Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Acadian History by Placide Gaudet

Acadian History by Placide Gaudet
Bridgetown, Nova Scotia
July 18th, 1922
The homestead of Antoine Belliveau, born in France in 1621, and married about 1651 to Andrée Guyon, was about one mile below the Allen river. Jean his only son, born at Port-Royal about 1652, married Jeanne Bourque about 1673 by whom he had three sons and two daughters. Jean Jr., his eldest son married in 1696 Madeleine Melanson and died September 13, 1707 of a wound he received in fighting the English, at the second attack of Colonel March against Port-Royal. He left three sons, of whom two settled at or near Carleton Corner opposite Bridgetown. Of these two I will speak, after I have related an episode relating to Charles, the eldest of the sons who was born in 1697, and married at Grand-Pré, November 3, 1717, Marguerite Granger, by whom he had ten children, of whom two where sons. Charles inherited his father's farm, and besides being a farmer, he was a ship carpenter and a good mariner. What I am going to say about Charles Belliveau, related to the year 1755, at the time of the Expulsion of the Acadians.

Writing on board his flagship the Torbay, then at St-Helen's, November 15 1755, to John Cleveland, Esq. Secretary to the Admiralty, Vice-Admiral Edward Boscawen, speaking of the removal of the Acadians, says: I appointed the following ships to convoy the transports that were to carry them: the Syren, captain Proby, from Chignecto to Georgia and the two Carolinas; the Nightlingale, captain Diggs, from Mines to Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania, and then proceed to his station at New Yhork; the Baltimore, captain Owen, from Annapolis Royal to Newe York; the Hornet, captain Salt, from Annapolis Royal to Boston, and then the Spithead; the Mermaid, captain Shirley, to Connecticut. Captain Rous, of the Success, to assis in embarking them and to look into the St. John River.

Being short of provisions and the transports expected from Halifax not having yet arrived at Annapolis, captain Washington Shirley, commander of H.M.S., the Mermaid, sailed from Annapolis for Boston, with Sloop Hornet, captain Salk, November 10, and left T. Owen, captain of the Sloop Baltimore, in charge of the transports, five of which arrived at Annapolis Royal, between the 14th and the 17th of November. But the Pembroke Snow, with the provisions, having lost her main mast in a storm only reached Annapolis Royal between November 25, and December 1st.Her disabled mast had to be replaced, and Charles Belliveau was ordered to make a new one which he did. When it was finished he asked to be paid but on the refusal of the captain to do so, he at once lifted up his carpenter's axe and threatened to cut the new mast, and the captain had to pay him the price asked. But irony of fate he was embarked on board the Pembroke to be deported.

The Pembroke was of 42 tons, victualled for 139 days; she had on board 33 men, 37 women, 70 sons and 92 daughters forming a total of 232 persons. She sailed from Goat Island, December 8, 1755, bound for North Caroline. The other transports were the Helena, 3323 persons, for Boston; the Edwards, 278 persons, for Connecticut; the Two Sisters, 280, for Connecticut; the Experiment, 200 persons, for New York; the Hopson 342 persons, for South Carolina, and a Schooner, for South Carolina, with 9 persons. The grant total on the seven vessels was 1664 Acadian prisoners. With the exception of the Pembroke the transports reached their destination and landed their human cargo. The Baltimore convoyed them as far as New York, and Captain Owen approaching the Pembroke said to her captain: Be on your guard; on board your vessel you have some very able men and some good mariners, and so saying the captain of the Baltimore took another direction, whilst the Pembroke, which was only manned by eight persons went on her course towards North Carolina.
The 232 Acadian prisoners were kept in the hole of the Pembroke.

