His Father Was His Uncle
Yarmouth Vanguard, Tuesday, January 17, 1989
During the first half of the 19th century lived in Sainte-Anne-du-Ruisseau a mulatto to whom Father Sigogne, when he baptized him, gave the name of Joseph Quomino, although this was not the name of his father, nor of his mother. Why Quomino? The only explanation that I can find is that many years before lived in Jamaica a person by that name, described in documents as "a rebellious Negro", although the only common trait between our Joseph and this "rebellious Negro" was the color of their skin.
His father was Anselme Hatfiled, more commonly known as "Sam", born in New York, the son of Samuel and of Ann Hatfield. We find this Anselme Hatfield for the first time around the end of the 18th century in Sissiboo, now Weymouth; he was just a lad. How did he come to Nova Scotia is not know. He was put under the care of Paul Dugas, Jr., who was supposed to provide for him, while Anselme Hatfield would be at Dugas' service "after the manner of slaves".
At the age of 21, he was given his freedom; the document making him a free man is dated in Sissiboo July 1, 1798 and signed by Stephen Jones, Esq., J.P., of Sissiboo, always very prominent in the municipal affairs of his time, and by John McCullough, Town Clerk for the Township of Clare (whose son, Mathurin, was to be the founder of Corberrie with his brother-in-law Germain Corporon). We can conclude that he was born in 1777, the year that followed the Declaration of Independence of the U.S.
On April 12, 1800, when he was about 22 years and a half, we find him in Yarmouth County, when Father Sigogne baptized him in the Catholic Church. Seven months later, Nov. 18, he married, at Sainte-Anne-du-Ruisseau, Marie Mius (original spelling of Muise or Meuse), the daughter of Charles Amand Mius and of Marie Mius. This marriage created quite a stir among the Acadians; an Acadian girl marrying a Black man. It was nothing less than a scandal which spread like a brisk fire from house to house and from village to village in the quiet neighborhood of South-Western Nova Scotia, which goes to show that discrimination is not an invention of the 20th century. Before the marriage took place, Father Sigogne got into the pulpit and reprimanded his parishioners for all the gossip going around, declaring that a white girl had all the right in the world to marry a black man, even in the Catholic Church if he was baptized, the color of his skin not being an impediment to the marriage in any way. To avoid any misgivings, though, he asked the parents to sign a declaration that they consented to the marriage of their daughter to Anselme Hatfield, that which they did a week before the marriage took place, in the presence of James Lent, at Tusket River.
Anselme Hatfield was to go back to work for his ancient master, Paul Dugas, Jr., but this time as a free man. He was to bring up his family in Clare.
Shortly after, Jean Bourque, of Sainte-Anne-du-Ruisseau, asked Anselme Hatfield if he would come back to Sainte-Anne-du-Ruisseau to help him, for a short time, in his work. It was then, while Anselme Hatfield was away from home, where he had left his family, that Joseph Quomino was born, August 15, 1804. His mother was Claire Mius, sister to Marie Mius. She declared under oath that the father was of the child was her brother-in-law, Anselme Hatfield. Since Marie Mius, married to Anselme Hatfield, was the aunt of Joseph Quomino, it so happened that his own father was at the same time his uncle! Did the parents try at first to hid this birth from Father Sigogne? It is not said. Nevertheless, the child was not presented to be baptized before Nov. 26, 1812, when he was over eight years of age.
We may note here that Claire Mius herself was to marry in 1806 a Black man by the name of Jean-Marie Blanchard, born in Bayonne, France, who had drifted to the West Indies, before landing in Nova Scotia. When this marriage took place, we do not read of any fuss made on account of another Acadian girl marrying a colored man.
As for Joseph Quomino, he was brought up in Sainte-Anne-du-Ruisseau or vicinity. On Oct. 17, 1831, at Sainte-Anne-du-Ruisseau or in Wedgeport, he married Mary Elizabeth Andrews, called Bessie, of Wedgeport, Black or mulatto, whose origin is not known. We know four of their children, three girls and one boy, Charles Henri, born April 21, 1837, who took the name of Hatfield. He married Jan. 27, 1858, Leonise LeBlanc, daughter of Jean, of the famous Honore family and of Madeleine Doucet. They lived on the main road, between Sainte-Anne-du-Ruisseau and Tusket, not far from the church. With regard to Leonice LeBlanc, who was called, for no apparent reason, "La Taupe" (the Mole), old lpeople would talk about her with great esteem, by the fact that she was frequently in church, cleaning, dusting, sweeping, decorating the altar, and doing the washing of the altar cloths. Her youngest child, Charles, was known as "Bibi de La Taupe" (Baby of La Taupe), the father being dead at the time.
Old people used to have many fascinating stories about Joseph Quomino. He used to sell molasses candies. But this was just a "cover-up" for the home-brew that he was peddling around. They recalled especially a certain instance when Joseph Quomino nearly got caught by Calixte Muise of Belleville, who was acting as constable. What made this instance more memorable than others is that it took place in church. Calixte had tried to apprehend Joseph Quomino many times, but Joseph would always find a way to escape. This Sunday, in church, it happened that both, Calixte and Joseph, were attending Mass in the sanctuary, what used to be done when there was not enough room in the nave. Seeing Joseph across from him, Calixte thought that this was his chance. But, in the time of Father Sigogne, nobody dared leave the church or even his pew before the priest would have entered the sacristy after Mass. There they were, both of them, with a foot in the aisle, ready to make a bee-line for the door, while all eyes of the congregation were glued on them, aside from the altar, wondering what would be the outcome. Father Sigogne had not yet put a foot in the vestry, when Joseph Quomino, being closer to the door, dashed out, with Calixte on his heels. But Joseph, although older than his pursuer, outran him and escaped in the woods, avoiding another encounter with the law. It is stated, though, that he was not always that lucky. Although he had to pay a few fines, that did not stop him from carrying on his trade, when prohibition was still in full force.