My Acadian 30 – week #5, Victoire LeBlanc

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In 2007, I joined Ancestry.com.  It never occurred to me that online, unsourced trees were inaccurate.  I essentially “copied” my entire Acadian family from potentially erroneous public trees and never looked back.  Although my newer entries are sourced, a visit to Stephen A. White, at Moncton University’s Centre d’Études Acadiennes [Center for Acadian Studies] in 2014,  revealed a number of errors. I am determined to start from scratch, and verify that I have all available records beginning with the 30 direct ancestors, connected to my maternal grandmother. This includes her parents, grandparents, g-grandparents and g-g-grandparents.

yvonne roy

To keep the project manageable, I will write of one ancestor each week.

Prior Weeks (click on a name to read the sketch)

Generation 1

Week #1 – Yvonne Marie (Roy) Billings

Generation 2

Week #2 – Pius/Paul Dost Roy

Week #3 –  Marie Laura “Laura” Melanson

Generation 3

Week #4 –  Docité OR Dosithée Roy

My 2nd g-grandmother was Victoire LeBlanc.  Sadly we know nothing of her personality and little of her life.  There are no known photos. An immigration card describes her as 5’6″, 140 pounds, of medium complexion, brown hair and eyes.  We can assume that because she was the eldest child, born in 1865, to an Acadian farmer, she likely took on the burden of aiding her mother in running the farm, household, and raising ten siblings.  She was likely uneducated. She became a farmer’s wife, and the hard work continued between the farm and raising nine of her own children, five of whom she lost as infants or in their youth, she later lost a sixth child who was a young woman living in Massachusetts with five children of her own. As young adults, three of Victoire’s children left for Gardner, Massachusetts in hopes of a better life; only one remained close by. Victoire’s was a difficult life, yet she was likely surrounded by a large support system of close-knit family and friends, in their small picturesque village in New Brunswick.  Alcoholism was rampant in future generations and may have affected Victoire as well. She did attempt to join her children in a strange new country at the age of 57.  Although the area was filled with fellow French-speaking Canadians and Acadians, it must have been difficult.  She soon returned to her homeland and likely had little communication with her loved ones in Massachusetts since she could not read or write well, if at all.

5. Victoire LeBlanc, daughter and eldest child of Georges LeBlanc and Madeleine LeBlanc, was likely born on 1 May 1865 and baptized the same day at Bouctouche, New Brunswick. Godparents were Julien and Basilisque [Basilice ?] LeBlanc (further research needed, but likely relatives). The 1901 census claims a birth date of 25 Apr 1865, however we do not know who spoke to the census taker.  The church record is more likely to be accurate as the entry was likely recorded by a person who had first hand knowledge of the event and close to the date of the actual event.

This birth year matches up with an immigration record dated 9 Dec 1922, where Victoire claims to be age 57 (image towards the end of this post; she is traveling to her son Edmund’s home).  She lists a birthplace of “St Mary’s”.  Residents of that area were baptized, married and buried in Bouctouche until the arrival, in St Mary’s Parish, of Ste-Marie’s Mont-Carmel’s first resident pastor in 1870. Since Victoire was not present at her own birth, she may have just reported St Mary’s since that is where she resided as a child.  She likely was born in Bouctouche as stated in the church record. Her father’s land deeds have not yet been examined to determine if the family moved or if they stayed put and the parish boundary changed.

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In this time frame and area, there were two Georges LeBlanc’s and two Madeleine LeBlanc’s, each a brother/sister pair:

– Joseph LeBlanc & Marguerite Collet had a son name Georges and a daughter named Madeleine.

– Sifroi LeBlanc & Victoire Bastarache had a son name Georges and a daughter named Madeleine.

Just to make things confusing for future family historians, George #1 married Madeleine #2 and George #2 married Madeleine #1.

Stephen A. White at Moncton University’s Centre d’Études Acadiennes [Center for Acadian Studies], has sorted out these families. My 2nd g-grandmother Victoire LeBlanc descends from Georges of Sifroi LeBlanc & Victoire Bastarache and Madeleine of Joseph LeBlanc & Marguerite Collet. There are many trees in cyberspace that have them mixed up!!  To see Stephan’s comments and photocopies of his documentation, read my blog post here.

According to Stephan A. White, Victoire had ten known siblings:

  • Henriette, Matilde, Vitaline, Eugenie, Zelie, Nerie, Marguerite, Adelard, Sara and Annie

Stephen has been working these families for decades!  He has been able to determine the likelihood of who was married to whom and born to whom because he has studied the entire Acadian population.  There are likely additional analyses and records to which I do not have access or that I have not reviewed (i.e. all of the birth/marriage/death records of each of their children).  Yet another reason to return to Moncton! (on a future trip to Moncton, I will copy the related index cards, which will make it easier to find them in the church registers).

In 1871, Victoire’s family was enumerated in Wellington Parish (possibly in or near Ste Marie; Wellington was established in 1814 and included Saint Mary Parish until 1867) .

  • George, 27 (unable to read or write);
  • Madeleine, 27 (unable to write);
  • Victoire, 6;
  • Henriette, 4;
  • Matilde, 2;
  • Vitaline, 2 months

1871 leblanc

Victoire’s father owned 50 acres of land, 25 of which was improved and included one dwelling house and one barn/stable.  They had two carriages/sleighs; four cars/wagons or sleds; two plows or cultivators.  The family had one horse over three years old, five sheep and four swine/pigs.  Two swine had been killed or sold for slaughter or export. They produced nice pounds of wool; thirty-three yards of homemade cloth/flannel and three yards of homemade linen.

They dedicated one acre to producing five bushels of spring wheat, one bushel of barley, 300 bushels of oats, 15 bushels of rye and 35 bushels of buckwheat.  Two acres produced 160 bushels of potatoes and two bushels of turnips.  One and half acres were dedicated to producing the hay crop (one ton of 2,000 pound bundles of 16 pounds of hay), one and a half bushels flax-seed and five pounds of flax or hemp. He also produced 100 pounds of maple syrup. The land produced sixteen cords of firewood.

bushels

Georges was a fisherman. He did not own any type of water vessel but reported  23 fathoms of nets and seizes of all sorts (a fathom is about six feet) . He caught 1/3 barrel gaspareaux (name of a common salt-water fish of Acadia, also called alewife), ten barrels of oysters and 10 barrels of other fishes (not defined – see list of fishes that were categorized in image below).

1871 leblanc

In 1881, the family was enumerated in Ste Marie, St Mary’s Parish. Victoire was not attending school.

  • George, 38;
  • Madeleine, 38;
  • Victoire, 15;
  • Henriette, 13 (attending school);
  • Matilde, 11  (attending school);
  • Eugenie, 8;
  • Milie Zeliah (Zelie), 6,
  • Nerie, 1;
  • Marguerite, 1 month

1881 census george

On Monday, 11 May 1885, Victoire, married Docité OR Dosithée Roy at Ste Marie de Mont Carmel, son of Joseph Roy/Roi and Angélique Beliveau. Witnesses were Pierre L. Roy and Maria Blanche (?) Bastarache.

marriage Victoria

roy leblanc marriage

Victoire’s married life and children are documented in the sketch’s of her husband and son Pius (see weeks 2 & 4 sketches).

As mentioned in Pius’ sketch, known children born to the Victoire and Docite include: (1)Pius/Paul, (2) Marie Albina, (3) Mathilde, (4) Marie Emma, (5) Aurelie, (6 & 7) Dieudonné #1 and Joseph Hector (twins), (8) Edmund and (9) Dieudonné #2

Sadly, four of the children likely died in 1899.  Joseph Hector, 1 Jan 1899 [cause unreadable], age 4 months;  Marie Albina, 13 April 1899, age 10, of consumption [likely influenza]; and a week later, 20 April 1899, Dieudonné (7 months) of la grippe [likely influenza]. No further record of Aurelie has been located, he likely died in the same time frame.

Victoire’s father, Georges died of consumption (tuberculosis) and was buried 14 Feb 1891 in Ste Marie; he was 47.

In 1891 she resided in St Mary’s parish (see Docite’s sketch).  Her Mother and siblings living at home were living nearby [her mother was on image 34 and Victoire on image 36 of the census, with many LeBlanc families, likely related, in between]:

  •  Madeleine, 47 (widow);
  • Eugenie 18;
  • Zelia 16,
  • Niry (Nerie), 11;
  • Marguerite, 9;
  • Dolore (Adelard), 8;
  • Sara, 6;
  • Anne, 4;
  • Georges Roy, 2 (no relationship listed – likely Madeleine had taken in her grandson, son of Henriette’s. Henriette had married her sister Victoire’s brother-in-law (Docite’s brother) Vital Roy.  Henriette died in 1890, of consumption; sadly her son Georges died at age three in 1892 of la grippe, likely influenza).

madeleine 1891

Victoire’s mother remarried to Marc LeBlanc son of Joachim and Prudentienne Maillet, widower of Cécile Bastarache  on 22 May 1893 in Ste Marie. He died, 8 June 1919, age 66 in Ste Marie of heart and kidney trouble. They had no known children together.

By 1901, Victoire’s family had moved from their rural community to the “big city”, Lancaster (today part of Saint John), New Brunswick.  After a few year, it seems Docité, Victoire, Mathilde, Emma and Edmund (Pius left for Gardner, Massachusetts, likely for work) returned to Ste Marie, as  Dieudonné #2, was born 17 May 1906 and baptized at Mont Carmel.  In 1911, they were living in Puellering, Kent, New Brunswick. Victoire was not identified in the 1921 census likely because there were large portions of the Moncton census, where the enumerator did not capture resident names (he just wrote “Westmoreland” next to each).  She was likely at 70 Pearl St., Moncton, the address that she, her husband and son Edmond all list as their home address when they immigrated to the United States the following year.

Victoire who was admitted to the US to visit her son Edmund on 9 Dec 1922 was described as 5’6″, 140 pounds, of medium complexion, brown hair and eyes. She claimed that she would be there less than 6 months and that it was her first visit.  Her husband joined her six months later, when he immigrated “permanently” to Gardner, Massachusetts from Moncton in May 1923.

Victorie

Docite and Victoire are listed in the 1924 Gardner, Massachusetts city directory on Parker Street (the same address as their son Edmond and Docite’s first cousin Calixte Roy).

Victoire’s young daughter Emma (wife of Frederick LeBlanc), age 32, died in Gardner in 1924, leaving five young children, Joseph, Ernest, Lauretta, Albert and Viola LeBlanc, all of whom were living on Parker Street, Gardner with their widowed father in 1930.