Just think of it, 232 persons packed in that part of the vessel where there was no ventilation of any kind! Was that an act of humanity, or of barbarity? I will not dwell on that subject; it is too heart rending. In order to prevent the unfortunate prisoners dying of suffocation, six at a time were allowed to come on deck every half hour alternatively. At last Charles Belliveau chose five of the strongest men among them, and told them what thy were to do, when the hatch-way would be opened, and instructions were also given to others to act promptly, at the proper moment. As soon as the half hour was over, and the six on deck ordered to go down in the hole, and six others called on deck, Belliveau and his five chosen companions came out quickly, and before the hatchway was closed they had mastered the captain and crew by stunning them with strong blows from their fists, and as the hatchway was left open many others came on deck to help their companions, if need be. At once Charles Belliveau took charge of the vessel, and as he was an expert mariner, he soon turned the direction of the Pembroke. The wind was very strong and the captain cried out: Stop! you are going to break the main-mast! To this Belliveau answered promptly: You lie; I made this mast and I know it will not break. Alternatively Captain Fontaine called Beaulieu and Belliveau, and some others were at the wheel. The Pembroke had sailed from Goat Island, December 8, 1755, and on February 8, 1756, she entered the port of St. John, New Brunswick where its human cargo was landed.

There are several documents relating to the capture of the Pembroke but the following extract of a letter from Governor Lawrence to Governor Shirley, of Massachusetts Bay, bearing date, February 18, 1756 is here appropriate. Here is what Lawrence says:

I lately sent a part of Rangers in a schooner to St. John River, as the men were cloathed like french soldiers and the schooner under french colours, I had hopes by such a deceit, not only to discover what was going there but to bring off some of the St. John Indians. The officer found there an English ship, one of our transports that sailed from Annapolis Royal with French inhabitants aboard bound for the Continent, but the inhabitants had risen upon the master & crew and carried the ship into that harbour, our people would have brought her off but by an accident they discovered themselved too soon, upon which the French set fire to the ship.

Amongst the Acadian prisoners onboard the Pembroke, besides Charles Belliveau and Captain Beaulieu, there were families of Boudreau, Dugas, Guilbeau, Granger, St-Seine, etc. There was also Prudent Robichaud, born in 1669 at Port-Royal, son of Etienne Robichaud and Françoise Boudreau, both natives of France. Prudent Robichaud married in 1691, Henriette Petitpas, and they had a family of twelve children, of whom five were sons. He was one of the prominent inhabitants of Annapolis Royal and rendered services to the English garrison, and yet notwhithstanding his old age - he was then eighty-six years old - he was embarked in December 1755 on board the Pembroke. In the summer of 1756, some of the 32 families left St-John River for Quebec. Robichaud was with them and died on the St-John River on his way to Quebec. On April 16 (N.S.) 1727, Lieutenant Governor Lawrence Armstrong had appointed him a Justice of the Peace for Annapolis, and on December 12 (N.S.) 1733, the same Lieutenant-Governor had given him the commission for collecting his Majesty's rents, etc., within the Banlieue of Annapolis Royal.

As to Charles Belliveau he succeded in reaching Quebec where he died in January 1758. His wife had predeceased him eight years and was buried at Annapolis Royal May 2, 1750.

Charles Jr. the eldest of the two sons, was born October 12, 1731, and on January 10, 1755, he married Osithe Dugas. He was deported in 1755 to Massachusetts Bay, and in 1767, he was permitted with his family to go to the province of Quebec, settled at St-Jacqaues de l'Achigan, where he died August 10, 1796, leaving several children, whose descendants are today numerous. As to Pierre, the youngest of the sons of Charles, the ship carpenter and mariner, he was born May 16, 1734, and therefore he was twenty one years old, at the time of the deportation which he escaped by taking to the woods, and succeeded in reaching, with others, an Acadian settlement at Coverdale, a few miles from Moncton. Amongst his companions in flight from Annapolis river, were three brothers, namely: Joseph, Charlitte and Bonaventure LeBlanc. They were all unmarried. They are, with Pierre Belliveau at their head, connected with the capture of the schooner in the summer of 1756, at Sackville, Westmorland County, New Brunswick. The Acadian families who had taken refuge, at the Acadian Village at Coverdale, about five or six miles from Moncton, being short of provisions Pierre Belliveau and the three LeBlanc brothers offered to go in search of cattle in the Chignictou district if a guide was given them. Cyprien Gautreau, a native of that district, offered his services which were acepted.

