Acadians Who Found Refuge in Louisiana, February 1764-early 1800s
Pierre, son of Noël Surette and Françoise Colarde of Mauset, diocese of La Rochelle, France, born in c1679, was a sailor when he married Jeanne, daughter of Étienne Pellerin and Jeanne Savoie, at Port-Royal in February 1709. They remained at Port-Royal and settled in the parish of St.-Laurent on the haute rivière, now the upper Annapolis River. Although Pierre became a farmer along the upper Rivière-au-Dauphin, he also continued to work as a sailor. As late as 1724, when he was in his mid-40s, records show him as a crew member on Englishman William Winniett's sailing vessel. Pierre died at Annapolis Royal in October 1749, age 70. Jeanne died at Québec in January 1758 during Le Grand Dérangement, also at age 70. Pierre and Jeanne had nine children, all born at Port-Royal/Annapolis Royal. Four of their daughters married into the Doucet, Gignac, Long, Mius d'Azy, and Petitot dit Saint-Seine families. Their three sons created families of their own, but they did not remain on haute rivière.
Oldest son Pierre, fils, also called Pierre II, born in December 1709, married Catherine, daughter of Pierre Breau and Anne LeBlanc, at Grand-Pré in September 1732 and lived at Minas before moving to Petitcoudiac.
Joseph, born in May 1712, married Marguerite, daughter of Claude Thériot and Marguerite Cormier, at Grand-Pré in October 1730. They remained at Minas before moving to Petitcoudiac, where Joseph drowned in the river there in c1750.
Youngest son Paul, twin of sister Madeleine, born in November 1721, married Marie-Josèphe, daughter of ____ Landry and Élisabeth Thériot and widow of Jean Landry, in c1758, during Le Grand Dérangement.
In 1755, descendants of Pierre Surette, père could be found at Annapolis Royal, Minas, and Petitcoudiac.
LE GRAND DÉRANGEMENT
Le Grand Dérangement of the 1750s scattered this family to the winds.
After yet another war erupted between Britain and France in the early 1750s, the Acadians were again caught in the middle. When British and New England forces attacked Fort Beauséjour at Chignecto in the late spring of 1755, Surettes were among the trois-rivières-area Acadians who were serving in the fort as militia, though they may have left the fort a few days before it surrendered on June 16. Governor Lawrence was so incensed to find so-called French Neutrals fighting with French regulars at Beauséjour that he ordered his officers to deport the Chignecto Acadians to the southernmost British colonies on the Atlantic seaboard. Evidently the Surettes, led by Pierre II, escaped this first round of deportations. They instead helped form an Acadian resistance that both attacked the British in their Missaguash forts and protected their homes in the trois-rivières. The British managed to capture some the resistance fighters, including Pierre II, who was confined in Fort Cumberland, formerly Beauséjour. But he did not remain in British custody for long. In late February 1756, Pierre II, who had ingratiated himself with his British captors, led a daring escape from Fort Cumberland. Eighty Acadians escaped via a tunnel they had dug with discarded horse bones. They escaped to the woods and managed to elude the British, but they paid a terrible price in doing so. By 1759, they had joined other Acadian refugees at Miramichi, on the Gulf of St. Lawrence shore. There, they suffered almost as much as they had done in the woods north of Chignecto. In November 1759, near Memramcook, Pierre II and two other Acadian resistance leaders, Jean and Michel Bourg, "surrendered" to the British, but, the following spring, Pierre II rejoined the resistance movement, at Restigouche on the Baie des Chaleurs. After a British force captured Restigouche in the summer of 1760, Pierre II and his family were sent to a prison compound in Nova Scotia, where they were held until the end of the war.
