A History Of The Breaux Family
Addendum To The Allendom Papers










©June, 1995
Janet Wood Duncan
Stephen Joseph Duncan

Oscar Breaux, a free St. James Parish African-American and cousin of Leontine Breaux Allen

"You can tell a Cajun a mile off
but you can’t tell him
a damned thing up close!"

Antoine Bourque


It’s been said that in any endeavor we climb upon the shoulders of the giants who have gone before. Even "new" discoveries, inventions or adventures build on knowledge and ideas worked doubt long before. (Henry Ford did not have to reinvent the wheel!). So it is with this, our contribution to the continuing search among the descendants of Leontine Braud for the stories of our ancestors.

We are Janet Wood Duncan and Stephen Joseph Duncan (great-grandson of Leontine by way of her daughter, Marie Isabelle Allen Warnie and granddaughter, Josie Mae Allen Warnie Duncan) and this work would never have come about had we not attended the 1990 family reunion for Leontine’s descendants. On that beautiful summer day we were handed a booklet representing the work of our family giants: our Aunt Ruth (Braud Allen Warnie Romine-Strange) and Betty (Breaux Allen Charbonnet Reid-Soskin), who undertook the initial investigation into our family’s history.

Aunt Ruth had collected family lore and begun the search through the Mormon Archives in Oakland, California and the Diocesan Church records in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Together, Ruth and Betty then delved into the National Archives at Golden Gate cemetery in San Francisco and Cousin Betty got it all together in narrative form. Finally the Reunion Committee produced copies for distribution, planned and executed a splendid party and invited us all to come. What follows is our contribution to the family story -- both inspired by and meant to be read as supplement to the original Reunion Document.

The Odyssey Continues...

What captured our attention almost immediately was the union between Leontine’s parents; the plantation owner’s son, Edouard Braud and the slave, Celestine. Although the common metaphor for a search of one’s roots is an inverted pyramid -- with the searcher at the apex following a single line back (usually through the male line since one coon name is easier to follow) -- our metaphor looked more like an hourglass, with the sands of our African and European ancestors flowing into the "waist" of Edouard, Celestine and Leontine, then emerging and increasing into the fascinating melange of relatives gathered together at the reunion. We were also struck by the strength of some of the women who sparkled in our family’s history and mused that it might prove interesting to trace a matriarchal genealogy -- the last name would change at each generation but the line would be no less "real" than the traditional "family name" genealogy.

After our mother, Josie Duncan, passed away last fall we reread the Reunion Document and decided to take a sentimental journey by train back to New Orleans, the land of her birth and seat of our family’s story. The train ride would leave us only three days in New Orleans -- not much time for any in-depth family sleuthing -- so we set for ourselves what seemed like 4 modest and achievable goals: (1) to find and visit the site of the original "homestead" of Leontine and George, (1) to try to locate the area where the Breaux plantation was located, (3) to see if we could shed any light on Edouard and Celestine’s marriage -- its effects on the Breaux family, why there appear to be no children for that long stretch after Leontine’s birth and before Theophile’s, etc., and (4) no matter what, add at least one piece of information to the family story that was previously unknown.

Aunt Ruth wished us godspeed and gave us the name of her contact at the
Catholic Diocesan Archives in Baton Rouge, Ms. Una Daigré, and said if we got up that way to stop by and deliver her regards. Cousin Betty Bundled together her latest update on the Reunion Document along with some names and addresses that may prove fruitful and managed to get them into our hands the day before we left.

The Diocesan Archives actually seemed like a pretty good place to start but Una wasn’t there the morning we arrived. Her fellow archivists suggested that the genealogy room of the nearby Bluebonnet Branch of the library contained copies of many of their records and might be worth an hour of our time. We walked into the library at a little after eleven in the morning. At eight-thirty that night one of the volunteers who staff the room tapped us on the shoulder and said she was sorry, but they’d be closing at nine and could we possibly be able to come back tomorrow!

We had wandered into the land of the giants.

Within an hour of arrival, we realized we’d stumbled into an avalanche of information we couldn’t hope to absorb. The Braud (Breaux) name opened a door into a world of epic proportions, documented by generations of giants and historians who’d come before. Reels of microfilm raised new questions, even as they answered old ones. As the staff got involved in our quest, new books and mimeographed sheets appeared on our tables as if by magic, usually accompanied by a whispered, "I don’t know if this will help but there may be something in here...".

We stopped trying to figure things out and began burning up the copying machine -- if it looked at all promising (and sometimes even when it didn’t) we’d run it through the machine and toss it in a folder to be sorted out later.

We are pleased to report that we achieved all four of our objectives. The 9-hour marathon at the Bluebonnet Library was followed by a return to the Baton Rouge Diocesan Archives, a trip to the St. James Parish courthouse at Convent to view the original documents (and marvel at the actual signatures of ancestors who have been dead for well over a century), a brief sojourn into the State Archives in Baton Rouge, and one magical afternoon with the Mississippi at our backs, sugar cane fields at our feet and the indescribable sensation that somehow, we’d managed to find our way home... .

It has taken us six months to sort it all out and fashion a coherent story. We offer this as an addendum to the work of the giants within our own family without whose inspiration and encouragement we might never have embarked on this odyssey.

We regret that our source list at the end of this story is neither as scholarly or as complete as we would have liked. In our initial excitement at uncovering so much new information, we at first neglected to take proper notes on titles, authors, etc., of the documents we were copying. Thus, there is some important information that we included in the work that we cannot cite source information for. Also, the reference numbers to the documents themselves. References in the text, therefore, direct the reader to the source item and the place where we know it can be found. It’s lousy science, but we hope it will prove valuable for future sleuthing.

The Acadia history is all taken from Brasseaux’s book (appendix A); other historical references arise from our lifelong love of history -- once again, not documented but documentable.

