Friday, September 12, 2014

Some Massachusetts Town Records


Some Massachusetts Town Records
This is just a small number of Acadians 
exiled to Massachusetts that 
I have been able to extract 
from town records.

·  OLD ABBINGTON

The family of John White, French Neutral was given refuge during the French & Indian War period. The house still stands at 351 High Street and it was built by David Porter, a bachelor, about 1730. It is thought to be the oldest original house still standing in Whitman.

·  LANCASTER

Of the thousand Acadians apportioned to the Province of Massachusetts, the committee appointed by the General Court for the duty of distributing them among the several towns, sent three Acadian families, consisting of twenty persons to Lancaster.

These were:
Benoni Melanson
Mary Melanson, his wife
Children:
Mary Melanson
Joseph Melanson
Simeon Melanson
John Melanson
Bezaleel Melanson, (Carrie)
A daughter not named
Geoffrey Benway (Benoit)
Abigail Benway, his wife.
Children:
John Benway
Peter Benway
Joseph Benway
Mary Benway
Theal Forre [Forest]
Abigail Forre, his wife
Children:
Mary Forre
Abigail Forre
Margaret Forre

The Forre family was soon transferred to Harvard, Mass. They arrived February 1756 and the accounts of the town selectmen for their support were regularly rendered until February, 1761. They were destitute, sickly and apparently utterly unable to support themselves and were billeted now here and now there, among the farmers at a fixed price of two shillings and eight pence each per week for their board. Sometimes a house was hired for them. 

·  WORCESTER

In 1755, eleven Catholic French "neutrals" were assigned to Worcester after the "shameful rape of Acadia". These Acadians arrived in Worcester suffering from wounds to the body, soul and spirit after enduring a winter on the deck of a military ship traveling from Acadia to Boston. Not much detail is given on this piece of history, but it states that these Acadians were warmly received by Worcester residents and some stayed here "broken-hearted" while others left for Canada in 1767. 

·  MENDON

Selectmen 1764, March 5th: Selectmen Census taken in response to an order given by Colonial Governor Bernard. The Selectmen of Mendon conducted a census of the town in the fall of 1764.
The census revealed that the town contained 336 families living in 284 houses. The population consisted of 2,339 persons of which 1,441 were adults and 898 were children under the age of 16. Contained within the counts included 9 persons of color listed as Negroes and Molattoes and **5 persons listed as French Neutrals**. Interesting that there were no Indians counted in the 8 square mile area of Mendon. The census was submitted on December 17, 1764 signed by Joseph Daniels and 4 other selectmen.

·  WALPOLE 

THE OLD HOUSE IN WALPOLE -Where Lived and Died in Exile Jacques D'Entremont (The Walpole Times - May 1966) 

The following article, dealing with the early history of Walpole, was written by Rev. Clarence J. d'Entremont on 71 Center Street. Fairhaven. It is hoped that the people of Walpole will take interest in this article which tells them of a phase of their history of which they may not know too much. By Rev. Clarence J. d'Entremont.

The student of American literature knows through the study of Longfellow's poem Evangeline of the Expulsion of the Acadians. These people, of French origin, lived in Nova Scotia, then called "Acadie", where "the richest was poor, and the poorest lived in abundance." By the Treaty of Utrecht, in 1713, their land passed into the hands of England. Summoned by their conquerors to pledge allegiance to the crown of England, they asked to remain neutral in case of war so that they would not have to fight against their mother country. For this reason the whole population, about 18,000 of them, less some 2000 fugitives, were boarded on ships and vessels, between 1755 and 1759, even up to the Treaty of Paris, in 1763, and "scattered like dust and leaves" all along the American Atlantic coasts and the shores of England. Massachusetts received about two thousand of them and placed them, under its care, in its different towns.

There is in Walpole the remains of a cellar on which stood the house where lived in exile, with his family, one of these Acadians, Jacques d'Entremont (1680-1759), some of Jacques Mius d'Entremont and of Anne de Saint-Etienne de la Tour, and where he died July 28, 1759 (1). This house belonged at the time to Jeremiah Dexter. Isaac N. Lewis, in his history of Walpole (2), calls this house "the old house", although at the time of Jacques d'Entremont it must not have been so old, as Jeremiah Dexter, who probably built it, is mentioned for the first time in 1748 in the history of Walpole. 

