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Pierre Godin dit Chatillon, master carpenter, born in 1632, son of Claude and Marie Bardin, emigrated to this country in 165 3, with the expedition of Paul de Chomedy, Sieur de Maisonneuve, founder and governor of Montreal. The following year he married Jeanne Rousseliere, daughter of Louis and Isabelle Paris of Xaintes. That he was held in high esteem by the Governor is attested to by the fact that when his first son, Laurent, was baptized in Notre-Dame Church Aug. 10, 1655, de Maisonneuve stood godfather.
Pierre lived in Montreal until 1664, when he moved to Charles-bourg, near Quebec, for about four years, then returned in 1669 to Montreal. From there he ventured into Acadie, arriving in Port Royal in 1676. Two years later we find him at Beaubassin, living with Roger Kuessey, the Irish refugee who had followed Jacques Bourgeois to the new colony on the shores of Chignectou Bay. By the census of 1686 he was already deceased, and two years later his widow married Pierre Martin of Port Royal, the son of Pierre and Catherine Vigneau.
It was Gabriel, the fourth son of Pierre Godin and Jeanne Rous¬seliere, who first used the name of "Bellefontaine." Born in Montreal in 1661, married to Andree Angelique Jasne (Joannes) Jul. 24, 1690 in Quebec, he moved to Acadie when the next year Robineau de Ville-bon, the newly appointed Governor of Acadie, granted him a sizeable concession on the St. John River, in the region of Nashwaak, near the present day Fredericton. It is then that Gabriel Godin took the title of "Sieur de Bellefontaine." Oddly enough only some of his sons used this title. Others either held to the family name of Godin, or assumed the names of de Beausejour, de Beliefeuille, de Boisjoli, de Chatilions, de Lincour.
It seems that few of the Godin-Bellefontaines were actually exiled in the general Expulsion of the Acadians in the fall of 1755. As most of them were living up the St. John River when word came to them of what was happening to their confreres across the Bay of Fun-dy, they began moving farther up the river,some even straggling through the woods as far as Quebec.
However, when Colonel Monckton sent a surprise expeditionary force, under the heartless officer Moses Hazen, in the winter of 1758-59, many of the helpless fugitives, including the Bellefontaines, were either slaughtered on the spot or brought eventually as prisoners to Halifax.
When the Seven Year War (1756-63) between Britain and France finally came to an end with the signing of the Treaty of Paris on Feb. 10, 1763, there were still in August of that year some 725 Acadian 'prisoners' held in Halifax. The British authorities here and at home seemed to be unable to know what to do with them. Hitherto some had been recruited to assist in public works, such as construction of the naval docks, opening up roads to Windsor and repairing dykes near Grand Pre. But, of course, there could be no question of them ever being allowed to return to their former possessions!
To restrict our observations to the eleven-member family of Gabriel Bellefontaine, most of the sons, like Joseph (b.1695),Jean (fa. 1712), Bonaventure (b.1715) and their families, made their way somehow to Louisiana, where their descendents still thrive. Jacques Philippe (b.1697) with his two children had made his way from the St. John River area to Becancour, Quebec, where he died six days before the signing of the Peace Treaty. Pierre (b.1704) with his child-dren managed to evade capture along the upper river, and with the approach of the Loyalists in 1784, was forced once more to remove to the north-eastern part of N.B., in the Caraquet area. He retained the name of Godin. Rene (b.1710) seems to have settled at Kamouraska, Que., and then at Sunbury, N.B.
As to Charles Bellefontaine dit Boisjoli (b.1708) , whom I consider to be the ancestor of the Chezzetcook branch, we know for sure that in 1763 he was held prisoner in Halifax with his wife and eight children. Married Aug. 18, 1733, at Port Royal, to Marie Melanson, he was on the St. John River in 1739, was probably caught in the Hazen raid of 1758-59, and finally brought as a prisoner to Halifax. Now, we have documentary evidence for,his first six children, as listed on page 3 below. Yet, the Halifax prisoner list clearly indicates he had eight children. It is my considered opinion that the two 'missing' children are the very Bellefontaine brothers, Jean-Baptiste and Alexandre, who were the first to settle in Chezzetcook. Some authorities, including one no less than Msgr. Edgar Godin, bishop of Bath-urst, N.B. are inclined to have these two Chezzetcook Bellefontaines descend from Rene (b.1710) and not from Charles (b.1708). Until further elucidations come our way I humbly offer the other educated theory.
