Sunday, June 7, 2015

The Search for the Lost Colony of New Acadia

Looking for a lost colony is not for the faint of heart. Unlike historical documents that might be archived in libraries or courthouses, the archaeological record is somewhere out there – buried beneath the ground. The “archaeological record” refers to artifacts, but not the kinds of things that you might think archaeologists want to find. The artifacts excavated at eighteenth-century colonial home sites are typically bits and pieces of dinner plates (ceramic sherds), pieces of broken brick, rusted nails, shards of bottle glass, and fragments of animal bone. These are the buried remnants of buildings and discarded refuse from past meals, also known as garbage – certainly not what treasure hunters hope to find. The particular arrangement of artifacts and alignment of dark stains in the earth (cultural features) are also an important part of the archaeological record, often even more important than any individual artifact.

Each sherd and every piece of glass must be carefully collected and placed in a bag with a record of precisely where it was found. This must all be done methodically and systematically, hundreds of times, even in sweltering heat (or rain) with wet feet and ravenous mosquitoes, with no assurances of success. The search for a lost colony should not be undertaken lightly. It might be comparable to looking for a small button in a sugarcane field – if the field extended for many miles.


One of many shovel test samples being collected in a wooded area along the Teche Ridge.


Could the original homesteads and associated graves really be found?

Given the enormous challenges and daunting tasks that must be done, could the homesteads and associated unmarked graves of the 1765 New Acadia colony really be found? If not, it would seem to be a futile and pointless waste of energy, time, and resources. One possibility that is often raised is that artifacts and bone will not remain intact or even be detectable after being in the ground for 250 years. The clays and silts along the Teche Ridge are not generally conducive for the preservation of bone.

Fortunately, ceramic sherds, cultural features, and most of the artifacts archaeologists routinely recover are preserved surprisingly well in the ground, even after 250 years. In fact, archaeological evidence of Native Americans from 1,200 years ago is often found alongside artifacts from the colonial period. Two hundred and fifty years is hardly a drop in the bucket. Native American sites dating from more than 2,500 years ago have preserved quite well and provide detailed information on what life was like millennia before written documentation. 


Artifacts from the Amand Broussard Site near Loreauville. Ceramic smoking pipe stems and sherds, some dating from the late 18th century.


One winter day not long ago, two ceramic sherds were found side by side among sugarcane stubble in a field. One was part of a plate manufactured in England within a few decades around AD 1790; the other was part of a bowl probably made nearby at least 800 years ago. Both were used for someone’s mealtime.

A more serious critique is that the archaeological record of New Acadia will be too ephemeral, too miniscule and too transient to be found. After all, there were only 200 or more people, seemingly scattered in small homesteads along miles of the Teche Ridge. This is essentially a methodological issue (How Do You Know Where to Look?), since by comparison to other commonly known sites, the archaeological record of colonial Louisiana is anything but ephemeral. 



Walking along a sugarcane field on the Teche Ridge and looking for artifacts from days gone by.


Archaeologists regularly find and excavate campsites where a hunter spent one or more evenings thousands of years ago, stopping to dress a deer and cook a meal. The amount and variety of material culture, buildings, and number of residents in the colony of New Acadia undoubtedly left behind a substantial archaeological record, even from the first few months or year. So where to begin? How do you know where to look?


How Do You Know Where to Look?

This is one of the most-commonly asked questions archaeologists hear, second only perhaps to “have you found anything?”

When archaeologists search extensively over large areas or an entire region to find a site, it is usually called an archaeological survey. Archaeologists working in cultural resource management (CRM) have come to call it a “Phase I” survey, in contrast to exploratory (Phase II testing) excavations at a site, or the more intensive, large-scale excavations (Phase III mitigation) that come to mind for most people when they think of an archaeological dig. Unless there are specific reasons to investigate only one spot, an archaeological survey typically draws on multiple sources and methods to locate and identify sites. 

In many cases it may be impractical or impossible to survey every square foot (or meter) of land in a project area. Besides time and funding constraints, some areas just might have a lower probability of containing intact archaeological sites.

