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Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site of Canada
Recherche sur la Forteresse-de-Louisbourg Lieu historique national du Canada
Extracts of Matters of Historical Interest from "The Huissier, News For and About the Fortress of Louisbourg Heritage Presentation Staff" By The Fortress of Louisbourg Heritage Presentation Staff
(July 21, 2004)
Jeanne Mius d'Entremont
by Anne Marie Lane Jonah, historian
Philippe Mius d'Entremont came to Acadia in 1651 as a lieutenant-major to governor Charles de Saint Étienne de la Tour. D'Entremont received the barony of Pobomcoup, today Pubnico in southwestern Nova Scotia from de la Tour. D'Entremont and his family established a community at Pobomcoup, trading with the Mi'kmaq, farming, and fishing. D'Entremont had three sons, two of whom married daughters of Charles de Saint Étienne de la Tour, and the other married a Mi'kmaq woman and settled at La Hève (La Have). His daughter Marguerite married Pierre Melanson and moved with him to the new community of Grand Pré.
The sisters Marie, Jeanne, Anne and Marie-Madaleine d'Entremont were daughters of Jacques and Anne de Saint-Étienne de la Tour and granddaughters of Charles de Saint-Étienne de la Tour and Philippe Mius d'Entremont. Their Acadian pedigree was impeccable but it did not impress the governor of l'Acadie. In 1705 when the young Lieutenant François Du Pont Duvivier wished to marry Marie his commandant objected to the officer's proposed marriage to a girl of such humble origins. The Chaplain Félix Pain married them clandestinely because Marie was pregnant. After the storm of disapproval passed, Jeanne married François' brother Louis Du Pont Duchambon, Anne married enseigne Antoine de La Boulais de Saillans and years later their youngest sister, Marie-Madeleine married a merchant, Jean Lafitte at Louisbourg. One other sister and two brothers married closer to home, and their brother Philippe married Thérèse d'Abbadie de Saint-Castin, granddaughter of an Abenaki chief and the Baron de Saint Castin.
The d'Entremonts typify the variety of relationships and ties that wove Acadian society in its first century and created a woman such as Jeanne, who was able to move across cultural boundaries. Lieutenant Duchambon and Jeanne came to Île Royale after 1713, as did her three sisters named above. Duchambon was first posted to Port Dauphin, the principal settlement at the time, under command of his brother Captain Michel Du Pont de Renon, who had also married in Acadia. The young Captain de Renon drowned in 1719 and Duchambon advanced to commandant in 1723. While they were at Port Dauphin Jeanne improved awkward relations between the French and the local Mi'kmaq by acting as interpreter. She had many first cousins who were Mi'kmaq and an Abenaki sister-in-law, and so learned the language through her own family. The Ordonnateur, Soubras, was so pleased with her contribution he requested money from the minister to pay her so that he could make more use of her skills. Later the French felt that a male interpreter would be better received by the Mi'kmaq and so stopped employing Jeanne.
Their first child, Jeanne, was born at Port Royal six months before the siege of 1710. François l'aîné and Louis were born at the Du Pont family estate at Sérignac in France. Jeanne had eight more children between 1714 and 1734, born at Port Dauphin and Louisbourg. The Duchambon family came to Louisbourg to live in 1733 when Louis was made major de la place. He was promoted to Lieuteneant du roi in Île St. Jean in 1737, however his and his wife's signatures appear on documents from Louisbourg during this period, indicating that they were regularly here. They returned to Louisbourg in the spring of 1744 when Louis was promoted Lieutenant du roy.
Jeanne had an important place in Louisbourg society. As well as her sisters' families, her social milieu in Louisbourg included the family of her sister-in-law, la veuve de Renon, Marie-Anne de Goutin, the daughter of Jeanne Thibodeau. The parish records indicate that the d'Entremonts, including Marie Madeleine LaFitte, the Du Ponts, and the deGoutins maintained social links throughout the entire existence of Louisbourg.
As Lieutenant du roi, Duchambon became acting commandant of Louisbourg after the death of Duquesnel in the fall of 1744. Duchambon had Duquesnel's high regard because of his service and his abstention from the trade activities undertaken by many Louisbourg officers, particularly his nephew, François Du Pont Duvivier. In 1744 the officers of the garrison at Louisbourg included four of his sons and three of his nephews. In the fall of 1744 Duchambon had to respond to the failed expedition to Annapolis Royal and the accusations of his nephew Captain Duvivier and Captain de Gannes against each other. The report was in Duvivier's favour but de Gannes did not suffer any punishment for his alleged failure. That winter Duchambon and Bigot dealt with the mutiny of the soldiers and then with the siege of the fortress the following summer. Duchambon found himself in charge during an exceptionally difficult period. Generally he has not been credited with anything better than adequate leadership, often he has been judged more harshly.
Jeanne Mius d'Entremont raised a large family in difficult circumstances. As 18th century parents would do, Louis and Jeanne saw their sons established in military careers, following the family tradition. Notably their second son, de Vergor, also followed his cousin François du Pont Duvivier's example of heavy involvement in commerce. He was closely allied with the Commissaire-Ordonnateur Bigot, and shared in some of the blame for the fall of New France, as he, like Bigot, was present for both the first fall of Louisbourg and the fall of Québec.
The role of this family and the value of their influence on events on New France leave many questions. What we can observe about Jeanne is that her life ranged from an isolated coastal Acadian community, living in close proximity with the Mi'kmaq, to Port Royal, to France and then back to an isolated community on Île Royale. Her skills in language made her valuable to the French. She also had the skills to raise a large family in a frontier environment. Jeanne and her sisters lived in Île Royale until the siege of 1745, and were through blood or marriage related to a substantial portion of the officer and merchant class of the fortress town.