Dwayne David during a Mi’kmaq ceremony at the Museum in Erath.
Acadien Connection: David, Hebert connection goes way back
Dwayne David will travel to the Congrès mondial Acadien (CMA) 2019 this August, but it’s not his first Congrès. During CMA-Louisiane 1999, Dwayne participated in the David family reunion.
The descendants of Jean David, dit Saint Michel gathered on August 7, 1999, in St. James Parish to renew acquaintances and to discover all they could about their ancestors. At that reunion, Earl David of Dallas, Texas, shared his genealogy research about the David family.
“It was amazing how my third cousin, many times removed, had done so much research. His fifteen-page document was unbelievably extensive. I was very impressed,” says Dwayne.
Dwayne already knew that his grandfather, Ophé David, son of Jean-Baptiste David, was born in Youngsville in 1883 and settled in Cow Island, Vermilion Parish. Dwayne and his sister, Becky, still maintain close ties with their family farm northwest of Kaplan.
At the Congrès in 1999, Dwayne discovered that his ancestor, Michel David, born at Fort Louisbourg in Canada, arrived in New Orleans on October 6, 1766, with one of the first groups of Acadians. Dwayne found out that Michel was a blacksmith, was lodged at the Ursuline Convent and that he requested no farm land.
In 2013, Dwayne traveled to the Fort Louisbourg, Nova Scotia, to walk on the same ground as his ancestor, Jean David, dit Michel, and his father, Jean David, born in Nantes, France, in 1695. Father and son were both blacksmiths at Fort Louisbourg.
“Since 1999, I have been focusing on gathering as much information about my ancestors as I can. Sometimes the breakthroughs seem to fall from the sky,” says Dwayne.
“My first cousin, Bernie David, was playing Cajun music at a festival in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, in 2009 where he met Marie Rundquist. That’s when we began to learn more fascinating details about our connections,” adds Dwayne.
Marie Rundquist is a genealogist and DNA project manager from the Washington D.C. area. In her book, Cajun by Any Other Name; Recovering the Lost History of a Family and a People, Rundquist interweaves DNA test results, history, and genealogy to create the stories of unheard ancestors and bring those stories to light.
“Marie Rundquist’s ancestor is also Geneviève Hébert and she revealed the results of her research about Michel David and his wife, Geneviève Hébert. She told Bernie all about it,” explains Dwayne.
According to Rundquist, eighteen-year-old Geneviève Hébert was baptized at St. Charles aux Mines parish near Fort Louisbourg, and married Jean David, dit St Michel, age twenty, also of Fort Louisbourg. They married on January 20, 1744, in Grand Pré that is located over three hundred miles away from Fort Louisbourg. The couple, and presumably a small entourage, traveled from Fort Louisbourg to Grand Pré in Canada.
Fortress Louisbourg historian, Anne Marie Jonah, proposed that they could have followed an old smuggler’s corridor used to exchange goods for livestock and produce from Grand Pré. Following this route, Geneviève and Michel David would have navigated by ship from Fort Louisbourg, through the Strait of Canso, landing at Tatamagouche, and then traveling overland directly to Grand Pré, where they would have met longtime family friends and relations.
“What’s so exciting today is that you can go to Google maps, enter all of the places given in these accounts and right away you can see where these places are located. It’s easier than ever to see where our ancestors were living,” says Dwayne.
More fascinating details about the lives of Geneviève Hébert and Jean David, dit Michel can be found in Marie Rundquist’s book, Revisiting Anne Marie; How an Amerindian Woman Of Seventeenth Century Nova Scotia and a DNA Match Redefine American Heritage. We also learn in this book that Geneviève’s mother, Marguerite Gaudrot, spouse of Michel Hébert, was the grand-daughter of a Mi’kmaq Indian.
“In 2010, Marie Rundquist came to Kaplan with representatives of the Mi’kmaq Nation to celebrate a naming ceremony with Bernie. In 2012, they returned to celebrate with me,” says Dwayne.
“It’s exciting to go to this CMA 2019. Besides other activities, my wife Jackie and I will be at three family reunions: the Hebert family, my paternal grandmother; the Breaux family, my maternal grandmother; and the Landry family, my mother. I’m bringing my family trees with me, for all three families. Each family reunion has a genealogy section and I want to find anyone with a common ancestor that I can visit with,” says Dwayne.