After their release, Pierre II and members of his family decided to remain in Nova Scotia, at Chezzetcook near Halifax. They stayed there until c1770, when they moved to Ste.-Anne-du-Ruisseau, present-day Pointe-à-Rocco, northeast of Cap-Sable. Pierre II's sons Charles-Amand, Joseph, and Paul, along with some of their Surette cousins, settled on Rivière St.-Jean in the late 1760s, but some of them joined their father/uncle near Halifax by 1769. Pierre II's nephew Pierre, son of Joseph, settled at Pointe-du-Diable, near the British settlement of Dartmouth, across from Halifax. Surettes, especially descendants of Pierre II, also settled in Nova Scotia at Météghan and other Acadian communities on Baie Ste.-Marie, along the western Atlantic shore.
Pierre II's widowed mother Jeanne Pellerin died at Québec in late January 1758, age 70, so members of the family managed to escape to the St. Lawrence valley during Le Grand Dérangement. Brother Joseph's daughter Anne, widow of Paul Doucet, remarried to fellow Acadian Jean-Baptiste Pitre at St.-Pierre-les-Becquets, above Québec, in March 1761. Pierre II's youngest sister, Françoise, widow of Joseph Petitot dit Saint-Seine, remarried to Jacques, fils, son of Jacques Gignac and Marie-Anne Richard and widower of Anne-Françoise Lafond dit Mongrain, at Ste.-Foy, near Québec City, in October 1764. Joseph's daughter Marguerite married Jacques, fils, son of Canadians Jacques Tessier and Marie-Louie Monet, at La Chine, above Montréal, in January 1766.
Meanwhile, at Halifax, Pierre II's namesake nephew, Pierre le jeune, his teenage wife Marie Thibodeau, and her Broussard and Thibodeau kin, had a serious dilemma on their hands. The Treaty of Paris of February 1763 stipulated in its Article 14 that persons dispersed by the war had 18 months to return to their respective territories. In the case of the Acadians, however, this meant that they could return only to French soil. Chignecto and the trois-rivières were no longer French territory. British authorities refused to allow any of the Acadian prisoners in the region to return to their former lands as proprietors. If Acadians chose to remain in Nova Scotia, they could live only in the interior of the peninsula in small family groups and work for low wages on former Acadian lands now owned by New England "planters." If they stayed, they must also take the hated oath of allegiance to the new British king, George III, without reservation. They would also have to take the hated oath if they joined their cousins in the St. Lawrence valley. After all that they had suffered on the question of the oath, no self-respecting Acadian would consent to take it if it could be avoided. Some Halifax exiles, like Pierre Surette II, chose to remain in Nova Scotia. Others chose to relocate to Miquelon, a French-controlled island off the southern coast of Newfoundland. Still others considered going to French St.-Domingue, today's Haiti, where Acadian exiles in the British colonies already had gone, or to the Illinois country, the west bank of which still belonged to France, or to French Louisiana, which, thanks to British control of Canada, was the only route possible to the Illinois country for Acadian exiles. Unlike his Surette kin, Pierre le jeune, following his wife's Thibodeau kin, decided to leave their homeland.
LOUISIANA: WESTERN SETTLEMENTS
Surettes were among the earliest Acadians to seek refuge in Louisiana. Pierre Surette, age unrecorded, came with the Broussard dit Beausoleil party from Halifax that reached New Orleans via Cap-Français, French St.-Domingue, in February 1765. He was a part of the Broussard party because his wife, 25-year-old Marie Thibodeau, was a Broussard cousin. With them was daughter Marie-Anne, age 3. Also in the party were Marie's widowed mother and three of Marie's younger siblings. After a short respite in New Orleans, during which daughter Marie-Anne was baptized on March 4 at the St.-Louis church, Pierre and Marie followed the Broussards to the Attakapas District, where they helped created La Nouvelle-Acadie on the banks of Bayou Teche. Marie was pregnant when they reached Attakapas, and in June, two months after they settled on the Teche, she gave birth to son Augustin.
That summer and fall, an epidemic swept through the Teche valley settlements and killed dozens of Acadians. When French officials counted the surviving Attakapas settlers in April 1766, only Marie Thibodeaux and daughter Marie-Anne Surette were left in her household at La Manque on the lower Teche. Pierre and the infant Augustin must have died by then, perhaps unrecorded victims of the epidemic. Marie remained on the Teche and remarried to fellow Acadian Jean-Baptiste Semer at Attakapas in c1768.
