Cobequid comes from the Indian
word Wakobeitk, which means "the end of the water's flow." It was
the name for the Acadian settlements between Pisiguid and the Chignecto.
Unlike the other Acadian settlements, it was stretched out in a number
of scattered locations. The western edge (along the south side of
the bay) consisted of the settlements of Petit Riviere and Noel.
Settlements extended eastward to Ville Aucoin (around present-day Truro).
There were some families down the Shubenacadie to the Stewiacke (notably
Ville Hebert). From Ville Aucoin, the settlements stretched westward
along the north coast of the bay to the Five Islands area. It also
included the settlements of Tatamagouche and Remsheg on the shores
of Verte Baie (Northumberland Strait). A route developed to these
2 settlements via the Isgonish River and a portage road to the Waugh
and French Rivers.
Although Champlain and Poutrincourt
briefly visited the area in 1606, it was over 80 years before Acadians
moved in to settle the area. On March 28, 1689, Matheiu Martin received
the seigniory of Cobequid. Martin, who called himself "weaver by
the Grace of God, and gentleman through the kindness of the King," was
the first white child born in Acadia. The "Saint-Matthieu" grant
was 2 leagues deep, beginning around Five Isalnds on the north side of
the bay and going around the north shore to present-day Truro, westward
the south shore to Petit Riviere (today's Tennycape). It also extended
down the Shubenacadie to the Stewiacke. The settlements to the north
(Tatamagouche, Remsheg) were also to be considered a part of Cobequid.
Although he was given the right of hunting and fishing, but he had to protect
the oak trees for the king's use.
The first settlers to join Martin
at Cobequid were the families of Martin Blanchard, Marin Bourc, and Jerome
Guerin, who came from Port Royal. The 1703 census shows 90 people
at Cobequid. As noted, there were 3 settlement locations that developed
that were not on the bay: Ville Hebert (where the Stewiacke meets the Shubenacadie),
Tatamagouche, and Remsheg. All three locations are thought to have
been inhabited sometime between 1703 and 1710. Later settlements
along the Northumberland Strait were Brule-River John and Cape John.
COBEQUID (& ALL ACADIA) BECOMES ENGLISH PROPERTY FOR GOOD
The Treaty of Utrecht in 1713
permanently assinged Acadia to England. As part of the treaty, Acadians
would be allowed to stay or leave (within the year). Captain La Ronde
(the French official from Ile Royale) and Paul Mascarene (the English official
from Port Royal) went to the Minas area to present the terms to the Acadians.
A message was sent to the Cobequid Acadians asking them to meet at Minas
as well. They met together on September 4 and 5. Recollet priest
Pere Bonaventure explained the terms to the Acadians. The Minas Acadians
had already signed on to the agreement. Most of the Cobequid Acadians
did as well, though it later turned out that none were allowed to leave
Acadia. The English government kept delaying things till the deadlilned
The 1714 list included the following enumeration.
Name Sons Daughters
Jean Turpin and wife
Jean Bourg and wife
Martin Blanchard and wife
Pierre Terriot and wife
Jean Benoist and wife
Antoine Breaux and wife
Jean Hebert and wife
Jerome Guerin and wife
Germaine Terriot and wife ---
Noel Douaron and wife
Joseph Dugas and wife
Michel Aucoin and wife
Alexis Aucoin and wife
Pierre Bourg and wife
Abraham Bourg and wife
Magdelaine Rainbo ditte
Le Robert Henry and wife
Francois Gautreau and wife
The 1714 census by priest Felix Pain found a slightly
different account. The area is called "Wecobeguit" in his census.
Jean HERPIN and
wife, 1 son, 3 daughters.
Martin BOURG and
Jean BENOIT and
wife, 1 son, 5 daughters.
Jean HEBERT and
wife, 5 sons, 5 daughters.
and wife, 5 sons, 5 daughters.
Michel AUCOIN and
wife, 4 sons, 2 daughters.
Jean BOURG and wife,
1 son, 3 daughters.
Pierre BOURG and
wife, 4 sons.
Abraham BOURG and
wife, 2 sons, 3 daughters.
Robert HENRI and
wife, 3 sons, 3 daughters.
Jean BOURC and wife,
4 sons, 3 daughters.
Pierre TERRIOT and
wife, 4 sons, 5 daughters.
Antoine BREAU and
wife, 1 son.
Jerome GUERIN and
wife, 1 son, 6 daughters.
Noel DOURON and
Joseph DUGAS and
wife, 4 sons, 3 daughters.
Alexis AUCOIN and
wife, 3 sons, 1 daughter.
and wife, 3 sons, 1 daughter.
Martin HENRY and
wife, 3 sons, 3 daughters.
1 son, 5 daughters.
