From Dr Don
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For many of us researching the Landry family, "Jean-Claude Landry" is the focal point of much debate! He represents our connection between the Old World and the New World. Wishful thinking has many people believing accounts that he is that connection while others insist on verification before accepting that claim.
The uncertainty is increased due to the lost of some Acadian church records kept back in the 1600's which were destroyed during a fire in the early 1700's. Mention has been given to this topic in one of our other sections, but we feel that the subject is important enough to merit its' own section!
A recent newspaper article published in certain areas of Louisiana and Canada made reference to the fact that Jean-Claude Landry was indeed the progenitor of this particular line of Landrys. Dr. Don Landry of Metaire, Louisiana, Historian for the Landry Family Association, has written the following rebuttal to these articles in the hope of answering the question.....myth or progenitor?
REBUTTAL OF THE JEAN-CLAUDE LANDRY MYTH AND THE SUPPOSED ORIGIN OF LANDRY FAMILY
Sometime during February and March, 1998, a two part series on the Landry Family appeared in the Lafayette, Louisiana "Daily Advertiser" and again on Sunday March 16th and Sunday March 23rd the same, or similar article appeared in Damon Veach's column, "Louisiana Ancestors" which is a more widely spread genealogy column, and is published in the editions of the New Orleans TimePicayune, Baton Rouge Morning Advocate, the Lafayette and possibly the Lake Charles,Alexandria and Shreveport newspapers. According to the articles, the information on the genealogy and origin of the Landry Family of Acadia was received from a Paul
Surrette, historian and genealogist from Moncton, New Brunswick; Brian Comeaux, of the committee for the Congres Mondial Acadiennes-Louisiana, 1999 and Ray Landry, a member of the Landry Family Association. Unfortunately the articles appear to be merely a paraphrasing of Father Léopold Lanctôt, o.m.i.'s account of the "The Landrys in Acadia" in tomes I et II, Éditions du Libre-Échange ISBN
2-89412-003-6 and L'Acadie des origines Léopold Lanctôt, o.m.i. Éditions du Fleuve, Montréal, 1988, which unfortunately are filled with errors, presented as
For the past 8 to10 years, since I have been doing genealogical research into the Landry family, I have run across researchers and documents written by researchers that hold to the theory that the parents of René Landry, le Jeune married to Marie Bernard was Jean-Claude Landry and Marie Salé.
On more that one occasions noted genealogists, including Stephen A. White, genealogist and historian at the University of Moncton's Centre d'Etudes Acadiennes in Moncton New Brunswick and Father Clarence J. d'Entremont, Middle West Pubnico - Yarmouth Co., Nova Scotia, have more than adequately rebutted this theory. They and the others theorize that this error was caused by the
early censuses of Acadia, which enumerated Marie Salé as the "widow of Jean Claude" in the cenuses of 1671 and 1678, and then in the 1686 census, no mention was made of her deceased husband Jehan Claude, Marie Salé was enumerated as 86 years old and living between René Landry, le Jeunne and René Landry's oldest son Antoine Landry. This caused noted genealogist, Archange Godbout, to leap to the conclusion, that since Marie Salé was living in close proximity to René Landry, le Jeune, then she was the mother of René Landry, le Jeune. And still a greater leap was made to conclude that if Marie Salé was the widow of Jean Claude, then
Jean Claude was the father of René Landry, le jeune and Jean Claude, in fact was actually Jean-Claude Landry, father of René Landry, le jeunne. I am sure that most researchers understand the importance of having all of the information documented, and I am sure that they assume that, since the information they received was from credible sources, that it was documented and factual genealogical and historical data. What I am afraid of is that since this error was so widely published throughout Louisiana, especially in south Louisiana, where the majority of the Louisiana Acadian population resides, these errors will be perpetuated for a long time to come. And just as the errors of Fathers Archange Godbout, Leopold Lanctot and Adrien Bergeron, Bona Arsenault and countless others, have been believed to be documented facts, these errors will also be believed to be the documented facts, just because they were printed in a reputable column.
