by Albert N. Lafreniere
In the past, there have been several articles written about the Acadians, who for a time resided in Guilford, Connecticut, but none of them have answered the question--"What are their names?"
That information can be answered, at least in part, but first; a little history is in order.
Britain had won Nova Scotia from the French in 1713, so when the residents of Grand Pré woke up on the morning of September 5, 1755, they were curious about the British ships in Minas Bay, but were not alarmed. After all, they were French people who had lived there since the beginning of the 17th Century, and for the last 42 years under British rule. It was true that they had never sworn allegiance to Britain, not wanting to bear arms against their own countrymen, but they had lived there as neutrals, not firing upon the British, either. The British called this land "Nova Scotia"(New Scotland), but the French called the land and the surrounding land L'Acadie, or Acadia--the Indian name meaning--the fertile soil.
The British officer ordered the men of the village, and the surrounding villages to gather at the little church in Grand Pré. They thought this was a strange request, but they obeyed. After all of the men had gathered there, they were read an order from Governor Lawrence of Nova Scotia which stated "that your lands and tenements and cattle and livestock of all kinds are forfeited to the crown, with all your effects, except money and household goods, and that you yourselves are to be removed from this Province."
After imprisonment for a time, the French residents of Acadia were loaded onto ships and shipped throughout the Colonies. Some were also sent to England and France. Some were sent to the Carribean. Most of them, though, were sent to the English Colonies from Massachusetts to Georgia.
The first ship reported to arrive in Connecticut was the "Elizabeth", Nova Scotian Captain Ebenezer Rockwell at the helm. He arrived on January 21,1756, at New London with 272 French. He started his voyage to Connecticut from Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia. Right behind the "Elizabeth", was Captain Worster's (Wooster, Worcester) Sloop (name unknown) carrying 173 more exiles to Connecticut.
Captain Ephraim Cook's Ship, the "Snow Edward", left Nova Scotia December 8, 1755, and was blown off course, winding up in Antigua, finally arriving in New London on May 22, 1756, with 180 French. Many of those aboard died of smallpox. When they arrived at New London, their feather beds and some of their personal effects were burned, adding to their grief.
(2) The "Sloop Dove", Captain Samuel Forbes, carrying 114 French also left from Minas Basin bound for Connecticut. All of the ships would have come to New London with the French, since New London was the official port of entry for all vessels in and out of the Colony. The king's custom house was located in New London. Later, the Acadians would be transferred to other ships, and delivered to other ports along the shore. Other French would be transported by carts to inland towns.
Captain Tinker on the "Sloop Hannah" brought the French up the Connecticut River, dropping the French off at the towns along the way. He arrived on July 1, 1756, at Hartford with 13 French for them to care for.
The Connecticut General Assembly, obviously forewarned of the arrival of the French Neutrals, made preparations as follows:
October 1755 "Whereas public measures appear to be taking for evacuating the Province of Nova Scotia of it's French Inhabitants and removing or dispersing them to other places more consistent with the safety of his Majesty's American dominions, Resolved by this Assembly, That if, in the pursuance of such design, any of them happen to be brought into any place in this Colony with expectation of being here received and cared for, his Honour the Governor is desired on such their arrival to issue forth such orders for their being received, taken care of and disposed of, in such place or places in this government and under such circumstances, as may be judged most expedient, or otherwise for their removal elsewhere, having regard to such order or authority as may attend their conveyance hither," (from General Assembly Records)
The General Assembly did not act again on this issue until January 21,1756.
"An Act for distributing and well ordering the French People sent into this Colony from Nova Scotia.
Whereas there is a number of French people sent by Governour Lawrence into this Colony, and more daily expected, to be disposed of here, supposed to be about four hundred in the whole. It is therefore resolved and enacted by this assembly, That a committee be appointed, and Hezekiah Huntington, Gurdon Saltonstall, Christopher Avery, and Pygan Adams, esqrs., or any three of them, are hereby appointed a committee to receive said people and distribute them in the towns hereafter mentioned, in the following manner:..."
(50 towns are mentioned, with an allotment for each)
It is interesting to note, that the General Assembly did not act until January of 1756, probably indicating that no French were present until then in Connecticut.
Guilford probably received the Acadians in the early Spring of 1756, because nothing was recorded in the records until April 12, 1756, and was as follows:
"Voted--That the Selectmen shall with convenient speed put out to service so many of the French family
which is amongst us as they can dispose of without cost to the best advantage to free the town from charge. Nathaniel Hill, Clerk"
And so the French Neutrals, or Acadians were put off at Guilford Point, and the Hebert family arrived in an English Colony-- a land of different customs, a different language and a different religion. It is said that they lived for a time in the "Acadian House" on Union Street, owned at the time by Samuel Chittenden. This is the Joseph Clay House, built in 1670, and the temporary home of the Hebert's while they were in exile in Connecticut. This house is still in existence today.