Thus, six of Victoire’s nine children predeceased her, leaving just three: Pius/Paul, Mathilde and Edmund.

It is unknown why/when Docite and Victoire returned to New Brunswick, however his death was recorded there on 16 Nov 1932 in St-Antoine, Ste Marie, Kent, New Brunswick.  According to his death certificate, he was buried at St-Antoine.

Victoire died a few years later, 25 Sep 1934, age 70, of vieillesse (old age), in the community of Mount Carmel, Ste Marie, Kent, New Brunswick and her death certificate indicates that she was buried there.  Victoire’s mother Madeleine died about 8 months later, 4 May 1935, age 92, 4 months in St Damien.  She was also buried in Mt Carmel cemetery in Ste Marie (neither of their graves have been located).

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My Acadian 30 – week #4, Docité/Dosithée Roy

CLICK ON ANY IMAGE TO SEE A LARGER VERSION!

In 2007, I joined Ancestry.com.  It never occurred to me that online, unsourced trees were inaccurate.  I essentially “copied” my entire Acadian family from potentially erroneous public trees and never looked back.  Although my newer entries are sourced, a visit to Stephen A. White, at Moncton University’s Centre d’Études Acadiennes [Center for Acadian Studies] in 2014,  revealed a number of errors. I am determined to start from scratch, and verify that I have all available records beginning with the 30 direct ancestors, connected to my maternal grandmother. This includes her parents, grandparents, g-grandparents and g-g-grandparents.

yvonne roy

To keep the project manageable, I will write of one ancestor each week.

Week #1 – Yvonne Marie (Roy) Billings

Week #2 – Pius/Paul Dost Roy

Week #3 –  Marie Laura “Laura” Melanson

Generation 3

4. Docité OR Dosithée Roy, son of Joseph Roy/Roi and Angélique Beliveau, was born on 29 Jul 1857  and was baptized the following day at Saint-Jean Baptiste Catholic Church in Bouctouche, Kent, New Brunswick, Canada.  His godparents were Agnes Roy (paternal aunt) and Pacifique Beliveau (maternal uncle).

Docité was Joseph’s fifth known child and Angélique’s first.  He joined the following siblings:

(1) Cyrille –  Joseph’s son from his first marriage to Henriette Legere, baptized  20 November 1847, St-Jean Parish  in Bouctouche.

(2) Pierre – Joseph’s son from his first marriage, baptized 30 November 1849, in St-Jean Parish in Bouctouche. Godparents were Pierre Hebert and Marie Roi.

(3) Libie (Lébée/Lybie?)– Joseph’s daughter from his first marriage, baptized 28 Dec 1851, in St-Jean Parish in Bouctouche; godparents were François Roy and Vénérande Savoie (Docité’s paternal grandparents) It is possible that she died young, was adopted and/or the name “Libie” is in error, as it is not a “typical” name of the place/time. To date, she has not been found in other records.

(4) Hippolite – Joseph’s son from his first marriage, baptized 9 Feb 1853, in St-Jean Parish in Bouctouche; godparents were Louis Legere and Olive LeBlanc. He was not living with the Roy family in any census year and according to his marriage record, was adopted after his mother’s death by Eustache Poirier and his wife Cecile Legere (daughter of Simon Legere and Marie-Rose Arsenault and his mother Henriette’s biological cousin). He resided with them in 1871 in Grande-Digue and was enumerated as Hyppolyte Poirier. It is unknown whether he had a relationship with his biological family, nonetheless, with the exception of this census, all records seem to indicate that he used the Roy surname for his lifetime.

baptism dos

church

Although the church pictured in 1893 is in the same location as the 1857 church, the actual church where Docité was baptized, was struck by lightning and burned to the ground in 1886. It was rebuilt only to be destroyed again by fire on 18 December 1921.  This is a beautiful spot, overlooking the cemetery where many Acadian ancestors are buried, offering picturesque ocean views, as they walked to attend church services (albeit chilly in wintertime).

After the second loss, the parish had a difficult decision to make. The convent, church, priest’s residence and the cemetery had been the center of the village life, even though the village was located some two kilometers away. Family members were buried in the cemetery and many didn’t want to “abandon” them. Others argued that the spot was subject to very severe climate and attending services was becoming more difficult. Finally the parishioners made the difficult decision to rebuild the church and priest’s residence in a calmer spot in the village.

The first priest’s residence of Bouctouche, (left in top photo) has been converted to a lovely (reasonably priced) country inn called Auberge le Vieux Presbytere; where I stayed for two nights in 2014.

DSC_8890

1861 Canadian Census

In 1861, 4-year-old Docité and his family resided on a farm in the Parish of Wellington, Kent County (which included the area of St. Mary’s Parish until 1867) and used the surname King (English translation of Roy); they were Roman Catholic.

1861 census

  • Joseph, junior, age 31, farmer  [Docité’s father]
  • Angélique, age 29, wife [Docité’s mother]
  • Ceril, age 14, son [likely Docité’s half-brother, Cyrille, from his father’s first marriage to Legere, baptized  20 November 1847]
  • Peter, age 12, son [likely Docité’s half-brother, Pierre, from his father’s first marriage to Legere, baptized 30 November 1849]
  • Docité, age 4, son 
  • Cephor, age 3, son [likely Sifroi, baptized 12 November 1858, St-Jean Parish in Bouctouche. Godparent was Charles Maillet]
  • Onriette, age 1, daughter [likely Henriette, baptized 2 December 1860, St-Jean Parish in Bouctouche. Godparents were Jean C. Maillet and Marraine Henriette Bastarache]

Next door (or on a farm nearby) are Docité’s likely paternal relatives:

  • Frank, junior, age 63, widower, farmer [Docité’s grandfather, Francois – According to Stephen White’s “La généalogie des trente-sept familles, hôtesses des « Retrouvailles 94 »  – SAVOIE , his wife, Vénérande,  died in Bouctouche 27 May 1858, when Docité was still an infant]
  • Olive. age 39, daughter [likely Docité’s aunt]
  • Onyez [Agnes ?], age 37, daughter [likely Docité’s aunt and godmother]
  • Frank, senior, age 92, lodger [likely Docité’s paternal g-grandfather – Francois]

Docité’s father had 33 acres, of which 20 had been improved, valued at $150, with other farm machinery valued at $20.  He had no employees.  Docité’s grandfather’s farm was quite similar (details in a future sketch).

His dad Joseph’s animals included: two horses; two milk cows; two working oxen; four sheep; and six swine/pigs.

He reported slaughtering 400 pounds of pork; netted eight pounds of wool; and created $20 of cloth (or similar manufactured products).  Eight acres of land was dedicated to production of hay (he netted three tons).  The farm produced 30 bushels of wheat (from three acres), eight bushels barley (from 1/2 acre), 50 bushels oats (from four acres), twelve bushels buckwheat (from one acre) and 300 bushels potatoes (from three acres).

The farm was likely situated in Bouctouche in the area labelled “Francis King” on the map (No100) below.  Docité’s paternal grandmother, Vénérande,  died in Bouctouche in 1858; this further strengthens the case that they resided there.

Land deeds for Docité’s parents and grandparents have not yet been examined.  The known grantor/grantee indexes for the Roy/King surnames in Kent County from 1827 to 1941 can be found here: New Brunswick Roy deeds

Francis King land

1861 agriculture frank and joseph

The census reported that none of the children had attended school the prior year.  When Docité was a child, schooling was largely through traveling teachers who served many villages at once. It was not until the time of the Canadian Confederation, in 1867, that the Acadians were able to re-establish some semblance of their pre-expulsion society. At that time, schools were founded (although education was not highly valued in many areas and the offerings were not ideal for several decades) and the people began taking an active part in political life (as Catholic’s they were previously denied the right to vote or participate in the legislature). Although many continued to lived in abject poverty; a contributing factor being that Acadian farmers primarily held land along the coast, in less fertile areas.

On 8 July 1867, a week after the Confederation, Le Moniteur, the first French newspaper of the Maritimes, began to be published weekly in Shediac (although its start was a bit bumpy, and there were a few stops and starts along the way, it was published until 1926). This aided with Acadian efforts to improve their situation by providing a platform for them to express ideas to aid in solving the problems they faced, it’s motto being “Notre langue, notre religion et nos coutumes” – “Our language, our religion, our customs”.

1871 Canadian Census

In 1871 Docité and family were enumerated (with four additional children) in the newly formed parish of St. Mary’s in Sainte-Marie-de-Kent (Olivier born 1870 was the first Roy child baptised in Ste Marie at Mont-Carmel), which in 1871 had a population of 100. Docité’s parents were unable to read or write (this question was only asked of those over age 20) but presumably no one in the family could read or write as none of the children were attending school.

  • Joseph, 42, cultivateur (farmer), can not read or write
  • Angelique, 40, can not read or write
  • Docitée, 13  
  • Sigefroi,12
  • Henriette,10
  • Sylvain, 9 [ baptized 12 December 1861, St-Jean Parish in Bouctouche. Godparents were Sylvain Maillet and Marraine Jeanette LeBlanc. Joseph’s middle name is given as Francois]
  • Cécile, 5 [baptized 4 June 1866, St-Jean Parish in Bouctouche. Godparents were Cyrille Roy and Cecile Allain]
  • Vitál, 8 [likely baptized 30 March 1868, St-Jean Parish in Bouctouche. Godparents were Edouard and Marraine Genevieve Belliveau.  Note that his mother is recorded as “Julie”, this was the only record in the parish that was likely the correct baptism for Vital, perhaps Julie is in error and it was meant to be Judith. His marriage record names Judith as his mother, and when he travels to the US in 1916 he gives a contact in Canada as a brother Sylvain.]
  • Olivier, 10 months [baptized 5 June 1870, at Ste. Marie de Mont-Carmel. Godparents were _____ Maillet and _____ Richard]

Joseph’s sons Cyrille and Pierre are residing together nearby, in Saint Marie, with Agnes Roy [sister of Joseph].  No other members of the King/Roy family were found nearby in 1861. A widowed Frances Roi, of the correct age to be Docité’s grandfather was found in Wellington residing with the family of Joseph & Mary Ferware (enumerated as Jerway in 1861 and two census pages away from the Roy’s in Wellington), perhaps Fougere?

Docité’s father, in 1871, seemed to own significantly more acreage than he did in 1961.  He had 125 acres of which 30 were improved and 12 were pasture (they did not have a garden). There were two dwelling houses on the property, one of which was uninhabited.  They had one barn or stable, two carriages or sleighs, 2 cars/wagons or sleds and one plough or cultivator.

