Researchers with the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s New Acadia Project may have gotten one step closer to finding the remains of Beausoleil Broussard and the progenitors of Cajun culture.

During the winter, students involved in the project discovered a cemetery along the bank of Bayou Teche that they believe has potential historical significance.

They outlined their findings during a presentation at the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve’s Acadian Cultural Center on Saturday.

Working under the guidance of UL-Lafayette anthropology professor Mark Rees, the students spent their winter break searching the original plot of the house of Broussard’s son, Amand. The house has since been moved to Vermilionville.

Christian Sheumaker, a senior anthropology student, said the team is looking for the three original campgrounds where Beausoleil Broussard and his people settled.

The team of 20 students who took part in the winter expedition searched a stretch of the Bayou Teche in Loreauville, looking for signs or remnants of campsites set up by Beausoleil Broussard and the first settlers.

They used technology such as magnetometers — much like sophisticated metal detectors — to survey the ground without physically digging. When the magnetometers would go off, the team would dig.

After surveying the area, Sheumaker said the team found stonewear like pots and pearlwear, but nothing that could be linked to Beausoleil Broussard.

The New Acadia Project is a long-term project encompassing archaeology, public history and cultural resource management planning.

The first part of the project will involve public outreach — like the presentation Saturday — research, oral history and archaeological surveys.

In 1765, Beausoleil Broussard led a group of 193 Acadians from their home in Nova Scotia to New Orleans. The colonial government in Louisiana allowed the Acadian families to settle on the Teche Ridge along the Bayou Teche, in Attakapa territory.

Thirty-four of the original group died between the summer and winter of 1765, including Beausoleil Broussard. Rees and his group suspect yellow fever as the cause of those deaths.

The Acadian camps and gravesites are believed to be located on the Teche Ridge, between St. Martinville and New Iberia, near Loreauville.

Finding those gravesites and historically significant artifacts has taken on greater urgency as commercial development continues throughout the area. The fear is that the unknown gravesites and places where Cajun artifacts from 2½ centuries ago could be destroyed in the construction process.

At the end of their presentation, Sheumaker thanked all involved with the project, including the late mayor of Loreauville, Al Broussard, who is a descendant of Beausoliel Broussard.

“I’m looking forward to seeing what else comes out of this project, and seeing more discoveries,” park ranger Jodi Bacque said. “I think it’s a wonderful project and I’m so glad someone is looking into this.”

The New Acadia Project team will set out again in the summer to continue to search for Beausoleil Broussard.

More information on the project can be found at http://www.ucs.louisiana.edu/~mar4160/nap.html.