Marie-Anne married Firmin dit Ephrem, son of fellow Acadians Bruno Robichaux and Félicité Broussard, at Attakapas in April 1778, and remarried to Marcel, son of fellow Acadians Paul LeBlanc and Agnès or Anne Babin, at the St. Martinville church, St. Martin Parish, in August 1811, in her late 40s. Soon after their marriage, Marie-Anne's second husband secured a decree of separation from her. She died at her home at Grand Pointe on the upper Teche in November 1817; the priest who recorded her burial said that she died at "age about 53 years"; she was 55. Her succession records were filed at the St. Martinville courthouse, St. Martin Parish, in August 1811 and December 1817.
Though Pierre Surette had a son in Louisiana, the boy died in childhood, and Pierre did not live long enough to father more children. His daughter, however, married twice, into the Robichaux and LeBlanc families. The Acadian branch of the family, then, except for its blood, did not take root in the Bayou State. The Surettes of South Louisiana today are descended from French Creoles or Foreign French, not Acadians.
The family's name also is spelled Suret, Surre. This family should not be confused with the Serret or Serette family from Bordeaux, France, who lived at New Orleans, on the Acadian Coast, and briefly at Attakapas during the late colonial period and settled in Iberville Parish and the Baton Rouge area during the antebellum period.
Sources: Arsenault, Généalogie, 802-03, 1289-93, 2594; BRDR, vols. 1a(rev.), 2; Hébert, D., Southwest LA Records, vols. 1-A, 1-B, 2-A; Marshall, Acadian Resistance;<museeacadien.ca/english/archives/articles/72.htm>; NOAR, vol. 2; White, DGFA-1, 1476-78; White, DGFA-1 English, 309-10.
(present-day civil parishes that existed in 1861 are in parenthesis; hyperlinks on the abbreviations take you to brief histories of each settlement):
Lafourche (Lafourche, Terrebonne)
|SB||San Bernardo (St. Bernard)|
Attakapas (St. Martin, St. Mary, Lafayette, Vermilion)
San Luìs de Natchez (Concordia)
St.-Gabriel d'Iberville (Iberville)
Bayou des Écores (East Baton Rouge, West Feliciana)
New Orleans (Orleans)
St.-Jacques de Cabanocé (St. James)
Baton Rouge (East Baton Rouge, West Baton Rouge)
Opelousas (St. Landry, Calcasieu)
For a chronology of Acadian Arrivals in Louisiana, 1764-early 1800s, see Appendix.
The hyperlink attached to an individual's name is connected to a list of Acadian immigrants for a particular settlement and provides a different perspective on the refugee's place in family and community.
|*Augustin SURETTE 01||Feb 1765||Atk||arrived LA Feb 1765, in utero, with party from Halifax via St.-Domingue led by Joseph BROUSSARD dit Beausoleil; born & baptized 19 Jun 1765, Attakapas; son of Pierre SURETTE & Marie THIBODEAUX; brother of Marie-Anne; died before Apr 1766, when his widowed mother was listed in the Attakapas census without a son in her household|
|Marie-Anne SURETTE 02||Feb 1765||Atk||born 24 Feb 1762, Halifax; daughter of Pierre SURETTE & Marie THIBODEAUX; sister of Augustin; arrived LA Feb 1765, age 3, with party from Halifax via St.-Domingue led by Joseph BROUSSARD dit Beausoleil; baptized 4 Mar 1765, New Orleans, age 3; in Attakapas census, 1766, La Manque District, unnamed, probably the girl in the household of Maria THIBODEAU widow; in Attakapas census, 1769, called Marie, "his daughter," age 8, with mother, stepfather Jean B SEMER, & no other children; in Attakapas census, 1771, unnamed, age 8, with mother, stepfather Jean SEYMER, & a half-brother; in Attakapas census, 1777, called Marie, age 15, with mother, stepfather, & 4 half-siblings; married, age 16, (1)Firmin dit Ephrem, son of Bruno ROBICHAUX & Félicité BROUSSARD, 25 Apr 1778, Attakapas, now St. Martinville; in Attakapas census, 1781, unnamed, with husband & 1 unnamed other; in Attakapas census, 1785, unnamed, with husband & 3 unnamed others; married, age 49, (2)Marcel, son of Paul LEBLANC & Agnès or Anne BABIN, & widower of Marie-Madeleine BOURGEOIS, 6 Aug 1811, St. Martinville; legally separated from husband 1812; died "at her home" at La Grand Pointe, St. Martin Parish, 8 Nov 1817, "age about 53[sic] years," buried next day "in the parish cemetery"; succession records dated 6 Aug 1811 & 6 Dec 1817, St. Martin Parish courthouse|
