The Thibodeau Family et Ces Maudits Anglais!
The origin of the family name Thibodeau was actually derived from the ancient German name Thiebaud or Theobald. The names stems from a compound of the German words “theud” meaning people and the “bald” which means bold or audacious. The name was one of the most popular personal names among the barbarian tribes, which roamed across the European continent during the Dark Ages; which resulted in various forms of the name in Europe. The great popularity of the name, Theobald made it almost inevitable that it would eventually develop into a hereditary surname. The many changes caused by dialect and language differences caused a variety of spelling to develop. Among the more common variants were: Thibaudault, Thebaudault, Thibaudeau, and Thibodeau.
While the name’s roots are German, the surname, itself, is unquestionably French and some persons of this name can undoubtedly claim ties to the French nobility. During the Napoleonic era, a noted French politician, Antoine Clair Thibaudeau, was made a Count of the Empire by Napoleon I. Clair was the son of Antoine de Thibaudeau (1739-1813), who was a lawyer in Poitiers and a deputy of the Estates-General of 1789.
Clair was admitted to the bar in 1789 and accompanied his father to the Estates-General of Versailles. In 1796, during the French Revolution, Clair Thibaudeau served as the president of the Conseil des Cinq Cents or simply the Council of Five Hundred. Some twenty years later he was sent into exile. During his exile he lived in Vienna, Prague, Augsburg, and Brussels, occupying himself by writing his memoirs and several books, among them were histoire de Napoleon and documents entitled Ma Biographie and Memoires avant ma nomination a la Convention. They were published in a small volume (Paris and Niort, 1875), which includes a list of his works and of the narrative of his life.
Further substantiation of a noble background is indicated by the two grants borne by Count Thibaudeau shows a red shield on which stands a silver lion on its hind legs, supporting a gold column with its front legs. The other coat of arms has a blue background. The cross, called a saltire or Cross of St Andrew, is silver and divides the shield into four sections. In the bottom section is a silver crescent, while in each of the other three sections is a gold five-pointed star.
The revolution of 1830 permitted his return to France; where he became a member of the Imperial Senate under the Second Empire, appointed by Louis Napoleon. Clair died in Paris, France, on March 8, 1854, at the age of eighty-nine.
More on the Thibodeau family:
Charles Thibodeau was born in 1689. His parents were Pierre Thibodeau, the first Thibodeau to set foot on North American soil. His wife was Jeanne Terriot, the daughter of Jean Terriot and Perrine Beau. Charles was the baby, the youngest of sixteen children, seven boys and nine girls. Life was relatively easy by the time Charles came around, compared to when the first Acadians arrived at New France (Novia Scotia) or Nou’velle-France—as it was called back then. On December 19, 1715, Charles married Francoise Comeau, the daughter of Pierre and Jeanne Bourg. Francoise was born about 1693.
Uncertain of when Francoise died, but it was about three to five years before Charles died, which was August 26, 1756, at Port Lajoie, Ile St. Jean, today’s Prince Edward Island. Charles’ death was probably related to the expulsion.
Olivier Thibodeau was born January 14, 1731, nearly a hundred years after his grandfather had arrived in Acadie. Olivier was born in Chipoudy Acadie, now named Hopewell Hill, New Brunswick, Canada. His parents were Charles and Francoise Marie Comeau born about 1693, the daughter of Pierre Comeau and Jeanne Bourg.
Olivier was the ninth of ten children born from the marriage between Charles and Francoise Marie. All of Pierre’s siblings loved to play with him. He was a mild mannered young boy. His sisters loved to comb his hair and dress him like a little soldier. The children also had lots of cousins, aunts and uncles to play with.
The Thibodeaus were farmers and fishermen during the spring and summer, hunter/trapper during the winter. The ice and snow of Port Royal, Acadie, made it impossible to plant anything during the cold winter months because the ground was frozen solid.
