Saturday, March 14, 2009

Beaubassin Deportation of Acadians

Flowers at Beaubassin remind us of the Acadians who once lived here
When I saw these beautiful wild flowers, they seemed to represent
the lives of
our ancestors who had enjoyed life in Acadie.

Dear Cousins,

Because of the prominence Grand-Pré has taken on in the lives of Acadians and their descendants, many believe it was there the deportation of 1755 began. In fact, the Deportation began from the Chignecto region of Acadia (known to us today as Nova Scotia).
On July 31, 1755 Colonel Monckton was at Chignecto and had been advised that the plan devised to remove the Acadians from Nova Scotia should be kept top secret.

On July 15, 1755, Governor Charles Lawrence called for a meeting of the Council to which he invited Admirals Boscawen and Mostyn. There were Twenty-one ships anchored in the harbour at Halifax. It was at this meeting that Lawrence's plan to rid the province of these "Neutrals" as they were called by the British, would become more specific in intent. The Council, under Lawrence's advice, decided to obtain a decision from the Acadians as to whether or not they would take the oath to the King of England. This oath meant that they could no longer be neutral but that in time of war, they would have to take up arms as the King's subject. In part, this had been the reason the Acadians had emained neutral: because England and France were always at war one with the other, if the Acadians took this oath, it would mean taking up arms against their own countrymen, relatives and friends. The oaths they had taken thus far also allowed them freedom to practice their Catholic faith - their lives were built around faith and family.

On July 25, 1755, a petition was presented from the Acadians of the Annapolis River area. These Acadians offered to forfeit their guns but would not sign a new oath citing the oath taken under Governor Philipps which allowed them freedom to worship as catholics and to live in neutrality. The petition was rejected by the Council. The Acadians now had until 10:00 a.m. on July 28 to decide what they would do. Unfortunately, no matter what the Acadians would decide, the Deputies had already made a decisive decision: the Acadians would be deported!

While the Acadian Deputies were held as prisoners on George's Island along with the Pisiquid Deputies, the Council's resolution was to remove the Acadians from Nova Scotia. This would end the many years of indecision on the part of both sides of the issue.

Prior to this, there had been no such consideration by the Lord of Trades regarding the removal of the Acadians from their lands. However, on this date of July 28, 1755, Governor Lawrence sent off a message concerning the imprisonment of these Deputies and that his plan was the best course to resolve this issue once and for all. Here is the message he sent to the Lord of Trades:

...They were ordered to be kept prisoners at George's Island, where they were immediately conducted. They have since earnestly desired to be admitted to take the oath, but have not been admitted, nor will my answer be given them until we see how the rest of the inhabitants are disposed. I have ordered new deputies to be elected and sent hither immediately, and am determined to bring the inhabitants to compliance, or rid the Province of such perfidious subject.

Lawrence had long been decided to obtain a decision in his favor that would expel the Acadians from Minas, Cobequid, Annapolis, Pisiquid and the Chignecto region. Here is the decision rendered by the Council:

After mature consideration, it was unanimously agreed that, to prevent as much as possible their attempting to return and molest the settlers that may be set down on their lands, it would be most proper to send them to be distributed amongst the several colonies on the continent, and that a sufficient number of vessels be hired with all possible expedition for that purpose.

In 1698, there were twenty-eight families living in Beaubassin:

Arseneau, Bernard, Blou, Boudrot, Bourg/Bourque, Bourgeois, Chiasson, Chastillon, Cormier, Devau, Doucet, Girouard, Godin, Godet, Guercy, Haché, Mercier, Mirande, Poirier and Richard. Men from these families had married into the families of Cyr, Dugas, Guerin, LeBlanc, Martin, Melanson, Pellerin and Trahan.

In the Chignecto region, Acadians were held at both Fort Lawrence and Fort Beauséjour (renamed Fort Cumberland when it fell to the British). Meanwhile, Colonel Monckton and his troops were busy trying to keep the Acadians close to the forts. Because of the undeveloped country north of this area, it would be quite easy for anyone to escape and not be captured again so a decision was made that these Acadians would be the first to be sent into exile.

