From Acadian to Cajun: Part 10 – Bourg/Babin/Landry

Finding Home

Magdelena Babin was in charge.  She didn’t necessarily want to be in charge, but she was.  So many others had died.  She had been through it so many times before, even been on the receiving end of it four times.  That’s not nearly as many times as other women in her family.  Back in Acadie it was considered a true blessing to have twelve children.  So she had lots of experience.

But she had a wonderful teacher.  The best.  People from all over Pisiquit would send for her mother any time there was a question or problem related to childbirth.  Marguerite Bourg could tell the sex of the child just by looking at a pregnant woman.  And she always knew the right thing to say to the expectant mom to soothe her worries.  She had a lifetime of experiences.  She was at the birth of at least ten of her younger siblings starting at the age of 7. 

Of course her mom’s Grandmere Bourg had been the midwife then, and little Marguerite became more helpful with each birth.  By the time she was 17 and Grandmere died, she had learned a lot of those skills.  She had a knack for it and loved those little babies.  With her mom’s last two children, there was no need for anyone else but Marguerite.  Little Jean died after just a few months, but it wasn’t due to anything she had done.  Marguerite always said that God must have needed him more than they did.  A few years later Marguerite got married and started having children of her own. Giving birth herself had given her a different view of the whole thing.  It helped her to be more compassionate than she was previously.  It was a calling that she followed happily.  Marguerite always knew what to do in any situation.  If only she was here now.

But she wasn’t.  Magdelena hadn’t seen her since that horrible day that the ships left Home almost twelve years ago.  They hadn’t believed that it would actually happen until that day.  Even with all of the threats they had heard, they didn’t believe it.  “How could they send us away from our homes?” Magdelena asked for the thousandth time, “We didn’t want to leave our homes, so they burned them down!  They slaughtered our livestock and poultry.  We started believing then.  But it wasn’t real until they boarded us on those stinking ships and we left our beautiful harbor.  It’s the last time I ever saw anything beautiful.”

Maryland had been a place of death and despair.  Though she had heard whisperings of worse situations for others from Acadie.  She still had her husband Augustin Landry and their children, so she gave God thanks every day.  But two of his sisters died during that time.  People didn’t die in their thirties and forties back in Acadie.  It was a hard life in Maryland and it changed a person. “None of the Old Ones are around anymore,” Magdelena mused, “Tante Dorothee had been with us in Maryland, but she died in those first years.  She was only 50, but would have been 60 now.  That’s barely old, but she knew some of what Mama knew.  Mama would be 66 now if she was alive.  Oh  my Jesus, let her be alive.  Blessed Virgin, protect her.”  She always thought that the intercessions of the Blessed Virgin were particularly powerful since they were traveling on a ship that bore her name – Virgin.

Yes, they were finally getting away from Maryland and they had hopes for something better in this place they were going called Louisiana.  “Yes, a glimmer of hope if God so wills it.”  They were on board a ship called the Virgin, which added further to her predicament.  “Nobody wants to give birth on a ship, yet Teetsy was due any day now.”  Teetsy was the nickname that she and her mother had for Magdelena’s first cousin Theotiste Babin.  Theotiste and her husband Dique were expecting their first child.  They had been trying for a few years and now the time was approaching.  A first child after that situation can be tricky, but on a boat?  Not the best time to be in charge of being the midwife.  Teetsy’s mom Annemarie was one of Augustin’s sisters that had died in Maryland.  So Teetsy requested Magdelena, and Magdelena accepted.

“Any day now,” Magdelena told Theotiste, “Things are moving along nicely.”  She tried to be as encouraging as she could.  New mothers seemed to worry more than most.  The baby’s head wasn’t quite in the right position.  She had tried to make an adjustment, but the baby did not want to cooperate.  She wasn’t worried.  Not too much, anyway.  She decided to go up top for a breath of fresh air.  It was a bit stuffy down below.  Not like it was on the Dolphin when they came out of Acadie.  “That was the worst,” she thought as she shuddered.  “It wasn’t the temperature like it is on this ship.  It was being crammed into the hold and treated like cargo.  Best not to think of those times.”  She started praying the rosary to take her mind off of those sorrowful times.  “Best to think on God’s Glory.”