There are numerous sources of information to assist in identifying areas of high priority for archaeological survey. Among these are:

  •      Historical sources, including cartographic (maps).
  •      Landscape and topography.
  •      Oral histories, interviews, and genealogies.
  •      Archaeological records and methods.
  •      Geophysical remote sensing.

Among the most important sources of information are prior historical studies, such as Carl Brasseaux’s The Founding of New Acadia (Louisiana State University Press, 1987) and primary sources such as archival documents in libraries and courthouses. The Letter by Jean-Baptiste Semer, an Acadian in New Orleans, to His Father in Le Havre, April 20, 1766, is an excellent example that has recently drawn much attention (Mouhot and Grieve, Louisiana History, Vol. 48, No. 2, 2007). 

Don Arceneaux has compiled and interpreted a wealth of primary information in his article “The Initial Acadian Settlement: A New Look at the Initial Acadian Settlement Location in the Attakapas,” recently published in the Attakapas Gazette.

Plat maps and early maps of the Fausse Pointe region showing Spanish land patents from the 1770s and the locations of towns are extremely valuable, as it becomes possible to compare this cartographic information with historical landscape use and modern topography. As mentioned in The Lost Colony of New Acadia, the Acadians traveled from New Orleans by way of Bayou Plaquemine and arrived at Fausse Pointe through one of the portages to Bayou Teche.

The locations of at least two portages are well-known and indicate general areas where the Acadians may have arrived at the Teche in 1765. High points or places of higher elevation along the swales of the Teche Ridge are prized today for modern homes on concrete foundations. As the lower-lying backswamp farther away from the bayou is more prone to flooding, the Acadian colonists also likely appreciated the value of dry real estate, even for homes perched on cypress piers.

Oral histories, interviews with local residents, and family genealogies can complement historical sources, sometimes corroborating archival documents and other times providing entirely new information. The involvement of local residents and people from surrounding communities in this research has gone far beyond the usual consultations and discussions to involve partnerships and planning. The New Acadia Project would not exist if it were not for the involvement of interested individuals and groups that have funded and supported it from the beginning. 

This is called Public Archaeology. The search for the lost colony of New Acadia can only succeed with continued public involvement. Among the most essential kind of involvement is permission from land owners to survey and excavate on privately-owned land. Without support and involvement from the public, the project would quickly end. Public outreach is an integral part of this effort and several upcoming events are already scheduled (see Projet Nouvelle-Acadie/New Acadia Project on Facebook for more information).

Among the most important information that has come to light by talking with residents is the existence of abandoned family cemeteries in the area. In one instance a small cemetery no longer in use is reported to be the burial place of Broussard children who are descendants of Joseph Beausoleil Broussard. In another, the Berard Cemetery, the grave of Jules Berard dates from 1888, almost exactly halfway between the founding of New Acadia and present-day.

Information on the locations of abandoned family cemeteries and who was buried there can be supplemented by archaeological survey and geophysical remote sensing to locate New Acadia. Archaeological survey techniques include collecting samples of artifacts by carefully sifting the soil from 30 centimeter (1 foot) wide holes (“shovel test pits”) excavated every 10 or 30 meters (33 or 98 feet). A less labor-intensive technique is slowly and systematically walking over plowed fields to inspect the ground surface for artifacts, such as tin-glazed ceramic sherds that might date from the 1700s.

While it was initially assumed that archaeological survey to locate the 1765 home sites could lead investigators to the associated burials, the inverse approach may be equally effective. With the assistance of geophysical remote sensing techniques such as magnetometry, the discovery of anomalies that may turn out to be unmarked burials in old graveyards can provide an indication of where to intensify the archaeological survey for the original home sites.


The hypothesis being examined here is the ritual-symbolic continuity of consecrated ground.  Assuming that the burials of the Acadians who died in 1765 continued to be recognized by family members and immediate descendants who remained in the area, these same graveyards would be reused by descendants, extended families, and local residents for subsequent interments. 

