Acadian-Cajun Genealogy & History

History of the Cajuns

Cajuns in the 18th Century

     The history of the Cajun people starts in 17th century Canada. A group of French settlers colonized land in the area now known as the Maritime Provinces of Canada. The main area of settlement is now known as Nova Scotia, but was referred to as Acadia for almost 2 centuries. For more information on the Acadians, please go to the Acadian History or Acadian Genealogy web pages. After the English exiled them from their land, the Acadians were scattered about. From 1765 to 1785, over 3,000 of them made their way to Louisiana. Louisiana was to become their New Acadia.

 Pre-1764 Louisiana
     Louisiana been inhabited by Europeans since the beginning of the 18th century.  But up until the time of the Acadian settlement, most of the population consisted of the military and people looking to make money off of the territory.  The only real attempt at placing settlers was the group of Germans on the Mississippi River above New Orleans (the German Coast).  Most of the population was made up of French and French-Canadians.  Though they didn't know it when the first Acadians headed for Louisiana, they would be arriving in Spanish territory.
 The First Acadians in New Acadia: 1764-1784
     Once the Treaty of Parish was completed, Acadians were on the move.  Those in the American colonies and held at Nova Scotia made their way to Louisiana, with most of those who came arriving in 1765 to 1768.  They settled in the west (Attakapas/Opelousas) of the Atchafalaya and along the Mississippi River (Acadian Coast).
 The Seven Ships of 1785
     The largest single group of immigrants in 18th century Louisiana came in 1785, when Spain paid to carry about 1600 Acadians from France to Louisiana.  Most of this group settled along Bayou Lafourche. 
 The Acadians Become Established in Louisiana: 1786-1800
     After 1785, the Acadian migration to Louisiana was essentially over.  They set about to adapt to their new surroundings.  Taking what they knew, and mixing it with their new climate and ideas from their neighbors, they were able to fit in and succeed in their new environment.
 Other Nationalities in Louisiana
     The Acadians, though the major population in south-central Louisiana for some time, found themselves surrounded by other nationalities.  The blending of elements of these other cultures eventually formed the Cajun culture.
Copyright © 1997-09 Tim Hebert