2:17, 163 (SLC, M2, 27); ibid.,2:167, 255 (SLC, M2, 38 & 41)
; Voorhies, J., Some Late Eighteenth-Century Louisianians, 425;
See note 386a, above, for more exogamous marriages between Acadian brides & Spanish soldiers at Fort San Luìs de Natchez in 1768.
For Schaaf/Chaufe/Chauffe, see Robichaux, German Coast Families, 308-12.
The Cormier/Stelly marriage was not recorded, per se, but evidence of it can be found in the church records contained in Father's Hébert's
Southwest LA Records, vol. 1-A. See also Robichaux, pp. 329-32. I am proud to say that they are my paternal ancestors.
428. Quotation from
Conrad, Attakapas Domesday Book, xxiv.
As this author's Acadian marriage study shows, during the 90-plus years from Feb 1765 thru Dec 1861, the exogamous rate among Acadians (based on surname) across 16,079 recorded marriages was a remarkable 38.1 %. See
429. Quotation from
McDermott, ed., The Spanish in the Mississippi Valley, 57.See
also Din, Canary Islanders of LA, 15;
Kinnaird, "The Revolutionary Period, 1765-81," xxvii
Din, Canary Islanders of LA, passim.
430. See ibid. St.-Maxent was
the merchant who had been tasked by French officials to redeem Canadian card money for the newly-arrived Acadians back in 1765.
Winzerling, Acadian Odyssey, 151, says that
on 20 Sep 1785, while the 7 ships' expeditions were arriving in the colony,
Spanish Intendente Navarro appointed
Lieutenant Nicolas Verret (he did not include a fils in his name) "to help guide the new colonists in their building program" on Bayou Lafourche, granting Verret a salary of $500 per year. "He [Verret] acquitted himself so well in that duty that on May 8, 1786, Count de Gálvez appointed him commandant of the district of Valenzuela." So who commanded the district between 1784, after Anselme Blanchard stepped down, & May 1786? Winzerling does not say. Din, p. 74, a more recent work, citing primary sources, says that
Gov. Miró appointed
Verret, fils as commandant of Valenzuéla in 1784, which is followed here.
431. See Din,
passim; De Ville, Mississippi Valley Mélange, 2:32.
Canary Islanders of LA,
432. See Din,
Canary Islanders of LA,
433. See Bergerie, They Tasted Bayou Water, passim; Brasseaux & Fontenot, Steamboats on Louisiana's Bayous, chap. 3; Din, Canary Islanders of LA, chap. 4; Hébert, D., Southwest LA Records, 1-A:805-19, a list of the Malagueños settlers at New Iberia taken from Spanish archives.
Bouligny had come to the colony with O'Reilly in 1769. Hi
s service in LA did not end with his efforts on the lower Teche. Twenty years later, in 1799, he served as acting governor of Spanish LA after Manuel Gayoso de Lemos y Amorin, who had served as governor since 1797, died in office. Bouligny died in 1800, age 64.
appendices contain English translations of contracts signed by Malagueños settlers on the eve of their departure for Spanish America & communications between Bouligny & Gov. Gálvez.
For Fr. Grumeau's service at New Iberia, see Hébert, D., 1-A:814. There was no resident priest at Attakapas Post until 1781, so the priest from Opelousas served a missionary in the Attakapas District.
For Abscher/Abshire, see ibid., 1-A:1-3, 815. For Beard, see ibid., 1-A:40, 815. Abshire married a Hargrave from VA, but Beard seems to have been married to a fellow native of Ireland, Brigit Kennon, when he came to LA.
433a. Quotation from
De Ville, St. Gabriel Census, 1777, Introduction by John J. Pastorek, [ii-viii], [v],
citing J. W. Caughey's Bernardo De Galvez in Louisiana: 1776-1783
. See also
Eric Beerman, "Victory on the Mississippi, 1779," in The Spanish Presence in LA, pp. 192-202;
Kinnaird, "The Revolutionary Period, 1765-81," xxviii
433b. Quote from
De Ville, Mississippi Valley Mélange, 2:53.See also Beerman, "Victory on the Mississippi, 1779";
Kinnaird, "The Revolutionary Period, 1765-81," xxvi-xxvii.
