West Baton Rouge is the smallest geographical parish in the state, and a look at ancestry records makes it even smaller. Two West Side organizations are working together to bring more awareness to the common roots of Acadian descendants.
WBR Senior Spirit and the Our Ancestors in Photos Facebook group have teamed up to host the first West Baton Rouge Acadian Heritage Celebration on July 28. Many life-long residents of West Baton Rouge, especially the town of Brusly, are descendants of the first Acadians to settle in Louisiana.
Despite deep roots, the parish is an often overlooked part of the Acadiana parishes, Lucy Landry, co-director of the WBR Senior Spirit said.
“It’s special and so worth preserving the community spirit,” Landry said.
The Our Ancestors in Photos Facebook page is a place for residents to post, share and find old family photos. Lucy Landry, Billy Hebert, Debbie Martin and Babs Babin, referred to as the “Core Four” created the group in 2016. As the page grew from four to more than 300 followers, more and more family connections began to appear, and the desire to raise awareness grew.
Brusly, specifically, is full of Acadian heritage and history as it was initially founded by Acadians settling in Louisiana on Spanish land grants in 1785. The area along Main Street from the Mississippi River past the Back Brusly Oak was part of the Benoit family land grant. Jacques Molaison and his family settled on the land and built a general store. The Molaisonville settlement grew around the area, and eventually became the town of Brusly.
The town boasts of several historical 1800-era Acadian homes such as the Hebert House, Babin Home, Antonia Plantation and Aillet House. Many of the common last names in the parish originate from the early Acadians in West Baton Rouge. Aillet, Bergeron, Daigle, Leblanc, and Tullier are a few on the long list.
The West Baton Rouge Acadian Heritage Celebration is a grassroots effort to encourage all generations to preserve and celebrate the noble history of the Acadians, Landry said.
“We simply want to work harder to keep descendants of Acadians together,” Landry said.
The event will offer an on-site genealogy search, artifacts display, Cajun speakers, and ancestor photo display. Each artifact to be displayed can be directly traced to Acadian ancestors of Brusly and West Baton Rouge and carries a story.
“It’s an opportunity for everyone to get together and compare notes,” Hebert said. “You may learn something about your relatives you never knew.”