Tuesday, October 18, 2005


OK, my favorite subject.

We were the "other French colony" - comprising present day Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Maine. As such we bore the brunt of British colonal attacks out of Boston and New York.

My g-g-g-g-g-g-grandfather (Barthelemy Bergeron d'Amboise) had come from France with the military and fought in Hudson Bay and in New York. He married into a family that had been granted the whole Passamaquoddy Bay, where the St. Croix river flows into the Bay of Fundy. He and his wife (Genevieve Serreau de St-Aubin) were "given" Campobello Island for their home after their wedding. They lived there, on and off, for about 25 years, until they moved to the area that is now Fredericton, NB. Barthelemy was a privateer in wartime and a sea-going merchant along the Fundy in peace time. The English called him a pirate and smuggler. His son who was my g-g-g-g-g-grandfather was also a sailor and merchant.

The next one in my family tree was a real hero. After the deportation by the English in 1755 (in French it's called "The Great Insanity") a group of families tried to stay in the Fredericton NB area, but were constantly attacked by soldiers and rangers. The latter were from Massachussetts, wanted more land up there and had a veangeance thing for all the past wars. Quebec would attack the English, and all they saw was Frenchmen, so they'd attach Acadia because it was close and easy to get to. The Rangers were especially nasty, killing women and babies if they couldn't get anyone else. (One of their leaders later became a Massachussetts hero of the American Revolution.)

After about 10 years of this, Michel Bergeron, a carpenter with a lot of woodsman skills (he had Indian uncles), led a group of ten extended families through the forest all summer, up to the St. Lawrence River. They wintered in a small village there, then canoed upriver to a spot across from Three Rivers (Trois Rivieres), where they settled. Then Michel worked in the city for cash so the families could buy tools, seeds, and food to live on until the next crop came in. For his selfless work, he was given a long life (he died at age 96 in the early 1800s) with lots of family. My paternal grandfather came from the region that Michel had settled.

I am working on a book about these first three generations of Bergerons in the Americas. I just found out about these people 10-12 years ago and have made their story my passion. If I ever go back for my Master's Degree, I'd like to study the relationships between black, white and Indian people in New England and Acadia. Whether they are willing to admit it or not, every Acadian has SOME Indian in their family tree, but once they got to Quebec, they didn't like to talk about it. The Acadians who became Cajuns in Louisiana very quickly mingled with Indian folks down there.

I have a paper published on the internet that will form the basis for the book. It is called Three Acadian Generations: The First Bergeron d'Amboises in the Americas. See www.acadian.org/bergeron.html. I try to keep the "d'Amboise" part with the name as much as possible, because one branch of the family has kept it, or a variation, as its family name. I have a cousin in New Hampshire named Joe Damboise.


rox said...

Do you happen to know where the name St. Aubin comes from? I know a St. Aubin. She's from Austin, MN. The home of the Spam museum.

RJBergeron said...

St. Aubin is originally from Poitou, France. That's the old name for the province. It is located just nort/northeast of Bordeaux. Its main city is Poitiers.

I am only familiar with the Acadian name and origin, but there may be other origins for Quebecois names, i.e., for people who settled originally in Quebec instead of Acadia. I'll try to find out more info.

If she is American Indian, then the name almost certainly comes from the one of the Maine or New Brunswick first nations - from a cousin of mine who married a Malecite woman. Either way, she and I may be (very distant) cousins.