COBEQUID IN THE 1720s
Paul Mascarene described the
area in 1720 as follows. "Cobequid is 12 leagues to the northeast
of Minas, at the head of the most easterly arm of the sea of the Bay of
Fundy. There are about 50 families settled in this place, the soil of which
produces good grain and abounds in livestock and other commodities of life.
By the river the settlers communicate with Chebucto, a harbour on the East
Coast, and by a road through the forest, at a distance of about 20 leagues,
they arrive at Baie Verte, in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence."
At this time, the only English
presence was a small garrison at Port Royal. The Cobequid Acadians,
located a distance from Port Royal, didn't have much interaction with the
English. One item that did cause English interaction was in trying
to stop the Cobequid Acadians from sending cattle to Louisbourg.
When Martin died in 1724, there
was a dispute over ownership of the area. Although Joseph Dugas and
Jean Bourg claimed the will deeded it to them, an Acadian named Triquelle
also claimed it. Finally, after years of debate, it was resolved
when the decision was made that Martin couldn't transfer ownership.
The grant was returned to the king and residents had to pay quit rents.
When paid, it was usually done in crop goods rather than money. Some
leaders such as Cornwallis even let them go without paying the rents.
first resident priest of Cobequid seems to have been Recollet priest Pierre
Verquillie from fall 1724 to April 1726. During his tenure, it seems
that another priest built the first church in the Cobequid area.
Father Gaulin was the missionary to the Indians at La Heve, Cap Sable,
and Shubenacadie at that time. In 1725, he had a church built at
Shubenacadie. It is recorded that he requested items for use in this
church [Etudes Historiques et Geographiques, Ste.-Anne
de Ristigouche, Bonaventure, P. Q., 1935, pp.285-286].
The items included a ciborium for holding the host, a monstrance for Exposition
of the Blessed Sacrament, a small portable altar, and a tool for baking
altar bread. He received the altar set two years later.
After King George II came into
power, British subjects were again required to pledge an oath to his majesty.
In 1727, lieutenant-governor Armstrong sent Ensign Wroth around Acadia
to secure the oath from the French population. He didn't even go
to Cobequid, however. He merely sent a note to be posted on the church
door. Since an Acadian church was not known at this time, perhaps
he meant the Indian chapel built by Gaulin in 1725. If there was
another church in Cobquid (besides Gaulin's), no information on it has
survived. The oath that Wroth obtained was later voided becaise the
English claimed that he had made too many concessions.
When Armstrong's replacement,
General Phillips got them to take another version of the oath in 1729-30.
He was only able to do this after a verbal agreement that they would not
be forced to bear arms against the Indians or the French. Although
this exclusion did not appear in the copy sent to England, the 2 French
priest recorded the verbal promises in certificates on April 25, 1730.
The population of Cobequid at this time (in 1731) was 500 people in arranged
in 68 families.
LE LOUTRE & THE CATTLE TRADE
The Acadians at Port Royal seemed
to consider the Acadians at Cobequid to be troublesome. This was
due to their remote location, the local priest, and their trade with Louisbourg.
The priest would be a thorn in the side of the English for a couple of
decades. The French priest Jean Louis LeLoutre arrived at Tatamagouche
on Oct. 1, 1738 to serve Cobequid Acadians and the Micmacs. He built
a chapel for the Mi'kmaq on the west side of the Shubenacadie, across from
the mouth of the Stewiacke (see the map below). The location of the
church was at Snide Farm (Mass House Farm) about 60 years ago.
Local Indian tradition says that the church bell was thrown into a pond
nearby when the church was destroyed in 1755.
Louisbourg was the main
market for Cobequid livestock and produce. Goods were taken up the
Isgonish River as far as possible. Then a portage road was used for
a distance of about 10 miles. When they got to the Waugh or French
River they'd continue to the harbor. Then a larger boart took the
goods to Louisbourg. From the English point of view, this not only
meant that they were supplying the enemy; they also didn't have enough
to supply Port Royal. Traditions says that they buried some of the
income from trading with Louisbourg.
FRENCH-ENGLISH HOSTILITIES: 1744-1748
When hostilities between the
French and English resumed in that year, Duvivier destroyed the English
post at Canso (May 13, 1744). Before he could get to the other post
(Port Royal), several hundred Indians attacked it. The Acadians (including
those at Cobequid) were accused of providing supplies to the Indians.
When confronted with this allegation, they responsed that if they did so,
it was because the Indians had threatened them. (Nova Scotia Archives,
V. 1, p. 147)
Although Duvivier did arrive
several months later (in August), reinforcements didn't arrive and he left
for the Minas basin. Acadians were quick to inform the English
that any assistance they gave to Duvivier was under duress. Duvivier
had written that an order of death for those that disobeyed. The
Acadians produced the document to illustrate their case.
