From Acadian to Cajun: Part 4 – Hebert/Melanson
It’s time for another installment of the series about my ancestors who went through the Grand Derangement. This was when the French-speaking inhabitants of Acadie were Exiled from their homeland by the British. The year was 1755 and there was a war going on between England and France. So this made the English leery of those people who spoke funny and followed the Roman pope. They were just altogether different and not to be tolerated. So off they were sent with minimum belongings and maximum uncertainties.
The family line I’ll talk about this time is the most common Acadian/Cajun surname in Louisiana – or so I’ve been told. I’ve always thought that the Landry name was the ‘Smith’ of southern Louisiana. But I’ve been corrected by some of my Hebert kin. It seems that the Hebert name is the most common. But that’s okay with me. I once said that I am a Patureau. Well, now I am saying, “I am an Hebert.” Let’s look at that connection.
On April 13, 1712, my 5X great grandfather Paul Gaston Hebert was born in St. Charles Aux Mines, Acadie. His parents were Guillaume Hebert and Marie Josephe Dupuis. On November 6, 1718, my 5X great grandmother Marguerite Josephe Melanson was born in Grand Pre, Acadie. Her parents were Phillip Melanson & Marie Catherine Dugas.
Paul and Marguerite grew up in their parents’ households in Acadie before the Great Upheaval, as did several generations of their family before them. Their great great grandparents had founded Acadie a hundred years previously. Many generations had been born there and died there. Marguerite lost her mother in 1733, and she would be the last of this line to be buried there. This also meant that her mother was not present when Marguerite married Paul on May 14, 1736, in Grand Pre.
In 1737 Marguerite and Paul had their first child, a son named Pierre Paul. He was my 4XG grandfather. Another son Joseph was born in 1739 and I don’t descend from him. In 1745 they had a daughter named Anne Marie. I descend from her. Twice. Oh, no. That’s not right. I descend from her three times through her two husbands. But now I’m getting ahead of myself.
Marguerite and Paul had a total of nine children before the Grand Derangement in 1755. The names were Pierre Paul, Joseph, Charles, Marie, Anne Marie, Ignace, Madeleine, Jean Baptiste, and Armand. Considering some of my ancestors that were deported to Virginia and consequently to England where there was lots of disease and disasters, the Hebert family was fortunate to be sent to Georgetown, Maryland, for their period of Exile. It was still no picnic in the park and I wouldn’t wish their treatment on anyone that I know. They were expelled from their homes and shipped to an unwelcoming foreign place.
And yet the family continued to grow. During their first five years of Exile in Maryland, Marguerite and Paul had three more children: Antoine, Paul, and Marguerite. They had their youngest child in 1760, which was the same year that their oldest Pierre Paul got married. He married a fellow Acadian Exile by the name of Marguerite LeBlanc. I’m not certain of her parents, but I think their names were Antoine LeBlanc and Marie Babin. I do know that Pierre Paul and Marguerite had a son named Charles in 1762.
So when the 1763 Census in Georgetown was taken of the French Neutrals, there were lots of Heberts to be found. That is easy to see from the list of names. The first group of names starts with Francois Hebert. He was a first cousin to Paul Hebert. Francois’s wife Marie Joseph Melancon was first cousin to Paul’s wife Marguerite Joseph Melancon. The next group listed is Paul and Marguerite. Then there is Pierre Paul, Marguerite, and their new little son Charles. The next three families listed are a Granger, a Babin, and a Brasseux. The next one listed is Ignace Hebert, who is a brother of Paul. The last family group on this page starts with the name Marguerite veuve Bellony LeBlanc. That means that Marguerite was the widow of Bellony. She was the sister of Paul Hebert, which shows that there were many family members present with them in Georgetown.
There is not much more information about their term of Exile in Maryland. There is a marriage registered by Rev. Joseph Mosley in his journal. It reads “26 Dec. 1765 (Thu) married Joseph Hebert and Anne Mary Landry; witnesses John Blake, Mrs. Witherstrand, and many French; second and third degree dispensations.” That would be Paul Hebert & Marguerite Melanson’s son Joseph. I think the dispensation was due to fact that the two lovebirds were cousins through the Melanson family name. I’m sure that did not deter the “many French” from passing a good time!
When we next hear of this family group, they are among the Acadian Exiles who settled in St. Gabriel, Louisiana, on July 27, 1767. According to the records, they owned one axe and two trunks. Really? Couldn’t they fit that axe in one of those trunks? That just tells me that they weren’t very good packers! Or maybe there was some significance to the axe that I’m not aware of.
In 1769 Anne Marie Hebert was 24 years old and at a good age for marrying. So when she met another Acadian Exile who had settled in Louisiana, that’s just what she did.
But that story is for another time.
For other installments of the “From Acadian to Cajun” series, just click on the following links: