Tuesday, February 5, 2013

FAMILY TIES

Beausoleil Broussard
Last week before the action between the Ravens and the 49ers football teams took place in the New Orleans Super Bowl, New Iberia, Louisiana buzzed with news about the famous singer Beyonce’ who would perform at the Super Bowl halftime and who mentioned having family ties here in the Queen City on the Teche. It seems that the famous songstress’s lineage on her maternal side dates back to Joseph Broussard dit Beausoleil, the leader of the first Acadians to come to the Attakapas area, which includes St. Martinville, a town approximately seven miles up the road from New Iberia. The mother of Beyonce’, a Louisiana Creole, descended from Beausoleil Broussard, so-named because his smile was as brilliant as the sun and whose courage was unequaled among his kinsman in Port Royal, Nova Scotia, the place of his birth.

Broussard Coat of Arms
in Meditation Garden
In Nova Scotia, Beausoleil led an armed resistance movement against the British in the War between England and France, and his superior shooting skills gained him widespread fame. However, he was eventually imprisoned with other Acadians in Halifax, Nova Scotia and wasn’t released until the Treaty of Paris was signed in 1763, ending the war between England and France. In 1764, Beausoleil traveled with a group of Acadians on a ship bound for the West Indies. These Acadians became part of what is known as the Grand Derangement. In the West Indies, the 200 Acadians, who were unaccustomed to the relentless heat, decided to sail from Santo Domingo to New Orleans Louisiana, eventually settling in the Poste des Attakapas, now known as St. Martinville, Louisiana. At this post, Beausoleil signed a contract with Antoine Bernard d’Hauterive for cattle and land and was designated militia captain and commander of the Acadians of the Attakapas. Unfortunately, shortly after his arrival, the intrepid leader died of yellow fever before he could witness the remarkable growth of this Acadian settlement in the New World.

Pierre Vincent, back turned
Today, the arrival of the Acadians in Louisiana has been memorialized in a huge mural in the Acadian Memorial and the Museum of the Acadian Memorial/Cultural Heritage Center at St. Martinville. The mural, painted by Robert Dafford, contains figures that represent actual documented Acadian refugees who arrived in Louisiana with Beausoleil. Among those depicted in that mural and on the “Wall of Names” at the Museum, is one of my own antecedents, Pierre Vincent, a cattleman who, for some reason, has his back turned to the world in the mural! According to a chart of my family history, Pierre Vincent, Sr., born in Port Royal, came to St. Martinville and occupied a tract of land with fourteen arpents frontage. He owned seventy semi-wild beef cattle and thirty tame cattle and was married briefly to Agnes Broussard, who died, shortly after the marriage, in St. Martin Parish.

Vincent Coat of Arms
in Meditation Garden
Today, we visited the Museum of the Acadian Memorial, and I viewed the wonderful mural, “The Arrival of the Acadians in Louisiana,” for the third time, still pondering the reason that my ancestor has his back turned in the painting. We also walked in the Meditation Garden on the Bayou Teche, the backdrop for the Eternal Flame where a life size replica of the Deportation Cross of the exiled Acadians and mosaics of Acadian family Coats of Arms are featured. I’ve included photographs of the Dafford mural, the Deportation Cross, and the commemorative mosaics of the Broussard and Vincent family Coats of Arms.

Acadian Deportation Cross
An eighth generation descendant of Beausoleil, Warren A. Perrin of Lafayette, Louisiana, petitioned the British Crown in 1990, seeking an apology from the Crown regarding the expulsion of the Acadians from their native Nova Scotia. It was resolved on December 9, 2003 through the signing of the Queen’s Royal Proclamation. Beausoleil and his band of Acadians have been redeemed!

I don’t know if any of the Broussards in St. Martinville were musicians who passed on a singing gene to Beyonce’, but we think it’s great just to know that she has roots in our rich Acadian culture.

Photographs by Victoria I. Sullivan

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