On deck things were happening all around.  They had been at shore at St. Domingue now for over a week.  She was hoping that it would be a short stop so Teetsy could have the baby once they arrived in Louisiana.  It didn’t look like that would happen unless they left immediately.  That was something that she was not in charge of.  As she finished the rosary, she continued to worry about delivering that baby aboard ship.  She was the one in charge and the baby wasn’t cooperating. “If only Mama was here.  Dear God, let your will be done.”  As she said that, she noticed a young woman running on the dock.  Something about  her looked familiar.  She ran up to a group of people, including an older woman.  They then disappeared behind a building on the dock. 

Her breath caught.  “Could it really be?” she wondered.  The young woman reminded her of her younger sister Marie.  Marie had been 12 years old the last time she had seen her.  She would be twice that old now – a young woman like the one she saw running.  And she ran to an older woman that reminded her of her mother.  She knew that some of these people on the docks were other people who had been from Acadie.  She never knew where her mother and sister were for all those years.  How could they have made it down to here?  Her father Jean Babin had died before the Terrible Times.  At least he was spared that.  “God forgive me,” she prayed quickly, “I don’t mean to be ungrateful!”

She decided to make her way to where the new passengers were coming onto the ship.  She just had to see one way or another.  She prepared herself for disappointment.  She had become really good at that.  Her legs were shaky as she got closer.  She even saw someone else being greeted by a long lost loved one.  She was happy for them.  “Miracles do happen!” she thought as she let out a long steady breath. 

And then she saw her mother’s face for the first time in twelve long years.  She watched her walking for a while.  Her gait was a little unsteady and she had a slight stoop.  The years had been hard on her.  When their eyes met, tears fell quickly from her eyes.  “Glory to the most loving God,” she heard herself saying, “Thank you, Dearest Virgin, for prayers always answered.”  Her mother had stopped in her tracks when she saw Magdelena.  Marie stopped, saw that her mother was looking at something, and looked to see what it was.  As she saw Magdelena she gave a big toothy grin and shouted, “Hey, Magdelena!”  Magdelena was surprised that she could hear her from that far away with the din of all the people with their arms waving.

“My baby girl,” Marguerite whispered as she greeted Magdelena with a hug and kisses to both cheeks, “Let me look at you.”  They stood and looked at each other a minute.  “Praise God from whom all blessings flow.  I prayed for this day so many times.”

“Me, too,” replied Magdelena, “With hope against hope.  We lost Tante Dorothee in Maryland.  There were so many deaths”

“Yes,” she said as she acknowledged the death of her sister with a sign of the Cross, “So many deaths.  Tante Marie died here in St. Domingue a few years back.”  Marie was her older sister.  They began sharing their stories of their sufferings over the past twelve years.  Magdelena was surprised that her mother had endured so much.  Maryland seemed a bit tame compared to the situation at le Mirebalais in St. Domingue.

Magdelena realized that her mind had been completely taken away from the matters at hand.  “Wait,” she said suddenly, “We’ve got to go check on Teetsy!”

“Teetsy’s here?” asked Marguerite,  “Is she okay?”

“Yes, she’s been with us all along.  The whole family was in Maryland with us.  Tante Annemarie and cousin Dorothee passed away a few years ago.  Teetsy is married to a man named Dique and they are expecting their first child any day now.  Everything will be fine now that you’re here.”

“I’ll do what I can do,” Marguerite said, “but God’s will be done.  Is it a boy or a girl?”  When Magdelena indicated that she couldn’t tell, Marguerite gave her a studied look for a while.  “It’s a girl.  As soon as I get that head into position, everything will work out fine.  She’s still got a few days to go.”

Magdelena was stunned, “How could you know that?”

“I feel it in my waters,” was all she replied.

And so it came to pass.  That baby girl was pleased to move her head wherever Marguerite directed it.  The ship pulled out of port and headed to Louisiana.  As the ship made its way into the Mississippi River, the baby girl made its way into the outside world.  She was named Marguerite in honor of her aunt.  As Magdelena held little Marguerite in her arms for the first time, all she could say was, “What a beautiful thing the Lord has made.”


My grandmother Germaine Erie Patureau Landry (my Mee Maw) with her youngest daughter. They descend from the women in this story.

I decided to write this story after I saw how the lives of several of my ancestors came together on the Virgin as it made its way to Louisiana.  But the main impetus was that I found out that the mother of Magdelena Babin Landry had also made it to Louisiana.  And that’s what this series is all about.  I’m trying to put as much information together that I can find from those days of Exile.