Young Olivier wanted to be like his Grandfather Pierre, an explorer and adventurer. His grandfather was born about 1624 in the Province of Poitou, France. He arrived in Acadie in April 1636, under contract for three years at a wage of 100 livres per year. It states in the 1671 census that Pierre was a plowman having seven arpents of cleared land. Pierre was an extremely active, intelligent, and industrious man. He was un meunier , a miller and owned a gristmill at Pree’ Ronde, on the upper Port Royal River. In 1698, with four sons (Pierre the eldest, Jean, Antoine, and Michel) and three of their boyhood friends (Pierre Gaudet, Guillaume Blanchard, and Germain Savoye) they founded Chipoudy, which is now known as Hopewell in New Brunswick.
Many of the French that migrated to New France came from Poitou, or the villages of Martaize’ and La Chaussee, France. Pierre was the first Thibodeau to set foot in North America in 1636, and Pierre Thibodeau is the ancestor of all Thibodeauxs.
The French first came to North America in 1604; seven months before the English colonists departed for Jamestown in Virginia, and fourteen years before the landing of the Mayflower at Plymouth Rock. The first French landed at a place the Mikmaq Indians call Kadi (Cadie) or l’Kadi, (l’Acadie) the land of abundance. Later, the Indian word Cadienne (pronounced with a J sound) was shortened to simply Cajun, mostly because the non-French speakers would mispronounce the name.
Back then, when the first French settlers arrived there were men only; no women, which made life boring without a companion. The French soon assimilated to the customs of the “les gens du pays,” (the people of the country) the Mikmaq, and began marrying the local Indians or sauvages. Their offspring were known as “Me’tis,” and their language began to change. Some were speaking a combination of French and Mikmawisimk.
In 1636, with the civil violence and all of the uncertainty going on in France, many of the French left France, some on the transport, Saint-Jehan, which sailed from La Rochelle, France in April 1636, including Pierre and the parents of his wife, Jeanne Theriot, which were Jean Theriot and Perrine Rau.
Pierre Thibodeau and Jeanne Theriot met and later were married about 1660. Together they had sixteen children. Pierre eventually moved from Port Royal to Pree’ Ronde up the Annapolis River. He built a gristmill and finally a sawmill, which was constructed on the Loups Marins stream.
Occasionally Olivier’s father would take him and his brothers along while farming or hunting. Olivier loved farming more than anything. He enjoyed watching the young plants grow and mature after planting them from seed. He also liked working with the animals on their large farm.
Pierre died on December 26, 1704, at the age of seventy-three and his wife, Jeanne Theriot died on December 7, 1726 at Port Royal.
On November 8, 1980, a monument was unveiled at Round Hill, (Pree’ Ronde) Annapolis County, Novia Scotia, commemorating Pierre Thibodeau, the first white settler to live in the Round Hill area. He was also the first Thibodeau to set foot in North America.
Olivier Thibodeau married Marie Magdelaine Broussard date unknown. Marie was the daughter of Jean Broussard and Cecile Babin. Cecile’s date of birth is unknown. Together they had three children, a son and two daughters.
The French Acadians were in Acadie for 150 years, when the English Lieutenant Governor, Charles Lawrence, wanted them to take an oath of allegiance to England. They refused. Charles Lawrence said, “This was the law in regard to Popish Recusants—Catholics who refused to swear allegiance to the king—a crime that was punished with the loss of lands, tenements, which also included inherited property.”
This legal justification was surely the contribution of Chief Justice Jonathan Belcher, with whom the Board of Trade had instructed Charles Lawrence to consult on the legalities of the confiscation of the Acadian property.
The Governor told the Acadians that their former estates, both real and personal were forfeited for your Majesty’s use. Moreover Lawrence lied to the Acadians when he said, the French would be sent to France. That wasn’t his intention at all; in fact France was never an option. Charles Lawrence made it clear that the Acadians must not be allowed to return to the maritime region, for if they did, they would surely be an implacable enemy, determined to win back their lands. The Acadians were kept in the dark and Lawrence made them think they were returning to their French brethren; otherwise he seriously doubted their willingness to quit their possessions and offer themselves “to be transported they know not wither.”
Governor William Shirley, of Massachusetts, promised to have sufficient sailing ships to “get rid of the vermin once and for all.” It was known as the great noble scheme; ironically, nearly two hundred years later Hitler made the same statement about the Jews. Charles and his wife, Francoise, were among the 18,000 French Acadians that formed the bulk of the population in Acadie.
