Finding Family

The second day in Neguac, we knocked on the door of the house with the ALLAIN and FORBES signs in the yard.  When a lady answered the door, my husband explained that we were probably related.  He told her who his grandfather and great-grandfather were.  She drew us into the house and we met her husband who was a first cousin to my husband’s father.  We finally figured out later that made him his second cousin.  They were in their eighties and we embarked on a mixed conversation of French and English. 

Jacqueline called her children and sister-in-law to come over to meet the long-lost relatives from the States.  One daughter brought over her grandmother’s diaries and another brought family photos.  The visit continued as we all trooped over to Chez Raymond for a seafood lunch.  Another cousin (second or third?) had been called to meet us there.  Bebert was his nickname and he was the keeper of family memories.  Over lunch, he recited family stories and connections running back for generations to the first arrival from France in the 1600s. 

We drove to several houses after lunch just to photograph the exteriors.  Bebert had identified these as Allain homes, including where my husband’s grandfather had lived before emigrating to the States.  One house was gone and a pharmacy stood on its location across from the graveyard.

Returning to Levis and Jaqueline’s we met more relatives.  Conversation was lively as we all got acquainted and they shared family history with us.  By six o’clock, one cousin asked us over to her home to see photos she had and to have pizza.  Finally as dusk fell, we tore ourselves away to go set up our camper at the campground.  The mosquitoes in Neguac are truly ferocious. 

It took us awhile to unwind after such an exhilerating day of meeting so many new relatives.  The warm welcome will stay in our memories for a long time.

Searching Acadian Roots

My husband and his cousin chose the summer of 2009 for visiting New Brunswick.  This was the year that the World Acadian Congress celebrated Acadian culture and history in that province.  Held every four years in different regions, the Congress triggers major family reunions among far-flung Acadians from Louisiana, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick. 

Dennis and Donald hoped to reconnect with the New Brunswick roots.  Although no Allain reunion showed on the official schedule, they made the trip from the United States to the birthplace of their fathers.  The American branch of the family left Neguac in 1923 to settle in Maine where there was work in the mills.  Donald had worked for a few years already on the Allain genealogy and he hoped the trip would connect the dots.

The first day in Neguac, the two cousins visited the graveyard behind the church to check the names, dates and relationships on the Allain tombstones.  Donald took photos of all the stones marked Allain.  There were a lot of them.

Neguac showed its Acadian pride by decorating the yards and houses with red, white and blue.  Families posted name signs in their yards; Savoie, Breau, Hebert, Cyr, LaBlanc, Gagnon, Allain.  We were tempted to just walk up and knock on the door and ask if we were related.

Taken with the idea of having our own red, white and blue flag with ALLAIN across the center, we drove to Tracadie and found the Acadian souvenir shop.  We had to settle for the plain Acadian flag, as the name flags required ordering. 

Back at the van for the evening, Dennis started reading Les Allain, a genealogy book by Fidele Theriault.  We’d found it at the Neguac visitor’s center earlier in the day.  At last he was able to make the link between his great-grandfather, back generation by generation, to the original Louis Allain who came to the colonies in the 1600s.   

In looking back at his grandfather and great-grandfather and following the listings for his grandfather’s brothers and sisters, he made an intriguing discovery.  His grandfather, Benjamin, had a sister Suzanne who had a son Levis whose wife was a Forbes.  One of the decorated yards we passed in Neguac had both Allain and Forbes signs in the yard.  It had to be Levis and his wife Jacqueline.

I’ve compiled a booklist on Amazon for anyone who’s searching their Acadian roots.