Acadian Refugee Households at Camp d’Esperance 1756-1761 – 52 Ancestors #338

Anyone with Acadian ancestors knows that the Acadian families were forcibly deported from Nova Scotia beginning in 1755 by the English military in retaliation for refusing to sign a loyalty oath to the British king. This event was known as the Grand Derangement or Expulsion, along with other terms, I’m sure. You can read more about the expulsion, here, and view an Acadian timeline, here.

The expulsion began with the destruction of farms, burning of homes, and murder or “arrest” and deportment of the Acadian residents. Families were intentionally and cruelly separated, often permanently with no idea where other family members had been taken, or even if they were still alive. Questions about what happened to their family members and where they were taken haunted the survivors for the rest of their lives. It’s only through combing through historical records, and DNA of course, that we can post-humously reunite some of them today.

What Did Happen to the Acadians?

Many of the roughly 13,500 Catholic Acadians whose families had lived in this region for almost 150 years were simply killed outright.

Ships with captive Acadians were sent to the 13 American colonies, Britain, France, and the Caribbean. People were deposited a few at a time in unfamiliar places – broken and left at the mercy of people who didn’t want the burden of refugees who had nothing and couldn’t support themselves.

Other families hid in Quebec, where about one-fifth of those refugees died during a smallpox outbreak in the winter of 1757-1758.

Some found at least a temporary reprieve in New Brunswick or on Prince Edward Island.

Some hid in the woods among the Native Mi’kmaq people with whom they had a good relationship and in many cases, were related.

Another group found their way to little-known Camp d’Esperance where roughly one-third would perish from starvation.

A decade later, some families made their way to what is now Louisiana, founding the Cajun culture. Others melded into the communities where they found themselves or somehow, miraculously made their way to Quebec. 

The Ancestor Hunt

For descendants, figuring out what happened to our ancestors during this period of upheaval is quite challenging.

  • In some cases, we can trace our genealogical lines back to our ancestors were where they resettled a decade later. That’s how we discover we have Acadian ancestors.
  • Sometimes we know who their parents were in Acadia – but we have no idea what happened to the rest of their family, or where they lived during the decade or so between 1755 and 1765.
  • In other cases, we know who their parents were, but have no idea what happened to the ancestors found in Acadia. The trail simply goes cold which suggests they may have been killed or died during the 10+ years they were in exile.
  • In yet other instances, we can only find one or a few of their children. Families were often scattered, so finding their children might not tell us where those ancestors were, assuming they lived past the original depredations. However, it might also be a breadcrumb.

It would be another decade before the Acadian families could resettle in other locations. Some returned to different portions of Canada. Some stayed where they were, and yet others set sail for new horizons like Louisiana.

If you’re thinking to yourself that Acadian genealogy is complex and confusing – you’d be right! Plus, there’s that same name thing going on along with those “dit” nicknames.

Let’s look at an example of tracing our way backward.

Resettlement

In one of my Acadian families, the parents were “remarried” by the priest after they eventually made their way to Ste. Marguerite de Blairfindie, a small village known as L’Acadie in Quebec.

Acadians were Catholic and didn’t have had access to a priest in “New England” where various records state that this family was living before arriving back in Canada.

The good news is that combing through the children’s records tells us that they were born in “New England.” The bad news is that not one record tells us where.

The parents’ records often tell us when they were born and sometimes identify their parents – allowing us to find their baptism records back in the Acadian homeland.

The Forgotten Refugees

One group of Acadian families left Nova Scotia, but settled, at least for a while, on the Miramichi River, north about 250 miles overland but much further by water. On the map below, today’s Annapolis Royal was Port Royal during the expulsion.

Recently, the blog of the Association des Acadiens-Metis Souriquois published an article accompanied by a list of known refugees who sought shelter to the north.

  • The Acadian Refugee Camp on the Miramichi, 1756-1761” by Ronnie-Gilles LeBlanc (January, 2018)
  • “List of Refugee Acadian Households at Camp Espérance on the Miramichi, 1756-1757,” appendix to “The Acadian Refugee Camp on the Miramichi, 1756-1761” by Ronnie-Gilles LeBlanc English translation & glossary of place names by John Estano DeRoche, published with the author’s permission.

Please click here to view the article, list, and blog.

The first link is the historical article authored by Ronnie-Gilles LeBlanc. I strongly recommend reading this well-written and heavily sourced paper if you have history anyplace in this region.

The second document lists households in index format for easy access. They are in alphabetical order, but searching with your browser search finds spouses surnames and such.