There were numerous large, sailing ships rented from the New England states assigned for the deportation. On August 9, 1755, the French Acadians were ordered to meet at Fort Cumberland, to hear a reading from Lt. Governor Charles Lawrence. The Acadians were suspicious and refused to go. The meeting was postponed until the following day. Several hundred French Acadians attended; and the ones that did attend were all taken prisoners. The English were told to proceed by the most vigorous measures possible, not only in compelling them to embark on the sailing ships, but in depriving those who shall escape of all means of shelter or support, by burning their homes, their fields, confiscate their livestock and everything that may afford them the means of subsistence in the country. The operation must be carried out ruthlessly, and if there are any resistance, punish them at your discretion “take an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, and in short a life for a life.”
At the time of the expulsion it was estimated the Acadians owned nearly 20,000 head of cattle, 30,000 head of sheep, 1,600 horses, and countless hogs. All forfeited to the king. They were used to pay for provisions of the troops and the deportees as well as to repay the king for his expenses.
Many of the Acadians hid out in the woods for several weeks. The blustery cold, insufficient food, clothing, and shelter made it impossible for them to continue. They surrendered.
The following is an article printed in the Pennsylvania Gazette, on September 4, 1755: We are now upon a great and noble scheme of sending the neutral French out of this Province, who have always been secret enemies, and have encouraged our savages to cut our throats. If we effect their expulsions, it will be one of the greatest things that ever the English did in America; for by all accounts, that part of the country they possess, is a good land as any in the world; in case therefore we could get some good English farmers in their room, this Province would abound with all kinds of provisions.
Abbe’ Henri Daudin, a parish priest, recalled a statement made by an Acadian, “You can kill my body, but you shall not kill my soul.”
On Friday September 5, 1755, the French Acadians gathered at the church in Grand Pre’ and were kept there until they were loaded onto the ships five days later. The expulsion was named, “Le Grand Derangement,” the great upheaval.
The great sailing ships arrived for loading on September 10, 1755. The scene was confusion, despair and desolation. The women, children and elderly were forced to pull carts with their household effects, while the men and young boys were loaded onto crowded ships. The Acadians believed they were being separated for only a few days, but they were wrong. They were so widely dispersed that most would never meet again; they were scattered to the winds. The families were intentionally separated to eradicate the Acadians and to destroy them as people. The taking of their rich and fertile land was the main reason for taking their property and it had little to do with religion. It was the first ethic cleansing in North America.
The French Acadians were loaded on the ships. They were packed like sardines, no place to sit comfortably and with inadequate food supply. Remember how the women, children, and the elderly were forced to pull carts with their household goods? There was no room for personal belongings. They were left on shore for the English to take and do as they pleased with them. The exiles had to remain below deck, only six at a time were allowed on deck for a few minutes each day. The weather at the time of the deportation was especially severe. Many died during the voyage and were simply tossed overboard unceremoniously. An estimated 14,000 to 18,000 French Acadians were deported between 1755 and 1763; historians estimate that approximately half of all the Acadians died as a direct result of it, primarily due to shipwrecks, disease, and exposure. It was one of the most horrific episodes in North American history.
Many of the French Acadians were sent to Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Georgia, the Carolinas or Virginia. Wherever they went it was always the same; they were unwanted, they were teased and laughed at because of their strange language, and they were treated like the plague. They didn’t have proper clothing and what they did have was dirty, threadbare, and tattered. They were literally starving while the New Englanders stood by and watched. Some were barely surviving on acorns gathered in the nearby woods, while others were reduced to eating shoe leather, carrion, and even animal dung.
While the Acadians were exiled to many parts of the world, the English were busy resettling Acadie with English-speaking, Protestant colonists, and English loyalist from the New England states. Ces maudits Anglais!