Cobequid appears in the council
records of Port Royal in December of 1744. The council had ordered
an investigation of Acadian support of the enemy and 2 representatives
(Claude Pitre & Pierre Therriot) from Cobequid showed up. Although
they denied assisting Duvivier, it came out that Joseph Dugas and Joseph
LeBlanc had sent 2 herds of cattle and sheep from Minas to Louisbourg via
Cobequid. It doesn't seem that any action was taken.
An interesting account
of events in the area can be found in William Pote's Journal from 1745.
Early in that year, French Lieutenant Marin and a group of soldiers and
Huron Indians from Quebec headed for Port Royal for an attack. On
May 17, they captured a New England schooner (the Montague) somewhere
between Goat Island and Scotch Fort; William Pote Jr. and his crew were
captured. The following week, on May 23, Marin's troops and captives
when over land to the Minas Basin. They crossed the bay by boat,
landing at Cove d'Eglise (the location of the Cobequid church) on June
8, 1745. They went to the church and sang Te Deum to celebrate.
Pote's Journal noted that one of the Acadians said that they should have
"left their (the English) carcasses behind and brought their skins." (Pote's
Journal, p. 34)
After attending mass the following
Sunday, they travelled north to Tatamagouche. The journey over mountains
and valleys was about 27 miles in length. While waiting to leave,
the Indians killed some of the cattle and smoked the meat for them to eat
on the trip to Louisbourg. They finally loaded aboard 2 ships, with
the Indians in canoes. The ships soon ran aground and they were forced
to return to land. They tried to leae the following day after the
ships were afloat, but soon confronted a group of 3 English ships led by
David Donahew. Marin never did make it to Louisbourg. Donahew
himself was captured several weeks after the battle. Pote records
that Indians cut open his breast, sucked his blood, hacked up his body,
and ate some of his flesh. (Pote's Journal, p. 174)
When the confrontation occurred,
the Indians paddled back to shore and hid behind the sea wall. They
took Pote and traveled up the St. John River to Quebec. He was held
there for 2 years before being returned to the English in a prisoner exchange.
To secure his journal, he gave it to a female prisoner for safekeeping.
The journal was 'found' in 1890 and 400 copies were published in 1895.
In the winter of 1747, de Ramesy
(who was at Beaubassin) heard that Colonel Noble and a group of New Englanders
were at Grand Pre. Although De Ramesay had been injured recently,
he sent Coulon de Villiers across 200 miles of snow-covered terrain for
a surprise attack. They headed to Remsheg along a road cut by La Corne
in 1746. They arrived at Remsheg on January 25 and at Tatamagouche
on January 26. The population along the northern shore at this time
was about 150 peoplel.
Heading south towards
Cobequid, they med the priest Girard at the village of Bacouel. He
was heading to Tatamagouche to visit some sick parishioners. They
continued southward. A small group was sent ahead of the main body
to prevent any Acadians from informing the English of their approach.
They arrived at Isgonish to find the Acadians willing to help. After
picking up supplies at Cove d'Eglise, they crossed the ice filled bay under
a strong north wind. The rest of the story is told in detail in Dr.
MacMechan's "Red Snow on Grand Pre."
As noted above, LeLoutre
was a strong presence in the Cobequid area. Besides the Indian Mass
House along the Shubenacadie, he is thought to have led in the construction
of the church at Cove d'Eglise (as noted by John Webster in his copy of
Willard's Diary) when he arrived in 1738. The parish was known as
St. Pierre and St. Paul.
As noted above, the only evidence of an earlier
church was the one built under Gaulin's direction in 1725. Using a translation of that
French name, English settlers that arrived in 1760 called the location
Masstown ... a name that exists to this day. Miller's "History ...
of Colchester ..." notes that the Acadian church was 40' wide by 100' long.
The English settlers found only the remains of the church, since the soldiers
had burned almost everything to the ground. It is said that the new
landowners would plow up pieces of the brass church bell occassionally.
Father Cummane, who had served the Cobequid parish for a while, is
said to have had some pieces of the bell. An English captain (named
Floyer) recounted a visit to the area in his journal on August 8, 1754.
"Half after twelve we came to the Mass House, which I think is the neatest
in the country: 'Tis adorned with a fine, lofty steeple and weather-cock.
The parsonage house is the only habitation here." Tradition says
that the church was on Shore Road, on the farm of Earl Jennings & Sons,
about 0.6 mile from its eastern junction with Route 2. The precise
location is said to have been at the site of a corrugated barn east of
Lloyd Jennings' home and south of road 20. The parish cemetery was
thought to have been across the road in an area of Earl Jennings' (Lloyd's
father) pasture. In 1873, Thomas Miller wrote that the church was
in a field owned by Alexander Vance and was near the home of a man named
Lightbody. Earl Jennings later purchased land from a Mr. Lightbody.
To this date, the exact location has not been archaeologically determined.
