GENERAL INFORMATION and PROGRESS REPORT

 

Following is a explanation of what has been done, and what is planned to be done, to complete this study.

Overview

This website consists of three basic parts, each of them an essential element in the completion of what I call my Never-ending Project: 

The first part is military.  There are unit lists, unit capsule histories, individual service records, a far-from-complete list of Cajuns who were killed in action, missing in action, and captured during the War, as well as names of Cajuns who deserted the Confederate cause, a chronology of battles, a photo gallery of battle sites courtesy of my friend Dave Comeau, all relating to the initial purpose of this site, which is the role of Louisiana Acadian/Cajuns in the War of 1861.  All of this is a long way from any sort of completion.  

The second part of this website, the largest one at this stage of its development, is genealogical.  In order to determine who is what, a list of Cajun families had to be created based on immigrant status and marriage patterns in Louisiana.  The creation of this list of families has led me deep into Acadian/Cajun genealogy, and it has been a wonderful ride.  Along with the list of families, there is a family names worksheet that helps me keep the players straight in my perusal of the church records of South Louisiana.   The largest component of this website are pages devoted to each of the Acadian families whose members came to Louisiana from 1764 until the early 1800s, with a separate, less detailed list of over 1,500 Acadians who arrived on the Seven Ships expedition from France in 1785.  Going further back, there is a list of the pioneers of Acadia who fathered the families that ended up in Louisiana.  An important study in this project is that of Acadian marriages in Louisiana from February 1765 through 1861.  I call this my Acadian endogamy/exogamy study; after years of effort, it is now "complete."  This study reveals the hundreds of non-Acadian families who contributed to the creation of the Cajun culture before the War of 1861. 

The third part of this website has become my life's work--a history of the Acadians of Louisiana, including the Acadians in Gray, with the working title "The Acadians of Louisiana:  A Synthesis."  Sections, chapters, and "books"--eight of them so far --will appear here first.  A few years hence, I hope to hand a fat, completed manuscript to a publisher.  (One could say that, at the moment, this website is a huge collection of notes and drafts for the completion of that manuscript.)

I am no spring chicken, so I have had to live with the dark premonition that this Project may never be completed ... at least not by me.  But I will do my best to complete it.  In the meantime, I will enjoy the ride that this Project has given me.  Please let me know if you, too, are enjoying the ride.  I must warn you that if you are interested in things Acadian/Cajun, once you enter this site, you may find it difficult to leave.  Readers have told me that they have spent hours going from one part of this site to another.  This makes me feel good, yah.  There is no better music to my ears ... other than the sound of Beausoleil or Zachary Richard or Buckwheat Zydeco or Wayne Toups or Robbie Robertson or ...

Enjoy, mes amis!  And let me know what you t'ink of all uh dis.

Families and Individuals

So far, over 700 families--101 with Acadian surnames, over 600 with non-Acadian names--have found their way onto the list of families who produced Acadians in Gray.  More families will be added to the list whenever readers submit surnames that meet the qualification for inclusion in the study or whenever I discover a Cajun family that has been omitted from the list (I am presently scouring church records of the Acadiana region to find non-Acadian families that intermarried with the Acadians).  Again, the criteria for inclusion of a family on the list is:  the family must have lived in Greater Acadia (present-day Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Maine, Prince Edward Island, Cape Breton Island, and parts of Newfoundland) before or during Le Grand Dérangement of the 1750s, and at least one male member settled in Louisiana and produced male offspring who perpetuated the family name in Louisiana; or the family must have settled in Louisiana, and at least one member, male or female, intermarried with an Acadian family before the War of 1861; and that family, Acadian or non-Acadian, must have produced at least one Acadian in Gray.  I have chosen to include all individuals with Cajun surnames who served in Louisiana units regardless of their actual ethnicity.