If this hypothesis is correct, abandoned family cemeteries dating from the nineteenth or twentieth centuries should contain earlier, unmarked burials, and these may include the interments of the Acadians who perished in 1765.  Identification of these unmarked burials might in turn lead investigators to the locations of the original home sites of New Acadia.  

Saturday, June 6, 2015

The Lost Colony of New Acadia: Why it Matters

Summer in south Louisiana can be unpleasantly hot and humid, with only occasional relief from afternoon thunderstorms rolling in from the Gulf. Two hundred and fifty years ago a group of Acadian families spent their first summer in Louisiana. They arrived in New Orleans at the end of February of 1765, exiled by the British from their homes in Acadie (Nova Scotia). More Acadian émigrés continued to arrive and soon the 193 who had arrived in February numbered more than 500. A scouting party visited the Attakapas District, present-day Iberia, Lafayette, St. Martin, St. Mary, and Vermilion parishes, in hopes of finding a suitable place to establish a settlement. They had been told they would find “magnificent grasslands with the finest soil in the world.”[1]

A Live Oak on the Teche Ridge in the area formerly known as Fausse Pointe.

Among the leaders of the Acadians who arrived in 1765 were Joseph “Beausoleil” Broussard, newly-appointed Commandant of the Acadians in the Attakapas District, and his older brother Alexandre, also known as Beausoleil. The Beausoleil brothers had become legendary for stealthily resisting deportation for years, finally being captured and imprisoned by the British. Most of the Acadians who arrived in New Orleans were impoverished and uncertain of their future in an unfamiliar country. For those who could not afford it, Joseph Broussard had paid for their voyage from Halifax.[2]

In April of 1765 eight prominent Acadians, including Joseph Broussard, agreed to raise cattle for Antoine Bernard Dauterive in the Attakapas District. Supplied by the French colonial administration with tools, seed, and provisions, the Acadians made their way through the Atchafalaya Basin by way of Bayou Plaquemine to a place known as Fausse Pointe. [3] At the time, Fausse Pointe referred to the area around a loop of the Bayou Teche as it meandered along an ancient channel of the Mississippi River. The Acadians must have arrived at the Teche along one of the many portages to the bayou, which had likely been used by the native Atakapa and Chitimacha for more than a thousand years.

Plat map showing Spanish land patents along the Teche Ridge.

Rather than establish a single village center or raise cattle for Dauterive, the Acadians built their houses along the Teche Ridge in what Jean-Francois, the priest who traveled with them, called New Acadia.[4] The hardships they encountered there were described by Jean-Baptiste Semer in a letter to his father, Germain Semer:

“We went to Attakapas with guns, powder, and shot, but as it was already the month of May, the heat being so intense, we started to work in too harsh conditions. There were six plows that worked; we had to break in the oxen [and] travel fifteen leagues to get horses. Finally, we had the finest harvest, and everybody contracted fevers at the same time and, nobody being in a state to help anyone else, thirty-three or thirty-four died, including the children.”[5]

According to historian Carl Brasseaux, the colony of New Acadia was comprised of several communities along the Teche Ridge, the natural levee of the Mississippi overlooking the tranquil Teche. The community of “le dernier camp d’en bas” was among the very first to be established, “near present-day Loreauville by late June, 1765.”[6]

The hardships increased, as many of the Acadians succumbed to a virulent epidemic, possibly yellow fever. Having survived years of combat with the British and endured the travails of imprisonment, deportation, and forced exile, Joseph Beausoleil Broussard died on October 20, 1765. Preceded in death by his brother, Alexandre, Joseph was buried in a grave at his home site, a place Jean-Francois called Beausoleil.[7]

Two hundred and fifty years later, the graves of Joseph Beausoleil Broussard, his brother Alexandre, and other Acadian émigrés who traveled with them remain unidentified and unmarked. The locations of home sites of the New Acadia colony of 1765 have also been forgotten. Some of these places may have been plowed for sugarcane over the centuries, or perhaps covered with concrete, asphalt, or shell.