433c. Quotations from De Ville,
Mississippi Valley Mélange,2:50, 53.
Beerman, "Victory on the Mississippi, 1779."
Mississippi Valley Mélange,
50-52, 54-56, for Gov. Gálvez's militia rosters from the German & Acadian coasts & the 2 prairie districts. The men are listed here in the order in which they appear in the rosters, but the spelling of their names have been standarized.
434. Quotation from
Beerman, "Victory on the Mississippi, 1779," p. 199. See also Kinnaird, "The Revolutionary Period, 1765-81," xxviii-xxx.
British Fort Charlotte, the former French Fort Condé, at Mobile surrendered to
Gálvez in early Mar 1780.
Gálvez captured British Pensacola in May 1781. See
Kinnaird, "The Revolutionary Period, 1765-81," xxix-xxx.
Gálvez's rosters for the Acadian Coast companies, cited above in
Mississippi Valley Mélange,2:50-52
, do not contain the names of either Jean-Baptiste dit Petit Hébert & Mathurin Landry, both married men, ages 37 and 24, respectively, the latter married for only a few months. These rosters, then, are probably incomplete as to the actual number of Acadians who were a part of the expedition.According to Beerman, p. 199, Petit-Jean Hébert's widow continued to receive his Spanish pension after he died; Beerman says he died in 1798, but it was in Apr 1797, when Petit-Jean was age 55. See BRDR, 2:364 (ASC-4, 28), for his burial record.
Founding of New Acadia, says on p. 106: "The absence of significant Acadian immigration between 1769 and 1785, the land surveys of 1771 and 1772, the issuance of formal land grants in 1775 and 1776, and the imposition of increasingly stringent restrictions on intracolonial movement by Governor Luis de Unzaga and Bernardo de Gálvez interacted to confine the overwhelming majority of river and upper Lafourche Acadians to their original homesites until the 1790s." This means that whatever movement there would have been upriver from the original St.-Gabriel settlement areas during the late 1770s & early 1780s would have been limited.
436. See ibid., pp. 114-15.
Winzerling, Acadian Odyssey, 131.
437. Quotation from
113-14. See also ibid., p. 106.
Founding of New Acadia,
Brasseaux says that most of the Acadian families who first settled lower down on Bayou Lafourche had come from MD in 1767.Acadian families in the
Valenzuélacensus of Jan 1788 who had come to LA before 1785 included those of Anselme Le Borgne de Bélisle (who had come to the colony in 1767), François-Sébastien Landry (1767); François Simoneaux, whose wife was Acadian (1766); Joseph Simoneaux, François's son, whose wife also was Acadian; Simon Simoneaux, another of François's sons, whose wife was Acadian; Joseph Landry (1766); Firmin Babin (1768); Joseph Comeaux (1768); Pierre dit Vielliarde Landry (1766); Germain Bergeron (1765); & Jean-Baptiste Sonnier (1765). See Robichaux, Bayou Lafourche, 1770-98, 23-24, 43.
Note that only 2 of them came to the colony in 1767. Brasseauxsays that these families settled along the west bank of the bayou from present-day Donaldsonville down to Labadieville.
Since the Jan 1788 census was the first general one taken on the Lafourche, one wonders when Brasseaux's
"at least eighteen families," elsewhere counted at 17,resettled on the bayou & who were the heads of the other families not listed in this footnote.
Beers, French & Spanish Records of LA, 28; Brasseaux,
Founding of New Acadia
, 107; Kinnaird, "The Revolutionary Period, 1765-81," xvi; Winzerling, Acadian Odyssey, 131.
Navarro was born at La Caruna on 20 Nov 1738, son of Vincente Navarro & Catalina Blanco. He served as contador of LA from 1770-79, alcade, or mayor, of New Orleans in 1778, & intendente from 1779. See Light T. Cummins, "Navarro, Felix Martin Antonio," DLB, p. 596; <lahistory.org>, Dictionary of LA Biography, who says that Navarro was intendente until 1788; Winzerling, p. 160, says he was replaced by Juan Ventura Morales in Apr 1786. The Spanish intendente in LA did not become independent of the governor's authority, like a French intendant or commissaire-ordonnateur, until Dec 1786. See Beers, p. 29.
