Many people know that Louisiana’s long history of French culture comes in part from the Acadians who fled to the area during the Great Upheaval, or ‘Le Grand Dérangement’, during the mid 18th century. The story of the Great Upheaval is perhaps best remembered through Henry Wordsworth Longfellow’s famous 1847 epic poem, Evangeline, A Tale of Acadie, depicting the fictional, romanticized tale of two lovers separated on their wedding day as a result of the expulsion from their homeland by the British. Although widely accepted as a work of fiction, in Louisiana the legend of Evangeline is believed to have some basis in fact, depicting the story of Emmeline Labiche and Louis Arceneaux, who tried to flee the village of St Gabriel in old Acadia but were caught by the British and separated. As the story goes, many years later Emmeline and Louis eventually made it to Louisiana and reunited underneath an oak tree. An ancient live oak in St Martinville on the bank of Bayou Teche bears a marker to this day remembering the legend of Evangeline and all that it represents for Emmeline Labiche, Louis Arceneaux, and more than 11,000 others who were thrown out of their homeland only to make a new one in the wilds of Louisiana. The Acadian descendants in Louisiana are called Cajuns.
Evangeline: An Acadian Odyssey
Jul 26, 2013 | History