Rene Hebert [listed as Rene dit Groc Hebert in Stephen White's Dictionnaire]* was born in 1688 in Grand Pre, Nova Scotia. He was the son of Jean Hebert and Anne Doucet. In 1707, he married Marie Boudreau at Grand Pre. Both Rene and Marie appear in Conn. in 1763. It is unknown when Rene went to Laprairie (near Montreal) but he died there 29 August 1768 at the age of 80. There is no record of Marie, his wife, returning to Canada. She may have died in CT. [Stephen White states that she died between the census of 1763 and 29 August 1768 on August 14th.]* This being the case, I believe that his son Pierre, is the "Old Frenchman" referred to in the Guilford town records dated Dec. 27, 1768:
"Voted-- To pay to Eliphalet Hall the Old Frenchman's house rent-- 3 pounds 5 shillings 7 1/2 pence, out of the town treasury."
Pierre Hebert, the son of Rene dit Groc Hebert and Marie Boudreau was born 24 April 1710 in Grand Pre and Married Elisabeth Dupuis daughter of Jean and Marguerite Richard about 1735 at Grand Pre, Pierre and Elisabeth arrived with four children:
Fabien born 1740Five other children are reported to have been born to them between 1755 and 1763. Pierre Guilbert Hebert, is the only one born to them in Guilford who is known to have survived. There is a record of one of their children (a son) having died Sept.7, 1769 in the Burgis Bill of Mortality (copy located at the Town Hall).
Marie Isabelle born 1742
Anastasie born 1743
Simon born 1750
Fabien married Anastasie Landry in Guilford, in a civil ceremony in 1762, Marie Isabelle (also known as Elisabeth) married Pierre Hilaire LeBlanc on Oct. 13. 1762 in a civil ceremony in Guilford.
Simon Hebert married Marguerite Richard in New Haven, Conn. in 1771.
(4) Anastasie Hebert married John Smith, the son of Benjamin Smith and Mary Russell in North Guilford, Conn. in 1769. The record from the Second Congregational Church Records, Vol. 3 pg. 33 and Vol. 6 pg. 150 reads as follows: "John Smith, of East Haven, m (married) NUSTUSSA HIBBURD, a french woman from Guilford, Dec. 18, 1769."
In view of the above facts, it seems that the "french family" which resided in what is now known as the "Acadian House" on Union Street in Guilford, was the Hebert Family. Some reports state that five Acadians were put off at Guilford, others say 16, and the State Records allotted 11. Sixteen seems more likely. There were about 900 Acadians sent to Connecticut, although some never arrived, and others died in transit. This was much more than the 400 expected by the General Assembly.
No evidence has surfaced as yet to indicate who the other Acadians sent to Guilford might be, if indeed there were others.
Some of Rene Hebert's other children were also reported in Connecticut in 1763. They were as follows:
Joseph Hebert, wife Anne Bourg, and 9 children Olivier Hebert, wife Cecile Dupuis and 6 children Charles Hebert, wife Marguerite Le Blanc and 5 children Amand Hebert, wife Francoise Gauterot ( not listed in 1763) Judith Hebert, widow of Fabien Dupuis and 7 children.
It is possible that one of these families was also in Guilford for a time.
The final record as regards the Acadians in Guilford reads as follows:
April 13, 1772: "Upon the petition of the old Frenchman praying for the assistance of the town in defraying his charges of his passage to Canada, voted that the selectmen of the town furnish the said Frenchman and his family $25 wherewith to go to Albany."
This probably meant that they were to be transported by ship up the Hudson River to Albany and then proceed by the trade route to Quebec, Canada.
They would have been deported to Connecticut on the "Dove" or Captain Wooster's Sloop in 1756, since these ships came from Habitant and Canard, Nova Scotia, their homeland.
Pierre Hebert and his wife Elisabeth also went to St-Philippe de La Prairie around 1772 where Pierre died 29 February 1788 at the age of 78.
Fabien and Marie Isabelle and their spouses also returned to La Prairie.
Pierre Guilbert Hebert went to Lacadie, Que. (near La Prairie) and married Marguerite Cyr on June 15, 1789.
Anastasie and her husband, John Smith also went to Lacadie some time later; where their daughter, Cecile, married Louis Remillard on January 11, 1789.
It must have been great to return to the native land after spending 16 years in a Yankee Town on the shores of Long Island Sound!**
*Denotes facts added by Lucie according to research by Stephen White as recorded in the Dictionnaire Généalogique des Familles Acadiennes.
Posted with permission of the author, Alfred N. Lafrenière of Connecticut.
The above article was contributed to the Acadian & French-Canadian Ancestral Home in 1998 by Albert N. Lafrenière.
Mr. Lafrenière also contributed his research pertaining to the list of deportation ships on which the Acadians were taken into exile. That research includes the names of the ships, captains, dates the ships departed as well as when they arrived at the points of exile. A well documented piece of research.
The post card of the Acadian House in Guilford, Connecticut as it is referred to in Connecticut tour guides, was purchased by the Acadian Ancestral Home in auction on Ebay and donated to the Centre d'éudes acadiennes, Université de Moncton several years ago.