Pierre Belliveau and his four companions on arriving at Tintamarre River, at or near the town of Sackville, noticed at the bottom of the river, it was low tide, a schooner which Pierre Belliveau recognized at once, as belonging t his father, the hero of the Pembroke, and resolved to capture her. Having explained his plan to his companions, the five of them boarded the schooner on the pretext to buy some tobacco. The captain with a crea of four men had been sent from Annapolis, in search of Acadian fugitives, and to capture those he would meet. He therefore was delighted when those five young men went onboard of his schooner, and gave them free plenty of tobacco. But as the tide began to rise, Pierre Belliveau who could speak English well enough to make himself understood, thanked the captain and pretended to leave the vessel, but the captain told him that he and his companions were his prisoners, and then ordered three men of the cre to throw them into the hole. But this was not to be effected. Charlitte LeBlanc, on eof the three brothers and who had the strength of four ordinary men, had been told to keep himself close to windlass, and to make us of the windlass bar when ordered, consequently before the order of the captain could be obeyed, the cry of Strike, Charlitte, was heard, and the heavy bar of the windlass fell alternatively on the heads of the three sailors, who were killed outright. Then the captain called his first mate - a mighty strong man - who at the time was in the cabin, and ordered him to throw in the hole these Acadians whom he qualified with epithets unproper to be repeated here. Again was heard Strike, Charlitte! and the first mate fell overboard, holding Pierre Belliveau. The latter was promptly rescued, and the mate received another blow which finished him. Then came the turn of the captain who begged of them on his knees not to kill him but without avail. Having been told to recommend his soul to his Maker, he received a fatal blow from the hands of Charlitte LeBlanc. The schooner was taken up the Petcoudiac River, and hidden in a creek at Coverdale.

It was in the seventies of the last century that at Memramcook, I learned this last episode from the lips of some of the descendants of those who captured that schooner. Some twelve years later, Pierre Belliveau and the three LeBlanc brothers settled on the west side of the Memramcook River, where they died leaving large families. The descendants of Gautreau are at Barachois, near the town of Shediac.
Pierre Bellieveau was born 16 May 1734 and married Abt. 1760, Anne Girouard, and died at Memramcook, Febraury 16, 1820, and his wife on April 5th, 1823. They had a family of seven children whose descendants are today very numerous.

As I have said, two sons, of Jean Belliveau (who died in 1707, from the wounds he received at one of the sieges of Port-Royal by Colonel March) and brothers of Charles Belliveau of the Pembroke fame, settled at Carleton Corner after their marriage. Jean, the eldest of the two, born in 1699, married November 13, 1730, Marie-Madeleine Gaudet, and died at Belliveau's Cove, Digby County, Nova Scotia. He was the great-grandfather of Julie Vitaline Belliveau, wife of the late Luc LeBlanc and mother of the Right Reverend Dr. Edouard A. LeBlanc, Bishop of St-John, New Brunswick.
Pierre Belliveau, brother of Jean, who died at Belliveau's Cove, was born August 4, 1706, and on January 21, 1723, he married Jeanne Gaudet, sister of Marie-Madeleine, wife of his brother Jean. These two sisters were the daughters of Bernard Gaudet and Jeanne Terriot.

Pierre Belliveau had the surname Piau (pronounced Peeo) and was the uncle of the Pierre Belliveau who with four others made the capture of his father's schooner at Sackville, New Brunswick. This Pierre Belliveau surnamed Piau was the grandfather of my father's mother. Like his brother harles and Pierre, his nephew, his adventures at the time of the Expulsion deserve to be related.