439. Quotations from
Founding of New Acadia, 107, 108
; Winzerling, Acadian Odyssey, 131. See also ibid., pp. 126, 133.
440. Quotations from ibid., p. 132. See also
Founding of New Acadia, 108.
Blanchard's mother was a Thériot. His wife was a LeBlanc. All 3 of those families were well-represented in the 7 Ships' expeditiond. Blanchard's compensation as commissioner for the care of the new Acadian arrivals was $500 a year, so his appointment was long-term. See Winzerling, p. 132.
441. Quotations from ibid., p. 133;
. See also ibid., p. 211.
Founding of New Acadia,
For the passengers aboard Le Bon Papa, seeHébert, D., Acadian Families in Exile 1785, 2-11. Father Hébert's study is the most recent & most complete listing for the 7 Ships' expeditions. All of the embarkation lists survived, but not all of the debarkation lists.
Several of the Bon Papa families were headed by widows.
442. Quotations from
Winzerling, Acadian Odyssey, 133.
443. Quotations from ibid., pp. 134
-35. See ibid., chap. 7, for the Corsica mess that pitted Acadian against Acadian in 1777.
ibid., pp. 135-36, 140.
For the Bergère passengers, see Hébert, D., Acadian Families in Exile 1785, 12-29.
445. Quotation from
Winzerling, Acadian Odyssey, 137. See also ibid., p. 136;
Founding of New Acadia, 110-11
Winzerling, Acadian Odyssey, 136-37.
447. See ibid., pp.. 137, 157-58.
448. Quotation from ibid. For the Beaumont passengers, see
Hébert, D., Acadian Families in Exile 1785, 30-41.
449. Quotation from
Winzerling, Acadian Odyssey, 138. See also
Founding of New Acadia, 111.
My numbers for Beaumont passengers going to Lafourche & Attakapas differ slightly from Winzerling's. See Appendix for Lafourche, & Appendix for Attakapas. For Acadians from Le Beaumont who went to St.-Jacques, see Appendix.
Winzerling, Acadian Odyssey, 158;
Some Late Eighteenth-Century Louisianians, 527.
450. Quotation from
Winzerling, Acadian Odyssey, 139.
ibid., pp. 139-41.
See also p. 141. Winzerling, p. 140, does not say where the new hall was built, but on p. 143 he refers to the St.-Rémi village camp "on the other side of the river," which would have been Algiers.
For the listing of 16 families under the title "Those from Morlaix arriving at Paimboeuf in order to embark on the same ship," see
Hébert, D., Acadian Families in Exile 1785, 57-59. It stands to reason that if Le St.-Rémi carried baggage for the passengers aboard La Bergère, which had left Paimboeuf on May 14, Le St.-Rémi would have gone to that port after leaving St.-Malo, unless the 16 families from Morlaix & the extra baggage were transported overland across Brittany to St.-Malo, which would have cost more than sailing a fast frigate around to the other side of the peninsula. One also has to wonder why Acadians from Morlaix journeyed to Paimboeuf to catch a ship, since Morlaix, located on the north side of Brittany, is closer to St.-Malo than to Nantes.
452. For the St.-Rémi passengers, see
Hébert, D., Acadian Families in Exile 1785, 42-65. Unfortunately, the debarkation list for St.-Rémi did not survive. See Winzerling, Acadian Odyssey, 145, for the number of stowaways aboard the vessel.
453. Quotations from
ibid., pp. 141-42.
454. Quotation from ibid., p. 142.
455. See ibid., pp. 143-44;
Founding of New Acadia, 111
Appendix for Attakapas. This researcher has not been able to find the names of the St.-Rémi passengers who went to Nueva Gálvez & Baton Rouge.
Winzerling says on p. 144 that Navarro appointed Anselme Blanchard as commandant of the Acadians at Lafourche, implying that it happened in late 1785. Winzerling may be confusing Blanchard's tenure as commandant of the Valenzuéla District in 1781-84, before the Acadians arrived from France, with his appointment as commander of the St.-Rémi resettlement effort in late 1785 & early 1786. Evidence shows that in late 1785 Nicolas Verret, fils was still commandant of the Valenzuéla District, which ran from just south of the confluence with the Mississippi all the way down Bayou Lafourche. Winzerling goes on to say about Blanchard: "To the Acadians of La Fourche, Blanchard not only showed himself a deeply interested commandant and advisor in the successful establishment of the colony, but also a kind, sympathetic, and able administrator. In his patronage of the Acadians he was next to Martin Navarro as a promoter and colonizer of Louisiana." High praise indeed.
