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|PRE-1764 LA • FIRST ACADIANS IN NEW ACADIA • 7 SHIPS OF 1785 • BECOMING ESTABLISHED • OTHER NATIONALITIES|
|The First Acadians in New Acadia: 1764-1784|
The First Arrivals
For the first 10 years of the exile (1755-1764),
there is no documentation that Acadians made their way to Louisiana.
In this period, they were still in French Canada, the American colonies,
England, and France. It seems as though they were still anticipating
the return of their homeland. Some tried to return even before the
war was over, but they were often put into "prison camps" near Halifax
or deported again.
|Over 1000 Acadians Arrive from 1765
In the final week of February, 1765, almost 200 Acadians arrived in New Orleans. Led by Joseph Broussard dit Beausoleil, they were Acadians who had been kept at Halifax. After sailing to Santo Domingo, they changed ships and sailed for Louisiana. Though directed to provided them with the bare essentials, Foucault took pity on them and spent 15,500 livres on food, tools, guns, and construction material for them. [The Founding of New Acadia, Brasseaux, p. 74]
|Acadians Settle in the
Attakapas (and Opelousas) Region
South Louisiana, west of the Atchafalaya, was
divided into 2 districts. Named after the Indians of the area, there
were the Attakapas area and the Opelousas area. Each had a military
post as its headquarters. The Attakapas post was around today's St.
|The Acadians were given supplies (salted pork & beek, rice, hardtack, and flour) to last them for 6 months. They were also given seed (rice, corn) and farming tools to sustain themselves in the long run. Military engineer Louis Andry was selected to help Broussard lead the Acadians to their new home. They traveled along the waterways to the Bayou Teche and on to the Attakapas area. Andry was also supposed to lay out a village and set||
|the grants (the bigger the family, the larger the grant).
Instead of a central village and surrounding farmland, the Acadians preferred
to put their homes on their farming grants.
the Acadians were to have some voice in exactly where they settled, Andry's
decision was to prevail if there was a disagreement. Eventually,
they talked him into giving them the area between Fausse Pointe
(Loreauville) and La Manque (Breaux Bridge). This was to be their
New Acadia. They soon spread out and another group of Acadians settled
in the nearby Opelousas area (at Prairie des Coteaux).
When the Acadians got to Dauterive's land, located on the east back of Bayou Teche at present-day St. Martinville, they found that the neighbors considered them trespassers. So, instead of raising cattle for Dauterive, the Acadians bought some cattle from Jean Baptiste Grevemberg after going to Fausse Pointe. When they tried to patent the land, Grevemberg got upset since he considered the land on the east bank of Bayou Teche between the Vermilion River and Fausse Pointe as his land. He wrote Governor Aubrey, asking for a patent to the land he had for 14 years. But the government allowed the Acadians to stay on the land. (The Founding of New Acadia, Brasseaux, p. 92)
Just as in Acadia, the Acadians wanted to select their own lands. They moved up Bayou Teche to the large westward bend above today’s Parks and settled at an area they called La Pointe de Repos. But many of these Acadians moved after a bad epidemic in June 1765. Cote Gelee was settled by March 1766 with 37 Acadians. This area was between today’s Broussard and Pilette, on the west bank of Bayou Tortue opposite Dauterive’s new concession, Prairie Vermilion. La Manque was an area settled by 44 Acadians. La Manque was probably the area just to the north of the La Pointe area, extending to Francois LeBeau’s land 2 miles below today’s Breaux Bridge. The Opelousas Post soon saw the arrival of 32 Acadians. The Post, at that time, was located on the Bayou Teche below today’s Port Barre. Capt. Jacques Guillaume Courtableau allowed them to settle at Prairie des Coteaux, and area on the Teche Ridge ... making up an arc to the east/southeast of today’s Opelousas. Their farms were spread out, but they remained neighbors with family and friends. (The Founding of New Acadia, Brasseaux, p. 94)
|Acadians Settle Along the Mississippi
Although the Acadians related that thousands
of Acadians would like to relocate in Louisiana, such a mass movement never
took place ... due to lack of funds on the part of Acadians in the colonies
or the colonial governments' interference ... or both. Still, more
Acadians continued to arrive.
