Are you for armed guards at schools?|
Story Archives: Ulloa tells Concordia Acadians to settle or face exile again; building pirogues
- 2013 - 285 articles
- 2012 - 856 articles
- 2011 - 635 articles
- 2010 - 1276 articles
- 2009 - 1591 articles
- 2008 - 1763 articles
|Ulloa tells Concordia Acadians to settle or face exile again; building pirogues|
ACADIANS IN CONCORDIA: 1768-1769
(Fifth in a Series)
In Concordia in the spring of 1768, Lt Pedro Piernas was awaiting word from the governor of Louisiana on what do with 147 Acadians who refused to settle on land near the Spanish fort located below present day Vidalia.
This group of Acadians, one of many that came to Louisiana in the years after the British ran them out of Nova Scotia, had arrived in New Orleans a few weeks earlier from Maryland. Gov. Antonio Ulloa, Spain's first governor of the Louisiana colony, sent them to Concordia as part of a plan to create settlements near Spanish forts on the west side of the Mississippi opposite English forts along the east side.
But the Acadians assigned to Concordia by Ulloa were never happy with his decision, and their leaders protested. By this time, Ulloa was furious that two Acadians, Honore´ and Alexis Braud, had fled New Orleans with their families after learning that they would be forced to settle in Concordia or placed on a ship and banished from Louisiana. They hid with relatives at an Acadian settlement between Baton Rouge and New Orleans.
When the commander at the nearby fort sent the Acadian militia to arrest Honore´ and Alexis Braud, they instead warned them of Ulloa's intentions, and gave the Brauds ample time to make their escape. Eventually, the brothers crossed the Mississippi and fled to British Territory. The lieutenant governor of the British province of West Florida, which included Natchez, had been luring Acadians to settle on British land.
In fact, one Spanish officer reported that the Brauds were planning to settle at British Natchez, across the river from the Concordia fort. The Mississippi at that moment was the dividing line of two nations -- Great Britain on the east and Spain on the west. The Spanish officer sent a crew of "well armed" men in a boat "in pursuit" of the Brauds to arrest the men and return them to New Orleans. But on April 25 the Brauds slipped into the British fort of Manchac where the commander there welcomed them.
A cousin of the Brauds, Joseph Braud, was among three Acadians sent from the Concordia fort to New Orleans to meet with Ulloa again on the settlement issue. In the meantime, Acadian settlers at other locations in Louisiana were stunned when the commanders of Spanish posts at Opelousas, Attakapas, Pointe Coupee, Cabannoce´ and Des Allemandes received a letter from Ulloa with a hard line against any Acadian discontent.
He told one commander: "You will not allow to settle in the area under your jurisdiction any of the Acadians who have recently arrived under the command of Pedro Piernas (at Concordia), be they individuals or families, and, should they attempt it, you will arrest them immediately and send them to this city as prisoners. For this purpose, you will convoke (a meeting of) all the heads of households of your post and let them know that no one should receive them regardless of the reason or the pretext of familial relationship, under pain of the following penalty: he who harbors them, contrary to my orders, will be expatriated from the colony with his family, regardless of the excuse."
In a circular letter to commanders throughout Louisiana, Ulloa wrote: "You will prevent any newly-arrived Acadian from settling in your district. Consequently, you will forewarn all the settlers that they are forbidden to harbor them, under any circumstances.
"You will also warn the Acadians already settled in your district. Should they receive any Acadians, even the relatives under any circumstance, they will pay dearly for their disobedience, forfeiting their land grants."
ACADIAN BURIED AT FORT
At the Concordia fort, the Acadians, weary from their trials, began to soften in their attitude against Concordia as they awaited word from Ulloa on their resettlement request. Piernas said the Acadians were beginning "to recognize the land's value. I don't know if they will hold the same opinion when the three men (including Joseph Braud) who went to meet with you and who have always influenced the rest, return."
Piernas reported that a large portion of land around the fort had been cleared to provide "better ventilation and to protect ourselves from the sickness" experienced by the soldiers there the previous summer. "Because of this I expect all of them to remain healthy, as they are presently, for there has not been a patient in the hospital for two or three months."
He said the "housing project" at the fort was continuing and that the houses of the engineer, an officer, the storehouse keeper, chaplain and physician would soon be built.
In April 1768, a document with Ulloa's decision arrived by boat at the Concordia fort. There, the Acadians learned that the governor rejected their plea for resettlement and all of their complaints about the proposed Concordia settlement. Piernas gave them 24 hours to make one of two choices -- settle in Concordia or face banishment from Louisiana.
The next day, April 23, the Acadians told Piernas they would stay. They had little choice. Banishment from the colony with no where to go and no money was not really a choice at all.
In late April, Marthe Clautre, age 20 and daughter of one of the widows settling at Concordia, died. She was buried in the fort cemetery, which in the days ahead would be filled with Acadian bodies.
The Acadians were soon assigned property and began clearing land. They built temporary huts to shelter them from the weather as they cleared and planted land with plans to build permanent homes later. They also began to build a road from the farm sites to the fort.
A PIROGUE-BUILDER ON CATAHOULA LAKE
"Others have applied themselves to building pirogues," said Piernas, "for their use so that most of them own one..."