Darrell Bourque, Poet Laureate of Louisiana, challenges us to imagine what life was like at New Acadia in 1765.[8] Although the surrounding landscape must have seemed like a strange and foreign land, the cattle ranching the Acadians were accustomed to was well-suited to the natural levees and rolling prairie terraces. Not much is otherwise known about how they survived those first few months, or even where they built their first homes. The last line of Bourque’s poem “Beausoleil’s Last Night” leaves a haunting image of what we might share in common with Joseph Beausoleil Broussard:

“… so that last night he slept a dreamless sleep, at last an endless quiet on a nameless coast.”[9]

If history is about remembering as a community (commemorating) what is meaningful about the past, then New Acadia is truly a lost colony. Known today only through few brief written records, the original places of New Acadia are nameless and neglected even in our dreams.

So why was New Acadia forgotten? Could the original homesteads and associated graves really be found? More importantly, why does it matter?

Why It Matters


1. The Advancement of Historical Knowledge

History is important, whether or not people will admit that it is. From the standpoint of historians and archaeologists, scholars whose professions are dedicated to learning about the past, the significance of historical knowledge includes public education and improved quality of life. But it is also pertinent to understanding the human condition, to commiserate with those who lived in the past, and how their lives have influenced and shaped our own world. 

So the advancement of historical knowledge is one reason the lost colony of New Acadia should be found and studied. The archaeological information to be potentially gained could shed light on a wide range of poorly understood topics, such as: where did they settle, what sort of houses did they build, what material culture did they have, and what did they eat?

 2. Heritage, Identity, and Culture

For those uninterested in the advancement of historical knowledge and skeptical of its relevance to education and quality of life, there is another, second and perhaps more compelling reason why history matters. The contemporary identities of all people, whether political, religious, economic, or social, are actively based on collective representations of the past. Sometimes called heritage or cultural tradition, these historical narratives find expression in commemorations and rituals, historic buildings and landscapes, even everyday practices such as cooking and playing music. At its most basic and individual scale, history is lived through memories and practiced traditions, as experienced in the preparation of a cherished family recipe handed down from a beloved great-aunt. Without memories or tradition the cuisine shared by families and kinfolk would be mere sustenance or fodder.

On a larger scale, representations of the past are used for present purposes. Politicians try to get elected or perhaps gain support for legislation by appealing to shared values steeped in cultural tradition. Sporting events can be ideal opportunities for creating and sustaining collective identity and tradition through the shared enthusiasm of devotees, as might be experienced during the homecoming of the Ragin’ Cajuns at Cajun Field. An enormous amount of resources, including millions of dollars, are expended each year to publicize and promulgate what are regarded as the collective interests of a community, whether at a convention center and arena called the Cajundome, at the Université des Acadiens, or at events such as Festivals Acadiens et Créoles. Newly-registered initiates of Université des Acadiens have been admitted into the campus community with the greeting “we’re all Ragin’ Cajuns now.”

History matters because identity, as well as culture itself, is inextricably rooted in the past. How do we know this for certain? A people without a past would be without tradition, lacking heritage, and without a shared experience or culture. On those occasions when important aspects of the past are unknown or forgotten, communities create collective memories from personal imagination and popular fiction. All people have the uncanny capacity to reinvent tradition. Cultural revitalization in particular, demands that at least some of the blanks are filled in. Historical narratives, landscapes, places of historical significance, monuments and memorials, even tombs of famous people who never lived can be fabricated in an amalgamation of social memory, historiography, and myth.

A people in need of history will create narratives and memory places, where shared experience and tradition might reside. In such cases it may become impossible to distinguish the genuine from authentic reproduction. Commemorations and narratives without historical precedent or substantiation may eventually ring hollow or seem absurd, even becoming a subject of ridicule. If neither Evangeline nor her alter ego is buried in Evangeline’s tomb, precisely what does the statue cast in the likeness of the actress who portrayed Evangeline memorialize?[10] The Beausoleil brothers did not disembark with fanfare at the Evangeline Oak, or sail up the Bayou Teche bringing crawfish to Cajun Field. Historical accuracy matters.