This policy of inclusion demands a caveat here:  just because an individual carries a surname that this study has deemed to be Cajun or even Acadian does not mean that this particular individual was a Cajun.  In the case of some of the surnames here, few of the listed individuals were Cajuns.  A number of prominent Anglo names have had to be added to the list of Cajun families because they met the criteria I have set for inclusion.  Johnson for instance.  Some of the Johnsons of Louisiana are actually Jeansonnes whose family name was anglicized before the War, and they are Cajuns.  However, the vast majority of the Johnsons who are listed in this study are not Cajuns, as the origin of their units clearly demonstrate.  The same holds true for the Youngs, some of whom are anglicized Lejeunes, but most are not.  My own mother's family, the Millers, are as Cajun as can be in her line of the family, but the majority of the Millers who served Louisiana during the War were Anglo Americans and would not have liked it one little bit if someone had called them Cadiens.  Even Acadian names like Henry, Martin, and Vincent present their own problems.  Although Martin is the most common family name found in France today, Martins also abound in Spain, the British Isles, and Germany.  Thus, many of the Martins in this study are not Cajuns, but they served the Southern Confederacy in Louisiana units and have thus found their way into this study.  It would be impossible to separate the non-Cajuns from the Cajuns in this study; the genealogical and historical records are just too incomplete to allow it.  That's why you, my treasured readers, are so important to the accuracy of this study.  Many of you have shared with me the details of your family genealogy, and it is those details that have enlightened us as to the true identity of many of the Acadians in Gray.

Much needs to be done to complete the Family Histories section of the Cajun Families component.  Family Histories can be accessed within the Index of Names or by hitting the hyperlink at the bottom of the Cajun Families page that is attached to the crossed flags.  When it is completed, years hence, this section will provide a plethora of information for Acadian/Cajun genealogists.  

The "origins" portion of the Family Histories section distinguishes between the different types of French families who lived in Louisiana:  French Creoles, French Canadians, Foreign French, and Acadians.  

A French Creole family is one that came to Louisiana directly from France or from the West Indies, Alabama, or other French possessions in the Gulf/Caribbean region before 1803, the year Louisiana ceased to be a colony and became a territory of the United States.  This includes the hand full of non-Acadian French Catholic families who ended up in the English colonies of North America and moved on to Louisiana, often with Acadian spouses, in the late 1760s, as well as French men and women who came to Louisiana with their Acadian spouses on the Seven Ships from France in 1785.  The term "creole" used here is a generic one (Spanish, criollo; French, créole), meaning someone "of Old World parents born upon New World soils, with no first-hand knowledge of the mother country."  (Campanella, Bienville's Dilemma, 161.)  Moreover, one can call Germans, Irish, Italians, Spanish, Anglos, Afro Caribbeans, and members of other nationalities and ethnicities Creoles if their Louisiana progenitors were born in the colony before Jefferson's Purchase. 

A French Canadian family is one that migrated from France to Canada and then moved on to Louisiana.  This includes families who lived in the Illinois country, an area populated largely by French Canada but controlled by French Louisiana until Britain won possession of the eastern part of it at the end of the Seven Years' War.  

A Foreign French family is one that came to Louisiana either directly from France or from another French possession other than Canada after 1803.  They were called "foreign French" and "petits Creoles" to distinguish them from the Creoles, Canadians, and Acadians who already populated New Orleans and much of South Louisiana.  Many of them were refugees from the slave revolt in St.-Domingue, today's Haiti, who came to Louisiana from Cuba during the early antebellum period. 

An Acadian family, remember, is one that lived in greater Acadia (present-day Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Maine, Prince Edward Island, Cape Breton Island, and parts of Newfoundland) before or during Le Grand Dérangement of the 1750s and whose members found their way to Louisiana as exiles from Nova Scotia, the English colonies of North America, or from France or the West Indies.  The first of them reached New Orleans from Georgia via Mobile in February 1764.  More came from Nova Scotia and Maryland in 1765, 1766, 1767, 1768, and 1769.  A substantial number of them did not reach Spanish-controlled Louisiana until 1785.  Their years in France did not make these late comers any less Acadian than their cousins who had reached the colony 20 years earlier.  

The "Acadian connection" portion of the Family Histories section also demands a caveat:  the Acadian families found in "Acadian connection" may, after more thorough examination, prove to be French Creole, French Canadian, Foreign French, Spanish, or even Anglo families, not Acadians.  Examples are Allain, Benoit, Bergeron, Bertrand, Daigle, David, Granger, Guillot, Henry, Jeansonne, Lejeune, Pellerin, Martin, Michel, Potier, Richard, Rivet, Roy, and Vincent from Avoyelles and Pointe Coupée.  Such is the nature of genealogy; family surnames often cross cultural boundaries over time and space.  I will do what I can to unravel these family origins from the information I find in the church and civil records of Acadiana.  For example, if a family in Pointe Coupée married into the Bergeron family, and that Bergeron family proves to be Creole, not Acadian, the Pointe Coupée family will still remain on my list of Cajun families, since it also is an Acadian name. 

