Acadian Adventures

>> Monday, September 14, 2015

By coincidence, I have wound up in the middle of several Acadian searches recently. I had done one previously, but I am now looking for my maternal cousin's grandfather and to our great surprise, we are finding partial Acadian roots.

This snowballed, it turns out that my cousin's wife is related to that unknown grandfather and thus to my cousin through Acadian ancestry. Then very close family friends were visiting with us when we were in Maine and they also had Acadian roots.

There is a great deal of endogamy among Acadians. There were not a huge number of them in the first place and they were geographically fairly isolated.

We decided to make out return cross country trip from Maine back to Washington through Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. What a lovely adventure that turned out to be. I am using this in this blog to show you genealogy can be fun..

We had not planned on staying in Nova Scotia so long but it is an incredible place. On our way to Maine we had visited with cousin Roland Arsenault, he is of Acadian descent from New Brunswick and now living in New Hampshire. We had a lovely time going through common genealogies at our camping site in Southern Maine.,
I got lots of history background from him and then more from talking to people during our trip. What wonderful friendly people! Some of you are particularly interested in the Acadians of Nova Scotia. I have found out a lot and talked to several of them
In the early days, the Acadians had befriended the Native Americans and this saved many people during the troubles that were to come as the Indians warned them of trouble, hid them and snuck supplies to them. After a lot of French and British warfare, the Acadians who occupied very fertile country in Nova Scotia were expelled from the country. In 1755, the Acadians were forceably expelled from Nova Scotia by being loaded onto boats and sent away. Families were often separated during this and shipped to different places. Many of the Acadians were sent to France, some eventually came back to Nova Scotia, to Quebec, to Maine and other states and to Louisiana. In Louisiana they became the Cajuns.
The Arsenault family in particular escaped to Prince Edward Island. They eventually came back down into New Brunswick and settled there. This is close to the seacoast. However, when traveling in Nova Scotia, directions, which are not my strong point in the best of times totally eluded me. I had no clue to what was North, South, East or West, a brief look at Nova Scotia on a map could help to explain this. You can see what one might think of as North when there is actually east,

The Acadians had to drain the marshlands aaround Annapolis Royal and the result was beautiful, fertile farmlands.

The areas where the Acadians were eventually given some restitution were not farmlands and forced them to become fisherman and loggers

While traveling in Acadian Nova Scotia. Particularly in the French speaking areas, we came across huge churches in very small communities. They were all built around 1900. Considering that when we went to the 1900 Acadien village in Pinlico Peninsula, there were very small houses, one housed two families with a total of 23 children. These were very plain and poor communitites yet, they gathered resources to build these enormous and often very fancy churches.

We toured several of these churches with a docent. We came to one smaller church and were taking pictures of the outside and a man came over from a neighboring house and offered to show us around.

At this church we were treated to not only a tour of the church but also to the history of his ancestors. They had rich farms in the Royal Annapolis area where Acadians first settled in Canada. Some of them came via the same communities where the Pilgrims had lived in the Netherlands as a refuge before coming to North America..

After the expulsion, this man's family eventually came back to Nova Scotia and were given land by the then governing British as reparation. Unfortunately on the original, fertile lands they were farmers, but they were given lands along the coasts in rocky inhospitable terrain. Here they had to become lumbermen and fishermen.

This picture is the view from a restored Acadian village ca 1900.

Their relatives who went to Louisiana and with whom they still keep in touch, added the x to the end of their names - thus Comeau in Nova Scotia and Comeaux in Louisana. The most common names in the area before we got to Yarmouth (English town) were LeBlanc and Comeau.

This is an area of majestic old homes in many areas that have been well preserved. The churches show you what ethnicity has lived there in the last century, huge Catholic churches in the French areas and smaller Baptist, Wesleyan and Anglican churches in the English speaking areas. These were not typical Acadian homes but rather from wealthier citizens. The one below was from a Loyalist family that resettled in Nova Scotia at the time of the Revolutionary War in the United States.

These old homes were amazing, The Acadian homes were one story with a sleeping loft for the children. In the typical home ca 1900, the kids slept in the loft. This was quite different than these big fancy homes! 

The Acadian genealogy is quite well documented. I am still working on the various arms of this search and these are some good sites to check.

The Genealogy of Canada -
Canadian Automated Genealogy
Acadian Genealogy Resources
Nova Scotia Archives
Acadian Genealogy Home Page
Acadian Genealogy and History Links
Googling Acadians in Nova Scotia or New Brunswick will get you hundreds of resources.


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