The settlement area on the River became known as the Acadian Coast (in St. James Parish). These first Acadians on the River were mainly from the Cobequid area. As the population grew, the Acadians took even more land upriver and a second Acadian Coast was formed (in Ascension Parish). Most of the Acadians who followed the first group were from the Minas/Pisiquid area of Acadia.
|Acadians Set Out to Create a New Acadia
For the first few years, things were good and bad. The Acadians were given land and supplies. But many died of disease caused by their exile and in becoming acclimated to their new land. As time went by, they became adjusted to their new land. The Attakapas Acadians developed ranches. The Mississippi River Acadians developed farms.
As previously mentioned, it is thought that
small numbers of Acadians made their way to Louisiana between 1768 and
1785. Some probably found passage on ships. There is at least
one example of Acadians entering Louisiana by land (though it started out
as a sea trip).
The Attakapas and Opelousas Acadians Settle In
Most of these first Acadians at Attakapas were
from the Beaubassin area, where they had raised livestock. So the
cattle business was not new to them. They did even better at it in
Louisiana, which had a warmer climate. By 1771, the average Acadiana
in the area had 22 cattle. He also had 6 horses, a luxury they hadn't
known in Acadia. By the end of the century, most Acadian ranches
had increased their holdings of livestock to over 100 head. They
still raised crops, if only to provide vegetables for their meals.
Few Acadians settled the rougher northwestern prairies. Some went to Prairie Faquetaique (SE of today’s Eunice) about 1790. Four families (29 people) made their home from Bayou Des Cannes to Bayou Blaize LeJeune. This was the furthest west that Acadians would settle in the 1700s. In the early 1800s, 6 well-to-do ranchers from the Vermilion and Carencro areas bought land (mostly from Attakapas Indians) near today’s Mermentau (along the Mermentau River) and in lower Plaquemine Brulee (between today’s Crowley and Estherwood). Also, by 1803 seven Opelousas Acadian families moved to Bayou Mallet, Bayou Jonas, Bayou Nezpique (near where it joins with the Mermentau River), and Bayou Des Cannes. (The Founding of New Acadia, Brasseaux, p. 100)
Generally, the Acadians settled in rural prairies next to other Acadians. But they didn’t stay put. The typical Acadian family moved at least once before 1785 to gain a larger piece of land. (The Founding of New Acadia, Brasseaux, p. 101)
The Mississippi River Acadians Settle In
While the Attakapas Acadians were concentrating
on raising livestock, their emphasis along the Mississippi River was agriculture.
But the type of crops had to change, given their new climate and conditions.
In Acadia, a typical farm in the Minas area consisted of vegetables, oats,
rye, barley, flax, and wheat. In their new land, the main crops were
corn, cotton, and also some rice and tobacco, though a smaller garden of
vegetables was kept for household consumption. But even the types
of vegetables had to change. Turnips and cabbage grown in Acadia
were replaced by different types of beans and peas. Today's okra,
a staple of gumbos, didn't come along until the Africans brought it in
the 1800s. Their fruit trees also changed ... from the apple trees
of Acadia to peach and fig trees in Louisiana. Some farms even grew
The Revolutionary War
Spain became an ally of the American Colonies
during the American Revolution. The Acadians didn't mind being on
the side of the enemies of England and a number of them joined the Spanish
militia. You can find some of the militia lists at the Cajun
Cajuns in the 18th Century • Cajuns in the 19th Century • Cajuns in the 20th Century ••• Encyclopedia of Cajun Life
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|Background: Non-Acadian Louisiana History
of This Period [Return
to the Cajun History text]
an abbreviated version of the historical happenings in Louisiana while
the Acadians were getting established in Louisiana. The new Spanish
governor Ulloa finally arrived, with 90 soldiers, on March 5, 1766.
But Ulloa left N.O., without even taking down the French flag, and Aubry
was still basically in charge. [Eakin, Culbertson: