Monday, August 25, 2014

For my Wills Cousin's Granddaughter - Paul Benoit, an Acadian in Our Beauvais-Bissonnette Family Tree

I have been writing about my travels this month in the land of Acadia.  A few months ago I purchased a children's book titled Evangeline for Children by Alice Couvillon and Elizabeth Moore with the intention of sharing Longfellow's epic with the children in the family who have at least one Acadian ancestor.

So my first victim is entering 2nd grade in primary school next week.  I am going to try this book out on her.

Second grader at the County Fair with  Painted Face

This second grader has Acadian ancestors in her Beauvais and Bissonnette line.  I am posting her line so other Bissonnette/Bisnett and Beauvais/Bova from Cohoes and Waterford who descended from Celena Beauvais and/or her father Solyme Beauvais may also know how they have an Acadian great grand ancestor.

So if you are a Wills or Bissonnette or Bisnett, start from Celena Beauvais who married Joseph Bissonnette.  If you are a Beauvais or Bova, start from Solyme Beauvais and go back in time to Paul Benoit:

Living daughter (2nd Grader) of

Living Female, who is the daughter of

Living Female, who is the daughter of

William Robert "Bob" Wills 1923-2007, who was the son of

Elizabeth Bissonnette 1880-1936, who was the daughter of

Celena Beauvais 1850-1942, who was the daughter of

Solyme Beauvais 1821-1902, who was the son of

Genevieve Benoit 1799-1832, who was the daughter of

Paul Benoit 1751-1831
who was just four years old when the events in this story of Evangeline occurred.
He probably experienced the Acadian Deportation as a small child.
He was the son of

Geoffroy Benoit 1716-1769
He and his wife were exiled to Lancaster in the Massachusetts Colony
where they lived until they were able to move to Quebec.
He was the son of

Claude Benoit 1686-1743,
he was the son of

Martin Benoit 1643-1714.
Martin was born in France and came to Acadia to start a life with his wife, Marie in the spring of 1671 aboard l'Oranger.

Children's Area at the LeBlanc Reunion
CMA 2014

Below is a recap of the stories written about Acadians in this blog so far.  This list includes some early posts that may not have been well researched but I am reviewing them for accuracy and hope they will "make the cut"!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

We are really all the same...USA

I have a full time job working in the Bronx, New York City usually interacting with people of many different cultures, religions and languages.  My ancestors who migrated from Quebec to New York for jobs and work really do not seem much different than the fathers and mothers I meet everyday at my work.  They are struggling, often working several jobs and want their children to get a good education.

Below are photos I took  at the Tintamarre Acadian Parade held in Madawaska, Maine on 15 August 2014 contrasted with photos of the Puerto Rican Day Parade in New York City taken by different media. The more I look at the photos, the more they look the same.  We are a nations of immigrants and it is our strength.

Below is a recap of the stories written about Acadians in this blog so far.  This list includes some early posts that may not have been well researched but I am reviewing them for accuracy and hope they will "make the cut"!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Remembering Acadian Ancestors in Rivet, Mylott and Wills-Beauvais Families

If you are a Rivet, Mylott, Beauvais, Bissonnette, St Hilaire, or Wills identified on the pages of FrancoAmerican Gravy,  you do not have an Acadian name but you do have Acadian ancestors!! All these families have Acadian great grandmothers who were exiled to Quebec at the the time of the Acadian Deportation.  These grandmothers and great grandmothers married into Quebec families and gradually assimilated Quebec customs. Then during the great industrialization of New York and New England, our families came south, assimilating again into the American mainstream. Most in our families lost our ability to use French.

I took a three week journey to remember these Acadian Ancestors and grasp their tragedy, their sorrow and perhaps some of their happiness too.

August 23, 2014 and I have just returned from  a three week journey through Quebec, Maine, New Brunswick and upstate New York to attend the Acadian World Congress in a part of the world I am not familiar. Here is the map and you can try to identify exactly where this land fits into North America.  Although, this area is not the original Acadia, many descendants now live in this area where the Acadian culture, cuisine, pride and French language remain strong and vibrant.

There's beautiful landscapes in the St John's River Valley, Passamaquoddy Bay, the Saguenay River Gorge, and the great St Lawrence.  The days were never terribly hot and the evenings were cool with striking sunsets.  People were always friendly.  Sometimes we struggled through the French and English barrier with smiles and laughs. Of course there's lot of wildlife - loons, eagles, moose, with whale and beaver lodge sightings. The blueberries were in season: blueberries and salmon, blueberries and crepes, lots of fresh blueberries, throughout the trip.  My trip was planned to remember  Acadian ancestors and even though I have never identified myself as an Acadian and am totally assimilated into American culture, it was important and poignant. 