So after four generations of pioneering and making a life in this place called Acadie the grandchildren and great grandchildren of the first settlers would be removed from the only home they had ever known for by 1755 those first pioneers were the only ones who had lived in France, having all passed away by 1755.

On August 13, 1755, ten ships under the command of Captain John Rous carried off 960 Acadians headed for South Carolina and Georgia. Behind where one could no longer see, were the homes of the Acadians who had lived at River Hébert and Menoudie. Though the Acadians were relegated to the bowels of the ships, these ships sailed by the burning villages of other Acadian homes as they slid past Cap Maringouin and Chipoudy Bay eventually making their way to the Bay of Fundy.

The ships that would deport the Acadians from this region: Boscawen ran aground; Boscawen from Chignecto to Pennsylvania; Cornwallis to South Carolina; Dolphin to South Carolina; Holly Phillip to Virginia; Endeavor to South Carolina; Prince Frederick to Georgia; Two Brothers to South Carolina.

The Beaubassin area would be made up of Weskak (today Westcock), Pré des Bourgs (Sackville), Pré des Richards (Middle Sackville), La Butte, Le Coupe and Le Lac at the confluence of the Missiguash, Menouie and Eleysian Fields, Maccan (Makon), Nappan (Nepane) and Rivière Hébert.

Acadians on a list of eleven men in 1686: Pierre Morin, Guyon Chiasson, Michel Poirier, Roger Kessy, Claude Du Gast, Germain Bourque, Guillaume Bourgeois the latter both sons of Jacques Bourgeois, Germain Girouard, Jean Aubin Migneau, Jacques Blou and Thomas Cormier.

A few years ago, the above monument was erected commemorating the last known Acadian residents of Beaubassin in 1750 as follows:

Pierre Deraier & Francoise Arsenau
Jaques Mouton & Marguerite Kessy
Francois Arsenau & Anne Bourgeois
Abraham Arsenau & Agnes Sire
Marie Sire
Pierre Gravois & Marie Rose Bourgeois
Francoise Sire
Jaques Bourgeois & Marie Bourque
Pierre Arsenau & Jeanne Marie Heon
Marie Chiasson
Claude Bourgeois & Anne Blanchard
Michel Bourgeois & Marie Doucet
Charles Heon & Marie Jeanne Bourgeois
Jean Kessy & Marie Richard
Paul Sire
Oliver Bourgeois
Pierre Cottard & Agnes Bourgeois

Jean Mouton & Marguerite Poirier
Baptiste Bourgeois & Anne Bernard
Claude Bourgeois
Michel Poirier & Madeline Bourgeois
Francois Bourel & Marguerite Doucet
Claude Tendon & Francoise Kessy
Claude Poirier & Marguerite Sire
Marie Kessy
Paul Devau & Marguerite Buote
Vincent Devau & Marie Buote
Claude Kessy & Anne Chiasson
Jaques Kessy & Marie Olivier
Joseph Arsenau
Anne Buote
Jean Arseneau
Brele & Anne Sire

A great deal more information regarding the Deportation of 1755 can be found at the Acadian Ancestral Home website.

My next blog will be about the Acadians who died at sea while being deported from Ile St-Jean known to us today as Prince Edward Island.

In the love and spirit of our Ancestors,

Your cousin Lucie

©Lucie LeBlanc Consentino
Acadian & French Canadian Ancestral Home
2003 - Present


Evelyn Yvonne Theriault said...

What a beautifully composed photograph, Lucie - and very tricky to take when there are so many small flowers and grasses to capture.
Are these Indian paintbrush flowers do you think?

LucieMC said...

Thank you Evelyn. I took that photo when on my way back to Moncton following CMA2004 - they spoke clearly to me of life on the land of Beaubassin.

I've not idea what kind of flowers they are but I really was compelled to take this photo.

george-richard said...

Hi Lucie
Although I have read and re-read many deportation accounts, I still get overwhelmed with sadness at what must have been extremely painful experiences for all families involved.

LucieMC said...

Thank you for your comment George. I feel that way each time I write about it and it compels me to continue telling the story of our ancestors and their tenacity to survive.