Towards the end of August 1755, on the arrival of the first vessels ordered from Halifax to Annapolis Royal to transport the Acadians, all the French inhabitants residing above the fort fled to the wood. A few days later many returned to their dwelling houses, and there remained until they were embarked, on December 4, onboard the transports, but not on those which had arrived from Boston in the month of August. These had to be sent to Minas Basin where vessels were waiting to deport the population of that district.

But Pierre Belliveau surnamed Piau and several of his neighbors and a few families,from both sides of the river, below the fort, who had fled to Gaudet Village, thought it more prudent to abandon their homes and seek a temporary place of refuge, where they would be in in safety from the pursuit of the soldiery. Acordingly they took with them as much of their effects as they could conveniently carry, crossed to the North Mountain, and went to New Hampton, then called Anse de la Croix (Cross Cove). Here were several large fishing boats hidden there by the heads of the families living below the fort who fled to Gaudet Village. It must be remembered that Major John Handfield, commanding officer at Annapolis Royal, had ordered by a proclamation, dated July 12, 1755, that all fire arms, boats of all kinds belonging to the Acadians should be delivered at the fort, without delay. Fortunately for Belliveau and his companions this order was not unanimously carried out, and this is the explanation why fishing boats were hidden at Cross Point. These boats were used by Belliveau's caravan to ascend the bay, some twenty-four miles, till they reached a little port which afterwards was called French Cross on account of a cross erected there by Bellieveau and his Acadian companions but is now known as Morden. It is situated on the Bay of Fundy shore, and lies about seven miles from Hampton station, in a direct line. Here they remained until about the 9th dy of December, awaiting with great anxiety to learn what would be the fate of their compatriots who had returned to their homes in the beginning of September.

From their hiding place they noticed one day, about the middle of October, a fleet of ten ships, convoyed by an armed vessel, going down the bay. did they dream that onboard of these there was a human cargo of 1,045 Acadian prisoners from Chignictou district? There is no record to tell us. This fleet had sailed from Cumberland Basin, on the 13th of October, bound for Georgia, North and South Carolina, and put in the Basin of Annapolis, whence it sailed again on the 27th, which day, another fleet composed of thirteen vessels, convoyed by the frigate Nightengale, also sailed from Minas Basin, with 1,505 prisoners from that locality, and 1,100 from Pisiguit. These also, as they went down the bay, were noticed by Bellieveau and his companions.

At last they got information through some Indians met by their watching party, that the people of Annapolis had been shipped off on a fleet which sailed from Goat Island on Monday the 8th of December at five o'clock in the morning. this human cargo consisted of 1,664 Acadian prisoners.
Had Belliveau and his companions remained a few weeks longer in their hiding place, they would have seen other transports going down the bay with human cargoes, one on the 6th of same month with 150 prisoners, two on the 13th with 350 Acadians, and on the 20th December, two other vessels left Minas Basin with 230 prisoners.

Summing up the above figures, we have a total of 6,080 Acadians of Annapolis, Kings, Hants, Colchester and Cumberland counties, who were shipped off in thirty-four vessels. Minor deportations took place from time to time for several years.

What a terrible catastrophe had fallen on the Acadian people. Pastors and flocks were being tossed at the same time on the rolling waves of an angry sea. The members of families were separated and embarked on different transports. Their houses and churches were given to flames. The inhabitants of the peninsula who had escaped deportation were wandering in the forest and shivering with cold and exposure, whilst the perpetrators of these misfortunes and miseries were rejoicing over the result of their inhuman and cruel work. The heart-rending sufferings of the unfortunate Acadians were nothing to Lawrence and his associates. They thought the Acadian race was forever banished from Acadie. How great mistaken they were!

