The Ancestral Home Newsletter
Lucie LeBlanc Consentino
Owner and Editor
TABLE OF CONTENTS
[Five Star***** Web Sites]
[The Acadians of Prince Edward Island] [Aubin-Edmond Arsenault] [A Saskatchewan Acadian] [The Priests of Prince Edward Island] [The Battle of the Plains of Abraham] [My Genealogical Research] [Prince Edward Island Surname Variations] [Editor's Column: How To Interpret Marriage Dispensations]
The Acadians of Prince Edward Island
By Georges Arsenault
At a first glance, a visitor to Prince Edward Island would never guess that a quarter of the Island's population is of Acadian or French ancestry. Islanders themselves, including Acadians, are seldom aware of this. Over the years, numerous marriages into the dominant population of British origin, the decline of the French language, and the anglicization of many family names have camouflaged an important part of Acadian heritage. For most people, it is not evident that familiar Island surnames such as Perry, Deagle, Myers, Burke, Peters and Wedge were once – in most cases – Poirier, Daigle, Maillet, Bourque, Pitre and Aucoin According to the 1991 census, only 4.8 per cent of Islanders (6,285) have French as their mother tongue.
The Acadians are the descendants of the French colonists who settled in Acadie in the 1600s. At that time, this French colony roughly covered the Maritime Provinces, the eastern coast of Maine and part of the Gaspé peninsula. However, the colonists, most of whom originated from the western part of central France, settled mainly around the Bay of Fundy, dyking and draining the marshlands for their soil. They farmed the land and raised livestock. The Acadians were able to reach a certain degree of prosperity, despite the fact that they were living in a politically unstable colony. Situated between New England and New France, and close to some of the world’s richest fishing grounds, Acadie constituted a strategic territory for both Britain and France. As a result of the continuing battles between the two superpowers, the Acadians lived alternately under French and British rule.
In 1713, according to the Treaty of Utrecht, France was forced to hand over to Great Britain its colonies of Acadie and Newfoundland. To offset its losses and to protect its important cod industry, the French government decided to develop Cape Breton Island - renamed Isle Royale - and Prince Edward Island, then called Isle Saint-Jean.
The task of bringing settlers to colonize Isle Saint-Jean was given to an entrepreneur from Normandy, the Comte de Saint-Pierre, who founded the Compagnie de l'Îsle Saint-Jean. In the spring of 1720, the Company sent to the Island from France some 200 French settlers and fishermen. On their arrival, fortifications were built at Port-La Joye, near present-day Charlottetown, which was chosen as the administrative capital of the colony. Most of the colonists were however brought to the north shore of the Island, closer to the cod-fishing grounds, where the settlement of Havre Saint-Pierre (St. Peter's Harbour) was founded in honour of the company's founder. Throughout the French period, Havre Saint-Pierre was the Island's most important settlement.
The first Acadian families came to the Island in 1720, the same year the French settlers arrived. French authorities in fact encouraged the Acadians, living under British rule in Nova Scotia since 1713, to removed to French territory.
One of the first Acadian families to settle on Isle Saint-Jean was that of Michel Haché (nicknamed Gallant) and Anne Cormier. They are the ancestors of all the Hachés and Gallants in North America. They settled at Port-La Joye where Michel was harbour master. In 1965, a monument to these Acadian pioneers was raised by their descendants, now located on the Port-La Joye/Fort Amherst National Historic Site where an interpretive centre tells the story of the French period on the Island. The surname Gallant is one of the most common family name on the Island today. Another very popular Island Acadian family name is Arsenault. The first members of that large family came to the Island in 1728 and settled on the shores of Malpeque Bay.
The colony of Isle Saint-Jean never really prospered. As a result of financial problems, the Compagnie de l'Isle Saint-Jean abandoned the Island in 1724 and many colonist left the Island. On the other hand, the Acadians were very hesitant to abandon their rich farmlands in Nova Scotia for a new beginning on the Island. In 1735, 15 years after its foundation, the Island's population was only made up of 432 persons, 162 of whom were Acadians. The French-born settlers, mainly oriented towards the fisheries, would soon be outnumbered by Acadian families who continued to cross over from the mainland in small numbers.
A drastic change occurred in 1749 when a sudden shift in British policy with regard to Nova Scotia triggered a wave of immigration to the Island. Protestant settlers loyal to the British crown were brought to Nova Scotia, new fortifications were raised including the Halifax citadel and the Acadians were pressed into taking an unconditional oath of allegiance to the English Monarch or else be expelled from their lands. Many Acadians living in Beaubassin, Pisiquid, Grand-Pré and Port-Royal became concerned about their safety and moved to the Island. Within five years the population of the colony jumped from 735 to 2,223. It is estimated that another 1,500 Acadians took refuge on the Island in 1755 -- the year the Deportation began on the mainland.
The years between 1749 and 1758 were very difficult ones on the Island for the Acadian refugees as well for the older settlers. Various disasters destroyed the crops, cattle was lost through sickness and lack of fodder, and seeds were difficult to obtain. The colony was most often on the brink of famine. A letter written in 1753 by the parish priest of Point Prime, abbé Jacques Girard, very well illustrates the conditions under which many people were living: "Our refugees do not lose courage and hope by working to be able to live; but the nakedness which is almost universal and extreme affects them sore; I assure you they cannot protect themselves from cold, either by day or night. Most ot the children are so naked that they cannot cover themselves. [...] All are not reduced to this extremity, but almost all are in great need."
The Acadian's hope of living peacefully on Isle Saint-Jean was soon shattered. In the summer of 1758, the fortress of Louisbourg on Isle Royale was attacked by British troops. The French capitulated thereby forfeiting Ile Saint-Jean as well. Soldiers were sent to the Island with orders to deport the inhabitants to France. Some 3000 Islanders were successfully rounded up and crowded on ships that set sail for Europe later in the fall. For the Acadians, it was disaster.1500 of them managed to escape deportation by fleeing to the Bay of Chaleurs region and to Quebec where many died of sickness and hunger. Of those deported to France, more that half drowned or died by disease and illness during the voyage and many others died in the months following their arrival in France.
Obviously some Acadian families came back to the Island. In fact, they started returning just a few years after the British eviction, many being recruted as fishermen by British entrepreneurs and others coming back to be with family members. They arrived from New Brunswick, the Magdalen Islands, the French islands of Saint-Pierre and Miquelon and a few from France. By 1798, 116 Acadian families were living on the Island in three clan-like communities: Malpeque in Prince County, Rustico in Queen's County and Fortune Bay in King's County.
In the 50 years that followed the Deportation, Acadians sought to rebuilt a homeland and reunite a society scattered throughout the world. Those who came back to establish themselves on what the British now called St. John’s Island still suffered innumerable hardships, this time caused by the land tenure system. In order to stay on the Island the Acadians, like other settlers, were forced to become tenants to British landlords. Relations were somewhat strained between the Acadians and their landlord since they were often unable to pay the rent and in some cases were victims of dishonest practices. Under such circumstances they were forced to resettle several times. The Acadian population was thus split into small groups scattered over the Island and the mainland. The moves from one area to another weakened the demographic and geographic concentration of the Acadian community which was gradually surrounded by, and even intermingled with, people of another culture and another language.
However, until the middle of the 19th century, the entire Acadian population on the Island succeeded quite well in closing itself off from outside cultural influences, despite the fact that it was broken up into small farming and fishing communities relatively isolated from one another. They remained deeply attached to the beliefs of the Roman Catholic Church, to their language, to their traditional dress and to their festivals such as the Chandeleur, Mi-Carême, Mardi gras and other celebrations, some of which have been kept alive to our days.
Important changes began to take place in the Acadian community on the Island in the 1860s. It was a period of Acadian renewal which expressed itself throughout the Maritime Provinces. A number of institutions were founded to further the development of the Acadian community. In Rustico, Father Georges-Antoine Belcourt and his parishioners created the Farmers' Bank of Rustico, a precursor to the Credit Union and Caisse Populaire mouvement in North America. At the same time, convent schools were opened in a few Acadians parishes on the Island. During this period, young Francophone men began to enter politics, business and the professions.
But in order to integrate themselves into the Island's dominant anglophone culture and society, Acadians had to master the English language. In the 1860s and 1870s, the Island government even passed several amendments to the School Act forcing Acadian schools to anglicize the teaching program.
Evidently, the cultural isolation of the community was quickly eroded. Acadian leaders soon realized that this rapid integration in the mainstream society was being done at the risk of completely banishing the French language and the Acadian culture from the Island landscape, a peril which was also felt in the other Maritime Provinces. As a result, an Acadian nationalism movement was born. Important conventions were held to find ways in preserving and stimulating the Acadian identity. One such convention was held in Miscouche in 1884 where the Acadian flag and anthem were selected.
Among many Island initiatives was the publication in 1893 of the Island's first French-language newspaper, L'Impartial. That year, an Acadian Teachers' Association was organized to promote the teaching of French in the public school system. At its 1919 annual convention, the Société Saint-Thomas-d'Aquin was created to promote the development of the Acadian community, particularly by overseeing the formation of Acadian leaders through higher education. Today, many organizations on the Island have as mandate the promotion and development of the French language and the Acadian culture, however the Société Saint-Thomas-d'Aquin is recognized as the principal voice of the Island Acadian community. It has been instrumental in setting up many projects and institutions which have given dynamism and visibility to the Island Acadian community.
The weekly newspaper, La Voix acadienne, published in Summerside, the Carrefour de l’Isle Saint-Jean in Charlottetown, the Acadian Museum in Miscouche, the Festival acadien in the Evangeline Region, the Club Ti-Pa in Tignish, and the numerous musicians and singers, such as Barachois and Angèle Arsenault from Egmont Bay and Lennie Gallant from Rustico, are but a few examples of the vibrant Acadian presence in Prince Edward Island.
Although the preservation of the French language is a constant and challenging struggle, Island Acadians are proud of their accomplishments. The most recent is the establishment of a French-language community college in Wellington – a branch of Nova Scotia’s hi-tech Collège de l’Acadie – where, for the first time, Islanders are able to receive a post-secondary diploma in French without leaving the Island. This is indeed a much welcome innovation., for Acadians are much attached to their Island. After all, they have made it their home for almost three centuries!
