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50. AMABLE DOUCET. Esq. (1737-1806)

Yarmouth Vanguard, December 12, 1989

Last week I told you about Capt. Pierre Doucet, born in 1750, exiled in York, Maine, settled at La-Pointe-à-Major and settled in 1792. Amable Doucet, his senior by 13 years, was also exiled in York, settled also at La-Pointe-à-Major and outlived him 14 years. One would think that they were closely related, even brothers. They were not even distant cousins on the Doucet side; there has been two different Acadian families of that name in Acadia before the Expulsion; Capt. Pierre belonged to one of them and Amable, Esq., to the other.

Amable Doucet was born in Port Royal on April 23, 1737, the son of Pierre Doucet (son of Claude and of Marie Comeau) and of Marie-Josephe Robichaud (daughter of Prudent and of Henriette Petitpas), the third child of a family of at least nine children.

In 1740, when he was only three years old, the family moved here, to Chebogue, with seven other families from Port Royal, so to be closer to the fishing and hunting grounds. This marks the foundation of Chebogue; that will be 250 years next year. Denis Petitot, one of the founders, the grandfather of Capt. Pierre Doucet, as I said last week, gave to the place the name of St. Denis. It was soon changed to that of “Sainte-Anne, de-Teboque” (St. Anne of Chebogue) by Father Le Loutre, who had a great devotion to Saint Anne, which he inculcated to the Indians whom he was taking care of.

Pierre Doucet did not stay long in Chebogue; after three years, he went back to Port Royal. In 1755, the family was sent into exile, where, in the Spring of the following year, 1757, the family was split, when Amable, then 20 years of age, was sent to Newbury, Massachusetts; he is mentioned then to be “sickly and cripple”. On their return from exile, most of the members of the family moved to the province of Quebec, when the father, Pierre, died in 1775, and the mother, Marie-Josephe, in 1782.

Amable Doucet chose rather to settle in Clare, and more precisely at “La-Pointe-à-Major”, which I mentioned last week as being the place where Capt. Pierre Doucet will also establish himself some time later. The location was well known to a number of Acadians. In fact, at the time of the Expulsion, in 1755, 120 of them took refuge here, where they spent the Winter. One of them was Prudent Robichaud, cousin to Amable Doucet. We find Amable Doucet in this vicinity in 1769. He is the one who gave to the place it’s first name “Doucet’s Point”.

Amable Doucet was to play a leading role in the new Acadian establishment of Clare. In the absence of the priest, he was the one who presided at the weddings of the Acadians and who baptized their children. Whenever the Acadians wanted to send petitions to the authorities, may they be civil or ecclesiastical, his name always appeared at the top of the lists. Whenever Father Sigogne, after his arrival in 1799, gave names of people regarding the activities of the parish, it was always Amable’s name which opened the lists.

In 1792, he was named Town Clerk for the district of Clare. The following year, he became Justice of the Peace for what was then Annapolis county, which included what is now Digby county; from then on he was known as “Amable Doucet, Esquire”. It is said that, at times, he presided over criminal proceedings in his own house. In 1794, he was chosen as assessor for highway in Clare.

He married twice and was the father of twelve children. The name of his first wife was Marie Broussard. It is probable that she died of childbirth in January of 1774; she would be the first person to be buried at the bottom of the cliff on which Amable had his house, where is located the famous “cimetiere de La-Pointe-à-Major” (the cemetery of La-Pointe-à-Major), in which a small chapel has been erected. It stands as the oldest “monument” dedicated to the Acadians of Clare who returned from exile. In October of that year, the visiting missionary, Father Mathurin Bourg, one of the first Acadians to become a priest, blessed the burying ground.

That same month, Oct 18, 1774, Father Bourg united in marriage Amable Doucet and Marie Gaudet, daughter of Joseph Gaudet, another of the Acadian pioneers of St. Mary’s Bay. She gave him 10 or 11 children.

Amable Doucet owned extensive acreage of land each side of the bay. In 1771, he bought, from Jean-Belonie LeBlanc, 280 acres. In 1772, he was granted 350 more acres. These were along the shores of St. Mary’s Bay. Then in 1801, with twelve other Acadians, he received a grant of 21,3000 more acres somewhat further from the shore, giving to each close to 1640 acres. That same year, 1801, he bought from the Loyalist Francis Ryerson 149 acres of land at East Ferry and Tidville, on Digby Neck. That makes a total of 2419 acres. He must have been considered a rich man, since, at that time, a man’s wealth was measured mostly according to the amount of land that he owned.

This last property, which became known as the “French Lands”, was for some time the subject of controversy. Amable Doucet had made a will in 1806; unfortunately, it did not mention who was to inherit that land the other side of the bay, although one of his sons, Benonie, sold it in 1865 to his two sons, Augustine and Luke. It so happened that houses were put up on that property without the consent of the owners. These agreed that those residents would not be evicted, but they would have to pay rent. As the “alleged” proprietors did not want to sell the land, a bill was introduced in 1978 to the Legislature of the Province asking the government to grant the land to the people of East Ferry and Tidville, based on the fact that Amable Doucet did not will it to anyone, and thus that it did not have a clear title. The descendants of Amable Doucet protested, but to no avail. And that was the end of the “French Lands”.

Amable Doucet died June 21, 1806, and was buried the next day in the actual cemetery of St. Mary’s parish, in Church Point, whose erection had been authorized by Bishop Denault, of Québec, during his visit of June 1803. We are lucky to have these dates, as someone had copied them from the church registers before they were consumed in the fire that destroyed the rectory of Church Point during the night, between Nov.11 and 12, 1893.

At one time, the question of establishing a scholarship in honor of Amable Doucet circulated, but it never materialized.


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