Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Spanish Cajuns

Did you know...that the town of New Iberia, Louisiana, in the heart of Cajun country, was founded by Spanish settlers from Malaga, Spain?  Spanish descendants in Louisiana are also known as Cajuns, even though they may not have descended from Acadian settlers.  Most of their names have been changed to French sounding names through the years. Some of my direct ancestors made the long and arduous trip from Malaga to New Iberia in 1778-79.

The following excerpt was taken from: “Historia de Alhaurín de la Torre en la Edad Moderna, 1489-1812”, by José Manuel de Molina Bautista. Alhaurín de la Torre, Published in November 2005. ISBN 84-609-7905-9) and can be found at:

"At the present time, surnames attributed to the Malagueños, such as Segura, Romero, Viator (a modification of the Spanish name Villatoro) and Gary (a modification of the Spanish name Garrido) can still be found in Louisiana. Still more important is the persistence of the descendants of Malagueños who honor their Spanish heritage, in a territory where the French Acadian descendants are a majority and who mainly promote France and the French culture as a sign of identity of the regional ancestry.

In this part of Louisiana the descendants of the French and the Spanish are called “cajuns", a word that is commonly used to signify anyone from the region of South Louisiana, regardless of whether they are of French Acadian heritage or not. Although, in New Iberia, the families with Spanish surnames still proudly refer to their ancestors as “Malagueños”. As Stanley LeBlanc, who has Malagueños ancestors in his genealogy, told us: "I’ve been trying to educate my readers about the fact that the Spanish in Louisiana are all Cajuns, but they never were Acadians”.

4 comments:

Lemur said...

Great info, thanks! I'm writing a YA at the moment and should be keeping length in mind.

Thanks for posting on my CRITTER blog! Yeah yaks - we're probably crazy! Yes, I write too. My writing blog is Naked Without a Pen.

The CRITTER Project and Naked Without a Pen

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info! I am a Viator ancestor still in South Louisiana and am trying to find out more. This helped!

Rita Monette, Writer said...

Anonymous, I have Viator ancestors also.

Travis Callahan said...

I am descended from Antoine Sanchez who according to church records was from Malaga Spain. He was the son ofJohn Sanchez and Marie Viator and was born in 1836 in Spain and married Euphemie Landry in Vermilion parish in 1870. I am trying to track the man but he is well hidden.