Historian Dunbar Rowland said in his 1907 book -- "Mississippi: Comprising Sketches of Counties, Towns, Events, Institutions, and Persons, Arranged in Cyclopedic Form" -- that the "words pirogue or canoe were often used interchangeably." Rowland said both the canoe and pirogue "were quickly made, but while the canoe was paddled and easily glided up stream, the pirogue was pushed by oars and setting-poles, ran easily with the current, and only ascended the stream by the expenditure of much effort. Both were boats of a primitive and undeveloped period...
"It is nevertheless true that prior to the close of the Revolutionary War, the canoe, pirogue and batteau types of river craft reigned supreme on the inland waters. The customary freight of the canoe was wampum and Indian goods and presents, packs and peltries. Nor should its carrying capacity be underestimated. Though frail, and commonly built from the bark of trees, it could be made long, and freighted with a score of men and their supplies for an extended voyage."
Canoe or pirogue-building was developed and perfected by the Indians, but quickly adapted by the French. Concordia native Dr. Hiram "Pete" Gregory, an archaeologist, wrote in a "Louisiana Studies" article in the 1960s, that the "primary mode of water transportation in Louisiana in the 1700s was the dugout log canoe, or in colloquial parlance, the pirogue. This boat, carved from half an ash or cypress log, was originally an Indian craft, but the French, and later the Anglo-Saxons, were quick to adapt it to their own needs. Their steel tools, especially the round adze or tille ronde, were applied to the manufacture of the pirogue at an early date...
"In early times, pirogues, often capable of carrying several persons, were made by almost every carpenter." In the 1960s, Gregory said the "small, sleek, 'peashell' variety of southern Louisiana is to be seen in any numbers, but very few of even these small vessels are being manufactured at present. At one time, families often specialized in the 'building' of these craft, and their technical skills were passed on from generation to generation."
In the 1930s, ethnologist John R. Swanton found a pirogue-builder on Catahoula Lake in Rapides Parish. Emrick Sanson, who lived in Deville at the time, represented the "last generation of Louisianians to participate in what was in colonial times a thriving profession -- pirogue-building."
Sanson, like other pirogue builders, used the tille ronde handed down from his father and previous generations. Sanson's came from a French cane hoe made by his ancestor, M. Belgard, at the Rapides post in 1790.
Sanson said pirogue-building was a vanishing art for three reasons:
-- The last generation of craftsmen like Sanson, then aging, had few young people interested in learning the art because "mechanical propulsion and pre-fabricated boats are preferred."
-- "Saw-lumber or board lumber makes it unnecessary to spend long hours in hollowing and shaping the inside and gunwales of these craft."
-- "The lack of suitable timber...especially true of the pirogue-maker's favorite wood, Bald cypress...since most of Louisiana's virgin swampland long ago fell to the ax and saw."
There at the Concordia fort, the Acadians built canoes and pirogues, likely with help and advice from Indians who visited the fort almost daily. Their knowledge of this craft would later be handed down to their descendants, better known in Louisiana today as the Cajuns.
MURMURS OF ULLOA'S HAUGHTINESS
Each Acadian family at the Concordia fort was given an average of about 200 acres of land, which included about 1,000 feet of river frontage. Spanish grants along waterways were typically narrow in width, but deep.
Historian Richard E. Chandler wrote in a 1973 article in "Louisiana History" that ownership of lands was given "outright to the Acadians and they were to be proclaimed vassals of the king of Spain, with all the rights and privileges granted to all colonists. Land would be given only to heads of families, however, even though there were other adults among the refugees. Thus, they would be encouraged to marry and establish families, which was the purpose of providing funds for settling them in the colony.
"Civil and political government would be in the hands of the commandant of the fort, but they would govern themselves as far as their economic lives were concerned, settling discords amicably among themselves and according to their customs. Up to ten unmarried men would be allowed to work in the fort at the regular wages aid to others. Those who had skills, such as carpentry or masonry, would be offered employment at the prevailing wages for Spaniards. Married men would not be allowed to work for the fort for fear that they would neglect their homesteading efforts."
Meanwhile, Ulloa's hard-line stance on the Concordia Acadians was becoming well known to other Acadian settlers throughout the colony along the Mississippi River, around Opelousas and Bayou Teche. The predominant French population of Louisiana already hated Ulloa, and if a popularity poll had been run, Ulloa's numbers would have been horrifying to his advisers.
Charles-Philippe Aubry, who served as acting governor of Louisiana for the French until Ulloa and the Spanish took possession, said Ulloa had introduced "into the government of the colony some ideas" foreign to "the French nature, so that the inhabitants and savages (Indians) fear this domination." He found Ulloa to be a man "full of merit, of learning and talent, but contrary to the custom of his nation he is extremely hasty" and does "not listen sufficiently" to the public's "discontent."
Aubry had told Ulloa that the Louisiana colonists "must be led by gentleness, that in receiving them with honor and with feeling one could do with them what one pleased.." But by treating them like a dictator, he would lose colonists or he would face their wrath because "the inhabitants murmured at the despotism and haughtiness with which he governed."
The smell of rebellion was in the air, fueled in part by Ulloa's treatment of the Acadians sent to Concordia.
(Editor's Note: Photos, maps, illustrations, etc., often included with Stanley Nelson's weekly column in The Concordia Sentinel, are not duplicated on website. To subscribe to Sentinel, call 318-757-3646.)
|Frank Morris Murder Series|