The Island Acadians: 1720-1980. Translated by Sally Ross. Charlottetown, Ragweed Press, 1989.
Books and Articles by Georges Arsenault
This book deals with the general history of the Acadians of Prince Edward Island. It covers many themes including settlement, economy, politics, education, religion and the French language. Winner of the 1988 Prix France-Acadie and Prix Champlain and recipient of a 1989 Regional History Award of the Canadian Historical Association for the original French text.
Courir la Chandeleur, Moncton, Éditions d'Acadie, 1982.
This is a study of the Acadian Candlemas Day (2nd February) tradition of going from house to house to collect food, as it was practiced in the Island communties until the early 1940s. (Out of print.)
Par un dimanche au soir. Léah Maddix, chanteuse et conteuse acadienne. Moncton, Éditions d'Acadie, 1993.
Folktale teller, singer and songmaker, Léah Maddix (1899-1986) spent most of her life in the Evangeline Region. Keeper of a rich repertoire of folksongs and folktales, she was recognized locally for her ability to compose ballads and anecdotal songs. Through Leah's songs, stories and life history, this book offers a picturesque description of a small traditional Acadian community.
Historical Guidebook of the Evangeline Region. Charlottetown, 1998, 49 p.
This booklet invites you to discover the local history of the Evangeline Region. Why is this Acadian region in Prince Edward Island named after Evangeline? Who were the founding families and where were they living before they settled in this beautiful part of the Island? What traditions did they bring with them? What are the characteristics of the Acadian cuisine in the Evangeline region? These are some of the questions this historical guidebook answers for you. (This book is also available in French.)
Contes, légendes et chansons de l’Île-du-Prince-Édouard. Moncton, Éditions d’Acadie, 1998, 191 p.
This book serves as an introduction to the rich Acadian oral traditions of Prince Edward Island. It features some twenty story-tellers, folksingers and songmakers recorded in the 1970s and 1980s. Much attention is given to the men and women who kept those traditions alive and to the role that they played in the life of their family and of their community. It is also a study on the sources of these traditions and on the dynamics of their transmission from one generation to another.
Published since 1976 by the Prince Edward Island Heritage Foundation and Museum, this bi-annual publication contains numerous articles dealing with Acadian history and traditions. The following were written by Georges Arsenault
The Island Magazine
1) "La Mi-Carême." Number 9 (Spring-Summer 1981), pp. 8-11.
2) "The Miscouche Convention, 1884," Number 15 (Spring-Summer 1984), pp. 14-19.
3) "Le gâteau des Rois: Twelfth Night Celebrations in Acadian Prince Edward Island." Number 23 (Spring-Summer 1986), pp. 23-28.
4) "Le Sénateur. Joseph Octave Arsenault." Number 33 (Spring-Summer 1993), pp. 25-29.
5) "Venez écouter la complainte. The Island's Acadian Balladry Tradition." Number 37 (Spring-Summer 1995), pp. 3-12.
6) “The Saga of Alexis Doiron”. Number 39 (Spring-Summer 1996), p. 12-18.
7) “The Acadians in Island Politics \ Les Acadiens et la politique à l'Île”, Number 43 (Spring-Summer 1998), p. 13-22.
NOTE: Georges Arsenault's book may be ordered by email to: Georges Arsenault or by writing to him at: 65 Ambrose St., Charlottetown, PEI C1A 3P8.
Quintin Publications online carries the two English titles.
The Acadian Museum at Miscouche carries all of his books and they take orders.
Return to Top of Page
Aubin-Edmond Arsenault: Canada's First Acadian Premier
By Jean-Paul Arsenault
(Editor’s note: This article by Jean-Paul Arsenault of Charlottetown derives from a lecture he delivered on March 3rd 2000 during the symposium called "The Acadians in Town: The Summerside Acadian Community. Past and Present.")
Who was the first Acadian to lead the government of a Canadian province? No, it wasn’t Louis J. Robichaud of New Brunswick. Who was the first Acadian elected to Summerside Town Council? No, it wasn’t Henry Wedge. Who was the first Acadian to open a law practice in Summerside? The answer to all three questions is Aubin-Edmond Arsenault, a native of Abram’s Village, who lived the better part of two decades in Summerside, practicing law, raising a family and pursuing a career in politics. Aubin Arsenault was born on July 28, 1870, fifth in the family of nine children of Joseph-Octave Arsenault of Egmont Bay and Gertrude Gaudet, formerly of Miscouche. The patriarch of this prominent Acadian family was both merchant and politician, and it is he who seems to have set the pattern for young Aubin and his older brother, Joseph-Félix. Joseph-Octave represented the Third District of Prince for 28 years, never losing an election from 1867 to 1895, when he was elevated to the Senate. In addition to his political exploits, Joseph-Octave was a merchant, operating stores in Abram-Village and Wellington.
At a tender age, Aubin showed an aptitude for higher learning and, in 1885, he left home to study at Saint Dunstan’s College in Charlottetown. While there, the dashing young Acadian captained the school rugby team and was active in other extra-curricular activities. In 1888, he left Saint Dunstan’s and taught school for three years before returning for one final year of schooling. By this time, Aubin had decided on a legal career and he articled in Charlottetown with prominent local lawyer, W.A.O. Morrison, before being called to the Bar on November 1, 1898. The next year, he crossed the Atlantic Ocean on a freight boat to practice in London, England, in the law office of Sir Charles Russell. While there, he was entrusted with a business mission to South Africa, where he travelled just before the outbreak of the Boer War. In his book, Memoirs of the Hon. A.E. Arsenault, the young lawyer writes at length about his trip to Cape Town and the overland journey to his ultimate destination. On the nature of his mission, however, not a word is transcribed, and we are left wondering whether it was a routine client visit or something far more significant, perhaps even a military intelligence mission carried out on behalf of the British Government!
The Young Lawyer
Aubin returned to Prince Edward Island in 1899, settling soon after in Summerside, where he began a law practice on April 17, 1900, initially in association with H.R. MacKenzie of Charlottetown and later with Neil MacQuarrie of Summerside. The 1901 Canada Census shows him living on Poplar Avenue with his wife, Anita, a native of Ireland, and an adopted son, William Muttart. He reports his profession as that of barrister and his earnings at $500. Since Anita’s year of immigration coincides with Aubin’s return from England in 1899, we can safely assume that he, five years her junior, married her while articling in London.
Following his father’s appointment to the Senate in 1895, Aubin took a first foray into politics, seeking the Conservative Party nomination in Third Prince, but he lost to Laurent Arsenault. His next run at public office was more successful and, in 1906, he became the first Acadian elected to Summerside Town Council. During his term, he served under Mayor Saunders and was involved in the decisions to install the first concrete sidewalks and the first municipal water and sewer systems in the Town.
First Foray into Politics
Aubin Arsenault served only two years on Council, resigning in 1908 to run against incumbent Liberal Joseph-Félix H. Arsenault (not his brother!), a seat he would win and hold for the Conservatives for the next thirteen years. Thus began a tradition of Summerside Acadians representing the electoral district of Third Prince, continued later by Henry Wedge. He served as a member of the Opposition from 1908 to 1912, and came to power when the Mathieson Government was elected in January of 1912.
As stated in Georges Arsenault’s article "The Acadians in Island Politics" (The Island Magazine. Number 43, 1998), "Aubin-Edmond Arsenault became an influential member of the Conservative Government. He became a member of Premier J.A. Mathieson’s Cabinet and, when Mathieson resigned in 1917, he asked that Arsenault be sworn in as Premier to complete the final two years of the Government’s mandate. Thus, A.E. Arsenault became the first Acadian to head the government of a Canadian province."
First Acadian Premier
The Hon. A.E. Arsenault served as Attorney General in Mathieson’s Cabinet and, because of his considerable skills in legal research and writing, he was called upon to author a number of important briefs and position papers which were presented to Federal-Provincial conferences. During these conferences, Arsenault met a number of current and future Prime Ministers, including Sir Wilfrid Laurier, Sir Robert Borden, Sir MacKenzie Bowell, Arthur Meighen and MacKenzie King. His impressions of each of them are detailed in his memoirs and make for interesting reading. During his time in office, he generally displayed a progressive political stance, voting against the prohibition of automobiles and against the Prohibition Act, the latter because he considered it an unwarranted invasion of personal freedom. On the issue of women’s suffrage, however, he seems to have succumbed to the traditional male view, writing in his memoirs that "...as far as women getting the right to vote, it is doubtful if any marked improvement in Government has resulted therefrom." Later, he observed that the only tangible result had been to double the cost of elections!
A.E. Arsenault’s term as Premier began in 1917 when he succeeded J.A. Mathieson, who was appointed Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Prince Edward Island, and it ended when his Government was defeated in the 1919 provincial election by the Liberals under J.H. Bell. He continued to serve the voters of Third Prince as a member of the Opposition and was tempted during this period to enter federal politics. In a rather strange turn of events, William Lyon MacKenzie King, elected leader of the Liberal Party of Canada in 1919, chose the federal constituency of Prince to gain entry into Parliament. To avoid making it a coronation, local Conservative organizers approached Arsenault to see if he would oppose MacKenzie King. As is evident from his memoirs, Arsenault was tempted, particularly since he felt confident of carrying the significant, 10,000-strong Acadian vote in the County. In the end however, he declined, allowing MacKenzie King to be elected by acclamation. One can only wonder how the destiny of Canada’s longest serving Prime Minister might have been affected had Arsenault decided to give him a run for his money!
A Challenger to MacKenzie King?
During the years he resided in Summerside, Aubin Arsenault maintained an active family life. His first marriage, to the Irish-born woman we know only as Anita, was annulled shortly after he moved to the Town to set up his law practice, though we are not sure why. Likely, she had, for some reason unknown to him at the time, not been free to marry. In any case, he married again to Bertha Gallant of Tignish in November, 1907, and they raised a family of eleven children, nine girls and two boys, the first seven born in Summerside and the last in Charlottetown, when the father was 57 years old. In addition to his work and family, Arsenault engaged in a number of volunteer community activities. He is a founding member of the Summerside Hospital, the local Branch of La Société l’Assomption and the provincial Acadian and francophone organization, La Société Saint-Thomas d’Aquin. In 1921, he was elected president of La Société nationale des Acadiens, the first Islander to serve in this position.
