Exploring My Ancestors


Vaughn Hardacker here. In 2009 I was laid off by the high tech firm I worked for in Massachusetts (my seventh job in nine years–I left none of them voluntarily) and made the decision to leave New Hampshire and return to my home town in Maine’s Aroostook County. For years I had always believed that the only reason my family was not labeled trailer trash was that we didn’t own a trailer. That was before I met Jay Bullard. Jay is a genealogy enthusiast and during a conversation I told him that my wife’s mother was a Cote. He immediately got interested and told me that the Caribou Genealogy Society had a family tree tracing the Cote line back to France. I had come across an internet page (www.hardacker.com–no longer online) that included a family tree that went back to England in the eighteenth century. This motivated me to trace the family trees of both my wife and I.

Borden Condensed Milk

Everything seemed to prove my belief that the Hardackers had never achieved anything in the history of the world. Then I came across two ancestors on my father’s side: my great-grandmother, Ester Borden, on the Hardacker side and my Great-Great Grandmother, Tallie Thibodeau, on my grandmother’s side, the Browns.

I’ll talk about the Bordens first as they are the most interesting and have a link to the Thibodeaus. You can imagine my surprise when I discovered that the Borden line included such luminaries as my fourth cousin four times removed Gail Borden the inventor of evaporated milk and founder of Borden Foods (he also surveyed the streets of Galveston, Texas and the town of Gail in Borden County Texas is named for him), Sir Winston Churchill (a ninth cousin), Marilyn Monroe (a seventh cousin), and Lizzie Andrew Borden (fifth cousin twice removed).

So how are the two women connected? They both are linked to Grand-Pré, Nova Scotia, Canada. How does the village connect them? After the British took Canada from the French in the Seven Years War (aka The French and Indian War) the British assigned Charles Lawrence as governor, for Nova Scotia. While previous British governors had been conciliatory towards the Acadians (who had expressed they would remain neutral in regard to the war between Great Britain and France, Lawrence was prepared to take drastic action. He saw the Acadian question as a strictly military matter. After Fort Beauséjour fell to the English forces in June 1755, Lawrence noted that there were some 270 Acadian militia among the fort’s inhabitants ‒ so much for their professed neutrality.

In meetings with Acadians in July 1755 in Halifax, Lawrence pressed the delegates to take an unqualified oath of allegiance to Britain. When they refused, he imprisoned them and gave the fateful order for deportation.

Lawrence had strong support in his Council from recent immigrants from New England, who coveted Acadian lands. Traders from Boston frequently expressed wonder that an “alien” people were allowed to possess such fine lands in a British colony. On Friday,

Charles Lawrence

September 5, 1755 Colonel John Winslow ordered that all males aged 10 years and up in the area were to gather in the Grand-Pré Church for an important message from His Excellency, Charles Lawrence, the Lieutenant-Governor of Nova Scotia. The decree that was read to the assembled and stated in part: “That your Land & Tennements, Cattle of all Kinds and Livestocks of all Sorts are forfeited to the Crown with all other your effects Savings your money and Household Goods, and you yourselves to be removed from this Province.”

While most of the Acadians were deported, approximately 1500 escaped into the woods, some left Acadia for New France (now the Canadian provinces of Quebec and northwestern New Brunswick) settling around the current town of Edmondston, NB. Among these were the Thibodeaus who later crossed the Saint John River and took up residence in Maine.

Now back to the Bordens. After the expulsion, the King of England engaged the Bordens (then living in the English colony of Rhode Island) to survey the confiscated areas. He paid them in land, including much of Grand-Pré.

My great-grandfather Charles Hardacker married Ester Borden in Grand-Pré and in the early nineteen hundreds they emigrated to Maine, where my grand-father, Norman Hardacker, married Estelle Brown (Tallie Thibodeau’s grand-daughter).

So the king of England took land from the Thibodeaus (my grand-mother’s family) and gave it to the Bordens (my grand-father’s family). My grand parents later divorced–I can’t help but wonder if past history had anything to do with it…

About Vaughn C. Hardacker

Vaughn C. Hardacker has published seven novels and numerous short stories. He is a member of the New England Chapter of the Mystery Writers of America, Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance, and the International Thriller writers. Three times he has been a finalist in the Maine Literary Awards Crime Fiction category, SNIPER in 2015, THE FISHERMAN in 2016, and WENDIGO for the 2018 award. The second installment of his Ed Traynor series, MY BROTHER'S KEEPER, was released in July 2019 and is available through all major booksellers. A signed copy can be ordered directly from Vaughn (vhardacker@gmail.com). RIPPED OFF is his most recently published crime/thriller, it was released on January 25, 2023 by Encircle Publications. He is a veteran of the U. S. Marines and served in Vietnam. He holds degrees from Northern Maine Technical College, the University of Maine and Southern New Hampshire University. He lives in Stockholm, Maine.
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3 Responses to Exploring My Ancestors

  1. Cool story, Vaughn!

  2. M. E. Kemp says:

    I think it’s important to know where you came from. An issue of Psychology Today said that New Englanders were the most well adjusted people in the country – because they knew who they were and didn’t have to prove anything. New Yorkers, well….

  3. marilyn miller says:

    well, the thibodeau surname is special to me. my now deceased cat’s vet was emily thibodeau who was from canada ! and locally one our radio meteorologists is a thibodeau !! as for my paternal family we have a le’strang connection from france. i will look for your latest & thank you for sharing your talent & ur family history marilyn miller, toms river, nj. ps, my favorite place is boothbay harbor !!

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