Acadian-Cajun Genealogy & History

Cajun Genealogy in the 18th Century

    The Acadian people arrived in Louisiana from 1765 to 1788. Other people, ancestors of today's Cajuns, also arrived in Louisiana in the 18th century. Nationalities that added people and traits to the Acadians were: Germans, French-Canadians, French, Islenos, American Indians, and Spanish. So we need to look at the material associated with these people, also.
     Primarily, we will be using the church records, censuses, and the seven ships (1785) passenger lists to construct the genealogy of Acadians in Louisiana from 1764 (when the first small group arrived) to 1800. This section discusses: 
Census Records | Church Records | Courthouse Records | Ship Lists | Compiled Works
CENSUS RECORDS

     Several censuses were taken throughout the 1700's. Some were taken of certain areas, like the German Coast. 18th century census data from the German Coast is available in Settlement of the German Coast of Louisiana (Deiler) and The German Coast During the Colonial Era, 1722-1803(Blume). A new book, German Coast Families (Robichaux), contains the early census material and well as data on the European origin of the Germans. Others covered larger areas. Check a periodical index for census data published in genealogical periodicals.
     The original census material from 18th century Louisiana consists of French and Spanish documents stored in archives. The Center for Louisiana Studies in Lafayette Louisiana has microfilm copies of much of the material.  The census data from the latter half of the century has been compiled into published books. These include two by Albert Robichaux [Louisiana Census and Militia Lists, 1770-1789 and Colonial Settlers Along Bayou Lafourche, 1770-1798] and Some Late 18th Century Louisianians: Census Records, 1758-1796 by Jacqueline Voorhies. You will find Acadian census material, as well as Acadians mixed in with other censuses. 
     DeVille has also compiled lists of soldiers from that era in two books:  Louisiana Troops, 1720-1770 and Louisiana Recruits, 1752-1758. He also has compiled several books with lists/census information that includes Acadians, such as The Acadian Coast in 1779, Attakapas Post: The Census of 1771, and Opelousas Post: The Census of 1771
     Please remember that census records are notarious for inaccuracies ... some on the part of the people and some on the part of the census takers. 

CHURCH RECORDS

     You will find Acadian church records starting to appear in Louisiana Catholic churches in 1765.  The best resource for these records are the multi-volume sets done by Rev. Donald Hebert, the New Orleans Diocese, and the Baton Rouge diocese.  These four works cover the Catholic churches and many civil records (for Father Hebert's books) in the area of Louisiana known as the Acadiana region. All of the Acadiana Catholic church records of the 18th century can be found in these books. 
     Father Hebert has two series, South Louisiana Records and Southwest Louisiana Records.  There are 12 volumes of  South Louisiana Records, which cover Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes.  There are 42 volumes of Southwest Louisiana Records, which cover the western side of Acadiana.  Father Hebert is presently working on putting the Southwest Louisiana Records records on CD-ROM. 
     The New Orleans Diocese has 12 volumes in print and is working on number 13.  These records cover the churches of the New Orleans area from 1718  to 1817.  The Baton Rouge Catholic Diocese has 17 volumes in print and is working on number 18.  These records cover the churches of Donaldsonville, Plattenville, Pointe Coupee, St. Gabriel, St. James, and Baton Rouge from 1707 to 1888.  The earliest records back to 1707 are from the Grand Pre church in Acadia (found in V. 1).  The books contain basic abstracts of the records.  You can write or visit the Catholic Archives in each diocese to get a more complete transcript of the record. 
     Acadians in Louisiana Protestant records are non-existant. During the 1700's, Louisiana was owned by either France or Spain ... both Catholic nations. So the official religion of Louisiana was the Roman Catholic religion.

COURTHOUSE RECORDS

    The first courthouse records start appearing at this time, but they are not numerous and are usually in French or Spanish. Some parishes have translated them into English, and some parishes have indices. Check out Cajun Genealogy in the 19th Century for a more thorough description of the various courthouse records.

PASSENGER SHIP LISTS

    The major set of ship lists is the listings of the seven ships that brought over 1600 Acadians from France in 1785. The lists are available in The Crew and Passenger Registration Lists of the Seven Acadian Expeditions of 1785 (Milton & Norma Reider).  Another book, Acadian Families in Exile (Rev. Hebert), has the lists of passengers as they boarded the ships and as they left the ship. The passenger lists of the seven ships are also online at this website. 
     The ship lists of the Canary Islanders (Islenos) who came to Louisiana from 1779 to 1783 can be found in a couple of sources, such as Din's The Canary Islanders of Louisiana..  Many of these people and their descendants married into the Acadian population.

COMPILED WORKS

    The Acadian works, such as Bona Arsenault's works, mentioned in Acadian Genealogy contain material on some of the Acadians even after they arrived in Louisiana. Please remember to check them out. 
      The best book for learning about the Acadian resettlement in Louisiana is Carl Brasseaux's The Founding of New Acadia.  It also has some genealogical information on the first settlers in its appendix.  Sidney Marchand's Acadian Exiles in the Golden Coast of Louisiana is about Acadians along the Mississippi River.  Books on the Opelousas area include The Opelousas Post, 1776-1789 (Gladys de Villier) and Opelousas Post, 1764-1789 (Jacqueline Vidrine).  Stanly Arthur 
     General work on non-Acadians of 18th century Louisiana can be found in The First Families of Louisiana (Conrad) and First Settlers of the Louisiana Territory (Ericson and Ingmire). Phoebe Chauvin Morrison has 2 volumes of genealogy from the eastern Acadiana area known as Generations .... Past to Present
     There are a number of books that concentrate on certain areas or settlers of Louisiana.  The works mentioned above on the German Coast contain material on the German population along the Mississippi River.  Stanley Arthur's Old Families of Louisiana has chapters on a number of early Louisiana families.
     Though not concentrated on Acadians, some books contain a good number of Acadian records.  Some of these are St. Charles: Abstracts of the Civil Records of St. Charles Parish, 1700-1803 (Glenn Conrad), St. James Parish Colonial Records, 1782-1787 (Eileen Behrman), and Marriage Contracts of the Opelousas Post, 1760-1803 (Jaqueline Vidrine).
     Although notarial records of Louisiana at this time exist, they have not been put into print, for the most part.  There are 2 volumes, extracted by Elizabeth Gianelloni, on the Notarial Acts of Estevan de Quinones.  Volume 1 covers 1778 to 1784, and volume 2 covers 1785 to 1786.
     A good general book is the Atlas of Louisiana Surnames (West). This book gives a brief background for dozens of Cajun and Acadian names.
     For more books, consult the Book List.

     If your Acadian ancestors travelled to Louisiana, then you are in good shape.  As part of the Acadian Memorial, an online database has been compiled on the 3000 or so Acadians who immigrated to Louisiana.  It's called Ensemble Encore.
     Also, I have a list of the Acadians who came to Louisiana (not including those who came on the  seven 1785 ships).  Check out ACADIAN IMMIGRATION TO LOUISIANA.
Copyright © 1997-09 Tim Hebert