Family and Community
The Hon. Aubin-Edmond Arsenault was appointed to the Supreme Court of Prince Edward Island in May of 1921, and was sworn in in Summerside. Upon assuming his new duties, he moved with his family to take up residence in Charlottetown. The Hon. Mr. Justice Arsenault retired from the Supreme Court in 1946, and a tribute read to him by then Chief Justice Thane A. Campbell mentions his enviable reputation, good judgement, fairness and cordial nature. In his reply, the 76-year-old Arsenault stated that he had no regrets for any of the decisions he had made in criminal cases and, as reported in the Journal-Pioneer, "...no young man to whom he had given a second chance had ever violated the confidence reposed in him."
Honorable Mr. Justice Arsenault
His long and colourful life came to an end in 1968, when Aubin-Edmond Arsenault passed away in Charlottetown at the venerable age of 98. His professional legacy survives in the form of his work, the laws he helped pass, the enhanced federal subsidies he helped negotiate, the decisions he made from the Bench and the honorary degrees granted him by Laval, Saint Dunstan’s and Saint-Joseph Universities. His descendants are numerous and have accomplished great deeds of their own. Of those who called the Island home, Dr. Iphigénie Arsenault, his eldest child, served as provincial Red Cross Commissioner for 34 years, and was a recipient of the Queen’s Jubilee Medal, the Order of Canada, and an honorary degree from Saint Dunstan’s University. His grandson, Paul Arsenault, coached Concordia University to sixteen Québec Conference hockey championships, was twice named Canadian Intercollegiate Athletic Conference "Coach of the Year", is a member of the Concordia Sports Hall of Fame and coached the Summerside Capitals during the 1999-2000 campaign.
Recently, a government building in Charlottetown was named in honor of Aubin-Edmond Arsenault, a first public recognition of his contribution to Island life. The two decades he spent in Summerside were important ones in his personal and professional lives. As is the case with many public figures, we are only now beginning to learn more about this accomplished Acadian, years after his death. There is much more to the man than a footnote in Island history texts, and more research is needed to uncover the full extent of his accomplishments.
Return to Top of Page
A Saskatchewan Acadian
By Garry Gaudet
My Acadian name is Garry, Benedict, Marie Arcade, Jean, L’Amand, Joseph, Chaculot, Augustine, Pierre L’Aine, Denis, Jean.
According to a historian cousin, J. Henri Gaudet of Tignish, Prince Edward Island, this oral history technique helped Acadian families keep their lineage straight. We recite our names back generation by generation through our fathers’ and their male ancestors’ first names. By this method we can inform others with the same family name where we link and where we diverge. Cousin Henri, by the way, was invested into the Order of Prince Edward Island September 2000, in recognition of his many years of researching Acadian history.
Alas, I learned his informal genealogy system only in my sixth decade, at an age when some of us start forgetting things. It will take a while to embed the sequence reliably in my memory.
Like so many genealogy enthusiasts, I became intrigued by my family’s history rather late in life. That means many lost opportunities to question family elders, and gather family documents, diaries, bibles and so on.
My father, Benedict Vincent Gaudet, was born in Tignish, PEI, in 1900. For a time after completing school, he worked as a bank teller. He left home with his youngest sibling, Raymond, during the great depression early in the 1930’s. Theirs was the first generation who went through a less devastating second Acadian "dispersal" from their Atlantic homes, driven by the desire for travel, to escape a spotty farming and fishing economy, and for greater opportunity and challenge. Their venture was enabled by a new national railway and road system.
The brothers went to the Canadian prairies to visit their eldest sibling, Anne, and to look for work in the wheat harvest. Anne, born in 1884, was the first of her generation to leave PEI seeking opportunity. She took a position as a country school teacher at La Fleche, Saskatchewan in 1919. In about 1934, Ben and Ray found work in Regina, the provincial capital, before Raymond and his wife Elsie moved to Vancouver, on Canada’s west coast. Ben married my mother Brenda in 1936, and I came along in ‘39.
My mother was unilingual, English-speaking, and French was simply not used in our home, or taught in primary school. Fluency in French was not encouraged in the west in the 1940s and 50s. In fact, there was vague racism, a distrust of French speakers that discouraged public use of the language.
Dad was a devout Catholic, and mom eventually converted. We all attended mass each Sunday, with the masses said not in French but in Latin. My three sisters and I attended Catholic schools.
My mother survived to 88 years, but dad died suddenly at age 56, just after I turned 17. I never matured before his death sufficiently to explore his youth with him, and he seldom spoke of his own family in the Maritimes. I do have warm memories of his quiet strength, politeness, affection, and a batch of comical mixed expressions he occasionally used. My favourite remains, “Parlez-vous the ding-dong, parlez-vous the qu’est-ce que ce. Never mind the qu’est-ce que ce, just pile on the bois sec.” My guess at its meaning is, "Talk talk talk." (Yatata-yatata-yatata?) "Don’t stand around asking questions, just get to work (pile on the dry wood, or kindling)."
My adult career kept me in Western Canada and eventually led me to Vancouver Island. Still, I always wanted to visit the small town across the country that had shaped this gentle, patient and very loving father I never got to know as an adult, but could not forget.
My mother gathered a few names of aunts, uncles and cousins whom dad occasionally wrote. When she made her only trip to Prince Edward Island, about 20 years after she’d been widowed, she met a few of her late husband’s brothers and sisters, visited the Tignish parish church, and luckily got acquainted with J. Henri, who was even then building his records of Gaudet family members. Armed with these sparse contacts, in my mid 50’s, I finally was able to cash in some airline points to visit "Spud Island" for the first time.
In less than a couple of weeks I was able to get to know numerous cousins, and to find a sense of roots and wander the ancestral home I’d so often wondered about. All of my father’s siblings were deceased by then, but my living cousins, vaguely aware of Uncle Ben but disconnected from us for so many decades, were wonderfully hospitable. Unfortunately, they too were not well-informed on family names and relationships further back than our mutual grandparents.
I redoubled my research into the family at the Acadian Museum at Miscouche. My elder daughter Jacqueline- who had regained our lost paternal language and today teaches French in Vancouver - joined me for this visit. We photocopied several pages of handwritten records, and finally found the wonderful connections from my grandfather Marie Arcade (known locally as “Archie Manic”), all the way back to Jean Gaudet, the first of our family to land at Port Royal in 1636. Since then, with enormous help from various web correspondents, I’ve compiled a fairly reliable family tree down to our 13th generation in North America. In 1999, I returned for a Gaudet family reunion, commemorating the bicentennial of the founding of Tignish by a dozen families, including those of two Gaudet brothers.
Eventually, I learned that our family was among the very first generation of Europeans to settle in what would eventually become Canada.
Our recorded history began in France with the birth of Jean Gaudet (Jehan Godet), the "Abraham of Acadia", in 1575. Jean is believed to have had two brothers, Francois and Aubin, both born after 1551. Francois lived out his days in France and died before 1675. Aubin reportedly came to Canada with Jean and his three young children. As many records were lost or destroyed in France (revolution) as well as during the Acadian Deportation, certainty on the brothers is not absolute. The family came from Martaize, Department of Loudon, Vienne, France. No written family records have yet been unearthed in France.
It may be that the family’s background included winemaking as well as farming. A family coat of arms contains a ‘godet’, the small wine-tasting cup also sometimes used by painters to mix colours. Though there’s practically zero chance that the Godet S.A. family is closely related to ours, to this day I very much enjoy a Belgian white chocolate liqueur named Godet, made in La Chapelle De Guinchay since 1838.
Twice-married Jean likely fathered his first child at age 47 or 48, his last at age 78! In the census of 1671, he was listed as a ‘laboureur’ (farmer), at 96 living with his 64 year old wife, with an 18 year old son living at home on the farm. He left 22 grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren, who clearly obeyed the biblical stricture to "go forth and multiply". By one account Jean/Jehan was an ancestor of roughly ten per cent of all Acadians.
One of the most persistent and annoying errors in Gaudet genealogy is the claim that Jean had two children by each of his two wives. WRONG!
Jean’s first wife’s name, their marriage date and her eventual fate and date of death are all unknown. A woman named Marie Daussey who married a younger Jean Gaudet, has proved a serious red herring for researchers and historians. The best evidence now available is that their marriage took place at a date when our ancestor was already living in Acadie and married to his second wife, Nicole Colleson. This "other" Jean was in the military, and with his bride Marie Daussey went from France directly to Quebec, where they remained. Our ancestor Jean fathered four children that we know of. With his first, unknown wife there were a daughter, Francoise, (1623), a son, Denis, (1625), and another daughter, Marie, (1633), all born in France. Jean was apparently widowed when the family arrived in Acadia, most likely in 1636 and possibly aboard the St. Jehan, which carried both male and female settlers and children.
Jean married Nicole Colleson in Port Royal in 1652. Here the family grew with the addition of son Jean, b. 1653. The census of 1671 has the patriarch Jean as 96 years of age, living on the Gaudet farm at Port Royal, later Annapolis Royal, with his wife Nicole, then 64, and their 18 year old son Jean. They had six cattle and three sheep. The elder Jean had died by the next census, taken in 1678.
A conflicting interpretation has Jean married to Nicole Colleson in 1632, in France, and holds that she was the mother of both Marie and Jean. However, in Stephen White’s judgment this marriage occurred some 20 years later in Acadia, making it impossible for Nicole to have given birth to Marie in 1633 in France. White, of the University of Moncton, is considered the "gold standard" authority on Acadian genealogy. To use a current figure of speech, where conflicts appear in information, White’s judgment rules.
So who were these Acadians - our little-known ancestors?
By definition they were devout Catholics, hard-working farmers. Most were illiterate but equipped with multiple skills as backyard mechanics, gardeners, animal breeders and trainers. And yes, they did make their own wine and beer. Some had inventive engineering skills which led to the clever tide gates they evolved to reclaim salt-water-washed foreshore for conventional farming. Unsophisticated they may have been, but we must never forget that it was unbounded courage, faith and willingness to take risks, that brought them to the shores of Acadie in the beginning.