Historic marker at the Evangeline Oak in St. Martinville, directing visitors to Evangeline's tomb (State Library of Louisiana).

The suffering and anguish of the Acadian expulsion and diaspora may be beautifully expressed and deeply felt through literature and art, but the commemoration and subsequent history of the grand dérangement should be methodically studied and grounded in systematic, scientific research. The search for New Acadia is important whether it is done for historical knowledge and a better understanding of how the past has shaped the present, or to connect present-day heritage, identity, and culture with actual places and substantive discoveries. Archaeological survey to find the lost colony of New Acadia might also strike an emotional chord – by locating the unmarked graves of Acadian ancestors, as-yet-unknown hallowed places where their descendants might go to pray.

More than two centuries separate the arrival of the Acadians from official recognition of a place called Acadiana, the homeland of the Cajuns, yet we still do not understand how or where it all began. The gulf that separates the Cajuns of today from the colonists of New Acadia is not insurmountable or incredibly wide. Yet it is unfathomably deep.

3. Development of the Cultural Economy

The Acadians of 1765 would be foreigners to most present-day residents of Acadiana. In the ongoing commemoration, celebration, and commodification of Cajun heritage, would the remembrances seem hollow and misdirected to those whose burial places have been forgotten? Would anyone, then or now, find it ironic or at all strange that more than 10 million dollars is regularly budgeted for Ragin’ Cajun Athletics each year, while a modest proposal to find the lost colony of New Acadia was turned down by the Louisiana Board of Regents?

Luckily, there are people who are interested in discovering history that matters. The New Acadia Project (NAP) was launched with the formation of a Steering Committee that is raising donations and grant funding. NAP was initially funded for two years and is now in its second year of investigations. The search for New Acadia has drawn interest from businesses and civic organizations that see a connection with economic development.

This leads us to the third and final reason why history should matter. The history of New Acadia that lies as-yet undiscovered within archaeological sites along the Teche Ridge represent an unutilized and largely unrecognized economic asset. The Acadiana and Cajun labels are today commonly appropriated in commerce, just as the name of Evangeline was during the first part of the last century. As with Evangeline, Acadiana is still a mythic landscape of which little is actually well known.

Opportunities for development of the cultural economy, and not just cultural tourism, are enormous and practically untapped for the region. For example, a restaurant in a small village not far from the Teche has at times struggled to stay open due to a lack of customers. Establishment of a heritage-trail with historical markers through New Acadia would draw visitors to the restaurant from overseas, as well as local residents who might appreciate that their ancestors were among those who founded the colony of New Acadia – the founders and progenitor of Acadiana. 

Farming and continued land development, including new residential subdivisions, may have already adversely impacted or even destroyed some sites. Future generations of Acadian descendants might ask why the colony of New Acadia was never discovered and preserved, or at least studied and recorded before being obliterated.

If we endeavor to ever truly understand the history of the Acadians in Louisiana, to connect heritage and identity with systematic scholarship, or to develop a cultural economy from it, the mythic landscape of Acadiana must be carefully scrutinized and methodically re-examined. The lost colony of New Acadia must be discovered.

Coming Soon:
How Do You Know Where to Look?
Have You Found Anything?