When the New England planters arrived on the property that had previously belonged to the Acadians; they were immediately confronted with the problem of repairing the dikes. The dikes were in such disrepair that the fields were inundated with salt water. The Acadians possessed the important skills and essential knowledge about the province’s agricultural system; and especially at building and maintaining the dikes and reclaiming land. Many of the new property owners asked the governor to please encourage the Acadians to remain to assist them. Governor Lawrence made arrangements to release the Acadians from prisons for them to teach and assist the new landowners.
Charles Lawrence became Governor Lawrence in 1756, when Governor Hobson resigned the post. Lawrence served as governor until his death in 1760. A vrai Fils d’putain!
Some of the Acadians were sent to England, where they were placed in prisons until after La Guerre de Sept Ans, the Seven Years War was over.
In France, they were too far out of step and out of time with the French, coupled with poverty; their future was bleak.
Some of the French Acadians were sent to the French Caribbean, French Guiana, and some sought refuge in the Falkland Islands, all to no avail. Most returned to France penniless.
The Acadians arrived in Louisiana between the years 1763 and 1785. Uncertain when Olivier and his wife, Marie Broussard arrived, or where they were from the time of the deportation, but the earliest records show that Marie Broussard died May 16, 1765 in St. Martinville. Olivier settled on land above that of his cousin, Amand Thibodeau, who came to Louisiana in 1763, as part of a group led by Joseph and Alexandre Broussard, the former “Prisoners of War” from Halifax, Novia Scotia.
Joseph “Beausoleil” Broussard married Agnes Thibodeau, the daughter Michel Thibodeaux and the granddaughter of Pierre. Following the expulsion from Novia Scotia in 1755, Joseph and his brother Alexandre, the two founders of Boundary Creek and referred to as “dit Beausoleil” meaning land of the good sun. Joseph and his brother formed a resistance group, which would fight the British and the expulsion for four years. Finally to avoid killing his group by starvation, Joseph negotiated a surrender, which provided for his group being housed, fed, and kept together as prisoners until 1763 following the “treaty of Paris.” In 1764, Joseph Beausoleil chartered a schooner on which a large group of Acadian refugees sailed for “any land where French was spoken.” The voyage took the group initially to Saint Domingue, (today’s Haiti) and eventually to Louisiana.
Upon their arrival in Louisiana they were sent to the Attakapas region with Joseph named as group leader with the rank of Captain in the Militia. Six months after his arrival at Attakapas, Joseph contacted yellow fever and died, as did his brother, Alexandre, and other members of the family. Joseph “Beausoleil” Broussard died on November 25, 1765.
On June 20, 1771, Olivier received a Spanish land grant of six arpents front by forty arpents deep on both sides of Bayou Teche. Then on January 5, 1777, he received another grant of land in the Bayou Vermilion area (east of present day Evangeline Thruway and south of Surrey St. in Lafayette.) Olivier’s son, Theodore, also received a land grant on January 5, 1777, directly above that of his father and probably included part of the present day Lafayette Municipal Golf Course.
In 1776 Louisiana belonged to Spain, until after the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. Nonetheless, many Acadians readily fought in the American Revolution against the British, inspite of the fact that they despised the “Americians” for their part in helping the Anglais de Angleterre. They absolutely hated ces maudits Anglais even more, mainly because of their inhuman treatment in evicting the Acadians from Acadie.
The Acadian flag’s gold star represents the Virgin Mary, patron saint of the Acadians. The star also symbolizes the active participation of the Acadians in the American Revolution because at the time, Louisiana was still owned by the Spanish and not part of the United States.
Word of Louisiana’s thriving community spread rapidly. On Sunday, May 10, 1785, 30 years after Le Grand Derangement, the first group of Acadians arrived in Louisiana from France on board 7 ships. They were:
· Le Bon Papa 136 persons, including Angelique Pinel (Veuve Leger) and Louis and Jean.
· La Bergere 237 persons
· Le Beaumont 268 persons
· Le Saint-Remy 341 persons
· La Amistad 270 persons
· La Ville De Arcangel 309 persons
· La Carolina 80 persons
Bridgitte Part Boudrot, later known as La Veuve Boudrot, (the widower) sailed on the ship, l’Amitie from France, arriving at New Orleans on November 7, 1785. At the time of her arrival, she was sixty years of age. Quel courage! She was my wife, Elaine’s descendant. By the end of the year, more than 1,500 Acadians were carried to Louisiana, though Spanish owned, still French in flavor and name.