I came to understand that each of our families has a remarkable history in North America. Practically all were driven from their homes after several generations of separation from France. Some were banished to the Island of Miquelon and even on to France, a land they’d never seen and where they were not welcome. Others fled into Quebec, where they generally found haven. Then there were the thousands who made their way along the eastern seaboard of the Colonies, with many settling in Louisiana. In each case, while many never returned, there was a "backwash" of Acadians who longed to return home. Writers from Longfellow to Antoine Maillet have described their heartbreaking struggles. A great many finally did make it back to Nova Scotia, only to be driven out again as title to farmland denied the French, fell into English hands.
Growing up on the broad Saskatchewan prairie, my sisters and I were quite ignorant of the drama of our father’s legacy. Indeed, it’s entirely possible that so was he. His parents and grandparents had not apparently dwelt on historical grudges with their children, or nurtured the wounds of their abuse at the hands of both the English and their French homeland. They just raised their kids, honoured their church, put food on the table - adapted, and survived.
The Canadian education system was lax in failing to present some aspects of the incredible drama of pre-confederation Canada. This is in part due to education being a provincial responsibility. Central, Western and Atlantic provinces each have their own views and approaches to Canadian history. Sure, in the Catholic school system we were presented lots of gory information on the persecution of the Jesuits (the martyrs) who set out to christianize the Hurons and Iroquois. Wolfe and Montcalm and the decisive battle on the Plains of Abraham were amply covered. Much less attention was paid the battle of Restigouche which ended France’s dominant influence in what would eventually become Atlantic Canada. Inexplicably, we were taught practically nothing on the horrors that befell the Acadians thereafter. In my family’s case, the fifth generation went through the most horrible upheaval.
I won’t drag you through the "begats", although I would be pleased to share what detailed data I have with anyone interested in the branch of Gaudets that ended up on Isle St. Jean (Prince Edward Island). Suffice it to say that in the fourth generation, Augustine Gaudet and Agnes Chiasson married in 1713 in Beaubassin, and produced a reported 14 offspring. Their 13th (!) was apparently Joseph ("Chaculot"), who wedded Marie Blanche Bourg in August of 1763 in a witnessed ceremony at Restigouche. These are notes I’ve made for my close kinfolk, in a family history:
Joseph ‘Chaculot’ and his siblings and children, felt the full brunt of the terrible climax of the battles between French and English. Did he and his brothers take part in the battles? Very likely so, but we can’t be sure. In any case, Chaculot and his brother Paul were among several Gaudets imprisoned at Fort Beausejour following the Battle of Restigouche (1760-63). This battle ended the Seven Years’ War.
After 1763 and until the 1780’s, literally thousands of Acadians were jailed, thrown off their ancestral landholdings, and in many cases were mercilessly split apart from their spouses and families. From nine to ten thousand were deported to destinations including the islands of St. Pierre et Miquelon, to France, England, to Atlantic American states and even the Caribbean. A great many Acadians drowned in these forced expulsions, including about 700 on two ships lost in storms at sea. The largest concentration of their descendants outside of Canada today is found in the originally French territory of Louisiana.
Joseph and Marie Blanche were among a group of Acadian refugees who arrived at the island of Miquelon from Beausejour, October 16, 1765. Their witnessed 1763 marriage was formalized by a priest there on June 7, 1766.
Later in 1776 it appears they were then deported to France with other Acadians - but they returned under sail from France to Miquelon the following spring! (*They lived at Jolicouer on the Missagouache River near Beaubassin from 1767 to 1784, when their land was given to new English immigrants - Bona Arsenault*.)
Meanwhile in 1764, Isle St. Jean (PEI) had been divided into 67 "lots" - all handed over to influential British subjects. Joseph and Marie Blanche, then, came to Malpeque, Ile St. Jean, (PEI) in 1784, and settled on "Lot 17".
Their children - shaped and battered by all the upheaval - were:
i Marie b. July 18, 1764, Restigouche m. Simon Gallant of Rustico (b. 1759; Later widowed, she married Michel Doucette (b. 1770, Rustico) in 1796. Marie d. 1856
ii Etienne bapt. May 25, 1767 at St. Pierre sur Miquelon. M. Madelaine Chiasson about 1790. The couple eventually fled to what would become the Tignish townsite in 1799.
iii Francois b. 1776, Tintamarre near Beaubassin, d. Miscouche Aug. 1845, m. Agnes Arsenau about 1798, d. 1845
iv Raphael b. unknown, m. Gertrude Arsenau after 1798; then to Judith Chiasson, widow of Gregoire Bernard, about 1812.
v Joseph b. date unknown, m. Francoise Chiasson 1792.
Joseph m. Francoise Chiasson, daughter of Jacques Chiasson & Judith Boudrot, about 1792.
For the first few years of their marriage (and the births of their first three children), Joseph and Francoise lived and farmed with several other Acadian families on Lot 17, near present-day Malpeque on Ile St. Jean (PEI). However, their ongoing struggle to gain title to their own land was not successful. Influential English subjects were being granted title, and renting parcels of the land to Acadians. Many owners were so unscrupulous as to charge exorbitant rents to the tenant farmers, then force the farmers off the very lands the Acadian farmers had worked and improved.
Lot 17 was bought in 1798 by William Townsend and Edas Summers. The new owners demanded payment of five years’ inflated back rent from all settlers. ("The Island Acadians", Georges Arsenault, p. 61). With the writing on the wall, Joseph and Francoise and their children canoed westward up the coast over the winter of 1799/1800, joining Joseph’s brother Etienne and his wife Madelaine Chiasson (Francoise’s sister) on Lots 1 and 2. Thus, the two Gaudet brothers and their families were among the dozen families who founded the new community of Tignish.
The children of Joseph and Francoise born at Malpeque were:
i Joseph b. 1792, m. Marie Poirier (Perry) Mar. 1, 1813.
ii Sosime b. 1795, d. 1886. m. June 20, 1819 a Marguerite Arsenault (1806-1889).
iii Marie Madelaine, b. 1797, m. Pierre Bernard (dit Pierrot), Feb. 1817.
Those born in Tignish were:
iv Meleme b. 1800, m. Nanette Richard.
v Armand (dit L’Amand) b. 1802; d. 1852. M.
Madelaine Arsenault. See Generation 7 vi Jean b. 1804, d. 1881. M. Marie Marguerite Bernard (1809-1882)
vii Marie b. ____, m. Moise Poirier (Perry) - no further data
viii Louise Lisette Lizette b. ____, m. Joseph Thibodeau - no further data
ix Judith b. 1825, m. Joseph Richard - no further data
Some of the other Lot 17 tenant farmers went to Lot 5, where they founded the community of Cascumpec in 1801. More of them later moved to Lot 15, still unoccupied, where they founded La Roche (Egmont Bay), and Grand Ruisseau (Mont Carmel).
Brothers Joseph and Etienne may have solved their immediate problems by moving their families to uninhabited lots 1 and 2. However, less than a generation after their arrival, new problems arose. Absentee owners applied pressure to the farmers to sign leases on terms they could not meet. In the 1830’s, new owners including Samuel Cunard of Cunard Steamship lines, sent agents to force the farmers to sign leases. Once again, several Acadians were forced to abandon lands they had improved. Many moved away from the coast to the interior of the Island. After 1840 the situation became critical. In 1844 the entire population of the community resisted an attempt by a sheriff and several officers to carry out foreclosures. In the end some 44 farmers in Lot 1 were evicted.
At this point I do not know how each of these moves impacted our family. Some family members today own cottage properties on the North coast, and the home of grandparents Marie Arcade and Caroline was situated adjacent to the land occupied by the church of St. Simon and St. Jude right in Tignish townsite, a stone’s throw from the new Community Center and across the Trans- Canada Trail from the new park.
In 1845, just as it was becoming very difficult to find more farm land, a new fishing industry was fostered by a group of merchants. In 1850 a major fishing and commercial establishment was set up near the present village site, and by 1852 Tignish had become the largest exporting fish port in the colony.
The commercial fishery expanded and developed, providing new sources of employment and income even as farming was in decline. Products from the "Tignish Run" found their way back to the American colonies, to Britain and France. It would be interesting to learn which Gaudet ancestors, unable to farm, became fishers during the last half of the 1800’s.
My work owes a great debt of appreciation to such dedicated researchers as Lucie LeBlanc Consentino in Methuen, Massachusetts, Gordon Campbell of Halifax, J. Roger Cloutier of McMasterville, Quebec, and J. Henri Gaudet and Mario Bernard of Tignish. Lately, genealogist Gary Gallant and PEI webmaster Dave Hunter have provided valuable additional help. Each has been generous with information on the early Gaudet generations. I have come to think of each of them as friends, as well as our cousins and our kin. I owe a great debt most especially to Lucie and her insistent commitment to accuracy and attribution, and the "gold standard" of Stephen White’s lifelong work at the University of Moncton. His pending second volume of work should be a huge boon to researchers of Acadie.
Finally, I offer my most profound appreciation and encouragement to each of you who are pursuing knowledge of your family and its roots. There’s huge gratification in being able to hand the fruits of your work to your immediate family members, strengthening family bonds and increasing their appreciation of their ancestors. And of course, there’s always hope that the seed will be planted in a few of the young ones, driving them to delve and search still further.
Salut - a bientot!
Garry Gaudet, Lantzville, BC, Canada (250) 390-9116
Return to Top of Page
The Priests of Prince Edward Island
Before the Deportation: 1720-1758
By James Perry
From 1720 to 1758 twenty-two priests ministered in turn at Port Lajoie as missionaries and pastors. They first arrived on the 23rd of August 1720 with the first 300 settlers that came to Island with Comte St. Pierre, First Knight of the Duchess of Orleans, to make a permanent home at Port Lajoie. They had left Rochefort Harbor, near LaRochelle, France with three small ships, and provisions, munitions, and everything necessary for the establishment of a new colony in a wild and virgin country. The colony, was named Port Lajoie because of the great beauty of the area - the view gave joy to the beholder. Before the 1720's the residents of the Island were seasonal. The Priest's, whose expenses were paid for by the state, served as the chaplain for the King's soldiers. They also ministered to the settlers in the area around the fort and later, in the other communities on the Island. Until 1752 the Parish at St. Jean d'Evangeliste served the whole Island. The mission of the priests was to administer the Sacrament to the Colonists, teach religion to the young people, convert the native Micmac, and sometime to act as notary or judge in settling differences between the colonists [1,9,10,12,13].