Animals included:  one horses over 3 years old; two working oxen; three milk cows; one “other horned cattle”; six sheep – 6 (one was killed or sold for slaughter/export); five swine/pigs (one was killed or sold for slaughter/export)

The farm produced eight acres of wheat crops on which he netted the followings bushels – 30 of spring wheat (sown in the spring and is harvested in the fall), seven of barley, 60 of oats and 90 of buckwheat.  He had four acres of potatoes which netted 125 bushels.  He had two acres of hay which netted three ton of 2,000 lbs or bundles of 16 lbs of hay and 40 bushels of apples.  The sheep netted 20 pounds of wool which produced 60 yards of home-made cloth or flannel.

Joseph did not appear to be involved with fishing, forestry or mineral products.  It is possible that he was involved with steel/iron as a Blacksmith “Ouvrages et réparations de Forgerons en tout genre” (Works and Repairs of Blacksmith of all kinds).  The schedule has a line through his name, it is unknown if the enumerator crossed this out or if it was done later – he was only involved in the business for 1/2 a month and although he had $40 in capital only made a few dollars. It could be a business that was discontinued that census year but was perhaps run in years prior.

1871 Canadian Census

1871 census bldgs

1871 census agriculture

1871 animals

1871 blacksmith

Sixteen people died in St Marie the prior year, most from consumption, malaria or diarrhea.  There were two Roy cousins of Docité – schedule here.  Docité’s grandfather, who had lived near them in 1861, Francois Roy,  died 25 April 1875.

Docité became a Cultivateur [farmer].  He married first, on 2 Feb 1880, at Ste Marie de Mont Carmel, Genevieve Cormier daughter of the deceased Aimé Cormier and deceased Henriette Roy after being granted dispensation for the 4th degree of double consanguinity (meaning they were 3rd cousins two different ways  – 3rd cousins share 2nd g-grandparents).

The Catholic Church required couples to gain permission prior to marrying a relative, as the offspring of consanguineous relationships are at greater risk of certain genetic disorders and they considered marrying a close relative immoral.  The dispensation was granted for the degree of consanguinity without distinguishing between half and full siblings or “spiritual” relatives (i.e. if your father married a second wife who had her own offspring, then you were technically related to the second wife’s children from her first marriage and would require dispensation for the degree of affinity).

Genevieve died six months later, at age 19 (cause unknown), on 24 Aug 1880 and was buried 27 Aug at Ste Marie de Mont Carmel.

marriage 1

1881 Canadian Census

In 1881, Docité continues to reside in the parish of Sainte-Marie (his parents have one additional child):

  • Joseph, 52, cultivateur (farmer)
  • Angelique, 51
  • Silvin [Sylvain], 19
  • Aurietta [Henriette], 20
  • Cecille [Cécile], 15
  • Vitál, 13
  • Olivier, 11
  • Jude, 7 [baptized 24 June 1873, at Ste. Marie de Mont-Carmel. Godparents were Dosite Roy and Domtilda Cormier]
  • Docitée, 23 was listed as a widower and enumerated separately [the day after the remainder of the family was recorded, see margin notes], it appears that he resided on the same farm.

Jude and Vital were attending school (Olivier, age 11, was not marked as in school which may have been an enumerator error, although 1901, 1911 and 1921 censuses specify he can not read or write).

1881 census

The first Acadian National Convention was held 20/21 July 1881 in Memramcook.  About 5,000 Acadians participated, although in reality only about 200 actively participated in discussions. They spoke of many things including emigration, religion, education, political issues,  trade, farming and industry. There they selected the Acadian Holiday – 15 August, the day of the Feast of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary.

According to Wikipedia, The flag of Acadia was adopted on 15 August 1884, at the second Acadian National Convention held on Prince Edward Island with nearly 5,000 Acadian delegates from across the Maritimes. It was designed by Father Marcel-Francois Richard, a priest from Saint-Louis-de-Kent, New Brunswick. The Musée Acadien at the Université de Moncton has the original flag presented by Father Richard to the 1884 Convention. It was sewn by Marie Babineau.

1280px-Flag-of-Acadia

On 18 August 1881, Docité sold eight acres of land, in the Parish of St Mary’s, to Maxime and Louis Cormier  (Book A-2 page 175) for the sum of $25.   The land was on the South side of the Bouctouche River, on the East bounded by Thomas Nowlen and in the South land owned by Dennis Cormier and Thomas Allain.   No deed (or land grant) has been found documenting how Docité originally acquired this land (perhaps through his grandfather or deceased wife).

page 1 Dospage 2 Dos

On 3 Sept 1883, Docité’s parents sold him 25 acres of their land on the South side of the Bouctouche River in Ste Marie for $25. The land is described as: On the South by land occupied by the family of the late Laurent B. Cormier; on the East by a certain road on the South by said owned and occupied by the named Joseph Roy and on the West by said owned and occupied by William Nowlen. In 26 April 1884, he sold this same land to Peter Fabien Arseneau for $75.

record-image_TH-267-12396-45185-61 (1)land sale 2 Dos

On 12 May 1885, Docité married second,  Victorie LeBlanc, at Ste Marie de Mont Carmel, daughter of George LeBlanc and Madeline LeBlanc.

marriage Victoria

1891 Canadian Census

Docité, his wife Victorie (the only family member who is listed as being able to read), now with three children Pius/Paul, (5 years) Marie Albina, (3 years) Mathilde (8 months) continue to reside in Sainte-Marie. His parents and several siblings live nearby.

dosc census 1891

As mentioned in week #2 (Pius’ sketch), known children born to the couple include: (1) Pius/Paul, (2) Marie Albina, (3) Mathilde, (4) Marie Emma, (5) Aurelie, (6 & 7) Dieudonné #1 and Joseph Hector (twins), (8) Edmund and (9) Dieudonné #2

Sadly, four of the children likely died in 1899.  Joseph Hector, 1 Jan 1899 [cause unreadable], age 4 months;  Marie Albina, 13 April 1899, age 10, of consumption [likely influenza]; and a week later, 20 April 1899, Dieudonné (7 months) of la grippe [likely influenza]. No further record of Aurelie has been located, he likely died in the same time frame.

1901 Canadian Census

By 1901, Docité had moved the family from their rural community to the “big city”, Lancaster (today part of Saint John), New Brunswick where he worked as a Millman. He was an employee who had worked for seven months that year and made $200.  He could not read or write, and spoke both French and English (French was his native tongue).

Pius also worked as a Millman (likely with his father) for five months that year and made $50 (he was 14). He was not in school. Interesting articles on employment conditions, child labor and a portrait of a young girl growing up in rural New Brunswick in St John in 1900: 2012-34-Spring-e

A few years earlier, in 1898, Lancaster was known as Fairville, a station on the Canadian Pacific Railway, a lumbering and manufacturing village with 1 post office, 25 stores, 2 hotels, 1 brewery, 1 sawmill, 1 pulp mill, 2 carriage factories, a provincial lunatic asylum, 5 churches and a population of 1,500.

1901 Doss

In 1902, son Edmond’s birth record (registered in 1967) names a birthplace of Randolph (a neighborhood in the West Side of Lancaster which in 1967 became known as St John West) his father was listed as a mill ride.

It seems Docité, Victorie, Mathilde, Emma and Edmund (Pius left for Gardner, Massachusetts, likely for work) returned to Ste Marie, as  Dieudonné #2, was born 17 May 1906 and baptized at Mont Carmel (a community within Ste Marie; in 1904 Mount Carmel was a farming settlement with 1 post office, 4 stores, 2 churches and a population of 250); 3 years later, 2 Sep 1909, he died from measles at St Mary’s.

Docite’s mother, Angelique, noted as a farmer’s wife, died on 13 March 1907 at age 77, the cause was “decline”, she had been ill “all winter”.  She is likely buried in St Mary’s.

1911 Canadian Census

In 1911, Docite, a Cultivateur, was living in Puellering, Kent, New Brunswick with his wife, sons Edmond and Pius and Pius’s wife Laura Melanson.  His widowed father, Joseph and brother Jude were also part of the household.  Edmond had been in school for 4 months that year and he and Laura were they only family members who could read and write.

  • Docitée, 53, cultivateur (farmer)
  • Victorie, 46
  • Pius, 24 [my g-grandfather]
  • Laura, 19 [my g-grandmother]
  • Joseph, 83, retired
  • Jude, 47

Daughters Mathilde and Emma had relocated to Massachusetts; both married in Gardner – in 1910 Mathilde married Cyrille Allain son of Mélème Allain and Marie Leblanc; in 1912 Emma married Frederick LeBlanc son of Calixe LeBlanc and Anastasia Tazie Cassie.

1911 census Joseph

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Docite’s father Joseph died suddenly on 26 May 1913  of “old age” and is likely buried in St Mary’s; he was 84 and a retired farmer.

In about 1918/19, Docite sold land in St Mary’s Parish to Calixte Richard (land deed book I-3 page 166 – image not available online).  He perhaps relocated to Moncton around this time.

1921 Canadian Census

Docite was not identified in the 1921 census likely because there were large portions of the Moncton census, where the enumerator did not capture resident names (he just wrote “Westmoreland” next to each).  He was likely at 70 Pearl St., Moncton, the address that he, his wife and son Edmond all list as their home address when they immigrated to the United States the following year.

At age 63, he was described as 5’7″, 135 pounds and having a fair complexion, gray hair and blue eyes and could not read or write , when he immigrated “permanently” to Gardner, Massachusetts from Moncton in May 1923.  It was Docité’s first visit to the United States. His wife and three of his four living children had previously immigrated to Gardner.

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The following year, 1924, Docite’s young daughter Emma (wife of Frederick LeBlanc), age 32, died in Gardner, leaving five young children, Joseph, Ernest, Lauretta, Albert and Viola LeBlanc, all of whom were living on Parker Street, Gardner with their widowed father in 1930.

Sadly, six of his children were now dead, leaving just three: Pius/Paul, Mathilde and Edmund.

Docite and Victoire are listed in the 1924 Gardner city directory on Parker Street (the same address as his son Edmond and his first cousin Calixte Roy); his occupation is Clerk. Many other Roy’s are listed nearby, including sons Pius and Edmond. Docite was not found in other online city directories, including the 1926 Gardner directory.