Jacques d'Entremont was, with the members of his family, among the 70 Acadians from Baccareau Passage, Cape Sable, Nova Scotia, whom Colonel Prebble, after burning all their buildings, 44 in all, brought to Boston on a Friday, the last day of April, 1756. They were destined to North Carolina; a vessel under the command of Thomas Hancock, was to take them there. But after embarkation, they came back on shore and refused to re-embark. May 11th, Jacques Amirault and Joseph d'Entremont addressed a letter to the Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts and his Council stating the reasons why the group refused to go to North Carolina, begging that they be allowed to stay in Massachusetts.

Three days later, May 14th, Thomas Hancock, who it would seem had written of his own hand the petition of May 11th, to which Jacques Amirault and Joseph d'Entremont affixed their marks, appeared before the lieutenant governor and his council to discuss this matter. It was decided to give to these Acadians a delay of 14 days, during which they would be under the care of Thomas Hancock. The 14 days having elapsed, it was decided to distribute these families in the several seaports of the "Province". 

August 20th, 1756, we find in Marblehead, Jacques d'Entremont with his family, that is, his wife, nee Marguerite Amirault, and his children, Ann, (b. 1732), Marguerite, (b. 1734), Joseph, (b. 1739), Paul, (b.1742), and Benoni, (b. 1745). Jacques d'Entremont and Marguerite Amirault had had at least two other children, namely, Jacques, the oldest, married in 1753 to Marguerite Landry, exiled with his family to England and then to Cherbourg, France, where he died in or before 1767; and Marie, married to Rene Landry, brother of Marguerite.

In the summer of 1756, Anne d'Entremont married in Marblehead Abel Duon who had been among the 70 Acadians who arrived from Cape Sable to Boston April 39th and who was quartered at Marblehead with the d'Entremont family. The following year, that is June 1st, 1757, we find this family in Medfield, along with Paul and Benoni, sons of Jacques d'Entremont. March 1st, 1758, Jacques d'Entremont, his wife, his daughter Marguerite and his son Joseph are found in Walpole, where they had been transferred.

A few months later, on November 8th, 1758, Joseph d'Entremont sent a petition to the lieutenant governor, stating that being in Walpole with his aged father and mother, a brother and a sister, while another brother, a brother-in-law, a sister and her child were in Medfield, asking, for different reasons, if it would be possible for the family to be all united together at the same place.
January 2nd, 1759, this petition was sent to a committee who, January 13th, decided that the members of the family who were in Medfield would be removed to Walpole. It would seem that this decision was not carried out, not immediately at least, because June 1st of that year, Benoni, Abel and his wife are still in Medfield; these two last are still there August 22nd, 1760.
After the death of Jacques d'Entremont, July 28th, 1759 (13), his son Joseph and his daughter Marguerite are transferred August 22nd, 1760, to Chelsea (14), at which date Paul and Benoni are said to be "retained" in Walpole with their ......

We can recapitulate these events in the following chronological order: - April 30th, 1756, arrival in Boston of the family of Jacques d'Entremont;

- August 20th, 1756, this family is in Marblehead, along with Abel Duon;
- Summer of 1756, marriage in Marblehead of Abel Duon and Anne d'Entremont;
- June 1st, 1757, Abel Duon, his wife, Paul and Benoni are in Medfield;
- March 1st, 1758, Jacques d'Entremont, his wife, Marguerite and Joseph are in Walpole;

Between the preceding and the following dates, Paul is transferred to Walpole;
- November 8th, 1758, petition of Joseph so that all the family would be united;
- January 13th, 1759, it is decided that the family would be united in Walpole;
- July 28th, 1759, Jacques d'Entremont dies in Walpole;
- August 22nd, 1760: Paul and Benoni are "retained" in Walpole with their mother; Joseph and Marguerite are sent to Chelsea; Abel and Anne are retained in Medfield.