1. L'Abbe Rene Charles de Breslay (de Bresley, See Notes 4), [1,3,4,6,7,9, 10,11,12,13] was stationed in Port Lajoie from the 23rd of August 1721 to the 29th of April 1723. He was a 62 year old (66 year old, See Notes 4) Sulpician Monk, with a doctorate from Sorbonne, who had a long career as a missionary in the New World. He had served for many years in the Montreal region and he knew the language of the natives. This servant of the Lord belonged before his ordination to the immediate entourage of King Louis XIV, "the Sun King". But, now he was old and tired, so he asked for and received an assistant. He was l'Abbe Marie Anseleme de Metivier. These two missionaries traveled all over the Island by canoe, and other vessels, or on foot through the woods. Twice a year, in the autumn and in the spring, they visited the different districts, Havre St. Pierre (St. Peter's Harbor), and Malpec. One of the l'Abbe's favorite places was Malpec, because it reminded him of his old mission at Montreal, and it was a place preferred by his people, the Micmac. For old arthritic l'Abbe de Bresley every soul won for Catholicism was a step toward Heaven, and each soul lost was a step toward Hell. The first entry over his signature in the parish register of St. Jean d'Evangeliste at Port Lajoie is dated the 10th of April 1721, (17th See Notes 4). It records the marriage of Francois de Rocher, fisherman to Elizabeth Bruneau.
2. L'Abbe Marie Anseleme de Metivier (Anselme de Meticier), [1,3,4,6,7,9,10, 11,12,13] was stationed in Port Lajoie from the 23rd of August 1721 to the 14th of July 1723. Young and energetic, this young Sulpician monk along with l'Abbe de Bresley was dedicated "to the saving of the souls of heathen Indians". They were proud of the small structure dedicated to St. Jean d'Evangeliste, built on a headland, at the entrance to the harbor. Behind it, on the highest summit, was a tall black cross to proclaim to all navigators that l'Ile St. Jean was a Christian land. A small graveyard was clustered around the cross. This church building was used until 1745 when it was destroyed by the New Englanders. However, l'Abbe de Bresley and de Metivier's goal of founding a seminary that would serve the Maritime area, was not feasible at this stage of the colonization. The work among the natives went poorly, the Compagnie de l'Ile St. Jean was financially insecure, and l'Abbe's de Bresley and de Metivier returned to France in 1723. In the Parish register at Port Lajoie there are 82 entries made by these two Sulpician Fathers.
Baptisms Marriages Burials
L'Abbe de Bresley 22 17 18
L'Abbe de Metivier 6 12 7
3. Frere Louis Barbet Dudonjon (Dulonjon), [1,7,11,13] Franciscan (Capucian) Monk, served in Port Lajoie from the 19th of August 1723 to the 11th of June 1724. He arrived on the Island from the newly founded monastery at Louisbourg. He was a young and humble follower of St. Francis, committed to a life of poverty and abstinence. Frere Dulonjon acted as Champlain for the garrison and at the same time ministered to the spiritual needs of all the Catholic settlers on the Island. Chosen to succeed l'Abbe de Bresley he was more able, than the elderly l'Abbe, to endure the bitter hardship of a place cut off from the outside world for six months out of every year. However in the autumn of 1724 the company headed by the Comte St. Pierre collapsed and went bankrupt. The settlers had to abandon Port Lajoie and go to Louisbourg. Many of the French colonists returned to France but the Acadian colonists remained behind on l'Ile St. Jean.
4. Frere Felix Pain, [1,7,9,13] Recollet Brother, who is listed in the register at Port Lajoie on numerous occasions. From July 1, 1725 to July 3, 1725, November 27, 1725, March 6, 1726, June 5, 1726, September 8, 1726 to September 21, 1726, November 26, 1727 to February 2, 1728, September 9, 1728 to November 7, 1728, April 21, 1729 to May 21, 1729, October 24, 1729 to October 31, 1729, May 14, 1730 to May 22, 1730, October 17, 1730 to November 3, 1730, and from May 9, 1731 to July 10, 1731, he was in Port Lajoie. Father Pain had served in Acadia for the past 25 years. It is said, that Pere Pain was the role model for "Father Felician" in the poem "Evangeline" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. He was loved by the Acadians of l'Ile St. Jean, where he was parish priest, missionary, superior of the missions in Acadia, and Vicar General of the Bishop of Quebec. He was sent by St. Ovide to minister to the spiritual needs of the Island colonists and to attract more Acadians to settle there. It was Father Pain's presence, together with the re-establishment of the garrison, that encouraged some of the families to came back to the Island to live. In 1727, the first contingent, a group of six families, arrived. Also in 1727, just as the future of the colony looked good, a plague of mice destroyed the abundant harvest and the settlers were left destitute and dependant of help from Louisbourg. In 1728 the first census was conducted. The total population was 297, 76 men, 51 women, 156 children, and 14 servants. There was also 125 fisherman. There were 54 houses at settlements at Port Lajoie, St. Pierre du Nord (St. Peter's), Tracadie, Havre aux Sauvages (Savage Harbor), Riviere du Nord Est (Hillsboro River) and Malpec (Malpeque). The next census in 1730 showed the population had grown to 325.
5. Frere Leonard Patin,  Recollet July 26, 1725
6. Frere Pierre Joseph de Kergarion, (Kergariou), [1,13] Recollet missionary from Acadia who replaced l'Abbe Pain in Port Lajoie from the 24th of January 1726 to the 22nd of March 1726. From l'Abbe Kergariou's journal, Reverend Henri Raymond Casgrain writes:
"Having left Port Lajoie after January 24th, he arrived at St. Peter's Harbor on February 4th. At St. Peter's he remained 2 months, catechising the children, singing high masses for the dead, preaching the word of God, hearing confessions and visiting the sick. Towards the end of Lent, he set out for Malpeque, over 40 miles to the westward, whither his path lay by the edge of the sea. The Micmacs of Malpeque were awaiting his coming, for the missionaries never failed to pay them a visit at this season, to afford them an opportunity of approaching the sacraments during Paschal time. His welcome here was no less sincere than that extended by his own countrymen. A stay in their village was one of the greatest trials that fell to the lot of the missionary. His only shelter was the rude wigwam open to all kinds of weather, and, often dirty to an intolerable degree. A few spruce boughs, which served for seats by day and beds by night, constituted their entire stock of furniture. From the fire in the middle, rose a thick smoke, which carried about by the currents of air, added greatly to the discomfort. Men, women, and children were huddled together in the narrow space, while the dogs moved at will, barking and snarling in perfect freedom,, sleeping here and there, lying sometimes on the ground and not infrequently on the people. Several entries of baptisms of Indian children that Father Kergariou inscribed in his small register bear evidence of his destitute condition. The handwriting is in marked contrast to that of former entries. It is very irregular form and almost illegible... not even ink at his disposal. Its place had to be supplied by a dark liquid that seems to have been a mixture of water and soot. Father Kergariou was able to return to Port Lajoie only at the beginning of spring. There he found his superior Father Pain, who, having returned from another mission sent him to continue on other shores his obscure and meritorious apostolate."
7. Frere Ignace Joseph Flamant,  Recollet missionary who served on l'Ile St. Jean from the 27th of June 1727 to the 29th of June 1727 and from the 13th of December 1727 until the 27th of December 1727.
8. Frere Juan Despirac,  Recollet missionary who was on l'Ile St. Jean on the 13th of December 1727.
9. Frere Mathieu Francois Le Paige, [1,10] Recollet priest served on the Island from December 3, 1731 to October 25, 1733. He was at Port Lajoie again from October 20, 1735 to October 23, 1735 and on November 13, 1737. In 1733 Commandant de Pensens complained that there was no chapel:
"There is a chaplain with a few adornments for a chapel, but no chapel, we are using a wretched house which is the only remaining part of the old company. As many things are lacking for the daily celebration of the divine service, particularly candles, I have the honor to address to Monsignor a memorandum which the former chaplain sent me when he left the colony."
10. L'Abbe de Bierne, [1,5,9] Recollet priest sent to the Island by the Company of the East with Jean Pierre Roma along with another priest. Roma disliked them both. He especially distrusted l'Abbe de Bierne, who was just as stubborn as Roma. The l'Abbe insisted that the people should not be forced to work on the Sabbath and other Holy days. Roma stated that there was too much work to be done to allow for the people to rest on Sundays. He argued that he had the King's authority to make laws for his colony. L'Abbe de Bierne claimed to have divine authority and told the settlers that they were to follow his instructions in matters of religion. The conflict escalated, Roma accused the l'Abbe of trying to ruin his company. The l'Abbe appealed to Dubuisson, the sub delegate of the Intendant, who favored the l'Abbe on the grounds that Roma had used improper terms when addressing the clergyman. Dubuisson's report was lost at sea. Roma wrote to de Pensens at Port Lajoie and St. Ovide at Louisbourg, who came to visit the community at Trois Rivieres. They mediated a settlement and praised Roma for the amount of work they had accomplished. De Pensens also sided with Roma and wrote a note to the Minister:
"This priest appears to me a sharp witted fellow to whom a seminary would have been more suitable than the care of souls. These gentlemen when left alone imagine that they have the tiara on their heads and wish to be out and out little bishops; to be supreme in temporal as in spiritual matters; and if anyone resists them it is treason against the Divine Being. The capital crime against the Director, according to the priest, is to have had these people work several holy days to lodge themselves and others - an absolute necessity in the foundation of an establishment."
After a bitter struggle Roma forced L'Abbe de Bierne to leave the Trois Rivieres colony. And with the untimely death of l'Abbe Coutin, the papal authorities transferred l'Abbe Bierne to Malpec to labor among the Micmac people. He found this not to his liking and was able to persuade his leaders to send him back to France, where he started the seminary he was so qualified to do. Shortly afterwards Roma dismissed the other priest.