About the 9th of December, 1755, after having erected a cross as a momento of their sojourn at Morden, Belliveau and his companions left their hiding place at French Cross to seek a safer one. Fortunately, they had the few fishing boats which I have already mentioned, and having embarked onboard, they coasted the shore of the Bay of Fundy as far as Digby Neck, and then enterred by Petit Passage, nearly opposite Ste-Anne College, at Church Point, into St-Mary's Bay, which they ascended as far as the entrace of Belliveau's Cove, five miles from Petit Passage. Here there was then a small island, and they decided to land and encamp on it for the rest of the winter. When I first visited that locality, in February 1885, that island was called Ile-à-Piau (Piau's Island) by the old people of the neighbourhood. that name is now in oblivion, and the island itself is no more, it has since joined the mainland and forms a part of the picturesque landscape now called Major Doucet's Point. With Church Point this is the most historic spot in the whole municipality of Clare or French Town, as the Acadian settlements on the estern shore of St. Mary's Bay were formerly known to their English-speaking neighbors. As several deaths occurred among Pierre Belliveau's caravan, soon after their arrival and during the winter 1755-6, they were buried here. This spot was in September, 1768, the cradle of Clare Settlement by Acadians. For twenty years, from 1771 to 1791, the first Acadian settlers of Clare buried their dead alongside of those interred there during the winter of 1755-6, and thus Piau's Island became the first Acadian burial ground in Digby County.
I will not endeavor to portray the sufferings and miseries the Acadian fugitives endured during that winter. They are more easy to be conveived than to be described. One of their cares was to build rough huts. This I know by family tradition. These unfortunate one, poorly clad, sleeping on bed of fir twigs spread on bare ground for pillows, often covered with snow after stormy nights, destitute of proper food and starving, were often visited by the angel of death, which mercifully ended the sufferings of many. Thus passed the bleak winter of 1755-6.

Spring came at last and Pierre Belliveau and his companions bade adieu to the small island which had given them shelter, and embarked in their fishing boats to seek another place of refuge. Having crossed to the other side of the Bay of Fundy they followed its shores to Chignictou Bay which they ascended, entered Shipody Bay then Petcoudiac River went to its bend, now Moncton, and proceeded to the Acadian Village at Coverdale. Here they found every one in complete misery and that decided them to seek another refuge. They went through the woods to Cocagne, and on foot reached Boishebert's camp, at Nelson, on the Miramichi River, a distance of nearly one hundred miles. The caravan found here as much miseries if not more than at Coverdael. The Acadian refugees there were daily dying of starvation, and many of Belliveau's caravan were buried at Nelson. Belliveau and his companions soon left the place and went to Ristigouche where they remained a few years and then returned to Coverdale. Thjis was before Captain McKenzie's raid at Ristigouche in 1761.

About the year 1768, Pierre Belliveau surnamed Piau, with his son Joseph, settled on the western side of the Memramcook River, nearly opposite where is now the University St-Joseph (today in 1999 a museum exists here). For many years that locality was called Le Village-des-Piaux, (Piaus' Village) but now it is St-Joseph. A few years later, Joseph Belliveau became one of the first settlers of Belliveau's Village on the eastern side of the Petcoudiac river, and it is there that his father died in 1800, and himself in 1840, both of them approaching one hundred years of age. Their descendatns are very numerous

Placide Gaudet ended this presentation by saying: Dear Denis Gaudet, first settler of this locality, may you rest in peace. Your race shall never become extinct, since your numerous descendants are to be found in nearly every province in the Dominion and even in the United States. Placide Gaudet
SOURCE: La Société Historique Acadienne, le 30ième Cahier, Vol. III no. 10, January, February, March 1971.

© Lucie LeBlanc Consentino
Acadian & French Canadian Ancestral Home
1998 - Present

2 comments:

Caroline said...

I love that story because Charles Beliveau and Marguerite Granger are in my ancestry! They had a daughter Marie Josephte who married Pierre Pellerin, and that family was probably also on the Pembroke. I haven't found a death record for Pierre, only a second marriage, and Marie Josephe probably died before reaching Quebec. I also have ancestors who were American planters that came in 1760 and took up land at Carleton Corner, and in the 20th century the two families were joined in the marriage of my grandparents. What a world.

Grant Davis said...

Happy Blogiversary!!

Regards, Grant

http://thestephensherwoodletters.blogspot.com