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.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

NAP Assistants and Volunteers Clear Brush at an Abandoned Graveyard Near the Bayou Teche

New Acadia Project student assistants and volunteers spent the day clearing brush at an abandoned family graveyard near Bayou Teche in preparation for remote sensing. At least four or five burials are present in the graveyard, as indicated by two large above-ground vaults, a headstone and footstone (or small headstone), and a small slab. Five or more large oaks surround this small family cemetery on the Teche ridge.

Two (unmarked?) tombs  in a wooded lot as they appeared in
October of 2013.
The graveyard was overgrown when previously visited in
October of 2013 and the Summer of 2014.
The same tombs and small slab (on the left) on December 18, 2014,
after the clearing of brush, view to the northwest.
Small unmarked slab in the foreground and two tombs in
the background (view to the northeast).
Once the grounds were cleared, the students laid out a
12-by-18 meter grid for remote sensing (view to the east).
The graveyard includes two chipped and broken headstones, or perhaps
one broken headstone (right) and a small accompanying footstone (left)
that may have been rearranged.
The headstone bears the inscription:
Ne Avril 12, 1856
Decede Novembre 6, 1888"
Another small stone inscribed with the initials "J.B." was initially
thought to be the headstone for a child's grave, but may be a
footstone for the burial of Jules Berard. Footstones bearing the
 initials of the deceased were common during the 19th century.
If this is a footstone for the burial of Jules Berard, it may have
been dislodged and re-positioned.
The graveyard after brush was cleared and a grid was established for
remote sensing (view to the southwest).
Are there additional, unmarked burials in this abandoned graveyard near the Bayou Teche?

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

New Acadia Project Winter 2014 - 2015 Field Expedition Begins

The New Acadia Project has begun fieldwork for the winter. We will be remote sensing at an abandoned historic cemetery near Bayou Teche. Updates to follow.

Headstone in an abandoned cemetery near Bayou Teche in Iberia Parish.

Friday, October 17, 2014

The Advertiser, by Megan Wyatt (October 17, 2014)
The New Acadia Project, or Projet Nouvelle-Acadie, received a $52,000 grant this week from the Coypu Foundation, founded by the estate of the late John S. McIlhenny.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Donald J. Arceneaux's recent article on New Acadia

THE INITIAL ACADIAN SETTLEMENT: A New Look at the Initial Acadian Settlement Location in the Attakapas

by Donald J. Arceneaux

A fascinating article on the 1765 settlement of New Acadia has just been published online in the Attakapas Gazette by the The Attakapas Historical Association.
Among the information presented by Arceneaux is the following excerpt from a letter written in April of 1766 by Jean-Baptiste Semer, who arrived in New Acadia in 1765 with Joseph Beausoleil Broussard.

 I arrived here [New Orleans] in the month of February 1765 with 202 Acadian persons…Beausoleil led [the group]…seven or eight men [as scouts] have [had] been sent to look over the land and locations in order to find a suitable site, and we were told that at Attakapas there were magnificent grasslands with the finest soil in the world…. We [the Beausoleil group] 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 the Opelousas post area] 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. 
Jean-François Mouhot, ed., and Bey Grieve, trans., “Letter by Jean-Baptiste Semer, an Acadian in New Orleans, to his Father in Le Havre, April 20, 1766,” Louisiana History XLVIII (2007), 216-22.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Public Archaeology and Community Outreach

The New Acadia Project (NAP) is a publicly funded, grass-roots effort combining archaeology, history, and applied anthropology in a multidisciplinary, collaborative investigation of eighteenth-century Acadian settlement of Louisiana. A cooperative agreement has been established between the University of Louisiana at Lafayette (UL Lafayette) and the NAP Steering Committee, which has led a widely successful fundraising effort to support this research. 
    In 1765 Joseph Beausoleil Broussard led a group of more than 200 Acadians to the Attakapas District in present-day Iberia and St. Martin parishes. These settlers were part of the forced expulsion of Acadians from Nova Scotia during the second half of the eighteenth century. More than 34 died in the months after their arrival, including Beausoleil and his brother, Alexandre. 
    The founders of New Acadia were buried at the places they settled, thought to be located somewhere along the Bayou Teche near present-day Loreauville. The burials were recorded by Father Jean-François de Civray as being located at premier camp d'en bas, dernier camp d'en bas, and camp Beausoleil. The gravesites and homesteads remain unmarked and unknown two and a half centuries later, in the heartland of Acadiana.