In 1960, a ceremony was held
by the National Society of Acadians and a cairn was erected nearby.
The memorial is actually 1 1/2 miles from the presumed site of the church.
The plaque reads: "OLD FRENCH CHURCH Commemorating The Church of St.
Peter and St. Paul Erected near this site By the French as the Parish Church
for the Acadian Settlements of Cobequid. During the time Of the Deportation
in 1755, the British forces Destroyed the Church Along with the Homes Of
the Acadians. The Church gave to this Community the French Name of Cove
d'Eglise And the English Name Masstown."
LeLoutre built another
church (actually a 'chapel of ease') at Tatamagouche. Though the church was destroyed during the expulsion, the first English settlers of that area (about 1770) found an Acadian cemetery (with crosses still standing at the gravesites) at the top of a hill on the cleared upland between the junction of the French and Waugh's Rivers. Other chapels existed
throughout Cobequid. John Webster's "The Career of the Abbie Le Loutre"
in 1933 mentions 3 other chapels in Cobequid. They were located 4,
5, and 6 leagues away from Cove d'Eglise. They were all destroyed
by the English. All (except for Gaulin's Indian church) were built
under Le Loutre's direction. The mission church at Shubenacadie,
known as Sainte Anne, was located near the former Indian Residential School
and about 175 yards from J.H. Juurlink's barnyard (this was many years
LeLoutre left Cobquid to serve
elsewhere in 1742. The next Cobequid priest was Sulpician Abbe Girard,
the second and last priest to the parish of St. Pierre and St. Paul.
When English settlers arrived
at Tatamagouche in 1770, they did find an Acadian cemetery with crosses
still standing. It was located at the top of a raised area
of land at the junction of the Waugh and French Rivers.
Records from the entire parish
have been lost. Perhaps they were destroyed by the English in the
1750s. Some think Girard may have taken them to Ile St. Jean and
were lost at sea when the island population was deported in 1758.
The settlers didn't want to farm over the cemetery (though a school was
built nearby) and it became overgrown with vegetation.
Judge Morris wrote of
a visit to Cobequid in 1748. Along the south shore of the bay he
found 4 families at Petit Riviere (Tennycape), 7 families at Ville Noel
(Noel Shore), and 4 families at Ville Robert (Maitland-Selma). Heading
down the Shubenacadie River, there were 14 families in 2 settlements where
the Stewiacke River joins the Shubenacadie. One was near the Indian
chapel on the west side of the river. Ville Pierre Hebert was on
the east side just north of the Stewiacke. Along the bay shore, between
the Shubenacadie and the head of the bay, were 30 families in the communities
of Ville Perce, Ville Conde, and Ville Michel Aucoin. Ville Aucoin,
located along Riviere Aucoin (Salmon River) at present-day Bible Hill and
Ville Dugas along the Riviere Dugato (North River) contained 6 families.
Heading west along the north shore of the bay he found 15 families at the
mouth of the Isgonish River (Fort Belcher and Onslow) and 17 families at
Cove d'Eglise (Masstown). Heading west, he found Ville Burke (DeBert).
He found 12 families at Les Cadets (Great Village), Le Bourg, and Petit
Louis Longue Epee. Ville Jean Bourque (near Portapique) had 10 families.
Further west were 4 families at Point Economy, and 4 families at Five Islands.
To the north, there were 6 families at Remsheg (Wallace) ... 12 miles east
of Tatamagouche. There were 12 famlies at Tatamagouche, River Jean,
and Cape Jean ... spread out over a distance of some 30 miles.
In all, there were about 800 people in 142 families in Cobequid ... scattered
over a large area.
In 1749, the English finally
succeeded in getting their own people to settle in Acadia. Halifax
was founded in that year. Concern grew among the Acadians at Cobequid
and Pisiquid, the 2 settlements closest to Halifax. Interactions
between them soon began to cause trouble. In 1750, a government messanger
went to Cobequid and never returned. The English assumed that a group
of 30 Indians staying there for the winter were responsible. English
soldiers were sent to Cobequid to arrest the Indians. They also arrested
Father Girard, who was accused of helping the Indians and brought him before
the council in March (Nova Scotia Archives, p. 178). While at Halifax,
Girard was a prisoner in Cornwallis' house until May. He had to take
an oath of allegiance and promise not to leave the area without permission
before being allowed to return to Cobequid ("Montcalm and Wolfe", V. 1,
p. 111, Francis Parkman).
