Saturday, September 3, 2011

La Pointe de Repos — Early Acadian Settlement Site along the Teche

For my own understanding as much as anything else, I post the following information regarding the location of La Pointe de Repos.  Situated along Bayou Teche, this place served as an early settlement site for Acadian exiles who arrived in the Spanish colony of Louisiana in 1765.

First, I display a ca. 1771 hand-drawn map by Attakapas District surveyor François Gonsoulin showing La Pointe de Repos (literally The Point of Rest) and the names of exiles who settled there.

La Pointe de Repos, from a ca. 1771 map by
surveyor François Gonsoulin. (Source: Library of Congress)
Note the map reads "Riviere Thex" (now called Bayou Teche) and "Quartier de La Pointe du Repos" (Area of La Pointe du Repos). Gonsoulin, however, did not place this stretch of the Teche in context — in other words, for all we know it could lie anywhere along the one-hundred-thirty-mile bayou.

The names of the settlers shown on Gonsoulin's map are (from left to right) Aman Thibodeau, Paul Thibodeau, François Guilbeau, Michel Bernard, Simon LeBlanc, Charles Guilbeau, Mary Guilbeau veuve (widow) Babineau, Sylvain Broussard, and the Widow Ducrest (née Wils [Wiltz]).

I now post a detail from Gertrude Taylor's 1979 reconstruction titled "Land Grants along the Teche" (issued by the Attakapas Historical Association in cooperation with the Center for Louisiana Studies, University of Southwestern Louisiana, now the University of Louisiana at Lafayette).

Detail of Gertrude Taylor's "Land Grants along the Teche"
(Lafayette, La.: Attakapas Historical Association/
Center for Louisiana Studies, University of Southwestern Louisiana, 1979).

Importantly, Taylor did not use Gonsoulin’s map as a source when compiling her reconstructed map, but relied on other documents.

Note that Taylor's reconstruction shows the same setters (with one exception) that appear on Gonsoulin’s map and that she places them near a bend in Bayou Teche just above present-day Parks, Louisiana. The settlers are, from north to south, Aman Thibodeau, Paul Thibodeaux, François Guilbeau, Michael (Michel) Bernard, Simon Leblanc, Francois Guilbeau, Charles Babineau, and Armand Ducrest.  Only Sylvain Broussard is missing. 

Regardless, the evidence (that is, the corresponding names and matching contours on both maps) is sufficient to show that La Pointe de Repos sat on the Teche just above Parks.

In actuality, my research digs up nothing new. As Carl Brasseaux wrote in Founding of New Acadia (1987), "Ascending the Teche to the large westward bend above present-day Parks, these . . . [Acadian exiles] founded a settlement they christened La Pointe de Repos."

It's helpful for me, however, to see Brasseaux’s findings reflected in these two maps created about two-hundred years apart.