Goals and Objectives 
    There have been no previous archaeological investigations of New Acadia and very few studies of Acadian archaeology in Louisiana, despite the importance of Acadian heritage and culture. This is the first systematic effort to identify and study the initial home sites of New Acadia. The goals of the NAP are: 

  1. Advance existing knowledge of the history of Acadian settlement by locating and studying the original homesteads and associated unmarked burials.
  2. Delineate and understand the settlement patterns and households of New Acadia.
  3. Examine the changing relationships between history, identity, and landscape.
  4. Promote development of the cultural economy of Louisiana and the region through cultural resource management (CRM) planning and heritage conservation related to Acadian history and culture.
    The first three goals are related to the objectives of producing historical and cultural information on New Acadia through archaeology, oral history, and archival research (see illustration below). What did the first Acadians eat? What things did they bring with them? What kind of shelters did they build? Such new and unique information will be of great interest to archaeologists, historians, and scholars. 
    For many Louisiana residents there are other, more profound reasons for discovering and studying the New Acadia settlement: the rediscovery of heritage and cultural identity. New prospects for commemoration will produce previously-unrealized opportunities for development of the cultural economy. Besides cultural tourism, economic development can be promoted through businesses and heritage industries that capitalize on culture.

    The project goals and objectives will be accomplished through archaeological survey and site testing, historical and archival research, oral histories and genealogies, public outreach, and community engagement. Each line of investigation will be a collaborative effort in public archaeology, public history, applied anthropology, and CRM planning.
  1. Archaeological Survey, Geophysical Remote Sensing, and Site Testing.
  2. Historical and Archival Research.
  3. Oral Histories and Genealogies.
  4. Public Outreach and Community Engagement.
    The identification of old cemeteries through interviews and oral histories has been useful in selecting areas of high priority for archaeological survey. Geophysical remote sensing has been done at two locations, including one abandoned family cemetery. These sites are located on the Teche Ridge in the vicinity of Loreauville. The cemetery is thought to include the burials of descendants of Joseph Beausoleil Broussard, who was buried at one of the first home sites of New Acadia. While the immediate objectives do not involve excavation or disturbance of any human remains, the New Acadia settlement is known to be associated with unmarked graves. Family cemeteries dating from the nineteenth or twentieth centuries may also contain the unmarked graves of earlier ancestors, which may in turn lead investigators to the original 1765 homesteads of New Acadia.

Requirements for Success 
    The NAP will only be advanced through the cooperation and collaboration of property owners. All of the places of interest and sites being visited are located on privately-owned property for which trespassing is illegal. It is also a violation of State law to excavate or disturb human burials, whether in marked cemeteries or unmarked graves. This research is made possible only with the permission and generosity of the land owners.
    As a project being carried out in the public interest and reliant on public support, all those involved in this study are interested in community engagement and participation. As research progresses this might include visiting sites and viewing collections, partnerships with schools and cultural organizations, and opportunities for volunteers. Among the more immediate requirements for the project to succeed are:
  1. Permission from property owners in the Loreauville region to investigate land, especially along the Teche Ridge.
  2. Invitations to look at artifacts previously collected by local residents from gardens, backyards, and plowed fields.
  3. Input and involvement in understanding local history, land use, and genealogy.
  4. Resources and financial assistance.
What would it mean for the 1765 homesteads and graves of New Acadia to be found? What interests and concerns do people have in searching for these places? What plans might be made for investigation and future commemoration? Merely asking these questions raises issues of CRM planning and heritage conservation. If the stated goals are accomplished, what are the possibilities for economic development?

The New Acadia Project is made possible through public and private donations, including Iberia Parish and the McIlhenny Family Foundation. You can support the project by contacting the Acadian Heritage and Culture Foundation, Inc., at the Acadian Museum in Erath (337-233-5832; or the New Acadia Project Fund at the ULLafayette Foundation (337-482-0700; NAP is on Facebook and online at and

Questions and Concerns? Contact Mark A. Rees, PhD., NAP Principal Investigator at (337-482-6045) or Maegan Smith, NAP Graduate Assistant, at