11. Pere Vincent,  he came under censure of the Bishop of Quebec and was sent back to France.
12. Frere Athanasa Guegot,  Recollet missionary who served at Port Lajoie from the 26th of November 1733 to the 20th of June 1735, and from the 12th of December 1735 to the 20th of August 1736. The census of 1735 shows 432 colonists and 131 fisherman were now residing on l'Ile St. Jean.
13. Frere Angelique Gaulin (l'Abbe Collin), [1,5,6,9] Recollet priest who served on the Island from October 11, 1736 to July 21, 1737. Frere Gaulin along with l'Abbe Coutin established a settlement at Malpec for the l'Ile St. Jean Micmac. The natives however, were not very interested in forsaking their traditional ways of life, and since the priest visited them only once a year, the mission was never successful. The most extensive contact the French clergy had with the Micmac was during the festivities surrounding the Feast of Ste. Anne. Saint Anne is the patron Saint of the Micmac people. In 1722 Pere Gaulin conducted a census of the natives of l'Ile St. Jean and Ile Royale. It showed the entire Native population was 838 people. A Micmac Chief related the following to a Roman Catholic Missionary not long after Champlain left Acadia.
"Why do men who are 5 or 6 feet high need houses 60 or 80 feet high? Have you as much cleverness and ingenuity as we who carry our houses with us, so that we may lodge wherever we please? We are at home everywhere, because we set up our wigwams wherever we go, without asking permission of anyone. But we are much happier than you, for we are content with the little that we have. If France, as you say, is an earthly paradise, why did you leave it? ... Now tell me this one little thing, if you have any sense: which of the two is wiser and happier - he who labors without ceasing that only obtains with great trouble enough to live on, or he who rests in comfort that finds all that he needs in the pleasure of hunting and fishing.
14. L'Abbe Courtin, [5,6] who along with l'Abbe Gaulin translated into the Micmac language some prayers of the church and part of the catechism. In 1730 l'Abbe Courtin persuaded many Micmac to settle in a village at Malpec. L'Abbe Coutin drowned off the coast of Ile Royale in 1733. "Curtain Island" in Malpeque Bay is named after l'Abbe Courtin.
15. Frere Gabriel Le Moign,  Recollet September 24, 1737 to October 27, 1737.
16. Pere Desenclaves,  who came out from France in 1739 and declined the honor of serving in the Micmac mission of Malpec on the grounds of his ill health.
17. Pere Vauquelin,  who also came out from France in 1739 and declined working among the natives at Malpec on the grounds of the difficulty of learning the language at his advanced age.
18. Frere Ambroise Aubre, [1,10,11,12,13] Recollet missionary to Port Lajoie. He was present in Port Lajoie on January 28, 1739 and from August 1, 1739 to June 30, 1741 and from October 9, 1752 to July 16, 1754. In 1740, the population of l’Ile St. Jean was 450 people. At Port Lajoie there was 81, Riviere du Nord Est (Pisquid) 48, Havre aux Sauvage 63, St. Pierre du Nord 147, Tracadie 44, Malpec 53, and Trois Rivieres 14. Together they had 166 oxen, 337 cows, 402 sheep, and 14 horses. In September 1909, an old Micmac named Sosep entered the offices of Frank Deedmeyer, the American Consul to Charlottetown and showed him a Roman Catholic prayer book written in the Micmac language. It was old, ragged, and the pages were yellowed and covered in hieroglyphs, and superscription’s were written in German. Fastened inside the heavy cover was a manuscript in French on thin paper, written in so fine a hand and so faint that it could only be deciphered with a magnifying glass. The story was written by a French Missionary and addressed to "my beloved Brother Ambroise, disciple of Saint Francis, now a missionary priest among the Micmac savages on the Isle of St. Jean, North America." It told of the burning at the stake of a witch known as "La Belle Marie" in Port Lajoie in 1723. Deedmeyer bought the prayer book and sent it to the Smithsonian in Washington. They have the prayer book, but the manuscript is lost.
19. Frere Elie Krielse (Kvielze), [1,2] Recollet brother who served at Port Lajoie from the 16th of August 1741 to the 11th of May 1744. Frere Elie Krielse’ last entry being:
"May 11, 1744, I, the undersigned, having baptized Rene Hache, born May 10 of the legitimate marriage of Francois Hache (Gallant) and Anne Boudreau. Sponsors M. Francois de Pont de Chambon, officer in the garrison of Port Lajoie, and Renee Dacarette d’Ahibout de St. Vilne who gave him at baptism the name of Rene. His father being present.
Signed The Knight Chambon
Anne Henriette Duchambon
Louis de St. Vilne
Louis de la Brejonnier
Pere Elie Krielse"
The next entry in the Parish register is:
On the 15th of September, died in this parish, Pierre Francois Mazer la Borde, aged about one year, son of Charles Francois la Borde, merchant and Anne Verien and interred in the cemetery of the parish
Signed Pere Patrice LaGree
Champlain for the King,
Recollet" During the period of 1745 to 1748, the Acadians of l’Ile St. Jean were without the means of defense and without priests to spiritually guide them.
20. Frere Patrice LaGree, [1,2,13] Recollet brother who served in Port Lajoie from the 15th of September 1749 to the 22nd of January 1751 and from the 26th of January 1751 to the 25th of September 1752. When he arrived on the Island the population was about 735 souls. L’Abbe LaGree had 125 baptisms, 53 marriages, and 29 Burials entered in the Parish register at Port Lajoie. L'Abbe LaGree mentions Rustico for the first time in the records at Port Lajoie:
"Le 18 juin 1750, a ete baptise sous condition, Pierre, age de deux mois, fils de Guillaume, sauvage, et d'Angelique, aussi sauvage, de Rustico. Le parrain Pierre, sauvage, la marraine Dame Angelique Laporte."
"Signe: Angelique Basert de Goutin,
et fr: Patrice Lagree"
21. Pere Maillard  who came to the Island at the same time as Frere LaGree. He was an accomplished linguist. He was also called "the Apostle of the Micmacs". Pere Maillard was in charge of the mission in Ile Royale and of the Indian mission at Malpec. Certain historians claim Pere Maillard was responsible for the deeds of hostility committed by the natives against the English in Acadia. But others tell of several incidents when this missionary, with tact and courage prevented the Micmacs from treating the English soldiers with cruelty. L’Abbe Calonne, who was a missionary on St. John’s Island 50 years later from 1799 to 1804 wrote of the Micmacs to Bishop Plessis in Quebec.
"They are brave people, very good Christians, who have been instructed by an excellent missionary, if one can judge by the quality of those who remain; They would do honor to the most zealous missionary of our day."
Bishop Plessis wrote back:
"These Indians are probably the last of the students of the late Pere Maillard, one of the most virtuous and active missionaries we have had in Canada."
22. Frere Alexis du Buron,  Recollet missionary who served in Port Lajoie from the 15t of January 1751 to the 24th of January 1751.
In July and August of 1751, the engineer Franquet made an inspection tour of the Island. He noted that the settlers were "zealous with regard to religion and even a bit superstitious". Everywhere he went, the residents petitioned him to obtain a priest for them. Since 1749 immigration to the Island had increased and several new communities were now growing quickly. One missionary to serve the whole Island was no longer sufficient. The settlers in Havre Saint Pierre had a church building since the early 1740's, The Acadians at Pointe Prime had built a chapel with their own monies, and another one was being built at Riviere du Nord Est. The Recollet Fathers were the only priests stationed on l'Ile St. Jean from 1723 to 1752. [10,13].
Prior to 1752, there was only one organized parish in l'Ile St. Jean, that of St. Jean d'Evangeliste at Port Lajoie. From 1723 to 1752 the Island was under the spiritual direction of the Recollet Fathers. In 1752, four additional parishes were organized under the direction of secular priests [1,3,13]:
1752 to 1758
1. La Sainte Famille (The Holy Family) at Malpec
2. St. Pierre du Nord (St. Peter's at St. Peter's Harbor)
3. St. Louis du Nord-est (Scotchfort)
4. St. Paul at Pointe Prim
l'Abbe Jean Perronnel, [1,2,5,10,12] de la Congregation du Saint Esprit in Paris arrived on l’Ile St. Jean in 1752. He was pastor of Saint Louis du Nord-est from 1752-1753. With great delight, the parishioners hurried to complete the building of their small church. From 1753 to 1758 he was assistant to l'Abbe Biscarat at St. Pierre du Nord. Due to his ill health he was unable to stay long. Just before the deportation he had returned to France, where he died shortly after.
l'Abbe Jacques Girard (Gerard), [1,2,3,5,6,10,13] also arrived in 1752, having been recently released from an English prison. The Governor of Nova Scotia, not satisfied with the attitude of the Acadians in his Province had imprisoned l’Abbe Girard from Cobequid and l’Abbe de la Goudallie from Grand Pre. He had also offered a reward for the head of l’Abbe LeLoutre. L’Abbe de la Goudallie returned to France when he was released, l’Abbe Girard fled to l’Ile St. Jean and became the pastor of Pointe Prim from 1752-1758. The inhabitants of this parish were refugees from Cobequid, (Truro) who had escaped by way of Tatamagouche, N.S. and settled around Pinette and Pointe Prim. In a letter dated the 31st of October 1753, Father Gerard writes:
"Our refugees do not lose courage and hope by working to be able to live; but the nakedness which is almost universal and extreme affects them sore; I assure you they cannot protect themselves from the cold, either by day or by night. Most of the children are so naked that they cannot cover themselves. When I enter their huts and find them sitting beside the fire, they try to hide themselves with their hands and take to flight, having neither shoes, stockings, nor shirts. All are not reduced to this extremity, but almost all are in great need."
L'Abbe Girard and his parishioners were deported on the "Duke William", one of the largest transports used in the deportation. The ship sunk near the coast of England after a violent storm. L’Abbe Girard, four Acadians, and a few of the crew survived and landed near Penzance, England. After several months in prison, l'Abbe Girard was sent to France. He was appointed to several important offices in the church and finally was made Priour at the Monastery of Jouarre, one of the most important of that period. He died at a ripe old age .
l'Abbe Pierre Cassiet, [1,2,5,8,10,12,13] was pastor of La Sainte Famille in Malpec from 1752-1753. It was under his leadership that their first small chapel was constructed in 1753. He was pastor of St. Louis du Nord-est from 1753 to 1758.
