First Aid for the Holidays: It’s OK to Grieve, Just Breathe

As you begin this article, I want to assure you that it ends on a VERY positive note, with tools to help you or others who find themselves in a dark place. The holidays is a very difficult time for many.

Grief wears many faces, and we grieve many things.

This is about my journey out of the tunnel and life on the other side.

These past three years have been indescribably brutal for many people who have experienced loss, and often, multiple losses.

People, family, parents, siblings, children, pets, jobs, homes, and even more devastating losses sometimes – relationships and even entire families. Poof, just gone, sometimes without explanation or reason. Fractured forever, irreparably.

Funerals, when they were held, were often unable to be attended.

There’s no closure.

And now, once again, we face the holidays in this landscape of absence, in an even more politically charged and divisive environment.

Did you just feel your stress level increase?

I know it can be dark and brutal, but I want to share rays of hope with you, and some tools for getting there.

The only way to it is through it.

Please walk with me in this landscape for a bit.

Suicide Hotlines – Just in Case

I know the holidays can be particularly difficult, so just in case you’re overwhelmed, here’s a list of international suicide prevention hotline numbers. Please, please reach out if you need help.

In case you’re wondering, I’m fine. Today, I just talked to someone who isn’t, though.

Change is Tough

For many, including me, the holidays are not and can never be what they once were. Yet, we torture ourselves trying to paste on a smile and go through the motions of the traditions that were once warm and joyful in another time and place. But they aren’t anymore for a wide variety of reasons.

Do yourself a favor.

Just stop.

You don’t HAVE to do this.

And you shouldn’t try to recreate past times through tradition if it’s painful.

Let me share some personal experiences with you. You may have experienced or are experiencing something similar in your life. If you aren’t, good, but rest assured that someone you know and love probably is.

Grief and vulnerability are the secrets no one talks about.


We are all more vulnerable during holidays or periods of traditional cultural celebration, partly because we have expectations based on past experience. Or maybe it’s actually hope for the holidays and the relationships with the people in our lives. Maybe this year will FINALLY be better than the last, and the last, and the last, and everyone will be “home for the holidays” once again.

After all, traditionally, holidays have been a homecoming that looks like a Hallmark greeting card, at least in our minds.

Real life just doesn’t work this way. And if it once did, it doesn’t anymore.

As life moves on, so do people, pets, and family members, for a wide variety of reasons, including death, often making those memories increasingly painful. In some cases, it’s the cumulative number of those events, layer upon layer of grief. Sometimes, it’s how quickly they occur, an agonizing cluster that changes things forever. And sometimes, it’s the fracture of finality, leaving people feeling like they were thrown away like so much trash.

Sometimes, in our efforts to uphold our own expectations and those of others by recreating legendary family traditions and events, we inadvertently fall into a cycle of repeated disappointment, which can lead us to dread these very events in the future.

That’s a downward spiral.

Let Me Give You an Example

My mother cherished Christmas, treasuring it as a time when all the people she loved gathered together, united under one roof in celebration and togetherness.

The house was bustling, and conversations flowed in every room.

Food was abundant, and children zigzagged excitedly through adult legs on the way to their special table.

Sometimes, Santa even visited, although he looked a lot like my brother or the neighbor from the farm down the road. I’m sure that was just a coincidence, though.

In my family, Christmas was both a holiday and our only family reunion.

After Dad passed away, Mom moved to an apartment, and those large family Christmas gatherings were no more, although we regrouped in a different setting. Mom used to be so joyful, singing in the kitchen, but she often cried at Christmas after Dad and others were gone, although she tried to hide her tears from the rest of us.

After Mom passed away, Christmas was just PAINFUL. We tried to focus on our wonderful memories of Mom, but the pain of her departure was very real. Everyone experiences some version of these events, and it’s normal to feel grief, but what we often aren’t prepared for is that someone’s absence changes the dynamics of everything.

For a few years, we still tried to connect with each other and have something resembling a “family holiday,” but not everyone was interested, and people drifted away. The “glue” was gone.

After both of my brothers died of cancer within a few months of each other just six years later, any semblance of family tradition fell completely apart.

I then tried to pivot into the matriarch role and provide family Christmas traditions for my own offspring. I longed for those earlier joyful days, too. They lovingly remembered “Christmas at Mawmaw’s house,” which, in turn, was some iteration of her family Christmas traditions that had been passed down in her maternal line for unknown generations.

I wanted to continue those warm traditions and create loving memories for my family, passing the tradition of togetherness and love to future generations.

That was a wonderful aspiration, but it just wasn’t to be.

Life is what happens when you’re making other plans.

Physical Mementos

I was bound and determined to continue family traditions. That’s just what the next generation does. My mother picked up the mantle when my grandmother passed away in 1960, and nearly a half-century later, it was my turn.

Mom gave each of her children and grandchildren a special Christmas ornament every year, most of them handmade. She loved to crochet and started working on ornaments and Christmas gifts months before the holiday season. After all, she had several to make and enjoyed every minute. Love was woven in every stitch.

Sometimes, the ornaments were representative of the year, like an Olympics year, for example, or maybe a ballerina or football ornament for children who participated in those activities. The theory was that each child would have a “starter set” of personal Christmas ornaments with loving memories when they fledged from the nest and started their own home with their own Christmas tree.

Mom even taped a tiny year someplace on the ornament, generally on the hanger, so they would know which ornament went with which year.

I thought that was wonderful, so I began to do the same thing.

In addition to making ornaments for my children, I made this ornament for Mom the year she won a Best of Show ribbon at the Indiana State Fair. Mom and I so enjoyed attending those exhibits together, often with grandchildren in tow. That was a red-letter year for her, and she proudly displayed the ornament on her tree, right in the front. Then, 17 years later, I inherited that ornament. It’s bittersweet, of course, but reminds me of our wonderful times together and Mother’s beautiful handwork.

I made and gifted special ornaments each year, not only to my children, but eventually to my grandchildren.

While my children began their adult life with their own ornament set, the next generation wasn’t interested and didn’t even remember that they received ornaments year to year. I tried everything, special boxes, allowing them to select ornaments from my tree that they liked, but nothing worked.

Then, in time, it wasn’t just the ornament tradition that bit the dust, but all of the traditions. Put simply, no one cared. I finally got the message.

That left me with boxes full of Christmas tree ornaments, and two trees. I tried putting the tree up regardless, because – you know – Mom and memories, and she would have liked that. And maybe, just maybe, things would be different this year.

But I sat alone, sadder every year, because there was no family gathering Christmas tradition anymore, despite my continuing efforts. There were no songs, no Christmas smells in the house, and what at one time had been a wonderful, warm tradition became just the opposite. Those ornaments seemed to mock me and served to remind me of pointed absence, not presence.

I dreaded the holidays more each year.

The family had shrunk dramatically and been cleaved into two. One of my adult children continued to come with their spouse and remained engaged, but the silence of the absence of the balance of the family members was deafening.

It’s not like we could pretend that empty chairs weren’t empty.

Then came Covid and unraveled the rest.

Enough is Enough

In some families, Covid, sometimes combined with ugly politics, broke traditions and relationships that haven’t resumed or recovered.

The forced isolation of Covid and traditions shattered by estrangement have continued for many. That situation now exists by choice, not by Covid.

Life is simply too short to continue enduring the repeated pain of rejection, especially for no discernible reason.

Hope is not a strategy, and repeated disappointment evolves into a cycle of ever-deepening grief.

At some point, enough is enough. There needs to be an end to the spiral of recurring pain.

Wishing, hoping, inviting, and even begging simply can’t make people care or succeed in recreating past traditions. People don’t show up if they don’t want to. Recurrent flimsy excuses that really say “I don’t care,” take the place of people. I think guilt then discourages showing up and “facing people” in the future, too, so it’s a self-perpetuating cycle of “can’t bother, don’t care.”

Even if the wished-for people begrudgingly attend, somewhat under duress, or maybe from a sense of obligation, it’s not the same because it’s obvious that they really don’t want to be there. That’s almost worse than absence.

When things no longer work, it’s time to accept that fact, release them, and move on. It’s much like going through the motions in a bad marriage – not good for anyone and never gets better.

For me, that moment arrived when I almost died. I found myself perilously close to death, and in those moments, as life hung perilously in the balance, something inexplicable changed.


Working from home during Covid provided the opportunity to move – something we had considered for years. We knew it was time to move, and move on.

The next challenge was packing, which means you have to sort through everything and decide what to do with things. Take, leave, give away, sell, or trash. As you come across all those things you boxed up years ago, you relive all of those shallowly buried memories. Ghouls come leaping from the grave.

After consulting with my daughter, I gave away all the Christmas ornaments and both trees to loving homes. I kept a few ornaments – some that Jim and I had purchased on special occasions, those yearly ornaments from Mom, some made by my children, and the ones from my grandmother as well. My daughter will inherit those someday.

The rest just needed to go.

I no longer feel obligated to “try” to recreate traditions that died.

I no longer feel obligated to put up a Christmas tree that simply makes me cry every time I see ornaments that remind me of people, lives, traditions, and relationships that have passed away, either literally or figuratively.

I don’t do any of that anymore.

Life’s too short, and self-care is critically important.


Triggers are like unexpectedly poking an old wound. Maybe cracking your shin or crazy bone against something sharp. OUCH!

It seems that we are more susceptible to triggers during the holidays. That’s when holiday decorations, ads, and songs are more in evidence, reminding us of times past whether we want to be reminded or not.

Sometimes, though, triggers are found when and where we least expect them – like in the cedar chest.

This past week, I was ill and wanted to add an extra quilt to the bed, so I grabbed a quilt that one of my friends lovingly made for my small family wedding 20 years ago.

It seemed like such a good idea at the time, asking attendees to sign squares. Each of those yellow centers holds a signature and, often, a message too.

It was late at night, and I was already “sick and tired,” literally. For some reason, I decided to read those squares. It seemed like such a positive thing to do, because it was such a joyful day, and they had been lovingly penned.

What was I thinking? I thought they would be comforting. I should have known better.

As I began, the one signed by my daughter, who stood up with me as my maid of honor, made me smile. There were lovely messages from long-time friends and my quilt sisters.

I saw Mom’s shaky signature, a couple of years before she left us, and that made me both smile and cry. That response didn’t surprise me, but some of the rest did.

Most of the people have either passed away or migrated away. I don’t necessarily mean that in a universally negative sense because, in some cases, it was due to aging and necessary life changes. Even for the best of reasons, it represented a loss of sorts, like Christmas tree lights that dim and wink out one by one.

Sometimes, the reason was darker. Some people died, and in other cases, relationships ended – some horribly and bitterly, inflicting great pain.

But the square that absolutely gutted me was the tiny traced handprint of a child, no longer here. Ripped my heart right out of my chest, threw it on the floor, and stomped on it. Daggers to my soul.

That was it. I folded that quilt up and put it away. I may never unfold it again.

It vividly resurrects all the memories of those now-gone people and traditions in both their glory and deepest tragedy.

We all reach a low at some point, often for unexpected reasons. The proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back, but that does not need to be the end of the story. It’s just the shutting of that door and the opening of another.

Let’s open a door.

New Traditions

I am determined that I will not allow change, even unwelcome or forced change, to defeat me and define my life.

I did not die on that life-changing day, nor with those traditions, relationships, or those people. Those who love or loved me would not want me to, and the rest don’t matter.

Let me say that again, THE REST DON’T MATTER.

I’m still here, relatively healthy, and living the next chapter of life in beautiful surroundings.

Yes, Thanksgiving is on the calendar, and so is Christmas. You can’t miss those dates or events. There will be Thanksgiving dinner, but just for me, Jim, and maybe a friend or two – and that’s now fine.

Yes, just fine.

My daughter and I have mutually agreed to release old habits and make glorious new ones that better suit our lives now. Or, maybe just the tradition of enjoying the moment whenever it occurs. Let’s face it: travel is brutal in the middle of the winter, so we select easier, less-crowded times.

There will be no traditional Christmas tree, for either me or her. And guess what, that’s not only absolutely fine, it’s cathartic and a relief. This is my Charlie Brown Christmas tree now, and I love it. It comes with no hassle and no tears.

Our small remaining family has decided that gifts will no longer be exchanged during the holiday season. We will simply do things for each other during the year, as the opportunity arises and we see something a family member would enjoy.

For example, my daughter and I took a glorious trip together this summer.

Art, gardens, parks, dogs, eagles, moose, coffee, luscious food in little-known quaint restaurants and family – how does it get better???

Sometimes, surprise boxes arrive. That’s such fun. I’m now the proud human adopter of a rescued manatee, Ariel.

Here’s the beautiful part. We are both very much looking forward to our next adventure together – not dreading the holidays.

We will embark on a wonderful journey soon, together, on a white sand beach in a place neither of us ever imagined. I can hardly wait.

No more dreading the holidays and trying to breathe life into dead traditions. She’s probably relieved, too.

We’re free.

It wasn’t easy or immediate, but…

We. Are. Free.

We are no longer adrift or cast away on a sea of grief.

Just Breathe

Today, I can breathe instead of grieve. No more tightness of dread in my chest, increasing each day as the holidays approach, knowing assuredly that things will go wrong, just not how this year. No more fighting back hot, unwelcome tears from mid-November to New Year’s when the holidays are finally over.

Now that I’ve found peace in embracing change, it no longer feels like chronic loss, but a stream of new opportunities to be enjoyed. The joy is being spread in different, less traditional ways.

The past no longer binds me. It wasn’t working any more.

As for Christmas Day, I’m starting a new tradition for myself. I’m going to walk on the beach and feel the salty breeze in my hair. Either alone or with Jim.

No one else will be there. I will commune with Mom and Dad, my brother Dave, my sister Edna, my cousin Cheryl, and the rest of those I’ve loved and lost.

They will be with me there, gliding with the gulls on the ocean breeze.

With immense gratitude, I’ll remember my ancestors who survived incredibly difficult journeys. Without them, I wouldn’t have this priceless opportunity to live and make a difference in other people’s lives.

I will be thankful for those opportunities and send positive energy into the universe for the earth and her people.

I’ll lift a prayer for peace and unity, which we so desperately need right now.

But I won’t, I will NOT grieve the past. I’ve had that funeral, and it’s at rest now.

I, too, will be at peace.

Your Turn

Put whatever brings you pain to rest and release it so that you can make space to breathe in the new.

You’re not obligated to uphold old traditions. Don’t stay trapped in what no longer works.

This is a labyrinth, not a maze.

There’s a way out, an exit, an off-ramp.

Your ancestors will help you. They walk with you in unseen ways, offering guidance and wisdom.

Move on to something new, more suited to you.

Give yourself permission.

Release yourself from the pain of the past.

Create beautiful, new, imaginative traditions, or none at all.

Either is fine.

When life gives you scraps, make quilts.

Find or make something new and joyful.

Allow yourself flights of fancy and to dream.

The sky is not the limit.

There is no limit.

And breathe.

Just breathe.

Help With Inspirational Positivity

What we view interacts with our brain. As a quilter, I’m very aware of how color and pattern make us feel. The images I used in the section above were created with that in mind. How did they make you feel?

If you’re having trouble feeling positive, and who doesn’t from time to time, motivational or inspirational images will help. AI is your friend, so let’s give it a try.

If you subscribe to ChatGPT 4, enter a request into DALL-E, the image generator. If you don’t subscribe to ChatGPT, my favorite, use a free image generator. You can ask ChatGPT’s free version for free AI image generators to get started, or you can try DALL-E for free through Bing’s Image Creator, here. Personally, I think the $20 a month for ChatGPT 4, which includes Dall-E, is well worth the investment, even if you just use it for one month for a daily dose of positivity during a difficult time.

Ask ChatGPT 4’s DALL-E or your AI generator of choice to create an inspirational image. You may or may not provide more direct or additional instructions. You can even just google.

I asked DALL-E to “create a picture by interpreting the phrase, ‘when life gives you scraps, make beautiful quilts’.”

Next, I included a photo of myself as a young person and asked ChatGPT to “put the person in a positive and inspirational setting with a labyrinth.”

ChatGPT doesn’t use people’s photos, but it generates images with likenesses. This is what I received. I can continue refining this image by asking ChatGPT to change it or by submitting a new request. (Please note that ChatGPT’s image generator is sometimes overburdened, and you have to wait a bit and try later.)

Be sure to include words in the instructions like “uplifting, “positive,” “ethereal”, “beautiful,” or “colorful.”

Next, I asked Dall-E to add a quilt theme to the same labyrinth image, above.

ChatGPT’s DALL-E doesn’t always follow directions exactly, but I must admit, I really love this, and now I want to make it as a quilt.

If you’re in a difficult space and can do nothing else right now, utilize ChatGPT, other AI image generators, Pixabay or even Google to bombard yourself with positive, hopeful images of your new or imagined life.

I’m serious.

Inspiration comes from many places, and beautiful images lift our spirits.

You WILL feel better.

Happy Holidays

Thanksgiving week begins now, so gird your loins if you need to, and maybe consider something novel. If you’re concerned about Thanksgiving dinner going off the rails, CNN’s newsletter today, here, provided a list of “20 Questions to Spark Gratitude.” It’s a thoughtful piece and worth taking a look, even if you don’t need it for Thanksgiving. I exchanged answers with Jim, which was fun, and we both learned something.

I asked ChatGPT for nontraditional Thanksgiving celebration ideas, and it suggested a barbeque or picnic celebration on a beach, a craft day, or a gratitude scavenger hunt.

You can ask the free version of ChatGPT for ideas, too.

I wish you the happiest of holidays over the next few weeks, no matter how you do, or don’t, decide to celebrate.

Please do something that brings YOU joy.


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Marie Gaudet (c1633-1710) – The Three Maries – 52 Ancestors #415

Just wait till you hear Marie Gaudet’s entire story!!! It’s a doozy. Truth be told, she has a secret so well kept that Marie may not have known about it herself.

But first, we have to set the stage. You need to meet the three Maries – Marie Gaudet and her two daughters – both named Marie. Nothing confusing about that, right?

Of course, you’ll meet the rest of the family as we navigate their adventures and misadventures in early Acadia, now Nova Scotia.

Of course, in the beginning, Acadia consisted of just a few houses on a distant peninsula of land, jutting into the North Atlantic. Only the very brave, or maybe the crazy, would choose to go there where death was only one misstep or mistake away!

Destination Acadia!

Marie Gaudet (also Godet), the subject of this article and the mother of the other two Maries, was born between 1630 and 1633, someplace in France, to her father, Jean Gaudet, and an unknown mother. I can’t help but wonder if her mother was named Marie, too.

Several ships arrived with settlers around 1648, so she may have been on board one of those along with at least her father and two siblings.

We know of the following arrivals, plus many undocumented ships bringing both supplies and workers from France.

  • 1632 – two ships from Auray in lower Brittany and a third from La Rochelle
  • The 1636 St. Jehan roster lists Jehan Guiot and wife, but no children.The departure location is unstated.
  • 1640s – ships from La Rochelle with workers, many of whom returned to France after their work contract expired.
  • Supply ships arrived in 1648.

There are few records of family arrivals, but clearly, they happened.

Marie was probably married about 1650 because her oldest known child, Marie Hebert, was born in 1651.

In the early 1650s, Port Royal was quite small, especially as the seed of the French-Acadians whose descendants number in the millions today. In 1653, there were about 45-50 households primarily clustered around Port Royal, and the population was estimated to be about 270 residents in 1654.

We don’t know when these families arrived, but we do know that French families would not have been transported during English rule, and they were likely in Acadia by 1650. Control of Acadia was batted back and forth like a ping-pong ball, amid much fighting, between the English and the French.

In 1654, Port Royal was burned by the English, but upriver homesteads may have been spared.

This map was drawn by the English in 1758, but shows the farms scattered along the river to the east of Port Royal, named here as Fort Annapolis.

In 1667, Acadian rule again shifted to the French who, in turn, required censuses be taken for tax purposes! Gotta love that tax man for generating records.

We’re lucky we know as much about Marie Gaudet as we do. As it turns out, we’re indebted to many of her descendants who provided depositions decades after her death.

1767 Depositions

After the forcible expulsion of the Acadians from Nova Scotia by the British beginning in 1755, some 3,500 eventually found themselves back in France. Of those, 78 Acadian families were repatriated to Belle-Ile-en-Mer, an island off the coast of Brittany.

On the order of Parliament of Brittany at Vannes, 58 depositions of the Acadians regarding their original heads of families were taken on the island between February and March of 1767. The parish priest recorded what the Acadian exiles, under oath, had to say about their ancestors and their origins. The purpose was to allow French officials to determine which Acadian refugees were entitled to the King’s protection.

Lucie LeBlanc Consentino graciously transcribed the essence of the depositions in English, here.

According to ten of Marie Gaudet’s descendants who gave depositions in 1767, Marie came from France and was married to Etienne Hebert. The descendants all stated that Marie and Etienne came from France, in fact, they said that Marie came “with her husband,” according to Lucie’s translation, but what they don’t say is whether or not they were married in France, or in Acadia. Acadian church records from that time no longer exist. In other words, they could have come separately, both from France and even potentially on the same ship. There may have been no marriage record in France, even if the records from where they originated are still extant. We simply don’t know when they arrived, or from where, or where they married.

Marie’s first or middle name may have been Anne, because two of her descendants mistakenly called her Anne, not Marie.

Depositions were given by:

  • Grandson Jean Hebert
  • Pierre Trahan, husband of her granddaughter Madeleine Comeau
  • One from their son, Pierre Trahan
  • One from their nephews Sylvestre and Simon Trahan
  • Two from the husbands of Marie’s great-granddaughters
  • One from a great-great-grandson
  • Two from husbands of her great-great-granddaughters

All depositions named Marie specifically except for the two Pierre Trahans.

Marie was the younger sister of Francoise Gaudet, who reportedly “came from France” with her husband, Daniel LeBlanc. Marie was also Denis Gaudet’s younger sister. The tree of Karen Theriot Reader, here, in an immigration note, provides the following information:

Robert C. West, AN ATLAS OF LOUISIANA SURNAMES OF FRENCH AND SPANISH ORIGIN; 1625-1880; Baton Rouge, Louisiana State Univ., 1986; p. 98; own copy. “All members of the clan being descendants of a single couple, Daniel LeBlanc and Francoise Gaudet of La Chaussée, Loudun area, France, who settled near Port Royal in 1659.” (A footnote cites: Sclanders, Ian 1972, “The LeBlancs of Acadia,” in FRENCH-CANADIAN AND ACADIAN GENEALOGICAL REVIEW, 4:11-16; Auger 1972, ibid., pp. 21-36; Godbout 1972, ibid. pp. 17-20; Massignon 1962, 1:42; Arsenault 1978, op cit., vol. 2:648; Pollard, Nora Lee, THE BOOK OF LEBLANC, Baton Rouge, Claitor’s, 1973, p. 1)

This, of course, begs the question of whether the Gaudet family was from La Chaussee. I wonder if anyone has searched the records for anything resembling Gaudet in or near that location.

Life In Acadia

Acadians were subsistence farmers, raising what they needed to live with hopefully a little extra to sell to passing ships, English soldiers at the fort, or maybe on a ship bound for New England – although trading with New England was illegal for the most part.

ChatGPT Dall-E’s interpretation of Acadians working in the field in 1686. ChatGPT is insistent on retaining the steeple on the barn, although we know clearly that the Acadians were Catholic and did not attend church in barns in the fields. Beyond that, this is probably a fair representation of communal farmwork.

The 1671 Census

While Marie’s life in Acadia began at least two decades earlier, the first actual record of Marie Gaudet in Acadia is the 1671 census of Port Royal, where Marie is shown as a 38-year-old widow living in the household next to her daughter Marie Hebert, age 20, and her husband Michel De Forest.

Thankfully, Marie Gaudet’s children are listed:

  • Marie 20 (born about 1651, married to Michel DeForest)
  • Marguerite 19 (born about 1652, married to Jacques LePrince)
  • Emmanuel 18, not yet married (born about 1653)
  • Etienne 17 (born about 1654)
  • Child born in about 1656 likely perished
  • Jean 13 (born about 1658)
  • Child probably born about 1660 likely perished
  • Francoise 10 (born about 1661)
  • Catherine 9 (born about 1662)
  • Child probably born about 1664 likely perished
  • Martine 6 (born about 1665)
  • Michel 5 (born about 1666)
  • Child probably born about 1668 likely perished
  • Antoine 1 (born about 1670)

Marie also has 4 cattle, 5 sheep and 3 arpents of land.

Marie’s residence is located between Michel DeForest, her son-in-law, and Denis Gaudet, her brother, age 46, with his wife Martine Gauthier. Their father, Jean Gaudet, laborer, age 96, is living with Denis. Jean’s age is almost certainly wrong since he was still living seven years later in the next census – although it’s possible he lived to 103. Regardless, that poor old man was still listed as a laborer.

Marie had endured a lot of recent grief. The obvious gaps between children strongly suggest that she had buried four children, including a child between 1668 and 1670. Given that she had one-year-old Antoine, Marie’s husband, Etienne Hebert, had died about 1670, or at least within the past two years, sometime after Marie had become pregnant for Antoine. Marie could have been pregnant when Etienne died.

There she was, 36 or 37 years old, living on the frontier, either pregnant or with an infant, plus seven other children to care for. Perhaps her two sons-in-law saved the day, along with her teenage sons Emmanuel and Etienne. Regardless, no one wants to be needy and beholden to others.

