From Acadia to Opelousas
1699 Port Royal - after 1766 Louisiana
Pierre Pitre was born c1699 at Port Royal, Acadia, the first son and the third of eight children for Claude Pitre and Marie Anne Comeau. His mother died when he was about eight and his father remarried about 2 ˝ years later to Anne (Jeanne) Henry. Another eight siblings were added to the family over the next sixteen years.
A year after his youngest sister was born, 28-year-old Pierre married Agathe Doucet, the 17-year-old daughter of Rene Doucet and Marie Broussard. Their marriage is recorded in the Port Royal registers (4 February 1727) as well as the baptism of their first child 10 months later. They had at least 6 more children.
The Acadians had taken a conditional oath at the end of the 1720’s which, for them, meant that they swore allegiance to King George II, didn’t have to fight the French or the Indians, could leave when they wanted, were allowed to have priests and practice Catholicism. The reality was somewhat different, but for the next twenty years things were mostly peaceful.
In 1752 at Chipoudy, about three years before the mass deportations of Acadians from Nova Scotia, we find Pierre Pitre with “his wife, 4 boys & 3 girls.” Also at Chipoudy are his widowed stepmother Anne (Jeanne) Henry with 2 children, and his half-brother Joseph Pitre & his family. Pierre was the only surviving son of Claude Pitre & his 1st wife Marie Comeau. The family, at this point, probably consisted of Pierre 53, wife Agathe 42, and children Marguerite 25, Jean Baptiste 20, Marie 18, Pierre 16, Catherine 13, and Francois 6.
As the political situation continued to worsen many Acadians sought refuge elsewhere, such as Quebec or Ile St. Jean. Pierre’s half-brothers Joseph and Charles settled in exile in Quebec, Pierre’s family was split.
- Marguerite’s fate is unknown. She may have died young, and the child mentioned in the census could have been another, unknown, sibling along with the unknown male.
- Son Jean Baptiste married c1754 to Marie Anne Thibodeau and made his way to Quebec. Unfortunately both his wife and their two young daughters died there within a few years. He remarried in 1761 to Marie Anne Surette. Most of the Pitres in the Chateauguay, Quebec area trace their line back through him.
- Daughter Marie married Joseph Saulnier. It’s possible that he made his way with the Broussard-led group to St. James, Louisiana in 1765. Marie probably died before or during the trip as Joseph appears in the September 1769 census of St. James with his 2nd wife of two years, Marie Landry, and no children old enough to have been Marie Pitre’s offspring.
- Son Pierre married Marguerite Bourg. Marguerite made it to Louisiana as well where she remarried Charles Guilbeau in St. Martinville in 1775. If Pierre survived the trip I can find no evidence of any surviving offspring.
- Catherine and Francois appear with their father Pierre in the 1766 census of the Opelousas Post Territory. (No mention of wife Agathe Doucet.)
The Treaty of Paris, ratified 10 February 1763, allowed Acadians detained in British territory to relocate to French soil. Late in 1764, a 600+ group led by Joseph Broussard dit Beausoleil planned to sail to Santo Domingo, then to the Mississippi River and northward to Illinois country. The tropics were too much for them. Only 193 arrived in Louisiana in February 1765 and about 200 more two months later. They never made it to Illinois. Because Pierre had been a prisoner at Halifax in 1763 (as had the Broussard group) and because of his settlement location, I believe it most likely that he and other surviving members of his family came with the Broussard-led group. The refugees were supplied and helped to settle in the Attakapas and Opelousas areas.
The region had been divided into two districts with military posts as headquarters: the Attakapas at St. Martinville and the Opelousas. It was here that Pierre is recorded living with his children Catherine & Francois in 1766. The only other Acadian groups to arrive in Louisiana at this time were twenty persons from New York, via Mobile, to New Orleans. They were settled in the St. John/St. James area in spring 1764. In late 1766/early 1767, Acadians from Maryland were settled in Cabannoce (St. James) and later Ascension.
The first Pitre entry that appears in the Louisiana registers is the baptism of Pierre’s grandson on the 28th of April 1771 in Opelousas. He was born the 13th of December 1769 to Pierre’s son Francois and his wife Marie Josephe Thibodeau. It is unlikely Pierre lived to see his grandson baptized as his death is not recorded in the registers. But whatever the year of his death, through his son Francois, he is the ancestor of almost every Pitre found in the present-day parishes of St. Landry, Calcasieu, Evangeline, Allen, and Jefferson Davis.
Continuation of tree (3rd child of Claude Pitre/Marie Anne Comeau); all known surname descendants:
3 Pierre Pitre b: Abt. 1699 Port Royal, Acadia; d: Aft. 1766 Louisiana
+Agathe Doucet b: 19 January 1710 Port Royal, Acadia; m: 4 February 1727 Port Royal, Acadia [Rene/Marie Broussard]
4 Marguerite Pitre b: 27 November 1727 Port Royal, Acadia
4 Jean Baptiste Pitre b: Abt. 1732 Acadia; d: 15 March 1805 St. Joachim, Chateauguay, Quebec
+Marie Anne Thibodeau b: Abt. 1735 Acadia; m: Abt. 1754 Chipoudy, Acadia; d: 9 January 1759 Basilica, Notre Dame, Quebec
*2nd Wife of Jean Baptiste Pitre:
+Marie Anne Surette b: 24 April 1734 Grand Pre, Acadia; m: 31 March 1761 St. Pierre les Becquets, Nicolet, Quebec [Joseph/Marguerite Theriot]; d: 18 September 1797 St. Joachim, Chateauguay, Quebec
4 Marie Pitre b: 27 March 1734 Acadia; d: Bet. 1757 - 1767
+Joseph Saulnier b: Abt. 1735 Petitcodiac, Acadia; m: Abt. 1755 Acadia [Jacques/Anne Hebert]; d: 1812 Lafourche, LA
4 Pierre Pitre b: Abt. 1736 Acadia; d: Bet. 1763 - 1775
+Marguerite Bourg b: Abt. 1737 Acadia; m: Abt. 1756 Ile St. Jean [Charles/Anne Boudrot]
4 Catherine Pitre b: 24 September 1739 Beaubassin, Acadia; d: Bef. 1810 Opelousas, St. Landry, LA
+Pierre Joubert b: Abt. 1725; m: Abt. 1775 Opelousas, St. Landry, LA; d: 2 June 1812 Opelousas, St. Landry, LA
4 Francois Pitre b: Abt. 1746 Acadia; d: 22 December 1819 Opelousas, St. Landry, LA
+ Marie Josephe Thibodeau b: Abt. 1749 Acadia; m: Abt. 1768 Opelousas, St. Landry, LA [Jean Baptiste/Marie Josephe Lanoue]; d: 16 April 1817 Opelousas, St. Landry, LA
Items in RED have been verified against parish register entries.
- Some early Acadian entries verified against accepted transcriptions.
- Earliest Acadian entries verified against Stephen A. White's Dictionnaire Genealogique des Familles Acadiennes.
- Louisiana entries verified against accepted published transcriptions (see sources page).
Last updated: 15 October 2011.