On August 23rd, 1766, "Captain Amiro" received a permit to clear his vessel from Boston for Quebec. Undoubtedly this captain was Ange Amirault, who, ten years earlier, in the month of February of 1756, being not yet 20 years of age, sailed in his small vessel from Cape Sable to the shores of Massachusetts to ask of his future father-in-law and mother-in-law, already in exile, the hand of their daughter, Natalie Belliveau, who, like himself, was still in liberty at Cape Sable. The fact is that the Amiraults, the Belliveaux, the d'Entremonts and the Duons arrived by sea to Nova Scotia, on their way to Quebec, at the end of the summer of 1766, 200 years ago, this very year. Having received from the civil authorities of Halifax the permission to stay in Nova Scotia and the promise of the service of priest, they settled the following year, in 1767, in Pubnico, the land of their ancestors. 

While in Walpole, the d'Entremont family lived in "the old house" of Jeremiah Dexter. Lewis tells us that this house was near the old cemetery, corner of Main and Kendall streets. A couple of old people, well in their 80's, now deceased, maybe of the Everett family, whom we met in Walpole in 1957, residing across from the old cemetery where they had lived practically all their lives, told us that the old house of Jeremiah Dexter, which they had seen in their young days, was located west of the cemetery, of Main street and of Neponset River, about 100 feet north of the dam.
How long did this family occupy this house? Surely between March 1, 1758, and August 22, 1760, that is at least 2 1/2 years. Probably they had been there before, and surely after. But we have no documents to tell us precisely how long.

A fact worthy to be mentioned here, which is surely by a coincidence, is that at about 75 feet south of the cellar there is the distinctive marks of the Acadians: an apple tree. 

·  DEDHAM

Dedham Town Records [1743-1773]. Vol 7. 382 pages.
Among data included are selectmen’s records, town meetings, town payments, etc. Note, on page 138, that French Neutrals (Acadians deported from Nova Scotia) were received 28 Nov 1755 "for the Selectmen of this Town to Dispose of them in Such Method as they think best for this Government."

·  Marshfield, Massachusetts 

Province of the Massachusetts Bay
To his Excellency William Shirley Esq; Captain-General
& Governour in chief in & over his Majesty's Province of the Massachusetts Bay in New England The Hon ble the Council & House of Representative in Genl Court assembled March the 30 th A.D. 175[6] 

Humbly shews Joseph Mitchel One of the Neutral French Inhabitants late belonging to Nova Scotia now residing at Marshfield in the County of Plymouth That your Petitioner was a Dweller near the Garrison at Annapolis & had a good Farm there & above thirty Head of Cattle & always Lived in a friendly Manner with the English & used to supply the Garrison with Wood & a considerable Quantity of Provision which he had to spare annually - That by Reason of the Late Misconduct of the French who Lived near Minas your Petr was a great sharer with them in their Misfortunes tho not in their Crimes, and thereby Lost his whole Estate both real & personal, & in this distress'd condition was brought to Marshfield aforesd with his wife & Family of Children the Last Fall where He has ever Since resided & has been provided for so as that He, his Wife & Children have been upheld in Life to this Time - 

That his Eldest Son Francis, being Twenty Three Years old, Labored this Spring with one Caleb Tilden a near Neighbour to your Petitioner, To whom ^ he Your Petr hired Himself out for a Pistarene a Day till the first Day of May next, after which he was to have more, and both He & his Master Tilden were well contented - 

That the Last Week John Little Esqr & Seth Bryant Two of the Select Men of the Town of Marshfield Came & by Force, utterly against the Will of your Petr & his Said Son, took away your
[1]
your Petrs sd Son & put him out to Anthony Winslow of sd Marshfield, When at the same Time sd Tilden offered to bind his Estate to Save sd Town & the Province free from any charge on his Account - 

