Here in North Carolina at the end of Albemarle Bay, a place of destiny for nearly 50 Acadian deportees from Merliguèche (near Lunenburg, Nova Scotia), Acadian Flycatchers still sing for all those who want to hear them. According to popular belief, hearing their high singing notes marks the prologue of a providential happiness that is worth the trouble of listening to. There is no concrete milestone for Acadians in exile in North Carolina, except that of a solitary Acadian named Augustin Deschamps. With the exception of Augustin, the Acadians did not stay long in the land of Acadian Flycatchers, which still enjoy an abundance of insects in the shaded Carolinian forest.

Landing site of the Acadians in Edenton
Landing site of the Acadians in Edenton (Courtesy of Ian Dagnall Commercial Collection/Alamy, without modification)

In September 1755 all Acadian families of Merliguèche were transported aboard the Jolly Bacchus and incarcerated on Georges Island (formerly known as La Raquette because it resembles a snowshoe) until the end of December. They were then deported aboard the Providence vessel to Edenton, North Carolina, which was a busy seaport known to Captain Samuel Barron.

In mid-January 1756, the following families (46 individuals) landed in Edenton: Nicolas-Joseph Deschamps and Judith Doiron and their eight children, including Augustin; François Lucas and Hélène Guédry and their daughter; Paul Boutin and Ursule Guédry and their two children; Pierre Guédry; Joseph (Simon) Guédry; Charles Boutin and Marie-Josephe Guédry and their four children; Joseph Guédry and Marie-Josèphe Benoît and their three children; Honoré Trahan and Marie Corperon and their three children; Jean-Baptiste LeJeune and Marguerite Trahan and their four children; Jean Benoît and Anne Trahan and their two children; Paul Hébert and Marie Michel and their four children.

Cupola House, at 408 Broad Street South
Cupola House, at 408 Broad Street South, that Acadians saw being built in 1757-58 (Courtesy of the City of Edenton, without modification)

Augustin’s fate

Shortly after arriving in Edenton, Augustin Deschamps met Elizabeth White, daughter of Luke White and Sarah Copeland. Augustin and Elisabeth got married in September 1758. On October 8th of that year, Elizabeth received 50 acres of woodland in Chowan County as a gift from her father. In the donation written instrument we read “To my beloved daughter Elizabeth Dishan (Deschamps), formerly called Elizabeth White“. The couple gave birth to at least nine sons and three daughters. For several years until 1793, Augustin operated a ferry on the Chowan River.

When and how between 1760 (capitulation of Montreal) and 1763 (Treaty of Paris) these Acadian families left North Carolina remains a secret of history to discover. We know from the register of marriages celebrated at St. Joseph’s Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania that on January 22, 1761, Simon Yetry (Joseph Guédry) married Magdeleine Melançon, and that René Le Core and Blanche Dechamps (Deschamps – Augustin’s sister) were married on February 14, 1763.

In the register of baptisms for the year 1762 we discover that Paul Butin (Boutin) and Ursule Guédry have baptized their third child, Susan Catherine.

Photo credit: Dan Jones, Macaulay Library ML31125101

In the official trail guide about natural North Carolina, people are invited to stroll along Edenton’s boardwalk to listen to Acadian Flycatchers singing. An experience that Acadians in exile in Edenton have lived. This beautiful bird is recognizable by its two wing bars, its olive color and its captivating high-pitched song. Some say he has not lost his Acadian accent.

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