|Pierre SURETTE 03||Feb 1765||Atk||married Marie, daughter of probably Charles THIBODEAUX & Brigitte BREAUX, c1760 or 1761; arrived LA Feb 1765 with party from Halifax via St.-Domingue led by Joseph BROUSSARD dit Beausoleil; on list of Acadians who exchanged card money in New Orleans, Apr 1765, called Pierre SURET; died before Apr 1766, when his wife was listed in the Attakapas census, La Manque District, as a widow|
01. Not in Wall of Names because of the circumstance of his birth. Hébert, D., Southwest LA Records, 1-A:735-36 (SM Ch.: v.1, p.7; SM Ch.: Slaves Baptism Register v.1, p.1, #3), his birth/baptismal record, calls him Augustin SURET, gives his parents' names, & says his godparents were Augustin GREVEMBERG, Catherine THIBAUDAU, & ____ [Édouard?] MASSE. See also Voorhies, J., Some Late Eighteenth-Century Louisianians, 125.
Since he was born only 4 months after his family reached LA, he was in utero when his mother stepped off the ship at New Orleans, so he is included on this list. Was he a victim of the epidemic that killed dozens of Teche valley Acadians in the summer & fall of 1765? His early death & the death of his father soon after he reached the colony, perhaps also in the Teche epidemic, is why the Acadian line of the SURETTE family did not survive in LA.
02. Wall of Names, 25, calls her Marie-Anne SURETTE; NOAR, 2:259 (SLC, B5, 84), her birth/baptismal record, calls her Marie-Anne SURRE, gives her parents' names, says she was born 24? Feb 1762 "in Chipute, England," & says her godparents were Jean LAFITTE, "merchant in this city," & Marie-Anne FORTIER; Hébert, D., Southwest LA Records, 1-A:677, 736 (SM Ct.Hse.: OA-vol.1, #80), the record of her first marriage, calls her Marianne SURET, "native of Acadie," calls her husband Freme ROBICHAUX, "native of Acadie," gives her & his parents' names, says both sets of parents were "of Acadie," & that the witnesses to her marriage were Jean-Baptiste BROUSSARD & Silvain BROUSSARD; Hébert, D., Southwest LA Records, 2-A:602, 895-96 (SM Ch.: v.5, #218), the record of her second marriage, calls her Marie SURETTE, "inhabitant of this parish, native of Acadie, widow of Ephrem ROBICHOT, calls her a major daughter, calls her husband Marcel LEBLANC, "of this parish, native of St. James Parish on the River," calls him a major son, give her & his parents' names but not his first wife's name, says all parents were deceased at the time of the wedding, & that the witnesses to her marriage were Michel MARTIN, Marcelle PATIN, Jean LANDRY, Alexandre BROUSSARD, & Léon LATIOLAIS; Hébert, D., Southwest LA Records, 2-A:896 (SM Cte.Hse.: Succ. #96), her first succession record, dated 6 Aug 1811, calls her Marie SURETTE, "wid. Euphreme ROBICHOT," & lists her children by her first husband; Hébert, D., Southwest LA Records, 2-A:896 (SM Ch.: v.4, #1143), her death/burial record, calls her Marie SURETTE, "spouse of Marcel LEBLANC, inhabitant of la grand-pointe, native of Halifax," says she died "at age about 53 years at her home," that she was buried "in the parish cemetery," but does not give her parents' names; Hébert, D., Southwest LA Records, 2-A:896 (SM Cte.Hse.: Succ. #283), her final succession record, calls her Marie SURETTE, "m.1st to Freme ROBICHOT m.2nd to Marcel LEBLANC, but does not give her parents' names or list any children. See also Arceneaux, D. J., Attakapas Post in 1769, 23; De Ville, Attakapas Census, 1771, 13; De Ville, Southwest LA Families, 1777, 8.
