| Grand-Bois
The Estiverne family and the 1969 terror at Grand-Bois
The 1969 arrests and killings of members of the Estiverne family are barely known beyond the town of Grand-Bois/Cornillon. Six members of this large and once thriving peasant clan died in Fort-Dimanche or other prisons of the regime of Francois Duvalier. Many others suffered arrestations, beatings, threats, and confiscation of properties; some died too young, still smarting from their prison experiences. The repression began with the Estivernes, but it went on to touch other families in Grand-Bois, which is a farming community on the border of the Dominican Republic, east of Haiti.
Four of the Estivernes who died were members of the large family of Pierre and Charisna Estiverne. Their son Prosper was the first victim. Born in 1942, he had gone to school in Port-au-Prince and graduated from the Lycée Petion. In 1968, Prosper left Haiti with the aid of a friend who he said would help him to study electrical engineering in France. The family never saw him again. For many years, they believed that soldiers from the Army killed him in an armed confrontation with alleged communists in a house in Port-au-Prince. But recent information indicate that Prosper Estiverne may have been arrested at the airport upon returning from abroad in February 1969.

On February 19, 1969, soldiers under the command of Capt. Albert Pierre reached Grand Bois and arrested Prosper's younger brother, Gérard (born 1944), while he was working his land. In the next few days, they took Prosper and Gérard's father, Pierre Estiverne, a church sacristan, and five of the younger children - Ambroise, Jean Bosco, Marie Agnes, Cocotte, and Yves. The oldest son, Franck Estiverne, went into hiding but was caught a week later. Also arrested were Simon Estiverne, Prosper's uncle, and a 17-year-old cousin, Gladys Estiverne, and her brothers, Wesner and Roland. Also arrested were neighbors including Joseph Atisné and Mme. Theodore Médor.
Among Pierre Estiverne's children, Ambroise (born 1946) and Yves were freed after a short period of time. Jean Bosco and Marie Agnes spent 17 days in prison at Croix des Bouquets, and Jean Bosco four days. Both were tortured. Only 12-year-old Ybalt, 9-year-old Antoinette, and the mother of the family, Mme. Pierre Estiverne, née Charisna Volcy, were spared imprisonment.
Franck Estiverne is known to have died in Ft. Dimanche. His father Pierre, and cousin Gladys were last heard of in Ft. Dimanche. Gérard may have died in the Casernes of Croix des Bouquets. It is not known where Prosper Estiverne and Joseph Atisné died.

Many others in Grand Bois suffered in the second wave of arrests, beginning on

Thursday, April 24, 1969. Local military and Tontons Macoutes militia rounded up a diverse group, including skilled and unschooled people and even some members of the militia. Several women were arrested and released when their husbands were found. The curé of the parish, Père Clerot André, a Frenchman, was briefly held, along with school teachers Pierre Maccenat and Gabriel Bien-Aimé.
The soldiers tied up at least ten men and marched them down the mountain to Cornillon. There they released Theodore Médor and another man, before sending the others on to Thomazeau and then Croix des Bouquets. Gérard Bien-Aimé and his brother Pierre Bien-Aimé, Ylexante Ylus, Matthieu Saint Vilis, Kenol Orelus, Ignace Medor, Alma Cantave, Nicholas Louisjuste, and Duplessy Ducasse, were imprisoned in Ft. Dimanche.
Soldiers had beaten Ignace Medor so badly in the Croix des Bouquets Casernes that he died on June 20, 1969, in Fort- Dimanche, according to a cellmate.
On September 22, 1969, Kenol Orilis, Ylexante Ylus, and Matthieu Saint Vilis were released as a result of an amnesty. Gérard and Pierre Bien-Aimé, and Alma Cantave were released a couple of years later.

This summary is taken from research in progress by Louis Estiverne and Anne Fuller (December 2001)

Mme Pierre Estiverne