Marie already had three grandchildren through daughter Marie Hebert with Michel DeForest, and probably two grandchildren through daughter Marguerite through her marriage with Jacques LePrince, although they are not listed in the 1671 census.

Under the circumstances, how was Marie to survive?

How did she survive?


Marie was single in a time when wives in Acadia were a scarce commodity. She also had land, so she probably had her choice of suitors.

Maybe she intended to wait for Mr. Right, but I’d think that Mr. Right-Now would have been imminently attractive with a farm to run and seven hungry mouths to feed.

The next census wasn’t taken for another seven years, in 1678, but a lot happened during that time.

In 1677, Marie’s oldest daughter, age 26, also named Marie, who lived next door, died. I’ve always wondered if she died in childbirth. Marie must have been utterly heartbroken and probably wondered why it couldn’t have been her instead, although she wasn’t even yet 50.

In the 1678 census, which might have been taken in early 1679, we find Dominiq Garrau (Dominique Gareau) and Marie Godet. With them is listed Jean Godet, no age given, which would be Marie’s father, in addition to a boy, age 3, who would have been born about 1675. Another girl is listed, age 4, so born about 1674, along with 3 acres (arpents?) and 8 cattle. The rest of Marie’s Hebert children are missing.

It’s difficult to interpret this. Marie’s two young children must be by Dominique Gareau, or at least by a husband after Etienne died in 1670. Her two youngest children by Etienne Hebert, sons Michel and Antoine, would have been 12 and 8, respectively. The children listed in 1678 were aged 3 and 4, which suggests that Marie remarried about 1673, two years following the earlier census.

But where were her Hebert children? And what happened to these two children with Dominique?

It’s worth noting that the Hebert and Gaudet land may have been well located, meaning higher land and not swampy.

A note on the census says, “Sans Soucy 29, which means “without worry 29,” 1 acre of high land, bordering at one end on the river, at the other end on the north wood [and] on one side Anthoine Hebert [and] Denis Godet.” Antoine Hebert is Etienne Hebert’s brother, and Denis Godet is Marie Godet’s brother.

In this case, “high ground” may be a relative term.

Children Settle Elsewhere

By 1680, Marie’s adult children began to move away. Now, granted, Les Mines wasn’t terribly far away, by today’s standards. But in 1680, transportation was by canoe.

Les Mines generally meant settlements in the Minas Basin. There was no road at that time, because we know in the early 1700s, when forced to flee, the Acadians tried to cut a cart road to Les Mines.

Grand Pre was the largest settlement, and where most of Marie’s children who left settled, but there was no bringing the children for visits to Grandma’s house.

Gone to Les Mines meant gone for good. Marie’s children may have made the voyage to visit occasionally, particularly her sons, but not the entire family and if those visits occurred, they were assuredly rare.

Marie’s son, Etienne Hebert, age 26, had made the trip by 1680 when his first child was born in Grand Pre.

The exodus of the next generation had begun with a trickle, but soon it would be an open faucet.

The 1686 Census

In 1686, Dominique Garault is shown as age 60 (born 1626), along with Marie Godet (no age given, but she would have been in her 50s); children of Marie (and Etienne Hebert): Michel 20, Antoine 16 and Elarie Garault 9 (born about 1677), with 3 arpents of land, 4 sheep and 3 hogs.

Only one Garault child is shown in 1686, the female, meaning Marie’s youngest son, has died. Elarie is later shown to be a misspelling or misinterpretation of Marie, born about 1677.

Marie Gaudet is still living beside her son-in-law, Michel DeForest, who remarried after his wife, Marie’s daughter, Marie, died.

The rest of Marie Gaudet’s children by Etienne Hebert have married and most live nearby, beginning families of their own. Catherine, age 24, had followed the path of other young Acadians to Les Mines and already had four children.

By 1686, Marie had about 41 grandchildren, 11 of whom she had buried, along with five or six of her own children and, of course, her first husband, Etienne.

Marie’s father had also died in the years since the 1678 census. I bet these Acadian families were in church often. Sundays for Mass, of course, plus at least a baptism and a funeral each week.


On May 19th, 1690, the Battle of Port Royal occurred. Most of the Acadian soldiers were absent, and the fort was in a state of disrepair with no cannons mounted. The old fort had been razed, and a new one was in the process of being built, which made Acadia an easy mark as she could not defend herself. The fort, and with it, Port Royal and the rest of Acadia fell immediately. In an act of revenge, the English plundered not only the fort but also the countryside and residents in breach of the surrender agreement.

We don’t know exactly what happened to Marie in 1690, but we do know that Acadian homes were ransacked by the English and stripped of anything and everything valuable. Farms were burned and animals slaughtered for sport. The church and at least 28 homes went up in flames, but the upriver farms were reported to have been spared the torch.

From 1690 through about 1694, this land and her people were embroiled in a tug-of-war between the English and French. Antoine de Cadillac reported that the Acadians, “creolles” as he termed them, “traveled most of the time by bark canoes. Their wives do the same and are very bold on the water.”

I wonder if by the term “Creolle,” which today means a person of mixed descent or a result of two or more cultures, he was referring more to language than anything else.

Three of Marie’s children, Martine, Michel, and Jean Hebert were in Les Mines by about 1690. If they left before the attack, she was probably very thankful for their safety. If they left after, it was just one more loss for her. They may well have decided to leave and settle elsewhere because of the attack.

I would hazard a guess that the Acadians absolutely despised the English. 

1693 Census

Neither Marie nor her husband are listed in the 1693 census, transcribed by Lucie. Their location is a mystery. Perhaps they decided to journey to Beaubassin or Les Mines and then decided later to return. Or, maybe their residence was simply missed, although that’s hard to fathom since the entire census of Port Royal consists of 500 people in 80 households, 878 cattle, 1,240 sheep, 704 hogs, and 120 guns. The entire community is cultivating 1,315 arpents of land. Beaubassin has about 119 people in 20 households, and Les Mines, 307 people in 57 households. Other families are scattered.

Everyone knows everyone as they all attend the same church.

Marie’s daughter, Marguerite, age 40, was living in Les Mines. Her husband, Jacques LePrince, had recently died. Marguerite was raising a 15-year-old daughter, twin boys age 13, along with younger children ages 5 and 1. Her mother might have been a lot of help, but Marie, who would be about 63 by now, isn’t listed in Les Mines either.

Marie’s youngest daughter, Marie Gareau is living in La Heve (LaHave today), her name spelled as Garost, age 17, with a 45-ear-old man simply listed as LaChapelle. There are only three households listed, plus one male “volunteer.” No children are listed for any household, but Marie likely had two before her marriage to her second husband about 1698. The census records 50 people at La Heve, 54 cattle, and 14 guns. Based on the lack of inhabitants, this would be considered a remote outpost. Le Have was the original capital on the southern coast of Acadia, abandoned in favor of Port Royal in 1635.

1696 – Another Attack

Another English attack occurred in 1696. Buildings were burned, animals slaughtered, and the dykes that held back the sea were ruined. It would be three long years before the Acadians could work those fields after rebuilding the dykes once the seawater saturated the ground.

This area along the Annapolis River near and adjacent Bloody Creek on the south, shown on the GIS system above in purple, was dyked and drained by the Gaudet/Hebert family for farmable land. Without dykes to hold the salty seawater back and maintain drainage, the purple land reverted to salt marsh.

I can see the family standing on their ruined fields, knowing their crops would be limited or nonexistent for the next few years, and crying. What were they to do?

What was left?

Was there other nearby land that could be farmed?

1698 Census

By 1698, Dominique, who would have been about 72, had died. In fact, he was dead by 1695 when the loyalty oath was forced upon the Acadian people.

Marie Godet is living alone in 1698 and is noted as a widow, age 60. Her age is clearly incorrect, as that puts her birth in 1638. Her first child was born about 1651, so she was probably 65-68ish.

Marie lives one house away from her daughter Francoise Hebert and her husband Jean Commeau. Marie’s youngest son, Antoine Hebert, and his family live two houses in the other direction. Marie apparently lives in her own home, but the land is being farmed by some family member or maybe collectively.

Family members have far more allotted land by 1698, maybe as a result of the 1696 attacks that ruined the fields. Francoise and her family are farming 39 arpents with 83 fruit trees, and Antoine is farming 16 arpents with 21 fruit trees. Orchards have matured, and families own many cattle, sheep, and hogs. Life seems good for a change!

I do wonder if any of those orchards remain today.

1700-1708 Censuses

It would be tempting to assume that Marie died before the 1700 census, since she isn’t shown in the 1700, 1701, 1703, 1707 or 1708 censuses. But she didn’t. Church records, beginning in 1702, remain, and we know that Marie didn’t die until 1710. She was likely living with a family member and simply wasn’t listed in the census.

Warfare continued and, unfortunately, had become a way of life in Acadia. Pirates, always opportunists, joined in the fray.

In 1708, Queen Anne’s War ramped up. Marie Gaudet was in her late 70s and had probably given up hope that she would ever see peace.

It’s nothing short of a miracle that Marie managed to live to the ripe age of 80, given what the Acadian people faced. But Marie wasn’t done with adversity quite yet.

June 1704 Raid on Grand Pre

In June of 1704, the English again raided Acadia in retaliation for a raid on Deerfield Massachusetts earlier that year. Seventeen warships with 550 men first proceeded to Port Royal, then on to Grand Pre.

The incensed English arrived in Grand Pre, which was entirely unfortified, during the last week of June and approached the village from the dense woods, hoping for a surprise attack.

Col. Benjamin Church, the commander, gave the Acadians and Micmac one hour to surrender, delivering this note.

We do also declare, that we have already made some beginnings of killing and scalping some Canada men, which we have not been wont to do or allow, and are now come with a great number of English and Indians, all volunteers, with resolutions to subdue you, and make you sensible of your cruelties to us, by treating you after the same manner.

Church’s forces got stuck in the tidal mud, giving the Acadians the opportunity to hurriedly evacuate into the woods.

When the muddy soldiers reached the village, the Acadian and Micmac men attempted defense, but were no match for the angry soldiers who proceeded to destroy everything.

According to one of Church’s dispatches, they destroyed 60 houses, six mills, the church, many barns, and about 70 cattle. Still not satisfied with his destruction, Church then gave orders on the third day to destroy the dykes and crops.

On the fourth day, Church left Grand Pre and advanced to raid Pisiguit, present-day Windsor and Falmoth, where he took 45 prisoners who were to be used as barter to negotiate the release of prisoners taken in the Deerfield Massacre.

Church then returned to Port Royal where he joined up with the rest of his fleet, burned a few more buildings, and took a few more hostages for good measure. Church then raided and burned Chedabucto, now Guysborough, before returning to Boston where he bragged that “only five dwellings remained in all of Acadia.” If he was right, this tells us what Marie endured at the age of 74. It’s not surprising that we never find Marie listed in the census in her home, again.


In Boston, initially, the Acadian hostages were allowed to roam the city freely, much to the dismay of the residents. Twice, they complained to the House of Representatives, asking that the Acadians be confined.

From that point in late 1704 until their release, the Acadians were confined in Castle William on an island in Boston Harbor which would be where Marie Gareau gave birth on February 1, 1705.

Marie’s youngest daughter, Marie Gareau, gave birth to her son, Paul, in Boston while she and her husband were imprisoned there. The child was baptized in Port Royal on September 26, 1706, just days after their release. This tells us that Marie was in the second group of hostages to be released.

After two long years of imprisonment in exile, the hostages were released in two groups. The first group of 57 left in December 1705, and the second group of 51 was released on September 18, 1706. We have to presume that Marie’s four, five, or six older children were included in the hostages.

Marie Gaudet, Marie’s mother, must have been out of her mind with worry. The baptism of Marie’s baby in Port Royal tells us that Marie got to see her daughter and grandchildren.

I can only imagine the joy of that tearful reunion.

Marie, age 32, along with her husband and five surviving children, were back in Grand Pre by 1709 when she gave birth there.

Later reports indicated that the residents of Grand Pre, not to mention those held hostage, never forgot, never trusted the English, and never felt safe.

Ironically, for Marie Gareau, that fear was entirely justified, as she would be one of the Acadians captured once again, rounded up in Grand Pre, and deported at the hands of the English in 1755.

Then 78 or 79 years old, she died in horrific conditions in 1755 or 1756 onboard the overcrowded disease-infested ships that the Virginians refused to allow to land or accommodate in any way. Hundreds died of illness and malnutrition on the ship held at Williamsburg before the survivors were shipped to England as hostages until 1763.

All I can say is that I hope Marie’s mother, Marie, was waiting with open arms to receive her on the other side.


We do know where Marie Gaudet and both of her husbands lived in Acadia.

In 1653, when Marie was a bride with two young children, Port Royal was described thus:

“There are numbers of meadows on both shores, and two islands which possess meadows, and which are 3 or 4 leagues from the fort in ascending. There is a great extent of meadows which the sea used to cover, and which the Sieur d’Aulnay had drained. It bears now fine and good wheat, and since the English have been masters of the country, the residents who were lodged near the fort have for the most part abandoned there houses and have gone to settle on the upper part of the river. They have made their clearings below and above this great meadow, which belongs at present to Madame de La Tour. There they have again drained other lands which bear wheat in much greater abundance than those which they cultivated round the fort, good though those were. All the inhabitants there are the ones whome Monsieur le Commandeur de Razilly had brought from France to La Have; since that time they have multiplied much at Port Royal, where they have a great number of cattle and swine.”

By 1670, Acadia had grown to about 400 people.

According to a 1733 map at the Nova Scotia Archives based on the 1707 census route, the Hebert and Gaudet families lived in close proximity near a bend in the Riviere Dauphin, now the Annapolis River, at the mouth of Bloody Creek.

Hebert Village is found on the south side of the river, image courtesy of MapAnnapolis, below.

Indeed, the Hebert and Gaudet families had settled upstream from Port Royal several miles, which may have been the only thing that saved them.

If only, if only we had Marie’s journals. It’s doubtful that Marie could either read or write, but we can wish, of course.

Marie Gaudet Dies

Marie lived for a very long time, especially in the age before modern medicine – not to mention that Acadia seemed to remain in a state of almost chronic warfare that ebbed and flowed for Marie’s entire life.

On July 30, 1710, a simple entry recording her death was scribed into the church records by the priest.

Marie’s age is given as 80 years, which puts her birth about 1630, assuming her age is accurate.

That same priest would have given Marie Last Rites, then delivered her final Requiem Mass. The entire community was assuredly present. She was a matriarch, and by then, everyone was probably related to Marie in one way or another.

The Acadians were preparing for war, which descended upon the land once again like an angry plague of locusts less than two months after Marie’s demise.

Her sons, grandsons, sons-in-law, and many descendants would be fighting for their very lives. Maybe it’s a good thing Marie passed when she did.


Marie was buried in what is now known as the Garrison Cemetery. This resting place is located beside the fort’s garrison and what was the Catholic church, which was destroyed along with Acadian graves in 1755.

Marie joined her children and grandchildren: her daughter Marie who died in 1677, her second husband Dominique Gareau who had been gone for about 20 years, her sister Francoise who had died nearly a decade earlier, her brother Denis who died the October before, and of course Etienne Hebert who had been gone for nearly 40 years. They must have had a joyful reunion.

Marie rests in an unmarked grave near the ghostly image of Fort Anne, keeping eternal watch over the bay. Her grave was probably marked with a simple wooden cross at the time, as her family said goodbye and prepared for the war they knew was sure to be visited upon them soon. 

Perhaps Marie’s spectre watched her remaining daughter, grandchildren and their families being rounded up and herded onto ships in their forced deportation 45 years later.

Perhaps Marie still watches today.

Marie’s Children

We depend upon the various censuses, later church records, and suggestive gaps between known children to determine how many children Marie brought into this world.

Few women were spared the sorrowful experience of burying children.

Child Spouse Total Children Born by 1710 – Grandchildren Marie knew Died by 1710 – Grandchildren Marie buried Total Survived
Marie Hebert c1651-1677 Port Royal Michel DeForest 7 6 1 6
Marguerite Hebert c1652-died aft 1715 Pisiquit Jacques LePrince 12 6 6 6
Emmanuel Hebert c1653-1744 Grand Pre Andree Brun 6 6 0 6
Etienne Hebert c1654-1713 Saint Charles des Mines, Grand Pré Jeanne Comeau 15 11 4 11
Unknown Hebert child c1656- died bef 1671 0 0 0 0
Jean Hebert c1658-1744 probably Pisiquid Jeanne Doiron 17 11 2 13
Unknown Hebert child c1660-died bef 1671 0 0 0 0
Francoise Hebert c1661-1713 Annapolis Royal Jean Comeau 20 17 3 17
Catherine Hebert c1662-1727 Louisbourg Philippe Pinet 14 12 2 12
Unknown Hebert child c1664-died bef 1671 0 0 0 0
Martine Hebert c1665-died aft 1797 Pisiquit Nicolas Barrieau 14 9 5 9
Michel Hebert c1666-1736 Les Mines, Grand Pre Isabelle Pellerin 16 12 0 16
Unknown Hebert child c1668-died bef 1671 0 0 0 0
Antoine Hebert c1670-1753 Jeanne Corporon & Anne Orillon 17 9 0 15
Male Gareau c1675-d bef 1686 0 0 0 0
Marie Gareau c1677-c1755 Virginia Unknown LaChapelle & Jerome Darois 16 6 3 (including her first 2 children) 10
Total 154 105 26 121

Children in bold remained at Port Royal. The rest moved away.

People who lived longer experienced more joy at the addition of grandchildren and even great-grandchildren – but also more frequent funerals and visits to the cemetery.

When Marie died, she had given birth to 16 children, buried five as infants and one as an adult who predeceased her.

And yes, Marie actually did have two daughters named Marie who both lived – her eldest child from her first marriage and her youngest child from her second marriage. Essentially bookends. No, I don’t know why. Maybe they had different middle names or were named after different people, but we will never know.

At her death, Marie had welcomed 105 grandchildren and buried 26, or 25% of them. A total of 154 grandchildren were eventually born to Marie, but only 121 would survive beyond the cradle.

Upon deeper investigation, we discover that Marie probably didn’t know most of her grandchildren, even though two-thirds were born before she died.

Several of Marie’s children moved as settlers to more distant parts of Acadia, probably for available land. We don’t know exactly when they left, but we have some idea.

  • Etienne Hebert was in Grand Pre by 1680
  • Catherine Hebert was in Les Mines by 1686
  • Martine, Michel, and Jean Hebert were all in Grand Pre by 1690
  • Marguerite Hebert was in Les Mines by 1693 as a widow
  • Marie’s youngest daughter, Marie Gareau, was in La Heve in 1693 at the age of 17, in Pisiguit by June of 1704 where she was kidnapped and in Grand Pre by 1709

It must have killed Marie for her baby to leave, especially so young.

Les Mines could have been a more generalized name for the region surrounding and perhaps including Grand Pre. At least those children lived near each other and could rely on family in difficult times. That would have been some comfort to Marie.

Only four of Marie’s children stayed near Port Royal: her oldest daughter Marie Hebert who had died by 1677, Emmanual, Francoise and Antoine Hebert. Those four blessed Marie with 38 grandchildren before her death. It’s sad that she never knew the rest, but based on those 1767 depositions, at least they knew her name and remembered her.

Marie said a final goodbye to seven of her children in a different way before her death. I suspect that at least three of them, if not more, left together.

While Marie herself was one of the original immigrants prior to 1650, one of her children, the youngest Marie, lived long enough to be deported in 1755, more than a century later. Marie Gareau died in either 1755 or 1756, languishing on one of the deportation ships off the coast of Virginia at about age 78. There would have been no Catholic Mass as a funeral for her. She would either have been buried at sea or lost to history in a pauper’s grave, because that’s what the Acadians had been reduced to.

Not the End

This was not the end for Marie Gaudet, nor was her birth the beginning.

Marie’s mysterious past would wait for another 313 years to be revealed – on a glorious late fall day after the last colorful leaves fall to the ground on the old homeplace beside Bloody Creek in Nova Scotia.

As the first snowflakes fall and cling to the earth along the tidal flats of the Riviere Dauphin, Marie has one more story to tell…and trust me; it’s gonna be one humdinger!


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Barney Campbell’s Descendants in the 1872 Chancery Court Suit – 52 Ancestors #414

Cousin Sherri, who is related to the Campbells, found a newspaper notification in the Knoxville Weekly Chronicle dating from July 24, 1872, and it clearly has to do with the Claiborne County, TN Campbell line.

Them’s my people!

So down the rabbit hole I went!!!

Who are these people? How are they connected together?  What is this all about?

Why Do I Care?

Why might an 1872 Chancery Court suit be important? My Campbell ancestors, John Campbell and his daughter, Elizabeth Campbell, were long dead by then, so why would I care what was happening 30+ years later?

Well, it’s complicated.

First, we don’t know much about the father of the two men, John and George Campbell, who settled in Claiborne County around the time the county was formed in 1801. They are believed to be brothers, both sons of Charles Campbell, but we lack definitive proof.

Second, we don’t know who the father of Charles Campbell is, but we have Y-DNA hints, and we’ve been chipping away at this brick wall for decades now. You just never know when and where that desperately needed tidbit is going to drop. Property and arguments over property are generational and often reach significantly back in time.

Third, Jacob Dobkins’ two daughters, Jenny Dobkins and Elizabeth Dobkins married John and George Campbell, respectively. Then, their grandchildren and great-grandchildren intermarried. All was NOT quiet on the homefront. In fact, these families seemed to be wracked with one scandal after another. Thank goodness, because those court records make them much more human, and often, it’s all we know about the family. Not to mention buried and not-so-buried hints.

Fourth, Jacob Dobkins was quite controversial. Jacob was a Revolutionary War soldier who bought a ton of land in Claiborne County, 1400 acres to be precise, apparently to keep his family together instead of his sons and son-in-laws moving off to claim land someplace else. Jacob was buried on the old home place, which wound up in the possession of his grandson, Barney Campbell, who himself is surrounded in mystery.

As it turned out, Jacob’s will was hidden and there was a huge brouhaha and resulting lawsuit over all that, complete with soap-opera-worthy drama and first-person details. I didn’t discover that Supreme Court case until this time last year when another cousin notified me. So old Jacob Dobkins still continues to surprise me, as do his family members. That one was juicy, too, and went all the way to the Tennessee Supreme Court in 1853, which is the only reason we found it.

Fifth, Barney Campbell himself. This man – Lord Have Mercy. He was Elizabeth Dobkins’ first-born child. There was debate for decades about whether he was born to Elizabeth before she married George Campbell, or after. And, based on that and other anomalies, whether or not Barney was fathered by George Campbell or someone else. The fact that George’s other children were mentioned by name in his will, but Barney was not, fueled that flame.

The story from WITHIN Barney’s line as told by a descendant:

My grandmother, Sally, died (in 1951) when I was about 10. I heard the story of Barney from her many times growing up…Barney was a Dobkins, his mother was Elizabeth, and he took the Campbell name when Elizabeth married George Campbell.

To explain that and probably to rescue Elizabeth’s reputation, another story emerged in a different child’s line – that George and Elizabeth had found an abandoned baby boy whose parents had been killed in Indian raids and raised him as their own. This, of course, removed the tongue-clucking about long-deceased Elizabeth’s morals. Tisk. Tisk.

Initially, based on DNA results, it looked like the answer was that Barney’s father was “someone else,” but his mother was Elizabeth Dobkins based on his descendants’ autosomal matches. Then, the results from the descendant of a second son of Barney tested and matched the Campbell line. Of course, we can’t go back in time to figure out what REALLY happened. Given those circumstances, I found it odd that Barney, of all the grandchildren, eventually would wind up owning his grandfather, Jacob Dobkins’ farm – especially after the accusations surrounding Jacob Dobkins’ will – yet he did.

I need about four Bingo cards to keep track of all of this.

To add to that suspense, someone else who lived in Claiborne County told me years ago that one of their relatives in Barney’s line started researching this family decades earlier, found something, tore everything up, and stopped searching. They wouldn’t tell anyone what they found and said no one needed to know. There’s clearly SOMETHING there, a story begging to be told.

What was it?

Where did they find that information?

Were the destroyed papers the originals?

Is this the key to that big secret?


I transcribed the article so I could work with the names of the plaintiffs and defendants. It was quite helpful that the suit told us where the defendants lived. I used my own research plus Joe Payne’s website here, which isn’t always correct, but Joe obtained the information from the old-timers in Claiborne County. In other words, the stories haven’t been sifted through the Ancestry filter hundreds of times and “stretched.”