The French priests - assited by the Mi'kmaq - began urging the Acadians to move to French territory in 1750. They began the journey to Ile St. John, but did so under duress. As the French governor wrote, "they leave their homes with great regret and they began to move their luggage only when the savages compelled them."
| Despite his pledge, he escaped
to Ile St. Jean with many of his parishioners in 1752. For several
years, since the founding of Halifax, the French priests and officials
had been urging the Acadians to move to French Territory. Le Loutre,
for one, was relentless in is efforts to relocate the Acadians. Many
of them made the trip to Ile St. Jean, Ile Royale, Riviere St. Jean, and
the Beaubassin areas. Five Cobequid families had relocated to Beausejour
and Shediac by 1751. The next year, even more families relocated
to the Chignecto isthmus. Eighteen of these were Bourc (5), Boudrot
(2), LeBlanc (2), Arosteguy, Kuessy, Mouton, Hamon, Pothier, Pitre, Doucet,
Robichaud, and Thibodeau. The governor of Ile St. Jean, which received
hundreds of Acadians from 1749 to 1752, wrote that the Cobequid Acadians
"leave their homes with great regret and they began to move their luggage
only when the savages compelled them." (Parkman, ibid, p. 114)
Father Girard and many of his
parishioners relocated to Pointe Prime, Ile St. Jean. They found
that conditions were worse there than at Cobequid. Father Girard
wrote in October 1753 that "Many of them cannot protect themselves day
or night from the severity of the cold. Most of the children are
entirely naked; and when I go into a house they are all crouched in the
ashes, close to the fire; they run off and hide themselves, without shoes,
stockings or shirts. They are not all reduced to this extremity,
but nearly all are in want." (Parkman, ibid, p. 114)
Some even offered to take the English oath so that they could home.
|Cobequid area in the 1750s
The Acadians that remained
at Cobequid were carefully watched by the English. Indians continued
to head down the Shubenacadie River to attack the English settlements at
Dartmouth, Halifax, and Lunenburg. The English pressed for a stronger
oath from the remaining Acadians.
Those Acadians that remained
continued to sell livestock to Louisbourg. Though rent collection
was sporadic, we do find 16 farms in Cobequid that were taxed in 1754.
It notes that some people hadn't paid taxes for years and were calle upon
to pay up. Joe Blanchard at Tatamagouche, for example, was asked
taxed for 3s 10d for each of previous 7 years. The total tax collected
was 25 pounds, 12 s, and 4 d. Other names that are on the list are
Aucoin, Blanchard, Bourg, Dugas, Hebert, and Robichaud.
THE EXILE BEGINS
On July 28, 1755, the Council
passed the decision that that all Acadians be removed from the colony.
Lt. Gov. Lawrence sent Col Monckton a message on July 31 with the news.
Monckton was directed to destroy Tatamagouche first, no doubt to stop the
flow of livestock and produce to Louisbourg. He sent Capt. Lewis
and 150 soldiers on August 4. The following day, Abijah Willard and
100 soldiers (mainly from Lancaster, Massachusetts) were sent to join Lewis.
(Nova Scotia Archives, V. 1, p. 263)
Willard kept a journal
of the events (which was later published in the Collections of the New
Brunswick Historical Society No. 12), which may have been the first military
action of the 1755 deporations.
Willard's group left Fort Cumberland
at 9 am on Tuesday, Aug. 6. Aided by 2 French guides, they
went by Amherst Point and up the Maccan River. They reached the bay
at Moose River on Aug. 9 and were at Portepic (Portaupique) by Aug. 10.
Continuing on their journey, they found an Acadian home 7 miles further
east and stopped for milk and butter. After camping for the night,
they left early the next morning (4 am) and traveled 10 miles east to Cove
d'Eglise ... arriving at 2 in the afternoon. Captain Malcolm (of
Lewis' group) was there to meet them. Sheep and cattle were butcherd
by the Acadians to feed the soldeiers on the 12th. The healthy men
left the following day and headed for Isgonish, 3 miles to the east.
They met Major Preble and his men there and were fed by 200 weight of bread,
supplied by the Acadians.
At 4 the afternoon, Willard
and his men headed north. They had traveled 3 miles from Isgonish
before meeting Captain Lewis. Lewis gave Willard the sealed orders,
which said to burn all of the Acadian homes on the way to Tatamagouche
and along the shore. Willard sent all but 100 men back to Cove d'Eglise.
He and his 100 headed north, going about 4 miles before stopping by a small
stream that was full of trout. They left early (4 am) the next day
(Aug. 14) and followed the Isgonish River northward. Traveling
across an old trail over Cobequid Mountain, they went over the summit and
down the mountian along a branch of the French River. They came to
the home of Francis Boyes. Though the Frenchman was 80 years old,
he appeared healthy enough to travel. After sending him to Tatamagouche
to secure 8 sheep (Boyes told them that he could bring 20), the English
headed there themselves. After arriving at 4 in the afternoon, they
informed the Acadians that they were to meet at Joseph Blanchard's home
at 9 the next morning.
The next day (Aug. 16), Captain
Lewis took 40 men and headed for Remsheg. The Acadians gathered together
at the Blanchards. Willard then had his men search the houses
to confiscate their weapons. His orders were read to the Acadians.
