The Pitre Trail

 

When I was still in elementary school in New Orleans, I remember asking my Dad where we were from. He said three Pitre brothers came from France and the Louisiana Pitres were their descendants. Being only about eight at the time that pretty much satisfied me.

I didn't think too much about it until years later when Dad's Aunt Chloe (Clotilde Pitre Mire 1906-1994) gave him a copy of her childhood memories of growing up around the bayous and the plantations. Those 27 neatly typed pages opened up a whole new world to me, and the discovery of a great-grandfather with the absolutely wonderful name of Gustave Toussaint Ayo (1847-1937) set me on my own ancestral trail.

I've since traced my father's line through Cajuns back to Acadians, immigrant Germans who came to Louisiana on the promises of John Law and the odd Frenchman or Irishman just to keep me on my toes. It took a while for me to reach the understanding, the one I think which all Pitre descendants reach eventually, that pretty much every Pitre in North America began with Jean Pitre and Marie Pesseley. (This idea of a progenitor couple holds true for many other Acadian surnames as well as some early Louisiana surnames.)

I was most intrigued with my father's statement of three brothers so I set out to investigate the reality, by attempting to follow the male lines. Jean Pitre (1636-1689) had 4 sons who married and had families: Claude Pitre c1671, Marc Pitre c1673, Jean Pitre c1680, and Francois Pitre c1682.

The youngest, Francois Pitre married on 27 July 1705 to Anne Prejean (d/o Jean Prejean/Andree Savoie) in Port Royal. None of their male descendants made it to Louisiana, though many of today's Canadian Pitres descend from Francois.

The eldest, Claude Pitre, married twice: first c1696 to Marie Anne Comeau (d/o Pierre Comeau/Jeanne Bourg), who died 9 July 1707; and second on 17 February 1710 to Anne (Jeanne) Henry (d/o Robert Henry/Marie Madeleine Godin). Only Pierre Pitre, born c1699 of Claude's first marriage, produced a male heir who made it to Louisiana. Pierre married 4 February 1727 at Port Royal to Agathe Doucet (d/o Rene Doucet/Marie Anne Broussard). That son was Francois Pitre born c1746 and married to Marie Josephe Thibodeau (d/o Pierre Thibodeau/Francoise Saulnier). Francois reached the Opelousas settlement in the Louisiana territory by about 1766.

The second oldest, Marc Pitre, married c1699 to Jeanne Brun (d/o Sebastien Brun/Huguette Bourg). His son Claude Marc Pitre provided us with the declaration at Belle-Isle-en-Mer. Claude Marc married 12 June 1724 to Isabelle Guerin (d/o Jerome Guerin/Elisabeth Aucoin), and then on 9 May 1760 to Madeleine Darois (d/o Jerome Darois/Marie Gareau). From his first marriage the only son to make it to Louisiana was Jean Baptiste Pitre born c1733. (Jean Baptiste has descendants in France from a married son who stayed behind.)

The remaining son is the ancestor of all other male Pitres who arrived in Louisiana by ship in 1785. Jean Pitre married c1698 to Francoise Babin (d/o Antoine Babin/Marie Mercier):

-- Their grandson Charles Pitre (born c1729 of Joseph Pitre/Elisabeth Boudrot) made it to Louisiana with his wife Anne Henry (d/o Jean Francois Henry/Marie Hebert) and three children.

-- Grandson Anselme Pitre (born c1738 to Jean Baptiste Pitre/Marguerite Theriot), widower of Elisabeth Dugas (d/o Pierre Dugas/Isabelle Bourg) and also Madeleine Leblanc (d/o Mathurin Leblanc/Elisabeth Babin), made it with four of his children.

-- Grandson Pierre Olivier Pitre (born c1737 to Germain Pitre/Marie Josephe Girouard) arrived with his wife Rosalie Hebert (d/o Jean Hebert/(Marie) Madeleine Doiron) and four children.

-- And youngest son Amand Pitre, who was now at least 60 and a widower (Genevieve Arsement d/o Pierre Claude Arsement/Marie Josephe Theriot), arrived with his youngest daughter, while two of his sons Tranquille Pitre and Ambroise Pitre and a married daughter came with their new families.