456. See ibid., p. 144.
457. Quotations from ibid., pp. 145-46.
458. Quotations from ibid.
459. For the Amitié passengers, see
Hébert, D., Acadian Families in Exile 1785, 66-85.
Founding of New Acadia, 111;
Winzerling, Acadian Odyssey, 146-47.
My figures for the number of L'Amitié passengers going to
Nueva Gálvez, which, like Winzerling, also counts non-Acadians, differs substantially from his 37 families with 54 members. See Appendix. My numbers going to Attakapas--4 families with 20 members--also differs slightly from Winzerling. See
Winzerling, Acadian Odyssey, 147, who says La Ville d'Archangel left St.-Malo in "mid-August."
462. Quotations from ibid., pp. 147-49, which says on p. 147 that La Ville d'Archangel reached Balize on Nov 4.
The ships' debarkation list is dated 3 Dec 1785, which means it was not made until the ship finally reached New Orleans. See
ibid., p. 147; Hébert, D., Acadian Families in Exile 1785, 86.
463. For the Ville d'Archangel passengers, see ibid., pp.
86-105. See also
Winzerling, Acadian Odyssey, 149-50.
464. See ibid., pp. 149-50;
Founding of New Acadia, 111
Based on surnames, only 23 of the Ville d'Archangel passengers who went to Bayou Lafourche were Acadians. The others bore French surnames--Hervé, Langlinais, & Nogues. I am proud to say that I am a direct descendent on my father's side of Jean-Louis Langlinais, stepson of Jacques Mius d'Entremont; after he came of age, Jean-Louis left the Lafourche & moved to the Attakapas District, where he married Acadian Céleste, daughter of Acadian René dit Petit-René LeBlanc, who had come to the colony in Feb 1765 with the Broussards. Jean-Louis is the progenitor of the Langlinais family of southwest LA. See BRDR, vol. 2; Hébert, D., Southwest LA Records, vols. 1-A, 1-B, 2-A, 2-B; 2-C.
464a. Quotation from
Winzerling, Acadian Odyssey, 152. See also ibid., p. 151.
465. Quotations from
Winzerling, Acadian Odyssey, 151. See also ibid., p. 150.
466. See ibid., p. 151;
. For the Caroline passengers, see
Founding of New Acadia, 111
Hébert, D., Acadian Families in Exile 1785, 106-111.
467. For the official reports of the expeditions, see
;Kinnaird, "Post War Decade, 1782-91," 169. For this rese
archers numbers, see Appendix & Appendix.
153-54, says that Count de Aranda counted 1,596 Acadians going from France to LA, more than the number reported by Navarro, but then the count revised his official report to 1,574. Intentende Navarro's report, cited above, gives a total of 1,587 individuals coming LA. Moreover, Navarro's report lists 375 families embarked in France but 429 families in LA. Thislarger number reflects his generosity in granting head-of-family status to Acadians who arrived in LA ahead of other members of their families. Winzerling, p. 142, writes: "Navarro did all in his power to reunite families and relatives. Many Acadians became separated from one another in their haste to be among the first to leave for Louisiana. When Spain's humane treatment of the exiles in Louisiana was learned abroad, family heads would make any sacrifice to leave France as fast as possible in order to be among the first to receive Spain's grant of arable land in Louisiana. As a consequence D'Aspres reported that there was considerable confusion at times among the Acadians awaiting transportation. They knew that ultimately they would find their respective families, but until then the loneliness was heavy, and eagerness to get settled made it all the more so. To heal all wounds Navarro granted these lonesome persons the rights of family head, which meant a subsidy of ten cents [per day] instead of seven and a half cents." No wonder they loved him so much!
Aranda's report lists 85 dead & 12 desertions, offset by 39 births & 15 "immigrants." His goal had been 1,700 Acadians. According to Winzerling, p. 154: "His [Aranda's] failure to secure that quota of colonists was one reason for his postponing their removal from December, 1784, to May, 1785."