By Lesfreck (talk) (Uploads) – Own work, CC BY 2.5, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12559991

The group of Acadians who spent the winter, hungry and cold at Camp d’Esperance (Camp Hope) numbered about 1,700. About 400-500, including “all the (nursing) children,” perished due to the grim challenges they faced – the primary of which was food and shelter, followed by the scourge of smallpox that ravaged the survivors again the following year.

The Acadians and their Native allies ate moccasins, hides of deer, cattle, beaver, and dogs. The meat had already been consumed months earlier. They were down to anything that could be digested. Many still succumbed to starvation.

The winter of 1759-1760 ushered in another food shortage as severe as the winter of 1756-1757 had been.

This bay where the camp was located sure looks peaceful today. It was much different during those horrific winters.

Acadian Ancestors

In Acadian research, we have a saying, “If you’re related to one Acadian, you’re related to all Acadians.” The Acadian community was founded by a small group of French families who settled on the Island of Nova Scotia beginning in 1603. They intermarried for the next 150 years, with each other, the local Native population, French families and soldiers who arrived later, and probably with a few English soldiers stationed at the fort.

Fortunately, for the most part, the Acadian families have been successfully reconstructed, thanks to Catholic church records, tax lists and some very dedicated researchers.

Karen Theriot Reader, a professional genealogist, has compiled an extensive genealogy, complete with sources, and made it free to all researchers on Geneanet, here.

You can find Y DNA and mitochondrial information about Acadian ancestors at the Acadian Amerindian project at FamilyTreeDNA, here. One of our goals is to document each Acadian paternal Y DNA and mitochondrial DNA line. Both of those are critical to identifying which ancestors are Native American. For European ancestors, these tests help track the lines back to their origins overseas. 

If you don’t carry the Y DNA or mitochondrial DNA of Acadian ancestors, that’s fine. We want to reunite all Acadian descendants. Everyone, males and females, can take the Family Finder test or transfer an autosomal test from another vendor and join the project. Please do! You probably have lots of cousin matches waiting!

Creating a Chart

I created a chart of my known Acadian ancestors who would have been alive in 1755 when the expulsion began or born during the shadow decade or two following the expulsion. I completed as much as I know about where they lived in Nova Scotia, during the deportation purgatory decade (or so), and where they resettled later.

The deported Acadians would not have traveled directly to L’Acadie up the St. Lawrence River as drawn on the map above. They were first deported to Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, and other places further south. I added reference locations on the map that are mentioned in the chart, below.

Please note that my research is not extensive, so I recommend confirming this information if these are your ancestors too.

After completing the chart, I then checked to see if they are on the Camp d’Esperance list.

Note that Acadia means someplace in the Acadian region on or near Nova Scotia, but the exact location is unknown. L’Acadie, noted as a resettlement area, is slightly southeast of Montreal and about 25 miles north of the Vermont border.

Name Birth-Death Comment Nova Scotia Deportation Location Resettlement Location
Jacques dit LaMontagne Lord (Lore, Laure, L’Or) 1678-1786 Born Port Royal, NS, died Nicolet, Quebec Port Royal New York in 1755 Quebec about 1766
Marie Charlotte Bonnevie 1706-1758 Born Port Royal, died at sea, married to Jacques Lord Port Royal Died at sea (I can’t help but wonder where they were taken from and to in 1758.)
Francoise dit d’Azy Mius Circa 1683-? Born Acadia, mother Native, death unknown, mother of Marie Bonnevie Port Royal Unknown, death not shown before 1755
Honore Lord 1742-1818 Born Port Royal, died St. Luc Parish, Quebec, father of Honore Lord born 1766 Port Royal Married c 1765 in New England, possibly New York St. Our, Quebec before 1771
Appoline dit Hippolyte Garceau 1742-1788 Born Port Royal, died L’Acadie, married to Honore Lord born 1742 Port Royal Married c 1765 New England St. Our Quebec before 1771
Daniel Garceau 1707-1772 Born Port Royal, died Yamachiche, Quebec, father of Appoline Garceau Port Royal Apparently, New England where Lore family was living Yamachiche, Quebec, probably before 1768
Anne dit Jeanne Doucet 1713-1791 Born Port Royal, died Sorel, Quebec, married to Daniel Garceau Port Royal Apparently New England St. Our, Quebec before 1771
Rene dit Laverdure Doucet Circa 1678-? Born Port Royal, death unknown, father to Anne Doucet Port Royal Unknown death not shown before 1755
Marie Anne Broussard Jan 1686 – ? Born Port Royal, death unknown, married to Rene Doucet Port Royal Unknown death not shown before 1755
Honore Lord 1766-1834 Born New England, died L’Acadie, father of Antoine Lord (Lore) New England New England St. Ours by 1771, then L’Acadie by 1777
Marie Lafaille 1767-1836 Born New England, died L’Acadie, married 1789 L’Acadie, to Honore Lord born 1766 New England New England L’Acadie by 1788

