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Exile Destination: Louisiana
For more information on the Acadians who settled in Louisiana, go to the Cajun History and Cajun Genealogy sections.
 
 
Louisiana, 1764, by Bellin     Louisiana had long been a French colony.  But after the war with Spain, and subsequent treaty, it was turned over to Spain.  When the first Acadians arrived in April of 1764, Louisiana was owned by Spain but still retained all of its French culture.  It is usually written that those first arrivals consisted of 20 Acadians who had been in New York and their relatives recently released from Fort Edwards, Nova Scotia ... but I've found recent evidence that they came from the American colonies. They were settled along the Mississippi River around the boundary of St. John and St. James parishes. 
     In late February of 1765, 193 more Acadians arrived from Halifax via Saint Domingue.  This group had originally intended to settle at Saint Domingue.  When they heard of the troubles on the island, they altered the plan.  They were to go to Saint Domingue and pick up the Acadians already there.  Then they would all head up the Mississippi River and settle in the Illinois area.  When they arrived at Saint Domingue, they found the Acadians sick, dead, and unable to afford passage to Louisiana.  They had money, or so they thought; they had 47,000 livres in Canadian card money which would be practically worthless.  [The Saint Domingue Refugees in Louisiana, Brasseaux, Conrad]   So the Halifax Acadians, led by Joseph Broussard dit Beausoleil, took another ship to Louisiana. When they arrived in New Orleans, they were seed grain (for 6 months), a gun, and tools with which to clear the land.  They were also led to the Attakapas area and given land.  A former military engineer, Louis Andry, guided them and helped them to get settled. 
     At first, it took some getting used to; the local commander gave them a bad time. They also had to adjust to the semi-tropical climate.  Some died of malaria and yellow fever that first year.  But within a decade, they had made a comfortable home for themselves.  When the Spanish governor Ulloa visited in 1766, they asked him if they could invite their relatives to join them.  They were looking to form a “New Acadia.” Even though Ulloa gave them a “let’s wait and see” answer, they went ahead and sent out letters inviting their friends and relatives. 
     As the letters made their rounds, Acadians decided to make the trip.  At least 689 of the 1050 Acadians in Maryland and Pennsylvania boarded ships at Chesapeake Bay and sailed to Louisiana.  They were welcomed by authorities and offered land and assistance.  Acadians from Maryland (200 of them) were sent to St. James parish.  A group of 80 Halifax Acadians who arrived late were sent to St. James in May of 1765. Things seemed okay at that point.  But things soon changed. 
     Acadians that followed were forcibly dispersed.  As Pennsylvania and Maryland Acadians arrived, they were settled according to the Spanish defense strategy.  After May 1766, they were settled at sites along the Mississippi River at key border points of the English / Spanish territory.  After all, the Spanish thought, there was no love lost between the Acadians and the English.  They would make a good “buffer.” 
     In July of 1767, 210 Acadians were settled at St. Gabriel.  In February of 1768, 149 new settlers (in 29 families) were sent to San Luis de Natchez (near Vidalia, LA).  They had sailed from Port Tobacco, Maryland on Dec. 17, 1767 aboard the Jane under Capt. Richard Ryder. This forced settlement caused the Acadians to be upset with Ulloa.  In fact, they supported the removal of Ulloa in the New Orleans rebellion of 1768.  The new governor, O’Reilly, allowed the San Luis de Natchez Acadians to travel to the Acadian Coast in December of 1769. 
     From 1768 to 1785, virtually no new Acadian settlers arrived in Louisiana. Perhaps they were afraid due to the Spanish-Acadian conflict over settlement areas, or they could have feared the instability in the area after the 1768 rebellion.  It seems one small group of Acadians made it to Louisiana in 1770.  But the next significant arrival of Acadians would not occur until 1785. 
     In 1770, 30 Acadians arrived along the Mississippi River below Bayou Plaqueminea.  They had been sailing on the Britain and gone through shipboard starvation, a mutiny, shipwreck, imprisonment, and forced labor in Texas (which was still Spanish).  The made a 420 mile journey over land to Natchitoches.  They didn’t want to stay there, however, and were allowed to go to the Iberville area (and later to Opelousas). 
     Meanwhile, letters written by the early Acadian settlers in Louisiana had reached the Acadians in France.  It took a while to work out things with the Acadians, the French government, and the Spanish government.  When Henri Peyroux returned to France from Louisiana, he enlisted the help of Acadian Olivier Theriot to encourage the other Acadians to sign up to travel to Louisiana.  Gradually, more and more Acadians signed on to the idea.  In 1785, about 1600 Acadians traveled to Louisiana on seven ships ... courtesy of the Spanish government. 
     Upon arriving in New Orleans, they were housed in converted warehouses until they recuperated.  Delegates were sent out to inspect possible settlement sites.  Most of them (84%) went along with their delegates’ decision, though some settled elsewhere.  Four of the seven groups primarily settled in the Bayou Lafourche area.  Two of the seven groups primarily settled along the Mississippi River south of Baton Rouge. The seventh group primarily settled along lower Bayou des Ecores (present-day Thompson’s Creek).  When a hurricane washed away the Bayou des Ecores settlement in 1794, they joined their fellow Acadians along Bayou Lafourche. 
     The final group of Acadians arrived in 1788.  A schooner, captained by Joseph Gravois, brought 19 Acadians from St. Pierre to Louisiana. 
     When the 10,000 Saint Domingue refugees arrived in New Orleans in 1809, there were probably some Acadians in that group.  Since they were forced to stay in New Orleans, any Acadian culture left in them was merged into the melting pot of New Orleans cultures. 
     To sum up the Acadian arrivals in Louisiana: 20 came from New York in 1764, about 311 came from Halifax in 1764-65, about 689 came from Maryland and Pennsylvania in 1766-70, about 1600 came from France in 1785, and 19 came from St. Pierre in 1788.  More came in over the years, but documentation on their arrival is still being sought. 
For more information on the Acadians who settled in Louisiana, 
go to the Cajun History and Cajun Genealogy sections.
The 1755 Exile
The 1758 Exile
The "End" of the Exile
Exile Destinations
England | Quebec | New Brunswick | Prince Edward Island | Nova Scotia | France
St. Domingue | Martinique | French Guiana | Falkland Islands | St. Pierre & Miquelon | Louisiana
American Colonies
Connecticut | Georgia | Maryland | Massachusetts | New York | Pennsylvania | South Carolina
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