From time to time in the narrative, a notation in brackets (NFS..) appears. This is a "Note for Future Sleuths" and conveys information we think may be helpful for further investigation or suggests a new direction for further sleuthing.

Finally, in an attempt to cut down on possible confusion, we have rendered all of our direct ancestor’s names in capital letters as they appear throughout the text. We’ve arranged our story chronologically and in narrative fashion, apologizing for the gaps that still exist but hoping that cousins will find enough bits and pieces of themselves in the pages that follow to be able to share in our feelings of connection.

Our family history is a finely woven tapestry. It is our pleasure to offer you a look at the story behind one of its threads... .

Janet Wood and Stephen Joseph Duncan


The search for the origins of the Breaux in North America leads us back more than a hundred years beyond the American Revolution to the Maritime Provinces of what is now Canada. Our story begins in feudal France where, in 1632, some 300 members of the peasant class, weary of the rising prices levied by the landlords and a class system that kept them forever chained to some else’s land for life set sail for the New World.

Although superficially united by their common language and a desire for a better life, their ties to each other ran much deeper; virtually all were from the same west central provinces in France and all shared a history of intensely strong family ties and a love of working the land that was already generations old. These elements provided a foundation and a bond that would hold their society together through the rigors of a new and hostile environment and help them to survive and attempt on the part of a mighty nation to obliterate their culture entirely -- an effort that at one point would include placing a bounty on their scalps.

They were a tough bunch, these ancestors of ours.

They called themselves Acadians

There is some confusion about the area in Nova Scotia where they settled came to be called "Acadia". One story traces it to a Micmac Indian word meaning "roots growing in fertile soil", another says that the name was bestowed by Verrazano in 1524 when he sailed by and was reminded of the legendary Arcadian forests of ancient Greece. What is certain, however, is that from the first moment of their arrival they considered themselves Acadians first and Europeans only if someone else insisted upon it. Unlike their fellow French colonists in the St. Lawrence Valley or the English colonists at Jamestown, the Acadians received no support from the ships fro the Old World and virtually no social support in the form of religious or administrative structure. They essentially governed themselves, administered justice, practiced their Catholic faith and occasionally snagged an itinerant priest (France and the Catholic Church were far more interested in converting "savages" than in providing spiritual support for Acadians) to bless their marriages and baptize their children.

Bound to the fur-trading companies for a period of five years after their arrival in the New World, they initially earned their way by trapping and shipping furs to France and trading furs for other goods with French and English colonies to the south. But within a generation they hacked their way through the dense forests and cleared enough land to return to their first love -- tilling the soil. The area around Pisiquid -- the settlement where our Breaux ancestors lives -- became known as the breadbasket of the colonies and surplus Acadian apples, vegetables, oats, rye and wheat made their way into the grateful New England colonies -- legally when politically possible and smuggled in if the political wind required it.

For over a hundred years (1632-1755) the benign neglect of the Acadian settlers by whatever European power happened to be in charge of the area at the moment (it was traded back and forth between France and England in the assorted treaties that ended the assorted

European conflicts of the time), left them free to create an extraordinarily stable and productive culture, firmly rooted in the land, connected by a nearly religious regard for the extended family, all fueled with a fierce devotion to personal and political independence.

Despite a 50% infant mortality rate, not to mention harsh winters and smallpox and other epidemics, the Acadian population doubled in one generation. By 1710 it had grown to 2,500 and 1755 - a year of almost apocalyptic horror in Acadian history - it is estimated that there were 12,000 to 15,000 Acadians living in 10 different towns scattered around the Bay of Fundy and the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Vincent Braud...

We are indebted to a distant cousin, Clarence Breaux, for his diligence in tracking and recording the early "Brauds" in Arcadia, then leaving a typed copy of his work on file in the Bluebonnet Library. (B-2)

All of the Breauds (Breauxs, Breaus, etc.) of Louisiana are descended from one man who came to Acadia from La Chausseé near Loudun, France, not long after its founding. He was born ca 1631 and although we have not found the exact date of his arrival in Acadia, we know that he married MARIE BOURE there in 1661 and over the next 20 years, until his death in 1681, they produced five sons: ANTOINE, Pierre, Francois, Jean and René. The first four them have descendants represented in Louisiana. Alas, as so often happens when tracking a family name through the male line, especially when one moves back past the official census
records, we as yet have no information of his daughters. The stories of the striking and strong Braud women in our past must wait until the mid-1700’s to emerge. (NFS: VINCENT’S background and see if his immigration was connected or merely coincidental.)

VINCENT’S eldest son, ANTOINE BROT, (born ca 1666) is our direct ancestor and his marriage to MARGUERITE BASIN produced five known sons: Antoine, Charles, ALEXANDRA, Pierre and Jean Baptiste -- all of whom had grandsons who came to Louisiana.

ALEXANDRA BROT was born in Acadia in 1701 and married MARIE DEGAS. ALEXANDRA and MARIE had three known sons: Amend (born 1721-12), ALEXIS (born 1725), and Joseph Honoré (born 1730-31). It is at this point in our family’s history that the people really spring to life. ALEXIS is the great-grandfather of EDOUARD, the plantation owner’s son who married the slave, CELESTINE, the event at the "waist" of our hourglass analogy. Their daughter, LEONTINE’S photo graced the cover of the Reunion Document that inspired our trip to New Orleans.

The brothers, ALEXIS and Honoré, along with their families and the orphaned children of Amend, eventually came to New Orleans on February 4, 1768. It is this part of our story that has found its way into the history books and not only answers many of our questions but provides fascinating glimpses of the people, places and personalities that led to the marriage of EDOUARD and CELESTINE.

To On The Shoulders Of Giants Part 2

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