Those Who Disappeared

Nearly three-fourths of the families whose names comprise this list did not reappear in Acadia after the Dispersion (1755). Of these, a certain number disappeared naturally either because the couple in question had no surviving children at all (Gisé, Lambourt, Poupart, Racois for example), or at least no surviving sons (Belou, Bézier, Flan, Forton, Gadrau, Gentil, Gouzille, LeJuge and so forth). Others perished as a direct result of their deportation (Apart, Froiquingont, Oudy, Tillard), especially in group disasters such as shipwrecks and epidemics. Other families saw their numbers drastically reduced in these tragedies, but were not entirely extinguished (Arcement, La Vache, Le Prieur).

Certain families survived and even flourished in the new Acadia into which they were eventually transplanted, but their names came to be found only in those areas, and may consequently appear to be somewhat alien to Acadians from other regions. Among the names that persist only among the Cajuns in Louisiana, are Arcement, Gravois, Heusé/Usé, Hugon, Mouton and Naquin. Only in Québec does one find Fontaine, Garceau, Gourdeau, Grandmaison, Héon, Long, Lord, Lucas, Messaguay, Poitevin, Rousse and Saindon. The Cloistre, Orillon dit Champagne and Part families, carry on in both Louisiana and Québec, but not in Acadia. Marcadetand Pugnant dit Destouches persisted in Saint-Pierre and Miquelon until the Napoleonic Wars. Even in Acadia itself, certain families re-established themselves only in certain areas. The Bugeauds were thus only to be found on Chaleurs Bay. The Bastarache dit Basque family survived only in New Brunswick and northern Nova Scotia. The Bruns were almost exclusively in southern New Brunswick and northern Nova Scotia. The Caissysand the Guéguens became distinctly New Brunswick Acadians too, although a few spread from there into other provinces. Many Acadians from New Brunswick think of Boutin, Forgeron, Marchand, Martel and Samson, as French-Canadian names and the Acadians of the first, fourth and fifth families just named, can indeed trace their ancestry back to Québec, but these are also the names of important Acadian families in southern Cape Breton. Amirault (Mius) d’Entremont and Moulaison, are concentrated in western Nova Scotia. Corporon, DeCoste (formerly Coste), Poitier (or Pothier) and Trahan, are also names that could only be found in Nova Scotia (immediately) after the Dispersion. Although there appears to be few Potier/Pothier’s now living in Louisiana, many Trahan’s now reside there (including by friends, Ray Trahan and his wife Brenda Comeaux-Trahan, Director of the Acadian Memorial Museum in St. Martinville, Louisiana). Similarly, mention of Bernard, Buote, or Longuépée families in a genealogy, necessarily means that the Acadians of Prince Edward Island, must be involved in the lineage.

A few families dropped out of sight because they apparently chose to remain in exile. The Bodard, Boisseau and Célestin dit Bellemère families, come to mind in this regard. Branches of some well-known widespread Acadian families, stayed in certain British American colonies, but they changed or modified their names. There were Acadians named Doiron, Dupuis and LeBlanc in Maryland, but they became Gold, Wells and White. In Pennsylvania, some Trahans became Strahans. Further south in the Carolinas, Lanoue became Lanneau, while Deschamps was transformed into Dishongh. Turcots, who were refugees in Québec, crossed over into New York where they they changed to Tarkets. A Michel family in Connecticut, began using the name Mitchell and across the state line in Massachusetts, Dugas changed to Dugar and Robichaud to Robertshaw. Three generations later, innumerable name changes resulted from Acadian emigration to New England. In this second dispersion, Benoit became Bennett; Bourg, Burke; Doiron, Durant; Fougère, Frazier; Hébert, Hubert; Langlois, Langley; LeJeune, Young; Petitpas, Pitts; Pitre, Peters; Poirier, Perry; Roy, King; and Vigneau, Veno.

The list of Acadian family names, provide the careful reader with some interesting and valuable insights into Acadian history. The small tragedies of normal human existence and the over-overwhelming tragedies of the Acadian Diaspora, have left their marks on this list, to the extent that any present-day Acadian, from any area, will find but few familiar names here; the others were scattered to far-off destinations, or destroyed altogether, through the dangers and hardships of the great trauma inflicted on our people. In a way, the following list stands as a tribute and a monument to them. For after two centuries, we still strive to preserve the memory of those who suffered the loss of their property, their country and even their lives… because of their loyalty to their ideals and faith.

The above-noted was written by Stephen White for Parks Canada and permission to reproduce provided me by Stephen, as well as Portage Technologies Inc., producers of “The Acadia CD-ROM”. I am also grateful to Parks Canada for allowing reproduction.