French People Who Settled In Digby County
During The French Revolution And Napoleon Wars

Article No: 38

French People Who Settled In Digby County
During The French Revolution And Napoleon Wars

Last week we saw that there were 13 Frenchmen who settled in Yarmouth County between the 1780's and the 1820's. In Digby County I find 12 of them, although a couple did arrive before the French Revolution.

JULIEN BLIN was from Saint-Servan, in the vicinity of Saint-Malo. He could have been of Acadian extraction, as some Acadians of that name in Cape Breton seem to have been expelled to Saint-Servan. At 20, he hired himself aboard a man-of-war under the command of the Count de Rochembeau, who in 1780 was in charge of the French forces which took part in the war of Independence of the U.S. In 1783, we find him in Philadelphia, where he received a certificate for good conduct. The following year he was in Boston. In 1787, he married at Saint Mary's Bay Francoise Thibeau, born in Boston at the time of the Expulsion, daughter of Yves, called also Ephrem. He settled in Plympton, although he owned a farm at Grosses Coques, that he sold around 1806 to Francois Gilly, whom we saw last week. The name has now been anglicized to that of Blinn.

LOUIS-PIERRE BRUNEL was born in Paris, where he received a good education. While he was secretary for the Governor of Saint Pierre Miquelon, he stole his golden snuff-box. He was discovered, whipped and expelled. This was taking place in the 1780's. He reached Saint Mary's Bay, where he taught school and helped the Acadians with their paper work, drawing their deeds and wills. He is said to have died at an advanced age, having always been known to be an honest and brave man. He never got married.

PIERRE BONIFACE arrived in south-western Nova Scotia at the time of the Napoleon wars. He was to settle in Salmon River, although it could be that he came directly to Quinan, where was living the girl that he was going to marry around 1814, namely, Marie Guillot (an Acadian name, spelled originally Guilbault or Guilbeau, now Guillot, Guillaut, Giot, Gio, Geo, Gehue), daughter of Jean, whose family also moved to Salmon River. Some 30 years ago, I met in Malden, Massachusetts, a very old lady who was one of the last survivors of this family; Pierre Boniface was her grandfather.

MICHEL FOURNIER came to Saint Mary's Bay around the end of Napoleon wars. He married Ursule Guillot, another daughter of Jean. The Fourniers are now to be found in Meteghan and Church Point.

JEAN-MARIE d'AUTEUIL is the one we talked about in our sketch No. 13, "Napoleon Bucksaw". We saw then that he was born in 1789 in Soissons, 100 kilometers north-east of Paris. He arrived in Yarmouth County in 1818, where he married Luce Mius, daughter of Charles-Amand, and thus a sister-in-law of Jean-Marie Blanchard and of Jean Courtois, whom we saw last week. They brought up their family in the Little Brook-Concessions region, as I was saying. He is the one that people called "pet-en-l'air." We find him for the last time in 1871, when he was living with one of his daughters. The family had taken the name Doty, which of that source, is now about extinguished.

JEAN-BAPTISTE AYERS did fight in Napoleon's army. He married in 1820 Angelique Frontain, daughter of Olivier, of "La Pointe-des-Mures", and settled in Saulnierville. He only had one son, Adolphe, who moved to Yarmouth County, first to Plymouth, and then to Little River Harbour, where are still living some of his descendants, and more especially so at Comeau's Hill. They are known under the name of Harris.

PAUL LOMBARD arrived from Marseilles probably around 1807 or 1808, and settled in Little Brook. He married Marie-Josephine Gaudet. The name is still quite familiar in Saint Mary's Bay.

FRANCOIS-LAMBERT BOURNEUF was born in Normandy in 1787. Thanks to a detailed sketch of his life that he left us, we know of him much more than we do of any of the others, how at the age of about 22 he left for the West Indies aboard a merchant ship, which was seized by a British warship, was taken prisoner to Halifax and finally escaped and, after incredible adventures, reached Pubnico in 1812. Here, he stayed a couple of years, teaching. Father Sigogne took him to Church Point. He finally settled in Grosses Coques, where he married Marie-Rosalie Doucet, daughter of Amable. He became a merchant, a ship builder and a member of Parliament in Halifax. He died in 1871. At this moment, the name Bourneuf is extinguishing fast, here and in the U.S.

LOUIS-PIERRE de BOUILLON was from Paris. He came over during the Napoleon wars. He had been living already quite a number of years at Saint Mary's Bay when, in 1827, he married Marie Celeste Mius, the widow of Dominique Gourdeau, whom I mentioned last week. They had children, but I do not know what happened to them.

SYLVAIN-FRANCOIS-LOUIS BONENFANT was born in 1800. It was at the request of his uncle, Father Sigogne, that he came over around 1823. In 1825, he married Marie Thériault, daughter of Francois. The name still prevails in the Saint-Bernard and Belliveau's Cove region.

THIMOTHEE DIMES, dit LA FLEUR, of whom we know only of his son Joseph who could be the one who came from France. He married around 1820 Françoise Saulnier, and settled in Saulnierville, where his descendants still live under the name of Thimot, which would be the name that Joseph went by, derived form the first name of his father.

Father JEAN-MANDE SIGOGNE (1763-1844) is also a recruit of the French Revolution. He had to flee from France to England in 1792, to avoid the persecution against the clergy. Thanks to negotiations which took place between the Bishop of Quebec and the Bishop of England under whose jurisdiction was Father Sigogne, he arrived in south-western Nova Scotia in 1799 to take care of the religious needs of the Catholic people of Digby and Yarmouth Counties, which he did for 45 years, being for a long time the only pastor of the two counties. His body lies in front of Université Sainte-Anne, over which was erected a monument.

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