Where is Chipute, England, found in her baptismal record at New Orleans? Her burial record says she was born at Halifax, which makes more sense in light of her birth date. Did the New Orleans priest mean to say that she was born in an English colony? If so, he was right. Perhaps "Chipute" was Chepoudy, an Acadian settlement founded by her ancestor, Pierre THIBODEAU, across the NS peninsula from Halifax, in present-day NB, & the priest was noting that her parents were from that place. White, DGFA-1, 1476, notes that Joseph SURRETTE, likely her paternal grandfather, drowned in the Petitcoudiac River in c1750. Chepoudy is located on the estuary of that river. Her maternal grandfather, Charles THIBODEAU, was a younger brother of Marguerite & Agnès THIBODEAU, wives, respectively, of Alexandre & Joseph BROUSSARD dit Beausoleil of Petitcoudiac. See White, 1517-18. It is likely, then, that Marie-Anne's parents lived at Chepoudy, but she could no have been born there in Feb 1762.
Was her godfather, the merchant Jean LAFITTE, that Jean LAFITTE? The answer is no, because the famous LA pirate was not born until c1780, & his name was spelled LAFFITE.
See the footnote for her second husband's profile for details of their separation in 1812.
03. Wall of Names, 25 (pl. 6L), calls him Pierre SURETTE, & lists him with his wife & daughter Marie-Anne; Arsenault, Généalogie, 2594, the LA section, calls him Pierre SURET, does not give his birth year or his parents' names, says he married Marie THIBODEAUX but gives no date or place nor her parents' names, says his children were Marie-Anne, born in c1760, & Augustin in 1765, & that he settled at Attakapas. See also <thecajuns.com/cardmoney.htm>.
So how was he connected to the SURETTEs of Acadia? Was he the Pierre, son of Joseph SURET & Marguerite TERIOT, born & baptized at Grand-Pré on 25 Sep 1736? See BRDR, 1a(rev.):180 (SGA-2, 157). Probably not. Arsenault, 1291, the Grand-Pré section, has this Pierre SURETTE marrying Marie-Josèphe PELLERIN in c1769 & settling near Point-du-Diable, near Halifax, after Le Grand Dérangement. A younger Pierre SURETTE, born in 1744 to Pierre [SURETTE] & Catherine BRAULT of Minas, married Hélène GODIN dit BELLEFONTAINE in c1764, & remarried to Marie, daughter of Abel DUON, in c1785, but Arsenault does not say where they settled. Judging by the profiles of his children, however--see Arsenault, 1292-93--they settled on Baie Ste.-Marie, NS. So the questions must be asked: Which Pierre SURETTE went to LA? And where did he marry Marie THIBODEAU in the early 1760s? Restigouche? Halifax? Note that Arsenault, 2594, says daughter Marie-Anne was born in c1760, but her baptismal record at New Orleans--NOAR, 2:259 (SLC, B5, 84)--dated 4 Mar 1765, says she was born at Halifax in late Feb 1762.
Evidently, Marie & Pierre had no time to produce more children between the birth of Augustin in Jun 1765 & the death of Pierre in either late 1765 or early 1766. Did Pierre & Augustin die of the same thing? Were they victims of the epidemic that killed dozens of their fellow Teche valley Acadians in the summer & fall of 1765? If they were, their deaths were not recorded by the priest at Attakapas. In c1768, Marie THIBODEAUX remarried to Jean-Baptiste SEMER, who also had come to Attakapas with the BROUSSARD party & who had written the famous letter of Apr 1766 to his father in France.
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