The other members of the Charles Bellefontaine family, Marie, Madeleine, Cecile and Helena all married in the Halifax area and removed either to Yarmouth and Digby counties or to New Brunswick. It is not known what became of Charles (b.ca.1740) after his marriage at Halifax in 1769. Paul moved to Memramcook, N.B. , and Anne Married in 1765 in Beauport, Que.
Just when the two young Bellefontaines, Jean Baptiste and Alexandre, married and settled in Chezzetcook is not certain. We must remember that the Acadians and the Micmacs, their brothers in religion, were deprived of their missionaries from 1755 to 1760, when the revered Abbe Pierre Maillard, at the request of Governor Lawrence, came to Halifax from the northern shore of the province, as the "government agent to the Indians." The authorities rightly recognized in him the only power to keep them from the warpath. This he succeeded in doing, while at the same time acting as interpreter for them, and serving the needs of the A-cadians as well. Unfortunately the venerated Abbe died in Halifax on Aug. 12, 1762, and no record of his sacred ministrations has yet been found.
It was not until July 1768 that another Catholic missionary, in the person of the young Charles Francois Bailly, was able to come to the district and administer to the Micmacs (who kept pressuring the English authorities), as well as to the Acadians and the growing numbers of Irish immigrants in the southern part of the city. Covering the vast territory of what is now the Maritime Provinces, and extending his care by letters even to the exiled Acadians of Massachussets, this tireless priest from Quebec spent many fruitful days among the Catholic population of this area, Chezzetcook in particular* Fortunately he did leave us complete records of Baptisms, Marriages, and other ministrations carried out in our midst, until his departure in 1772 for Carleton, N.B., and then for Quebec, where later he became Auxiliary Bishop of that vast diocese.
The Catholics had to wait again until 1785 for the passage of the next missionary, the Abbe Joseph Mathurin Bourg (today, Bourque), the first priest of Acadian descent. Born in Grand Pre, he was only eleven years old when his family was put aboard a transport in 1755 bound for Virginia. This Anglo-American colony, however, refused to receive the Acadians sent to it without prior notice from Governor Lawrence. So the Bourg family, along with the others were re-directed to England in the early part of the winter of 1756. It was during the cold crossing from Virginia that the boy Mathurin witnessed the passing of his young mother, nee Anne Hebert. And there, in another hostile atmosphere, the Bourg family languished in captivity until the Peace Treaty of Paris in 1763. That year they, and the other prisoners, crossed over to Paris, where the boy was given a classical and theological education, and finally returned to Quebec to be ordained a priest on Nov. 15, 1772. Abbe Bourg visited Chezzetcook, among many places, in the year 1785, and left us a short written register of his sacred ministrations. Finally, broken down by the incessant labours of such a vast charge throughout the Atlantic region, he died near Montreal on Aug. 20, 1797, and was buried in the parish cemetery of Saint Laurent.
This digression into the often disrupted presence of Mission¬aries in our area should help to explain the many gaps in our genealogical data of that period. It is only from the time of the first Register of St. Peter's Church (later, St. Mary's Cathedral) in 1800 and those of St. Anselm, West Chezzetcook, in 1814, that we have a near complete record of our Catholic families, including the Bellefontaines.
Considerable care has been expended in the compiling of the following genealogical notes with the aim of achieving a minimum of errors. When the information at hand was uncertain this has been indicated by the sign (?). Where scanty or false data are offered the author would greatly appreciate receiving further information or correction, especially when substantiated by docu¬ments or reliable traditions.
He is deeply grateful to the many people who have been most helpful with this work, and feels sufficiently rewarded in the hope it may afford the people of Chezzetcook ancestry a deeper sense of pride in, and gratitude towards their forebears.
With fond remembrance,
"Ma réalité est intérieure"