It is unknown why/when he and Victorie returned to New Brunswick, however his death was recorded there on 16 Nov 1932 in St-Antoine, Ste Marie, Kent, New Brunswick.  According to his death certificate, he was buried at St-Antoine.  He died from Lobar Pneumonia, a form of pneumonia that affects a large and continuous area of the lobe of a lung. He was 75. His daughter-in-law, Laura Marie (Melanson) Roy (my g-grandmother) had traveled from Gardner to New Brunswick several days before Docite’s death, and may have been at his bedside. A obituary has not been located.

Kent County probate records do not survive, it is unknown if he had an estate. There are some land index entries for a sale of land in Pellerin by Edmond Roy around this time period which may or may not be the sale of land belonging to Docite (the actual deeds are not online; PANB holds microfilms of Kent County Registry Office Records for the years 1846-1973 which include copies of deeds, leases, mortgages, liens and other land transactions, a number of wills – those which transfer title of land are also found in this series – on my list to track down!)

Dos death

My Acadian 30 – week #3, Laura Marie Melanson

CLICK ON ANY IMAGE TO SEE A LARGER VERSION!

In 2007, I joined Ancestry.com.  It never occurred to me that online, unsourced trees were inaccurate.  I essentially “copied” my entire Acadian family from potentially erroneous public trees and never looked back.  Although my newer entries are sourced, a visit to Stephen A. White, at Moncton University’s Centre d’Études Acadiennes [Center for Acadian Studies] in 2014,  revealed a number of errors. I am determined to start from scratch, and verify that I have all available records beginning with the 30 direct ancestors, connected to my maternal grandmother. This includes her parents, grandparents, g-grandparents and g-g-grandparents.

yvonne roy

To keep the project manageable, I will write of one ancestor each week.

Week #1 – Yvonne Marie (Roy) Billings

Week #2 – Pius/Paul Dost Roy

Week #3 –  Marie Laura “Laura” Melanson – my mother’s maternal grandmother

My mother, Betty, did not know her grandmother well.  Betty was taken away from her parents, Yvonne (Laura’s daughter) and Charles Billings and placed in foster care.  Laura, in her early 50’s, could not financially (or likely emotionally) care for four young grandchildren, all under eight.  She raised seven of her own children in abject poverty (her youngest was just 13 years old when the state took the Billings children), her husband was an alcoholic who worked little and Laura, working menial odd jobs, was the sole family supporter.  Betty, being about six or seven may not have understood why Laura or another family member could not step in and take them. In later years she reached out to her grandmother with a note attached to a high school photo, which read:

Gramma – To the most wonderful Grand Ma in the whole wide world. May you have everything you may ever want for the rest of your life. God only knows you deserve it. Please take good care of yourself.  – With loads of Love – Always – Betty.

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Betty recalls:

“I didn’t really know my grandmother. I can count on one hand the few times I saw her except for a week I stayed with her after high school when she moved to Florida with her daughter. I did go to Athol to visit her once but when I got there she said it was bingo night and she was going out.  I never went back to visit. She was a nice lady but devoted to her daughter Alida who lived with her. Alida was a widow at a young age [editor’s note: Alida was actually in her late 40’s when her husband passed] with four kids. My grandmother lived with her until the day she died”.

3. Marie Laura “Laura” Melanson, daughter of Magloire Melanson (a farmer) and Ausithe/Osite Dupuis, was born on 23 Mar 1892 in Scoudouc, Westmorland County, New Brunswick, Canada. She was baptized two days later on 25 March; her godparents were Pierre Melanson (her uncle) and probably Marie Bibianne Dupuis (her aunt).
Laura Marie Melanson baptismLaura birth

Laura’s sister and only full sibling, Melesse “Melissa” Belzemie Melanson, was born in Scoudouc 16 Nov 1894.

Their mother, Ausithe, passed away a few months after Laura’s fifth birthday, 28 Aug 1897.

Around that time, a 10-year old local girl (death record lists her age a 7 1/2), Salome Bourque was killed by the train in Scoudouc near Dorchester Road. The girl and her widowed mother were likely well known by the Melanson family and the tragedy likely affected the entire community.  The story tells us that the St. John accommodation train ran through the community and gives a glimpse of the responsibilities given to young children (the girl was driving her mother’s cows across the track when she was killed).

railway

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By 1901, Laura and Melesse lived with their widowed paternal grandmother, Pélagie (Leger) Melanson, and four paternal unmarried aunts Rose, Magdeline, Marie and Zelica, on the family farm run by their 27-year-old unmarried uncle, Pierre Melanson (Laura’s godfather), in a place called Dorchester Road, located 4.51 km SW of Shediac in Shediac Parish, Westmorland County.  Next door (or very close by) lived their uncle (Ausithe’s brother) Phillas Dupuis, his wife, children and Laura’s widowed maternal grandmother, Nathalie (Boudreau) Dupuis. Other Melansons and Dupuis lived nearby, likely all related. Laura’s father, Magloire’s whereabouts are unknown in the 1901 census year.

This is likely where Laura was born.   Scoudouc included the community of Dorchester Crossing which in 1898 was a farming and lumbering settlement with 1 post office, 1 sawmill, 1 grist mill and a population of 250.

1901 Laura

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I hoped to visit the Melanson farm in 2014; some locals in Shediac knew exactly where it “used to be”….  The farm was torn down to make way for a highway/bridge and what remains is a field.

2014-09-12 15.06.29Scoudouc

Laurent land

Nine-year-old Laura was Roman Catholic and in April 1901 had been enrolled in school for 6 of the last 12 months.  She could read, write, speak French and English (French was her native tongue).  Laura reports attending school through the 7th grade when she spoke to the 1940 census taker.  There were at least four schools  in Shediac Parish, Westmorland County.  The “Annual Report of the Schools of New Brunswick – 1903″ describes the general state of the schools in this parish as follows:

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Laura’s father, Magloire, remarried on 26 May 1902 in Richibouctou, and reported his residence as Scoudouc, so he did perhaps live with his girls.  His second wife was Judith Cormier, of St. Mary’s Parish, daughter of George Cormier and Magdalene LeBlanc.  Judith gave birth to  Laura’s half-brother, Antoine on 12 July 1903.  He died at the age of 10 months, 12 days, on 25 May 1904 in Scoudouc (cause unknown).  On 17 Mar 1905, Laura’s half-sister Marie Alida was born in Shediac. 

Laura’s daughter recalls that Judith did not treat Laura well.  Judith favored Melesse, with whom in later years she shared a two family home.  Judith would intentionally tell Laura that she planned to leave Melesse certain items when she was gone, usually an item Laura admired.  Laura’s young daughter and son would trek up the street to Judith’s after school to pick up the newspaper.  Judith always seemed angry and yelled at them regularly, stopping them in their tracks before they could enter her house.  Yet, in her later years, Judith would call Laura’s daughter in Athol (with whom Laura resided)  every Sunday to demand an invitation and ride from Gardner to Athol for dinner.

Laura, 17-years-old, 5’5″ with fair skin, brown hair & eyes, crossed the border in Vanceboro, Maine, Apr 1909, claiming that she had no relatives in the area from whence she came in Canada (it is not clear where her journey started but she lists her last permanent address as Shediac; the manifest completion instructions say that a friend should be listed if there is no family, but in Laura’s case, simply “no relation” was written).  Her father had paid her passage, she had $3.00 in her pocket and was listed as “Class-E” on the manifest.  She was a domestic; final destination was her father’s home, 4 Knowleton Street, Gardner, Massachusetts. It was the first time she had ever been to the United States, and she appears to be traveling all alone and likely journeyed to Gardner via train.

Gardner

Arrival documents have not been located for other family members, but Magloire is next found listed in the 1909 & 1910 Gardner, Massachusetts city directory employed by Heywood Brothers & Company (a furniture manufacturer) and living at 184 Reagan Street; presumably Judith, Laura, Melesse and Alida reside with him.

Laura 1909


Central Street, Gardner circa 1908

In 1910, Magloire, Judith, Laura (18), Melesse (15) and Alida (5) resided at 184 Reagan Street, a rented home. Magloire runs a circular saw at a wood chair shop (Heywood Brothers & Company), he can not read or write.  He is an alien.  Judith is a self employed washer woman, Laura and Melesse also work.  Laura as a hoodmaker at a ??? shop and Melesse a winder at a reed and  rattan shop.

occupations

Two days after Christmas, a cloudy cold Tuesday (temperatures were in the low 30’s), on 27 Dec 1910, Laura Marie Melanson, married Pius/Paul Dost Roy, the eldest child of Docité/Dosithée Roy and Victorie LeBlanc, in Gardner, Worcester, Massachusetts. He was a 24-year-old Chairmaker and she a 19-year-old shop girl. The marriage was performed by Wilfred J. Choquette, a priest, of the Acadian French, Holy Rosary Church, Nichols Street, Gardner.

Their eight known children were –

(1) Leo: Leo born in New Brunswick in 1911, had some type of head trauma and Laura cared for him until he died.   He died 1929 in Gardner; his death certificate is on order, he was 18 years old.

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(2) Yvonne Marie : Yvonne, born 16 Aug 1912 in Ste Marie, New Brunswick, Canada was my grandmother – her sketch here.

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(3) Joseph Magloire: Magloire was stillborn or died soon after birth in New Brunswick, in 1913. 

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(4) Melisse/Elsie “Nelsey”: Nelsey was born in New Brunswick 16 Nov 1914. She attended school through grade six. In 1938 married Emil P Bergeron, son of Amador Bergeron and Geneve Dayer, and had three children, one who died in infancy. In 1940, she worked in a shoe factory. She lived all her life in Gardner and Athol.  She passed 10 Sep 1987.

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(5) Lena: Lena, my mother’s godmother, was born 08 Mar 1917 in Gardner and married three times – (1) Earl Cromp son of Fred B. Cromp and Elizabeth Venette with whom she had two children, one who died in infancy (2) Millard Cummings son of John Norman Campbell/Cummings and Emma/Eva Venette [her sister Alida married Millard’s brother] and (3) Frank McGuire (parents unknown). She lived all her life in Gardner and Athol; she passed in 1989.

Lena

(6) Edmund Sylvio: Sylvio, my mother’s godfather, was born 28 Sep 1919 in Gardner.  We he was young and living in Massachusetts, he (and his sister Lena) would visit my mother and aunt in their foster home most Sundays. He love his cars and showing them off. In 1940, Sylvio, who attended school through the 6th grade was living at home and working as a laborer at a baby carriage factory. He participated in WWII (future research project), after enlisting 8 Aug 1942 at Fort Devens. Sylvio married Lena Ida “Johney” Paul daughter of Napoleon Paul and Eva Duval in New Hampshire, 4 Aug 1945, and then relocated to Florida, they had no known children.  Aunt Lena used to send me (and my siblings) $25 every Christmas until I was well into my 30’s or early 40’s.  We would send thank you cards, but in reality, at the time, I had no idea how she was related.  I do not recall ever meeting her.  Cousins say she was a very controlling and protective of Sylvio.  He died in 1977, she died in 2006.

