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Chiasson - The Search For My Roots

The Search Begins.

In Spring of 1985 I began my genealogical search. At first I was really not very interested in the genealogy, I was simply looking for our family coat of arms because a young friend learning jewellery making in art college offered to make me a ring. It was seven years later that I finally found the coat of arms in a black and white drawing, but in the meantime, I realized this "genealogy stuff" was what my father had tried for years to share with me, and I was hooked. Unfortunately, he had died nine months earlier. Such are the tragedies of life.

The search has been complicated by two factors. Anyone who has searched Acadian genealogy knows all too well the missing links, lost records and the guesswork that is often involved in trying to piece it together, although in recent years there have been major breakthroughs.

The second complicating factor in my case, has been language. Although my grandparents spoke French at home, we grew up in an English speaking community during a time when French was not viewed as an asset or something to be proud of, and so my generation has for the most part, lost the language although we still cling to certain aspects of the culture. During that particular time in history, the language only survived in communities where the francophone population was great enough to "weather the storm of change".

In spite of many challenges, the search has been very rewarding. Perhaps the greatest reward has been the opportunity to meet many amateur genealogists along the way. Many people have made this project possible... each by adding their pieces to the big puzzle. And in the process, I have made many new friends.

So, How Did I Get Here?

Guyon Denis Chiasson (dit Lavallee) was born in 1638 at Saint-Sauveur de Nuaille', Aunis, France. His father, Pierre was also born there. Guyon's nickname was Lavallee, a name he carried perhaps referring to the fact that his father, prior to moving to LaRochelle in 1650, had been a farmer in Saint-Sauveur de Nuaille'. Guyon would have spent his first 12 years learning the skills involved in farming. It is quite probable that he may have worked in the shipyards at LaRochelle, as did his father, from 1650 until the time he sailed for Acadie in the mid 1660's.

Guyon lived in Port Royal, then Chebouctou (now Halifax), but eventually settled at Beaubassin, near what is now Amherst, Nova Scotia, where he was a farmer. He married at Port Royal in 1666. Although he married his second wife in Quebec, he returned immediately after that to live out the rest of his life in Beaubassin, where he died in 1693.

All Chiassons that we know of on the North American continent trace their line back to Guyon. He was the only man who came to Acadie with the name Chiasson. In spite of the expulsion, and other complicating factors such as the clearance (twice) of St. Pierre et Miquelon, the one thing we can say with great certainty is whether you live in Quebec, Atlantic Canada, anywhere else in Canada, Louisiana, the Carolinas, Arizona, California, or anywhere else in the continental USA, and whether or not you speak French, your roots go back to Guyon. That also includes deritives of the name including Giasson, Chaisson, Chesson, Chessong, Shessong, Seshong, and maybe even a few more.

The Project Expands.

Although this project started out as a personal site, primarily outlining my own lineage, it changed as I met (online mostly) more and more people who were also searching and had bits of information they wished to share.

It is now a team effort and people all over North America have expressed interest in adding their information to this archive. In January of 2003 the site was moved from my own personal web space to a new home donated by CCN (Chebucto Community Net) in Halifax. As of mid 2003 my focus has become preparation to allow all those bits and pieces to eventually be added.

As of late 2003, generation 5 was completed and name pages for generation 6 in the process of being uploaded. Confirming stats for generation 6 was very difficult. It was a small disappointment but certainly not a surprise. With new information becoming available the task will hopefully become easier.

After The Reunion.

The Chiasson Family Reunion of August 2004, in Cheticamp, was at the same time the most exciting experience and the biggest disappointment. I had hoped to make a lot of contacts with people who want to share their information and I did. I hoped also to be able to recruit the help of a few volunteers. I did not.

I particularly needed the help of someone who could translate, as I do not read or write French very well. My hope was to turn all notes and articles on this web site into bi-lingual pages. That did not happen but I now know someone who may help me with that so hopefully soon...

The biggest disappointment at the family reunion was the realization that after all these years, there are still those francophone Acadians among us who look down upon those of us who are anglophone descendants as though we are some sort of second-rate imposters. In fact, there were some who refused to speak English with us, even though we know they can! I had hoped the world had changed to the point that this divide no longer existed but unfortunately, here in the 21st century, some degree of mindless prejudice still exists within the Acadian community. That was, is, and always will be a bitter disappointment.

I suppose I should not have been so surprised. In the months leading up to the family reunion, unrelated, I had received three e-mails ffrom individuals in Quebec and in New Brunswick, written in French. I took them to a lady who could translate them for me and to my shock, all three had essentially said, how dare I put up an Acadian genealogy site in English only! It was a kick in the gut, for sure.

In any case, I came home from the 2004 family reunion walking on clouds, thrilled to have met so many wonderful people, yet feeling like what I have done here just doesn't really matter. I had found what I wanted to find for myself and all I wanted to do was share that with those who were interested. I was not about to become anyone's punching bag over the language issue. So, with my personal life going through a difficult transition anyway, I put the project on hold for six years.

June 2010 - Back Online.

Now, in June of 2010, the work continues. Thank you especially to Brant Chaisson of Florida (formerly of Houma, Louisiana) whose passion for history and genealogy has pulled me out of moth balls and gotten me back on track.