I’ve decided to write about Marie Magdeleine Granger again. I first wrote about her in my “From Acadian to Cajun” series and she was just one person in family group that I was talking about. But her story really touched me. She endured so much tragedy, yet she got lost in a long story about a bigger event. So when I discovered a couple of other facts about her life at the time, I decided to write again. I could have just written a short little Follow-Up to my blog, but decided to write a separate post just for her. I think she deserves it. Plus the 262nd anniversary of one of those tragedies occurred this week.
Marie Magdeleine Granger was born on May 2, 1731, in Grand Pre, Acadie. She was baptized the same day. She had a twin sister named Anne. They were the 5th and 6th children of Joseph Granger and Anne Richard. Anne and Marie Magdeleine where right in the middle of the family. Besides having four older siblings, they had four younger ones as well. All of them were born in Acadie before the Grand Derangement. That was the period from 1755 to 1763 when the English were deporting the Acadians and sending them to various ports.
We know the date of Marie Magdeleine’s birth because some records survived. Besides deporting the Acadians, burning their homes, and slaughtering their livestock, the English also destroyed a lot of the records of the Acadian people. But somehow some of the Acadians took records from their church with them and hid them from the English. They made it through twelve years of Exile and ended up in Louisiana. The St. Gabriel Catholic Church preserved those records and they are available today. The marriage entry for Joseph and Anne survived, as did the entries for all ten of their children.
Marie Magdeleine was one of the last generation to spend their whole childhood growing up in Acadie before the Great Upheaval. It wasn’t a completely stress free time. They were under English rule and there were many conflicts between England and France. When she was 19 years old, she married Alain Bujol. At some point they relocated to Ile St. Jean, an island northeast of Acadie which was still under French rule at the time. The Census of August 1752 in Riviere de Nord Est, Ile St Jean, shows Marie Magdeleine with husband Alain Bujol (Allain Bugeauld, ploughman) and a nine-month-old son (Simon, born about November 1751). It reports that they had been on the island for only one month.
While Marie Magdeleine and Alain were trying to find a safe place to raise a family free from conflict, we know that that was not to be. They had a house and a farm and a little son, but trouble was brewing. When the deportations began in 1755 in Acadie, those living in Ile St Jean had a period of respite. During that time, Marie Magdeleine gave birth to her second child – a daughter named Marie Louise born in 1756. They even had two years at their farm in Ile St. Jean after Marie Louise was born.
And then Tragedy began. For Marie Magdeleine, her year of losses started off with less personal ones such as their home and livestock and progressed to much more personal ones. It began on July 26, 1758, when Fort Louisbourg fell to the English. On Aug. 17, 1758, Ile St. Jean capitulated to the English as well. The English started rounding up the Acadians for deportation. So two weeks after Ile St. Jean fell, the Acadians were removed from their homes and sent to Fort Louisbourg where they arrived on September 4. So now Marie Mageleine, Alain, Simon, and Marie Louise were living the life of prisoners. Other Acadians who had escaped the round up were hunted down “to prevent the vermin from escaping.”
And now it gets more personal. During their three months as prisoners at Fort Louisbourg, many Acadians were being carried off to England and France on various ships. Marie Magdeleine’s family was on one of five ships that departed Nov. 25, 1758 and arrived in St. Malo on Jan. 23, 1759. They were not on the Mary, the Duke William, or the Violet. The Mary ran into foul conditions and only half of her passengers survived. The Duke William and the Violet both sank with only four survivors from the Duke William. It was a terrible time of loss for the Acadians, including Alain Bujol. Both of his parents died when the Duke William sank. Marie Magdeleine suffered her first major loss on the passage to France. Her 2-year-old daughter Marie Louise did not survive the journey.
Once they arrived in St. Malo, France, the Acadians were moved to different locations to settle. Marie Magdeleine ended up in St. Servan with her husband and son. Less than a month after arriving in France, 31-year-old Alain Bujol died. He died on Feb. 19, 1759. His widow and 8-year-old son Simon buried him the following day. What a difficult time for Marie Magdeleine. It was one tragedy after the other. And it didn’t stop there. Less than a month after her husband died, Marie Magdeleine was burying Simon as well. He died and was buried on March 17, 1759.
“Wait!” you’re saying, “but you said she had a year of tragedies and it’s only March. She still has four months left of her year of losses. What more could she lose?”
Correct! You’ve been paying attention. I mentioned in a follow-up story that Marie Magdeleine found out at some point during her first year in France that her father had died. That was another loss. But there was something more I discovered. I found out that when she and her family were being deported to France, Marie Magdeleine was in the early stages of pregnancy! I wonder at what point did she become aware of her pregnancy? Around the time of being loaded into a cramped vessel to take her away from her home? When Marie Louise died? When Alain died? When Simon died? What a storm of emotions she must have been going through.
And just like you, she might have been holding onto hope that things would get better for her. But not just yet. She may have found a glimpse of joy at the birth of her son Thomas Henri Servan Bujol on July 14, 1759. But she only had him a week. He died on July 21, 1759. I wonder if you could see any life in her eyes that day she buried her little newborn son?
I don’t know how some people find the strength to carry on from some tragedies. But she did, thankfully, or I wouldn’t be here. In June of 1760 she married Pierre Bourg in Pleurtuit, Ile-et-Vilaine, France. They were 2nd cousins – their maternal grandmothers were Landry sisters. His first wife had died on the deportation voyage to France. I descend from the marriage of Marie Magdeleine and Pierre Bourg. She would give birth to all of their children in France, but later they made their way to Louisiana in 1785. She died in Louisiana. I don’t know if there is a headstone anywhere. There should be. I want more people to know the name Marie Magdeleine Granger.