GODIN, dit Bellefontaine, dit Beauséjour, JOSEPH, militia officer, merchant, and interpreter; b. 1697 in the parish of Sainte-Anne-du-Pays-Bas (Fredericton, N.B.), son of Gabriel Godin, dit Chatillon, dit Bellefontaine, and Marie-Angélique Robert Jasne (Robertjeanne); m. 1725 Marie-Anne Bergeron d’Amboise; d. after 1774, probably in Cherbourg, France.
When Joseph Robinau* de Villebon, governor of Acadia, built Fort Saint-Joseph (known as Fort Nashwaak, now Fredericton) in 1692, he brought to the area a number of Acadian and Canadian settlers, including Gabriel Godin, dit Chatillon, a naval officer, and his wife. Robinau made Godin second lieutenant at the fort and granted him land with a frontage of three leagues on the Saint John River. This land was the origin of the name Bellefontaine. Godin developed the property and used it as a base for a substantial trade with other French colonies and with the Indians – Abenakis, Malecites, and Micmacs. He became so adept in the Indians’ languages that Robinau appointed him king’s interpreter. Joseph Godin worked closely with his father and inherited both his goods and his prestige. He too was a leading settler of the parish, and it was later claimed that “the Indians, like the French, did [nothing] without consulting him and submitted docilely to all his [decisions?].” Governor Beauharnois* commissioned him king’s interpreter, and in 1736 Godin and his brother-in-law, Michel Bergeron d’Amboise, went as deputies from the Saint John Acadians to the Annapolis Royal Council. They were imprisoned there by Governor Lawrence Armstrong* for failing to report to the Council immediately, but they were soon released and sent home with instructions to invite the Saint John Indians to the British post.
In 1749 Charles Deschamps de Boishébert organized the Saint John Acadians into a militia, and on 10 April Godin was appointed to its command. During the Seven Years’ War he supported and encouraged the Indians in their opposition to the British and even led some of their war pat-ties. When a party of rangers, under the command of Moses Hazen*, sacked Sainte-Anne in February 1759, they killed Godin’s daughter and three of his grandchildren because he had refused to swear allegiance to the British king and “by his speech and largess . . . had instigated and maintained the Indians in their hatred and war against the. English.” Godin was taken prisoner by the rangers and brought, after having been joined by his family, to Annapolis Royal. From there he was taken to Boston, Halifax, and England; later he was sent to Cherbourg. In 1767 he was living there and was one of a group of Acadians who asked for life annuities. He obtained a pension of 300 livres for his losses and services. In 1774 a proposal was made to place him and his wife in a religious house where they could be cared for. Recalling his services to the king, which he claimed had cost him 60,000 livres, Godin asked that instead they be allowed to remain at Cherbourg with a pension.
AD, Calvados (Caen), C 1020, mémoire de Joseph Bellefontaine, dit Beauséjour, 15 janv. 1774. Placide Gaudet, “Acadian genealogy and notes,” PAC Report, 1905, II, pt.iii, 140, 241. N.S. Archives, III. [Joseph Rôbinau de Villebon], Acadia at the end of the seventeenth century; letters, journals and memoirs of Joseph Robineau de Villebon . . . , ed. J. C. Webster (Saint John, N. B., 1934), 99, 149, 154. L. M. B. Maxwell, An outline of the history of central New Brunswick to the time of confederation (Sackville, N.B., 1937).