That sd Select Men at the same Time bound out another of your Petrs Sons named Paul about Fifteen Years of Age, to Nathaniel Clift of sd Marshfield Mariner, whom by force they dragged away & sent to Sea, notwithstanding diverse persons would gladly have taken Him to work on Shore at Farming Business to which He was used, & tho at the same Time he begged he might work on Shore because the Sea did not agree with Him - In short all your Petrs and his Wife's Intreaties were in vain, the sd Paul was by Force taken from them & Sent to Sea - And the sd Select Men took Security for Thirty Pounds as the Price ^ of sd Lad -
Your Petr being a Stranger in a Strange Land has no where to go for Relief but to your Excell. & Honrs - Tho He has Lost all his Estate he do[es] not desire his ^ children should be chargeable to any Body while they are able to work, but that such Places may be found for those under age as may be agreeable to 'em, & That those, who are of full Age, may provide for Themselves, at such places as the Lik[e] best - 

Wherefore you Petr prays That the Indenture of your Petrs Said Sons may be declared null & void, & That They may be allowed to maintain Themselves, or, That such other Relief may be granted as you Excy & Honrs shall think fit And your Petr as in Duty bound shall pray & c
Joseph Michelle 

[2]
[Petition submitted to the General Court of Massachusetts by Joseph Michel, 30 March 1756. SC1, Series 45X, Massachusetts Archives Collection, 1603-1799, vol. 23, page 51. Massachusetts Archives.] 

The Committee appointed to take under consideration the Petition of Joseph Mitchell are unable to make enquiry into the truth of the facts mentioned before the dissolution of the Court by reason of the distance of Place where they are alledged to have been done and therefore ^ thus are of opinion that the consideration of the Petition be referred until the next session of the Court. The Committee are further humbly of opinion that it would be acting very different from the intention of the Legislature if any Selectmen in the Province should cause any of the children of the French from Nova Scotia to be disposed of for any sum of mony or other consideration except for the immediate use & benefit of such child or children and that where any child or children are able & willing to support themselves, or ^ where their parents or friends will undertake for their support
[1] 

such child or children ought not to be separated from their parents or friends and that the Selectmen should as far as may be consult the inclination of the Parent & children in the service for which ^ any children they may be disposed of
T Hutchinson p order
In Council 20 April 1756 Read & accepted & Ordered that the Selectmen of the several Towns where any French are placed govern themselves accordingly
Sent down for concurrence
Thos Clarke Dpty Secry
In the House of Reps April 20. 1756
Read and Concurred
T Hubbard Spkr
Consented to W Shirley 

[2]
With the exception of the two eldest sons, who were relocated to Plymouth in 1760, the majority of the family remained in Marshfield, Joseph Michel dying there in 1763. The rest of the family continued on and it is likely that they integrated themselves into town life. The Meuse Family
Hailing from Cape Sable, the Meuse family arrived in Massachusetts sometime between the summer and fall of 1756. Residing in Plymouth, the Meuses provided for their own support, yet when this became difficult they petitioned the General court, complaining that they were not being provided for by the town as were other Acadians.
[Massachusetts General Court Committee report on the petition of Joseph Michel, 26 April 1756. SC1, Series 45X, Massachusetts Archives Collection, 1603-1799, vol. 23, pages 56-57. Massachusetts Archives.] 

The General court responded by assigning them to Wareham. Meanwhile, the Meuses had contacted Nathaniel Ray Thomas of Marshfield in order to provide for their support. He agreed and permission was given for them to remain in said place. Later they complained of mistreatment by Thomas, so the family's indenture was cancelled and the family moved to Easton. Again unable to support themselves, several of thesons left town to find work elsewhere.
Paul Clement, Charles Meuse son-in-law signed the petition along with his father-in-law addressed to the General Court.

Massachusetts Archives and Commonwealth Museum, September 2005 Exhibit opened June 21, 2005 at Massachusetts Archives/Commonwealth Museum and is scheduled to be open until June 2006.

CHELMSFORD

Chelmsford Oct 24, 1757.
In obedience & pursuant to an Order of the Great and General Court of the Province of the Massachusetts Bay, made & passed the 21st Day of January A. D. 1757

© Lucie LeBlanc Consentino
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