Montet Family

The sad story of the Montet children

poorkids
Guillaume Montet’s children had a rather Dickensian childhood. Those who survived ended up in Louisiana, where life improved for them.

My research on the Montet family basically comes to a halt at Claude Guillaume Montet. I know who Guillaume’s parents were (he apparently never went by Claude), but I don’t know anything about them beyond their names. I do know quite a bit about Guillaume, and it’s a sad story. It makes for a sad childhood for his children.

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The Acadians were scattered to the wind when they were tossed out of Nova Scotia. Guillaume’s wife, Marie Josephe Vincent, ended up in England with her parents and brother.

Guillaume was born in France on Jan. 23, 1735/36, and married in Liverpool, England, to Marie Josephe Vincent on April 19, 1763. Marie Josephe was in England because she and other Acadians were imprisoned there after being drummed out of Nova Scotia by the English. I have no idea what Guillaume was doing there since there’s no proof that he was ever in Nova Scotia.

The conditions in Liverpool were not good. An astonishing number died, and the survivors were shuffled into camps. It must have been a happy day when they were allowed to set sail for France.

morlaix.jpg
Guillaume and Marie Josephe welcomed their first child in Morlaix, France. That child, Pierre Vincent Montet, was my direct ancestor.

Within a year of their wedding, Guillaume and Marie Josephe were in a French slum along with other Acadians disrupted by the forced deportation. Their first child, Pierre Vincent, arrived in 1764. Pierre Vincent is my ancestor.

Morlaix was no better than Liverpool. If the Acadians were expecting an end to their agony once they were on French soil, they were disappointed. They were warehoused in disease-riddled barracks in the port city. King Louis XV did little to turn the Acadian farmers into seaport workers and make them real members of the community.

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Belle-Ile-En-Mer means the beautiful island in the sea.

Belle-Ile-En-Mer must have sounded like a dream to the young family when it was dangled in front of them like a piece of choice fruit. They could leave horrible conditions in Morlaix and settle on an island off the coast of France. They would even be given land to farm.

From 1761 to 1763, the island was in England’s hands in the never-ending tug-of-war between England and France over land. France needed the Acadians to tidy things up and help the island turn a profit. Monet painted here, obviously struck by the island’s wild beauty. The island is a great place to paint and fish and vacation. It’s not great for farming, as the Acadians soon learned.

The colonization attempt wasn’t a success. Crops died, livestock died and colonists died.

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A map of Belle Ile En Mer borrowed from thecajuns.com. Nearly 80 families settled on the island. The Montet land was in Bangor.

Guillaume and Marie Josephe had seven more children at Belle-Ile-En-Mer. They settled at Bangor, an area of the island prone to strong gusts of wind. Monet painted Bangor.

The Montets had farm #59 in Kervarigeon. Living with the Montets were Marie Josephe’s mother and brother. Sadly, the tranquility wasn’t to last.

Daughter Marie Elizabeth died first. Then Marie Josephe died just a few weeks after delivering her last child. Marie Josephe was only 33. Guillaume followed her to the grave just two years later. The Montet children were orphans.

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The Montet children were at sea for two months before arriving in New Orleans. The eldest daughter, Francoise, married and soon died.

The surviving children and Uncle Pierre made their way to Nantes, France, and set sail for the New World in 1785.  The Montet children’s ship was called La Caroline.

The Montets were recorded on the passenger list:

Pierre Montet, 22

Francoise, 19

Joseph Montet, 16

Jean Baptiste Montet, 13

Marguerite Montet, 10

Pierre Paul, 7

I don’t want to make it sound like they were completely adrift. They traveled with other Acadians and descendants. No doubt, it was a tight-knit group. But they had to have been scared. Uncle Pierre was on a different ship so it was just the six of them – and three of those six were very young.

Within a few years, though, the children had land, corn, a cow and four hogs. Not too shabby for a family of orphans!

I’ll take the children, one by one, and let you know what happened to them in future blogs.

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