The Wreck Of The “Tibel”

Article No: 80

The Wreck Of The “Tibel”

Jean-Baptiste Duon arrived in Acadia very shortly before its definite conquest by Sir Francis Nickelson in 1710. He was called "Lyonnais," because he was from Lyon, France. According to the registration of his marriage, which took place in Port Royal in 1713, we know that his parents were Jean-Louis Duon and Jeanne Clemenceau and that his wife was Agnes Hebert, daughter of Antoine Hebert and Jeanne Corporon. In Annapolis, he became a merchant. In 1727, he was commissioned to act as notary public. Not doing well in business, he left Annapolis in 1725 and established himself, it seems, in Cape Breton. That is when he started to deal in merchandise with Louisbourg.

In 1728, we find him as Captain of a vessel of 90 tons, the "Union," on his way to Cape Breton, coming from Quebec, with flour, biscuits, wheat, etc.

It must have been very shortly after this date that he acquired another vessel, the "Tibel." His fourth son and fifth child was Abel. His name is about always given in different documents, even while he was in exile in Massachusetts, as "P'tit Bel", "P'tit" for "Petit" (small), and "Bel" for "Abel." It could be that this was the only name that his neighbours knew him by; one of the Acadians originally from Pubnico, but exiled in France, from where she writes to her sister-in-law, refers to his as "tibelle" (sic). This name that Jean-Baptiste Duon gave to his vessel would make us believe that he had it built purposely for himself. If not, he surely changed the name in honor of his son, after buying it. He was to lose it on the South Shore.

Born in Port Royal May 12, 1722, Abel Duon was sent to Massachusetts in exile in April of 1756 with the Acadians living in Barrington and vicinity, where he married, in Marblehead, only a few months later, Anne d'Entremont, daughter of Jacques d'Entremont and of Marguerite Amirault, and sister to Joseph, Paul and Benoni who settled in West Pubnico at the return from exile. Abel Duon came back with them, and finally established himself also in West Pubnico (see sketch No. 34). He is the ancestor of those who now go by the name of d'Eon.

With regard to the wreck of the Tibel, we only have one single document which mentions it, and it is not an original but a copy. Louis A. Surette (see sketch No. 46), through his mother who was the daughter of Joseph d'Entremont, came in possession of many documents regarding the early families who settled in Pubnico after the Expulsion. After his death, most of these documents passed into the hands of Henri Leander d'Entremont. They now belong to the St. Peter's parish, West Pubnico, and are stored in the vault of the Bishop's House, in Yarmouth. Some of these documents had been copied by had by my uncle Henri Leander d'Entremont. The document, dealing with the Tibel is one of them. This copy is in my possession. Follows its English translation, from the French.

"At Cape Sable, village of Bacquarau. I testify of having given authorization to Charles Amiraux who resides here, and to six persons, of their confreres, to go and search along this coast and try to salvage what they can from the wreckage of the brigantine vessel the tibelle (sic), which, on its way to Louisbourg, being loaded, wrecked in the vicinity of Cap Ourse. This is to reward them for the troubles that they had and for the care that they took to look for us along the coast where we were without assistance or help from anyone, and even being in the risk of falling into the hands of the Indians. Wherefore I have signed the present certificate. (signed) Baduhon."

"Baduhon" is put for Baptiste Duhon; among the French people, the name Jean-Baptiste is often given simply as "Baptiste"; here it abbreviated by "Ba." But what is most interesting here is the way that he signs his family name, DUHON. Would this really be the right spelling of the name, which usually is given in history as DUON? We know that there is a rule which says that the best way to know how a name should be spelled is to see how those who bore it spelled it. Nevertheless, in the Nova Scotia Archives, his name is about always given as DUON. We have also of him more that once the signature DUON.

"Charles Amiraux" who was living in the Baccaro region, was the son of François Amirault, the first of the name in Acadia. Knowing those who at the time were living in the region, and they were few, we can easily identify the "six other persons."

The wreck took place in the vicinity of "Cap a Ours," (Bear's Cape), a name which is given usually, in old documents, as "Port-à-Ours" (Bear's Port). This place-name became "Port Le Bear," and finally, according to local spelling, "Port L'Hebert" and, according to documents, "Port Hebert."

Because the Tibel was on the South Shore, on its way to Louisbourg, we can be sure that it was coming either from the Bay of Fundy or from the New England States. The Acadians were forbidden to trade with the "enemy," in Cape Breton, which was a French territory at the time. Nevertheless, we are told that there was a great deal of clandestine trade going on with the island, especially between Boston and Louisbourg. From the Acadian peninsula, it was especially products of the farm which found their way to Cape Breton, including livestock for the livelihood of the colony. Boston furnished, among other things, tools, building materials, household utensils.

The seven Acadians, having been authorized to take whatever they wanted from the wreckage, it would have been interesting to know what they took, that which might have given us a clue as to the place that the vessel was coming from; but those objects are not mentioned. It could have been Port Royal or other Acadian settlements along the Bay of Fundy, as Jean-Baptiste Duon had returned to Annapolis, where we find him in 1732 and the following years as rent collector.

It is not said neither how the seven Acadians learned of the wreck. Jean-Baptiste Duon says that he and his crew were rescued by them.

As you see, what we have regarding the wreckage of the Tibel is very scanty. We know about it merely from a private note, which is only the copy of an original. But it is enough for us to know that there was a vessel to which was given the name of the ancestor of the d'Eons of our region, and that it wrecked close to our shores.

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