Richard descendants from Orange join in celebrating their Cajun heritage in Louisiana
The first recorded Acadians to settle in present-day Louisiana were Jean-Baptiste Richard, his wife Marie-Catherine Cormier and their three children, together with three related families. They arrived in New Orleans in February 1764 and settled in what is now St. James Parish.
Three years later, in July 1767, four more Richard families came to Louisiana from exile in Maryland. They hoped to settle with their relatives at St James Parish, but Spanish authorities insisted that they settle upriver at a new Acadian community, St.-Gabriel d’Iberville. Included in this 1767 group were Amand Richard and his wife, Marie Breaux.
One hundred years later, Simon and Elenore Richard married and settled in Grand Chenier, just east of present day Cameron. Both were direct descendants of Amand Richard and Marie Breaux-Simon was the great-great grandchild of Amand and Marie.
This past weekend about 250 descendants of Simon and Elenore Richard gathered in Iowa, La. to celebrate their heritage. The oldest direct descendant alive today is Mrs. Joann Villadsen of Orange, the granddaughter of Simon and Elenore. All of her Texas family know her only as Joann or “Granny”, while all of her Louisiana relatives know her as Aunt Delta. One of 13 children, she was born Joann Delta Richard in Rayne, La.
Joann married Reno Skov “Buddy” Villadsen of Birmingham and settled in Orange in the 1940s. They had 13 children before Buddy passed away from cancer in 1968, leaving 11 children at home.
That family of 13 children has grown to encompass more than seventy descendants today, including spouses. Most of them live in the greater Orange area, a few in the Houston area and one in Tulsa, OK. Half of those descendants came to the reunion and enjoyed chicken and ribs smoked in the pits since the wee hours of the morning, meeting relatives they didn’t even know the day before, and listening and dancing to good Cajun and Zydeco music.
What a way to spend a Saturday.