For contradictions in the various Spanish reports, especially concerning stowaways, see Winzerling, pp. 155-56. Aranda's final figure, counting the stowaways aboard Le St.-Rémi & L'Amitié, rose to 1,624, but most of these stowaways were not Acadians.
Winzerling, p. 153, makes the claim that "As an integral attempt, the Acadian colonization in Louisiana surpassed by many hundreds kindred attempts such as that by the Pilgrim fathers in 1620 and the Massachusetts Bay Company in 1629. Spain and Louisiana share the unique distinction of having staged the world's largest trans-Atlantic colonization project on the North American continent." Not quite.The English outdid the Spanish ... twice. In June 1629, 5 ships arrived at Salem in Massachusetts Bay colony bearing 400 settlers, including the Puritan leader, John Winthrop. The next year, 17 more ships arrived in the colony bearing 1,000 more settlers. From 1630-42, some 16,000 settlers migrated from England to Massachusetts Bay, dwarfing anything the Spanish & French would do in settling their claims in the New World. See Encyclopedia of World History at <bartleby.com>. Over a century later, in May 1749, the British sent 2,576 men, women, & children in 13 transports accompanied by an armed sloop from London to Chebucto harbor, Nova Scotia, where they established the settlement of Halifax. See Faragher, A Great & Noble Scheme, 249.
Although it was not the greatest single migration of Europeans to the New World, the 7 Ships Expedition of 1785 was nonetheless an impressive feat of logistics, especially considering that over 1,600 individuals were sent to LA in only 5 months time. Dr. Carl Brasseaux, in his essay at <www.acadianmemorial.org/english/ensembleencoreset.html>, now closed, says that the 7 Ships Expedition of 1785 was "the largest single migration of Europeans into the Mississippi Valley...." True enough.
But even this claim may be challenged. A few years before, in the late 1770s, the Spanish government had recruited hundreds of Isleños from the Canary Islands for settlement in Louisiana. I n 1778 & 1779, the Spanish sent 8 ships full of Isleños to LA with over 2,000 people aboard. However, because of the war that had just broken out between Spain & Britain, 3 of the ships landed in Havana & did not go on to New Orleans. Five of the 8 vessels from the Canaries either sailed directly to New Orleans or continued on to New Orleans from Havana. Governor Gálvez counted 1,582 new arrivals in Jul 1779. See Din, Canary Islanders of LA, chap. 2. Compare this to the official count of 1,574 Acadians embarked in France in 1785. However, stowaways raised the number of 1785 immigrants to just over 1,600.
No matter, the 7 Ships' expedition of 1785 was an impressive feat of transportation & colonization by the Spanish government. According to Winzerling, p. 154, the venture cost Spain "'305,743 libras tornessas y 8 seuldos', that is, about $61,148.68," but, unless this cost is adjusted for inflation, it carries little meaning for today's reader.
Clark, Acadia, viii, explains: "The dispersion of the Acadians in the decade following 1755 scattered them widely. Many returned to the Maritimes later in the century but the only other area in which they were able to maintain a cultural identity was in Louisiana where so many of them finally gathered and where, in the 1780's, there may have been the largest single block of Acadians."
Founding of New Acadia, 111;
Acadian Odyssey, 159-60
468a. Quotation from ibid., p. 159.
The Acadians must have been upset when, according to Winzerling, Navarro was replaced as intendente in Apr 1786 by Juan Ventura Morales. However,
Cummins, "Navarro," p. 596, however, says that Navarro was intendente of LA until 1788, when he was recalled to Spain to advise the King on LA matters as intendente de ejército, which he did until 1790, the year he retired from Spanish service. Meanwhile, according to Cummins, Navarro had "Amassed in Louisiana a large personal fortune based on the slave trade and real estate." Navarro "Never married, but recognized Adelaïde de Blanco Navarro," who became an important LA planter, "as his natural daughter. He died at Madrid on 26 May 1793, age 54. He is a prominent figure in Robert Dafford's mural, "The Arrival of the Acadians in Louisiana," which graces an entire wall on the ground floor of the Acadian Memorial in St. Martinville; Navarro is figure number 4, on the left side of the huge painting, the bearded fellow wearing the hat facing figure number 5, Olivier Térrio.
The Catholic Church in LA, 204-05, 220, 237, 241-42.