[1] Letter by Jean-Baptiste Semer, an Acadian in New Orleans, to His Father in Le Havre, April 20, 1766. Jean-François Mouhot and Bey Grieve. Louisiana History: the Journal of the Louisiana Historical Association. Vol. 48, No. 2 (Spring, 2007), pp. 223-224.
[2] A Great and Noble Scheme: The Tragic Story of the Expulsion of the French Acadians from Their American Homeland. John Mack Faragher. W. W. Norton & Company, 2005. Pp. 395-97, 415, 428-30.
Letter by Jean-Baptiste Semer, p. 224.
[3] The Founding of New Acadia: The Beginnings of Acadian Life in Louisiana, 1765-1803. Carl A. Brasseaux. Louisiana State University Press, 1987. Pp. 75-77, 90-94.
"Scattered to the Wind" Dispersal and Wanderings of the Acadians, 1755-1809. Carl A. Brasseaux. Louisiana Life Series No. 6. Center for Louisiana Studies, 1991. Pp. 61-65.
[4] The Founding of New Acadia, p. 75-77, 92.
[5] Letter by Jean-Baptiste Semer, p. 224.
[6] The Founding of New Acadia, pp. 91-92.
[7] A Great and Noble Scheme, p. 429.
[8] Megan's Guitar and Other Poems from Acadie. Darrell Bourque. University of Louisiana at Lafayette Press, 2013. P. 68.
[9] Megan's Guitar, p. 69.
[10] In Search of Evangeline: Birth and Evolution of the Evangeline Myth. Carl A. Brasseaux. Blue Heron Press, 1988. P. 41.

Friday, May 22, 2015

The New Acadia Project Summer 2015 Archaeological Expedition

Fieldwork resumed this week on the New Acadia Project Summer 2015 archaeological expedition. The field crew has been methodically sampling the soil in areas along the Teche Ridge - the natural levee of Bayou Teche - in order to find evidence of the previous residents.

Amy and Katie carefully sift the soil from one of many, many shovel tests.
Excavation of these small holes or "shovel tests" has already yielded some artifacts, such as fragments of ceramic plates, shards of bottle glass, pieces of brick, and rusted nails. The placement of the shovel tests is partly based on a systematic sampling strategy. The spatial distributions of different kinds of artifacts beneath the ground can represent the locations of past land use, the various activities that occurred, and relative age of the site.

The decorations on the ceramic sherds and types that have been found indicate some were manufactured as early as the 1780s, but most date from the 1800s and early 1900s. The New Acadia Project is searching for artifacts and other evidence of sites dating from the 1760s - beginning in 1765 to be precise - when a group of more than 200 Acadians arrived in the region known as Fausse Pointe.

Mark, Katie, and Amy at the LaPAL field lab.
The New Acadia Project archaeological expedition is based out of the Louisiana Public Archaeology Lab (LaPAL), which is dedicated to outreach, research, education, and partnerships involving Louisiana's endangered and undiscovered archaeological record and cultural resources.

The author with laptop and equipment in the LaPAL field lab.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

In Memory of Mayor Al Broussard

Mayor Al Broussard of Loreauville was Chair of the New Acadia Project Steering Committee. He tragically passed away on April 3, 2015.


Cheryl Broussard Perret, former New Acadia Project Steering Committee chair, congratulates Mayor Al Broussard on his appointment as chair.
Mayor Al at an Iberia Parish Council meeting, where he requested and received funds to support the New Acadia Project.

Mayor Al (on far right) meeting with UL Lafayette faculty and students to discuss plans for an Acadian commemorative park in Loreauville.
Mayor Al (second from left) meets with the New Acadia Project Steering Committee and researchers at Vermilionville.
Mayor Al (second from right) at the New Acadia Project tent at Festivals Acadiens et Créoles.
Mayor Al discussing the fieldwork with Dr. Rees and research assistants during the summer of 2014.
Mayor Al (left) examining maps in the field with Dr. Rees.
Mayor Broussard was an enthusiastic supporter of the New Acadia Project, introducing the archaeology field crew to local residents and land owners, raising money to support the research, and working tirelessly to publicize the project. His absence leaves a huge chasm in the project and in our hearts.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

The Search for New Acadia Continues: the Winter Expedition of 2014-2015

 
New Acadia Project students and volunteers.

Students and volunteers with the University of Louisiana at Lafayette continued fieldwork during the last week of 2014 to discover the lost settlement of New Acadia and unmarked burials of Acadians who arrived in south Louisiana in 1765. 

Remote sensing at an abandoned cemetery near Bayou Teche.