Joseph Lanham and Levi Brooks vs

Residents in Claiborne County:

    • Benjamin Campbell
    • Eldridge Campbell
    • D. Campbell
    • John Campbell
    • Elizabeth Jennings
    • Mary Walker
    • David Campbell
    • Abraham Campbell
    • Alexander Campbell
    • Emily Brooks
    • Louisa Lewis
    • Abraham Lewis
    • Eliza Shumate
    • Daniel Shumate
    • Isaac Campbell
    • Mary Campbell
    • Benjamin Campbell
    • Margaret Campbell
    • George Campbell
    • Nancy Campbell
    • Reuben Kesterson

Non-residents of Tn:

    • Arthur L. Campbell
    • Newton J. Campbell
    • Andrew Campbell
    • Eldrige Campbell

Residents of Union County, TN:

    • Lucy Walker
    • John Walker

Resident of Hancock County:

    • Robert Campbell

Resident of Grainger County:

    • James Campbell

In this cause it appearing from the allegations in the bill filed, which is sworn to, that Arthur L. Campbell, Newton J. Campbell, Andrew Campbell, and Eldridge Campbell are non-residents of the state as aforesaid, so that the ordinary process of law cannot be served on them. It is therefore ordered that publication be made for 4 successive weeks in the Knoxville Chronicle notifying said non-resident defendants to appear before the Chancellor at a Chancery Court to be holden at the courthouse in Tazewell, TN on the second Monday in October 1872, then and there to make defense to complainants said bill, or the same will be taken as confessed and set for hearing ex parte to them.

July 16, 1972

Note that the second Monday of 1872 was October 13.

Who are these people? How are they related to each other? Who are the plaintiffs, and why do they have an interest in whatever the complaint is. And what is the complaint that they are suing over?

I have to know, so down that rabbit hole I leaped. I sure hope there’s a big fat rabbit down there!

Who Are These People?

Of course, the Campbell family, like all Southern families, named children after ancestors, other family members, and so forth. That means there are a bazillion Johns, Georges and Williams, etc. Many are about the same age in the same county. They need to take numbers.

“Hello, I’m John Campbell #372; pleased to meet you.”

The first thing I did was to try to sift out who these people’s parents were. I was actually HOPING that they would be a mix of the descendants of John Campbell and George Campbell, which meant they had a common interest, might link back to their fathers and confirm that they were brothers, or even give hints a generation further back.

Multiple people are listed with the same name, so I had to figure out which person was being referenced.

Also, who are the plaintiffs, and what is their interest?

I created a table and listed every defendant in the suit, the location as given in the suit, then their parents and birth year, if known, along with any commentary. By the way, Barney Campbell had two wives, but that doesn’t matter in this suit, so I’ve only listed him as the parent.

Name 1872 Location Birth/Spouse Parents Comment
Arthur L. Campbell Outside TN Born circa 1842 Barney Campbell
*Newton J. Campbell Outside TN Born 1845, died 1911 in Claiborne, m Lucy Williams 1885 Barney Campbell In 1870, he was living in Pleasant Grove, Kansas, but had moved back to Claiborne Co. by 1885 when he married.
Andrew Campbell Outside TN Born c 1842 Barney Campbell In 1870, Andrew is living with his brother Newton with the Nelson Lanham family in Kansas.
Eldridge Campbell Outside TN B 1827, died > 1880 Claiborne, m 1845 Emeline Hazelwood Barney Campbell Probably this guy, but check his death location since he is reported to have died in Claiborne.
Lucy Walker Union Co., TN B c 1834 m John Walker 1850 Claiborne Barney Campbell
John Walker Union Co., TN Husband of Lucinda (Lucy) Campbell
Robert Campbell Hancock Co., TN B 1845, d 1914 Pennington Gap, VA, m Sarah Thomas George Campbell (son of Barney) & Nancy Eastridge Probably this guy – Robert S. Campbell
James Campbell Grainger Co., TN Probably James C., son of George d 1864, son of Barney
Benjamin Campbell


Claiborne Co., TN B 1820 d 1882 Claiborne m Eliza “Louisa” Eastridge Barney Campbell
Eldridge Campbell (second listing) Claiborne Co., TN Uncertain. The only other Eldridge I show is the son of Jacob Campbell, son of John Campbell.
T. D. Campbell (probably Toliver Dodson known as “Dock”) Claiborne Co., TN B 1835 d 1899 Claiborne m Sarah Lewis Barney Campbell
John Campbell Claiborne Co., TN Many candidates, Barney’s son b 1829 d 1900 Claiborne Barney Campbell Many John candidates
Elizabeth (Louisa) Jennings Claiborne Co., TN B 1823, m James Jennings, died aft 1866 Barney Campbell She is likely a widow
Mary Walker Claiborne Co., TN Uncertain, could be Barney’s daughter who married John Lanning and perhaps remarried?
David Campbell Claiborne Co., TN B 1841, d 1919 Claiborne m Missouri Williams Barney Campbell Middle initial either H or R
Abraham Campbell Claiborne Co., TN B 1850 d 1914 Claiborne m Nancy Williams Barney Campbell
Alexander Campbell Claiborne Co., TN B 1853 d 1923 m 2C Sallie Campbell Barney Campbell
Emily Brooks Claiborne Co., TN B 1831 d c 1887 m Levi Brooks Barney Campbell Levi Brooks is one of the plaintiffs.
Louisa Lewis Claiborne Co., TN B 1843, d 1920 m Abraham Lewis George Campbell d c 1879 & Nancy Eastridge, son of Barney
Abraham Lewis Claiborne Co., TN Husband of Louisa Campbell
Eliza Shumate


Claiborne Co., TN B 1847 d 1914, m 1866 Daniel Shumate George Campbell d c 1870, son of Barney
Daniel Shumate Claiborne Co., TN Husband of Eliza Campbell
Isaac Campbell Claiborne Co., TN B 1851 d > 1885 George Campbell d c 1879, son of Barney
Mary Campbell Claiborne Co., TN B c 1853 George Campbell d c 1879, son of Barney
Benjamin Campbell Claiborne Co., TN B c 1855 George Campbell d c 1879, son of Barney
Margaret Campbell Claiborne Co., TN B c 1860 George Campbell d c 1879, son of Barney
George Campbell Claiborne Co., TN B 1864 d 1922 Claiborne George Campbell d c 1879, son of Barney
Nancy Campbell


Claiborne Co., TN Unknown
Reuben Kesterson Claiborne Co., TN Unknown

*Newton J. Campbell was very confusing. Not only are there multiple men by that name, but the Newton under discussion moved to Kansas, then back before marrying. Before this, I’m not sure anyone realized he had ever moved away. I don’t think his brother Andrew moved back because there is almost no information about him.

Barney Campbell’s first wife was Mary Brooks with whom he had a dozen children between 1820 and 1835. She died between 1835 and 1840. His second wife was Martha Jane Kesterson (1810-1889), the daughter of David Chadwell Kesterson and Elizabeth Lanham. Note the family connection in that Newton and Arthur Campbell are living with a Lanham family in Kansas in the 1870 census.

Barney and Martha had six children that lived, and probably at least one that died, between 1840 and 1853.

Regarding the Mary Campbell who married a John Lanning, I can’t help but wonder if this is actually a misspelling of Lanham. I can’t place her.

I can’t fit Reuben Kesterson, who was ordered to appear as a defendant cleanly into this family. However, in that valley, everyone was literally related to everyone else within a couple of generations, thanks to intermarriage. In the 1870 census, Reuben’s wife was deceased, so he may well have been listed as a surviving spouse. Or, he could be George Campbell’s minor children’s guardian. Or, something else.

It’s worth noting that every one of these people that I can place is either the child of Barney Campbell, through both of his wives, or the child of Barney’s son George, who died in 1864, with the exception of the second Eldridge. There is only one other Eldridge living at that time who is not Barney’s son or grandson. Was Eldridge accidentally listed twice? Did Barney’s son George have a son Eldridge that is unknown?

Barney was born about 1797 and died sometime between 1853 and 1856. A will for Barney has not been found – which may be the predicating force behind this lawsuit.

In 1860, Levi Brooks, one of the plaintiffs, is living beside Barney’s widow with his wife, Emily Campbell, and their children.

Barney’s Children

As a sanity check, I created a table of Barney’s children and what I know about them, then bolded the abovementioned children.

Name Birth, Death Spouse Comments
Benjamin 1820-1882 Claiborne Married Eliza Louisa Eastridge Alive in 1872
George (deceased 1864, not in lawsuit but his children are) B c 1821, d 1864 in Civil War Married Nancy Eastridge Captured in Civil War
Mary E. B c 1822 d ? Married John Lanning in 1853 Uncertain. There’s also a Mary Ann Campbell.
Louisa “Eliza” (deceased, not in lawsuit) B c 1823 d c 1866 Married James Jennings in 1840 – why is he not on the list? Their daughter, Mary Jennings b 1831 married c 1870 Joseph Lanham, one of the plaintiffs
Andrew B c 1826 died ? Married Louisa “Eliza” Campbell, his 2C
Eldridge B c 1827 d after 1880 Claiborne Married Emeline Hazelwood
John B c 1829 d after 1900 Claiborne Married Mary Ann Chadwell
Mary Ann B c 1829 d 1908 Claiborne Married James Walker in 1840
Emily A. B c 1831 d 1877 Claiborne Married Levi Brooks  in 1848 Levi Brooks is a plaintiff.
Lucinda B c 1834 d > 1886 Claiborne Married John Wesley Walker in 1850
Toliver D B 1835 d 1899 Claiborne Married Sarah Lewis in 1854
Charles B c 1841, probably died in Civil War. He served and is not found after. No record of marriage 20 in 1860 census, not found in 1870 nor listed in the suit
David H. (R.) B 1842 d 1919 Claiborne Married Missouri Williams in 1874
Arthur L B c 1842 d 1904 Married Sarah Ellen Clingensmith in 1875
Newton J. B 1845 d 1911 Claiborne Married Louisa “Lucy” Williams c 1885
Abraham B 1850 d 1914 Claiborne Married Nancy Williams his 2C c 1890
Alexander B 1853 d 1923 Claiborne Married Sarah Campbell his 2C c 1880

This is beginning to make more sense.

It appears that this suit probably has to do with Barney’s estate. His second wife, Martha Jane Kesterson was living in 1872 and is not a party to this suit. She would have, by law, inherited one-third of Barney’s estate. Perhaps that portion wasn’t under debate.

In 1839, Barney was taxed for 200 acres, so he clearly had land to be divided which descended through his descendants to recent times.

The Chancery Suit

Ok, so what does the Chancery Bill filed in the Chancery Court in Tazewell have to say? That’s where the meat of this lawsuit will be revealed.

Chancery bills tell us what is alleged. In other words, let’s say that person A claims they paid person B for some land, but person B died before conveying the land, died without a will, and the heirs either didn’t know about the deal, or don’t want to recognize it. Complicating matters further, the heirs planted a crop on the land which needs to be harvested, and person A claims it’s his crop since he bought the land. Person A would file against all of the heirs in order to obtain satisfaction. A judge would have to figure out what happened, and what is equitable under the circumstances.

In most places, Chancery Court is entirely different than Circuit or Criminal Court. Disputes requiring a judge to determine a fair and equitable settlement are resolved in Chancery Court. Think about a couple’s assets in a divorce. A Criminal Court would try someone for murder or a crime that broke a state or federal government law. Civil or “regular” court would be used to collect an undisputed debt, register a will, record tax payments or “prove” a deed transfer in open court by testimony.

Additionally, a Chancery Court generally served a region, not just a county, where county courts only served that particular county.

The second Monday of 1872 was October 13 and the Claiborne County chancery notes do not appear in the regular Claiborne County court notes, although the Chancery Court bills, pleadings and minutes were recorded in the courthouse at Tazewell in Claiborne County.

I browsed the court minutes at FamilySearch and read the circuit court minutes page by page, hoping for something. Anything.

Claiborne County is one of my “home” counties, so I have just about every published resource. I don’t have those notes, but maybe I missed something. I checked every available source, just in case.

I was getting a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach because I was beginning to suspect that those records may not exist. The courthouse burned twice, once in 1863 during the Civil War, and again in 1931. Thankfully, not all records burned either time, but plenty did, including some crucial records.

The FamilySearch Catalog and FamilySearch Claiborne wiki don’t list Chancery suits or minutes at all.

Then, I found it, here.

I Found Something

No, no, I didn’t find the Chancery filing or anything else whatsoever about the suit. What I found was confirmation that those records don’t exist.


This Tennessee Secretary of State site confirms that the Claiborne Chancery Court records began in 1934. Given that divorces were heard in Chancery Court, this also explains why I could never find the divorce records between Martha Ruthy Dodson and John Y. Estes. At least this exercise was good for making sense of that.

However, all that was waiting down this rabbit hole about John and George Campbell was a laughing rabbit. But maybe not for Barney’s descendants.

Sometimes, even some information is better than no information. Just the newspaper article alone helps assemble Barney’s family.

So, now the rest is up to Barney’s descendants. Does anyone know what happened in 1872? Any juicy stories about land, Barney’s estate, or a rift in the family?

One thing we know for sure – something assuredly happened! So far, it’s still a mystery, and this newspaper filing was just a teaser.

Update 10-24-2023

Not long after this article was published, a cousin sent me the following deed from Claiborne County Deed book 12, page 598 that may pertain to the lawsuit filed in 1872. This deed was filed in 1880, so by inference, this deed, if related, would have been related to the result of that suit.

Based on the language, it would appear that Barney had given advancements to his children, but not his son George who had died before Barney. It’s worth noting that not all of the people in the suit are reflected in this deed.

Extracted as follows:

Lucinda Walker, wife of John W. Walker appeared separately…acknowledged annexed deed…signed on August 25, 1880.

Indenture entered into 10th day of March 1869 between Benjamin Campbell, Andrew Campbell, John Campbell, Eldridge Campbell, Emily A. Brooks, Loucinda Walker, T. D. Campbell, Mary Ann Walker, Louiza Jennings all of the county of Claiborne, state of Tennesee, of the first part and A. L. Campbell, David H. Campbell, Newton Campbell, Abraham Campbell, Alexander Campbell of the county aforesaid of the second part.

In consideration of that Barney Campbell had advanced to the party of the first part considerable property both parties being heirs at law of the said Barney Campbell, and that party of the first part for the consideration of their having had advancements by the said Barney Campbell their father before his death do hereby convey, sell, bargain, enfroff? and confirm into the said party of the second part all the right, title or claim to the reversionary interest in the dower of said Barny Campbell’s widow Jane Campbell her dower is the first part laid off to her out of the lands that Barney Campbell owned and lived on at the time of his death, to have and to hold to the said A. L. Campbell, David H. Campbell, Newton Campbell, Abraham Campbell and Alexander Campbell all the right that the said Benjamin Campbell, Andrew Campbell, John Campbell, Eldridge Campbell, Emily A. Brooks, T. D. Campbell and Mary Ann Walker, Loucinda Jennings has or may have in and to the dower of said Jane Campbell widow of Barney Campbell, decd, the part of the first part does hereby covenant to and with the party of the second part that they have a good right to convey their title in the lands before mentioned and that said Party of the first part will forever warrant and defend the title to the said lands as before stipulated to the party of the second part their heirs and assigns forever in fee simple.

Said party of the first part have hereunto set their hands and seals…


Jeremiah Brooks
Levi Brooks
Attest as to T. D. Campbell
Robert Campbell
John Cales
as to Mary A. Walker
D. Cardwell
J. A McGriff
as to Louiza Jennings
D. Cardwell
F. L. McVey
as to Loucinda Walker
D. C. Smith
William B. Hodges
Attest to Emily Ann Brooks
Signature Sept 10
Henly Buise
J. W. Buise

Second column:
Benjamin x-mark Campbell
Andrew x-mark Campbell
John x-mark Campbell
Eldridge x-mark Campbell
T. D. x-mark Campbell
Mary Ann x-mark Walker
Louiza x-mark Jennings
Loucinda x-mark Walker
Emily Ann x-mark Brooks

Filed in my office October 4, 1880
B. H. Campbell Registrar


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Étienne Hebert (c1625-c1670): Two French Brothers & Their Ancient Ancestors – 52 Ancestors #413

In the book, Les vielles familles d’Yamachiche: vingt-trois généalogies, v. 4 published in 1908 in Ontario, we discover that Étienne Hebert is one of two brothers who came from France and settled in Acadia, now Nova Scotia. Étienne married Marie Gaudet and Antoine Hebert married Genevieve LeFranc.

We know that Étienne and Antoine were brothers because in the 2nd marriage record for Jean-Jacques Hébert (1681-?) to Marguerite Leprince on April 27, 1734, at Saint-Charles-les-Mines, they were granted a dispensation from a 3rd degree consanguine relationship. The only overlap in their two family trees would be the parents of Étienne and Antoine Hebert.

Thank goodness for those church records.


Stephen A. White provided the following information about Étienne.

HÉBERT, Étienne, came from France with his wife Marie Gaudet, according to nine depositions: one from his grandson Jean Hébert (Doc. inéd., Vol. III, p. 11), one from Pierre Trahan, husband of his granddaughter Madeleine Comeau (ibid., p. 8), one from Pierre and Madeleine’s son Pierre Trahan (ibid., pp. 110-111) and one from their nephews Sylvestre and Simon Trahan (ibid., p. 30), two from husbands of Étienne’s great-granddaughters (ibid., Vol. II, p. 182; Vol. III, p. 90), one from a great-great-grandson (ibid., Vol. III, pp. 93-94), and two from husbands of his great-great-granddaughters (ibid., pp. 45, 92-93). Seven of these depositions name his wife as Marie Gaudet; only those of the two Pierre Trahans, father and son, do not.

Lucy LeBlanc Consentino documents these priceless depositions here.


There have been several proposed and presumed parents of Étienne and Antoine Hebert. None are proven, and some have been disproven. I’m not going to recount each theory here. I’ll briefly mention the most common ones and strongly suggest that anyone tempted to assign parents for these men consult existing resources and arguments first.

Tim Hebert’s website is no longer online, but you can view it here at Wayback Machine. Tim did an exceptional job documenting the various theories and Hebert descendants.

It has been said that possibly the brothers were from south of Loudon (LaChaussee, Martaize, etc.), however, since Charles Menou d’Aulnay’s family had land in that vicinity. If he recruited settlers from that area, there is a chance they came from there, but there is no proof of where they (or most other) Acadians came from. The linguistic studies by Genevieve Massignon tried to say that they were from the Loudon area, but perhaps she was focusing too much. It is probably true that they came from western France. But the lack of documentation in the Loudon region means that perhaps we’re looking in the wrong place. Michael Poirier has suggested they came from west of Loudon at the coast … near Baie de Bourgneuf.

He bases this on:
– the location of the monastery of the Assumption (on the island Chauvet), which was regularly attended by Richelieu and was the property of his brother, Alphonse.
– Port-Royal and the church of St Jean-Baptiste
– salt-water marshes in the area were drained … much like the dyke system utilized in Acadia
– it was a zone surrounded by Protestants and enclosing Catholics

Genevieve Massignon (1921-1966) argues that a number of familial alliances existed among the first Acadian settlers PRIOR to their arrival from France, pointing to a common French origin. She believes they lived in the Acadian Governor d’Aulnay’s seigneury in France near Loudun (comprised of the villages of Angliers, Aulnay, Martaizé, and La Chausée). The Hébert family was allied with the Gaudets through Étienne’s marriage to Marie. Marie’s sister Francoise was also allied with the Leblanc family through her marriage to Daniel. Evidence of their marriages in France is found in the Belle-Isle-en-Mer declarations in 1767. Moreover, a certain Jean Gaudet was censistaire in 1634 on land at Martaizé (Vienne) in the Seigneurie owned by the mother of Acadian governor Charles d’Aulnay. However, Massignon’s research failed to find any relevant baptismal or marriage records.

Another couple, Jacques Hebert and Marie Juneau have been debunked as parents, based on the date of their marriage and analysis by Stephen White. Jacques was found in Acadia 30 years before Étienne and Antoine, then moved into mainland Canada. It’s unlikely that his two sons would be found in Acadia and not near or with him. Not to mention the depositions that state that Étienne and Antoine were born in France.

Another parent candidate was Louis Habert who is generally considered to have been the first permanent settler in Canada, arriving in 1604. He married Marie Rolet in Paris in 1602 but wasn’t known to live in Acadia. Spelling variations of this family name include Hebert, Harbert, Herbert, Herbot, Harbelot, and others. You can read more about this at FamilySearch here.

One source stated that Stephen White reported that Etienne Hebert arrived on the ship, La Verge in 1648. Karen Theriot Reader, upon further examination, determined that the page given as the source does not in fact provide that information, nor elsewhere by White.

However, the Verve did arrive in 1648, chartered by Emmanuel LeBorgne, Sieur of Coudray, to transport supplies. No passenger list exists, and several ships arrived in Acadia over the years.

In a letter to Tim Hebert, Stephen White stated that their parents are “unknown.” No birth records have been found, and White found none of the proposed parents convincing or even probable.

We simply don’t know when and where Étienne and Antoine were born. It’s fair to say it was in France because families weren’t imported until 1636. The Hebert brothers were born in the 1620s. They would have been teenagers or young men in 1636.

What Was Happening in Acadia?

Warm up your tea or coffee, ‘cause this is a fascinating tale.

Acadia was truly the frontier and constantly caught in the middle in a tug of war between France and England for control of both the land and resources, along with the people.

Settlement in Acadia began in 1604, but we’re joining this history 28 years later.

In 1632, control of Acadia passed from the English back to the French, who immediately launched voyages transporting traders and workers, some of whom became settlers. Their initial goal wasn’t settlement, though, but trading posts.

Port Royal is shown on Champlain’s 1632 map.

Isaac de Razilly was a French noble sea captain and knight who convinced his cousin, Cardinal Richelieu, chief minister to the King of France, that colonizing and establishing fur trade with Acadia was a profitable business venture. As a bonus that probably sounded attractive to Richelieu, they could convert and baptize the Native people, too.

Razilly’s 1632 voyage on the L’Esperance a Dieu included about 300 people, mostly men with possibly 12-15 women. A French newspaper report from that time states that a third ship from Rochelle joined the other two. A mason, baker, nailmaker-blacksmith, joiners, gunsmiths, sawyers, laborers, and soldiers signed up.

In 1640, notarial records in La Rochelle, France, show many contracts of engagement for workers in Acadia, although most of those people aren’t shown in the 1671 census, meaning they either died or returned to France when their engagement was over. In 1640, at least 25 men and 5 women signed up.

Couillard-Despres in “Les Gouvernors” states that 63 men arrived on the Saint Clement in 1642 to assist Charles LaTour.

After Razilly’s death in 1635, his cousin, Charles de Menou d’Aulnay, de Charnisay prepared to take over the administration of Acadia. By this time, there were 44 inhabitants at Le Have, Razily’s base of operation. Sometime between 1635 and 1640, d’Aulnay moved the settlement to Port Royal, but the men who had married Native American women likely did not move with him.

However, Charles La Tour, who had lived in Acadia since he was 17 and was married to a Mi’kmaq woman, had other plans. His father, Claude, obtained a grant for Nova Scotia from the English king, and Charles was appointed Governor, serving from 1631-1642. In essence, the LaTour father-son duo had outsmarted d’Aulnay.

Workers still continued to arrive. The 1636 passenger list of the St. Jehan, including occupations and some location origins, still exists.

d’Aulnay and La Tour began as competitors, with LaTour working out of Cap Sable and the St. John River area with traders, and d’Aulnay, who moved the Acadian settlement from La Have to Port Royal, beginning cultivation. Given where we find Étienne Hebert living, he likely arrived with d’Aulnay.

However, the competition between those men soon became animosity, then open warfare, with both men claiming to be in charge of all of Acadia.

If you think there was no drama in a relatively unpopulated area, just try to keep this next bit straight.

In 1640, after LaTour’s Mi’kmaq wife died, he married a French Huguenot woman, Françoise-Marie Jacquelin, who had powerful connections.

In 1642, d’Aulnay had LaTour, a Huguenot, charged with treason against France. LaTour’s well-connected wife traveled to France to advocate on behalf of her husband, returning with a warship for him to defend himself.

Perhaps this was a bit hasty.

In the Spring of 1643, La Tour led a party of English mercenaries against the French Acadian colony at Port-Royal. His 270 Puritan and Huguenot troops killed three men, burned a mill, slaughtered cattle, and seized 18,000 livres worth of furs.

Apparently, LaTour was a traitor after all, at least from the French perspective.

LaTour then traveled to Boston seeking reinforcements from the English, and while he was gone, d’Aulnay seized all of his possessions and outposts, including Fort LaTour.

Are you keeping track of this? I think the score was 3 to 3 here, with a Hail Mary pass underway. Get the popcorn.

LaTour may have been traveling to Boston, but his wife, Françoise-Marie, had remained at home and was not about to relinquish Fort LaTour without a fight.

In the ensuing battle, Françoise-Marie, at the ripe old age of 23, defended Fort LaTour in the Battle of St. John for three days, using the warship. D’Aulnay lost 33 men but on the fourth day, was able to capture the fort. LaTour’s men were hung at the gallows as Françoise-Marie was forced to watch with a rope around her neck, just in case she got any bright ideas. She was clearly not a woman to be trifled with.

Françoise-Marie was not hung, but Nicolas Denys recorded in his journal that she died three weeks later as a prisoner in captivity. The cause remains unknown, but it’s safe to say that her death was a volley in war. 

After learning that his wife had died, his possessions confiscated, and his men killed, LaTour sought refuge in Quebec City. He did not return to Acadia for several years, but return he would – eventually.

For the time being, d’Aulnay was firmly in control, but that only lasted a few years.

In 1650, d’Aulnay drowned when his canoe overturned, which provided the opening LaTour had been waiting for. LaTour sailed to France, obtained royal favor, his property restored, and returned to Acadia as governor in 1653, accompanied by several new colonists, including Philippe Mius d’Entremont, 1st Baron of Pobomcoup.