Over the years, this site has used the term "cultural Cajun" to designate those South Louisianans who lived in an area populated by Acadian families but who did not intermarry with them.  As neighbors, these families would have shared cultural attributes with the Acadians such as language, religion, values, and cuisine, a process of assimilation that continues to this day (see Angers, Truth About Cajuns, 51, for the origin of the term).  However, I have been made painfully aware by readers' comments that there are descendants of proud French families in Louisiana who do not consider themselves Cajun in any form or fashion.  And so I have discontinued the use of the term.  There are no more "cultural Cajuns" here. 

In many parts of the website, including the Index of Names and the Unit Rosters, Acadian surnames are highlighted in yellow to show their numbers relative to non-Acadians.  This includes in the individual service records not only the family name of a soldier, but also the families of his mother and wife if they bore Acadian surnames.  If a soldier with an Acadian family name that also can be Anglo or Hispanic, such as Bernard, Blanchard, David, Granger, Henry, Lambert, Martin, Michel, Richard, Roy, or Vincent, is obviously not French, the surname will not be yellow-highlighted, and the words "Probably not Cajun" will appear at the end of his individual service record.  Please remember that most Acadian surnames also belong to French-Creole and Foreign-French families, so if a family name is yellow-highlighted in the Unit Rosters, this is no guarantee that the soldier is Acadian French.  Only genealogy can say for certain. 

I beseech you, my readers, to peruse the Family Histories section of this website and send to me corrections on the pronunciation of family names and any other genealogical  information you  possess that I can add to this section.  I plead ignorance to the pronunciation of many of your names.  

Notice that I have tried to spell surnames, both Acadian and non-Acadian, consistently throughout this study despite the fact that many names have many spellings in the real world out there.  The standard I use for surname spellings is this:  whichever form of the name is most often used today in South Louisiana telephone books will be the standard spelling in this study.  Thus, Breaux takes precedence over Braud, Guidry over Guédry, Robichaux over Robicheaux.  However, some families, such as Giroir/Girouard and Dupuis/Dupuy, use variant spellings in almost equal proportion, so I use them both.  If you spell your surname differently from the standard spelling I use here, then ... vive la difference! 

In a recent study of the Acadian/Cajun experience, historian Dean Jobb in his book The Cajuns:  A People's Story of Exile and Triumph, 210, notes:  "A popular myth arose that the letter X was added to surnames like Comeaux, Boudreaux, and Thibodeaux because the backward Cajuns had to sign their names with an X.  While illiteracy was the norm and compulsory schooling was not imposed until the twentieth century, [Professor Carl] Brasseaux has put the myth to rest.  His painstaking research has shown that a judge who oversaw a census in 1820 arbitrarily added an X to surnames that ended in -eau, which is the proper way to pluralize such endings in French."  This researcher has found many examples of the "x" in South Louisiana church records before 1820, but point well taken.  Its use becomes much more common after that date. 

If you want to dig deeper into the genealogical area of this website, you may want to peruse the worksheet that I use in my search for family names in the church records of South Louisiana.  This worksheet is so large that I had to break it up into three separate web pages.  Click here and enjoy.

A new aspect of my search for Cajun family names is a study of Acadian marriage patterns in Louisiana from the arrival of the first exiles in the mid-1760s to the first days of the War of 1861.  The sociological jargon for marriage within ones own ethnic group is endogamy; for marriage outside ones ethnicity, exogamy.  I have created a chronological list of marriages for each Acadian family that settled in Louisiana and produced an Acadian in Gray.  The names of each groom and bride are spelled as I found them in the church and civil records I am using for this study--Father Hébert's Southwest LA Records (SWLR) & his South LA Records (SLR), which also contain courthouse records, the church records of the Diocese of Baton Rouge (BRDR), the church records of the Archdiocese of New Orleans (NOAR), and a Spanish list of Acadian marriages at Cabanocé/St.-Jacques for 1766-68 found in Bourgeois, Cabanocey, and Voorhies, J., Some Late Eighteenth-Century Louisianians (Cab).  The spelling of the family names of the witnesses to these marriages also is as found in the records.  For the grooms and brides, Acadian surnames are highlighted in yellow, non-Acadian surnames in turquoise.  Only marriages that are recorded as such in these church and civil records are included in this study; marriages that are found only as inferences in birth, burial, and succession records are not included here (including the marriage of two of my own paternal ancestors).  If there is a conflict in dates between a church and civil record for the same marriage, as often happens, I generally use the church record date.  At the end of each family's list of marriages is a statistical table as well as a list of Acadian and non-Acadian families that the Acadian family married into over the years.  There is also a running tally of these marriages that can be reached by following this link.  