"The Holy days of the Church were celebrated in his parish with as much splendor and pomp as in Europe. He won the confidence of his parishioners. He shred their lives, was interested in their ventures, taught the Indians how to grow the most useful vegetables, and to raise domestic animals". At the time of the deportation he embarked with 166 members of his congregation and they were taken to England. l'Abbe Cassiet reached France where he became a member of the Priests of the Calvary at Betharram, the famous shrine near Lourdes. During the French Revolution he was exiled to Spain. He returned to France and became the Superior of the Order of the Priests of Calvary. He died there in 1809 and is buried in a pretty little cemetery in Montaut, his native village.
l'Abbe Jean Biscarat, [1,2,3,5,10] was pastor of St. Pierre du Nord from 1753-1758. At the time of the deportation the ship carrying l'Abbe Biscarat and many of his parishioners was lost with all on board near the coast of Spain. In a letter, written by Rousseau de Villejon, last Governor of l'Ile St. Jean to the Minister in Paris he speaks of l'Abbe Biscarat and Cassiet as follows:
"A request was presented by the inhabitants to Colonel Rollo, who came to take possession of the island, in the name of his Britannic Majesty, asking permission to remain on their lands. Colonel Rollo even permitted them to send Messrs. Biscarat and Cassiet to present the request to the Generals at Louisbourg, but the English generals did not consent, apparently wishing to effect the complete evacuation of the habitants."
Later in the letter he says:
"Messrs. Biscarat and Cassiet will be necessary to them as leaders. They are capable men, My Lord, and I on my part could earnestly wish that it would please you, when I am allowed to come to France to permit me to rejoin these people."
l'Abbe Joseph Sylvestre Dosque, [1,2,5,8,12] was pastor of Malpec, where a little church had been built and dedicated to La Sainte Famille. He served here from 1753-1758. L'Abbe Dosque escaped from the deportation and reached Quebec City, where he became the pastor of the Cathedral Church.
In 1753 the colony was in a state of extreme poverty, for example Intendant Provost asked the Minster of Colonies to help the settlers furnish their churches and to send them four bells. A memorandum presented to the King's Court pointed out that three churches on the Island lacked articles of worship including , "a chalice, a vestment of each color, a missal, an Antiphonal and Gradual, an alter chart, an alb, a cincture, a surplice, an alter stone, a ciborium, and a box for the holy oils". Worse days soon lay ahead.
Over the next few years several priests visited the Island and ministered to the settlers there for short periods of time. They were:
Frere Isidore Caulet August 16, 1752
L'Abbe Pezes August 25, 1754
L'Abbe Gratien Raoul September 15, 1754 to May 30, 1758
Frere La Force August 16, 1755
Father Casgrain writes regarding life in l’Ile St. jean in the 1750’s:
"The patriarchal life of these communities, in isolation, their pastoral customs, the similar occupation of each family, attached to the social and to the raising of domestic animals, all this was the faithful reproduction of what was happening at that time around Minas Basin. These parishes were patterned after those in Acadia: One story houses with few windows and straight roofs, barns, stables, and other buildings, usually thatched, wooden churches of similar structure, with small bell towers, and, to one side, the cemetery, recognized by the large cross, which dominated the enclosure; the presbyteries, resembling the houses of the inhabitants."
 The Acadians of Prince Edward Island, J. Henri Blanchard, pages 32a,39-40,48-49,53-55,59,69-73,78-81
 Rustico, une Paroisse Acadienne, J. Henri Blanchard, pages 5,6,13,14
 Canada's Smallest Province, Francis W.P. Bolger, Editor, pages 15,29,30
 Exploring Island History, Harry Baglole, Editor, pages 35-37
 Land of the Red Soil, Douglas Baldwin, pages 36,41
 The Story of Prince Edward Island, P. Blakely & M. Vernon, pages 22,32,33,51
 My Island, My People, Lorne C. Callbeck, pages 3-4
 Malpeque and its People, Malpeque Historical Society, pages 4,9
 The French Regime in Prince Edward Island, D.C.Harvey, pages 45-46,59,60,76-77,204,214,226-227
 The Island Acadians, Georges Arsenault, pages 44-47
 The Witch of Port Lajoie, Joyce Barkhouse, pages 4,6,22,23,38,39
 La Religion et les Acadiens, Georges Arsenault, pages 6-7,11-12
 The Catholic Church in Prince Edward Island, Michael F. Henessey, Editor, pages 2-15,20
Notes:1. J.H. Blanchard in his book "The Acadians of Prince Edward Island" says that de Bresley was 62 years old, M.F. Hennessey says 66 years old.
2. Various name spellings occur for the brethren discussed in this article. For the most part I have used what seems to be the most commonly used.
3. Various place spellings have occurred over the years. I have used Port Lajoie instead of Port LaJoye. Malpec instead of Malpeque or Malpek. I have also tried to use the French version of the settlement names. I.e. Hauvre aux Sauvages instead of Savage Harbor.
4. Some priests and brothers listed were really only visitors to the various parishes. Being here for a single day to several months. I chose to include them in the article as they are listed in the parish register and had conducted at least one baptism, marriage or burial.
5. Regarding the population of l'Ile St. Jean at the time of the deportation. Admiral Boscawen estimated the Acadian population at 4000. As this article discusses the Catholic Church and its servants, I have chosen to use the Bishop of Quebec’s calculation of at least 6000 residents.
Return to Top of Page
The Battle of the Plains of Abraham
By Melanie Perry
Melanie is a high school senior at Three Oaks Senior High School in Summerside, Prince Edward Island. Her father is James Perry who is a regular contributor to the Ancestral Home Newsletter.
In September of 1759 a great battle broke out that would change the course of Canadian history forever: The battle of the Plains of Abraham, part of the Seven Years' War. The British and French had been fighting over the land on the North American continent for quite some time.
With the land switching hands between them often and most of the land increasingly falling in the hands of the English, they would go to battle again on the Plains of Abraham. It was a short battle that took many lives including both of Montcalm and Wolfe, the French and British leaders of the forces in the war.
This battle was the final result in the French Indian War. With luck and fate on the British side, as well as with the careful training, they were able to defeat the French and claim the victory.
The leader of the British forces, James Wolfe, had been trying to take Quebec from the French but Louis Joseph Marquis de Montcalm de Saint-Vera, the leader of the French forces, had it too well guarded. So Wolfe was trying to find a place to attack where he could get the vital foothold he needed on the Quebec shore to force Montcalm into an open/formal European-style battle to decide the final issue. Wolfe's senior officers who "disliked his cold manner and were frustrated by his indecision"("James, Wolf"), suggested a plan and place to attack. They had found the perfect place. It was a small cove with a narrow path that led to the fields west of the Plains of Abraham in south Quebec at the western edge of the old walled city it over-looked the St. Lawrence River. It was lightly guarded so it offered the chance he needed to get enough troops on shore before Montcalm could react.
Vaudreuil was the governor of New France, and "whom he [Montcalm] regarded with contempt because he [Vaudreuil] was born in Canada."("Montcalm"). Vaudreuil interfered with the troop placement and L'Anse au Foulon, the place where Wolfe's troops landed, was lightly guarded. Montcalm had known of that decision and had commanded for troops to be placed there, and for them to be placed at every possible landing spot.But the troops did not take their position due to Vaudreuil’s orders. When Wolfe's 4500 troops arrived, under the cover of night, the French sentries that hailed the boat were fooled by the replies they heard, which were in French, because they were expecting a French convoy boat that night.Wolfe did not have all of his troops with him, but there were enough to make a challenge for Montcalm.The two sides were evenly matched in number, both having about 4500 troops. To their credit, the British were much better trained soldiers, where as the French were mostly locally raised militia but they were defending their homes.
On the morning of September 13 Wolfe's troops lined up facing Quebec. Montcalm knew Wolfe had got the battle he had wanted. Montcalm quickly gathered as many troops together as he could muster, not waiting for his whole army to arrive, a foolish mistake which he was criticized for. "But European generals were more often bound by their sense of honour than by clear thinking."(Plains of Abraham, Battle of CD-ROM). By 10a.m. Montcalm ordered his troops to advance and fire on the British. Wolfe ordered his troops down to avoid the shots. They did not return fire. The French saw a soldier drop here, and one there, but the British stood firm. Wolfe then ordered his troops up and they loaded the Brown Bess Muskets and waited for the French troops to be within the accuracy range of them, 40 yards. Suddenly, the muskets were fired; the French halted. After the smoke had cleared another round was fired, leaving the ground covered with dead and wounded French soldiers. Next the British charged at the French and during this Wolfe was shot in the wrist. As he urged his men to continue another bullet hit him, then a third tore through his chest and he fell fatally wounded. Wolfe died on the battle field knowing the French couldn't defeat them. A few minutes later Montcalm was wounded by artillery fire and was carried off his horse and into the city where he died early the next morning.
The French had fled to the city with the British quickly following. The French soon surrendered.
The British had won after about a fifteen minute battle. Four days later the city opened its gate to the English army.
This battle decided the end of the French and Indian Wars. As a result of the British victory, they now controlled over half of the North American continent, including French Canada. This led to the British surpremacy in Canada. In 1763 the Treaty of Paris which recognized British claims on the continent was signed in Europe.
The battle of the Plains of Abraham in 1759 definitely had an impact on the future of Canada. A bravely fought battle, ending the French Indian War, which had been going on for many years, leaving the majority of the land in British hands at a price of many lives. Many lives were valiantly risked fighting for possession of the land and this did not end until later when they went to battle again over Quebec. France's power in North America ended when Governor Vaudreuil surrendered in Montreal in 1760. This also marked the end of the 7 Years War.
Works Cited"Abraham, Plains of." Encyclopaedia Britanica. Online. Internet. October 23 2000. Avilable: http://www.britanica.com/seo/plaines-of-abraham/.
"French and Indian War." Micrsoft® Encarta® Online Encyclopedia 2000. Online. Internet. October 23 2000. Avaible: http://encarta.msn.com.
"Montcalm, Louis-Joseph de Marquis de Montcalm." The Canadian Encyclopedia: Student Edition. CD-ROM. McCelland & Stewart Inc, 1999.
