Surnames/tags: Gallant LeBlanc Aucoin
Local tradition has it that the first settlers of Stephenville were Felix Gallant and his wife Marie Theotime LeBlanc, who moved from Margaree, Cape Breton in 1845 and began fishing from premises below Indian Head, southeast of the present town. In 1848 Gallant's family was joined by the families of Etienne LeBlanc and Anne Cormier; Tatien Aucoin and Marguerite Leblanc; followed by Rueben Cormier and Dominic LeBlanc; and Marcel Leblanc and Marie Aimé Aucoin — all Acadian families from Margaree, Cape Breton Island. Until about 1870 the community was known as Indian Head.
Some people maintain that the name Stephenville was adopted to honour Stephen Leblanc, while others claim that it was named after St. Stephen's Roman Catholic church. Indian Head first appears in the Census of 1857, with 107 inhabitants. The name Stephenville was first used in the 1874 Census, when the population was 268. At that time the main occupation was farming, with 349 acres of land under cultivation. By the turn of the century, fishing (especially for herring and lobster) had taken over from agriculture as the major occupation, although subsistence farming remained a strong tradition. Stephenville was already known as Newfoundland's "Acadian Village", being almost exclusively Roman Catholic and largely French speaking up until World War II. In 1994 the most common family names of Stephenville (such as Cormier, Leblanc and Gallant) were clearly of French origin, while others (such as Alexander, White and Young) had become Anglicized over time.
In the 1901 census, Stephenville had 643 residents, only nine of whom were Protestant. There were nearly 1000 people by 1935. Lumbering had become one of the main sources of employment after the opening of the Corner Brook paper mill in 1925, but the opening of the mill also gave a renewed emphasis to farming.
Note that Catholic (mostly French) records aren't available from the usual sources, but you can find many of the early records from the Sandy Point Catholic Church
- 1849-1899 Sandy Point Catholic Baptism transcriptions, from Rootsweb.
- 1849-1882 Sandy Point Catholic Death transcriptions, from Rootsweb
- 1850-1925 Sandy Point Catholic Marriage transcriptions, from Rootsweb
- ↑ Encyclopedia of Newfoundland and Labrador, volume 5, Extract: letter S. pp 303-304. Poole, Cyril F. Cuff, Robert, Harry Cuff Publications Ltd. (1993), St. John's. Memorial University of Newfoundland, electronic collections. Accessed 2020.