When O'Reilly established formal Spanish control over LA in Aug 1769, the colony's priests no longer would answer to the French Archbishop of St.-Domingue, in charge since the British formally took over Québec in 1763. LA priests now answered to the Bishop of Santiago de Cuba. In 1785, an Auxiliary Bishop of Cuba, Spanish Capuchin Father Cirillo de Barcelona, took office at New Orleans. His jurisdiction included not only Spanish LA but also Spanish FL, which Britain returned to Spain in 1783. In 1787, LA was placed under the Bishop of Havana, with Father Cirillo still serving as auxiliary at New Orleans. Finally, in Apr 1793, a papal bull created the Diocese of New Orleans, & St.-Louis church, destroyed in the great fire of Mar 1788 & rebuilt from 1789-94, became a cathedral. The first bishop of the new diocese, Don Louis Ignacio Maria de Penalver y Cardena, a native of Havana, did not take his seat at New Orleans until Jul 1795. See ibid., passim.
470. See ibid., pp. 197, 220-21, 239, 252, 286;
Din, Canary Islanders of LA, 74; Robichaux,
Bayou Lafourche, 1770-98, 48, 181.
The Catholic Church in LA, 207, 229, 238, 254.
472. See Robichaux,
Bayou Lafourche, 1770-98, 22-48.
473. See ibid.
Nicolas Daublin's wife was named Catherine. Their daughter, Marie-Anne-Barbe, called Barbe, married Jean-Baptiste, called Baptiste, son of Acadians Augustin dit Justice Doucet & his second Marie-Anne Précieux of Île St.-Jean, at Ascension in Jun 1789. Baptiste was a native of St.-Servan, near St.-Malo, France, & had come to LA with his widowed mother aboard L'Amitié.
474. See ibid.
475. See ibid.
476. See ibid. For the 1777 censuses at St.-Gabriel, & Ascension, revealing the number of hogs being raised in those river districts, see notes
Bayou Lafourche, 1770-98, 22-48.
478. See ibid.
479. See ibid.
480. See Robichaux, LA Census & Militia Lists, 1770-89, 115-46;
Bayou Lafourche, 1770-98, 110, 150, 151-81.
Quotations from Voorhies, J., Some Late Eighteenth-Century Louisianians, 524, 526, 528. See also ibid., pp. 525, 527.
482. See BRDR, 2:250, 342; Southwest LA Records, 2-B:58;
NOAR, 6:144; Robichaux,
Bayou Lafourche, 1770-98, passim.
483. See <thecajuns.com/lahurricanes.htm>; Appendix.
According to Baudier,
The Catholic Church in LA,
207, 229, 238, an Irish priest, Fr. Michael O'Reilly, was assigned to the Feliciana Parish in the 1790s, but "By 1804, this church, built in 1785, was 'in ruins and demolished'." Fr. O'Reilly may have served at the new parish at Bayou Sara, not at Bayou des Éc6res. It is significant that no parish registers for Bayou des Écores exist. It may be that the dearth of priests for the parish led to no registers being created. Records of Bayou des Écores baptisms, marriage, and burials can be found in the Pointe Coupee registers, and some in the Baton Rouge church registers after 1793.
484. Quotation from ibid., p.
254. See also ibid., pp. 206-07, 229, 238;
Founding of New Acadia, 110, who notes that Bayou Lafourche was more popular with the Acadian than the upriver settlements of Manchac, Baton Rouge, & Bayou des Écores because the Lafourche was closer to other Acadian communities and "not uncomfortably near thriving Anglo-American communities
The West Florida Rebellion of 1810, with its distinctive blue and white banner, is well-documented. See Wikipedia, "Republic of West Florida." The inaugural address of the short-lived republic's only governor, Fulwar Skipwith, says it all: "...wherever the voice of justice and humanity can be heard, our declaration, and our just rights will be respected. But the blood which flows in our veins, like the tributary streams which form and sustain the father of rivers, encircling our delightful country, will return if not impeded, to the heart of our parent country. The genius of Washington, the immortal founder of the liberties of America, stimulates that return, and would frown upon our cause, should we attempt to change its course." What Acadian exile or his children could applaud such a sentiment?
