johnwood1946

New Brunswick History and Other Stuff

The Acadian Exiles on the Saint John River

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From the blog at http://JohnWood1946.wordpress.com

The Acadian Exiles on the Saint John River

“In 1784 the expatriated of 1755 located at the River Saint John, were anew dispossessed in favor of American loyalists and disbanded soldiers. These unfortunate families powerless against force could do nothing but betake themselves to the forests. They ascended the River Saint John, thirty leagues from any habitation and, axe in hand, opened up the plains of Madawaska.”

This description of Acadians on the Saint John River, after the Expulsion of 1755 and until the arrival of the Loyalists in 1783 is edited from Charles W. Collins’ The Acadians of Madawaska, Maine, Boston, 1902. It is by way of introduction to a blog post about the Madawaska settlements which will follow next week.

A monument to the landing of Acadians, Madawaska, Maine

From the ‘Maine, an Encyclopedia’ web site

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It has been pointed out that a large number of the Acadians in Nova Scotia escaped the deportation of 1755, remaining in their retreats or making their way to more remote places. Some of these fugitives fell under the proscription of 1758 and were taken to England, but others, for example those who took refuge on the River Saint John, went through different experiences. One of the retreats, and perhaps the most frequented of the exiled Acadians, was the River Saint John. The colony. in early times. seems to have received no other name than that derived from the river. This colony, though so small that it was hardly thought worthy of being included in many of the censuses, was very ancient. In fact, it was one of the first places known to settlers of Poutrincourt’s group. History centres about the mouth of the river where stood the fort attacked by D’Aulnay while LaTour was absent and the place defended by his wife; and the ancient seigneurie of Jemseg or Jemsek, later called the parish of Ekouipak, some forty leagues from the river mouth. This part of the country was conceded as a seigneurie to the d’Amours family, who were already installed there in 1686. In 1693, there were 21 inhabitants; in 1698, 50; in 1739, 116. As regards the establishment at the mouth of the river, Casgrain writes:—

“Some of D’Aulnay’s colonists, attracted as LaTour had been, by the advantages of the place as a harbor, established themselves there. They formed in 1755 a little colony protected by the fort Menangoueche, where the government of Canada kept a garrison. In consequence of the devastations of 1755, the little colony was destroyed or dispersed.”

Mitchel’s map of 1755 indicates Jemsek some leagues up the river on the borders of a lake, and a little to the east on the same borders is a placed marked “Acadian village.” Concerning this village, the boundary statement presented to the King of the Netherlands says: “The remote situation of an Acadian village, which as first laid down in Mitchel’s map, was at first near the East branch of the Saint John, near the Lake Française, or Grand Lake, preserved its inhabitants from being transported and dispersed with the rest of the original French inhabitants of Acadia.”

Hither came some fugitives immediately after the deportation. One of the vessels of the deportation sailing from Port Royal, was captured by the Acadians on board and beached in the River Saint John. There were 226 people on board this ship. In 1756, some of those deported to South Carolina, arrived at the River Saint John in two small vessels. The number is put as 900. Other fugitives came in from time to time, until there were at one time from 1200 to 1400 Acadians gathered here. A memoir of De Vaudreuil states that food became scares and that the people were forced to migrate. A large number went to Quebec. Some went up the river and continued on to Three Rivers. Others became pirates and harassed British commerce. Those who remained were surprised in 1758 by a party under Monckton and driven up the river. Some may have lingered in the woods in the vicinity, but when the party of 800 arrived from Boston in 1766, through the Maine woods, it is not stated that they met any of their brethren, though it is stated that at Petitcodiac they came upon certain hunters whom they recognized as Acadians. However, it is worthwhile stating that both Rameau and Casgrain incline to the view that this Boston party halted, not at the mouth of the Saint John, but rather in the vicinity of Fredericton, in the village of Sainte Anne.

It is pretty well settled that the larger number who remained in New Brunswick went up the river and some miles above the site of Fredericton founded the village of Sainte Anne. This village was attacked early in the year 1759 by a party of New England Rangers under Hazen; 6 women and children were killed and 23 prisoners were taken. The village was burned. A local historian, by name Perley, states that in 1762, his grandfather with an exploring party found “the devastated settlements of the French and the blackened remains of their buildings which had been mercilessly burned.” In 1761, Governor Bulkley reported that there were 40 Acadians at this place who had not made submission. They were ordered to leave without even gathering their crops. Again, in 1766, Bulkley directed all these people in the vicinity, except 6 families, to be chosen by the priest, Father Bailly, to remove. A letter written by this Fr. Bailly from Ekouipahan to Bishop Briand, June 20, 1768, states there were 11 Acadian families living near this place. These people were nomadic, hunting and fishing. These statements have been grouped together because they are somewhat contradictory. It is strange that the fugitives of Monckton’s attack in 1758 could have gone to Fredericton and by 1759 have built a village and cleared lands to such an extent that in 1762 the ruins would be much in evidence after Hazen’s attack. However, since the land was not densely wooded near the river bank and the Acadians were expert woodsmen, they may have accomplished this in the time given. According to the account the settlement of Sainte Anne must have been one of some growth and importance. Not only this, but some authorities state that the village flourished up to the close of the American Revolution. If this be true, they must have returned to the site of the burned village after 1762 and rebuilt, or else built elsewhere nearby and called the second village Sainte Anne, and meanwhile have disobeyed the commands of Bulkley and eluded any attempts to dislodge them. There were even some Acadians at the mouth of the Saint John in 1769, for they were employed by the founders of that place in diking a large marsh near the present city. Of course, New Brunswick was practically untenanted except by Acadians and Indians up to the close of the Revolution, if one excepts a few small settlements by English. They were nomadic and accustomed to living in the woods, hence it would be hard to keep them out except by a garrison maintaining practical war all the time.

