Saint Croix Courier, St. Stephen, NB
September 8, 1892
GLIMPSES OF THE PAST
Contributions to the History of Charlotte County and the Border Towns.
XXXIII CHURCHS EXPEDITION-Continued.
[By W. F. Ganong, M. A.]
After this the expedition went to Port Royal, thence to Minas and Chignecto, where it did very great damage to the Acadian settlements. It had been the intention to try to take Port Royal, but, finding it too strong, they set sail for home in July, visiting Passamaquoddy again en route. What occurred at this second visit Church describes as follows:-
Then returning to the Town, [Port Royal] did then what spoil he could; according to his Instructions, and so drew off, and made the best of their way for Passamequado, (and going in) in a great Fog, one of their Transports ran upon a Rock, but was soon got off again. Then Col. Church with some of his Forces embarkd in their Whaleboats, and went amongst the Islands, with an intent to go to Sharkees where they had destroyed the Fish; but observing a Springgy place in a Cove, went on Shore to get some Water to drink, it being a Sandy beach, they espyd Tracks, the Colonel presently ordered his Men to scatter, and make a search; soon found De Boisses1 Wife, who had formerly been Col. Churchs Prisoner, and carried to Boston; but returned, who seemed to be very glad to see him: She had with her two sons that were near Men grown; the Colonel ordered them a part, Examined the Woman first, who gave him this account following, That she had lived there-abouts ever since the Fleet went by, and that she had never seen but two Indians since, who came in a Canoo from Norrigiwock; who askd her, what made her be there alone? She told them, She had never seen a French Man nor an Indian except those two Since the English Ships went by. Then the Indians told her there was not one Indian left except those two, who belong to the Gut of Cancer, on this side of Canada: for the Fryers2 coming down with the Indians to Monsieur Gourdans, and finding the French-men slain, and their Hair spoiled, being Scalpd, put them into a great Consternation; and the Fryers told them it was impossible for them to live there-abouts, for the English with their Whaleboats would serve them all so; upon which they all went up to Norrigiwock;3 Also told her that when the English came along thro Penobscot, they had swept it of the Inhabitants, as if it had been swept with a Broom, neither French nor Indians escaping them. Further told her, That when their Fathers the Fryers, and the Indians met together at Norrigiwock they calld a Council, and the Fryers told the Indians, That they must look out for some other Country, for that it was impossible for them to live there; also told them there was a River calld Mossippee where they might live quietly and no English come near them: It being as far beyond Canada as it was to it, &c., and if they would go and live there, they would live and dye with them, but if not they would leave them, and never come near them again. Whereupon they all agreed to go away; which they did, and left their Ruff household stuff, and corn behind them, and went all, except those two for Canada.4 Also her Sons giving the same Intelligence, so we had no reason to think but it was true. Col. Church having done what he could there, Embarkd on board the Transports and went to Mount Desart . .
Thus ended an expedition which, though remorselessly cruel, was not more so than the deeds it was intended to avenge and prevent. It was the last striking incident in the history of our county while it was under French control. Soon after, the Acadian settlers left the region, and Churchs ravages may have been the cause of their departure. Whether they retired to Canada, or crossed the bay to Nova Scotia, is unknown; but with this event they disappear utterly from the history of Charlotte county.5
The efforts of the French to retain continental Acadia, (i. e., the part forming the present province of New Brunswick,) on the ground that the Acadia which they had ceded to England by the Treaty of Utrecht, in 1713, included only the peninsula, (i. e., the present Nova Scotia,) were not relaxed until 1755. Its chief value to them lay in the fact that the River St. John formed an important part of their quickest and best post route from Louisburg to Quebec. It is of interest to us to note that as late as 1754 a post or settlement was planned, though never established, by them at Passamaquoddy. In a letter written to the French minister, by Duquesne, from Quebec, in that year, (given in Broadheads N. Y. Documents, vol. x., p. 264,) occurs the following statement:-
I never thought of establishing a post at Peskadamokanti before having received your orders, especially since Father Germain has assured me that not a farmer could be placed there inasmuch as it is all rock. I have, meanwhile, informed Sieur de Boishebert, who commands at the River St. John, to repair thither whenever he can, in order to have a correct draught of it, and expect that officer will render me an exact account thereof.
Our readers will not the slight put upon our soil by Father Germain, but its subsequent history is the best answer.
1We have no clue to the identity of DeBoiss.
2The French Priests.
3On the Kennebec River, in Maine.
4This exodus was, of course, never carried out.
5There is no reason for believing that the French who were with the Indians, in a later attack at Passamaquoddy Bay upon a Massachusetts vessel, were residents of the county.
In a series of articles in the Eastport Sentinel, Mr. S. A. Wilder states that the French lingered around Cobscook Bay until as late as 1770. The evidence for this seems to be traditional rather than documentary; and it seems quite probable that these settlers may have been Acadians who returned thus far after the expulsion of 1755. Several parts of New Brunswick have received their population in this manner. At all events, it seems certain that the French disappeared from the islands of Charlotte county long before the above date, since the New England settlers who came in 1761-63 found none of them, but only ruins of their houses.
A strong effort was made by the American agent, Mr. Sullivan, in an argument laid before the Boundary Commission in 1797, to show that the French were numerous about Passamaquoddy, from 1632 onwards, until after Churchs expedition. The full argument is in MS. now in the possession of Rev. W. O. Raymond in St. John. By piecing together various isolated references capable of almost any interpretation, he endeavors to show that Razilly had a settlement on St. Croix (Dochet) Island in 1632, and that there must have been other Frenchmen thereabouts. Not only is the evidence utterly wanting for such an opinion in this case, but it may be said, once for all, that the French censuses in the seventeenth century show in the most satisfactory manner that the French population of this region was at that time extremely scanty. These censuses were taken with great care; Passamaquoddy does not even appear at all until 1686, and thenceforth until after the expedition of Church, they show but the few inhabitants we have mentioned. The Hutchinson account, made independently of the others, and Churchs account itself, show that the inhabitants could not have numbered more than a couple of dozen. Certainly, had there been others, they could not have escaped the notice of the census takers, (always priests and therefore welcome visitors,) of Hutchinsons informants, and of Church. It is hardly too much to say, that we know the names of all of the principal French inhabitants of the county in the seventeenth century, and approximately the number of their servants and those comprising their families.
Caren's note: Phil Bergeron has identified DeBoiss as Barthelemy Bergeron d'Amboise who was the son-in-law of Jean Serreau de Saint-Aubin and husband of Genevieve Serreau. Phil notes that Church mentions Genevieve Serreau in his memoirs; he captured her twice (1692 and 1704).