The purpose of this meticulous, time-consuming exercise is not only to dig out new Cajun families to add to my list, but also to demonstrate that the Acadians in Louisiana intermarried with non-Acadians on a substantial scale in the 90-plus years before 1861.  As the study shows, between 1765 and 1861, 1 out 3 Acadian marriages were exogamous.  As a result, a new ethnicity had arisen in Louisiana before 1861, the culture we call Cajun.  

Two important alphabetized lists which I have created attempt to document every Acadian refugee who came to Louisiana between February 1764 and the early 1800s.  The first list, which I call "Acadian Immigrants to Louisiana," is developed from a pamphlet entitled The Wall of Names at the Acadian Memorial, published by the Acadian Memorial Foundation Wall of Names Committee, St. Martinville, LA, Jane G. Bulliard, chair, second ed., Scott, LA: Hulco Printers, 2004.  Please read the Introduction to "Acadian Immigrants to Louisiana" before perusing this list; and please understand that, like many of the other parts of this study, this list, though huge, is still a work in progress.  I am going through South Louisiana church records and other sources and inserting birth, baptism, marriage, death, and burial information that is not found in the Acadian Memorial Foundation's pamphlet.  I am also perusing all of the Louisiana census records I can find and adding that information to the mini-biographies of the individuals on the list.  Originally compiled in three huge web pages organized as A-D, F-L, and M-V, I have reorganized "Acadian Immigrants to Louisiana" into individual pages for each family that will contain not only the mini-biographies of every member of that family who came to Louisiana but also capsule histories of each family from their arrival in Acadia to their settlement in South Louisiana.  These family pages include the names and personal profiles of nearly 2,900 Acadian immigrants.

An important companion to the list of Acadian Immigrants to Louisiana is a series of appendices that place the Acadian immigrants  in the context of family and place at the time of their arrival in Louisiana.  I also have a separate list for the Seven Ships of 1785 that brought over 1,500 Acadians from France to Spanish Louisiana--over half of the Acadians who found refuge there.  (The Seven Ships passenger lists can be found in the Acadian Memorial's pamphlet as well as on Tim Hébert's website, Acadian-Cajun Genealogy & History, at <acadian-cajun.com>.  The most complete source on the Seven Ships Acadians I have found, however, is Father Hébert's Acadian Families in Exile 1785.)

Another list that I have begun is Acadian Marriages taken from Stephen A. White's DGFA-1 & Bona Arsenault's Généalogie, but it is far from complete.

Units

New units will be added only when new families are introduced and these names elevate a company-sized unit to the required 25 members with Acadian/Cajun surnames, 50 for battalion-sized, 100 for regiment-sized units not broken into companies, and at least 1 member of the company, battalion, or regiment must have an Acadian surname that is clearly Acadian.  These are called Listed Units because they seem to be significantly Cajun in their personnel.

There is a hidden link on the Cajun Units page.  Hit the flag of the Louisiana Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, which can be found at the top of the list of units below the word "Louisiana," and it will take you to a page that lists all of the units in this study by service--artillery, cavalry, infantry, militia, and other types of units--down to the company/battery level.  I call this the Recapitulation of Listed Units.  It is more precise in its organization than the list of hyperlinks on the Units page.  

Another link at the bottom of the Cajun Units page, marked "Louisiana units with few or no Cajuns," takes you to a page full of units from which more individual records can be perused.   Individuals in these units are not linked to the Index of Names.  They will be linked to the Index only if the unit to which they belong becomes a significantly Cajun Unit. 

As frequent readers of the website have noticed, more names are being added from the CSRC to the company rosters of every unit in this website, whether the unit is significantly Cajun or not.  These are individuals from families not included in this study.  Eventually, every company-size unit roster will contain the names of every individual who, according to the CSRC, served in that unit.  The National Museum of the Civil War Soldier at Pamplin Historical Park in Virginia counts 85,096 individuals from Louisiana who served in the Confederate armies. [photo]  The CSRC Index lists 93,120 names of soldiers in Louisiana units; however, if a man served in more than one unit, the CSRC lists him more than once.  The names and ranks of every one of these men will appear in this website with their units, Time willing.

A quick perusal of the rosters of Cajun Units will reveal that most of the Cajuns documented in this study belonged to outfits that were clearly Cajun in character.  This reflects the fact that these Cajuns lived in tight knit communities, sharing the same language, religion, and customs.  When they volunteered for or were drafted into Confederate service, they tended to join units that were filled with their fellow Cajuns.  