Probably prompted by the above census entry, the writings of Adrien Bergeron in his "Le Grand Arrangement des Acadiens au Quebec" vol IV p.283, says that Marie Salé is married to Jean-Claude Landry and had two sons René Landry, the elder and René Landry, the younger. And in a more elaborate extension of this error, Leopold Lanctot, o.m.i., in his publication "Familles Acadiennes", makes the
following suggestions as to the beginnings of the Landrys in the New World, when he states on page 7: "It all began in the year 1640 or 1641 when a group of 10 from the Landry family came to Port Royal, Acadia from France. The Landry family was originally from La Ventrouze, near Mortagne-au-Perche. Department of Orne, France. They were encouraged to come to Acadia by Marguerite Landry, daughter of
Jean-Claude Landry and Marguerite's husband Robert Martin, who had been in Acadia for several years. The group of 10 consisted of Jean-Claude Landry and his second wife, Marie Salée (40 years) with their son René Landry, dit le jeune
(6 ans) and three children of Jean-Claude Landry from his first marriage: twins, René Landry dit l' aisne (22 years) and Antoinette Landry (22 years), Perrine Landry (29 years) with her husband Jacques Joffriau. Also in the group were
three of Marie Salée's children from her first marriage to Martin Aucoin. These children were: Michelle Aucoin (22 years), Francois Aucoin (18 years) and Jeanne Aucoin (8 years). The group probably settled near the Saint-John River in the Cape Sable area. They later moved to Port Royal. Please note that there were two named René in this group, René Landry, the elder (son of Jean-Claude Landry from his first marriage) and René Landry, the younger (son of Jean-Claude Landry and Marie Salé). René, the elder married Perrine Bourg, widow of Simon Pelletret, in
1645. Perrine had 2 children from her first marriage: Henriette Pelletret (4 years)and Jeanne Pelletret (2 years). "On page 9 Leopold Lanctot, in discussing the 1686 census, mentions" "Marie Salé age 61 ans, widow of Jean Claude" but he adds the surname LANDRY in parentheses "(Landry)". He like all the others before him, suggests, on page 11, that René Landry, l'aine and René Landry, le jeune
are half brothers, and again adds, in parentheses, "(le jeune, demi-frere de René Landry, l'ainse)" behind René Landry, the younger's name. And again adding, in parentheses "(mere de René Landry, le jeune)" behind Marie Salé's name. Leopold Lanctot suggests, on page 15, in a chapter on René Landry, dit le jeune, and Marie Bernard, again suggests that René Landry, le jeune is the son
of "Jean-Claude Landry and Marie Salé" but notice that the hyphen between Jean and Claude has been added and the surname Landry is not placed in parentheses. The placing of the earlier assumptions such as the surname Landry and Marie Salé being the mother of René in parentheses, which were later presented with out the parentheses, and the addition of a hyphen between Jean Claude's name, show the
gradual progression of these errors into what is now believed by many to be documented facts. These errors are also found on pp 623-624 of "Histoire et Genealogie des Acadians" by Bona Arsenault, where Arsenault states:-
"Jean-Claude Landry bn. 1593 and Marie Salé bn. 1600 daughter of Jean Denys Salé and Francoise Arnaud, were married in Department of Orne in France, in 1633. This was the second marriage for both. One child was born from this marriage, Rene, born 1643. Jean Claude died in 1671 in Mortagne-Au-Perche, France. The name of Marie Salé, age 86, appears in the 1686 Census of Acadia, living with her son René"
However, throughout this time, Professor Stephen A. White, historian and genealogist with the Centre d'etudes Acadiennes at the University of Moncton in Moncton, New Brunswick, and his fellow historian, genealogist and author, Father Clarence d'Entremont from Middle West Pubnico, Yarmouth Co., Nova Scotia have steadfastedly held that the theory that René Landry's parents were Jean-Claude
Landry and Marie Salé, was false. As Father Clarence d'Entremont states in a letter of November 23rd: "NOWHERE in any census or other documents is to be found an Acadian by the name of Jean-Claude Landry. So, who was the father and mother of René Landry? I do not know, nor does anybody know.... Thus the descendants of René Landry, in my humble opinion, cannot go further up in their Landry genealogy, as we do not know who the parents of René Landry le Jeunne
were, nor where in France he was born".
"Jean-Claude Landry is effectively fictitious. There is no record showing that such a person ever existed. The husband of Marle Sallé is simply called Jean (or Jehan) Claude in the censuses of 1671 and 1678. According to archives, Marie
Salé was married to Jean Claude; if she is to be called the mother of René Landry, necessarily we have to give her husband a name of Jean Claude LANDRY. But, I repeat, the name Jean Claude Landry is not to be found anywhere in the
history of Acadia at the time; plus that the husband of Marie Salé was Jean Claude, PERIOD. He was a Micmac Indian. The Indians with the name Claude used to be quite numerous in Nova Scotia, The name became Glaude; in my young days I
knew a number of them, who would write their name Glode (In French "au" is pronounced "o"). . His name occurs twice in the Port Royal Church Registers, ALWAYS as Jehan Clause, NEVER given as family name "Landry". As a matter of fact, if Clause had not been his family name, it would mean that the register gives him his first and SECOND name. Moreover, the registers of Port Royal ALWAYS give the WHOLE name of persons; but the fact is that Jehan Clause has his name given thus, NEVER with another name added to those two. If the family name had been omitted in the registers, it would be the only time that such a thing occured in any register. Thus CLAUDE was the family name."