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(7) Alfred: Alfred was born 7 Jan 1923 in Gardner, he served in WWII – Technician fifth grade, Battery Company 440, Civil Affairs Battalion.  His war history is unknown (future research project); he was given a number of awards which are now with his niece.  Alfred passed a week after his mom in 11 Nov 1968, at age 45. He never married or had children.

A niece recalls: Alfred showed up one time in Florida very sick. Mom got a call from the Tuberculous clinic in Boston tell her to be careful about all of being exposed.  She was furious that he put us at risk.  Dad drove him to the VA Hospital.  None of us kids ever saw him again.  Such a sad situation.”

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(8) Alida: Alida married Earl Cummings and had four children. She is 88 and loving life in Florida, her details thus private.

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Sadly, three of Laura’s children, Alfred, Yvonne and Lena became alcoholics.

What is known of Laura’s married and family life and their Acadian community is described in last week’s sketch of Pius – here.

Laura’s sister Melesse married Joseph Theodore or Thadee Landry and had at least nine children – Alfred, Herve, Edward, Jean Ulysses, Lionel, Raymond, Pauline, Lorraine and Albert. Her half-sister Alida married Maxime Lavoie and had three children Claudette (who became a nun), Joseph Herve Emile and William.

Laura endured her share of tragedy, she lost her dad 17 Sep 1926; son Leo to a head injury in 1929; sister Alida in 1948 to a house fire while trying to save her son, husband Pius in 1954, step-mother Judith in 1957, daughter Yvonne in 1961 and sister Melesse in 1967.

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Magloire, Judith and Alida

Laura returned to New Brunswick at least once, on 11 November 1932 for an 11 day stay. Her father-in-law, Docité/Dosithée Roy, died 16 Nov 1932 in Ste Marie, New Brunswick while she was there.  She perhaps went to see him.  She appeared to be traveling alone. On 22 November 1932, she returned via Vanceboro, Maine and listed her contact in Canada as Aunt, Miss Rosie Melanson of Shediac.

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Laura’s husband Pius was an alcoholic and rarely able to work.  He gambled away their home or rent money [land records have not been examined in the US, but they did not own a home before 1940 in the US nor was Pius located in the New Brunswick Grantor/Grantee land deed indexes before 1917].

In later years, Laura, known as “Meme” and Pius had no choice but to move in with their youngest daughter on her farm on New Sherborn Road in Athol.  Laura, had a very sad life, she raised their children close to abject poverty.  She worked very hard to keep things together.  She basically ran the small family furniture business (the 1922-24 city directories lists an occupation of “second-hand furniture”),  laundered for people and held other odd jobs. Pius died 9 Aug 1954.

Shortly after Pius’s death, in 1955, Sylvio called from St. Petersburg, Florida and suggested to his sister Alida and husband Earl that they come to Florida.  He promised great jobs and housing! So they sold the farm, packed up the car with the four kids, Laura, the dog and all their worldly possessions.  They of course arrived in Florida to no job and no house!   They had to live with Sylvio and Lena for a several weeks, but then found jobs, housing and decided to stay permanently.  Laura stayed with the Cummings for the remainder of her life.

stpete

Her granddaughter recalls:

“Meme (Laura) had no friends in Florida, did not drive and became very isolated.  Her only outlets were church and a weekly bingo game. Her other children didn’t seem to have much contact, nor did they assist financially. 

Her Social Security checks were $145.  I can remember her waiting at the mailbox for them. Had my folks not taken her in I am not sure how she would have lived.  Her daughter Elsie (Nelsey) came to visit her one time while she was alive.  They spent most of the time playing cards and speaking French.  Sivio (Sylvio) was not much help with her, never bothered to take her anywhere and never provided her with any financial support.

I shared a room with her, she was very superstitious and would make me look in the closets and under the bed for little people that might be hiding to steal her stuff.  If something went missing then they stole it.   She would buy a pack of Dentine gum once a week, at night she would save the chewed piece next to her dentures to chew the next morning.  

She owned five dresses, one was for church , one for bingo and the other three for around the house. We all ate most meals together around a big table my Dad built, my brother sat at Dad’s left and by ages we ranged around the table. She would admonish us girls to leave enough food for Dad and my brother. 

She was never a physically demonstrative person but showed her love by baking our favorite treats. I remember opening the door from school to the smell of warm pies and bread. She always made me a tiny pie all to myself.  She collapsed one day from abdominal pain. Dad and Mom rushed her to the hospital. She died a few hours later from abdominal cancer. The doctors said she must have been in awful pain but never let on. I still miss her.”

Laura died at St. Petersburg, Florida on 3 November 1968.  She is buried at Gethsemane Cemetery in Athol.

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Meme

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My Acadian 30 – week #2, Pius/Paul Dost Roy

In 2007, I joined Ancestry.com.  It never occurred to me that online, unsourced trees were inaccurate.  I essentially “copied” my entire Acadian family from potentially erroneous public trees and never looked back.  Although my newer entries are sourced, a visit to Stephen A. White, at Moncton University’s Centre d’Études Acadiennes [Center for Acadian Studies] in 2014,  revealed a number of errors. I am determined to start from scratch, and verify that I have all available records beginning with the 30 direct ancestors, connected to my maternal grandmother Yvonne Marie Roy. This includes her parents, grandparents, g-grandparents and g-g-grandparents.

yvonne roy

To keep the project manageable, I will write of one ancestor each week.

Click on any picture to see a larger version!

Generation 2

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2. Pius/Paul Dost Roy, was the eldest child of Docité/Dosithée Roy and Victorie LeBlanc, likely born 09 Jul 1886 in Ste Marie de Kent, St Mary’s Parish, Kent, New Brunswick (in 1871 it had a population of 100: in 1898 St. Mary’s was a farming and fishing community with 1 post office, 4 stores, 1 cheese factory, 1 church and a population of about 1,000). Pius’s Declaration of Intent (to become a US citizen), draft registrations, censuses, marriage and death records corroborate this date and parents.

It seems the Acadian Roy family was one of the first to settle in that area. The book “La Vie à Sainte-Marie”, by Emery Leblanc, Sackville, N.B. : Tribune Press, 1985, ©1984 (in French) reads:

“The first settlers of St. Mary were from Bouctouche. They obtained a land grant in 1824 and settled in the district now called “Roy Office” on the south side of the river, named in memory of Joseph Roy, one of the first settlers, and one of the most remarkable”.

Pius was baptized two days later, 11 Jul 1886 at Mont-Carmel; his godparents were Pierre Roy (his dad’s half-brother) and Henriette LeBlanc (his dad’s sister who married Domicien Leblanc).

Pius baptism

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2014 photo

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Roy map

In 1891, 5 year old Pius lived with his parents and two sisters Albina (age 3; b. 10 July 1888) and Mathilde (8 months; b. 3 Aug 1890) in the parish of St Mary’s in the district of Ste Marie de Kent. His father was a farmer. They were Roman Catholic, Acadians. Little is known of Pius’s childhood. His father did own land in St Mary’s Parish that was purchased of his parents (which will be described in a later sketch). The 1940 census tells us Pius attended school through the 4th grade (as reported to the census taker by his wife) and he was unable to read or write (the 1930 census says he did not attend school at all, but we do not know who spoke with the census taker). According to Inspector reports in 1889, education was not valued in St. Mary’s Parish and many of the schools were closed, “for no good reason”; by 1892 the inspector reported some improvement but in 1901 again reported degrading conditions.

school not impt

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The family grew. Siblings who joined the family included Marie Emma (b. 26 Nov 1892), Aurelie (b. 27 July 1896), Dieudonné and Joseph Hector (b. 3 Sept 1898), apparently twins.

Sadly, four of Pius’s young siblings likely died in 1899.  Joseph, 1 Jan 1899 [cause unreadable], age 4 months;  Albina, 13 April 1899, age 10, of consumption [likely influenza]; and a week later, 20 April 1899, Dieudonné (7 months) of la grippe [likely influenza]. No further record of Aurelie has been located, he probably died in the same time frame.

Pius’s sister Emma, who resided in Fitchburg, Massachusetts married Fred LeBlanc, a Chairmaker residing in Gardner, son of Calixe LeBlanc and Anastasia Tazie Cassie on 1 July 1912.  She died in Gardner, in 1924, age 32 (cause unknown).

Emma

Based on family photos, Pius seemed to stay in touch with his two siblings who lived to adulthood, Edmund (who married Marie Laura Leblanc, daughter of Arcade Leblanc and Marie Boudreau) and Mathilde (who married Cyrille Allain, son of Mélème Allain and Marie-Blanche LeBlanc).

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By 1901, Pius, his parents, Mathilde and Emma had moved from their rural community to the “big city”, and were living in Lancaster (today part of Saint John), New Brunswick.  A few years earlier, in 1898, Lancaster was known as Fairville, a station on the Canadian Pacific Railway, a lumbering and manufacturing village with 1 post office, 25 stores, 2 hotels, 1 brewery, 1 sawmill, 1 pulp mill, 2 carriage factories, a provincial lunatic asylum, 5 churches and a population of 1,500. Pius worked as a Millman (likely with his father) for five months that year and made $50 (he was 14). He was not in school, and spoke both French and English (French was his native tongue). They used the surname King (the English translation of Roy).

On 20 Aug 1902, another sibling, Edmund Doss was born in Randolph, a community in or near Lancaster.

Meanwhile, Gardner, Massachusetts, like other New England communities, developed from an agricultural village to an industrial center. The furniture industry was in the forefront of this industrial expansion, which made possible with the completion of the local railroad connection from Boston to New York and Western markets.

With Heywood Brothers (Pius’s employer for over 30 years) and other furniture manufacturers expanding, (Gardner was known as the “The Furniture Capital of New England”; by 1910 it had 20 chair factories which produced 4 million chairs per year), the need for help skyrocketed, creating jobs for incoming immigrants from Canadian Provinces. Records show that in 1878 Heywood Brothers employed 467 and seven years later 1300. In 1884 Gardner had a French population of 270 families and it expected growth to 600 families (a large majority of Bouctouche, the town Pius’s father was born and a few miles from Ste Marie).