It was about this time, around 1650, that Étienne Hebert married Marie Gaudet. Perhaps they hoped that living near her parents, a dozen miles upriver, would be more peaceful and less exposed to attack and conflict.

LaTour had remained a widower since his wife’s death defending Fort LaTour in 1645, but in 1653, he married…wait for it… d’Aulnay’s widow, Jeanne Motin. It was not a marriage in name only, as they had five children. Some said they married to heal the rift between the warring d’Aulnay and LaTour camps, some think it was simply a marriage of convenience for both, and others feel it was LaTour’s final victory over d’Aulnay. However, Jeanne was no shrinking violet because she evicted Nicolas Denys when he attempted to exploit d’Aulnay’s death by setting up trading posts at St. Ann and St. Peters.

LaTour wasn’t off the hook, though, because in an odd sort of way, d’Aulnay still managed to be a thorn in LaTour’s side – even from beyond the grave.

Along with d’Aulnay’s property and wife came his substantial debts to Emmanuel Le Borgne, his main financier from La Rochelle. There were two sides to this story because, as part of the deal, La Bourg and other seigneurs were supposed to recruit and transport new settlers to Acadia and care for them by building communal resources like mills and bake-ovens, but they didn’t.

It appears that the Acadians and their French sponsors were both relatively unhappy. The French did not live up to their end of the bargain by building mills and ovens, and consequently, the Acadians resisted paying taxes. Everyone resented the English, but the English needed the Acadian settlers to work the land. And, of course, the land passed back and forth between the French and English from time to time, punctuated by skirmishes and outright attacks.

Acadia, for an Atlantic peninsula of land with few people, was drama-central.

By 1653, it was estimated that there were 45-50 households at Port Royal and La Have, which provides us an estimate of 300-350 people, including 60 single men. Étienne Hebert was lucky to find a bride, any bride.

In 1654, Port Royal was still small, with approximately 270 residents, as estimated by pioneer Nicholas Denys. Denys was a French prisoner at Port Royal who had been responsible for recruiting volunteers for the 1632 Razilly expedition of 300 men from Rochelle, France. They landed at La Hève near modern Bridgewater, the eventual site of the Gaudet village. This location was near the upper reaches of the tidal portion of the Riviere du Dauphine, and their boat probably could not progress further.

Denys did us the favor of describing Port Royal in 1653:

There are numbers of meadows on both shores, and two islands which possess meadows, and which are 3 or 4 leagues from the fort in ascending. There is a great extent of meadows which the sea used to cover, and which the Sieur d’Aulnay had drained. It bears now fine and good wheat, and since the English have been masters of the country, the residents who were lodged near the fort have for the most part abandoned there houses and have gone to settle on the upper part of the river. They have made their clearings below and above this great meadow, which belongs at present to Madame de La Tour. There they have again drained other lands which bear wheat in much greater abundance than those which they cultivated round the fort, good though those were. All the inhabitants there are the ones whome Monsieur le Commandeur de Razilly had brought from France to La Have; since that time they have multiplied much at Port Royal, where they have a great number of cattle and swine.

The commentary about the French settling on the upper part of the river may be very important for the Hebert family because that’s exactly where they are found.

Denys also recorded that Robert Sedgewick of Boston had been ordered by Robert Cromwell to attack New Holland (New York). As Sedgewick prepared, a peace treaty was signed between the English and the Dutch. Since he was “all dressed up with nowhere to go,” he attacked Acadia in August 1654 and destroyed most of the settlements, including Port Royal, La Have, and the Saint John River village. Sedgewick left the area but appointed an Acadian council with Guillaume Trahan in charge. Some of the French may have returned to France at this point.

Denys doesn’t say if Sedgewick burned the upper river homesteads and farms or if he was satisfied with torching Port Royal. Living 12-14 miles away in the out-country may have been the saving grace of the Hebert and Gaudet families. Or, their homesteads and farms may have been destroyed, too. Certainly, if not burned out, they were devastated by Acadia falling to the English.

Acadia was back under English rule and would remain so until being returned, again, to the French in 1667.

After Sedgewick captured Acadia for the English, LaTour went to London to regain his property, again. Being a Protestant would have worked in his favor, as well as having led the English in raids against Port Royal in 1643.

In 1656, Cromwell granted property to two Englishmen and LaTour, but LaTour sold his share to the Englishmen and moved to Cap Sable, on the southern end of the peninsula, to attempt to live the rest of his life in peace.

We don’t know positively that the Hebert brothers were in Acadia at this time, but it’s almost assured. They had probably been in Acadia for between 10 and 30 years. If White is correct, they had resided in Acadia for eight years. Windows of immigration existed, but generally only when the French were in charge, although France imported settlers to other nearby parts of New France. The French were not imported directly into Acadia when the English ruled.

In 1666, France stopped sending colonists, ostensibly for fear of depopulating the mother-country. However, the English were still arriving in the colonies to escape religious prosecution and for economic reasons. Therefore, the Acadians were exposed to at least some English settlers, probably spoke and understood at least a little English, and established some level of trade with the English colonies along the Eastern seaboard.

By Mikmaq – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Given the 1671 census and the ages of his children, we know Étienne was married by 1651 and that his wife’s parents also settled in Acadia.

Life in Acadia always seemed to be contentious and apparently, in no small part, dangerous.

Étienne was probably in his mid to late 40s when he died, about 1670. He clearly didn’t die of old age, but probably as a result of hunting, fishing, or farming – some accident. Or, perhaps, there was a skirmish. It seemed like there was always some sort of skirmish, but a simple act of daily living such as fishing carried the risk of drowning.

The Catholic church records don’t exist, if they even had a priest at that time, so we don’t know when Étienne died. We can rest assured that, if possible, he was buried in the parish cemetery, now the Garrison Cemetery in Annapolis Royal, beside the fort and the Catholic church.

The First Acadian Census

Even though Acadia was officially returned to France in 1667, it didn’t actually happen right away. In 1670, the English surrendered the fort at Port Royal, apparently without incident. The new French governor arrived, bringing with him another 60 settlers and 30 soldiers. The new governor ordered a census, thankfully. He likely needed to know how many people would be paying taxes.

The first Acadian census was taken in 1671, documenting between 240 and 350  Acadian residents (depending which count you utilize) in 68 households in Port Royal and one household each in three other locations. Historians know some residents in settlements weren’t counted, and neither were Acadian/Native American families living with the Native people. Estimates of the entire Acadian population reach as high as 500.

Étienne was already deceased, but we can tell quite a bit from his widow’s census record, transcribed here by Lucy LeBlanc Consentino.

Marie Gaudet, widow of Étienne Hebert, 38. She has 10 children, two married children: Marie 20, Marguerite 19; Emmanuel 18, not yet married, Étienne 17, Jean 13, Francoise 10, Catherine 9, Martine 6, Michel 5, Antoine 1, 4 cattle, 5 sheep and 3 arpents of cultivated land.

This tells us that Etienne and Marie were married in about 1650, or maybe somewhat earlier. Their eldest living child was age 20. Étienne was probably about 25 years old when he married, so I’d estimate his birth year as 1625, give or take a few years. It appears that Marie Gaudet and her daughter, Marie Hebert, and her husband, Michel de Forest, and their families were probably living either on the same farm or even in the same house.

Marie’s youngest child was age 1, so we know that Étienne died sometime between 1669 and 1671.

His brother, Antoine Hebert is listed three houses away as a 50-year-old cooper, so he was born about 1621.

Hebert and Gaudet Allied Families

It’s clear that the Hebert family was somehow allied with the Gaudet family as early as 1650 when their children married. It’s possible that they married in France, or Acadia.

What we do know is that these two families lived in close proximity on the Riviere de Dauphine, now the Annapolis River.

This 1733 map at the Nova Scotia Archives is based on the 1707 census route and shows about a mile and a half or two miles distance between the Hebert and Gaudet homesteads – 57 years after Étienne Hebert and Marie Gaudet married.

Etienne Hebert lived along Bloody Creek, where the Hebert Village is found, courtesy of MapAnnapolis, below.

We know where Etienne, Marie, and their family lived and at least something about their life – but what else can we unearth?

The Hebert DNA Story

Eventually, the answer to where the Hebert brothers originated in France will be told through their Y-DNA, passed directly from father to son through the generations without ever being admixed with the mother’s DNA, or divided.

The Hebert family is well-represented in the Acadian AmerIndian Project with three Big-Y testers showing the same haplogroup. Haplogroup R-BY31006 was born about 1650, almost exactly when Étienne and his brother were marrying and having children near Fort Royal.

Click to enlarge any image

Two present-day project members descend from Étienne, and one descends from Étienne’s brother, Antoine. They have the same high-resolution haplogroup, so we know that their father had the same mutation that he gave to both sons. How I wish some Hebert men from France could test, but DNA testing for genealogy is illegal there.

Unfortunately, no other contemporary man of any surname is close to our Hebert cluster. The haplogroup ancestor upstream of R-BY31006 is the parent haplogroup R-BY31008 that occurred about 245 BCE, or 2245 years ago. The descendants of that man are also found in England, Norway, and Scotland, in addition to our Hebert men in France.

That’s quite interesting.

But there’s something even more interesting.

Ancient DNA

Looking at Ancient Connections in Discover, I note that one of the Hebert Ancient Connections was found in France and has been placed into haplogroup R-Z31644. I wonder what the connection is. Let’s take a look at that haplogroup.

The TimeTree shows us that nine ancient DNA samples are found on different haplogroup branches of R-Z31644, of which only one is found in Metz, France, and the rest in the British Isles. It’s unclear exactly what this means. Only the French sample and three others in England and Ireland are found in the current era, meaning after 1 CE. This was clearly prior to the Battle of Hastings in 1066, after which an influx of French settled in England.

Eight ancient DNA results are found in England, but none share a common ancestor earlier than 4300 years ago. Notably, one English burial from about 2000-2300 years ago shares a common ancestor with the Metz, France remains about 4000 years ago. The eight English remains, and our Metz guy descend from a common ancestor about 4300 years ago.

Did Étienne’s ancestors descend from the ancient sample at Metz? Maybe the study provides more clues.

According to the study’s authors:

The Sablon district, which is located in the southern part of the city of Metz, was, during the Gallo-Roman period, a huge necropolis where both inhumations and cremations are found. Towards the end of the 19th century, the exploitation of the sandpits enabled the uncovering of sarcophagi (stone), cists (brick and tile), coffins (wood) and vats (lead).

These characterise the new burial practices developed during late Antiquity. [Spans from about the 3rd to the 6th or 7th centuries.]

The largest funerary space spans almost a kilometre, on either side of the via Scarponensis (portion of the Reims/Metz road).

The Sablon area can be compared to the Collatina necropolis close to Rome by its chaotic organisation, although at a different scale

Looking at a map of Metz helps put this in context.

It’s unclear exactly where along this route the burials were discovered beginning in the late 1800s. They extend for more than a kilometer on both sides of the road in the Sablon neighborhood of Metz.

The Sablon neighborhood extends from near the old city center along the main artery that crosses railroad tracks that appear to sever the original road into the city.

Does the history of Metz tell us who lived there and what was occurring during this time? Indeed, it does.

Metz is located at the confluence of the Moselle and Seille rivers, near the junction of France, Germany, and Luxembourg. The original inhabitants were Celtic. The town was known as the “city of Mediomatrici,” a fortified city of the tribe by the same name.

The Mediomatrici village evolved into a Gallo-Celtic city after Julius Caesar conquered the Gauls in 52 BCE.

Named Divodurum Mediomatricum by the Romans, present-day Metz was integrated into the Roman empire in the first century CE, after which it was colloquially referred to as the Holy Village.

The historic district has kept part of the Gallo-Roman city with Divodurum’s Cardo Maximus, then called Via Scarponensis. Today, this is Trinitaires, Taison, and Serpenoise streets in the old city center, and the Decumanus Maximus, which is En Fournirue and d’Estrées streets. The Roman Forum was located at the Cardo and Decumanus intersection and is the Saint-Jacques Square today, as shown below.

By Alice Volkwardsen at German Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0,

The ancient burial occurred between 432 and 551 CE, as calculated from a molar and was found in a very large Gallo-Roman necropolis, more than a kilometer long, located on both sides along the old Roman road.

This cityscape shows Divodurum Mediomatricum in the second century CE, capital of the Mediomatrici, ancestor city of present-day Metz. The original Roman amphitheater is shown at far left, and the living quarters are located within the city walls, protecting them from attack. A wonderful summary of archaeological findings can be found here.

Today the the Centre Pompidou-Metzocation is found at the site of the original large Roman amphitheater. This amphitheater held upwards of 25,000 people and was the largest and most consequential amphitheater outside of Rome.

Rome’s influence ended when the city was attacked, pillaged and burned by the Huns on April 7, 451, then passed into the hands of the Franks about 50 years later. By 511, Metz was the capital of the Kingdom of Austrasia.

How Does the Metz Burial Connect to England?

How do the dots between Metz and the British Isles connect, given that the common ancestor of our Metz burial and the British Isles burials has descendants scattered throughout the British Isles and in Metz?

The Celts first migrated to the British Isles about 1000 BCE, or about 3000 years ago, so this ancient French man and the other ancient burials in the British Isles make sense. Their common ancestor lived 4300 years ago in Europe. The closest common ancestor of our Metz man and any English burial occurred 4000 years ago, 1000 years before the earliest Celtic migrations across the English Channel.

This man from Metz lived 1500 or 1600 years ago and shares an ancestor with several ancient British men in addition to our Hebert line and was likely Celtic..

Of course, not every Celtic man left Europe. Many stayed and eventually integrated with whoever the next conquering army was. That ensured survival. Metz was a prize to be won, controlled over the centuries by many masters.

We don’t know if this specific Celtic man buried along the Gallo-Roman Road was a direct ancestor to our Hebert line, but if not, they were assuredly related and shared common ancestors. The descendants of haplogroup R-BY31008 are unquestionably the ancestors of our Hebert line.

Back to Étienne

Étienne’s Y-DNA has identified his ancestors as Celtic some 4000 years, or 200 generations ago.

More recently, his Y-DNA confirmed his connection to Antoine Hebert, and the church records of both of their descendants confirmed them as brothers.

Depositions given by Étienne’s grandchildren, spouses of grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces, and nephews confirm that Étienne was born in France, but, unfortunately, does not say where. This information alone debunked some of his parent candidates.

We find no suggestion of his parents in Acadia, although that’s not impossible. Many people died and never made it into existing records. The Hebert brothers likely arrived together as young men. Antoine may have married in France, as his wife’s surname is not found in Acadia. Of course, her father could have died and left no record. Étienne’s wife’s family lives next to the Heberts in Acadia, but we don’t know if Étienne and Marie Gaudet married in France or after arrival in Acadia.

How well did Étienne remember France? Did he look over his slice of countryside along the Riviere du Dauphine, with its dikes holding the tidal river at bay, and think of similar dikes constructed by his ancestors in France?

What about his parents?

Did they die, or did he sail away, knowing he and his brother would never see them or their siblings again?

Did their family shrink into tiny dots on the horizon, waving from the wharf, then disappear forever?

Did the brothers leave because they wanted to, or did they leave perhaps because they had no family left? Often, orphans had few options in their home country, and any opportunity was welcomed.

Did Étienne marry Marie Gaudet in Acadia, or did they marry someplace in France, then two Hebert boys immigrating to the new land with the Gaudet family?

In one way, we know so much – that Étienne matches an ancient Celtic burial in Metz who died about 1500 years ago, with whom he shared a common ancestor about 4000 years ago – yet we can’t identify Étienne’s parents. At least not today, but hope springs eternal. Two years ago, we didn’t know this.

Hopefully, one day, DNA testing for genealogy will be available to men in France. Our answers lie in Hebert men in some small French village, probably along a river that was once a highway of history.


I’m incredibly grateful to the Hebert men who have taken the Big Y-700 DNA test at FamilyTreeDNA, and to FamilyTreeDNA, because without those tests and the Discover tool that includes ancient DNA connections, we would never be able to peer beyond the mists of time into their deep ancestry.

As more men test and more academic studies and ancient DNA results are added to the Discover database, we’ll continue to learn more. The Big-Y DNA test is the gift that just keeps on giving.


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Marie Hebert (1651- c 1677): Young Acadian Bride Gone Too Soon – 52 Ancestors #412

Marie Hebert is first found at age 20 as the spouse of Michel de Forest in the 1671 Acadian census in what is today Nova Scotia.

Michel de Forest, age 33, wife Marie Hebert, 20, with children Michel 4, Pierre 2, René 1, 12 cattle, two sheep, and two arpents of cultivated land

Brides were a very limited commodity in Acadia, and women tended to be swooped up and married as soon as they became eligible.

Given that, I’d wager that Marie probably had many suitors, and her father, Étienne Hebert, and mother, Marie Gaudet, selected the man they felt was best suited for their daughter.

Michel de Forest may have had somewhat of an unfair advantage, though, because he was farming the land next door to the Hebert family, as shown on this 1733 map. Or maybe he began farming the land next door as a result of marrying Marie. It’s fun to speculate, but we’ll probably never know for sure.

What we do know is that Marie married quite young.

In the 1671 census, she was 20 and already had three children, the oldest of which had been born four years earlier, so she probably married in the Catholic church at age 15, in 1666. Unfortunately, no records survived until the early 1700s.

The census entry beside Michel De Forest and Marie Hebert is Marie Gaudet, Marie’s mother, as follows:

Marie Gaudet, widow of Etienne Hebert, 38. She has 10 children, two married children: Marie 20, Marguerite 19; Emmanuel 18, not yet married, Etienne 17, Jean 13, Francoise 10, Catherine 9, Martine 6, Michel 5, Antoine 1, 4 cattle, 5 sheep and 3 arpents of cultivated land

This census is unique because it listed the married children by name, even if they weren’t living in the household. Marie was the eldest child, born about 1651. The census also listed the married child in the household where they lived. In Marie’s case, with her husband, Michel de Forest.

Marie’s mother, also named Marie, married by age 17, if not earlier and became a grandmother at 34. I know the math works, but just the thought makes me reel. Four years later, Marie’s mother was a widow.

Marie Hebert’s father had already died, in either 1670 or 1671, given that her mother, Marie Gaudet, had a 1-year-old son.

Marie and Michael de Forest, with their two eldest children, would have accompanied her mother to the church for her father’s funeral, and then to the cemetery for his burial. Marie’s nine siblings would have been there too, as would her own two young children – too young to remember their grandfather. Either Marie and her mother were both pregnant for another child, or they both had babes in arms according to the census. What a heartwrenching day that would have been.

Marie, wife of Michel de Forest married young, and she also died young.

Marie’s Death

In the next census, taken seven years later in 1678, Michel is shown as a widower with 4 acres, 3 cows, 2 calves, 1 gun, four boys, ages 12, 10, 8, 3, and two girls, ages 6 and 4. His age is not given, but he was 40 or 41 and very clearly had his hands full.

Based on the children listed in both censuses, we know that Marie had six children in the nine years or so that she was married, before her death. She had such a short life. Given that her youngest was 3 in 1678, I wonder if she died from complications of her child’s birth in 1677 or perhaps in childbirth in 1678. How I wish we had those church records.

She was only 26 if she died in 1677.

Marie’s still youthful body would have been carefully washed, probably by her mother and sisters, dressed in her best clothes, and placed lovingly in a hand-hewn coffin, then taken by wagon or perhaps by batteau to the Catholic Church one last time for her funeral.

Her funeral hymns would rise in the church where she had been baptized, married, and her children baptized.

After her service, Marie would have been buried in consecrated ground in the graveyard beside the church in Port Royal, probably someplace near her father and maybe her babies. Eternal sentries, their graves overlooked the marshlands of the Rivière du Dauphin, today the Annapolis River. Just upriver a dozen or so miles was the farm where Marie had been born, grew up, courted, and come home as a bride – on the banks of that tidal river.

Her entire life had been lived in just twenty-some years.

I can close my eyes and see her children, beginning with the eldest, Michel, just 10 years old, holding hands as they filed out of the church into the cemetery to bury their mother. The youngest was just a baby.

If the season was right, her children could have picked some Queen Anne’s Lace or maybe some Yarrow along the way and placed their flowers gently on their mother’s casket before it was lowered into her final resting place, perhaps along with a newborn baby.

That would be their last loving act for their mother. Oh, how they must have cried, hot, sorrowful tears sliding down their faces.

The local men would have dug Marie’s grave the day before while the family was preparing her body. What a grief-filled day that surely was – not only for Michel, and Marie’s children, but for her poor mother who outlived her daughter and was herself only 45 years old in 1678, and a recent widow.

Life, or more specifically, death was cruel and oh-so-indiscriminate in who it randomly claimed.

Marie’s Children

Despite losing their mother, Marie’s known children all grew to adulthood.

Child 1671 Census 1678 Census 1686 Census Birth Year Death Year Spouse
Michel 4 12 male 19 1666-1667 By 1731 – Pisiguit, parish of Saint-Famile. Abt 1689 to Marie Petitpas, then in 1708/1709 to Marie Celestin dit Bellemere
Pierre 2 10 male 18 1668 By Nov. 1730 Abt 1693 to Cecile Richard
René 1 8 male 16 1670 1751 Abt 1695 to Francoise Dugas
Gabrielle 6 female 13 1672-1673 Nov. 9, 1710 Abt 1691 to Pierre Brassaud
Marie 4 female 11 1674-1675 1704-1706 Abt 1695 to Pierre L’Aine Benoit
Jean-Baptiste 3 male 9 1675-1678 1776 Abt 1698 to Marie Elisabeth Labarre

I suspect that Marie had another child, born between René and Gabrielle, who was born and died, probably about 1672. There is space for another child between Marie and Jean-Baptiste, or perhaps after Jean-Baptiste, a final child was born and died with Marie.

In 1678, Marie’s husband, Michel, was shown as a widower whose youngest child was 3.

Children’s names were not listed in 1678, although it’s possible to connect the dots with the children’s names from the 1686 census, eight years later.

No mother wants to die before her children, but mothers of younger children will fight every minute they can and with their very last breath to live. Leaving young children is every mother’s worst nightmare.

Baptismal records don’t remain for that time period, but it’s clear that Michel couldn’t farm and raise a passel of young children. Whoever their godmothers were may have been called upon after Marie’s death. After all, that was at least part of the purpose of godparents.

Life went on. It had to. There was no choice.

The Next Chapter

The older boys would have been old enough to help their father, but there’s nothing less helpful than a helpful 2 or 3-year-old. They needed more supervision than Michel would have been able to give.

Part of that problem was solved when Michel married Jacqueline Benoit sometime after the census in 1686, although she was quite young at 15 – younger than Michael and Marie’s oldest three sons.

The next year, in 1687, Jacqueline would present the de Forest children with a half-sibling, Marguerite. Their blended family must have been doing well, but then, disaster struck once again.

Sometime after Jacqueline became pregnant with Marguerite, and before May of 1690 when Michel’s name is absent from the loyalty oath, he died. He and Marie’s youngest child would have been about 13, and Jacqueline’s child was just a baby.

This family had suffered so much. Thankfully, the Acadian community was small and close-knit.

Marie’s de Forest children were now without both of their parents.

Jacqueline remarried in 1691. In the 1693 census, Marie’s children are not living with Jacqueline, their stepmother, and her new husband, although it appears that the oldest two children had relocated to Grand Pre where they lived, and two more would leave Port Royal a couple of years later.

The Children Fledge

With both parents gone, there was nothing to keep Michel and Marie’s children in the Port Royal area, so they began to move to the Grand Pre region – the next frontier. Fortunately for us, the Grand Pre church records (1707-1748) were taken along into exile in 1755 when the Acadians were expelled and today reside in Iberville, LA, providing researchers with valuable early information.

  • Marie’s oldest son, also named Michel Forest, married in Port Royal about 1689. In the 1693 census, Michel de Forest was living in Les Mines at age 27. Michel Forets, resident of Pisiguit, widow of Marie Petitpas, married on October 29, 1709 to Marie Bellemere, living at Grand Pree. Michel and his wives had 12 children.
  • About 1692, Pierre Forest married Cecile Richard. In the 1693 census, he is shown, age 25 in the home of Pierre Brassuad, his sister’s husband, also in Les Mines. He and Cecile had nine children.
  • René de Forest is unaccounted for in the 1693 census, but he signed the loyalty oath in 1690 as an adult. He married about 1695 to Francoise Dugas and farmed his father’s land, remaining in the Port Royal region. They had at least 13 children.
  • Gabrielle Forest married about 1691 to Pierre Brassaud. In the 1693 census, she is noted as Gabrielle Michel. Her burial is recorded in the register of St. Charles aux Mines in Grand Pre, so they had clearly joined her brothers in that area. They had nine children.
  • Daughter Marie Forest married about 1695 in Port Royal to Pierre L’Aine Benoit, her stepmother’s brother, but died after the birth of their son in 1704. They had five children.
  • Marie’s youngest child, Jean Baptiste, would not have remembered his mother. In 1693, he was listed as Jean Laforest, age 15 (so born in 1678), a domestic in the home of Daniel LeBlanc. He married about 1698 to Marie Elisabeth Labarre with whom he had 12 children. By 1714, they were living in Beaubassin.

Marie may have died quite young, but her six children produced at least 59 grandchildren to carry on her legacy.

