Jean-Vincent d'Abbadie de Saint-Castin
Baron de St Castin
Escout, Béarn, France
|Died||1707 (aged 54–55)|
King Philip's War (1675-1676)
Jean-Vincent d'Abbadie de Saint-Castin (1652–1707) was a French military officer serving in Acadia and an Abenaki chief. He is the father of two prominent sons who were also military leaders in Acadia: Bernard-Anselme and Joseph. He is the namesake of the former capital of Acadia, Castine, Maine.
Jean-Vincent was born at Escout, Béarn, France, the youngest of three sons in his noble family. Little is known of his early years other than he lost his mother in infancy and his father before his teens. He left for Canada at the age of thirteen as an ensign in the army, a suitable pursuit for the younger son of a noble.
He was likely part of Alexandre de Prouville's brutal campaign against the Iroqois in 1666 although his name does not appear in surviving records until 1670 when he was part of the repossession of Acadia by the French. In the Penobscot River area he gained his knowledge of the Penobscot and was eventually adopted into a local tribe.
In 1674, along with the governor of Acadia, Castine was taken to Boston as a prisoner in the Dutch-led conquest of Acadia, who renamed the colony New Holland. After he returned from Boston, Governor Frontenac gave Saint-Castin the task of allying the Abenaki with the French and recaptured the former capital of Acadia, Fort Pentagouet the following year (1675) during King Philips War. He took this role seriously and, while he became the third Baron de Saint-Castin on the death of his elder brother that year, he appears to have devoted his time to becoming an Abenaki.
During King William's War, after Benjamin Church successfully defended a group of English settlers at Falmouth, Maine in the fall of 1689, Castin returned to the village in May 1690 with over 400 soldiers and destroyed the village.
He married a Native American woman, the daughter of the Penobscot chief, Madokawando.
He died at Pau, France, in 1707.
In 1899-1900 Frank Hamilton Cushing, a famous anthropologist from the Smithsonian, while conducting a dig on Campbell Island, just off Deer Island Maine, uncovered a French skeleton in armor. The weapons and items were identical to those of a French officer of the Carignan-Salières regiment. A halberd, sword, blunderbuss and other weapons were recovered. A tomahawk was found with a Maltese cross etched on it. The remains were found buried next to a Native American woman.
To identify these remains, they were brought to the attention of the Smithsonian. They responded that while there was ample proof or evidence that suggested it might be the Baron, it didn't matter; either way the remains were to be repatrioted to the Penobscot Nation.
Campbell Island is the sacred burial place of Chief Madockawando's family. His stronghold was across the reach on the hill overlooking Walker Pond. Chief Madockawando signed treaties with a Maltese cross. He was the father-in-law of the Baron Jean-Vincent who married his daughter, Matilde.
- Namesake of Castine, Maine
- Namesake of Castine Way, Dalhousie University
- The Chase of Saint-Castin and Other Stories of the French in the New World by Mary Hartwell Catherwood (historic fiction)
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes. France: Vols. IX–X. 1876–79.
- The history of the great Indian war of 1675 and 1676, commonly called Philip ... by Benjamin Church, Thomas Church, Samuel Gardner Drake, pp175-176
- Robert Le Blant, Une Figure légendaire de l’histoire acadienne : Le baron de Saint-Castin (Dax: P. Pradeu, 1934)
- Pierre Daviault, Le Baron de Saint-Castin, chef abénaquis (Montréal: Éditions de l’AC-F, 1939);
- Aline S. Taylor, The French Baron of Pentagouet: Baron St. Castin and the Struggle for Empire in Early New England (Camden, Maine: Picton Press, 1998);
- Marjolaine Saint-Pierre, Saint-Castin : Baron français, chef amérindien, 1652–1707 (Sillery, Quebec: Septentrion, 1999).
- Stanwood, Owen. Unlikely Imperialist: The Baron of Saint-Castin and the Transformation of the Northeastern Borderlands. French Colonial History, Volume 5, 2004, pp. 43–61
- Saint Castin, New Dominion Monthly. 1869