An enthusiastic and overly imaginative researcher added Landry to this individual's name in an effort to explain why Marie Sallé resided between the younger René Landry and his son Antoine Landry in 1686. He supposed that this
was the same Marie Sallé who married Martin Aucoin at La Rochelle in 1632, which does seem quite possible, and through that marriage she was related to Michelle
Aucoin, with whose daughter she resided in 1671 and 1678, which is also possible. But the only way this researcher could connect Marie Sallé with the younger Rene Landry was in guessing that her Jean Claude was really a Landry and
further that he must have been the younger René's father. This is merely wishful thinking. The other difficulty with the younger René Landry concerns his absence from the 1671 census. Some researchers have thought that this signified that he had not yet immigrated to Acadia by that time, but it can be shown that the 1671 census is incomplete, and thus the omission of anyone from it does not prove that that person only arrived in Acadia after that date. Indeed the records of the LeBorgne family in series E of the Archives des colonies (dossier E 277) mention transactions involving the younger René Landry's wife's brother-in-law,
Guyon Chaisson, between 1668 and 1674, so we know for vertain that the Chiassons were at "Mouchecoudabouet" during those years. It is my opinion quite likely that the younger René Landry and his family lived in close proximity with the Chiassons in "Mouchecoudabouet", around that time. As Bona Arsenault has indicated, for the elder René Landry to have been called "l'Aine" in the 1671 census presupposes that another René Landry must have lived somewhere in Acadia at the same time. As Father Archange Godbout mentions in his Dictionaire des Acadiens, the younger René "came from France with his wife". This quotation is lifted from several of the depositions of the Acadians at Belle-Ile-en-Mer. As Father Godbout pointed out in the Memoires de la Societé généalogie canadienne-
française (vol. V. p. 5), this expression on those repositions means simply that both the husband and wife were born in France, but does not necessarily mean that they came to Acadia together, much less already married to one another. So all we can say is that René Landry was born in France about 1634. We do not know whether he came to Acadia alone or with other relatives. As I have
explained above, however, we do know that he was not nearly related to any of the other Landrys in Acadia."
It is further stated by both Father d'Entremont and Professor White that it is very doubtful that two different census takers at two different times would have omitted the last name Landry when referring to the deceased husband of Marie Salé and if the family name had been omitted in the church and other public registers, it would be the only time that such a thing occured in any register.
Therefore they both conclude that the addition of the surname Landry to Jean Claude is an error.
In a letter witten in early 1998, Stephen A. White, Genealogist, Centre d'etudes Acadiennes writes: "What can I tell you about "Jean-Claude Landry" that I have not already said? Not much, I can assure you. No one has brought forward any new information to show that two different census takers, at two separate times, both forgot to put the name Landry in the entries pertaining to the widow Marie Sale. No one has discovered a cache of passenger lists for any of the vessels mentioned by Father Lanctot to show, as he maintains, that "Jean-Claude Landry" arrived in Acadia on a certain date, at the head of a group of a specific number of family members, In these circumstances, serious researchers must agree that nothing supports the contention that there ever was a "Jean-Claude Landry" in
early Acadia." "No one really knows how the Landrys came to Acadia, how many of them came together, if indeed they did come in a group, or if and how they were related, beyond the simple fact that Rene Landry l'aine and Antoinette Landry were brother and sister. We certainly have no documentation to show that Rene and Antoinette were twins! Even though Rene and Antoinette are said to have both been fifty-three years old in the 1671 census, no experienced genealogist would read that as meaning that they necessarily born at the same time, because such records are rarely strictly accurate. After all, fifteen years later, in 1686. Antoinette is said to have been eighty! And by 1693 she had regressed to seventy-six. Such records are merely guides; they do not admit strict interpretation. To go further, without additional proofs, is to indulge in the
creation of romantic fiction". "It is most regrettable that Father Lanctot chose to present his account of the history of our early Acadian families as though all of his points were based on documented facts. And it is reprehensible that a publisher saw fit to distribute such an admixture of truth and fantasy, as though it were serious history. The result is particularly invidious insofar as those people who have little or no means to consult the original records are concerned. They are left to suppose that Lanctot's work is a reliable piece of research, where as it is in fact treacherously misleading, because there are some extremely good information mixed in with the bad."
Stephen A. White writes: "Regarding the origin and parents of René Landry, le Jeunne there is probably no other Acadian family about whose background there has been so much speculation and wishful thinking. The result is that what we actually know about the Landry families who immigrated from France to Acadia, has come to be regrettably enshrouded in a dense fog of error and confusion."
Dr. Donald Landry