7/30/2007

Full circle


It's amazing how a trip to research one's roots can bring you back with such a renewed appreciation for the place you've been all along.

We did indeed go to Moncton, New Brunswick, to the Centre d'Etudes Acadienne of the Bibiliotheque Champlain and spoke with Stephen White, THE expert on the subject of Acadian geneaology. We spent three whole hours with him, and found out all the missing links we'd been seeking. I wish more of my college professors had been like him! He informed us beyond our wildest expectations. Joseph was arrested at Beausejour and sent to South Carolina on the Endeavour, where he presumably perished. Catherine held back meeting him at the boat, on Cure LaGuerne's counsel, and spent a miserable winter of 1756 trying to keep her children alive; they relocated first to Ile-St-Jean and then into Quebec where Catherine eventually re-married. JeanBaptiste Pitre, who was 12 when Joseph was deported, headed west to deTroit, a remote outpost of the fur trade, but populated with French; there he prospered as a cabinet-maker. We don't know how he got there, but we do know the rest. His son, Francois Pitre alias Francis Peters had Lambert who had Bernard(Barnaby) who had Edgar who had Richard who had Michael who had me, Seth Peters.

I am priveleged to know that I am well and truly Acadian, though there is some question whether Pitre is a French or Flemish surname. So-- there are still mysteries, and I look forward to uncovering more either in Quebec or Flanders or both. And what of Joseph in South Carolina? We went to the archaeological dig at Fort Lawrence- where Joseph would have had his last view of Acadia- before heading to Shepody, where Catherine spent her cruel winter regretting her decision to not join her husband aboard the Endeavor.

Ah, L'Acadie! Its sorrow was our great blessing, as we prospered in Detroit and can proudly place ourselves in its cultural patrimony for three centuries. We were the only Pitres to make it here. If we can come back for the Congress Mondiale in 2009, we could meet other Pitres. But JeanBaptiste was notably unique in heading so deeply West as Detroit was at the time. We are the inheritors of his bold move. I hope Detroit will come to be recognised for its place in Acadian history; everywhere we went, deTroit was never mentioned as a destination, which surprised us. Its founder was Antoine de la Mothe Sieur de Cadillac. He knew Sieur de Mons and Champlain. Fort Ponchartrain, established on The Strait (deTroit), was a French outpost, crucial to trade with the Hurons and prominent in Pere Marquette's voyage. How could so many French-Canadians/ Acadians be indifferent to that?

Hence, the need for this family pilgrimage. We are now inextricably bound to the history of L'Acadie, and in turn the history of L'Acadie is now bound to us. For two weeks, we were voyageurs, pelerins, touching our roots. We hope to show Acadia that its roots have branched out to more than just Louisiana or Quebec. They figure here in Detroit, Motown, MY town, too.

1 comment:

Monster Library Student said...

Lovely! You will have to show me pics and stuff.

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