In Installment 1 I talked about Augustin Landry and his wife Magdelena Babin.  I didn’t talk about her parents because her father Jean Babin had died in 1751, which is before the Grand Derangement.  He was “spared the Terrible Times” as Magdelena says in the story.  I didn’t really know what happened to Marguerite at that point, so I left her out of the installment.  I didn’t think she had made it to Louisiana.  I didn’t see her name on the Wall in St. Martinville, so I figure she died sometime around 1755.

In Installment 8 I talked about Diego or Dique Hernandez and his wife Theotiste Babin.  She and Magdelena were first cousins, though Magdelena was about 18 years older than her cousin.  I descend from both of them.  Theotiste’s father Joseph Babin made it through the years in Exile and to Louisiana, but his wife Anne Marie Landry died in 1763.  Theotiste and Dique were expecting their first child when they boarded the Virgin in Maryland and had their daughter shortly before arriving in Louisiana.  They named her Marguerite.

When I discovered that Marguerite Bourg Babin had survived the years of Exile and showed up in New Orleans at the same date (July 23, 1767) as her daughter Magdelena, I figured out what had happened.  There was a hint of St. Domingue in one of the sources I found about her.  That tied in with what I had written in Installment 9 about Joseph Dupuis.  He had been in Connecticut and found his way to le Mirebalais, St. Domingue in 1764.  Several of his family members died at that point.  One of Marguerite Bourg’s sisters died at le Mirebalais in 1764 as well. 

I also knew that Joseph Dupuis had joined the Acadians on the Virgin in 1767 and he arrived in New Orleans on the same date as Marguerite Bourg, Magdelena Babin and Augustin Landry & fly., and Theotiste & Diego & little Marguerite who was only a few days old at the time.  So Marguerite Bourg was reunited with her daughter Magdelena either at the port of St. Domingue or in New Orleans.  For the sake of the story, I put it at the port of St. Domingue.  On the August 1767 Census, Magdelena and her family were living next to Marguerite and Marie in St. Gabriel. It appears that Marguerite lived out the rest of her life in St. Gabriel near her family.

I don’t know if Marguerite was a midwife or not.  There is no record of that.  And Marie may not have had a toothy smile!  But with Theotiste giving birth during the voyage, I thought it would be likely that she would turn to an older female family member to be of assistance.  So I wrapped all of these facts up into a story with lots of fictionalizing to season it.

I do know that they were very Catholic, so I added that into their characters.  While a lot of what happened wasn’t real, my main focus was on the fact that a mother and daughter reunited after 12 years of Terrible Times.  So when the two women’s eyes meet, it was my eyes that were shedding tears.  Reuniting with your mother would be like Finding Home.

For other installments of the “From Acadian to Cajun” series, click on the following links:

 

From Acadian to Cajun: Part 1 – Landry/Babin

From Acadian to Cajun: Part 2 – Breau/Trahan

From Acadian to Cajun: Part 3 – Braud/LeBlanc/Gauterot/Aucoin

From Acadian to Cajun: Part 4 – Hebert/Melanson

From Acadian to Cajun: Part 5 – Bourg/Granger

From Acadian to Cajun: Part 6 – Bujol/LeBlanc

From Acadian to Cajun: Part 7 – Foret/Bujol

From Acadian to Cajun: Part 8 – Hernandez/Babin

From Acadian to Cajun: Part 9 – Dupuis/Dugas

4 comments

  • Hi would you know the parents of Marie à Bujold in your tree?
    I have in mine Mathurin Bujold married To Marie Bernard there children 7 of them married into Landry Family. 6 of them To the same father and one To the brother of Claude Landry married To Hélène Dugas. Must To have a big family get togeter on holadays Claude dad Joseph, Claude, René married To Pérrine Boug.

  • Enjoyed reading your story. I’m in La. and have done genealogy for 30 years on my Landry & Berthelot family. So looking forward to studying yours. Both families lived along the bayous & Rivers in South La. in Bayou Pigeon & Pierre Part .

  • Joyce boudreau-ruso

    Wonderful. Will u publish the whole story. I am a Boudreau from michel Boudrot in port royal

  • I am Dan Ray Landry, son of Richard Anthony Landry of Lake Charles. His dad was Terrell Faye Landry with brother H L Landry of Baton Rouge. T F Landry had sisters, Wana, Roberta and Sis vincent of Hackberry. Any genaeology would be appreciated.

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