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Yarmouth Vanguard, September 12, 1989

There have been at least 25 French People who settled in south-western Nova Scotia between the 1780’s and the 1820’s. They were escaping the French Revolution or avoiding compulsory military service at the time of the Napoleon wars. Others had been taken prisoners by the British on the Atlantic, during the Anglo-French wars, and managed to escape and reach our shores. In Yarmouth County alone, I find 13 of them. Of their names, nine have survived; four have vanished.

Jean-Marie Blanchard was born in Bayonne, France. Having hired himself as a sailor, we find him in Santo Domingo, from where he reached southern Nova Scotia in 1804. In 1806, he was married at Sainte-Anne-du-Ruisseau to Claire Mius, daughter of Charles-Amand. He first settled in West Pubnico, in the Abbot’s Harbour region. His first name being Jean-Marie, he will be known oftentimes as Johnny Mary or Murray. The Blanchard family is still found in Quinan.

Jean Boutier was born in 1771 in Saint Malo. He came to Saint-Pierre et Miquelon, from where he reached “La Pointe-des-Ben” (Muise’s Point, a part of Sluice Point) where he settled. In 1802, he married Anne Marguerite Doucet, daughter of Michel, one of the founders of Muise’s Point. The family goes now by the name of “Boucher”.

Louis Dulain, born in Normandy, arrived at the break of the French Revolution. It is not known how he got here. He was married around 1794 to Marie-Apoline Frontain (Frotten), called Pauline, daughter of Julien, from Quinan, where all his children were born. The family now goes by the name of “Dulong”.

Jean-Marie Cottreau was also from Normandy. Still young, he went fishing off Saint-Pierre et Miquelon. In 1793, while France was at war with England, he was captured on the high seas with others, and taken to Halifax as prisoner. He escaped during the night, reached Sambro, stole a row-boat, and from cove to cove, he gained southern Nova Scotia, where, he had been told, there were French people. He settled in Wedgeport, where he was married in 1795 to Marie Hinard, daughter of Pierre Hinard, who, from Pennsylvania, where he was in exile, came to Massachusetts with his father-in-law Joseph Mius, and thence to Wedgeport. The Cottreaus are now established not only in Wedgeport, but also in Clare, more precisely in Little Brook.

Antoine-Francois Richard was fishing with Jean-Marie Cottreau, off Saint-Pierre et Miquelon, when he was taken at the same time, escaped with him from prison and accompanied him to Wedgeport. They were both originally from the same place, in Normandy. He married Cecile Doucet, daughter of Jean-Magloire, the ancestor of the Doucets from Wedgeport. The Richards are still numerous in Yarmouth County.

Louis LeFevre, born in Orleans, at about 60 miles south of Paris, arrived somewhat late. We know that he was a soldier in Napoleon’s army, in which he played the fife, “piflet” in French, a surname which was given him. He was married at Sainte-Anne-du-Ruisseau around 1819 to Marie-Modeste LeBlanc, daughter of Honoré, and settled in Belleville. His descendants are still numerous in Yarmouth County and in the U.S. Many spell their name LeFave or Lefave.

Jacques de Villers was from Belgium, being 19 when he arrived. He had been also a soldier, probably in Napoleon’s army, just like Louis LeFevre. They arrived at about the same time and got married at Sainte-Anne-du-Ruisseau at about the same time, both marrying daughters of Honoré LeBlanc; Jacques’ wife was Séraphie LeBlanc. Louis LeFevre’s first child was born in January, 1820; Jacques de Villers’ first child was born the following July. He had at least 12 children. Having settled first in Belleville, he moved to Comeau’s Hill, where the name still prevails.

Philibert-Sylvester Jacquard was another soldier of Napoleon. He was from Metz, not far from Luxemburg. It could be that he arrived with Louis LeFevre and Jacques de Villers. He must have gotten married at the same place, maybe a year later; his first child was born on Nov. 4, 1821. His wife was Marie-Elisabeth Mius, daughter of Paul, from Quinan, where he first settled. From here the family spread to Belleville, Wedgeport, Arcadia and elsewhere.

Alexis Vacon is mentioned here, although he arrived at a much later date. He left his home town of Marseilles at the age of 14 as a sailor. Around 1864, at the age of 37 or 38, he met in Yarmouth Hélène Mius, daughter of Basile originally from Muise’s Point, but at the time being in Quinan. He went back to sea and came back three years later to marry her. He established himself in Quinan. His descendants are still to be found here and in the U.S. In 1891, there were 50 years that Alexis had not heard from his family, when Father Crouzier, of Sainte-Anne-du-Ruisseau, put him in contact with his last surviving brother in Marseilles.

Those are the names of the nine Frenchmen who came over and whose names are still to be found in the county. There were four others who came at about the same time, but whose names have vanished.

Francois Gilly, written also Gillis, a Frenchman, got here in the 1780’s, being the first one to arrive in Yarmouth County. He married Rosalie Mius, of Rocco Point, daughter of Pierre. He moved to the district of Clare at the arrival of Father Sigogne. He did not have any children, but he left his name in Yarmouth County, to “Gillis Island,” located in Indian Bay, east of Amirault’s Hill and Sluice Point.

Etienne Bertrand, better known as Moff, labeled in the church registers of West Pubnico as a “fugitive prisoner”. He married Anastasie Clermont (Clements), sister to François, the one who, living on Wilson Island, was killed by the pirates in 1812. He settled in the Abbot’s harbour region, close to Jean-Marie Blanchard. The last survivor of the Bertrand family was Marguerite Bertrand, daughter of Belloni and wife of Francois Hilaire Mius, of Rocco Point, where she died in 1935, at the age of 94.

Jean Courtois, born in Calais, on the English Channel, married in 1817 Marguerite Mius, sister of Claire who had married Jean-Marie Blanchard. He died three months after getting married.

Dominique Gourdeau arrived in Yarmouth County around 1812, where he married a couple of years later Marie-Céleste Mius, daughter of Louis, of Rocco Point. He had been married but two years when he died accidentally.

To these names we could add names of other people who arrived in Yarmouth County at about the same time, married Acadian girls, but were not French. John Fitzgerald seems to have come directly from Ireland to Wedgeport, where he married around 1823 Rose-Suzanne Robichaud, daughter of Pierre of the same place. The family is still well represented in the county, especially in the Comeau’s Hill region. Francis Christiern was German. He arrived in Quinan between 1820 and 1824. He was married twice; first to Marie-Suzanne Doucet, daughter of Charles, of Quinan, and then to Marguerite Mius, daughter of Isaac, of Surette’s Island. The family went by the name of “Castin” or in the U.S., “Castine,” where there are still a few members of the family. We can mention also the Collin family, which came originally from Trois-Riviere, Québec, via Madawaska. We find the family mostly in Wedgeport, but also in Quinan, Meteghan, Church Point and even in the U.S. It has vanished from our midst.

Next week I will tell you of those who settled at about the same time in Digby County.


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