Berard was a native of France, ran a business in St. Louis for a while, and came to the Attakapas country about 1760. He became a prominent planter and man of some influence, and was a leader, along with Claude Boutte, in a confrontation in the early 1770s, most notably with Louis and Barthelemy Grevemberg, early cattle barons in the area who are sometimes referred to as the Flammand brothers because of their Flemish ancestry.
They were the sons of Jean-Baptiste Grevemberg, who had been one of the first settlers of the area, and who had himself had a little run-in with new settlers. When the Acadians first arrived in the Attakapas region in 1765, he was happy to sell cattle to them, but he got upset when the Acadians tried to claim land at Fausse Pointe that he regarded as his.
The government in New Orleans allowed the Acadian claims to stand and the elder Grevemberg had to be content with just 20 square miles of land. That dispute set the stage for further confrontation, particularly over property rights and particularly in the Attakapas country, where, as historian Carl Brasseaux points out, four or five “French-born and Creole cattle barons, the original settlers, considered the exiles trespassers, though they had been settled in the area by virtue of a gubernatorial decree.”
The 1770s dispute arose because the Flammand brothers, as had their father, allowed their huge herd of cattle to roam the prairie unattended. As the Acadian herds began to grow, some of the wild cattle inevitably got mixed up with the domesticated cattle. Things came to a head when the brothers began to claim not only the wild cattle in those herds but also some of the Acadian cattle.
As a result of an Acadian outcry, Gov. Alexandre O’Reilly ordered that fences should be built to separate the wild and domestic cattle and, further, that some of the wild cattle should be slaughtered to control the size of the herd.
When that order came down, the brother immediately went to Gabriel Fuselier de la Claire, who was commandant at the Attakapas post, and got him to postpone the slaughter.
That upset the Acadians and Jean-Baptiste Berard (who was married to an Acadian, Ann Broussard) and Andre Claude Boutte. They took the lead in defying the postponement and slaughtered a lot of the brothers’ wild livestock.
The brothers demanded that Berard and Boutte be thrown in jail. They apparently were not jailed, but, in Brasseaux’s view, “The Flammand incident formed a watershed in Acadian-Creole relations in the Attakapas, crystallizing latent ethnic animosity stemming from previous confrontations.”
It was an animosity that smoldered for many years to come.
You can contact Jim Bradshaw at email@example.com or P.O. Box 1121, Washington LA 70589.