Even though four of their six children moved on, and another died by 1704, the farm that Marie Gaudet and Michel Forest had carved out of the swamps and wilderness along the Rivière du Dauphin would not leave the family – at least not before the wholesale expulsion of the Acadians in 1755. Their third son, René, stayed to farm his parent’s homestead, establishing the René Forest Village on the banks of the Annapolis River.

In 1755, a century after her birth and nearly 80 years after Marie’s death, those grandchildren and their children’s children were scattered to the winds, but like seeds, planted themselves around the globe in fertile soil, peppering the Acadian diaspora with thousands of her descendants.


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Michel de Forest (c1638–c1690): Acadian Family Founder – 52 Ancestors #411

There are some things we know about Michel (de) Forest, and a lot that we don’t. Furthermore, there are myths that, with repeated telling, have become widely accepted and ingrained into genealogy, but now seem to have been disproven. Thankfully, the lives of our ancestors continue to come into clearer focus.

Let’s start with the facts we have, beginning with the trusty census records.

Acadian Censuses

The French Acadians settled in what is now Nova Scotia beginning in 1632, moving to Port Royal in 1635 on the Bay of Fundy.

It’s estimated that by 1653, there were 45-50 households in Port Royal and about 60 single men. Of course, those men would have been very interested in finding wives.

A prisoner in 1654 estimated that there were about 270 residents.

From about 1653 to 1667, Acadia was under English rule, not French. This is actually important for Michel de Forest’s history, because as a French man, he would probably have arrived prior to 1653. We know he was married in 1666, so he would already have been in Acadia before 1667.

The Acadians took periodic censuses beginning in 1671. While there are millions of Acadian descendants today, the founding population was small. Given the challenges they faced, it’s actually amazing that they survived at all and that their descendants thrived, even after the Acadian Removal, known as Le Grande Derangement.

The first record we find for Michel de Forest is the 1671 census in Port Royal, Acadia, transcribed here by Lucie LeBlanc Consentino, where he is listed as Michel de Forest, age 33, wife Marie Hebert, 20, with children Michel 4, Pierre 2, René 1, 12 cattle and two sheep.

This tells us that he has been in Acadia for at least five years, in order to have married and have a 4-year-old child. He would have been about 27 when he married.

This also provides a birth year for him of about 1638.

The next census, taken in 1678, shows Michel as a widower with 4 acres, 3 cows, 2 calves, 1 gun, four boys, ages 12, 10, 8, and 3, plus two girls, ages 6 and 4. His age is not given.

Assuming that all of Michel’s children were born to the same mother, this suggests that Marie Hebert died sometime in or after 1675, when the last child would have been born.

Marie and Michel were only married for between 9 and 12 years. I wonder if she died about 1677 in childbirth. Of course, there’s no evidence for that. If she died giving birth to that child, or shortly thereafter, the child is deceased too.

In 1684, a new governor was appointed to Acadia who described the Acadians as living simply and pastorally. He claimed they lived better than Canadians, never lacking meat or bread, but weren’t as industrious. He said they never put anything away for a bad year, and their dowries were small – a few francs and a cow in calf, a ewe, and a sow.

Maybe that explains at least one of Michel’s cows and sheep in 1671.

In 1686, Michel is once again enumerated in the census, age 47, now married to Jacqueline Benoit whose age is given as 13, but is very likely erroneously recorded. Census takers then were probably much the same as census takers decades later in the US. However, accuracy was probably not deemed to be as important in Acadia. After all, everyone knew everyone else. The entire census consisted of 392 people, but scholars estimate that it was probably closer to 500.

Based on Jacqueline’s earlier family records, I believe she was 17. Michel’s children with Marie Hebert are listed as Michel 19, Pierre 18, René 16, Gabriel 13, Marie 11, and Jean-Baptiste 9. Michel had one gun, 8 sheep, and 4 hogs and was cultivating 5 arpents of land.

Age 47 puts Michel’s birth year at 1639. He was either newly married, or his wife was pregnant, because their only child was born about 1687.

In 1686, Jean-Baptiste, at age 9, fits the same pattern as the child who was 3 in 1678, but the math is slightly off. Age 9 in 1686 would put Jean-Baptiste’s birth year in 1677. Perhaps 1676 is the actual birth year, which puts Marie Hebert’s death sometime between 1676 and the 1678 census.

A 1688 report from the governor states that there was a labor shortage, a shortage of manure necessary for developing the uplands and also a shortage of tidelands that would be easy to dyke. As a result, 25-30 (mostly) younger people had moved to Minas in the last 6 years.

By sometime in 1691, Michel’s second wife, Jacqueline Benoit had remarried to Guillaume Trahan. In the 1693 census, she was listed with him as age 20. Michel Forest’s daughter Marguerite, age 6, is shown with the family, but without a surname, as is Angelique, age 1. Angelique would have been born to Jacqueline and Guillaume.

In May of 1690, Michel’s son, René signed the required loyalty oath, but Michel did not, which tells us that he had died by then.

Therefore, we know that Michel died sometime between the birth of his last child, Marguerite, born about 1687 to his second wife, Jacqueline, and May of 1690.

Michel’s youngest child, Marguerite, married about 1705 to Etienne Comeau and had nine children. She is shown with her mother and step-father in 1693 in Les Mines.

Acadia Land Location

Based on later records and a reconstruction of the 1707 census which includes Michel’s son, René de Forest, we know the probable location of Michel’s land. Further confirming this, Karen Theriot Reader reports that Michel had obtained a considerable concession extending over a mile in depth, a dozen miles to the east of the fort in Port Royal.

The René Forest Village is a dozen miles east of the fort, exactly where we would expect based on the description of that concession. A mile in depth is a LOT of land, which would have begun with water frontage on the rivière Dauphin, now the Annapolis River.

Based on the legend, a mile in depth would extend across 201 and possibly to or across 101, Harvest Highway, as well.

As further evidence, Michel married Marie Hebert, daughter of Etienne Hebert and Marie Gaudet, who lived on the adjacent farm.

The Hebert’s lived in close proximity to the de Forest family, maybe half a mile away, which would make courting easy! MapAnnapolis was kind enough to map these locations, here.

The Nova Scotia Archives shows the Hebert and Forest villages on this 1733 map.

This land remained in those families for a century. It’s no wonder that these families intermarried heavily.

Spousal Candidates

There weren’t many marriageable-age young women to choose from among Acadian families, which explains why some men chose Native wives.

I did some analysis on the 1671 census, which proved quite interesting.

There were a total of 68 families in Port Royal in 1671. With that small number of families, it’s no wonder everyone is related to everyone else within just a few generations. The descendant population is highly endogamous today. WikiTree reports that Michel has more than 28,000 identified descendants.

The 1671 census is unique in that families with older children noted how many married children they had. Then, the married child was also enumerated with their own family.

For example, Marie Hebert’s mother was widowed, and her census entry reads thus:

“Marie Gaudet, widow of Etienne Hebert, 38. She has 10 children, two married children: Marie 20, Marguerite 19, Emmanuel 18, not yet married”…and so forth

Then, Marie Hebert is listed with her husband, Michel de Forest, along with their children.

This provides us with a rare opportunity. First, we can match children, particularly females, up with their parents so long as at least one parent is still living.

This dual listing methodology also provides an unexpected glimpse into something else. Missing married children. At least six married children females in the age bracket that I was studying were noted as “married,” but they are not listed with a spouse anyplace. This could be because they had left the area, but that exodus hadn’t really begun that early and wouldn’t for another 15 years or so. It’s also possible that they were simply missed, but that seems unlikely, given that everyone literally knew everyone else and where they lived. Furthermore, everyone lived along the river.

After matching the married daughters up with their husbands, two name-based matches remained questionable, given that the ages were significantly different. For example, one couple lists Marie Gautrot as their married daughter, age 35, but Claude Terriau’s listing shows Marie Gautrot, age 24, as his wife. Their oldest child is 9. This may or may not be the same person.

My goal was to see how many females were of marriage age and single in 1666 when Michel de Forest married. I calculated the probable marriage date for each female based on the oldest child’s age minus one year.

Based on the women living in 1671, 5 females other than Michel’s wife were married in 1666, so they may or may not have been available for marriage when Michel was looking.

I entered all the women between ages 18 and 35 in 1671 into a spreadsheet, meaning they were between 13 and 30 in 1666 when Michel was about 26 or 27. While 13 is extremely young to marry, it appears that young women began marrying at that age. I suspect they married as soon as they reached puberty or shortly thereafter.

After all, finding a “good” husband was important, and in Acadia, pickings were slim. Plus, you really wanted your daughter to settle nearby, so if her “intended” was a neighbor, so much the better. And if her “intended” also had a farm and a cow – that was the veritable jackpot!

The total number of females aged 18-35 in 1671 was only 41, one of which was a widow whose age I can’t reconcile accurately.

Of those people, only 12 were unquestionably unmarried in 1666, plus possibly the widow. If all of the women who married in 1666 were unspoken for in 1666 when Michael was courting, the absolute maximum number of available spouses in that age range was 18, including Michel’s wife. I did not calculate the number of marriage-age males, but there seemed to be more males than females.

Eighteen potential spouses are actually not many to choose from. “Here are 18 people – pick one to marry for the rest of your life.” Today, we hope and expect to be happy. I’d bet they simply hoped not to be miserable and to survive. The most important qualities were probably selecting someone kind and industrious, although young people might not have realized that.

The priests would not sanction marriages to Native women unless the woman would convert and be baptized in the Catholic church, so the men who married Native women tended to live in the woods among the Native people, adopting their lifeways.

The female Acadian marriage age was quite young, ranging from 13-25. The average was 17 years and 10 months.

Calculated marriage ages of women in that age bracket based on the age of the oldest child, less one year, were:

  • 13 years old – 2 people
  • 14 – 3
  • 15 – 5
  • 16 – 2
  • 17 – 5
  • 18 – 2
  • 19 – 6
  • 20 – 3
  • 21 – 1
  • 22 – 1
  • 23 – 1
  • 24 – 1
  • 25 – 1

It’s clear from these numbers that most people were married by 20, and by 21, few female marriage partners were left. The marriages of the women in their 20s could also be erroneous if their first child or children died before the census.

Church records before 1702 do not survive, so we can’t check further.

Michel probably climbed in his birchbark canoe, wearing his cleanest clothes, and paddled the short distance to visit Marie’s parents, asking permission to marry their daughter. Or, perhaps, he asked them in church. They would have seen each other there, at least weekly, so long as the colony had a priest in residence.

Or, maybe Michel became inspired when he was visiting Marie and just popped the question one fine day when she looked particularly beautiful as they strolled through the fields on their adjoining lands.

Because Michel had no parents in the settlement, he would have established himself as a farmer by that point, proving his ability to support a wife and children. This is probably one of the reasons he didn’t marry until he was 28. Regardless of when he arrived, or under what circumstances, he still needed time to build a foundation that would make him marriage-eligible. That would mean being either a farmer, with land, or a tradesman. Something with a dependable income – as dependable as anything could be in a region torn by conflict between the French and English.

If Michel were already farming when he married, which is likely, Marie’s parents would have been excited because their daughter would be living in very close proximity, literally within sight. Or, perhaps, this is how the de Forest family came to establish their home, then the village, next to the Heberts.

Life and Death in Acadia

Michel died young. If he perished in 1687, he would have been roughly 49 years old. If he died in 1690, he would have been 52. Certainly, he could have died of natural causes, but it’s more likely that something else was responsible for his death.

Of course, without modern medical care, any wound could fester and cause sepsis, or an accident with a horse could end a life in the blink of an eye. An appendicitis attack was a death sentence. Dysentery, typhoid, and other diseases of contamination wiped out entire families.

However, none of his children died, nor did his wife at the time, so something else caused Michel’s death.

One likely candidate is the warfare with the English. Acadia had been settled by the French, but the English coveted the land, eventually taking permanent possession, in 1710. However, they had been trying for decades, and control of Acadia has passed back and forth more than once – and never peacefully.

However, 1690 was particularly heinous.


In 1690, Acadia was once again plundered and burned by the English out of Boston. The church in Port Royal and 28 homes were burned, but not the mills and upriver farms, which may have included the Forest homestead.

The French pirate, Pierre Baptiste attempted to defend Port Royal in 1690 but was unsuccessful. A year later, he was successfully recruiting men in Acadia to join him in capturing British ships.

The Acadians in Port Royal swore an oath of allegiance in May of 1690 hoping to de-escalate the situation. Instead, their priest was kidnapped and taken to Boston. Luckily for us, the priest took the loyalty oath document with him, which tells us which males were alive as of May 1690. I transcribed that list, here.

Michel is not on the list, and neither are his two oldest sons, Michel and Pierre. The eldest was probably married already, but Pierre was not. Michel’s third son, René de Forest, signed the oath and stayed in Acadia to work his father’s land. The older two brothers settled shortly thereafter, if they hadn’t already, in Grand Pre which had been founded in 1686 by the Melanson family.

The English were firmly in charge of Acadia after the 1690 attack.

Emboldened, 2 English pirates took advantage of the opportunity and burned more homes, killing people and livestock.

However, by this time, it appears that Michel was already gone. His children and widow would have been left to fight those battles.

Did Michel die defending his home and family in 1690, along with his son or sons? Was their homestead burned either in the initial attack or by the pirates?


Michel was the first Forest, de Forest or Foret settler in Acadia – the founder of the Acadian Forest family. He was clearly there before he married in either 1665 or 1666, based on the age of his eldest child.

If Michel was born about 1638 or 1639, he would have been roughly 28 years old when he married.

Forest family researchers are fortunate to have long-time researcher, John P. DeLong, as a family member. John is a descendant and has been studying this family for more than 35 years. He’s been providing his web page for more than a quarter century. Thank you, John!!

John has evaluated the various famous and infamous stories about Michel’s origins, piece by piece, including both a mysterious name and religious denominational change – all of which are without any scrap of evidence other than uncertain oral history. Sometimes facts are morphed or molded a bit to fit the narrative – and that seems to be what happened over the decades, and indeed, centuries, regarding Michel.

There are two long-standing myths, meaning oral history, surrounding Michel de Forest. John goes into great detail, documenting both exceedingly well on his site, “The Origins of the Acadian Michel Forest.”

I’m not going to repeat them herel, but I strongly encourage all Michel Forest researchers to read his extensive research, points, counterpoints, and citations. It’s an excellent piece of work.

Not only is John’s research exemplary, it’s backed up by Y-DNA evidence. Assuming the tester’s genealogy is accurate, our Michel de Forest is NOT a descendant of the French Huguenot family who sought refuge in the Netherlands. Their Y-DNA, documented in the Forest Y-DNA project, here, is entirely different.

One of the theories involves our immigrant Michel being born by another name in the Netherlands to Huguenot refugees, then changing both his name and religion when immigrating to Acadia.

He was also rumored to be related to the Forest family of New Netherlands, now New York. That family descends from the Dutch Huguenot family.

An older story involved being born to another couple from the same line, but that was debunked earlier.

I concur with John DeLong’s conclusion that Michel very likely arrived around 1650 with Governor d’Aulnay:

Governor d’Aulnay was recruiting young men to voyage to Acadia between 1645 and 1650. Furthermore, a marriage delay of sixteen years is understandable. He (Michel) had to mature to adulthood, perhaps wait for his period of servitude to end, maybe spend some time setting up his own farm to become independent, and then had to wait for an eligible bride to mature given the shortage of marriageable woman in the colony. This could take up sixteen years. Surely, the fact that his second marriage was to a girl of 14 or 15 indicates that there was a serious shortage of eligible women in the colony even as late as 1686.

Without any other evidence, this is the most reasonable hypothesis.

What we know for sure is that Michel arrived in Acadia without any known family. This makes me wonder if Michel was an orphan or perhaps an adventurous teenager who set out to see the world.

Michel must have been wide-eyed as he set eyes on Port Royal for the first time. He would spend the rest of his life here, and his bones would rest in this very location.

Forest DNA

Thank goodness for the Forest DNA Project at FamilyTreeDNA. Y-DNA for males is passed from father to son, unmixed with the DNA of the mother. Occasional small mutations occur, allowing descendants to be grouped into family lines, but overall, Michel’s direct male descendants will match each other. In other words, de Forest or Forest men will match other Forest men.

Several of Michel’s direct patrilineal descendants have tested, and, as expected, they match each other. They do NOT match the Huguenot/New Netherlands group – not even close. Assuming the genealogy of the New Netherlands descendant is accurate, and no undocumented adoptions have occurred, this dispels any remaining doubt that anyone might have.

Often, stories become so ingrained in families and culture that disproof is hard to accept, especially when the story defines part of the family or cultural identity. One might ask themselves – how could these family stories have been so wrong for so long?

In this case, we know that at least two different de Forest descendant lines dating from a common ancestor in about 1830 carried this oral history, independently. Of course, we have NO idea how that story began. Maybe someone “noticed” the similarities in names and assumed that they were connected. Maybe someone told someone else they were connected. Regardless, it happened.

Then, after 150+ years of being repeated, it was accepted as incontrovertible fact, and everyone believed it. Why wouldn’t they? Those stories had been in the family “forever” so they “had” to be true. In the early/mid 1900s, books were published, further cementing the stories into the family psyche. If it’s in print, it has to be accurate, right? Then, online trees began, and what was previously in print in libraries became easily accessible from home, and the age of click/copy/paste began and continues to this day.

Let me say this again – Acadian Michel Forest’s Y-DNA, meaning his direct paternal line, does not match with the paternal line of the Dutch family, meaning that Gereyt de Forest who was born in 1737 to the wealthy Protestant de Forest family in Leiden in the Netherlands was NOT the Catholic Michel de Forest of Acadia. There are no facts that add up, and neither does the Y-DNA.

What do we know about Michel Forest’s DNA results, aside from the fact that his descendants’ Y-DNA doesn’t match the Dutch line of the same or similar surname who settled in New Netherlands?

Several of Michel de Forest’s descendants have tested, which you can see here.

I wish very much that every tester would enter their earliest known ancestor.

The volunteer project administrators have grouped Michel Forest’s known descendants together, above. You’ll notice that their haplogroups are estimated to be R-M269 based on STR tests, or the much more refined haplogroup R-FT146490 based on a Big Y test taken by kit number N36241.

On the other hand, kit number 939910 is reported to be a descendant of Melchoir de Forest III who was born about 1521 and died about 1571 or 1572. This is the Huguenot branch that immigrated to the Netherlands, then to New Netherlands. This is the line rumored to be Michel’s ancestors. Specifically, Gerryt (Geryt, Geryte, Gerryte) de Foreest/Forest born in 1637 was said to have gone to Acadia where he changed his name to Michel and became Catholic again. The birth year aligns approximately, but that’s all. Nothing more is known of Gerryte, so he was the perfect candidate to morph into Michel. A similar birth year, a continent apart, with no additional evidence, does not the same person make.

Assuming the tester’s genealogy is accurate, the Melchior haplogroup is I-FT413656, and the test can be found in the Ungrouped section.

I would very much like to see another confirmed test from any paternally descended male Melchior Forest descendant, preferably through another son. This would confirm the difference.

The base haplogroup of the Acadian Michel de Forest group is haplogroup R and the haplogroup of the Huguenot group is I. This alone disproves this theory, as those haplogroups aren’t related in thousands of years.

There are several testers in the project’s Ungrouped section. I can tell that the project administrators were actively trying to test all lines with a similar surname to see if any match. So far, they don’t.

The Group Time Tree, available under the project menu, shows all of the testers from both groups, together on one tree by time, across the top.

It’s easy to see that Acadian Michel De Forest’s group doesn’t match any other group of men with the same or similar surnames. I love this tool, because you can view all project members who have taken the Big-Y test, together, with time.

Additionally, the Forest Project has provided a summary, here that is a bit outdated, but the essence is still of value. Michel does not descend from Jesse, who descends from Melchior.

Additional information is available exclusively to members of the Forest Association, which can be found here. I’m not a member, so I don’t know what additional information might be there.

Discover More

FamilyTreeDNA has provided the free Discover tool. One of the Forest men has taken the Big Y test and has been assigned the detailed haplogroup of R-FT146490. Haplogroup R-M269 is about 6350 years old, while the mutation responsible for R-FT146490 occurred about 200 years ago.

This fine, granular information, combined with other men who have taken the Big Y test and have either the same or nearby haplogroups, provides us with significant information about our de Forest family.

It confirms who we are and tells us who we’re not.

The Discover tool provides us with information about the age of Michel’s haplogroup, R-FT146490.

The haplogroup of Michel’s direct male paternal-line descendants is estimated to have been born about the year 1800, which suggests that if more descendants of Michel through different sons were to test, we might well identify another haplogroup someplace between 1800 and the parent haplogroup born about 800 CE. That’s a thousand years. Where were our ancestors?

These dates represent ranges, though, so the 1800 date could potentially be earlier.

Perhaps additional Forest men would be willing to upgrade.

Aside from Michel’s descendants upgrading, it would be very useful to see how closely we match other men from France. But that’s a problem.

A huge challenge for Acadian DNA testing is that DNA testing in France is illegal, so most of the French tests we have are from lines that left for the New World or elsewhere.

Perhaps in time, Michel’s origins before Acadia will be revealed. Where were his ancestors between 800 CE and when we find Michel in Acadia by 1666? That’s a BIG gap. We need more of Michel’s descendants to test, preferably at least one person from each son.

Michel Summary

Michael’s life was short, and while we know who he married and the names of his children, thanks to the census, so much has been lost as a result of the destruction of the early Catholic church records.

That Catholic church that was burned by the British in 1690 assuredly held the records we need. However, the Acadians had much more than church registers to worry about after that attack. They had to bury their dead and provide for the living, somehow.

Under normal circumstances, Michael’s funeral would have been held inside the church near the fort in Annapolis Royal, and he would have been laid to rest in the cemetery beside the church. That may or may not be what happened, depending on when and how he died. The original Fort and historic area, including the church location and cemetery, is shown between St. George Street, Prince Albert, and the Bay, above.

The church no longer exists, and Acadian graves are unmarked today, but we know they were buried in what is now called the Garrison Cemetery, overlooking the Bay that welcomed Michel about 40 years earlier.


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Calling All Descendants of George Estes (1763-1859) – You’re Invited to His Revolutionary War Grave Dedication – 52 Ancestors #410

If you’re a descendant of George Estes (1763-1859), Revolutionary War Veteran who lived and died in Halifax County, VA, you’re invited to the dedication of his gravestone. I wrote about George’s life and service, here.

The Dan River Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution is holding a dedication ceremony for George and his new gravestone on Sunday, October 21st, 2023 at 11 AM in the Oak Ridge Cemetery in South Boston, Virginia.

Dwight Spangler worked with local cousin, Mark Estes, and the Graves Preservation Committee of the Dan River SAR chapter to compile the necessary documentation to request a marker from the VA.

Documenting the location was challenging because the family moved George’s grave before the City demolished the structures on the premises, along with the cemetery, for both the landfill and the Water Department.

The graves were moved to Oak Ridge Cemetery, literally across the street, where the Estes family owned a block of graves. According to family member, Shirley Whtilow, whose father was actually one of the men who moved the graves, Estes family members who lived on the original land, including George, were reburied in the family plot in Oak Ridge.

After George’s stone arrived, Mark installed it in the Estes cemetery plot, almost directly across from Estes Street where the original land, cemetery and homestead were located.

Mark provided the location where George’s marker has been installed. Notice Estes Street directly across from George’s grave in the Estes plot. It’s possible that Oak Ridge Cemetery was established in the 1880s on Estes land.

To attend George’s ceremony, use the Cemetery entrance on North Main Street, just north of Hamilton Blvd.

In the photo above, the purple semi at right is sitting on Estes Street, waiting to turn on Main Street. The Main Street entrance to the cemetery is shown above. The surrounding walls were constructed using cobblestones from the early South Boston streets, some of which may well have been laid by George himself. He worked on several road crews.

It’s somehow fitting that George’s family will meet in the Estes plot in the cemetery, across the street from his home where he resided after returning home from the Revolutionary War, protected with a wall salvaged from the roads on which he worked.

It may be 164 years after George was originally buried, and probably nearly a century after he was reburied – but it’s happening. George finally has a stone. And we, his descendants, have the opportunity to honor his life, including not one, not two, but three tours of duty in the Revolutionary War. Hope to see you there.

Please let me know if you’re planning to attend.

Acknowledgements and Thank Yous

On behalf of all of George’s descendants, I would like to thank both the SAR and Dwight Spangler. I extend my deepest appreciation to cousin Mark Estes, along with my now-deceased cousins, all of whom were descendants of George’s daughter, Suzanne Estes, through son Ezekiel Estes (1814-1885), then son Henry Archer Estes (1857-1934).

Doug Estes (1925-2019), Shirley Estes Whitlow (1926-2014), and Nancy Dunkley Osborne (1936-2008) were first cousins to each other. They not only graciously shared our family history when I visited Halifax County twenty+ years ago, but helped me piece it back together.

Shirley’s father, William “Willy” Fife Estes (1892-1984) helped move the graves, so Shirley knew where the remains had been reburied. Shirley drew a map, showing me where the Estes homes and cemetery were originally located. She took me to the Estes cemetery plots in Oak Ridge. Nancy showed me where George’s grandfather, Moses Estes (1711-1787), lived, and she cleaned and maintained the original Estes stones in Oak Ridge Cemetery. Doug shared several family stories with me, including details about the original Estes land and reburials. Doug and Shirley visited the original Estes farm, and played on the Estes land in the 1930s, before the main house burned in 1933 and the land was sold or leased to the City.