485. Quotation from Brasseaux, Founding of New Acadia
, 189. See also ibid., pp. 179-80;De Ville, Mississippi Valley Mélange, 2:34
Brasseaux, ed., Quest for the Promised Land, 98-99, 109;
Brasseaux, Founding of New Acadia
, 183, 184. See also ibid., pp. 182, 185, 189;
Brasseaux, French, Cajun, Creole, Houma, chap. 4
The Houma once lived on the Yazoo River in present-day Mississippi, but they moved downriver by the late 1600s. The red boundary marker that Iberville had seen atop a bluff on the east bank of the river at the site of present-day Baton Rouge in Mar 1699 marked the southern edge of Houma territory. Their main village then stood near modern-day Angola, not far from today's boundary line between LA & MS. After a neighboring tribe, the Tunica, massacred them in 1706, the remnants of the Houma moved down the east bank of the river and settled across from the Fork, where they were joined by other tribes during the following decades. Although the Houma were close to the French, they & the Spanish did not get along. See
Brasseaux, French, Cajun, Creole, Houma, 117-20;
Kniffen et al., Indian Tribes of LA, 78-79, 85, 235.
Brasseaux, Founding of New Acadia
As more Europeans, especially Acadians, settled along lower Bayou Lafourche, the Houma migrated to the coastal marshes of present-day Terrebonne Parish, near the city named after them. See
Brasseaux, French, Cajun, Creole, Houma, chap. 4, for the tribe's fate.
488. See ibid., pp. 185, 190. According to
Kniffen et al., Indian Tribes of LA, 75, in 1805 the
village of the Opelousa lay 15 more miles west of the city named for them, which would place them on Prairie Faquetaique. There were only 20 of them left in 1814, & by the 1930s they were no more. The Atakapas also ceased to exist as an identifiable tribe by the 20th century. The Chitimacha, on the other hand, still exist and still live on lower Bayou Teche.
Brasseaux, Founding of New Acadia
490. See Appendix for Attakapas, & Appendix for Opelousas.
De Ville, Opelousas History, 24-30;De Ville, Mississippi Valley Mélange, 2
:63; Frederick, "In Defense of Crown & Colony," 397; Griffin, Attakapas Country, 21
De Ville, Opelousas History, 19-20.
De Ville, Southwest LA Families, 1785, 16-31;
Voorhies, J., Some Late Eighteenth-Century Louisianians, 320-65.
The sub districts that contained no Acadians in 1796 were Plaisance, Plaquemine, Manne, Coteau, Church, & Bayou Chicot. Acadian families made up 53% of the Bellevue sub district & 43% of the Grand Coteau sub district that year.
494. See De Ville, Southwest LA Families, 1785, 1-15; De Ville, Mississippi Valley Mélange, 2:65.
, for a detailed discussion of Acadian slave holding.
Brasseaux, Founding of New Acadia
, chap. 11
496. Quotation from ibid., p. 190.
The indexes in
Clark, Acadia, &Griffiths, From Migrant to Acadian, major works on Acadian history, do not contain the word "slavery."
496a. See Mathé Allain, "Africans, Slaves, Slavery, and Manumissions," pp. 176-82, in
The French Experience in LA
; Allain, "Not Worth a Straw," 79;
The Catholic Church in LA, 88, 160;
Taylor, J. G., Louisiana, 11-12; <lsuagcenter.com/en/crops_livestock/crops/sugarcane/Cultural+Practices/History+of+Sugarcane+in+Louisiana.htm>;<sewanee.edu/Chem/Chem&Art/Detail_Pages/Projects_2000/Leopold/History.html>.
De Ville, Attakapas Post Census, 1771,
Brasseaux, Founding of New Acadia
De Ville, Opelousas Post Census, 1771,
De Ville, Mississippi Valley Mélange, 1:39-42, the 1774 census for Opelousas; Voorhies, J., Some Late Eighteenth-Century Louisianians, 280-82, the 1774 census for Attakapas.