--Finally, the youngest Pitre, Martin Benoni Pitre born 6 May 1767. His father Paul Hypolite Pitre (spouse Marguerite Louise Valet) was another grandson of Jean Pitre and Francoise Babin, but had died in France about three months before Martin was born.

Ship Lists

Connection to Jean Pitre of Acadia

L'Amitie

 

Ursule Breau, and one daughter (widow Francois Pitre)

(Francois/Claude/Jean/Jean)

Marie Moyse, son Louis Constant Pitre & 2 daughters (widow Olivier Pitre)

(Olivier/Claude/Jean/Jean)

Marguerite Boudrot, sons Etienne Pitre & Jean Pitre, and 4 daughters (widow Benjamin Pitre)

(Benjamin/Claude/Jean/Jean)

 

 

La Bergere

 

Agnes Pitre (wife of Joseph Guerin)

(Agnes/Benjamin/Claude/Jean/Jean)

Elisabeth Pitre (wife of Prospere Landry)

(Elisabeth/Jean Baptiste/Jean/Jean)

Natalie Pitre (widow of Jean Jacques Leblanc)

(Natalie/Antoine/Francois/Jean)

Amand Pitre and one daughter (widower Genevieve Arsement)

(Amand/Jean/Jean)

Marie Victoire Pitre (wife of Louis Ambroise Dugas)

(Marie Victoire/Amand/Jean/Jean)

Tranquille Pitre, wife Elisabeth Aucoin, sons Jean Baptiste Pitre & Jean Vincent Pitre

(Tranquille/Amand/Jean/Jean)

Ambroise Pitre, wife Elisabeth Dugas, sons Paul Ambroise Pitre & Jean Marie Pitre, and one daughter)

(Ambroise/Amand/Jean/Jean)

 

 

La Ville d'Archangel

 

Susanne Pitre (wife of Pierre Hebert)

(Susanne/Jean Baptiste/Jean/Jean)

Charles Pitre, wife Anne Henry, son Joseph Pitre & two daughters

(Charles/Joseph/Jean/Jean)

Jean Baptiste Pitre, wife Felicite Daigre, sons Pierre Pitre, Jacques Pitre, Francois Pitre, and three daughters

(Jean Baptiste/Claude Marc/Marc/Jean)

Marie Richard and one daughter (widow Claude Pitre)

(Claude/Claude/Jean/Jean)

 

 

Le Saint Remi

 

Pierre Olivier Pitre, wife Rosalie Hebert, son Pierre Pitre and 3 daughters

(Pierre Olivier/Germain/Jean/Jean)

Anne Josephe Pitre (wife of Joseph Gautrot)

(Anne Josephe/Germain/Jean/Jean)

Marie Blanche Pitre (wife of Jerome Guerin)

(Marie Blanche/Germain/Jean/Jean)

Anselme Pitre, son Jean Pierre Pitre & 3 daughters (widower Madeleine Leblanc)

(Anselme/Jean Baptiste/Jean/Jean)

 

 

La Caroline

 

Martin Benonie Pitre (and 2 half-siblings)

(Martin/Paul Hypolite/Claude/Jean/Jean)

(they missed L'Amitie)

 

 

Martin Benoni Pitre was my own 4 x great-grandfather. He lived to be 84, missing the Civil War by 10 years. His son Mathurin Pitre died one year later, but was only 50. Mathurin's son Martin Leandre Douradou Pitre served 4 years in the 4th Louisiana Infantry during the conflict, was captured twice but never wounded. He married a few years after returning, had 10 children and died at the age of 76. His son Henri Valery Pitre was a President of the Lafourche Parish School Board, but died at the early age of 52. Henri's son, my grandfather, Cyrille Charleston Pitre worked on local plantations, had 15 children, but also died early, one month shy of his 51st birthday.

And my Dad? Well, my Dad was the eldest of those 15 children. Served 20 years in the Navy, including service in the Pacific during World War II as a Chief Petty Officer, and died in 1980. Considering that a sizable number of Pitres sailed from France in 1785, and making allowances for Jean Pitre's 4th son Francois whose descendants settled in Quebec, the oral history passed from Dad to me after more than 250 years was pretty close to the mark!

In remembrance of my Father, Dibert Edward Pitre (27 July 1916 10 August 1980).

 

 Wendy Pitre Roostan

 

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