Nationalities in Louisiana
| When the Acadians arrived in the mid 1760s,
Louisiana was inhabited with about 7,000 people. Most of the population
was French. In the first couple of
decades, Louisiana seemed to be a dumping ground. It was difficult
for France to get people to settle in Louisiana so it sent prisoners, prostitutes,
and its poor peasants to the colony. As the years went by, French
soldiers, entrepreneurs, and settlers decided to make Louisiana their home.
Some French surnames often considered Cajun include: Lirette, Crochet,
In the 1720s, John Law brought Germans to
the colony. They settled along the Mississippi River in St. Charles
Parish and later St. John the Baptist Parish. This area became known
as the German Coast. Some of the
German surnames often considered Cajun include: Haydel, Oubre, and Matherne.
There were also a number of French-Canadians who made their way to Louisiana ... some by ship and some down the Mississippi
River. Some of the French-Canadian surnames often considered Cajun
include: Chauvin, LeBoeuf, and Brunet.
A number of Spanish settlers made their way during the Spanish colonial period in the last
four decades of the 18th century. The largest group of Spanish settlers
came from 1778 to 1783 when over 1,000 Canary Island
immigrants arrived in Louisiana. They were placed in four
settlements: Valenzuela, Neuva Iberia, Galveztown, and Terre-aux-Bouef.
The most interaction between their population and Acadians may have been
at Valenzuela (present-day Plattenville). This settlement was located
on Bayou Lafourche, just down river from Donaldsonville. Many of
the Acadians that arrived in 1785 settled along Bayou Lafourche from Valenzuela
on down. Some of the Spanish and Canary Island surnames often considered
Cajun include: Domingue, Castile, and Segura.
American Indians had been in Louisiana for thousands of years. By the time the Acadians
arrived, their numbers had diminished greatly. The Acadians in southwest
Louisiana found Chetimacha Indians, while the Acadians in the Lafourche
area found a small group of Houmas Indians. It is probable that some
intermarriage occured. In the case of Indians, it was a case of them
taking on another name, Acadian or otherwise. Of the people that
call themselves Houmas Indians today, you will find some French surnames
that come from people who married into the tribes long ago. Some
of these names are: Billiot, Parfait, and Verdin.
One group that came here, but against their
will, is the African-American. Slaves
had been brought over from Africa decades before the first Acadians arrived.
As time went by, there were a certain number of free blacks. When
blacks and caucasians married, they produced offspring that were known
by several names, including mulatto. While there was some intermarriage
with the Acadians, it was a small percentage.
Many of these other nationalities intermarried
with the Acadians. In most cases, the Acadian culture prevailed in
the family. You will find many people today with non-Acadian names
that consider themselves Cajuns. Although their surname may not be
Acadian in origin, the chances are that they do have some Acadian blood.