All of the Acadian men were to go to Fort Cumberland. The woman and
children could follow or stay behind. In any case, all of the buildings
were to be burned down. When one Acadian prostested, saying they
he had taken the oath under Phillipps and had never fought against
the English, Willard replied that they were rebels since thay had helped
the Indians traveling from Ile St. Jean to New England. The Acadians'
response, that they had to help the Indians under threats of death, meant
nothing to Willard. He would carry out his orders as assigned.
After debating for 2 hours, the 22 Acadian men decided to leave the women
and children behind. Willard was relieved at this decision.
Around noon of the following
day (Aug. 16) Lewis returned from Remsheg to announce that he had burned
down several homes and had captured 3 families. Willard took
his troops across the Tatamagouche River. After taking the rum from
a storehouse (that also held molasses, sugar, wine, and iron works), he
burned down the storehouse, the chapel, and 11 other buildings. Besides
destroying a number of canoes, they also destroyed a 70 ton sloop and a
30 ton schooner loaded with livestock to be brought to Louisbourg.
At 3 in the afternoon, the men burned all other buildings in the area.
This settlement was probably located on a raised piece of land between
the joining of the Waugh and French Rivers.
Willard traveled for 3 miles
to the residence of an Acadian who had been at Tatamagouche for 45 years.
Though he was calm, his wife was overcome by the events. This home
(probably along Waugh's River), 3 others, and several barns were burned
down. Having completed the job, Willard and his men headed south,
arriving at Cove d'Eglise at 9 pm in the evening. They ordered the
Acadians to prepare beef and mutton and to bake bread.
History doesn't record exactly
what became of the women and children left at Tatamagouche. Perhaps
the eventual publication of the second part of Stephen White's Dictionnaire will provide some answers. Perhaps they fixed up temporary shelters
and lived off the land. The area had plenty of shell fish and berries.
It is possible that they joined their Acadian friends and relatives at
Beaubassin, Ile Royale, or Ile St. Jean. In a short time, when the
deportations began to their south and west, thousands of Acadins
headed for those areas. If they were still in the area, they may
have joined the throngs of escaping Acadians. It is also possible
that they were gathered up the following month to be deported from Beaubassin.
They gathered up supplies and
headed east on Tuesday (Aug. 18). They arrived at Riviere Dugato
(North River), near the Ville Dugas. The next day they crossed that
river and the Riviere Aucoin (Salmon River) and rounded the eastern end
of the bay. Heading west, they encountered several Acadian settlements,
corn fields, tobacco fields, and apple orchards. The corn and tobacco
crops appeared ruined from a heavy frost the night before.
Willard visited the deputies
(as ordered) and found them to be amiable. When they
arrived at Ville Bourg (halfway between Riviere Aucoin (Salmon) and the
Shubenacadie, the 5 homes were deserted except for the deputy who
showed them around. Willard told the deputy to tell the residents
(wherever they were hiding out) to bring him 14 oxen and 12 sheep or he'd
burn down their village. He and his men headed counterclockwise around
the bay and returned to Cove d'Eglise by 10 pm. On the 20th the Acadians
arrived with 4 oxen and 12 sheep, which were butchered to supply each man
with 8 pounds of meat. The following day, Willard and all of his
men headed west. A number of canoes (each with an officer and a few
Frenchmen) were sent to Portaupique with the supplies, while the rest of
the men walked over land until reaching the town at sunset. The following
day, the canoes and troopsall headed west to Point Economy (12 miles away).
Eight men had to be left behind due to sickness and were taken by the Acadians
to Pisiquid the following day.
Their next day's travel brought
them to the Black Hills (The Brothers). These were two islands located
just to the west of Moose River. The travel was not without incident.
Six miles from Point Economy (around Redhead), they were at a place where
the banks were 100 feet above the shore. Without warning, the massive
tide came in and they had to scramble to get to the shore. After
escaping the tide, they had a clam meal and traveled 4 more miles for the
day. They continued their trip the next day until reaching the Maccan
River, ultimately reaching Fort Cumberland on August 26.
The news of deportation was first
presented to the Acadians at Grand Pre on September. 5. We don't
know if the Acadians found out about Willard's actions and understand what
lay in store for them. Although Thomas Miller wrote that the
Cobequid Acadians were deported at this time, documents by Winslow (who
was in charge of the deportations), Willard, and others show that they
were not. Captain Lewis and a number of soldiers were sent to Cobequid,
expecting to finds two to three hundred Acadians. But when they arrived,
the area was vacated. Perhaps they found out about Tatamagouche and
or Grand Pre and beat a hasty retreat before the English were able to get
to Cobequid. The English stayed in the area for several days (Sept.