 

Francois Lafaille (Lafaye, Lafay) 1744-1824 Born Acadia, died L’Acadie, father of Marie Lafaille Acadia?, parents unknown Pledged their troth on Nov. 10, 1767, in the colonies L’Acadie by 1788 when children baptized by a priest
Marguerite Forest (LaForest, DeForet, Foret, Forais) 1748-1819 Married to Francois Lafaille 1767, remarried in 1792 in L’Acadie by a priest, died in L’Acadie, married to Francois Lafaille Port Royal Pledged their troth on Nov. 10, 1767, in the colonies L’Acadie by 1788 when children baptized by a priest
Jacques Forest 1707-? Born Port Royal, death unknown, father to Marguerite Forest Port Royal In 1763 on Connecticut census
Marie Joseph LePrince 1715-? Born Port Royal, married in 1734, death unknown, married to Jacques Forest Port Royal Husband on 1763 Connecticut census
Jean LePrince Circa 1692-after 1752 Born in Acadia, died after July 3, 1752, father of Marie Joseph LePrince Acadia Unknown, died after July 3, 1752
Jeanne Blanchard Circa 1681-? Born Port Royal, possibly deceased Port Royal, married to Jean Leprince Port Royal Unknown, may have died in Port Royal

Please note that the people listed as born in “Port Royal” were baptized there. They could have been born elsewhere. I know the priests did travel, but I don’t know how extensively, or how often.

Well, crumb, none of my ancestors are on the Camp d’Esperance list. However, I should check their children or siblings who aren’t my ancestors – especially if their siblings/children were old enough to be married.

Clearly, my ancestors might have been separated from the rest of their family, but then again, maybe not. Gathering every shred of evidence is always a good thing and the effort is never wasted – even negative evidence. Now I at least know where they weren’t.

What about you? Do you have Acadian ancestors? Where were your ancestors during and after Le Grand Derangement? Are they found at Camp d’Esperance?

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22 thoughts on “Acadian Refugee Households at Camp d’Esperance 1756-1761 – 52 Ancestors #338

  1. Thank you cousine for this article. As you say, if you relate to one Acadian, you relate to all. My Acadian ancestors were fortunate to have escaped to Québec, but the journey was treacherous, traveling in small groups up the St. Johns River in today’s New Brunswick, with the British close at their heels, killing and burning as they went. The British were not satisfied removing just those that were in Acadia, but followed the refugees up to Miramichi and even to Gaspé. Some were able to escape into the woods, while their small fishing cabins were set on fire, and those that could not escape rounded up. This was ethnic cleansing at its worst before the term was coined.

    I can certainly understand why Native groups tore down the statue of Queen Victoria in Winnipeg last week. While Americans are notoriously anglophilic, the history of British imperialistic conquest, repression and yes, ethnic cleansing, where “the sun never set”, including two wars with China to keep their opium trade open, should be considered by all of us who also have English ancestry, As I do.

    But for those still researching possible Acadian heritage, I recommend Stephen A. White’s “Dictionnaire Généalogie des Familles Acadiennes”. Professor White has been working on a second edition for many years now that hopefully will be printed soon. An excellent website, among many good ones, for Louisiana Cajun research is the exhaustively researched http://acadiansingray.com/

    • Add me to this blog thread. I’m distantly related to the French Acadian through my mtDNA line.

  2. Roberta,

    Thank you for your item on the Acadian Expulsion and it’s lasting effects. As always, you do justice to your subject matter.

    I am, however, concerned with the tone and facts behind some of your comments. There is no question that the Expulsion was, in hindsight anyway, entirely unnecessary and was considered cruel even by many who participated, even during a very cruel and violent period in history. There is similarly no question that long-standing political and religious issues between English and French, at that time still at war in North America, were behind the action. There is no need to consider the purported justification behind the Expulsion even if some might be true. It took only a few decades before many of those who benefited most – the so-called New England Planters who replaced the Acadians along the Fundy coast, expressed regrets for the event. And, of course, Longfellow romanticized everything in “Evangeline.” Similar delayed reactions are seen with the Japanese internment during WW2.

    That said, you say, “The expulsion began with the destruction of farms, burning of homes, and murder . . . ,” and that, “Families were intentionally and cruelly separated . . . .” And you say, “Many of the roughly 13,500 Catholic Acadians whose families had lived in this region for almost 150 years were simply killed outright.”