The Acadian settlement on the Kennebecasis, not far from the fief of Jemsek seems to have rested undisturbed up to the year 1788 or after. All this goes to show that Acadians haunted the lower Saint John well up to 1783. Rameau and Casgrain mention Fredericton the main depot of the N.B. Acadians after 1755, making the pilgrimage of 1766 from Boston arrive there instead of lower down near the river mouth. In connection with the Acadian residence in this district, it may be well to quote the letter of Fr. Bailly, noted above, to show how the Acadians employed themselves while here:

“There are eleven Acadians families on the outskirts of the village, the same ones whom Your Lordship kindly confirmed at Sainte Anne. The Acadians who have remained among the English are still very fervent; their only fault is a great wrongheadedness, either on the subject of each remaining in his own district and being unwilling to unite with the rest; or in the matter of land which they want to hold under the old time conditions, responsible to the king alone. This is the reproach of the English who detest them. The government is not willing to give them land on this condition, yet exacts from them an oath of fidelity. It is a hard task to attend to them, for they live in districts apart from one another, during the summer on the seashore fishing, and in the winter in the woods hunting.”

What provincial enactments and diverse military sallies, from 1758-1783, failed to accomplish was finally brought about by another means. The end of the Revolution found the lot of the Tories in the new republic far from pleasant; several of them were hanged, and others shot. After the treaty of Paris they came in large numbers over the line into New Brunswick. The English government owed many obligations to these people, who, whatever their faults, had deserved well of the mother country. The government fulfilled these obligations by giving the Loyalists and disbanded soldiers large grants in New Brunswick. The Loyalists found Acadians on these grants. The English government, though it seems to have disapproved of the cruelties of Hazen, did not wish to interrupt the English settlements along the lower Saint John by a French settlement at Fredericton; the Acadians were again ordered to remove. These orders the Loyalists ably seconded, as may be seen from Casgrain:

“The establishment at the River Saint John became a living hell for the Acadians who held to their lands. Some of them went away to join their dispossessed brethren who had founded the Madawaska colony.”

There seems to be some warrant for this strong language; at all events the Loyalists speedily made the region of the lower Saint John as uncomfortable as the Americans had made the United States for them, so that the Acadians were willing to abandon their farms and improvements and start out into the wilderness again. This was between 1783 and 1785. The Acadian current was finally set in the direction of Madawaska. Casgrain and Rameau, in various places, insinuate without references that parties of the Acadians had gone to Madawaska before this time — shortly after the events of 1755, in fact. An account given in the Maine Superintendent of Schools report for 1897 speaks of the French as passing above Grand Falls and settling in the valley of the upper St. John in 1756. Mr. Stetson states that this account is derived from Acadian traditions. Whatever may be the foundation for these statements, the first authenticated account is that in 1785 or 86, the Acadian vanguard, composed of about 20 families, forced out of the Fredericton region by the Loyalists, determined to be secure from further interference, went far up the Saint John, past the site of modern Woodstock, carried around the great falls of the Saint John near the boundary line between the United States and New Brunswick, and entered into the long, narrow, rich valley of the upper St. John.

“In 1784 the expatriated of 1755 located at the River Saint John were anew dispossessed in favor of American loyalists and disbanded soldiers. These unfortunate families powerless against force could do nothing but betake themselves to the forests. They ascended the River Saint John, thirty leagues from any habitation, and axe in hand opened up the plains of Madawaska.”

Written by johnwood1946

October 28, 2020 at 7:28 AM

Posted in Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. John,

    This is interesting. My Duplessis ancestor who settled in Sunbury co for a while seems to have been in Sainte Anne sometime in the early 1800’s. (Post Madawaska, Pre sunbury and pre a return to Madawaska)

    I write about some of this here: http://www.duplisea.com/d_h_s1.html

    Will be interested in your upcoming discussion on Madawaska.

    Mark

    From: johnwood1946 Sent: Wednesday, October 28, 2020 9:30 AM To: mark@duplisea.com Subject: [New post] The Acadian Exiles on the Saint John River

    johnwood1946 posted: ” From the blog at http://JohnWood1946.wordpress.com The Acadian Exiles on the Saint John River “In 1784 the expatriated of 1755 located at the River Saint John, were anew dispossessed in favor of American loyalists and disbanded soldiers. These unfo”

    Respond to this post by replying above this line

    New post on johnwood1946

    The Acadian Exiles on the Saint John River

    by johnwood1946

    From the blog at http://JohnWood1946.wordpress.com

    The Acadian Exiles on the Saint John River

    “In 1784 the expatriated of 1755 located at the River Saint John, were anew dispossessed in favor of American loyalists and disbanded soldiers. These unfortunate families powerless against force could do nothing but betake themselves to the forests. They ascended the River Saint John, thirty leagues from any habitation and, axe in hand, opened up the plains of Madawaska.”

    This description of Acadians on the Saint John River, after the Expulsion of 1755 and until the arrival of the Loyalists in 1783 is edited from Charles W. Collins’ The Acadians of Madawaska, Maine, Boston, 1902. It is by way of introduction to a blog post about the Madawaska settlements which will follow next week.

    A monument to the landing of Acadians, Madawaska, Maine

    From the ‘Maine, an Encyclopedia’ web site

    =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

    It has been pointed out th

    Mark Duplisea

    October 28, 2020 at 8:40 AM


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