23 - 26) burning down all of the settlements. Somehow, 2 barns escaped
the flames. That site (near Clifton ) has been called Old Barns or
Here is the story of the deportation of Cobequid as told by Thomas Miller in the Historical and Genealogical Record of Colchester County.
On the second day of September, 1755, the French inhabitants of Cobequid Village (now Masstown) lying on the north side of the bay, and upper part of the Township of Londonderry, were engaged in their fields at their work, it being harvest time. With the afternoon tide three vessels were seen coming up the Bay. Two of them prepared to anchor, one opposite the Village, and the other at Lower Cobequid; whilst the third ran further up the shore. Curiosity was rife. Who were they, and whither were they going? Their curiosity was still heightened by the appearance of a person in the garb of a curate, who informed them that the following notice was posted on the door of the Church: ''To the inhabitants of the Village of Cobequid, and the surrounding shores, as well ancient as young men and lad ordering them all to repair to the Church the next day at three P.M., and hear what he had to say to them.'' Signed by John Winslow.
Meanwhile the Sailors landed, and were freely supplied with milk, eggs, and anything they wanted, by the farmers. Small parties of Soldiers landed, chatted with the people, examined their farms, or strolled to the uplands in search of partridges, and in the afternoon of the third day of September they joined the people as they repaired to the Church. The women had milked the cows, and prepared supper, but no one came from the Church. The moon rose, and the sisters strolled out and ran to the Church to ascertain the cause of their delay. When they arrived at the Church, to their great astonishment, they found it surrounded by armed Soldiers, who answered their inquiries by pointing their bayonets, and ordering them to go home. They met many of the women from the houses nearest the Church, all anxious and sad at the detention of their friends. At daybreak the following notice was read, which was stuck on the fence opposite the Church; ''Cobequuid, September 4th, 1755. All Officers, Soldiers and Seamen employed in His Majesty's Service, as well as all His subjects, of what denomination soever, are hereby notified that all cattle, viz., horses, horned cattle, sheep, goats, hogs, and poultry of every kind, that was supposed to be vested in the French inhabitants of this Province, have become forfeited to His Majesty, whose property they now are; and every person of what denomination soever, is to take care not to hurt, destroy, or kill any of the above named animals, nor to rob orchards, or gardens, or to make waste of anything in these districts, without special order given at my Camp, the day and place to be published throughout the Camp, and at the Village where the vessels lie. Signed by John Winslow, Lieut. Colonel Commanding.''
When the people read this notice they were speechless with terror; death stared them in the face. In the meantime three hundred men and boys found themselves close prisoners in their own Church. Some of the boys screamed aloud, some attempted to force the door, by they were overawed by the muskets of their guards. Day dawned at length over the wretched prisoners; they wished to be allowed to return to their families for food; this was refused, but their families were ordered to supply food to them. A few of these prisoners were sent out during the day to inform those that dwelt at a distance from the Church if they did not immediately surrender, their houses would be burnt and their nearest friends shot. One of these messengers attempted to escape; he was shot, and his house and barn set on fire. Thus the work of destruction was commenced. About 200 married women, and upwards to 100 young women, besides children, were ordered to collect what they could of their apparel, and prepare to embark. In vain the men entreated to know whiter they were going, but no answer was given. By noon, the 5th of September, the beach was piled with boxes, baskets and bundles; behind them were crowds of weeping women and children; children crying for their mothers, and mothers looking for their children; sick men and bedridden women were carried by strong maidens, or tipped out of the carts which bore them to the spot. A little before high water the prisoners in the Church were ordered to form six deep and march to the place of embarkation; they refused to obey this command. The troops were ordered to fix bayonets and advance on the prisoners. This act produced obedience, and they commenced their march. When they came to the beach and saw their property, their mothers, wives, children and sisters kneeling at each side of the road, one long, loud wail of anguish went up from them on account of being so suddenly torn away from their houses and homes, the place of their nativity, their flocks and fields, which were then covered with the crops of the season, with some of their wheat cut, and the remainder ready for cutting, and separated from their wives and families, leaving behind them their Church and the graves of their kindred, to be dispersed among strangers in a strange land,--among a people whose customs, laws, language and religion were strongly opposed to their own. The women were ordered the same afternoon to embark in another ship. About midnight all were on board, except one or two women who had escaped to visit their forsaken houses the next morning, and witness the sad havoc that had been made the night before by some of the British soldiers who remained, by setting fire to a number of the house of the Village. Among these was their Chapel, of 100 feet in length and 40 feet in breadth, which contained a large heavy bell. This Chapel stood in a field which is now owned by Alexander Vance, near the house of Mr. Lightbody of Masstown. This place took its name from the fact that the French had their place of worship or Masshouse there. Mr. Vance informed the writer, that he had recently ploughed up some of the melted metal of the bell, and the spot upon which it stood was pointed out by Mr. Thomas Fletcher, son of the late Thomas Fletcher, who was one of the first settlers in this place after the French were driven out.