Thus, in about 1904, an 18-year-old Pius removed to Gardner, Massachusetts, likely for work, where he remained for several years, through at least 1910, and met his future wife.

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It seems that the rest of the family returned to Ste Marie.  A child, also named Dieudonné, was born 17 May 1906 and baptized at Mont Carmel; 3 years later, 2 Sep 1909, he died from measles at St Mary’s.

Two days after Christmas, a cloudy cold Tuesday (temperatures were in the low 30’s), on 27 Dec 1910, Pius married Laura Marie Melanson, daughter of Magloire Melanson/Melancon and Osite/Ausithe Dupuis in Gardner, Worcester, Massachusetts. He was a 24-year-old Chairmaker and she a 19-year-old shop girl. The marriage was performed by Wilfred J. Choquette, a priest, of the Acadian French, Holy Rosary Church, Nichols Street, Gardner.

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Pius and his wife Laura returned to New Brunswick, and by 1911 resided in the village of Pellerin, St Mary’s Parish, Kent, New Brunswick (another village of early Roy settlers). He was living with his parents at their residence working as an assistant on the farm “on his own account” (likely for/with his family). Residing with them were his 8-year-old brother Edmund, widowed 83-year-old grandfather Joseph Roy and his Uncle Jude Roy. Only Laura and Edmond could read and write.

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Pius and Laura had four children baptised at Ste Marie de Kent: Leo born about 1911, Yvonne Marie born 16 Aug 1912; Joseph Magloire born 8 Nov 1913 and  Melesse/Melissa “Nelsey” born 16 Nov 1914. Magloire likely was stillborn or died soon after birth. He is not found in other records and in 1940, Laura, who spoke with the census taker directly, reported having given birth to 7 children (not 8) – the question specifically read “do not count stillbirths”.

On 17 April 1916, Pius and family returned to Gardner, Massachusetts permanently, via Vanceboro, Maine, likely via train  (nice write-up of the evolution of trains in New Brunswick here).  Acadian researcher Lucie LeBlanc Consentino in 2015 writes: ” I have been listening to an interview with Regis Brun (in French) – he said that there was a depression in the Acadian villages in 1910 and that is when families began migrating. In this interview he is talking about people who moved to the Moncton area for jobs with the railway… however, this gives a glimpse into why your ancestors would have decided to move on to the States too”.

Pius and Laura’s daughter Marie Lena was born in Gardner 08 Mar 1917. Pius registered for WWI (he did not serve), and apparently could not sign his name, as he marked his “X” on the draft card.  He claims to have a wife and four children. The card is dated 17 June 1917, further evidence that their son Magloire was deceased.

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The pair rounded out the family with three more children in Gardner: Edmund Sylvio born 28 Sep 1919; Alfred born 7 Jan 1923 and Alida born 3 Oct 1926.

On 6 June 1918, under declaration #16313 at Worcester Superior Court, Pius declared his intent to become a US citizen. He then declared his intention again at Fitchburg  #43781 and on 6 Dec 1934, was awarded permanent residence under certificate #1106013.  Pius did make one short trip to New Brunswick in May 1921 for reasons unknown, it appears he was only in Canada for a few days.

In December 1922, Pius’s mother Victorie arrived in the US and was permanently headed to her son Edmund’s home in Gardner, 244 Parker Street (which was the address of Pius and Laura that year).  His father, Docite arrived in May of 1923 with the same contact and intentions.  His parents’ deaths were later registered in New Brunswick (1934 – Victorie and 1932- Docite) and thus they likely returned home at some point.

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Declaration of Intent

Pius did appear to sign his own Naturalization paperwork and his 1942 WWII draft card. He may have learned to sign his name in later years. Pius is described as medium height, 5′ 6″ with a slender build, at 132/135 pounds with brown eyes, black hair and a ruddy complexion

wwii pius draft

Pius was a member of the Gardner Assumption Society.  With the growth of the Acadian presence in Gardner, it became apparent there was a need to preserve the Acadian culture and language; fifteen Acadians met in 1900 and began the formation of what became a national society. Fred Richard as leader of the group contacted Acadian leaders in other communities and eventually in 1903, La Société Mutuelle de L’Assomption (“Assomption Society”) came to life, as a fraternal insurance organization. By 1935, this organization conceived in Gardner grew to eleven thousand members throughout New England and the Maritime Provinces – some history here.

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The French inhabitants of Gardner sought to preserve their culture; as a result, they established a community within a community. They first established themselves in the Park Street area, which became known as little Canada. As more arrived, French residential and businesses flourished in the area of Nichols (home of Laura Melanson’s father), Parker (home of the Roy’s), and West Street. The Nichols Street area with church, school, hotel and small shops formed the heart of the French community and eventually became the center of activity for both Canadians and Acadians who assimilated themselves within this community to become one. As is typical of immigrant renters of that time, our family moved frequently.

1916/17: 13 Greenwood, Gardner
1917-22: 242/244 Parker, Gardner (in 1920 the Roy’s had a 3 1/2-year-old “lodger” Joseph Fredette, son of French Canadians Theophile Fredette and Eliza Ledorex, who were also living at 244 Parker, it is unclear why Joseph was enumerated with the Roys). In 1920 there were five families at this address, all French Canadian.

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1928:29 Limerick, Gardner
1929-31: rear 5 or 45 Moran, Gardner (in 1930 they rented for $20)
1934: 91 Regan, Gardner
1938-40: 40 Connors Street, Gardner (in 1940, they rented for $20)
1942: 197 Pine, Gardner
1944-47: 163 Pleasant Street, Gardner
1948-54: New Sherborn Road, Athol (same address as Earl and Alida Cummings, their daughter).

In 1921 Pius was a chair maker, later in life he became a machinist/welder/drill washer.  His obituary, city directories and other records indicate he was employed by Heywood-Wakefield Furniture in Gardner for more than 30 years. In 1940, Laura claimed that Pius worked 26 weeks in 1939, as a metal cutter, and made $500 that year and that he worked 44 hours the week before the census was taken in 1940. There was no other family income reported. About 1947, they removed to Athol, where he took a position with Union Twist Drill Company as a drill washer.

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 Pepe (Pius), Earl Cummings (Alida’s husband), Frank McGuire (Lena’s 3rd husband) and Tony Thibedeau (Yvonne’s boyfriend)

Family members who knew him, paint a different picture.  A granddaughter recollects that he did maple sugaring. Pius, who was known as Paul, or “Pepe” by the grandkids, was an alcoholic and rarely able to work.  He gambled away their home or rent money [land records have not been examined in the US, but they did not own a home before 1940 in the US nor was Pius located in the New Brunswick Grantor/Grantee land deed indexes before 1917].

In later years, Pius and Laura had no choice but to move in with their youngest daughter on her farm in Athol.  Pius’s wife Laura, had a very sad life, she raised their children close to abject poverty.  She worked very hard to keep things together.  She basically ran the small family furniture business (the 1922-24 city directories lists an occupation of “second-hand furniture”),  laundered for people and held other odd jobs.  Another granddaughter recalls, “Leo, one of her children, had some type of head trauma and Laura cared for him until he died”.   A Leo Roy is listed in the Gardner death indexes in 1929; I have not yet obtained this death certificate, he was 18 years old.

Sadly, three of the children, Alfred, Yvonne and Lena became alcoholics like Pepe.

Pepe
Alida’s wedding 1946

Pius died 9 Aug 1954 in Athol, Massachusetts; his granddaughter recalls “one night a cow got out and Pepe and my Dad spent a rainy night looking for it, Pepe, who continued to drink heavily became sick and died the next morning”.  His death certificate lists a cause of Coronary Thrombosis. He is buried at Gesthemane Cemetery (off St Matthew Ta (9) 2).  I believe the Matilda Allen listed in the first obit is a misprint and is a sister, not a daughter as stated.

Pius obituary

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My Acadian 30 – week #1, Marie Yvonne “Yvonne” Roy

In 2007, I joined Ancestry.com.  It never occurred to me that online, unsourced trees were inaccurate.  I essentially “copied” my entire Acadian family from potentially erroneous public trees and never looked back.  Although my newer entries are sourced, a visit to Stephen A. White, at Moncton University’s Centre d’Études Acadiennes [Center for Acadian Studies] in 2014,  revealed a number of errors. I am determined to start from scratch, and verify that I have all available records beginning with the 30 direct ancestors, connected to my maternal grandmother Yvonne Marie Roy. This includes her parents, grandparents, g-grandparents and g-g-grandparents.

To keep the project manageable, I will write of one each week for the next 30 weeks.

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Click on any photo to see a larger version.

Generation 1 – my grandmother – Marie Yvonne “Yvonne” Roy

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1. Marie Yvonne “Yvonne” Roy, daughter of Pius/Paul Roy and Laura Marie Melanson, was born on 16 Aug 1912 in Ste Marie de Kent, New Brunswick, Canada. She was baptized at Eslise du Mont-Carmel four days later.  Her godparents were Dosithe Roy and Domithilde Roy, likely relatives.

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Ste-Marie de Kent is located on the north side of the Buctouche River; in 1898 St. Mary’s was a farming and fishing community with 1 post office, 4 stores, 1 cheese factory, 1 church and a population of about 1,000. Pictured is the cemetery/Mont-Carmel Church and Bouctouche River at Ste-Marie and the view as we arrived during my 2014 visit.

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map

Yvonne likely immigrated to Gardner, Worcester, Massachusetts with her mother, when she was almost four, on 17 April 1916 (the immigration date reported in her mother’s November 1932 border crossing documents when she returned to Canada for an eleven day visit and the date on her father’s Declaration of Intent to become a US Citizen). The 1920/1930 censuses further suppose a 1915/1916 arrival.

In 1920, Yvonne (age 8, attending school, can read and write), was living at 244 Parker Street, Gardner, with her parents and siblings. There were five families at this address, all French Canadian.

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In 1930, Yvonne (age 17, not in school or working), was living on Moran, Street, Gardner,  with her parents and siblings. There were nine families at this address, all French Canadian [photo not available].

In 1934, Yvonne first appears in city directories living with her parents at r 91 Regan, Gardner. She worked as a toymkr for Royal Manufacturing Company at rear 58 Main.

In August 1934, Yvonne gave birth to her first child (1) Shirley. A few months later, she married in Gardner, 6 October 1934, Charles Billings, who was born 27 Jun 1904 in Pittsfield, Berkshire, Massachusetts, son of  Juozas (Joseph) Baltrūnas (Billie) and Salomėja Markevičiūtė (Morris) of Stanioniai and Preibiai, Pasvalys, Lithuania.  The first in her line, since the late 1600’s, to marry a non-Acadian.

