Louis William STEVENS (spelled STEBENS in many of the references) was born in approximately 1749 in the Parish of Toussaint (French for All Saint) in Boston, MA. As the son of Stanislass STEVENS and Anne COLCEIN he became a seaman and made his way from Boston to Nantes France (note I am doing extensive research on Stanislass STEVENS and Anne COLCEIN at this time).
Nantes is located on the east coast of France on the Loire River and had a strong Acadian population due to their migration from Chatellerault in 1775. In Nantes the Acadians settled primarily at a place known as L'Hermitage which was a hill separating Nantes from the commune of Chantenay (now an integral part of Nantes). In addition, the Acadians settled in parish including Saint-Nicolas, Saint Jacques and Saint Croix.
Between 1775 and 1785 the Acadians lived on government assistance consisting of three cents a day in disillusionment realizing that they would never receive the promised fertile land and suitable climate. During the coming years the Acadians sought passage to Louisiana when finally the Spanish King Charles III agreed to pay for the journey.
On May 10, 1785 with 34 families of 156 persons the Le Bon Papa departed Nantes France for New Orleans Louisiana. On board registered as family number 29 was Louis William STEVENS, his wife Marie BABIN, two children Louis and Marie and his brother-in-laq Francois BABIN. Family number 29 and all 156 persons arrived in Louisiana on July 29, 1785. Information on the Le Bon Papa and the other ships that sailed to Louisiana can be found at Acadian-Cajun Genealogy web site.
In the publication Acadian Families in Exile 1785 by Rev. Donald J. Hebert he transcribed notes from the records concerning the voyages. In the records are two paragraphs concerning the Le Bon Papa:
Paimboeuf is a neighboring commune of Nantes. Assigned 39 families of 165 members. Three families (#37, #38, #39) failed to report at departure. Captain Pelletier made the voyage in 81 days. The voyage was a success in its freedom from storms, and from epidemics and sickness of any kind, and the first expedition of 26 Acadian families, comprising 156 persons, arrived in healthy condition. Only one death, that of a child.
These people remained about a month recuperating in New Orleans. The expedition picked up 12 new members, 3 thru births, 9 thru new adherents (among which were Michel Leger, Simon Babin). It lost 12 members, 10 thru death and 3 thru desertions. Of 38 families now forming the expedition of Le Bob Papa, 37 voted to settle in Manchac (area around St. Gabriel outside Baton Rouge) on the banks of the Mississippi, and 1 family chose La Fourche (area of Plattenville south of Donaldsonville).
In the listing is family number 29 as mentioned above and included Louis STEVENS (spelled STEBENS), sailor, age 36; Marie BABIN, his wife, age 18; Louis STEVENS (spelled STEBENS), his son, age 3; Marie STEVENS (spelled STEBENS), his daughter, age 2; A son STEVENS (spelled STEBENS), not baptized, age unknown; and Francois BABIN, brother of the wife, sailor, age 16.
Anselmo Blanchard was appointed Acadian commissioner and was authorized not only to welcome the exiles in New Orleans in the name of the Spanish Louisiana but also to grant them entry into the province. The commissioner was charged to care for the Acadians immediate needs, to assist them in the choice of suitable lands, to guide them in the building of their new homes, and in every way to show the Acadians that it was the wish of the Spanish government that they should have full liberty in the selection of their future abodies. Anselo Blanchard began his new duties by going aboard Le Bon Papa and extending Spanish Louisiana's welcome to the Acadians. Then he made an official registration of the thirty-six families in the order which they left the ship.
Spanish Louisiana began her naturalization of the new colonists by Hispanicizing their names. French names were difficult for Spaniards to pronounce. This is very important for that the STEVENS name (spelled STEBENS from the French records) became ESTIVENS with the Spanish putting a "E" in front of the surname. In addition not only did Spanish Louisiana have problems with the pronouncing the names but the written word also became changed such as BABIN to VABEN.
The next step was financial aid to the Acadians. Acting upon the royal cedula of October 22, 1783 the Acadians were granted a subsidy of ten cents to every family head, whether man or woman, seven and a half cents to every adult and two and a half cents to every child. The exiles felt happy and secure. With this money they where allowed to purchase little things of necessary to like such as wood, tools and so forth. In addition two hospitals, one for women and another in the royal stables for men, where prepared to treat the Acadians. Despite their successful voyage with only one death of an infant the change in climate was causing much sickness among the Acadians.
The expedition of the Le Bon Papa remained about a month recuperating in New Orleans. During that time there were some shuffles in its membership. It picked up twelve new members, three through births and nine through adherents (also note section above). But is also lost twelve members, nine through deaths and three through desertions. Among the new adherents were Simon BABIN who I believe to be the father of Marie BABIN. The Acadians with the aid of Anselmo where showed their choice of farms lands in the vicinity of Manchac. As noted above thirty-seven families decided to settle in Manchac on the banks of the Mississippi River. I believe based upon my research that Louis STEVENS and Marie BABIN settled in Manchac starting a long heritage of STEVENS in southern Louisiana.
With the successful arrival and homesteading of the passengers of the Le Bon Papa plans where underway for 6 more ships that would migrate other Acadian families to Louisiana. A complete listing of all crew members for all 7 ships that sailed from Nantes to New Orleans including the Le Bon Papa can be referenced at Tim Hebert's WEB Site "The 7 Ships of Nantes".
I have very complete information on the generations of Louis and Anne once they arrived in Louisiana that can be referenced in the genealogy section of this WEB site.
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