Evangeline Oak
St. Martinsville, Louisiana
Summer 2008

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem, Evangeline, made a possibly true story a legend. The story, in a nutshell, is about a young girl named Emmaline Labiche (Evangeline in Longfellow's poem), who is separated from her fiancee, Louis Arceneaux (Gabriel in the poem), on their wedding day when the French deported the Acadians from Nova Scotia in 1755 because they refused to swear allegiance to the British crown and renounce their Catholic faith. This much of the story is true; however, Longfellow embellishes the tale with a Romeo and Juliet tragic quality that immortalized the story and helped it become a legend.

The French placed the Acadians on different ships with no regard for family ties, so Evangeline and Gabriel were separated and ended up in different locations in America. Ever faithful, Evangeline never married; instead, she embarked on a quest to find Gabriel. She seemed always to be just a day late and a dollar short in finding her true love, though, as everywhere she went, Gabriel had departed from the location a day before she arrived. That is, until Evangeline heard that her beloved Gabriel was in St. Martinsville. The oak tree, located on the banks of the Bayou Teche in St. Martinsville, is said to mark the spot where the pair were finally reunited and where, in true Shakespearean tragic fashion, Gabriel died in Evangeline's arms.

You can read more about the history of the deportation and the legend of Evangeline at any of these websites:

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2 Responses
  1. Anonymous Says:

    Fascinating. You always come up with the coolest stuff!

  2. Carleen Says:

    Thanks, Sherlock! It's really hard for me to remain wordless on Wednesdays, though. ;)

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