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Post Expulsion Life - My Acadian Ancestors

When the English began deporting the Acadians from their lands in 1755, I was fortunate that my direct line of ancestors escaped the transport ships on two occassions and through two different generations.

My 7th great grandfather (Charles Melanson, son of Charles dit La Ramée Mellanson and Marie Dugas) had made his escape with most of his family into Québec after disembarking from the ship Pembroke. This ship was reportedly overtaken by the Acadian prisoners onboard during a daring revolt led by Charles Belliveau. The Acadians then sailed the Pembroke up the St. John River to St. John, where they disembarked before travelling into Quebec. The Pembroke has been noted as having carried 232 souls onboard when she left Annapolis Royal to take the Acadians to North Carolina.

Two years after making their way into Québec, the area was hit by a small pox epidemic that claimed the lives of many of the these Acadian refugees (in mid-late 1757and into 1758), including Charles Melanson and some of the other senior members of his immediate family (such as his brother Ambroise and sister Marguerite).

On another generation, my direct line was able avoid the 1755 troops and transport ships. At the time of the expulsions, Pierre Melanson dit Parrotte, one of the sons of the above mentioned Charles Melanson, from whom I descend and a number of other refugees had escaped the Deportations by making their way to the remote region of Chaleur Bay (likely at Miramichi or Caraquet) in northern New Brunswick. It is not known if Pierre dit Parrotte and his family were aboard the ship Pembroke in 1755 or if they had fled Annapolis Royal and the English troops by some other means.

Although escaping deportation from Nova Scotia, Pierre dit Parrotte and his family were later captured or had turned themselves in after being caught by a large force of British troops in 1761. They were subsequently imprisoned at Fort Edward in Windsor (formerly Piziquid), Nova Scotia for the next 2 years along with a large number of other Acadian refugees who had also been captured at or about the same time from the same locations.

After hostilities between England and France ended in 1763 with the signing of the Treaty of Paris, the Acadian prisoners at Fort Edward and other forts were no longer considered prisoners of England and were free to go their own ways after signing allegiance to the British Crown. So began the Acadian journey to start over again, find work and find land to live and settle on. These newly released refugees would soon find that they could not return to their former lands and farms: all had been burned and destroyed in 1755 and all was now in the possession of settlers that had been brought in around 1760 to replace the deported Acadian population.

Pierre dit Parrotte and his family left the Windsor area to settle in northern Nova Scotia at Minudie (Ménoudie) where work on the Desbarres Estates was available. Minudie is often referred to as the Elysian Fields and was part of a large tract of land owned by a well-off and prominent English officer, mariner and navigator named Frederic William Wallet DesBarres. DesBarres also owned the neighbouring townships of Maccan and Nappan and vast tracts of land at Memramcook and along the Peticodiac River. Most of this land, in the Beaubassin region, had already been inhabited by Acadians for a almost a hundred years since Jacques Bourgeois left Port Royal in 1671 to start the Bourgeois Settlement (close to where Minudie is located) with a small group of other families. This settlement would later become the village of Beaubassin. During the Deportations, this area contained one of the largest Acadian populations that were expelled to the British Coloines in 1755.

Pierre Melanson dit Parrotte was recorded as one a second group of families to first settle at Minudie in 1768-69, being employed to dyke the marshes, raise livestock and harvest crops. These Acadians who went to Minudie became tenant farmers (they were able to live on and farm their allotted land by paying rents but were not able to receive titles of ownership to that land) and the majority of them remained there for about 30 years. The original lease agreement between DesBarres and the Acadians stated that their land was to theirs and their heirs' forever.

In the late 1790's a small number of Acadians (including Pierre dit Parrotte's son Pierre Melanson and his wife Rosalie Babin), apparently dissatisfied with their often absent landlord, packed up their families and moved further north into the newly formed province of New Brunswick, mainly to the village of Little Shemogue (near Cap-Pelé) where some Acadian families were already established.

In 1800, William Desbarres (married to Hélene Melanson), who had succeeded his father in control of the estate, died suddenly. Soon after his death a battle for the large Desbarres estate, which included Minudie, Maccan, Nappan and Memramcook, ensued between the estate's legitimate and illegitimate heirs (William was an illigitimate son of Frederic Desbarres and his mistress, Miss Mary Cannon) that lasted for the next 20 years. During the ensuing battle over the estate the Acadians' original lease agreements were broken outright so that the land could be sold.

One of the results of the battle over the Desbarres Estate was the mass eviction and departure of almost the entire Acadian population of tenant farmers. Most of these freshly evicted Acadian decendants, including my direct line through Parrotte (who had died about 1791, probably at Minudie), headed north, following in the footsteps of those that had left earlier in the late 1790's, migrating to the southeastern regions of the newly formed Province of New Brunswick where they were able to obtain work and titles to their own land. Most would land in places such as Cocagne, Richibouctou, Bouctouche, Shediac, Memramcook (a large area of resettlement for the Acadians after the war and land that was also owned by DesBarres) and the Pedicodiac region.

Accompanying the Melansons migrating into this part of New Brunswick were the decendants of many of the other original Acadian families such as Cormier, Léger, Babin, Babineau, Comeau, Gaudet, Hébert (for those without French, it's pronounced "a-bear"), Petipas, Térriot (Thériault), Gueguen (Goguen), LeBlanc (White), Forest (Forêt), Belliveau, Doiron (Gould), Saulnier, Landry, Richard, Poirier, Granger, Gauthier, Boudrot (Boudreau), Dugas (Dugast), Duguay, Gauvin, Bourque (Bourg, Bourk, etc.) and Bourgeois.

One of Pierre dit Parrotte's sons, David Melanson, my 4th great-grandfather headed a group of 14 other men that applied for a 6,000 acre Land Grant in Dorchester, New Brunswick in 1804 (which was approved in 1815). It is not known when David actually began residing in Dorchester but it is possible that David and his family may have remained at Minudie for several years after the main evictions took place at the DesBarres estate.

Many of the decendants of these men (that were listed on the 1804 Petition) still live, work and farm in Scoudouc and Dorchester Crossing (some still on the land that was originally obtained by David and the other Acadians) as well as in the neighboring cities, villages and towns of Moncton, Memramcook, Cocagne, Barachois, Haute-Aboujagane, Bouctouche, Dieppe, Grande-Digue, St-Anselme, Cap-Pelé, Shemogue/Little Shemogue and Shediac.

Finally, after 50 years of uncertainty, upheaval and unrest this line of Acadian descendants had found a place that they could call home and where their decendants could live in peace.

 

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