    As someone who has ancestors living in Annapolis Royal well before the Expulsion as well as others who emigrated from New England to the Annapolis Valley, Grand Pre, and other formerly-Acadian areas, has many cousins (including some with Acadian dna) still living there, and who has read a fair amount on the events in the last 60+ years, I don’t recall such explicit statements suggesting intentional and permanent separation or murder. The former may well have been the result but was it “intentional?” And “outright killing . . . of many” during the expulsion is a claim I have never seen, at least in terms of policy or implemention. I’ve read some pretty intensely partisan papers that don’t even go that far.

    So . . . presumably you can provide credible sources for those claims?

    Thanks.

    • You can find the exact words in John Mack Faragher’s book “A Great and Noble Scheme: The Tragic Story of the Expulsion Of The French Acadians from Their American Homeland” He is a Yale professor and wrote it in 2005. Maybe you should take it up with him.

      • Agreed. There are very many credible sources, including the British military’s own reports, the Haldimand letters, eyewitness accounts, as well as scholarly histories, detailing the killing of people that refused or failed to depart on what were mostly American colonial ships. And these were British subjects ! as Acadia was ceded by France in the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht.

        From the Expulsion Orders of Governor Lawrence of 11 August 1755,
        “You will use all the means proper and necessary for collecting the people together so as to get them on board. If you find that fair means will not do with them, you must proceed by the most vigorous measures possible, not only in compelling them to embark, but in depriving those who shall escape of all means of shelter or support by burning their houses and destroying everything that may afford them the means of subsistence in the country, and if you have not force sufficient to perform this service, Colonel Winslow at Mines or the Commanding Officer there will upon your application send you a proper reinforcement.”

        There are several reports on file at archives in Canada and elsewhere of people being killed for refusing to board. And that of course does not include the literally thousands who died shipwrecked at sea or while onboard or shortly upon arrival due the conditions inherent in this horrible ethnic cleansing.

        But while almost all had no chance of escape, one group of Acadians, onboard “The Pembroke” did mange to seize the ship and steer it to Rivière-St-Jean, near what is now St. Johns, New Brunswick. Some of my ancestors were aboard and escaped up the river as I mentioned above. My 7th-great-grandfather, Prudent Robichaud, died while en route, and he was one of those the British used after 1713 as an intermediary with the resident Acadians, as administrator and head of the French Council and Justice of the Peace. All that did not save him, and he died fleeing for freedom !

  3. According to my DNA I am 89% French. At first, I didn’t realize that a portion of my DNA is of Acadien source but discovered that my Acadiens mostly settled in the Yamachiche/Louiseville area (Mauricie region) and married a number of my Québécois ancestors. So I went back to add them to my tree and also to my husband’s who is 97% French. And yes our trees included Garceau, Lord, Doucet, Blanchard and many more.

    I discovered part of the history of the “Grand Dérangement” when I came across mass burials in the Québec city parish registers for 1757-58 and realized Acadiens were the reason for some of my own missing links.

    I would like to recommend two gorgeous maps and a brochure. You can find the brochure here: https://snacadie.org/images/PDF/commission_odyssee/SNA_De%CC%81pliantOdyse%CC%81e_VF_2020.pdf

    The first map is “L’Odyséee du peuple” prepared by Environ Canada, 24” x 36” on glossy paper, English one side, French on the other, illustrating the Acadian diaspora and all the countries in their world to which they were dispersed.

    The second map is “Au coeur de l’Acadie”, Acadien settlement on the Annapolis River in 1707 (16” x 24”) identifying all the various homesteads along the river. It is available at the Fort Anne National Historic Park and possibly through Parks Canada.

    Being a proud part Acadien, these documents are very precious to me.

    P.S. Nova Scotia is not an island. It is a peninsula connected to New Brunswick by an isthmus. However, the French fort of Louisbourg is on Cape Breton which is connected to mainland Nova Scotia by a causeway (obviously not original).

  4. Spent Saturday discussing some other displaced people – Highlanders and Islanders who were pushed off their land in Scotland and dispatched to Cape Breton and other parts of Nova Scotia after most Acadians had been removed. Acadians, Scots, such a history of sad events.

    • My husband has a Scottish great grandfather who moved from the Hebrides Islands to Nova Scotia. But I don’t know the back story.