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René de Forest (born c 1670-1751), Hanging On by a Thread – 52 Ancestors #409

René de Forest was born in 1670 near Port Royal, Acadia, to Michel de Forest and Marie Hebert. Acadia had been at the heart of a dispute between the French and English for control of the region, and René was born into the middle of that conflict.

The 1671 census shows his father, Michel de Forest, age 33, wife Marie Hebert, age 20, and children Michel, age 4, Pierre, age 2, and René, age 1. They also had 12 cattle, 2 sheep, and 2 arpents of cultivated land.

An arpent of land was equal to either about 192 linear feet if measured along a riverbank, for example, or about .84 acres. A typical French practice, in Louisiana, arpents are long, narrow parcels of land along streams and waterways.

The entire 1671 census consisted of 67 Acadian families at Port Royal, which included the area up and down the rivière Dauphin, now the Annapolis River, from the confluence with the Bay of Fundy up to about Bridgetown today.

Forty-eight families had land listed, meaning 19 families had no cultivated land, even though they were listed as farmers. The most wealthy man had 30 arpents. Several had between 1 and 6 arpents. This means that René was by no means wealthy, but was in the normal range. He also had more cattle than most, so perhaps that made up for less cultivated land. I’d bet his cattle were grazing on uncultivated land.

Early Life

René’s actual birthday is reported as January 11, 1670, on WikiTree, with two sources provided that I cannot verify by original records. His birth was not listed at the Nova Scotia Archives in the church records because the remaining records did not begin until 1702. It would be interesting to know where earlier researchers obtained the date of January 11th. Regardless, based on the 1671 census, we know the year of his birth.

His father was listed as a widower in the 1678 census with 4 sons and 2 daughters. The youngest child listed was age 3, which tells us that Marie died sometime between 1675 and 1678. If they had another child in 1677, that child died too.

René’s mother died when he was young. He was between age 5 and age 8. That must have been devastating for a young child. I hope he had at least some memory of her.

Probably with help from his siblings and relatives, Michel raised those children and farmed for the next few years. Somehow, someplace in the midst of all this, René learned to read and write – well – at least he was able to write his own name.

In 1684, a new governor was appointed to serve in Acadia who complained that the Acadians never put anything away for a bad year and their dowries were small – a few francs and a cow in calf, a ewe, and a sow. This made me smile.

In 1686, another new governor reported that the Acadian people had scattered and lived far from each other, their homes being built behind the marshes along the river. Several families left the region a few years earlier to establish villages elsewhere, but René’s father was not one of them.

René’s father, Michel, remarried a decade or so later, about 1686, to Jacqueline Benoist.

In the 1686 census, listed along with other census years on the Acadian-home site, Michel, 47, is listed with Jacqueline, who is noted as age 13, along with his children by Marie. René is listed as age 16. I question both his age and his stepmother’s as well. Her parents were shown in the 1678 census as having two girls, one born in 1671 and one in 1677. If Jacqueline was born in 1671, she would have been age 17 in 1678. Much more reasonable than a 13-year-old married to a 47-year-old man. If she was born in 1677, she would have been 11 in 1678, clearly not old enough to marry. I’m betting that she was 17, not 13. Still, her stepsons were older than she was.

Michel seems to be doing fairly well, or at least reasonably, given that he has a gun, which was an absolute necessity both for hunting and defense, 5 arpents of land, 8 sheep and 4 hogs.

Michel and Jacqueline had their only child, a daughter, Marguerite, in about 1687.

Then, along came 1690, a red-letter year.

1690 Attack

In 1690, Acadia was again plundered and burned by the English out of Boston. The church and 28 homes were burned, but not the mills and upriver farms. This suggests that the Forest farm may have escaped being burned, although we certainly don’t know for sure.

The English were clearly in charge now. René would have been about 20. The Acadians had been preparing for this eventuality, amid lesser attacks, for years.

Michel died about 1690, or more specifically, between the 1686 census and May of 1690, and his widow remarried very shortly thereafter.

We don’t know exactly when or how Michel died, but he was 50ish – so he probably didn’t die of old age. His death certainly could have been related to the 1690 attack. His widow’s quick remarriage would have provided safety and security for herself and her children – and maybe Michel’s children from his first marriage, too.

Michel’s death made René an orphan by the age of 20. I wonder if the family stayed on the land Michel was farming. What happened to his younger siblings when his stepmother remarried? Who raised them? Where did they live?

At this point, René was an adult – whether he was ready to be or not.

1690 – The Loyalty Oath

The political situation in Acadia was extremely inflamed and very tense. In an attempt to diffuse the situation, the Acadians agreed to sign a limited loyalty oath. Essentially, they simply wanted to remain neutral in the warfare between France and England, not fighting “for” either side. Hence, their nickname of French Neutrals.

The Massachusetts State Archive holds the original oath with signatures because the priest, in possession of the oath document, was kidnapped in May of 1690 and taken to Massachusetts. I wrote about this oath, including a transcription with signatures, here. The title of the article is “1695 Loyalty Oath,” because that’s the year in the Massachusetts Archives. The oath document was physically in Massachusetts at that time, having been transported by the priest, but that’s not when or where it was signed.

Wee do swear and sincerely promise that wee will be faithfull and bear true allegiance to his Majesty King William King of England, Scotland, France and Ireland.

So helpe us God.

René signed his own signature on the May 1690 Oath of Allegiance in Port Royal. It’s worth noting that his father did NOT sign, so Michel was deceased by this time. And he may have been very recently deceased.

Mark Deutsch provided additional important information in a comment on the original article, as follows:

This oath was actually forced upon the residents of Port-Royal by William Phips, commander of a force from Massachusetts that captured Port-Royal in May 1690 without a fight. Phips had seven ships, 64 cannon and 736 men, more than the entire population of Acadia. This was during King William’s War, mostly fought in Europe, as usual, but with North American involvement. In his own words, Phips reported, “We cut down the cross, rifled the Church, pulled down the High-Altar, breaking their images”; and on 23 May, “kept gathering Plunder both by land and water, and also under ground in their Gardens”. see Dictionary of Canadian Biography.

“An employee of the Compaignie d’Acadie had buried the cashbox, and Phips had him tortured until he revealed its location…The New Englanders also confiscated the 4,000 livres from the colonial treasury.” p. 89, “A Great and Noble Scheme” by John Mack Faragher.

“As the looting continued, Phips summoned the inhabitants hiding in the woods ‘forthwith to come in, and subject yourselves to the Crown of England…swearing allegiance to their Majesties, William and Mary of England, Scotland, France (sic) and Ireland, King and Queen’. Otherwise he declared, ‘you must expect no other Quarter, than what the Law of Arms will allow you. Fearing slaughter, the frightened residents cautiously returned to their homes. On 24 May, Phips administered the oath of allegiance to the adult males” p. 90, supra.

After giving orders to his men to impose this oath to everyone, both French and Native they could locate in Acadia, “and upon refusal hereof to burn, kill, and destroy them.”, he sailed back to Massachusetts. Later in 1690 Phips made an attempt to take Quebec with 34 ships and 2,300 men, but Governor Frontenac, familiar with Phips’ reputation of course refused surrender, and Quebec could not be captured. King William’s War ended in 1697 with the Treaty of Ryswick and Acadia was reaffirmed to be French, although the capture and pillaging of Prot-Royal had not resulted in any British government of the town and there was no attempt to exert control over the outlying villages or obtain oaths. The oath from the men of Port-Royal was promptly retracted as made under duress and fear for their lives.


Around 1695, René married Françoise Dugas. The couple welcomed their first child, Marie, in 1696, the same year that the British attacked Acadian again. Once again, burning homes and slaughtering animals.

By the time the next census rolled around in 1698, René Forest was listed as 28 years of age, his wife, Françoise Dugas, age 20, Marie, age 2, Marguerite, age 1, with 18 cattle, 22 sheep, 2 hogs, 16 arpents of land, 40 fruit trees and 2 guns. The location is given as Port Royal. I wonder if René had a spare gun, or if the second one was his father’s. Comparatively speaking, 16 arpents of land is a lot. The fruit trees would have been very important and would have taken a few years to produce, so Rene was clearly invested here, and investing in the future as well.

In 1701, the census showed René Forest, 31, Françoise Dugas (wife), 22, Joseph, 3, Francois, 1, Marie, 5, Marguerite, 4; 1 gun, 12 cattle, 18 sheep, 3 hogs, 6 arpents of land. (Port Royal)

Now I wonder if the 16 arpents of land in 1698 was supposed to be 6, or the 6 in 1701 was supposed to be 16.

The next census is in 1703, where René Forest is listed with his wife, 4 boys, 4 girls, and 1 arms-bearer, which would have been him.

In 1707, we find René Forest and wife, 4 boys less than 14, 2 girls less than 12, 8 arpents of land, 14 cattle, 24 sheep, 15 hogs, and 1 gun.

We know where René lived, based on the 1707 census.

Fortunately, the location has been reconstructed by MapAnnapolis, here.

The red star marks this satellite view from Google Maps.

By 1708, the tension was reaching fever pitch again, and it was becoming evident that attacks would follow, probably sooner than later.


This time, the English unquestionably meant business.

One Capt. Morris wrote that the channel south of Goat Island was shallow and rocky; north of the island, it was wide and deep, but there was a strong ebb and flow of the tides. The 5 miles from Goat Island to the fort had water, even in low tides. Small vessels could travel as far as 18 miles above the fort, near present-day Bridgetown. René lived about 12 miles upriver, but below Bridgeton. Large boats could go 9 miles further to “the falls” on the tide if they could stand being beached at low tide. But the bottom was “intolerably rocky and foul.”

On September 24, 1710, Port Royal was attacked again by the English who sent five ships and 3400 troops. That’s 3400 soldiers against about 1700 total Acadians, including women and children.

The 300 Acadian soldiers gathered in Fort Royal and made a valiant attempt to hold the fort, and with it, Acadia.

Par Charny — Travail personnel, CC BY-SA 3.0,

The Acadians, with their 300 soldiers, which would have included all able-bodied men, stood absolutely no chance, although they did manage to hold the fort for 19 days under siege. The episode became known as the Siege of Port Royal, or the Conquest of Acadia.

Here is what we know about the battle:

As the fleet sails north, it is joined by a dispatch ship sent by Thomas Matthews, captain of the Chester; it was carrying deserters from the French garrison, who reported that the morale of the French troops was extremely low. Nicholson sends the ship ahead with one of the transports; as they entered Digby Gully , they received fire from groups of Micmacs on the coast. The ships retaliate with their guns, with neither side taking any casualties. On October 5, the main British fleet arrived at Goat Island, about 10 kilometers (6.2 mi) south of Port-Royal. That afternoon, the Caesar transport runs aground while attempting to enter Annapolis, and is eventually swept away by the rocks. Her captain, part of her crew and 23 soldiers died, while a company commander and some 25 other people fought ashore.

The following day, October 6, British marines began landing north and south of the fortress and town. The northern force was joined by four New England regiments under the command of Colonel Vetch, while Nicholson led the remaining New England troops as part of the southern force. The landings were uneventful, with fire from the fort being countered by one of Fleet’s long-range bombers. Although later accounts of the siege state that Vetch’s detachment was part of a strategic plan to encircle the fort, contemporary accounts report that Vetch wanted to have command somewhat independent of Nicholson. These same accounts state that Vetch never came within range of the fort’s guns before the end of the siege; his attempts to erect a battery of mortars in a muddy area opposite the fort, across Allain Creek, were repulsed by the fire of cannon. The southern force encountered guerrilla-type resistance outside the fort, with Acadian and native defenders firing small arms from houses and wooded areas, in addition to taking fire from the fort. This fire caused three deaths among the British, but the defenders could not prevent the British on the south side from establishing a camp about 400 meters from the fort.

Over the next four days the British landed their guns and brought them to camp. Fire from the fort and its supporters outside continued, and British bombers wreaked havoc inside the fort with their fire each night. With the imminent opening of new British batteries, Subercase sent an officer with a flag of parliament on 10 October. The negotiations started badly, because the officer was not announced correctly by a beater. Each side ended up taking an officer from the other, mainly for reasons of military etiquette, and the British continued their siege work.

On October 12, the forward siege trenches and guns within 91 m (300 ft) of the fort opened fire. Nicholson sends Subercase a demand for surrender, and negotiations resume. At the end of the day, the parties reach an agreement on the terms of surrender, which is formally signed the next day. The garrison is permitted to leave the fort with all the honors of war, “their arms and baggage, drums beating and flags flying.”

René Forest, now 30 years old, would have marched out, head held high, one of those proud but defeated men.

This hurts my heart.

Conditions of Surrender

The requirement to leave must have pained the Acadians greatly, but they had no say in the matter.

The British were required to transport the garrison to France, and the capitulation carried specific protections to protect the inhabitants. The conditions provided that “inhabitants of the cannon firing range of the fort,” meaning 3 English miles, may remain on their properties for up to two years if they wish, provided they are prepared to take the oath to the British Crown.

There’s that oath issue again.

If they took the oath, they had two years to move their “moveable items” to a French territory which was any of the rest of Acadia, at least until the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713.

481 Acadians pledged allegiance to the Queen of England, and the French troops left Port Royal, now renamed by the English to Annapolis Royal. I bet the Acadians refused to call it that.

450 English soldiers remained, but they clearly didn’t want to be there. By June of 1711, only 100 were left – the rest having either deserted or died.

Then, there was Bloody Creek.

Bloody Creek

One of the reasons I suspect that René’s father, Michel, was killed in or as a result of the British attack of 1690 is René’s continued resistance. Not just resistance either, because all of the Acadians were resisting in one way or another. The attack at Bloody Creek probably illustrates the depths of René’s conviction and his hatred of the British.

In 1711, a detachment from Fort Anne went upriver and was ambushed by a band of Indians. Thirty soldiers, a major, and the fort engineer were killed at “Bloody Creek, 12 miles east of Annapolis Royal.” The Native people were closely allied and often intermarried with the Acadians.

Note the location of Bloody Creek, and the René Forest “village.” Who lived in that village anyway? I doubt that an ambush happened on the river in front of René’s home, and he knew nothing about it and did not participate.

Nope, I’m not buying that for a minute.

While there were 11 fewer soldiers, in the end, it made no difference in the outcome.


On April 13, 1713, Acadia passed to England, with France ceding all of Nova Scotia or Acadia with its 2000 residents. One author reported that in the past century, France had sent less than 200 colonists to Acadia and, at that point, had focused on Louisiana.

Par John Thornton; annotations by User:Magicpiano — Boston Public Library digital map collection, Call Number: G3320 1713 .T56:, Domaine public,

This 1713 map shows eastern New England and southern Nova Scotia, Port Royal is at point A, Boston at point B, and Casco Bay at point C.

The English pressured the Acadians from 1713-1730 to take an oath of allegiance and become British subjects. The Acadians refused, expressing three points of concern:

  • That they be able to continue their Catholic faith unimpeded
  • That the Indians (allies of the French) might attack an Acadian who fought against the French
  • That the English take the Acadians’ history into account

While in 1710, none of the Acadians wanted to leave, by 1713, they had accepted their fate and actually wanted to move to a French-controlled territory and away from the British.

In 1714, the last census was taken, and René is listed with his wife, 5 sons, and 5 daughters.

From the Acadians in Grey website, we discover that René received permission from the French in August 1714 to settle on Île Royal, but, like most of his brothers, he remained in British-controlled Acadia. However, records show that his brother Jean-Baptiste was in Beaubassin by 1726.

This is actually surprising, given a 1714 letter from the English Governor of Acadia.

Be Careful What You Wish For

Oh, the irony.

By sometime in 1714, the Acadians were ready and wanted to leave and join the other French families. However, Vetch, the English governor, reversed his position when he realized how strong that French settlement would be, and that he would have no farmers to govern.

  • Vetch noted that except for 2 families from New England, the Allens and Gourdays, all of the rest of the Acadians wanted to move to French-controlled areas. This would clearly have included René.
  • He notes that there are about 500 families in Acadia, which he calls “L’Accady and Nova Scotia” but that there are also 500 families in Louisbourg, plus 7 companies of soldiers. The French king had given them 18 months of provisions and helped them with ships and salt for the fishery to encourage Acadian settlement there.
  • He states that if the Acadians move from Nova Scotia to Isle Royale, it will empty the area of inhabitants. He’s concerned that the Indians who have intermarried with the Acadians and share their religion would follow, along with their trade, making Isle Royale the largest and most powerful French colony in the New World.
  • He says that 100 Acadians who know the woods, can use snowshoes and birch canoes, plus knowledge of the fishery, are more valuable than five times as many soldiers fresh from Europe.
  • He noted that some Acadians, mostly without many belongings, had already moved, and the rest planned on doing so in the summer of 1715 when the harvest was over and the grain was in.
  • The Acadians would take their 5000 cattle with them, plus many sheep and hogs. So, if the Acadians move, the colony would be reverted to a primitive state devoid of cattle. It would require a long time and 40,000 pounds to obtain that much livestock from New England.
  • Last, he noted that the treaty didn’t give the Acadians the right to sell the land.
  • He stated that the Acadians wouldn’t have wanted to go if the French officers (speaking for the French king) hadn’t threatened that they’d be treated as rebels if they didn’t move.

Based on the 1710 edict and the 1713 ceding of Acadia to the British, combined with the constant pestering to sign an oath, I somewhat doubt his last assertion. However, the fact that half the Acadians were in Louisbourg which was being subsidized by the French king, and was ruled by the French, must have made the unwelcome mandatory move edict of 1710 look pretty attractive by 1714.

I have to wonder why René declined to go before the governor changed his mind. Perhaps René maintained hope that things might still right themselves, right up until he didn’t anymore. Maybe he didn’t want to depart without his brothers, who were likely the other residents in the René Forest Village.

The Acadians truly believed they were leaving, though, because they didn’t plant crops. Now, what were they to do?

The Acadians tried any number of avenues to leave, including making their own boats, but they were seized, and the Acadians were essentially held hostage on their own lands with no crops or resources.

Still, they refused to take that bloody oath.

The next few years were a mess.

In 1715, the English shut the gates to the fort, and the Acadians were prevented from trading with either the English soldiers or the Native people.

By 1717, when some of the Acadians had planted their fields again and decided to remain on peaceful terms, the Indians were upset and threatened the Acadians, fearing they were defecting to the English side.

Everyone was upset with everyone else, and the situation was untenable. However, in the background, the Acadian families continued to marry, have, and baptize children. Life didn’t stop because life as they knew it might end. It also might not.

There is no remaining baptism record for René’s child born in 1710, the year of the siege, but children were born to René and Françoise in May of both 1713 and 1715. Then, in July of both 1717 and 1719.

For René, every child that was added to the family probably ratcheted up his anxiety level. He needed to protect and provide for his wife and children. He all-too-clearly would have remembered what happened to his parents, especially his father.

1720 – Another Ultimatum

The English didn’t want to lose their source of supplies, so they wanted the Acadians to stay, but on English terms. The Acadians were difficult, if not impossible, to control. It had been a decade since the English had taken control of the fort, told the Acadians they had to leave, and then reversed their position four years later. Everyone was weary, and the Acadian families had to be incredibly tired of the constant upheaval and uncertainty.

As for René and Françoise, 13 of their 14 children had been born, and their oldest was 24.

Late in 1720, General Philipps issued a proclamation that the Acadians must take the dreaded oath unconditionally or leave the country in 3 months. He also said they couldn’t sell or take any of their property with them, thinking that would pressure the Acadians into taking the oath. However, they still refused, saying that the Indians were threatening them.

When the Acadians requested, “let us harvest our crops and use vehicles to carry it,” Philipps figured that they were planning on taking their possessions with them and denied their request. He may have been right.

The Acadians felt that their only ” escape ” route was by land instead of the typical water route, so they began to create a road from Minas to Port Royal, about 70 miles.

In response, the governor issued an order that no one should move without his permission. He also sent an order to Minas to stop work on the road.

The English stated that the Acadians desired to take the Port Royal cattle to Beaubassin, about 215 miles today by road but not nearly as far by water. Beaubassin was a fortified French possession.

Exasperated, Philipps pronounced the Acadians ungovernable, stubborn, and added that bigoted priests directed them. The Acadians probably wore those badges with pride.

Philipps went on to say that the Acadians couldn’t be allowed to go because it would strengthen the population of their French neighbors. They were also needed to build fortifications and to produce supplies for the English forts.

He stated that the Acadians couldn’t leave until there were enough British subjects to be settled in their place, and he hoped that plans were being made to import British subjects. Furthermore, he expected problems from the Indians, who didn’t want the Acadians to leave, and rightfully blamed the British.

France started sending people to Ile Royal. The fort at Louisburg, destroyed in 1758, was begun in 1720. Other settlements in the region included St. Pierre near the Straight of Canso, which had slate mines, and Niganiche, further north on the Gulf of St. Lawrence, a fishing port. The French were strengthening their hold on the region.

No wonder those areas looked so attractive to the Acadian families. They would finally find peace among other French families – if they could just get there.

During this time, René’s last child was born and baptized in the fall of 1723, but there’s a suspicious lack of a child in 1721, which suggests that there might have been a child who was born and died, and the records went missing, if they existed at all.

A Wedding

The Port Royal church records are not indexed by witness name, so the only way to discover if your ancestor stood as a witness to a marriage or burial, or a godparent at a baptism, is to happen across the record.

On February 11, 1726, Jacques Forest, 26 years old and lived at Beaubassin, son of Jean Forest, habitant of Beaubassin, and mother Elizabeth La Barre married Marguerite Giroard, 21 years old, daughter of Jacques Giroard and Anne Petitpas, deceased. The witnesses were René Forest, uncle of the groom, and Francois Forest, son of René Forest, along with Jacques Giroard and Pierre Le Blanc, son of the late Pierre Le Blanc.

This Annapolis Royal church record tells us that René’s brother Jean did, in fact, move to Beaubassin. Jacques married a local girl, though, so he may not have been in Beaubassin for too many years. Clearly, there was some back and forth between the locations, even though it was a long way.

That Oath – AGAIN

In 1725, former Governor Armstrong, already familiar with the Acadians, returned. He was reported to be a violent man with a bad temper,

However, Armstrong realized he needed the Acadians and convinced the Port Royal Acadians, representing about one-fourth of the Acadian population, to take the oath by reminding them that England would not allow Catholics to serve in the Army. As they had stated many times, the Acadian concern was having to fight against their countrymen and family members, including the Native Americans.

Happy just to convince them to sign something, anything at all, Armstrong offered to allow them to take the following oath:

“I do sincerely promise and swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to His Majesty King George the Second, so help me God.”

This meant that they wouldn’t have to “take up arms” against the French or Indians, they could leave whenever they wanted, and they had the freedom to have priests and to practice the Catholic religion.

In 1729, that oath was considered too lenient and declared null and void. Everyone was unhappy, very unhappy.

That’s when a bit of trickery served everyone’s interest by buying peace for two decades.


Philipps, who had replaced Armstrong again, reported that the Acadians took this oath:

“I sincerely promise and swear, as a Christian, that I will be utterly faithful and will truly obey His Majesty King George the Second, whom I acknowledge as the sovereign Lord of Nova Scotia and Acadia. So help me God.”

That’s what Philipps reported, but the actual oath continued on a second page, as follows:

“… that the inhabitants, when they have sworn hereto, will not be obliged to take up arms against France or against the Savages, and the said Inhabitants have further promised that they will not take up arms against the King of England or against its government.”

The priest and a notary signed as witnesses, but Phillips only sent the first part back to England, securing peace. No one on either side of the Atlantic was any the wiser. Only Philipps knew.

Everyone in Acadia must have heaved a sigh of relief. For the first time in memorable history, in more than three decades, everyone was relatively happy.

Acadian families continued to worship at the Catholic church in Annapolis Royal. Babies were born and baptized. Betrothals and weddings were celebrated. Another generation of Acadians would be buried in the cemetery adjacent the Catholic church, which was also adjacent the fort – the center of the Acadian community.

Family Life

We know from a combination of birth records that began in 1702, combined with later marriage records, that René and Françoise had at least 13 children, with four additional suspicious gaps of three or four years between children, which often signals a baby that died prior to existing church records, or a stillbirth, which would not be recorded in the church records. Of course, with all the upheaval, some events probably just never made it into the official register, or some portions of the register were missing.

Six girls and seven boys graced their lives.

Their last child arrived in October 1723 when René was 53 years old, and Françoise was 47.

René witnessed all of his children’s marriages except for Charles, the youngest, who reportedly married in 1745 in Beaubassin. In 1745, René would have been 75 years old, probably just too old to travel the distance from his home to Beaubassin, assuming he even knew his son was getting married. More than 100 miles by water for an old man, even under the best of circumstances, was just too much.

Several of René’s children’s marriage records include his signature which confirms that the 1690 signature is his. It does cause me to wonder where he learned to read and write. As I view the later parish records from Port Royal, fewer and fewer people can write their names, so literacy in Acadia wasn’t a priority. They were just too busy surviving, and the priests would read them whatever they needed to know.