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The couple had three more children: (2) Elizabeth “Betty” b. 1935 (3) Ralph b. 1938 and (4) Charles b. 1941

From 1935 to 1936, the family resided in Gardner, Massachusetts.  In 1935 on r 91 Regan (with Yvonne’s parents) and in 1936 on 63 Parker (# 14); Charles worked as a cutter and assembler for FSCo.   By 1937 directories indicate they had removed to Baldwinsville in the town of Templeton, Worcester, Massachusetts.

By 1939 they were back in Gardner, at 103 Pine and Charles was an inspector for FSCo.  In 1940, they were renting 16 Willow Street where they paid $16/month.  Charles was an Insulator who had worked 50 weeks in the prior year and made $1,250.

The 1941 Gardner city directory notes that Mrs. Yvonne Billings removed to Athol, Massachusetts.  Charles is not mentioned.  Did they separate?  (Charles’ sister Connie resided in Athol; Yvonne’s parents relocated to Athol about 1947).

Yvonne 1941

yvonne Lena with apron

In the early 1940’s, according to Yvonne’s daughters, the family moved to Lynn, Massachusetts, where Charles was employed by GE [General Electric].  Yvonne was hospitalized for tuberculosis (a deadly epidemic for which there were no antibiotics until the 1950’s) and the children, infant to about age eight, were left alone, with agreement that the upstairs neighbor would watch them, so Charles could work.  Another neighbor reported the situation and the state stepped in and placed the three eldest in foster care. The youngest, Charles, was placed in an institution, unbeknownst to his siblings, who were told their little brother had died. Sadly, I never met my uncle; but he was an amazing man, read of his life by “clicking here“.  The remaining children were placed  in Malden, Massachusetts (the girls together at 167 Main Street with Joseph and Margaret (Daley) Galiack).

Her husband Charles is listed alone in the 1945 Lynn, Massachusetts city directory – r 14 Munroe, “Libson the lodging house”.   No later city directories have been located for Yvonne or Charles, but photos indicate that by 1945 Yvonne had a new boyfriend, Tony Thibodeau.

In later years, my mother obtained case files from the state of Massachusetts to learn more of her parents.  She choose to destroy  the documentation and noted “they were full of lies”.  The last memory my mother had of her father, was him sitting at the kitchen table, crying and begging them not to take his children.  My mother never heard from her father again and contact with her mother was sparse.

My aunt and other relatives recall that both Yvonne and Charles were raging alcoholics and likely not fit for parenting.

Charles and Yvonne separated sometime after the children were placed in foster care, I do not believe they legally divorced.  Yvonne worked as a bartender and/or a waitress in Boston.  Her boyfriend, Tony, was not a nice man; he unsuccessfully attempted to sexually molest Yvonne’s eldest teenage daughter (she left foster care and moved in with her mother for a short time).  When my mother was a young adult she and her best friend Pat would, on occasion, take a train to Boston and visit the bar where Yvonne worked. Nothing more is known of Yvonne’s life.

By 23 August 1960, Yvonne was again hospitalized with Tuberculosis, an infectious bacterial disease characterized by the growth of nodules (tubercles) in the tissues, especially the lungs. My mother was listed as her “next of kin”, which made her quite angry as her mother had not been a part of her life.  Betty did visit at least once, on 31 Aug 1960.

Hospital notice

Yvonne died on 14 Jul 1961, age 48 (almost 49), in Mattapan (Boston) and was buried three days later in Athol, Worcester, Massachusetts (Gethsemane Cemetery, Plot: St. Matthew, Row TB, Lot 2) with her father and later her mother and son Charles.  Her death was recorded in Boston, her daughter Elizabeth “Betty” Billings was the informant.

She spent 10 months and 21 days in the Boston Sanatorium (a historic tuberculosis hospital at 249 River Street in Mattapan) prior to her death which was caused by “Far Advanced Pulmonary Tuberculosis” .

Prior to her death, she had been at the same residence, 624 Tremont Street, Boston, for 20 years and was a waitress at a restaurant (she was not found in Boston city directories at any address under the name Billings or Roy).

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It seems that the only family members who attended the funeral were her daughter Betty and sister Nelsey (many relatives lived out of state, including Yvonne’s mother who was almost 70).  The funeral was held in Malden at Leo Norton’s (a very good friend of my grandfather Dr. Charles G. Hall). Betty paid the $511 in fees, noting that Yvonne had not been in her life since she was five.

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yvonne book

cemetery costs

Aunt Connie’s Narrow Escape!

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My Lithuanian grand aunt, Connie Barton was a resident at the Windsor House (which also housed the Lithuanian club) off Exchange Street in Athol, Massachusetts when on 14 July 1946, a fast moving kitchen fire caused by “hot fat” inflicted $20,000 in damage.

windsor House

There were 16 occupied rooms and some “very narrow escapes”:

– William P. Cleary, 58, jumped from the third floor ledge to a roof next door and broke his ankle.

– Nik Ross, 65 was overcome by smoke and suffered burns on the hand and face.

– Marion Stangvilla, 19, daughter of the owners Walter and Sophie Stangvilla was taken out of the third story by the firemen and,

– My aunt, Connie Barton, 37, escaped the flames by hanging from the third story ledge by her fingertips until she was rescued by firemen!

The owners did plan to rebuild, Connie relocated to 387 South Street in Althol.

Connie fire2 Connie fire

 

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The story hit newspapers nationwide.  Mrs. Henri F. Guthuz [?] of 619 No. State Street, Chicago, Illinois,  wrote Connie on 16 July:

letter to Connie

My Dear Miss Barton, 

In my newspaper (The Chicago Times) yesterday, I saw an item about you and your great courage.  

I did so want to tell you how much I admire you and of my heart felt sympathy.  

I can imagine to a small degree how you must have suffered and no doubt still are — strained muscles – back – hands and nerves.

I hope you recover soon –

Sincerely 

 Helene Guthuz [?]

This was not the first time that the Winsor House burned!  A February 1896 the structure, then owned by Mrs. M. A. Coles, burned – no lives were lost but many lost all their possessions.  The cause was a tipped over lantern or a defective boiler.

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The hotel was rebuilt and named a summer “Vacation Resort” reachable via the Boston & Maine in 1908:

1908 train

The hotel was next owned by Frank H. Ball and later purchased by a long time employee, a Lithuanian, August Sklenis who died in 1936.

owners

Served in the Merchant Marine – Radio Officer Uncle John “Jack” Galatis [Glatis] Haines, Jr.

Jack jr

My grandmother Edith’s brother, John Galatis [or Glatis] “Jack” Haines Jr., was second of eight, born 11 Sept 1910 to John Galatis “Jack” Haines and Edith Bernice Lansil  in the Allston section of Boston.

Jack jr birth

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By Jack’s second birthday, the family had moved to Melrose, Massachusetts.  As the family grew, the Haines’ moved frequently between Melrose, Malden and for a short time to Saugus.

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JACK PIC
Pictured: Edith (E), Jack (J) and Doris (D) Haines

In 1920, the family was living in Malden, Jack was a 9 year old student.

1920 jACK

There were some hard times in Jack’s young life.  The Depression had disrupted the family with a move to a less expensive house in a less expensive town. The children slept using winter coats in place of blankets; blankets being an unaffordable luxury.  One story tells of Jack’s dad, Jack Haines Sr. coming home after a very late trip through the city on Christmas Eve, carrying a floor to ceiling tree which he and my mother decorated while everyone else slept. Foreverafter they told the story of how he scouted the town for a marked-down tree but the only ones he could find had been abandoned hours earlier. As he picked one up and started for home with his cache, a policeman suddenly appeared and asked what he was doing. The truth of six children sleeping at home with nothing to look forward to except Christmas morning, prompted the policeman to turn his back and walk away as he shouted, “I didn’t see a thing! Merry Christmas!”

Although times were tough, through her poetry, Jack’s sister Natalie recalls a house filled with joy:

You’re Only Young Once

… A rhyming version of Depression days

Natalie Thomson

Depression Days were then at hand
(Financial woes throughout the land.)
A seventh child was added to
A family which grew and grew.

Their worries big, their money small,
Their laughter rang from hall to hall.
Each day brought on a new event
From buying shoes to paying rent.

They picked blueberries in the sun
And sang on rides ’til day was done.
The castles were all made of sand;
The water cool, the sunshine grand.

The root beer was, of course, homemade;
Each holiday, a new parade!
The bonfires bright, who can deny,
Were better than the last July.

The icy tunnels dug in snow;
The car would need a push to go.
The swan-boat rides meant trips “in town”.
The clothes were mostly hand-me-down.

The marks in school were of the best…
Such praise for every “A” in tests!
A photograph in groups, you know,
Would find them always in front row.

The house was clean, there was no clutter,
But, oh, “Go easy on the butter!!”
The Market on those weekend nights,
With pushcarts for their city sights.

Their visiting was done in groups,
But picnics called out all the troops!
A wink from Dad, a smile from Mum,
Would mean a happy time to come

With dishes washed and windows closed,
The bathroom busy, off they’d go!

Jack, a good-looking boy, graduated from Melrose High School in 1928 [A copy of the yearbook has not been located, but according to Melrose Library Staff, he is listed as a sophomore in the 1926 yearbook].

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In 1930, 20 year old Jack was living with the family in Melrose working as a bank messenger.

1930 jACK

At age 22 and a resident of Saugus, he became a Mason of the Mount Vernon Lodge, Malden, Massachusetts.

mason card

In 1940, 29-year-old Jack (who spoke directly with the census enumerator) had removed from the family homestead and was boarding at a home in Boston, paying $12/month, working as a bank clerk at First National Bank of Boston, making $1,160 annually, a large salary in comparison to fellow boarders and neighbors. His obituary further tells us he was employed by the Old Colony Bank and Trust, Boston for many years.

1940 jACK

Jack married Allene Day, born 28 June 1909, in Hartford, Michigan, to William and Katie (Rice) Day.  The pair likely met in Boston, where Allene attended Massachusetts General Hospital School of Nursing and attained a Registered Nursing degree in 1941. Their marriage was registered in Malden in 1942, just months before Jack’s father’s death, 10 days prior to Christmas. Did Jack come to the aid of his widowed mother who had lost everything in the Depression?  We don’t know.  Jack and Arlene soon relocated to Michigan where they likely had two sons born 1943 and 1945 [no births were located in the Massachusetts indices].  For reasons unknown, by 1947, Jack and Allene separated and Jack left Michigan and appears to have had no further contact with his children. Jack and Allene’s divorce was finalized on 3 Dec 1951 in Kalamazoo, Michigan and in 1965, Allene married second Porter Dent of Vicksburg, Michigan.