The transport ship, with the men on board drifted down to the mouth of the Avon River, and there awaited the other vessel that had the women and children on board. At daybreak she was in sight, and they drifted down the Bay with the saddest freight on board that ever sailed out of the Cobequid Bay; and as the vessels stood out to pass Blomedon, the third vessel that had run further up the Bay joined them, freighted with the French inhabitants who were gathered from the places now called Onslow, Truro, Clifton and Selma. With a favorable wind these miserable, houseless, homeless wanderers were soon borne out of sight of the place of their nativity; night hid from their view forever the blue mountains of Cobequid.
It may here be mentioned that while the French inhabitants of Truro were hunted by the British soldiers as the partridge on the mount, some of them fled for a hiding place, and encamped in the woods up the Salmon River, in a deep valley of the brook that Mr. William Murray had his Mills on recently, and from this the brook took its name as French Village Brook. One of the females who had escaped, or had been left behind on account of a boat being overloaded, returned that night to her former place of abode, and there remained during the night altogether unconscious. In the morning, when she returned to consciousness, she was too weak to stand; it was some hours before she realized the full horrors of her situation. After a time she was able to crawl to the door, and there the scene which surrounded her was fearful. The first object she beheld was the Church, the beautiful Mass House, a blackened heap of ruins. She was recalled to a sense of her forlorn situation by her cow which came to her, asking by her lowing to be milked. She milked her cow and partook of some of the milk with a crust of bread, which revived her so much that she set out to see if she could find any one remaining in the Village; but there was no one to be found. Cattle had broken into the fields and were eating the wheat; horses were running in droves through the fields. On the evening of that day, cows and goats came up to their accustomed milking place, and lowed around the deserted dwellings; pigs yet fastened in the pens, squealed with hunger; and the oxen, waiting in vain for their master's hand to free them from the yoke, (for they were used in moving the goods to the vessels) were bellowing in the agony of hunger; they hooked and fought with each other, running through the marsh, upsetting the carts or tumbling into the ditches, until death put an end to their sufferings. The pigs were rooting up the gardens. She sat sown on the doorstep beholding the desolation of the Village, when an Indian approached her and told her to come with him. She enquired the fate of her people. ''Gone,'' said he, ''all gone,'' pointing down the Bay, ''the people everywhere are prisoners; see the smoke rise, they will burn all here to-night.'' He pointed up by the Bay; two or three blazing fires attested the Indian's story as too true. He assisted her in gathering some of the most valuable things that were left. The Indian then piloted her to his wigwam, near the edge of the forest; here she found about a dozen of her people, the remnant left of what was once the happy settlement of the Village of Cobequid (now Masstown). They waited about the woods on the north side of the Bay, for more than a month to see if any more stragglers could be found before they would start to go to Miramichi. At length they were joined by about twenty of the French inhabitants who had escaped from Annapolis. These persons informed them that the houses and crops in Annapolis were burnt by the soldiers who were sent up the River to bring them to the ships. Some fled to the woods; some, besides this party, crossed the Bay intending to go to Miramichi through the woods. After another week's travel they met with a party that had escaped from Shepoudie (now called Shubenacadie). From these persons they learned that about two hundred and fifty buildings were burned along the sides of this River, and that while they were firing the Mass House there, the Indians and French rallied and attacked the British soldiers and killed and wounded about thirty of them, and drove the remainder back to their ships.
Other than the barns, almost
nothing was left to show that the Acadians had been there.There were some
ruins, bricks, and perhaps cellars to mark the settlements. In the
years that followed, traces of the Acadians disappeared as time went by.
Great Village and a mound where the mill used to be and a few dykes.
There were dykes at Onslow and DeBert. Five Islands had some
cellars and oven bricks. An Acadian well was located near the Aucoin
(Salmon) River. An old Acadian mill location became McClure Mills.
Dykes could be found near the French Marsh at Princeport along the Shubenacadie
River. At Tatamagouche, remains for a mill (of the 5 that had been
located there) could be seen for years. just below Murdock's Bridge.
Along Waugh's River there was "Mine Hole", where the Acadians had begun
mining copper. Dykes could also be seen along in the area of Tatamagouche.
A raised piece of land (about
10 acres) near Lower Truro, called Savage Island, was known to be a cemetery
for the Acadians (and Indians). It continued to be used as a burial
place for Indians and Catholics after the expulsion. In the 20th
century, it was noted that medical students would visit the area to pick
up bones to use as study material.
Today, the center of Cobequid
is the town of Truro. Some Acadian place names still remain in the
area, such as Noel and Tatamagouche. While some Acadians returned
to Nova Scotia to resettle the area, they did not resettle in the Cobequid