Throughout the trip I read John Mack Faragher's A Great and Noble Scheme  (2005:W.W. Norton & Company) which was an easy introduction to the story of the Acadian people and the consequences of living  in a place and time among three warring states - the Micmac First Peoples, France and England.

When "Le Grand Derangement"  began in September 1755 and ended in December 1755, over 7000 Acadian people were dispersed into ships, scattered throughout the British colonies on the eastern seaboard and some French colonies such as Saint Dominigue (present day Haiti).  Exiled from their homeland, many never returned to Acadia. Thousands of other Acadians fled to surrounding territories in what in now northern Maine, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick.

I highly recommend all members of our family become aware of their Acadian ancestors and their story. Contact me at

Below is a recap of the stories written about Acadians in this blog so far.  This list includes some early posts that may not have been well researched but I am reviewing them for accuracy and hope they will "make the cut"!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

A Turn Towards the North

We were at a truck stop in Edmunston, New Brunswick drinking a good strong coffee.  After four days at the Acadian World Congress and two weeks on a road trip through Quebec, New Brunswick, Maine and New Brunswick again,  I thought I was ready to head back home. However, a caffeine high elicited a spontaneous decision to head north.  We ended up taking the ferry from Trois Pistoles to Les Escoumins to the north shore of the St Lawrence.

Had to see Tadoussac which is rather touristy but beautiful.

and then along the gorges of the Saguenay

to a little village called Sainte-Rose-du-Nord, Saint Rose of the North where we rested and late lunched at a wonderful spot...

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

To the World Acadian Congress via St Croix Island

FrancoAmerican Gravy is planning to be at the Acadian World Congress in a few days.  In anticipation of sharing Acadian history with family and cousins it seems appropriate to start at the very beginning of the Acadian experience in North America. The beginning was in 1604 on a small island in the Saint Croix River presentably sitting on the boundary between Maine and New Brunswick.  Stopping at an observation park along the eastern shore of the Saint Croix River in the early evening, we were the only people to read the interpretive signs and stare west into the setting sun for a view of the island where almost half of the 79 Frenchman died of scurvy during the winter of 1604-1605.

L'Ile St Croix from New Brunswick

Scurvy was a common cause of morbidity and mortality among sailors and it wasn't until the 1930s that a definite connection between the lack of Vitamin C in fresh fruits and vegetables and scurvy was firmly established.  James Lind in 1793 conducted research demonstrating a reduction of scurvy if one consumed citrus fruits.
Licensed under
Public domain via Wikimedia Commons 

Scurvy is not a thing pretty and imagining a sailors's slow death from scurvy could not be anything other than agonizing as a he developed malaise, lethargy, ulcers, tender gums, and bodily wounds bleeding out finally resulting in his death.

Scurvy Manifestations copyright NEJM

The settlement was a failure but it was also the impetus to move the enterprise to Port Royal where a new and more thoroughly planned habitation could be planned. In Port Royal, the Acadian ancestors of the Rivets (Mireault, Robichaud, Bourgeois, Lord, Bourg, LeBlanc, Dugas, Melanson and more), the Mylotts (Guilabult, Girouard, Therriot, Bourg, Landry, LeBorgne, Delatour ) and Beauvais (Babin, Benoit, Bourg, Hebert, Comeau, Richard, Melanson and more) would come to flourish.

The Saint Croix River flows from a chain of lakes in northeastern Maine called the Chiputneticook Lakes.  The largest is East Grand Lake where we have been resting for a week mid way through our travels in Quebec, the Gaspe Peninsula and the Acadian Peninsula.  East Grand Lake is one of my favorite lakes and knowing its waters are the actual headwaters of the Saint Croix River and eventually empty into Passamaquoddy Bay make it special.  Here are some photos of the August sunsets on the waters of East Grand Lake.

Below is a recap of the stories written about Acadians in this blog so far.  This list includes some early posts that may not have been well researched but I am reviewing them for accuracy and hope they will "make the cut"!

Sunday, August 3, 2014


Sunday in Saint Roch des Aulnaies, at Au Cafe du Bon Dieu, along the Saint Lawrence, south shore.  The old presbytery is now a wonderful stop after visiting the church on a Sunday morning. After the services, the sexton was warm and welcoming.  He wanted to tell me the history of the church but my very limited French didn't make it an easy task.  One is able to walk close to the river where the morning fog was lifting.

Outside God's cafe, the fog was lifting off the St Lawrence..........