René was the godfather of one of his grandchildren, the first child born to his son Francois in 1729. He may have been the godfather to some of his daughters’ children as well, but I did not view each of those records – only the Forest records.

René’s children married in the following order, with his signatures where available. Not all priests recorded any or all signatures. Others just had a big old signing party, and everyone signed!

Marie – 1718

Joseph – 1720

Marguerite – 1724

Francois – 1727 – the record exists, but no signature.

Mathieu – 1728 – the record exists, but no signature.

On January 10, 1730, son Joseph died and was buried the following day – in the deepest winter. I wonder how they managed to dig the grave, or maybe they pre-dug a few graves in the fall.

Joseph was only 32 years old and left behind three small children and a pregnant wife. His fourth child was born the following August and named for him. I hope that Joseph and his family lived in the René Forest Village so that René and the others could help them. Large, nearby families meant survival. Based on Joseph’s age, his death was assuredly some sort of accident or sudden illness.

It’s apparent, given the 3 and 4 year gaps in the census and other records that René and Françoise had lost babies or young children, but Joseph was his first older or adult child to perish. Without modern medicine, early deaths were more common than today, but the saying that parents aren’t supposed to bury their children still holds. 

A year and a few days later, daughter Marie would marry. I wonder if René quietly stopped by Joseph’s grave to say hello.

Marie – 1731

Jacques – 1734

Catherine – 1737

Elizabeth (Isabelle) – 1738

Anne – 1740

Jean – 1743 – the record exists, but no signature.

Pierre – 1744 – the record exists, but no signature.

Charles – probably married around 1745, but is missing in the Port Royal/Annapolis Royal marriage records.

Sadly, daughter Marguerite died on May 27, 1747, about 53 years of age, leaving behind six children and her husband. This would have been a sad day for René and Françoise, who were actually fortunate that “only” two of their adult children died – but I’m positive that “fortunate” is not how they felt.

I’ll include additional information about the children in their mother, Françoise Dugas’s article.

René’s Death and Burial

In 1750 and 1752, there is a René Forest shown in Menoudy, now Minudie, near Beaubassin, but we know this is not our René because our René died at Port-Royal on April 20, 1751.

Father Defenetaud dutifully recorded René’s death and burial. He states that René Forest was about 80 years old, died on April 20th, and was buried the following day, April 21, 1751.

The witnesses were Claude Godet, Mathieu Forest, and Francois Forest. Both of the Forest men who witnessed the burial were his sons.

René’s funeral would have been held in the Catholic church in the town he had known as Port Royal. I’d wager he forever refused to call it Annapolis Royal – the British name assigned to Port Royal after the humiliating 1710 defeat.

René’s life had been full of adventure – most of it unwanted. Born in Acadia, he had never known anything else, so maybe the never-ending drama just became normal at some point.

If the reports are accurate, in late 1714 or early 1715, René, along with the other Acadian families, had wanted to remove. Yet in August 1714, when he received permission to go to Ile (Isle) Royal, present-day Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia, where Louisbourg is located, he did not.

René spent the rest of his life right there on the Annapolis River, or as he called it, the rivière Dauphin, beside Bloody Creek, which he may well have named when those British soldiers had the bad judgement to travel upriver and were ambushed there in 1711. Perhaps that name served as a warning to others and as a small victory for the Acadians. I’d bet money René was all in on that, especially if his father died as a result of the 1790 British attack. The Acadians, it seems, were beaten, but their spirit was never defeated.

René spent his entire life trying to hang on to his life, culture, and his farm in Acadia – sometimes by nothing more than a thread. Often by sheer tenacity – refusal to surrender.

After the Priest said the final prayers, René’s family and neighbors would have lowered his casket and filled the hole with Nova Scotia’s dirt, each member dropping a handful at a time.

René’s grave was probably marked with a white wooden cross, perhaps made by his sons, plus maybe a small stone of some kind, but that didn’t last long. When the Expulsion began in 1755, the English burned everything, and as the final insult meant to erase the Acadians, the cemetery was destroyed.

Today, the Garrison Graveyard is being mapped and studied, hoping to identify the grave locations of the more than 500 Acadians buried here. The same location is also the site of English graves and post-Expulsion burials, with perhaps 2,000 graves in total.

Perhaps it was for the best that René died before the Acadian Expulsion began. He would have been about 85 years old in 1755, herded onto a ship with other suffering Acadians, only to see his beloved Acadia burn. It would have probably killed him, horribly, and his family would have had to endure watching, assuming they hadn’t been separated.

I’d much rather think of a stubborn, elderly, grey-haired French-speaking man living on his farm in the René Forest Village that he had protected with every ounce of his being for his entire life, surrounded by his loving wife and family who lived nearby, maybe singing songs of comfort to him as he peacefully slipped away to the land of his ancestors.


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Just a Scrap – 52 Ancestors #408

It’s a scrap. Just a scrap.

Buried at the bottom of my tub of fabric scraps, accumulated over decades of sewing and quilting.

But this scrap – oh, it’s different. So very different.

I plucked it from the pile where it had slept peacefully for decades, a smile playing at the edge of my lips. I recognized it like an old friend I hadn’t seen in an eternity. I ran my fingers across it, gently caressed its crinkled softness, and immediately had to sit down.

As the tears welled up in my eyes, the light in the room faded away as I was transported back in time…and back…and back.


It was cold outside. My child had celebrated with a birthday cake sporting two candles a few days earlier.

My husband and I both worked every minute of overtime we could possibly manage and picked up side jobs too. He was handy, and we made stereo entertainment cabinets for people that looked like bars. He did the construction and installed the burnt brick facade, and I did the finish work, including collage decoupage countertops. I wish I had a picture. They were beautiful. But pictures were a luxury back then.

Still, with a small child, two car payments, rent, utilities, daycare, and yes, college – we barely had time to breathe – and we had exactly no spare money. We knew exactly how many miles we drove each week, so we could budget for gasoline. Eating out was a dream that never happened. We accounted for every penny.

We were deliciously happy, though, and didn’t really notice the hardships. If anything, we thought we were incredibly fortunate to have successfully fit all those pieces together. College was our dream, and we were committed to achieving it. We both knew it was our only way “out.” We really didn’t want to live the rest of our lives not being able to afford a pizza and digging through the couch for change.

I was barely 20, not even old enough to vote. Far too young, especially by today’s standards, to carry that level of responsibility. My husband, slightly older, had already served in Vietnam, and returned, a beautiful but damaged soul.

We wouldn’t discover just how damaged until a few years later.

Our splurge for the year had been a sewing machine, purchased on sale in the late summer.

The Sewing Machine

We didn’t realize it at the time, of course, but we got tangled up in a classic “bait and switch” scenario. Advertising something very reasonably priced, except when you get to the store, they don’t have any left. However, they do have something just slightly more expensive that’s much better, and, oh, by the way, they’ll finance it too. There’s no reason NOT to purchase now, right?

I had been sewing for years when I lived at home, before I married. Sewing your own was much less costly than purchasing ready-made clothes, and I really, REALLY wanted a sewing machine. However, we knew what our budget would allow, and that more-expensive-but-better sewing machine simply was not in the budget.

As sad as I was to do it, we were literally walking out of the store. We agreed that the payments just didn’t fit our circumstances. However, they tried one more time, and their final offer included material. Fabric! Free! They had me. Then, as now, I loved fabric, and we really did need some new clothes. We’d use our clothing budget.

I picked out the softest, most wonderful purple velvety fabric along with a luscious coordinating polyester – enough to make all three of us a beautiful outfit. Well, almost enough. I already had a yellow blouse to wear. There just wasn’t enough of that fabric. How I wish I had a scrap of ANY of that!

I bought a pattern for my husband’s pants because a tailored zipper was complex, but I drafted patterns for the other pieces based on measurements from existing clothes.

Except for that skirt. That was my original design, and I was SOOO proud of it. I kept that skirt for years, long after it no longer fit.

These were our “good clothes” for a long time – at least for me and my husband. Of course, the baby outgrew that outfit shortly.

That meant, in addition to everything else, we had to make payments on that sewing machine, too. Regardless, I spent several weeks blissfully sewing, happy as a clam.

As the leaves began to transform themselves into a vibrant crayon box, we began thinking about the holidays.

The Holiday Season

In the north country, it begins to get nippy in October. Nights become crisp, Mums bloom, apples ripen, and crops are harvested. Families visit orchards on the weekends, buying pumpkins, Indian Corn, and squash, and Mother Nature begins to put herself to bed for the winter.

By Thanksgiving, it’s downright cold and usually has snowed at least once, even if it’s just a dusting. If you hadn’t begun thinking about Christmas gifts for the family by Halloween, it would probably be too late by Thanksgiving. Lots of gifts were handmade. Virtually nothing was last-minute or spur-of-the-moment.

We had to plan and save or figure out something wonderful to do for gifts. Anything extra required careful planning. Some employers gave Christmas bonuses and needed their employees to work extra hours during the holiday season. The best did both of those things, plus gifted a frozen turkey.

That particular year, there was simply no money to do much of anything. It seemed that in addition to everything else, someone’s car was always breaking and needing some kind of repair. It would be another decade before I purchased an actual never-used brand spanking new car, and even then, it was the cheapest one possible.

Yet, Christmas cometh…

Fortunately, we did get to work extra hours and received a turkey, which helped immensely. The overtime would be used for gifts, sewing machine payments, and gas to get to the Christmas festivities. The turkey would provide us many meals, including soup for lunches for some time. We had a freezer and made good use of it.

The Family

On my side of the family, we had Mom and Dad. Dad was actually my much-beloved stepfather, who I couldn’t have loved more had he been my biological father. Truth be told, maybe I loved him extra for picking me and loving me so much.

To be very clear, Mom and Dad ALWAYS said they didn’t want or need anything, and as an adult, now, I fully understand that. They truly meant it. But as a young mother, proud of my independence, I WANTED to do something for Mom and Dad. I loved them. It wasn’t an obligation.

We didn’t exchange gifts with my adult siblings. Maybe we’d bring a tin of home-baked cookies, fresh bread, or an applesauce cake rollup, but nothing was expected except showing up for the Christmas festivities and having a good time together.

On my husband’s side of the family, there were more people. His mother was raising his three younger siblings, at home, and while she said the same thing – that she didn’t need anything – we really had to do something for the children. Furthermore, she was not well and really did need things.

My husband’s father had been killed when he was young, and his stepfather came and went. I don’t remember if he was present or absent that year. We often didn’t know in advance.

We didn’t exchange gifts with his adult brother either, and his other brother had died just a couple of years earlier in a tragic accident. Christmas was always difficult for his family, and we did our best to be sure everyone was cared for in one way or another.

Then, of course, we had our own son. And what was I going to do for my husband?

That was nine people I needed to figure out a gift for.

By now, you’ve probably guessed, the answer had something to do with that sewing machine.

Off to the Mall

I didn’t know what I was going to do, but I did know that I could make something much less expensively than we could purchase anything similar. But what could I possibly make for my husband’s young siblings?

I needed inspiration, so off we went to the mall. We needed to visit Santa anyway.

Each of the two malls had a fabric store. Then, there was the discount store located elsewhere, House of Fabrics – that’s the store I preferred. They often had the best deals – but we needed to look everywhere first – just in case.

For years, I had been purchasing remnant fabrics to make clothes for me and Mother.  We worked with whatever remnant fabrics we could find, and often the resulting clothes turned out quite nicely. Here’s Mom in 1970 wearing a dress I made for her out of a remnant.

A remnant is the remaining fabric when most of that fabric is sold off the bolt. Most of the time, that meant less than a yard remained, but sometimes there was more, especially if they wanted to get rid of it for some reason. The good news was that remnants were and often still are significantly less than the original fabric, per yard.

If fabric at that time cost, say, $2.00 per yard, a remnant might cost a dollar per yard, or even less – especially when the store wanted to clear out the remnants. Sometimes the entire box of remnants was marked down another 50% or 75%, and trust me, when that happened, we dug through that box like hound dogs digging for a bone.

Sometimes, stores purchased large quantities of discounted fabric. Probably overstocks and mill-run ends with the explicit intention of running an ad and selling them cheaply.

While I don’t think this ad included the fabrics I bought, I very, very clearly remember that the fabric was 88 cents per yard, and because I was purchasing several yards and it was on sale, I could buy the fabric for 77 cents per yard. That was a great value!

But what could I make for everyone with this unusual knit fabric?

The colors were actually quite attractive – red, green, hot pink, blue, black, yellow and pumpkin. Sometimes, close-out or overstock fabric was strange, including weird colors, which is often why it was marked down – but this wasn’t.

I walked around the store, looking for ideas, when I spotted the pattern.


Bathrobes! Something like this pattern – several sizes in one envelope, so you only had to purchase one pattern.

And the best thing was that I could modify the pattern for males or females, and any size. It didn’t include a child’s size, but I could do that myself.

Bathrobes would be personal, fun, and bright – and we could hide something fun in the pockets. Yes – bathrobes were the answer!!!

I needed between 3 and 6 yards for each bathrobe, depending on the size, which meant that I needed about 35 yards of fabric, more or less. That’s a HUGE amount of fabric, almost as long as a small house if you rolled it all out at once.

And I needed enough of any one color to make a bathrobe. Plus, a little extra just in case I made a mistake.

The really GREAT news was that I could purchase 35 yards of fabric for about $27, plus the pattern and some matching thread.

What a relief! I was going to get out the door for under $50!

And – I’d make matching bathrobes for my husband and toddler. They would both love that!

The bad news – it was already Thanksgiving-ish – so I had to make roughly three bathrobes a week, PLUS work and do everything else I had to do.



We had recently moved into an apartment with two bedrooms and a basement. We thought we had died and gone to heaven.

We set my sewing machine up on an old table the previous tenants had left in the basement because it was too heavy to heft up those stairs. By basement, I’m not referring to a nicely finished walkout. Nosiree! Our basement was a cold, damp concrete block basement with a concrete floor and a small “garden window” for light, in addition to one lightbulb. I didn’t care, though, because it was SO MUCH better than anything I had before. It was roomy and quiet with a table. I could certainly make this work.

That was also the year I found plain, undecorated Christmas ornaments stacked beside the neighbor’s trash. They were in the original boxes – never used. I salvaged those and decorated them with glitter. Not only was everyone going to get a bathrobe, they were going to receive a customized ornament, too.

There was no stopping me now. I had a plan!

Never mind that everyone’s bathrobe managed to include some amount of bonus embedded glitter.

Each fabric had to be cut into specific lengths as designated in the pattern, then the pattern pieces were pinned to the fabric according to the layout. The largest bathrobes had to be made first because the pattern was cut down to a smaller size for each succeeding one.

After being pinned in place, the fabric pieces were then cut out around the pattern pieces with a pair of scissors. Seam allowances and certain locations were marked for matching to their companion pieces.

The pieces were then ready for the beginning of construction.

The bathrobe pieces were matched together, then pinned together and sewn. I always sewed double or French seams for clothing that was going to get heavy wear – and I expected these would. These bathrobes weren’t lined, but the edges needed to be finished. I made cuffs for the sleeves and a facing for the front, neck edges, collars, and bottom hem. This was one of those projects that got more complex as it progressed – in part because there was no pattern or instructions for that facing, collar, or edging.

This is why I always, always purchase extra fabric.

I finished the first bathrobe, but it took about a week, and I was in trouble. Of course, I could only work in the evenings and at night, after we ate supper, as it was called then, and after the very active toddler was in bed and safely asleep. I was now down to between two and three weeks with eight bathrobes to make, two of which had to remain secret until Christmas morning. Plus, we were both working more overtime than ever.

How was I possibly going to finish before Christmas?

Bless My Husband

Like the trooper he was, my husband decided to help – and unlike the two-year-old who also wanted to help – my husband really was a help.

His factory job began in the wee hours of the morning. If I recall, he had to be at work by 5:00 or 5:30, and his job was physically exhausting. Plus, we both had second jobs. So, by the time I was sitting down to sew – he really needed to be in bed.

However, he decided he could pin and cut fabric for me with some direction/instruction – and that’s exactly what he did. He worked on one side of the table, and I worked on the other.

I remember looking across the table at him working diligently. The scrunched-up face he made when he was concentrating – and the cat face he tried to make when he made a mistake and felt like he needed to ask for forgiveness.

That was so doggone cute – there was no way to ever be mad at him. I suspect he knew that. We both laughed out loud – sometimes until we cried. Plus, he tried so hard, and I was incredibly grateful for my partner – even a partner in sewing. Something he probably didn’t want to do – but he never complained or said a word.

So, in the evenings, after we ate and I packed his lunch box for the following day, I would modify the patterns to the next smaller size, if needed, lay the fabric out, and tell him where to pin the pieces. I’d sit down across from him and sew on the bathrobe already under construction.

I could hear the tissue paper patterns crinkling as he unfolded and smoothed them. Sometimes, those pins bit us, too.

When he finished pinning, he’d ask if that looked right, and when it did, he cut the pieces out with dressmaker shears and carefully labeled them for me.

Then, he’d go to bed for the night, and I’d sew for a few more hours. Often, I’d lay the bathrobe I was sewing aside and work on his and our son’s bathrobes after he went to bed. I had to keep those hidden.

In the mornings, after he had already left for work, I got myself and the toddler ready for the day, prepared breakfast and my lunch, drank a prodigious amount of coffee because I had stayed up way too late, did the daycare drop-off, and was at work by 7 or 8, depending on the schedule. By then, the sun was coming up, but our day had begun hours earlier.


We finished in the nick of time and were so excited to wrap those gifts for Christmas that year. We had carefully chosen the fabric color for each person and included something small in the pocket of each bathrobe. Of course, everyone received their own ornament, too.

I still have the one I made for my husband with our wedding date on it. It’s put far away.

On Christmas morning, I gave my boys their blue bathrobes, and I almost couldn’t get them out of them in time to go to Christmas at his mother’s.

My family always celebrated Christmas on Christmas Eve at my mother’s house. I suspect that was a throwback to old German family traditions, but it also worked out quite well because my brother and his family, and my aunts on Dad’s side could all come on Christmas Eve.

I had selected pink for my mother’s bathrobe and pumpkin for Dad’s.

Yes, pumpkin. I knew when I first saw that fabric that whatever I made, the pumpkin fabric would be for him.


Dad was the pumpkin man.

I won’t say he was known far and wide as the pumpkin man, but certainly up and down our road and in our family.

One of the first things Dad did, as a courtship offering to Mom, was to bring pumpkin blossoms as a gift. To cook, that is, not as a bouquet.

Mom had absolutely no idea what to do with them or how to cook them. Later, of course, this was a huge joke within the family. He was offering her a delicious delicacy, available for only a couple weeks each year, and we were certainly not properly appreciative. Hint: Dredge them in an egg wash, roll them in flower, and fry them crispy in hot oil in a cast-iron skillet. My mouth is watering just thinking about them.

Dad planted pumpkins in mounds in the garden in the spring; they flowered in the summer, and any flowers left on the vines would mature into pumpkins by fall. You removed extra blossoms, fried them up, and ate them.

And boy, come fall, did we have pumpkins in all shapes and sizes.

The neighbor kids came and got pumpkins. Eventually, grandkids did too. We made pumpkin everything, canned it, eventually froze it, and gave pumpkins away to anyone who would take them. Of course, Dad was the neighborhood supplier of jack-o-lanterns.

Everyone is remembered for something, a legacy, and I’m sure Dad was remembered for many years for his pumpkins.

So, Dad would get a pumpkin-colored bathrobe.

Even if Dad hadn’t liked his pumpkin bathrobe, he would never have told me or let on in any way.

As the years wore on, I never saw him wear any other bathrobe, ever again. So, I knew he truly loved it. Now, I appreciate that it was because we made it for him – but I didn’t realize that at the time.

Parts of it were eventually worn threadbare, but Dad insisted it was “just fine.” I offered to make him a new one. “Nope,” he said – he liked that one.

Two More Decades

By the time Dad no longer needed his bathrobe, Labor Day weekend in 1994, two decades later, there were places worn so thin you could see through them, the pockets were sagging from years of use, I had repaired it multiple times, and there were cigarette ash burns where the ashes had fallen off his cigarettes as he sat in his bathrobe every single evening in his chair.

I can close my eyes and still see him sitting there.

Such beautiful, warm, fond memories. And such exquisite pain.

I’m so incredibly glad that I made those bathrobes. Mom wore hers for years, too.

Not only is the memory of Dad in his bathrobe, and how much he loved it, near and dear to my heart – so are the memories that my husband and I weren’t aware we were making as we constructed them.

I would lose my husband to the demons of his military service in Vietnam not long after. Years before I lost my Dad in 1994. I would lose that child, too.

All those people are gone.

The Scrap

So, seeing that scrap, the last physical remnant of that Christmas, knocked the wind right out of me and made my knees weak.

So many visceral memories just came flooding back, like the dam gate had been opened. I had no idea the scrap was in that tub, of course.

And yes, I had to take some time this week to grieve the people who have since passed on – and the life, or lives, I thought I was going to live – but was robbed of that opportunity.

But you know what – it’s a spiritual sin to grieve happiness.


And we were happy. Exquisitely, soulfully happy.

No one wants to endure the pain of loss and departure, but I wouldn’t give up one day, not one minute of that poverty-stricken time. We all had each other – encompassed in a cocoon of love for that short time. It wouldn’t last long. And it was perfect.

No one, and nothing, could ever take that time away from us.

And in a strange way, I felt that Dad and my husband had come to visit me once again.

So here I am. Decades later, in a far-away place, living a completely different life than I could ever have imagined – with absolutely none of those people.

They are not dead – they have simply transitioned. Their energy and positive life forces are not diminished. Just distant, right? I accepted that and made peace with it long ago. Right?


Then, I dug in that scrap bin, and they came rushing back to life.

What do I do with this?

Scrappy Stars

Ironically, I was making a scrap quilt when I stumbled across this, my oldest scrap.

I’ve moved across the country, not once, not twice, but three times with this scrap unwittingly in tow and from house to house many times.

It was always with me, just as Dad is. I just didn’t realize it.

The scrap quilt I’m making is a star design. I knew, immediately, that Dad’s pumpkin fabric was meant to be included in my pumpkin star.

The individual blocks are made by sewing scrap strips together on a foundation block of fabric.

There was also some pumpkin fabric in the scrap bin as well. For some reason – no idea why – I’ve always been partial to pumpkins. 😊 They have always reminded me of Dad and evoked such fond memories.

So, now his pumpkin bathrobe fabric is permanently neighbors with other pumpkin fabric – as it should be.

My daughter, who my Dad utterly adored, selected sunflowers for her wedding theme long after he had transitioned to the other side. Above, at far right, his bathrobe fabric is paired with sunflower fabric from her wedding quilt.

The largest piece of the bathrobe fabric scrap is here, at lower right. The middle strip is dark, but is not the bathrobe fabric. The star beside the pumpkin fabric signifies Dad watching over us. The light peach fabric with blue flowers, against the pumpkin fabric is from something I made Mom, and is in her memory quilt too.

I’m assembling the individual blocks into groups. Here, I’m experimenting with laying them out together. I like the Halloween jack-o-lantern.

Each one of these scraps in this quilt remains from something else I made. It’s much like watching my life pass before my eyes, one scrap at a time. A trip right down memory lane.

The pieces aren’t sewn together yet, but the star will look something like this.

The finished star will be about 32 by 32 inches and will be joined by eight more stars in different colors – all from scraps.

Just a Scrap

Our lives are made up of scraps, pieces of who we were, combined with new circumstances, new jobs, new homes, and new people to create a new whole. We evolve.

After I finished cutting the pumpkin bathrobe scrap for the star quilt, I now have several smaller scraps instead of one larger one. Isn’t that the way of life, though?

I can’t help but think about DNA and recombination.

The pieces of what and who from the past recombine in us to become something vibrant and new.



It’s how we survive.

So I took Dad’s leftover scraps and put them back in my now much-reduced orange scrap bin with their brethren.

But I couldn’t, I just couldn’t leave them there.

I wanted them and what they symbolize closer to me, so I gathered the small pieces and put them in my little “Far from the eyes, close to the heart” dish I bought overseas as a student in 1970, just a very few years before I made that bathrobe for Dad.

I will use the larger small pieces to make a mini-quilt to sit under this little dish, with pumpkin fabrics of course, and maybe a sunflower too.

Dad’s scraps, always reminding me of the goodness and love radiated by that man, will keep me company in my office now. He’d like that! I’m guessing it will someday sit on my daughter’s shelf or in her office, too.

When I finish my Scrappy Stars quilt, I’ll sleep beneath those pieces of Dad’s bathrobe and at least one piece of Mother’s clothing – their love still enveloping me.

Because, you see, it wasn’t, and isn’t just a scrap. It’s a piece of many people’s lives.

I never realized I would be the benefactor of Dad’s bathrobe made of inexpensive close-out fabric all those years ago. That it would live on for so long. That our creation constructed that cold, broke, winter in the basement would warm and comfort our loved ones, then me, and eventually, my daughter, who wasn’t even born yet then.

When life gives you scraps, build something beautiful. And, of course, give them new life in quilts.


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Jacques Forest aka Foret (born 1707), Life on Bloody Creek – 52 Ancestors #407

Jacques Foret, aka Forest, de Foret, de Forest, and similar spellings, was born on July 10, 1707, in Port Royal, Acadia, to  René Foret (Forest) and Françoise Dugas. He was officially baptized on July 19th in the St. John-Baptiste Catholic Church.