The observant reader will notice that on the Cajun Units page some of the companies, batteries, battalions, and regiments are listed in bold face and larger type, while the majority of the units are not.  The bold-face designates what I call "super units"--units that are not just significantly but predominantly Cajun.  For a company or battery to qualify as a "super unit," it must contain at least 50 individuals from the list of Acadian/Cajun families; a battalion, 100; a regiment, 200; and at least 1/4 of the individuals listed in these units must have Acadian surnames.  These are the units that I will follow most closely in the chapters on the Acadians in Gray.  These "super units" hailed from the parishes of Ascension, Assumption, Iberville, Lafayette, Lafourche, Natchitoches, Orleans, Pointe Coupee, St. James, St. John, St. Landry, St. Mary, St. Martin, Terrebonne, and West Baton Rouge, all of which, except for Natchitoches & Orleans, are the Acadiana parishes where the majority of Cajuns live today.

Index of Names

These indexes can be found via the Alpha Index of Names or the Cajun Families page.  I have created hyperlinks between all individuals in the Index of Names and the Unit Rosters, which will contain the service records of each individual.  If a link labeled [photo] is located to the right of the individual's name and unit(s) in the Index of Names, the reader may follow that link to the Photo Gallery.

Individual Service Records in the Cajun Unit Rosters

This is one of the most important components of the website.  Individual Service Records will be fleshed out from Booth, the CSRC, and other sources.  Input from readers also will help complete the Individual Records.  See Thanks/Acknowledgments for examples of reader input that has helped me complete these records.  If a link labeled [photo] is found at the end of the Individual Service Record, the reader may follow that link to the Photo Gallery.

Killed in Action, Mortally Wounded in Action, Captured, Deserted, Failed to Return, Galvanized Yankees

This important list has only just begun.  It will be complete only when the Individual Service Records in the Cajun Unit Rosters are complete.  As soon as I complete an individual's record and he meets any of these criteria--KIA, MWIA, WIA, POW, etc.--I will post his name and information to the appropriate part of this list, with his name linked back to his Individual Service Record in his unit's roster.

Chronology of Acadians in Gray

This list is up to date.  It will grow when new units are added.

Sources

This list is up to date.  It will grow when new sources are used to compile the Unit Histories, Individual Service Records, Chapters, Appendices, and other components of the website that require documentation of sources.

Cemeteries

This list has only just begun.  It will be completed only when the Individual Service Records in the Unit Rosters are complete.  If I have taken a photograph of an individual's gravesite, a link labeled [photo] will take the reader directly to the page in the Photo Gallery where the picture can be found.  

Photo Gallery

Though a substantial portion of this website's server space is devoted to the Photo Gallery, this section is far from complete.  Whenever we can, Sandi and I will head down to the Bayous and take more pictures of the gravesites & UCV markers in every cemetery we can find that contains Acadians in Gray; we started this project in the summer of 2001 at Carencro and stayed at it for several summers.  I have a high-resolution digital camera that I use to take these photos.  Sandi, who is a professional graphic designer, uses the magic of Adobe Photoshop to touch up the pictures so that they will look their best on the Internet.  The photo page for an individual is linked back to his Individual Service Record.

If you own pictures of your AIG ancestors, please send me digitized copies via e-mail.  If you cannot scan an ancestor's photo or otherwise transform it into a digital image to send via e-mail, send me a copy of the picture via snail mail, & I will digitize it for you.  Please let me keep the copy for my files.

A Canadian "cousin" of mine, Dave Comeau, has generously allowed me use of the photos he has taken of Civil War battlefields where the AIGs fought.  More of Dave's photos are forthcoming.  If you have photos of places associated with the AIGs, please share them with us.  Sandi and I also will be taking pictures of battlefields, buildings, and other important sites to include in the Photo Gallery.  I will be adding maps that I will scan from books or download from the Internet, so you can expect a lot more from the Photo Gallery in the years ahead.

Thanks

I am determined to thank everyone of you who has helped me with this project.  If somehow I have forgotten to mention you, please let me know, and I will add your name to my Acknowledgments forthwith.

Website Links

I have neglected this component of the website, hence its small size.  Feel free to send me the URL of your website if it relates to Acadian/Cajun history/genealogy or to the War of 1861.  Any website that highlights the history and culture of my native Louisiana is welcome.

Reviews

If you like this site, please tell me.  If there is something about it that you do not like, please tell me that, too.

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copyright (c) 2000-16  Steven A. Cormier