Olivier Thibodeau remarried on September 30, 1786 to Agnes Brun. She was born about 1739. Together they had five children—four boys and a girl. The second to the oldest boy was Cyrille Thibodeaux, which is my direct ancestor.
Early in 1847, poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow completed Evangeline, A Tale of Acadie, a story about the separation of Acadian families and of Evangeline Bellefontaine and he betrothed, Gabriel Lajeunesse, torn apart on their wedding day and sent to separate colonies.
Evangeline was a huge success. The poem went through six printings the first six months. Its fame spread throughout North America, Great Britain, and Europe, and within ten years it had been translated into a dozen languages including a French version in 1853. The poem became enormously popular among the Acadians, but the political establishment in Novia Scotia considered it an assault on their honor. Mais, pense donc.
Lt. Governor Charles Lawrence was responsible for writing the Acadian deportation order; and the following despicable individuals were the most responsible for the atrocities perpetrated on the Acadians:
· William Shirley, Governor of Massachusetts,
· Charles Lawrence, the Governor of Novia Scotia,
· Jonathan Belcher, the Chief Justice of Novia Scotia,
· Edward Boscawen, Vice Admiral of the Royal Navy,
· Savage Mostyn, Rear-Admiral of the Royal Navy,
· Charles Morris, Justice of the Peace at Halifax,
· Robert Monckton, Colonel of the British Army,
· John Winslow, Colonel of the British Army,
· All of the members of the Novia Scotia Council, and
· John Handfield who was appointed Counsel of Novia Scotia and later after deporting many of his Acadian in-laws was appointed Lieutenant Colonel in the British Army.
Le Grand Derangement was the first episode of state sponsored ethnic cleansing in North American history. There are now well over two million Acadian descendants worldwide, but the largest concentration, more than 800,000 are in Louisiana.
In December of 2003 the Queen announced in a carefully worded Royal Proclamation, an official acknowledgement of responsibility and designated the 28th of July each year as “A Day of Commemoration of the Great Upheaval,” which started in 2005.
This completes the first chapter of the Thibodeaux genealogy, more to follow soon.
William J. Thibodeaux
All The Marbles
While growing up in Rayne, Louisiana, I played marbles. Most boys and some girls would play marble games at home and at school before class and during recess.
Groups of two to six would play in each game of marbles. Everyone would “lag” to determine who shoots first. The closest to the lag line wins, followed by order of closeness. When only two or three players participated rock-paper-scissors would determine the order of play.
My schoolmates and I would carry our marbles in our pockets, bags or in an old sock. Some even carried them in a cigar box with a hole in the lid to be used as a “Drop box.”
We would draw a circle in the dirt, but officially the game was played in a ten feet diameter ring and on smooth level ground, hard clay, or suitable substance.
In archaeological sites from Egypt and Rome, marbles have been found dating back to 3000 BC and some back to the ice age and on every continent. Several U.S. presidents played marbles. Some say Presidents George Washington and Thomas Jefferson played marbles. Abraham Lincoln was an expert at the game.
Vice President, John Tyler, was on his knees playing marbles when he was informed that he had become our tenth President of the United States upon the death of President Harrison.
Marbles were first made of flint, stone, and baked clay. Later they were made of stone, marble, clay, wood, plastic, ceramic, porcelain, steel; the favorite was glass. They were made in various sizes, but five-eights inch is the standard. Steelies or ironies were banned from most games, however we didn’t know better, so in Rayne they were allowed.
When we played marbles, we always played for keeps, and when the school bell rang ending recess and the game of marbles; each player would grab for the marbles left inside the ring.
Ringer is the most popular marble game, but for us growing up in Rayne, we never knew the names of any marble games. We just played.
A German glass blower invented a marble scissor in 1846, which increased production. The first machine to manufacture glass marbles was introduced in the 1890’s. In 1943 there were about eighty million marbles manufactured here, in the United States and distributed around the world.