  5. Roberta, you mention Marie Charlotte Bonnevie dying at sea in 1758 and wondered about the destination. The 1758 expulsions were generally of those Acadians who had resettled on Île Royale and Île St-Jean after the 1755 expulsion, and destined for St. Malo in Brittany. From the excellent site, https://www.acadian.org/history/ships-acadian-expulsion/

    “After the fall of Louisbourg in July of 1758, It was decided that the Acadians of Ile Royale (now Cape Breton), Ile St-Jean (Prince Edward Island) transport to France and the transports were assembled in November, 1758. However, soon after their departure, the transports were delayed in the Gut of Canso until November 25, 1758 when they finally set sail for France. After three days at sea a storm blew at night with rough and high seas and sleet and rain, and these stormy conditions separated the ships. The storm lasted a couple of days, and it is believed that at least three of the transports with all of the Acadians aboard perished It is estimated that some 1300 Acadians were lost at sea during the voyage to France in the winter of 1758. Between September 8, 1758 and November 5, 1758 it was believed that 2,200 Acadians were embarked on 16 ships destined for France. Although these transports embarked from Acadia some 3 years after the massive expulsion of the fall of 1755, some of the transports that were known to be used for this expulsion are listed above. An account of the three ships that are believed to have sunk with all of the Acadians aboard, can be found in the Acadian Genealogy Exchange, Vol XIX # 3 p. 75 and again In the AGE, Vol XIX # 2 1990 p. 38-40 and in the publication, “The Acadian Exile in St. Malo”. Steven White and Father d’Entremont discuss the sinking of the Duke William and the Violet. The Acadians that were shipped directly to France, disembarked at St. Malo on January 23, 1759 from the “five ships”, later identified as the YARMOUTH, MATHIAS, RESTORATION, PATIENCE and JOHN SAMUEL. After the loss of the DUKE WILLIAM and VIOLET, 9 ships were reported to be in the convoy.”

      • Did any of the Acadian end up in Haiti and the Dominican Republic in the 1700s to 1800s? Or were those settlers direct French immigrants?

          • The attached article indicated that some of the Acadian refugees were sent to the Caribbean. None of the surnames in the list match the Yeisseire surname. My husband’s great grandmother was born in Haiti and emigrated (or fled) to Pennsylvania with her mother. The family tree shows that earlier ancestors lived in Southern France so I doubted that they lived in Nova Scotia or Quebec. I don’t want to add more details because this is a public forum.

          • Teisseire or Tessier – my phone keeps misspelling the name.

          • This from the map “The Odyssey of a People”:

            In 1755, 1,100 Acadiens were refused entry into Virginia and were taken to England. After the war, the surviving 750 were repatriated to France.

            In 1763-66 several families migrated to the Falkland Islands but left 1769-75 when Spain claimed the islands.

            In 1763-64 138 Acadiens resettled from France to French Guiana where many died and the remainder repatriated to France.

            Acadiens from Nova Scotia, New York and Charleston went to Santo Domingo (Haïté/Dominican Republic) but hundreds died from the heat and the survivors were relocated to Louisiana and the American colonies.

            I’ve omitted here the attempted entries and rejections by the American colonies (for example, Boston, Baltimore, etc.) because they are already fairly well known.

        • Not initially. The expulsions of 1755 were to the American colonies, mostly New England. Those of 1758, after the capture of Lousibourg, were mostly to France. I guess the colonial governors had complained they were dumped on. It was only after the end of the Seven Years’ War with the Treaty of Paris in 1763, whereby France ceded all of Canada to England that those expelled were allowed to journey to other areas, including some back to now-British Nova Scotia where they found their farms taken over by New Englanders. They were compelled to settle on less desirable land further up the coast in now-New Brunswick. But many did not return and dispersed elsewhere.

          According to the “Historical Atlas of Canada”, over 1,500 Acadian refugees in France emigrated to Louisiana in 1785. By 1800 there were about 4,000 Acadians there, forming the nucleus of our Louisiana Cajuns. In addition, several hundred migrated to the Caribbean, including St-Domingue (now Haiti) and Guyane (French Guiana). There had for years been significant trade between the French colonies in the Caribbean and Louisbourg, run by Louisbourg merchants and shipowners.

          One of my ancestral cousins, deported to France in 1758, journeyed with her husband to French Guiana and died at Sinnamary, a town there, in 1771. Another ancestral cousin, Pierre Baucher dit Saint-Martin, was able to escape on one of his boats (he was a merchant) and made it to Louisiana in 1758 where he married and became the progenitor of the Saint-Martin families there. Thus, the Acadian Diaspora.

          • Interesting! My husband’s paternal great grandmother was born in St Domingue (Haiti). Her father and grandfather owned plantations there. After the slave rebellion in early 1800s, her father returned to France to fight in the war and wasn’t heard from again. The great grandmother and her mother moved to Philly.

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