While next week is the final week of the Winter Expedition of 2014-2015, this is a long-term project that will require years of systematic fieldwork and research.

The cemetery is located in a wooded area of the Teche Ridge.



The cemetery is surrounded by ancient Live Oaks.

This year, 2015, is the 250th anniversary of the arrival of Acadian families led by Joseph Beausoleil Broussard. The archaeological discovery and investigation of the New Acadia settlement of 1765 will greatly advance existing knowledge of Acadian history and the origins of Cajun culture. 


Students and volunteers inspect a sugarcane field for evidence of the 1765 settlement.

The New Acadia Project holds the potential to commemorate the forgotten home sites and unmarked graves of the founders of what would one day be called Acadiana. As a result, it will also contribute to the development of Louisiana's cultural economy. 


The field crew searches for evidence of the New Acadia settlement.

If nothing is done or research is delayed any longer, these unique places and irreplaceable sources of information may be lost forever. The alternatives to seeking greater knowledge are clear: ignorance, forgetfulness, and eventual obliteration.


The field crew looks for evidence of New Acadia by shovel testing.

The soil is sifted in looking for artifacts dating from the 1760s.

More information and updates on the New Acadia Project can be found on Facebook and at the New Acadia Project web site at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.


Most shovel tests yield no evidence or more recent artifacts, like bottle glass or rusted nails.
Each shovel test is around 30 cm (12 inches) diameter.
The soils and stratigraphy of each shovel test are carefully recorded.

The New Acadia Project is a public initiative that depends on the generous support of interested individuals, organizations, and foundations in order to accomplish the objectives of archaeological and historical research.

The field crew enjoys hot chocolate after a cold day in the field.

As of October 2014, more than $174,000 has been raised by the New Acadia Project Steering Committee and $138,848 of this has been awarded to the University of Louisiana at Lafayette in support of research.


A NAP Steering Committee meeting at Vermilionville.

Major contributors include Iberia Parish and the Iberia Parish Convention & Visitors Bureau, the Coypu Foundation, and the McIlhenny Family Foundation. The greatest number of donations has come from individuals, small businesses, and private organizations, such as the Lafayette Genealogical Society. 

A view of the Bayou Teche, last seen 250 years ago by Joseph Beausoleil Broussard.

Funding is needed for equipment, such as the magnetometer and gradiometer, supplies, transportation, and to support research assistants and personnel. Anyone interested in supporting the New Acadia Project can donate through the Acadian Heritage and Culture Foundation at the Acadian Museum in Erath or the New Acadia Project Fund at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette Foundation.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Remote Sensing in an Abandoned Graveyard Near Bayou Teche

On December 18, 2014 the New Acadia Project crew and a group of student volunteers cleared brush from a small graveyard in a wooded area in Iberia Parish in order to conduct remote sensing. Although well known to local residents and the property owner, the graveyard had been abandoned and was overgrown. Of the five marked burials and vaults in the graveyard, only one headstone has an inscription. The burial of Jules Berard dates from 1888. The objective of remote sensing is to locate unmarked burials potentially associated with the 1765 settlement of New Acadia.


The New Acadia Project crew and volunteers on December 18. 
An abandoned and overgrown graveyard near Bayou Teche. 
The graveyard after it was cleared.
After clearing the cemetery, the crew returned on December 20
to conduct remote sensing.
Leaves and small branches were removed with rakes to
inspect the surface in preparation for remote sensing.
A total station was used to establish a site grid.

The grid was laid out for remote sensing.
 Grid lines were marked with wooden
stakes and plastic flags.
The Cesium Magnetometer was expertly assembled.

Setting up the Cesium Magnetometer.
Using the magnetometer to collect data along transects.
Remote sensing with a Cesium Magnetometer.


Analysis of the data collected from remote sensing is still in process. Preliminary results, however, indicate several subsurface anomalies in and around the graveyard. Only one of these anomalies is a known grave associated with a headstone.

One of the areas surveyed with the magnetometer, showing a
magnetic anomaly not associated with a marked grave.