Pierre Pitre was born c.1699 at Port-Royal, Acadie, the first son and the third of eight children of Claude Pitre and Marie Anne Comeau. His mother died when he was about eight and his father remarried about 2 ½ 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, in Port-Royal, now under British control and renamed Annapolis Royal.
The baptism of their first child, Marguerite, was recorded 10 months later. They had at least 6 more children.
The Acadians had sworn a conditional oath of allegiance to King George II when the British had taken control at the end of the 1720s which, to them, meant that they 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, Pierre Pitre was living with “his wife, 4 boys & 3 girls.”
Also at Chipoudy were 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 and his first wife, Marie Comeau.
As the political situation continued to worsen many Acadians sought refuge elsewhere, such as Quebec or Ile St. Jean. Pierre’s, like virtually every Acadian family, was split. Pierre and his half-brothers Joseph and Charles avoided deportation only to be faced with starvation and the elements until they were captured or surrendered and imprisoned in Halifax for the duration of the war.
The Treaty of Paris, ratified 10 February 1763, freed the Acadians, finally allowing those detained in British territory to find ways to relocate to French soil. Pierre's brothers set out for Quebec. Others remained and worked for passage to French ports. 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. Plague in the tropics proved 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 and dates on record, it is 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.
As for his children:
- Marguerite’s fate is unknown.
- Son Jean Baptiste married c.1754 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.)
La Louisiane 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 church 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 François and his wife Marie Josephe Thibodeau. It is unknown if Pierre lived to see his grandson baptized; his death is not recorded in the registers. But whatever the year of his death, through his son François, he is the ancestor of almost every Pitre found in the present-day parishes of St. Landry, Calcasieu, Evangeline, Allen, and Jefferson Davis.
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