Click on any image to enlarge

This baptismal record is interesting because normally, children are baptized by the Catholic priest within a day or so of birth. Apparently, this wasn’t possible because Jacques was baptized the day after his birth “ondoye” by Emanuel Hebert. This is a provisional baptism given at home, “just in case.” Sometimes, it suggests that the child was weak or not expected to live, and sometimes, it just means that the priest wasn’t available, the parents didn’t live close to the church, or maybe bad weather interfered.

Snow wasn’t the culprit in July, so it had to be something else.

The priest who baptized Jacques officially on July 19th was “F. Justinien Durand missionnaire Recollet,” so perhaps he was traveling when the baby was born.

According to Stephen White, Jacques’ batismal sponsors are translated as “sieur de Teinville lieutenant de compagnie and Jeanne Dugas wife of La Forest.” The lieutenant is clearly associated with the fort, located beside the church, but I don’t know who Jeanne Dugas is or how she fits into the picture. She is clearly married to a La Forest man, but which one?

On this Early Acadian Settlements map based on the 1707 census, you can see that René Forest was located just around the bend in the Annapolis River from Emmanuel Hebert, probably his nearest neighbor – about half a mile away.

René probably jumped in his canoe and paddled to Emmanuel’s home, shouting, “Grab the Bible Emmanuel, we’ve got a baby to baptize!!!” Or maybe the message was more like, “Emmanuel, the baby isn’t doing so well. Can you please come and baptize him, just in case, of course?” Port Royal, where the church and priest were located, was downriver a good dozen miles, and that’s as the crow flies. The River was anything but straight, and roads were probably doubtful.

No need to risk that journey. Emmanual’s baptism would get baby Jacques into Heaven, should something bad happen. The priest would officially baptize him as soon as the child could make the trip eight days later.

The next actual record we have of Jacques is when he married in 1733 or 1734, but the intervening quarter century was anything but serene.


The Acadians were chronically and constantly embroiled in warfare with the British. Sometimes France held what is present-day Nova Scotia, and sometimes, the British did. The Acadians tried to remain neutral. All they really wanted was to be left alone to raise their families, tend their farms, and practice their Catholic religion. That doesn’t seem like a lot to ask.

Jacques had never known anything else. His grandfather, Michel DeForest, was in Acadia by 1766 when he married Marie Hebert. These families had been closely allied for at least four decades by the time Jacques came along.

The Acadian families had been attempting to keep the peace with the British without capitulating to their every whim, which included provisions they found fundamentally unacceptable. In 1695, the Acadian men signed an oath to remain neutral, hoping to staunch the incessant requests to swear allegiance to the British monarch.

That didn’t work.

In 1696, the British attacked Acadia, again, burning homes and slaughtering animals. This had become a regular occurrence.

Acadia, essentially the peninsula of Nova Scotia, had about 2000 residents in 1700 and about 1700 residents in 1710.

Fortunately, a census was taken by the French periodically.

Skirmishes with the British occurred regularly, but by 1704, Acadia was under serious attack again. Families had clustered into settlements, and many settlements were burned. Churches were looted, and the dams holding back the sea so the salt wouldn’t poison the Acadian’s fields were “dug down” out of revenge, supposedly for Indian attacks in New England.

In 1706, a new French governor in Acadia encouraged Native Americans to raid English targets in New England. Furthermore, he befriended pirates, more gently known as “privateers,” and encouraged them to target English ships. They were all too glad to oblige and quickly reduced the English fishing fleet on the Grand Banks by 80%. The New England colonies were outraged!

In 1707, the year Jacques was born, a new French governor arrived with 160 soldiers, three-fourths of whom were reported to be directly “from the quays of Paris.” An attack by Massachusetts followed, unsuccessfully.

In 1708, Queen Anne’s War began, and the Acadians were preparing for conflict. Once again, the English and French were pitted against one another – not just in Acadia, but more broadly.

This map of the fort in Port Royal was drawn by a military engineer in 1702. In 1708, the fort’s store was added, and a new powder magazine and bombproof barracks were built. The riverbanks were cleared to remove cover for attackers.

All homes were close to the river, so each family would have been preparing.

Prisoners taken from English ships revealed that the English planned to attack in 1708 and 1709.

The residents must have constantly been on pins and needles. Jacque would have celebrated his first birthday under this shadow, then his second birthday, and finally, his third birthday, blissfully unaware.

That wouldn’t last.

On September 24, 1710, Port Royal was attacked again by the English who sent five ships and 3400 troops. This time, the English were well prepared. In addition to marines from England, Massachusetts provided 900 soldiers, Connecticut 300, and New Hampshire 100. Iroquois were recruited as scouts.

Yes, you read that right, 3400 troops. In the census, there were less than Acadian 2000 residents, in total, scattered across the peninsula, and most of them were women and children. The Acadians, with their 300 soldiers, which would have included all able-bodied men that could lift a gun, stood absolutely no chance, although they did manage to hold the fort for 19 days. The episode became known as the Siege of Port Royal or the Conquest of Acadia.

At least they were allowed to surrender in dignity and march out of the fort instead of being killed.

After 1710, the English soldiers were in charge of Port Royal and the fort.


A critical historical event occurred on the river right in front of the Forest home in 1711.

Thirty soldiers, a major, and the fort engineer were ambushed and killed at “Bloody Creek, 12 miles east of Annapolis Royal.”

Where was Bloody Creek? So glad you asked.

The Nova Scotia archives show this historical map based on a 1733 survey.

You can see that Bloody Creek abutted René Forest’s land. The ambush occurred right in front of his house or village, literally. You know beyond a shadow of a doubt that he was involved. I suspect I know how Bloody Creek got its name.

René successfully defended his wife and their nine children, including 4-year-old Jacques, against the soldiers who freely burned homesteads. I wonder if this might have been Jacques’ earliest memory.

Furthermore, the note at C on the map, at the mouth of Bloody Creek, states, “Captain and 16 men of the 43rd Regiment of Foot were killed in forcing the French from this pass on December 8, 1757. The Acadians were not going down without a fight, AND, they were willing to fight against all odds.

Depending on your perspective, these people were either extremely resilient and brave or incredibly stubborn. More than one governor said they were ungovernable.

Lastly, look who René Forest’s neighbor is. Jean Prince – Jacque’s future father-in-law. Jacques literally grew up and married the girl next door.

Despite the 1711 ambush, the Acadians were unquestionably outnumbered and outgunned, and on April 13, 1713, Acadia passed to England, with France ceding all of Acadia, the fort, the land, and her 1700 Acadian residents.

After this, many of the Acadians decided they would, in fact, leave, as the English had desired at one point, and relocate to friendlier regions of French-held Canada. But now, the English did not want them to remove because they became acutely aware of who was raising crops and feeding them. The English soldiers needed the Acadians, but they certainly didn’t want to need them.

I can imagine the heated discussions taking place at church and any other Acadian gathering about whether one should stay or go and under what circumstances.

By 1717, when Jacques was ten years old, the Acadians had tentatively decided to stay, except for several young couples who did not have land and struck out to begin their families.

By 1720, Port Royal had been renamed Annapolis Royal. The English had established an uneasy peace with the Acadians, offering them the ability to exercise their religion freely, along with other concessions. The Acadians could leave if they wanted, but they couldn’t take any possessions with them.

Jacques would have been 13 and was probably quite capable of using a firearm.

Then, a new ultimatum arrived with another new governor, Governor Phillips. The Acadians were required to take the dreaded oath of allegiance, or they HAD to leave with no possessions.

The situation escalated over the years, with new requirements and repeated refusals to comply.

The Oath

In 1725, when Jacques was 18, yet another new governor, Armstrong, arrived and offered to allow the Acadians to take the following oath: “I do sincerely promise and swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to His Majesty King George the Second, so help me God.”  This meant that the Acadians wouldn’t have to “take up arms” against the French or Indians, which had been one of their primary concerns, because the English refused to allow Catholics to serve in the military. With this new oath, they could leave whenever they wanted, and they had the freedom to have priests and to practice the Catholic religion.

Jacques, at 18, may have been required to sign this oath along with his father and older brothers.

But wait…there’s more.

The Neutral French

At this point, the Acadians began to be called the Neutral French. Everything was hunky-dory for a few years, until 1729 when the English decided that oath was too lenient and declared it null and void.

Jacques was now 22, and I’m sure he was fully capable of forming his own opinions. However, until he married, he would have lived with his father and helped with the farm. His future bride, living on the next farm, was seven years younger, so she would have been about 14.

Perhaps they had begun courting, or maybe he hadn’t really “noticed” her yet. Maybe they were still just giving a friendly wave across the field.

Governor Phillips was sent back to replace the new governor, and he reached a clandestine compromise in 1730.

Phillips reported that the Acadians took this oath: “I sincerely promise and swear, as a Christian, that I will be utterly faithful and will truly obey His Majesty King George the Second, whom I acknowledge as the sovereign Lord of Nova Scotia and Acadia. So help me God.”

That’s what Phillips reported, but the actual oath continued, as follows: “… that the inhabitants, when they have sworn hereto, will not be obliged to take up arms against France or against the Savages, and the said Inhabitants have further promised that they will not take up arms against the King of England or against its government.”

The priest and a notary signed as witnesses, but Phillips only sent the first part back to England, securing peace. No one on either side of the Atlantic knew.

Everyone in Acadia must have heaved a sigh of relief. For the first time in memorable history, in more than three decades, everyone was relatively happy.

For the next 15 or 20 years, the Acadians were left alone, and life seemed peaceful as they tended their land and animals.


Since Jacques Forest no longer had to focus on warfare and whether his family was going to be evicted, burned out, decide to leave with nothing, or stay and fight – his mind turned to something else – romance.

By 1730, Jacques was 23, and Marie Joseph Le Prince was about 15 years old. He would have known her well and probably helped her father with farm chores. Her brothers were probably his best friends. She might have woven, sewn, and quilted alongside his mother and sisters.

They assuredly saw each other regularly at church. They had always known each other.

At some point, Jacques woke up and realized that she was no longer a little girl but had blossomed into a lovely young woman. Perhaps another suitor took interest, and Jacques realized he had better get in line, or another beau would marry lovely Marie-Josephe – and soon. Whatever he did worked.

On January 25, 1734, at age 25, in the same church where he had been baptized, in the town that had been renamed Annapolis Royal, he married 18-year-old Marie-Josephe LePrince, the daughter of Jean LePrince and Jeanne Blanchard.

The priest wrote “dispense 3-3 consanguinity” and noted the signatures of Claude Granger, Pierre Lanoue, and René Forest. Additionally, both Antoine Belivenu and Pierre Granger signed with their marks.

Clearly, several people were present at their wedding. Probably most of the community, or at least the people who lived nearest to their farms. Given the size of their families, they were probably related in one way or another to almost everyone.

Their signatures are shown on the second page, including that of Jacques’ father, René de Forest.

Note that FamilySearch lists their marriage date as January 31, 1733, instead of 1734. I noticed that 1734 is penciled in on the page later, like someone was trying to figure out which year pertained to the entry. Their first child was born in April of 1735.

I suspect 1733 is the correct year. Jacques was born in July of 1707, and he would turn 26 in July of 1734, so in January, when they were married, he was 25, the age recorded by the priest. Conversely, she would have turned 18 a few months later in November, so the year is uncertain.

The dispensation for third-degree consanguinity is quite interesting, telling us that they share great-grandparents as common ancestors.

That’s accurate because they share Etienne Hebert and Marie Gaudet as great-grandparents. Those families had been allied for generations by this point.

We don’t know exactly where they settled after their marriage, but rest assured, it was probably between their parents on the Annapolis River. Acadian families remained close in order to share the burden of work and support each other.

It was there, along the river at the mouth of Bloody Creek that their first nine children were born.

Their life would have been happy and mundane – raising crops and children, interacting with generations of family, attending church, sharing meals. This painting of Acadians depicted their life in 1751.

Jacques would have worked alongside his brothers and father, farming, hunting and fishing to provide for the members of the Forest village.

Jacques’ father, René, was becoming quite elderly, so the boys, who weren’t really boys anymore, probably handled the majority of the work.

René passed away on April 20th of 1751, at roughly 80 years of age. The following day, his sons, daughters, and grandchildren would have made their way to the Catholic church in Annapolis Royal, where his funeral mass was held before he was laid to rest in the churchyard, his grave marked by a white wooden cross.

Jacques’ last child, or at least the last one we know about, arrived on June 5th, 1753.

Marie was 38 years old. If she became pregnant again, which was certainly possible, that child would likely have been born either during or after the horrific removal in 1755.

The 1755 Removal, Known as The Great Upheaval

The twenty-year peaceful reprieve that the Acadians enjoyed ended in about 1750.

Once again, as the situation escalated, another oath was requested, then demanded, and was just as quickly declined.

One demand followed another, and the situation spiraled out of control.

By mid-July of 1755, the British wanted the Acadians gone and sent troops to accomplish their goal, imprisoning the men as hostages to ensure the good behavior and compliance of the women and children.

The Acadians were still reported as being optimistic. After all, they had weathered these storms so many times before. Plus, they felt that God was on their side.

The English ordered transport ships. This time was not the same.

The Acadians in various locations would fight and did win a few battles, but they would lose the war.

In August, Lt. Colonel John Winslow arrived in Grand Pre with 315 troops, taking up residence in the church – and the imprisonments began.

By October, the transports were ready for their human cargo.

The capture of Acadians and burning of their farms and belongings commenced in the more distant villages. The English knew that without communications between the settlements, time was on their side, and they could clear out Annapolis Royal after they removed the residents from the remote settlements.

It was fall. The Acadians were busy harvesting crops from the fields when the soldiers arrived, summoned them into the church in Grand Pre, and read the deportation order in English, a language they did not understand.

418 men attended, and 418 men were trapped.

September 5, 1755

After the men entered, Winslow stood by a table set up in the middle of the church. Flanked by soldiers, he read the following:

Gentlemen, I have received from his Excellency, Governor Lawrence, the King’s Commission which I have in my hand, and by whose orders you are conveyed together, to Manifest to you His Majesty’s final resolution to the French inhabitants of this his Province of Nova Scotia, who for almost half a century have had more Indulgence Granted them than any of his Subjects in any part of his Dominions. What use you have made of them you yourself Best Know.

The Part of Duty I am now upon is what thoh Necessary is Very Disagreeable to my natural make and temper, as I Know it Must be Grievous to you who are of the Same Speciea.

But it is not my business to annimadvert, but to obey Such orders as I receive, and therefore without Hesitation Shall Deliver you his Majesty’s orders and Instructions, Vist:

That your Land & Tennements, Cattle of all Kinds and Livestocks of all Sorts are forfeited to the Crown with all other your effects Savings your money and Household Goods, and you yourselves to be removed form this Province.

Thus it is Preremtorily his Majesty’s orders That the whole French Inhabitants of these Districts be removed, and I am Throh his Majesty’s Goodness Directed to allow you Liberty to Carry of your money and Household Goods as Many as you Can without Discommoding the Vessels you Go in. I shall do Every thing in my Power that all those Goods be Secured to you and that you are Not Molested in Carrying of them of, and also that whole Family Shall go in the Same Vessel, and make this remove, which I am Sensable must give you a great Deal of Trouble, as Easey as his Majesty’s Service will admit, and hope that in what Ever part of the world you may Fall you may be Faithful Subjects, a Peasable & Happy People.

I Must also Inform you That it is his Majesty’s Pleasure that you remain in Security under the Inspection and Direction of the Troops that I have the Honr. to Command.

This edict essentially said, “you are prisoners, you are being removed, and your belongings are now ours.”

Winslow then went to the priest’s house. Some of the older Acadians followed and begged him to consider their families who had no idea what was happening.

Winslow allowed 20 men, ten on each side of the Cornwallis, to go back and inform the women and children that they wouldn’t be harmed. They were also to bring back any men who hadn’t shown up, with the men still in captivity held responsible for the others. In other words, there was an implied threat – or maybe it wasn’t just implied.

The families of those imprisoned had to provide their food. The prisoners could move about the enclosure, but couldn’t go beyond the officers’ quarters.

The deportation began five days later and progressed very quickly. It must have been mind-numbing, surreal, and head-spinning for the Acadians.

An Acadian woman who survived the ordeal told her story of the deportation. You can read a portion here on Lucie LeBlanc Consentino’s website. The full version is much more gut-wrenching, for lack of a better description, and I can’t even read it again. It gave me nightmares, and I’m not doing that to you. Just trust me that this unquestionably falls into the war crimes category.

As the Acadians were herded onto the ships and departed, their homes and barns were burned, and much of their livestock was killed after great suffering.

The last thing they saw on the horizon, the last of their homes and homeland, was smoke. How they must have despised the British.

Annapolis Royal

The scene was essentially repeated in Annapolis Royal, although the Acadians from this region proved exceedingly difficult to subdue and were apparently not trapped in the church.

On August 31st, a transport ship arrived in Annapolis Royal, and the following day, Winslow was informed that the Acadians had fled into the forest with their belongings. An order was previously given to burn any means of subsistence for any Acadian escaping. The ship was sent elsewhere, and the destruction of their property began.

On September 4th, the Acadians returned from the forest, stating that they would listen to the order of the King.

The expulsion had begun.

On October 27th, the first ship full of destitute, heartbroken Acadians left Annapolis Royal for Massachusetts. I can only imagine the grief, knowing they would probably never see those left behind again. Those left behind would be loaded up and shipped out in the following days – destination uncertain.

Finally, beginning at 5 in the morning on December 8th, the transport ships set sail from Goat Island, carrying most of the Port Royal area Acadians. A total of 8 ships were destined for Connecticut, North Carolina, New York, and South Carolina.

About 300 people living upstream escaped by fleeing into the woods and then to the St. John River across the Bay of Fundy, then into the mainland near the border of New Brunswick and Maine.

In a small victory, the passengers on the ship bound for North Carolina somehow wrested control of the ship away from the British and sailed it to the St. John River. Yay Acadians!!! They were reported to have decided to go or attempt to go to Quebec.

The British did their level best to round up every last one of the Acadians like so many cattle being sent off to slaughter. Some escaped to the mainland, some joined their Native families and disappeared, and a few secretly remained near Annapolis Royal. Exactly two years later, to the very day, December 8, 1757, Acadians killed 19 British soldiers in an ambush, once again at Bloody Creek. I wonder if they realized the significance of the date.

Jacques Forest, Marie-Josephe LePrince, and their children, including my ancestor, Marguerite de Forest, were among the families deported from Annapolis Royal, apparently to Connecticut where they were found a decade later.


On Tim Hebert’s site, the history of the ships involved provides us with some hints.

The ship Mermaid left Annapolis Royal on October 13th, destined for Connecticut, but arrived in Massachusetts on November 17th.

The ship Elizabeth left on December 8th with 280 precious people on board. Three died en route, but the ship arrived in New London, Connecticut, on January 21, 1756.

The sloop Dove left Boudrot Point in Minas on December 18th but was also sent to Annapolis to take additional inhabitants on board. A total of 111 arrived on January 30th.

Let’s hope our family was on one of those ships, instead of the Edward, which left Annapolis Royal on December 8th with 278 Acadians on board. That ship encountered a severe storm that blew them off course, and they docked in Antiqua in the Caribbean. Several died there of smallpox, but it’s unclear whether they were infected on the ship or in Antigua. Finally, On May 22, 1756, the ship arrived in Connecticut with only 180 people. Another source says that almost 100 had died of Malaria.

Regardless of what they had, the death toll and suffering were brutal. Whatever possessions the passengers had left when they arrived were burned to prevent the spread of whatever disease they carried. Those poor people.

I rather doubt that Jacques and family were on this ship, because given the number of children listed for him in 1763, unless he had remarried to a younger wife, his children were accounted for. Surely, had they been unlucky enough to be forced upon this vessel, his family would have been smaller. Roughly one-third of the people on board died, which would equate to at least three family members.

The trip, though only a few hundred miles for some, was horrific. The Acadians were packed in like sardines and were required to remain below deck. Only six at a time were allowed to go up on deck for about 90 minutes each. The weather at the time of the deportation was reported to have been especially severe and even included an earthquake.


The ships that arrived in Connecticut docked in New London, which looked like this 55 years later. It probably hadn’t changed much, and regardless of which ship Jacques Forest was forced onto, his future came into view from this bay.

Fortunately, Connecticut had been preparing to welcome and help the Acadians.

1763 to 1766

The New England Historical Society tells us that:

Under the Treaty of Paris of 1763, the Acadian exiles had 19 months to leave the British North American colonies for any French colony. They began petitioning to go home to Nova Scotia, to Quebec, to France, or to the French West Indies, specifically Saint-Domingue (Haiti).

However, they had to pay for their own transport.

In 1766, 900 Acadian exiles in Massachusetts gathered in Boston and decided to return to their native land. They marched 400 miles through the wilderness. Many died along the way. Then in Acadia they found the English had taken over their farms. They found new homes in the counties of Digby and Yarmouth.

Of course, our Jacques Forest family was in Connecticut, and we have proof based on the petition they signed.

On Lucie’s website, the Connecticut list of people desiring to go to France that was gathered between 1763 and 1766 (I cannot find an actual petition date) shows the family of Jacque Fourest consisting of ten persons. Beneath Jacque is Mathieu Forest with six persons.

Cousin Sylvie Lord posted this list of petitioners from a 1911 book in her Ancestry tree.

The surname is also spelled Fouret, Forest, Fourest, and occasionally Forais. Sometimes, it also has a preceding “le,” meaning “the,” or “de,” or “du,” meaning “of.”.

Listed on the petition, we also find a Victor Forest with five persons, and he is listed beside a Benoist (Benoit) Forest, also with five persons. Victor is the name of Jacques’ eldest child, born in 1735, so certainly old enough to have a wife and three children by 1763.

Benoit is unknown to us.

Jacques’ brother, Jean-Pierre Forest, who married Anne Richard is on this list as well. They had several children baptized in Annapolis Royal before deportation.

Mathieu Forest may also be Mathieu- René Foret, Jacques’ other brother who married Marie-Madeleine Guilbault and had several children prior to deportation.

All of these people were denied transport to France, and we know little of what happened to Jacques’ children, except for my ancestor, Marguerite Forest (DeForest), who married Francois Lafay (Lafay, Lafaille) someplace in New England on November 10, 1767. Around 1787, Marguerite and Francois migrated to Quebec and settled in L’Acadie near other Acadian refugees. Actually, I should say twice refugees.

It’s possible that Jacques’ younger child, Charles Tranquille DeForest, who was born on February 15, 1750, in Annapolis Royal, died in St. Genevieve, near Montreal, on August 7, 1770. It’s noted that this person was about 20, but his parents are not listed. Witnesses were Joseph Lefebre and Joseph Hetier.

Tim Hebert notes that some of the 666 Acadians who were denied passage to France wound up in Santa Domingo, facing hard labor on coffee and sugar plantations along with brutally hot tropical weather. Some of those families and others made their way to Louisiana to become Cajuns.

The following year, in 1767, other Acadians chartered a boat and sailed north to the St. John River Valley.

And of course, we know that some Acadians remained in Connecticut because Jacques’ daughter, Marguerite de Forest, then 18 years old, married in New England in November of 1767 to Francois Lafay (Lafaille.) They did not migrate to Quebec for two more decades. Their daughter, Mary (Marie) Lafay, reported that one of the reasons they settled in L’Acadie, in Quebec, was that her grandmother, back wherever they lived in New England, was concerned that her grandchildren were losing their Catholic religion.

What Happened to Jacques Forest?

How I wish I knew what happened to either Jacques or his family.

The colonies weren’t peaceful either. The Revolutionary War was fought from 1776 to about 1780, although the Acadians certainly would have understood about wanting to extract oneself from the clutches of the British.

The first census in the US wasn’t taken until 1790, and with the surname variations, someone from this family could have been listed by various name spellings.

It’s also possible that Jacques and most of his male children had died. If his female children survived, and it certainly appears that they did until 1763-1766, they would have married unidentified men.

Furthermore, by the first census, it had been a quarter century since that removal petition in Connecticut. It seems likely that Jacques was deceased by 1790, especially given that his granddaughter when asked about why they moved to Quebec, referred only to her elderly grandmother. If Marie-Josephe was still alive, she would have been 75 and probably living with a family member. I didn’t find a census candidate for her.

In 1766, when he signed the petition requesting to go to France, Jacques would have been 59 years old, and that’s 59 extremely hard years. The Acadians in the colonies were mostly poor laborers, working on farms for others, although they fared better in Connecticut than most other locations.

By 1786, Jacques would have been 79 and likely deceased. His wife apparently was not, but perhaps she encouraged Marguerite and her family to relocate to Canada because she knew her time was limited. It’s also possible that she left with them or another child.

We do find people with the Foret or Forest or similar surnames in other locations, but of course, the family had lived in Acadia for three generations, and each of those ancestral families had many children. We may be scattered to the wind, but many descendants exist today.

Perhaps, eventually, enough Forest men will purchase or upgrade to the Big Y DNA test that we will be able to piece the Forest, Foret, de Forest family line back together again. If we are really, REALLY lucky, we’ll match a Forest man, by whatever spelling, from France, leading us back to our French origins.


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