"Plains of Abraham, Battle of." The Canadian Encyclopedia: Student Edition. CD-ROM. McCelland & Stewart Inc, 1999.
Suthern, Victor. "The Battle for Canada." Horizon Canada. 1987. 316-319.
Willows, D, and Richmond, S. Canada Colony to Centennial. Toronto: McGraw Hill. 1970.
"Wolfe, James." The Canadian Encyclopedia: Student Edition. CD-ROM. McCelland & Stewart Inc, 1999.
Return to Top of Page
My Genealogical Research
By Andre Courville
Arthur is my great grandfather. He is also my great great grandfather and my great great granduncle.
About a year ago, my 8th grade French teacher asked the class to research our family trees and present them to the class. On the way out of class, I picked up a family tree paper and I left. When I got home, I began filling out the branches that I knew. I wrote my name, my parent's names, my grandparent's, and my great-grandparent's, but I knew nothing besides that.
I called aunts and uncles to find out more information. No one knew more than I had. One of my aunts referred me to the library. She said that I could find something there. That day I went to the library, and found Fr. Donald Hebert's Southwest Louisiana Records. This helped me find a few generations farther back.
Southwest Louisiana Records is a compilation of church, civil, and public records from 8 parishes in Louisiana. It consists of 42 volumes that contain records from the year 1750 to 1909. Genealogical research in Southwest Louisiana would be difficult without it, and I praise Fr. Hebert for the hours he put into it.
Circa 1920 photo taken at Arthur's daughter, Clementine's home. It was the wedding of Paulin Usie, Arthur's grandson. The attendants were Arthur's children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren.
My Courville ancestry is particularly special to me because it extends to many branches of my family tree. My father is a Courville, my paternal grandmother’s mother was a Courville, and my maternal grandfather’s mother was a Courville of the same family. As you can see, inbreed is rampant in Southwest Louisiana.
My Courville Genealogy
The family that bears the surname Courville descends from the De Billy family of France. It was not until the late 1600's that the Jean François De Billy began using the name Courville as his last name. His children, also, adopted Courville as their last name.
In France, about the year 1649, François De Billy, Lord of Baricourt, and Helene Guilbert had a son named Jean François. When Jean François De Billy was about 16 years old, he signed up as an indentured servant for three years of service to the West Indies Company. He left France on the ship L'Ange de Flessingue or on the ship Saint-Jean-Baptiste. He arrived in Quebec, Canada in 1664. When his three-year indenture was complete, he settled in Sainte-Anne-De-La-Perade and bought a concession business on November 15, 1669.
Jean François returned to France in 1671 to marry Catherine Marguerite De La Marche. There, they had their first three children. In 1676, Jean François returned to Quebec, and purchased 4 1/2 arpents of land on the Gentilly River.
The census of 1681 shows Jean François, 32, and his wife Catherine, 29, and his four children: Michel, Marie, Therese and Francois. It shows that they owned two head of cattle and worked approximately 12 arpents of land.
In 1682, Jean François De Billy, dit Courville and Catherine Marguerite De La Marche had a child named Jean Baptiste De Billy, dit Courville. Jean Baptiste married Marguerite Jean, dit Vien on June 7, 1712.
Jean François De Billy, dit Courville’s great grandson followed in his pioneering footsteps and was the first Courville to settle in South Louisiana was Pierre De Billy, dit Courville. He came here before 1802. Pierre was born Abt. 1762 in Cahokia, Illinois. He married Eugenie Marie West November 8, 1802 in Opelousas, Louisiana. She was the daughter of Rogers West and Marie Olivier Prejean. Pierre died Abt. 1845 in Opelousas, Louisiana.
On May 30, 1827, Pierre and Eugenie had a son named Sosthene. On May 11, 1848, Sosthene married Clementine Melancon, the great grand daughter of and Acadian. She was the daughter of Marcellin Melancon and Scholastique Guidry. They had four children: Marcellin, Hypolite, Arthur, and Olivia.
Arthur was born on February 20, 1854 in the St. Martin Parish, Louisiana area. His mother died when he was 6. The burden of the small children was placed on Sosthene’s shoulders. This example would prove itself useful later on in life for Arthur. After that, his father remarried and had more children.
Shortly before 1874, Arthur met a young, local girl named Celiva Hebert. They made their home in the parish and on February 15, 1874, they had a daughter named Clementine. She was named after her grandmother. On March 25, 1874 she was baptized into the Roman Catholic Church in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana. Some time later, she had a sister named Oliva. Then, something unexpected happened. Just a few days after Clementine’s 5th birthday in 1879, Celiva fell sick and died. Now, the grief stricken father had to manage with his two young children, much like his father’s situation. With the help of his father, Sosthene, he raised the children and remarried. Her name was Emma Thibodeaux. They had about 6 children. Then, like it had happened so many other times in his life, Arthur was faced with another death. Emma passed away leaving more children and more of a burden for Arthur to carry. Then, on July, 04, 1899, Arthur married a final time to an old maid of the parish named Clara Montet.
Clara was only about 5 feet tall. She was characterized by the bun she always wore her hair in. They had 7 children, the youngest being Clayus Courville. During Arthur’s life, he lived in Nina, Louisiana and in a little area near Arnaudville, Louisiana called Huron. His residence in Nina is still standing, but it is in very poor condition. Every Sunday, the family would gather at the house of Arthur and Clara. After dinner, the floor would be cleared to make room for a dance floor. With music, provided by family members including Arthur’s son Clayus, who was exceptional with his accordion, everyone would dance. Arthur would sit in his chair and watch the people dance.
Every time Arthur ate domesticated meat, he got very sick. He had dysentery because of this. To prevent him from being sick, his son, Clayus, would go out every single day to kill a wild animal for Arthur’s supper. His dysentery would indirectly kill him.
When Arthur passed away, he could not afford a tomb, so his daughter, Clementine, allowed him to be buried in her tomb, with her husband, Edouard Usé, who had died earlier because of an influenza epidemic. The tomb is in St. Bernard Cemetery #1 in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana.
What a strong man Arthur must have been. He lived through the death of his mother, his father, two of his wives, and two of his children that died at birth. He was very virtuous and kind, but he still maintained his firmness. He coped well with his grief and he never let it bring him away from his fatherly duties. All of his virtues and qualities were distributed among his children, and they are all distinguished as models of Christian love and kindness.
Southwest Louisiana Records, Rev. Donald J. Hebert
Our French-Canadian Ancestors, Thomas J. Laforest
André Hunter Courville
French, Acadian, Cajun, and
German Genealogy in Louisiana
Prince Edward Island Surname Variations
Submitted by James Perry
Arsenault, Arseneau, Arseeault, Arseneaux
Aucoin Wedge Aucoyne
Boudrot Boudreault, Boudreau, Boudreaux
Bourque, Burke, Bourg
Cassie Casey Cassey
D'Amour Damours Damour
DesRoches, Desroches, Desroche, DesRoche
Gallant, le Gallant Hache
Perry, Poirier, Perrey
Veno Vignault Vigneau
Return to Top of Page
How To Interpret Marriage Dispensations
Editor's Column - How To Interpret Marriage DispensationsSince cousins marrying one another raises some moral, as well as genetic issues, the Catholic Church installed a system to regulate such unions. Official Church permission was required to marry a blood relative. This permission was given in the form of granting dispentations for varying degrees of consanguinity of blood relationship. No distinction was made between half-siblings and those who shared both parents.
There are four basic degrees of consanguinity:
First degree: siblings, who share the same parents
Second degree: first cousins, who share the same grandparents
Third degree: second cousins, who share the same great grandparents
Fourth degree: third cousins, who share the same great, great grandparents
Therefore, if second cousins wished to marry one another, they would need to be granted a dispensation for a third (or third to third - 3/3) degree of consanguinity from the Church before the marriage could be solemnized.
Among the Acadians of southeastern New Brunswick, dispensations were not always that simple. A couple could be thrid cousins through their mothers, as well as their fathers, requuiring a dispensation for a double, fourth degree of consanguinity. A relationship could also be uneven where as the groom's grandfather was the brother of the bride's great grandfather requiring a despensation for a third to fourth degree of consanguinity, because they were second cousins, once removed.
Dispensations were not limited to blood relationships. There were also spiritual relationships. When a person married, that person became a spiritual member of the new spouse's family. A sister-in-law was, in a spiritual sense, a sister. This applied to brothers, cousins, etc. If a man wished to marry his late wife's first cousin, spiritually he would be marrying his own first cousin. This would require a dispensation for a second degree of affinity. Dispensations for affinity relationships wee governed by the same guidelines as blood relationships or consanguinity.
Dispensation play a major role in New Brunswick-Acadian genealogy. With a lack of surviving, original records of the late eighteenth-centure and a number of nineteenth-centure marriage records inw hich the parents of the couple were not noted, dispensations are a valuable tool in the confirmaiton of ancestry and relationships. Dispensations are used by professional researchers in determining if indeed such and such ancestors were related to one another because of the dispensations being granted their children, etc.
Used with permission.
Source: "The Melansons of Nineteenth-Century Southeastern New Brunswick- A Genealogy" by Michael B. Melanson email@example.com
Return to Top of Page
FIVE STAR***** WEB SITES
EXTRA HOT LINKS!!!
Prince Edward Island
The Island Register by Dave Hunter includes 1752 Sieur de la Roque Census for Ile St-Jean/Prince Edward Island.
Prince Edward Island Surname List
Archives and Records of Prince Edward Island
André Courville's French, Acadian,Cajun and German Genealogy in Louisian
Donna Daigle's Genealogy Home Page
Alfred Desrosiers Genealogy Site
Design Software Genealogy Links
Gladys Lagrange de Villiers Home Page - including the Opelousas Post
Doiron Home Page
Michele Doucette's Cyber Home
Down East ~ A Maritime Heritage
Il Était Une Fois l'Acadie
Duguay/Sinclair Genealogy Site
Dumais Genealogy Home Page
Yves Dussault's Genealogy Web Site
Gamache Family History
Société Historique de Marigot, Longueil Baptismal Records
Return to Top of Page
To share this newsletter with other genealogy researchers, family and friends!