In the 1920s and 1930s marbles were as popular as baseball with the boys and the girls. The TV and other electronic games have effectively ended the game of marbles.
The games of golf, bowling and billiards all evolved from marbles.
The National Marbles Tournament is held each June in Wildwood, New Jersey and the game of “ringer” was chosen as the official game. It is the oldest, ongoing national tournament contest for children in America.
The National Marbles Museum is located in Northern California at Yreka.
Tinsley Green, located just twenty-eight miles south of London, England has hosted the World Marbles Championship for 300 years. It is held on Good Friday.
The term “No funching” means while shooting your shooter, you cannot crossover the line or ring. That is considered cheating. A number of terms used in the American lexicon come from marbles. Some of the more common terms are “Knuckle down,” “Playing for keeps,” “Lagging,” and the most obvious one is “All the marbles.”
William J. Thibodeaux
It is late summer of 1943 in Acadia Parish, just outside of Rayne, Louisiana. WWII is still raging and a crowd of people are gathered at the home of Noah Stelly. Noah is an elderly, well-respected cotton farmer and probably the only owner of a radio in the community during a time of rationing. Mr. Stelly shares his radio with his friends.
The atmosphere each Sunday afternoon at Noah’s home is like a festival, everyone is excited and waiting for the main attraction to begin.
Wilson and Andrus, ages eighteen and fourteen years old respectively, are Andale (Au-de-ohl) Thibodeaux’s sons. They are helping their older brother, Clovis, with the cotton crop; their father volunteered them. Today is Sunday, rest day; and the two brothers joined the excitement, but uncertain of what to expect.
Suddenly, as if a switch is turned off, everyone is silent; you can hear a pin drop. A loud voice speaking in French is heard coming from a radio.
The radio sits on a small, polished table with tall wooden legs next to an open window in the front room of the house. Mr. Stelly proudly mans the radio while sitting in one of the many cowhide chairs.
The radio is brown in color, made by Emerson and battery powered. The right half of the radio has a big rectangular shaped dial with two large knobs at the bottom of and on either side of the dial while the entire left half of the radio was speaker.
Inside, the women would sit and talk with their friends and neighbors, while outside on the large wooden porch, the men talked about cotton prices, the weather or politics; but when the person on the radio starts speaking, everyone listens. The voice on the radio begins by saying, “Monsieur et Madame, et ma chers amis” (Mr. and Mrs. and my dear friends.)
Very quietly Wilson whispers to Andrus, “Its Dudley J. Leblanc.” Andrus shakes his head in acknowledgement, but remains quiet.
Coozan Dud, as he was often called, had a weekly radio commentary every Sunday afternoon. He was well liked by most Cajuns, because he was one of them. He spoke their language.
Dudley was first elected to public office in 1924 as a Louisiana State Representative. He served as one of Louisiana’s Public Service Commissioners, (back then, there were three), four non-consecutive terms as a Louisiana State Senator; and ran a few unsuccessful attempts at being Louisiana’s Governor and once for Lt. Governor. Mr. Leblanc ran twice, unsuccessfully, for the U.S. House of Representatives. At the time of his death, October 22, 1971, Dudley was seeking a fifth term at representing Vermilion and Acadia Parishes.
Dudley J. Leblanc died of a massive stroke while at Abbeville General Hospital, where he was admitted for emergency gastric ulcer surgery three days earlier. He was buried the next day at St. Mary Magdalen Catholic Church in Abbeville, La. at seventy-seven years of age.
He is credited with creating Louisiana’s “Old Age” Pension, originally thirty dollars per month for a person over the age of sixty-five. Later it was increased to $100. Dudley also made a fortune with Hadocol, a “Medicinal tonic” laden with alcohol.
Coozan Dud, had an advantage over his political contemporaries, he spoke French fluently. Dudley was a practical joker; and loved having fun, especially at someone else’s expense. Occasionally, when politicians shared the stage or platform with Dudley, he would sometimes inform the audience that a particular person, standing next to him was a thief or worse, un maudits americian (a repulsive American.) The unsuspecting politician would smile and applaud with approval.
William J. Thibodeaux