By 1947, Jack was serving in the Merchant Marine. He was a Radio Officer given the nickname “Sparks” (as were most others in his field).  It is worth noting that one serves in the Merchant Marine (never plural) someone who serves in the Merchant Marine is a sailor or a seaman or their rank (Captain, Mate, etc.) they are never referred to as a Merchant Marine.

It took a special personality to work as a Radio Officer, most were loners (some not by choice as  many got hooked by the “Well paid to see the world” publicity).  Jack was alone in the radio shack most of the time. Others crew members had the chance to interact and speak of projects they were working on.  No one understood the radio operator’s duties.  Few visited “the shack”, the noise of Morse code and static drove most away quickly.

Sparks

The school where Jack received his training in unknown, but we can surmise that all schools in that era had a similar program and philosophy.

The Radio Training Station on Gallups Island in Boston, in 1944, described the requirements for the position:

“As Radio Operators, we will be the voice and hearing of the ship. Upon our ears will fall the first warning signals of danger and upon our shoulders will be placed the responsibility of flashing the first call for help in the event of disaster. In short, the success or failure of a voyage may well depend upon our skill and knowledge.

So important will be our future duties that we are receiving a very practical technical course of training. It includes code, touch typing, operating procedure, radio laws, regulations, international conferences, radio theory, practical laboratory work, operating positions, construction of composite transmitting and receiving equipment, radio-frequency and audio-frequency amplifier systems and related subjects.

Code is, however, one of our more important studies, for once we are assigned to active sea duty we must be able to carryon as efficiently as if we had been constantly engaged in the work for some time and that means taking messages on typewriters as fast as they come over the earphones.

Learning code is a fairly simple task, consuming but a comparatively short time. Building up speed, however, is quite another story, for it takes practice and concentration to acquire the art of copying and sending at rates generally used in commercial work

Before we came here most of us thought of code only in terms of dots and dashes. The letter A, for example, was dot dash, while the letter D was dash dot dot. One of the first things they taught us when we got here, though, was to forget all about dots and dashes and to think of code in terms of dits and dahs.

Now, the letter A is dit-dah, while the letter D is dah-dit-dit. In the beginning code is shot to us at such a low rate of speed, that letters are easily distinguishable. It is more difficult, however, as trans- mission becomes more rapid, to distinguish between letters. Consequently, more than half of our school day is spent in practicing code.

Each man has his own individual equipment which consists of headphones, speed selector panel, a hand sending key and a typewriter. Code is sent by hand and automatically by code sending machines, which can be regulated to any speed by the instructor.

Before graduating we must be able to copy mixed Code Groups at the rate of 18 words per minute. The ability to do this enables most of us to make plain language copy at the rate of 24 or more words per minute. Before we can get to the point of taking messages on the typewriter we must become fairly efficient at typing. We are learning the touch systems in the best “secretarial” manner and before graduation are able to type at the rate of 35 words per minute which is sufficient for practical operating work. 

While code is one of our most important studies here, other subjects of equal or near equal consequence require a great deal of our attention. Take, for instance, radio theory. In order to thoroughly understand how to make necessary repairs we have to know why our equipment functions as it does. Fundamentals of electricity, which many of us studied in high school under the general heading of physics, have to be thoroughly understood. Ohm’s law, and others, have to be more than a series of memorized words.

Today’s radio equipment is much more complicated than it was during the days of the First World War, with the result that a good portion of our time is spent in the service laboratories learning how to repair receivers, transmitters, direction finding apparatus and other paraphernalia that we may be called upon to service in mid-ocean

Most interesting to all of us, perhaps, is the actual watch standing that we do. In this phase of our work, we take live messages from the air and learn through experience the routine of shipboard procedure.

Upon completion of our course here we take the usual Federal Communications Commission examinations which are given at the Custom House in Boston. In the first place, requirements for obtaining the coveted second class license [Jack held a first class license!] are that the applicant must send and receive code at the rate of 16 words per minute mixed code and successfully pass the required elements of the test covering the rules and regulations, basic and advanced radio theory and operating practice.

Strange as it may seem, we complete our work here in somewhat less than half the time required for a like course of study in recognized civilian schools. This is due in great measure to the fact that our curriculum was outlined and prepared by men who are thoroughly familiar with all aspects of radio work. We put in a full six hour day in class, lectures and laboratory work, and facilities are available for an additional three hours at night for those requiring extra study, or wishing to practice.

Then, of course, we have to work hard in order to keep abreast of the schedule that must be maintained. A good deal of outside study is required. Textbooks, especially prepared by members of the faculty, are used in our class work, while standard electrical textbooks and technical magazines are used for reference purposes and may be drawn from the more than 3,000 copies in the school library.

Add to these the fact that all of us who were admitted had to measure up to the educational standards set by the Maritime Service and you begin to see why this intensified course is so successful. Among other things, a high school education that included at least one year of algebra is necessary for admittance to the school. Physics, though not required, is a subject that should have been included in our high school work

At the conclusion of the war we’ll be members of a Merchant Marine that will be the queen of the seas – members who will enjoy the privileges and pay of specialists aboard ship.

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A rare look into the duties of a Radio Operator [click on any image to see a large version], examples include:

Keep emergency life boat transmitter battery charged.

Have an understanding with Master, Mate and Armed Guard CO as to procedure in time of distress.

Burn and destroy the ashes of any paper on which there is classified information.

Don’t break radio silence.

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Online records provide details of at least 26 voyages where Jack was stationed on the vessel Kyska (all-purpose cargo ship with 5 holds, 6,190 gross tons built in Mobile, Alabama).

Kyska

A 38-year-old Jack is first found, after having served one year, departing New York on 7 May 1948 arriving in Yokohama, Japan 18 Jul 1948.  He reports to be 5’10”, 165 pounds and of English descent.

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In the years that follow Jack travels to Kobe, Moji and Yokohama, Japan; Davao City, Philippines; Campbell River, British Columbia; New York; California; Seattle, Washington; and Portland, Oregon.

By 1953, a 5’11”, 185 pound Jack is reported as a radio officer who had served at sea for six long years. He is one of the few onboard without tattoos or scars.

He lands in Honolulu, Hawaii 10 Dec 1951, them on 24 January 1952 departs New Orleans, Louisiana where he lists his sister [my grandmother] Edith as a contact on a voyage headed to multiple ports.

jACk manifest 5

2 September 1952 he was engaged at San Francisco on a mission to Yokohama, Japan through 17 October 1952 when he landed in Seattle, Washington. Interestingly, he reports his race to be Welsh [he ancestry was approximately 25% Welsh, 68.75% English and 6.25% French].

jACk manifest 2

A day later, 18 October 1952 he again departed to Yokohama, arriving back in Seattle 11 December 1952.

jACk manifest 3

On 1 February 1953 he sailed from Portland to Yokohama, returning to Seattle 30 March 1953.

jACk manifest 4

Jack rarely had time off the ship.  A sampling of voyages in this time period included:

  • departed Los Angeles 6 April 1953 to Yokohama, returning to Seattle 27 May 1953
  • departed San Francisco 2 June 1953 to Yokohama, returning to Seattle 25 Jul 1953
  • departed Seattle 27 July 1953 to Pusan, South Korea via British Columbia, returning to Seattle 21 Sep 1953
  • departed Los Angeles 13 November 1953 to Muroran, Japan, returning to Seattle 2 Jan 1954
  • departed Seattle 24 April 1954 to Yawata, Japan, returning to Seattle 15 Jun 1954
There are a few books available on radio operators that are recommended reading by the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park Research Center:
Sparks at sea: the experiences of a ship’s radio offices
by Chandler, R. W.
From the high seas to low comedy : memoirs of radio man Monroe Upton.
by Upton, Monroe.
Wake of the wirelessman /
by Clemons, B. J.

 
In later years, Jack relocated to New York and for about 20 years was employed by RCA Global Communications. He retired a few years before his death and resided in North Tonawanda, New York.

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Jack was a member of the American Contract Bridge League and won or placed in a number of local tournaments in Tonawanda as early as 1964.

bridge

He also belonged to the International Propeller Club of the United States, a business network dedicated to the promotion of the maritime industry, commerce and global trade.  The Propeller Club aggressively promotes the maritime industry through many of its programs and partnering with other similar organizations. Their goal is to educate legislators and the public as to the importance and necessity of all waterborne commerce.

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Jack’s youngest sister Natalie, describes this chapter of her eldest brother’s life.  She writes:

“My active involvement in the arrangements and decisions, which, of necessity, I had to make following his unexpected death, caused me in the days and weeks following it to do an enormous amount of reflection and in-depth contemplation about his life — as I knew him, as others knew him, and as he might have known and/or seen himself.  I am far from being the psychologist or the writer who could, at this point in time  accurately tell anyone about Jack.  But to answer the question, “What has he been doing?” over the last 35 years, I’ll address myself to that.

As I know it, he spent many years (I don’t know the exact number) after leaving Michigan, in a Merchant Marine as THE radio operator on ships that touched ports throughout the world, most often in Japan, whose culture he learned, respected and seemed to like very much.  He was extremely proud of holding a master radio operator’s license (no small feat), enjoyed being known by the traditional maritime nickname, “Sparks” while at sea, and felt comfortable with the Petty Officer rank he held aboard ship…a notch above seaman and a notch below officer.  He was capable of easily mingling with both groups.

In later years, when both his energies and the glamorous escape of the sea diminished, he worked on land, still as a communicator, for a company with large shipping interests on the Great Lakes and off the New England Coast [RCA Global Communications, New York].  He retired on Social Security a few years ago.  His pension ended upon his death.

Most of the time, while working in private industry, he lived in upper New York State, alone, as he seemed to prefer. He visited us often here in Malden whenever “the spirit moved him” and one of the ways in which I saw him was a man who wanted to be unencumbered, yet who couldn’t completely relinquish all of his family ties.

He was avidly interested in the keenness of playing bridge and was competitively active in the local club; good enough to often participate in their tournaments. He was equally proud of his membership in the Masons, keeping his dues up to date in the Malden Lodge until the end, although he had not actively participated in it for many years”.

Jack died suddenly 31 May 1979 in North Tonawanda, Niagara, New York and was buried Wyoming Cemetery, Melrose, Massachusetts alongside his parents. 

Jack jr death

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