Brasseaux, p. 191, notes that "Louisiana's first Acadian slaveholders were four Cabannocé residents, two of whom were descendants of the early patriarchs in the thriving Beaubassin district. The remaining members of this select circle were scions of prosperous families at the St. John River and Cobequid posts. There are no extant slave conveyances for these individuals, but their bondsmen were almost certainly purchased on credit from New Orleans merchants in 1765. These black laborers were quickly pressed into service, assisting their new masters in clearing the dense hardwood forests hindering development of their fertile riverfront properties." Professor Brasseaux does not name the 4 Acadian slaveholders. He cites the Cabannocé census of 1766, but copies of that census in Bourgeois, Cabanocey, 161-70, & Voorhies, J., Some Late Eighteenth-Century Louisianians, 114-19, which contains a column for slaves, list none among the Acadians. The Cabahannocer census of Sep 1769, unfortunately, did not count slaves. See Bourgeois, pp. 173-79; Voorhies, J., pp. 440-85. Unfortunately, nor did the St.-Jacques census of 1777. See De Ville, St. James Census, 1777.
De Ville, Southwest LA Families, 1777, passim.
De Ville, St. Gabriel Census, 1777, passim;De Ville, Acadian Coast, 1779, 11-27
, which details slaveholding only at St.-Jacques, not Ascension & St.-Gabriel;
Bayou Lafourche, 1770-98, 9-19
Brasseaux, Founding of New Acadia
, 196, says that 26.9% of Acadian households at Iberville held slaves in 1777, 39% at Ascension, & 41.9% at St.-Jacques.
500. See De Ville, Southwest LA Families, 1785, passim.
501. Quotations from
Brasseaux, Founding of New Acadia
502. Quotation from ibid., p. 193.
503. Quotations from ibid. See also ibid., p. 194.
Paul Foret was in his late 30s at the time & had lived at St.-Jacques before moving upriver to Ascension by 1770. His farm was on the west bank of the river, so that is likely the side on which he led the patrol. He owned a single slave in 1777. See
Bayou Lafourche, 1770-98, 2, 10. The Widow Landry's identity is anyone's guess.
504. Quotation from
Brasseaux, Founding of New Acadia
505. Quotations from ibid., pp. 192, 195.
Bayou Lafourche, 1770-98, 22-48, 111-81.
507. See Voorhies, J., Some Late Eighteenth-Century Louisianians, 345-65.
508. See Wikipedia, "Eli Whitney."
509. See Wikipedia, "Jean-Étienne Boré," "Étienne de Boré." His birth date is variously given as 27 Dec 1740, 1741, & 1742. His wife's name is variously given as Jeanne-Marguerite-Marie & Marie-Marguerite Destréhan des Tours. Their marriage date is variously give as Sep & Nov 1771. Boré's plantation
is the site of today's Audubon Park in the city's famous Garden District. His two neighbors were named Mendez & Lopez.
Laussat, Memoirs, 51-52, 59-61, 70, offers a glimpse into the colony's sugar industry, which Laussat observed on an upriver tour in Nov 1803 (he was the French colonial prefect who oversaw the transfers of the colony from Spain to France & from France to the United States). On his tour of the river's east bank above New Orleans, which included Étienne de Boré's plantation, he reported that on a single day "we skirted one cotton plantation, five general agriculture plantations, and twenty-seven sugar plantations, nearly all belonging to respectable old Creole families. This was the richest section of the colony. They were 'grinding,' as they say to describe the manufacturing of sugar at the beginning of winter. The plantation where we lunched was making its first attempt with Tahiti sugarcane imported into Louisiana. They were delighted with it." See ibid., p. 59. Boré had been the first to use the South Pacific cane. See ibid., p. 124, note 1, which details more of Boré's improvements in growing & processing sugarcane. Laussat also visited the plantation of Boré's brother-in-law, Jean-Noël Destréhan, in St. Charles Parish. Laussat describes "M. d'Estréhan" as "the most active and intelligent sugar planter of the colony." It is obvious that within only 8 years of Boré's 1795 triumph, LA had been transformed into a major sugar-growing region.
510. See Appendix.
511. See ibid.
512. See ibid.; Lejeune Family Page.
The best source on the transition from Acadien to Cadien to Cajun remains Brasseaux's work, especially his Acadian to Cajun. Bernard, The Cajuns, takes the story into the 20th century.
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BOOK ONE: Acadia
BOOK TWO: The Great Upheaval
BOOK THREE: French Louisiana
BOOK FIVE: The Bayou State
Copyright (c) 2001-13 Steven A. Cormier