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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.
To keep the project manageable, I will write of one ancestor each week.
Prior Weeks (click on a name to read the sketch)
Week #1 – Yvonne Marie (Roy) Billings
Week #2 – Pius/Paul Dost Roy
Week #3 – Marie Laura “Laura” Melanson
Week #4 – Docité OR Dosithée Roy
Week #5 – Victoire LeBlanc
The Melanson surname is unique in the fact that it’s use can be traced to the family of Pierre Laverdure and his wife Priscilla, who likely landed in Acadia in 1657, onboard the ship Satisfaction after sailing from England with their sons, Pierre and Charles, the first to take the surname “Mellanson”. They were known as Pierre Mellanson dit La Verdure and Charles Mellanson dit La Ramée. The “dit” name is essentially an alias or nickname used by the French, read more about “dit” names here. A interesting account of this family (one of my favorite books) has been written: The Melanson story : Acadian family, Acadian times; 2nd edition, July 2014 by Margaret C. Melanson, with a preface by Stephen A. White.
The Melanson Genealogy is well researched and has been published by Michael B. Melanson of Dracut, Massachusetts, in “Melanson ~ Melançon: The Genealogy of an Acadian and Cajun Family”. This hardcover has 1,040 pages, a 20,000+ person index, complete footnotes and a full bibliography. It covers the Melanson and Melançon descendants of Pierre and Charles Mellanson, to the early twentieth century. If you are a Melanson, it is a “must” for your collection.
On pages 305, 565-566 Magloire’s line which begins after me, my mom and my grandmother, starts with his daughter Laura, then our subject Magloire, and continues with Laurent, Firmin, David, Pierre dit Parrotte, Charles, Charles Mellanson dit La Ramée, back to Pierre Laverdure.
6. Magloire Melanson, son of Laurent Melanson and Pélagie Leger, was born at Scoudouc, Westmorland, New Brunswick, Canada on 18 February 1862. He was baptized five days later at Église (Church) de Saint-Jacques (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/FLR3-RF2); godparents were Jude Melancon and M. Modeste Leger. They were Roman Catholic.
According to Wikipedia (French to English translation): Scoudouc was founded in 1809 by 11 families from Minoudie and Memramcook , it was a farming community. On 6 May 1815, 6,000 acres of land were officially granted to: David Melanson [Magloire’s g-grandfather], Mathurin Comeau, Pierre Melanson senior, Dominique Melanson, Fabien Melanson, Laurent Bourque, Maximin Leblanc, Laurent Melanson, François Comeau, Jean Leblanc, François Lightweight, John Melanson, Pierre Babin, Romain Pierre Melanson and Bourque . Scoudouc would not become a parish until 1907. It was therefore administered by priests from Memramcook, Saint-Anselme, or Shediac.
Pélagie gave birth to at least 13 children. Magloire was her seventh known child and second of that name. The first Magloire was born 28 Oct 1860 and died 24 April 1861 (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/FLGF-BV2). In that time period, a common naming custom involved parents giving a subsequent child the same name as their deceased offspring.
Other known siblings include: Maximin, Nazaire, Rosalie, Olive, Alexandre, Osite, Pierre, Madeleine, Patrice, Marie-Exilda and Zelica.
In 1871, a 9 year old Magloire (indexed on Ancestry.com as “Mack Malonson”) was living with his parents and eight siblings in Scoudouc, Shediac Parish, a farming community population 500; his dad is a farmer. It seems that Magloire’s future wife Ansithe/Osite Dupuis is a neighbor [see the red arrow in the image].
- Lorang [Laurent], 44
- Pélagie, 35
- Nazaire, 17
- Rose, 16
- Olivia, 13
- Alexandre, 12
- Mack, 9
- Osite, 5
- Peter [Pierre], 3
- Madeleine, 2
Magloire’s parents can not read or write (the census question was only asked of those over age 20). Only Nazaire is noted as attending school.
In 1870, 21 residents of the village died, most from consumption (tuberculosis). There were two Melanson’s listed, an infant and a four-year old, likely related to Magloire; schedule here.
Magloire’s father owned 100 acres of land, 80 of which was improved and included one dwelling house and one barn/stable. They had one plow or cultivator. The family had one horse over three years old, one milk cow and one swine/pig. They produced twenty pounds of butter and twenty yards of homemade cloth/flannel.
They dedicated one acre to producing twenty-five bushels of buckwheat. Another acre produced 150 bushels of potatoes. Six acres were dedicated to producing the hay crop (six tons of 2,000 pound bundles of 16 pounds of hay), one bushel flax-seed and ten pounds of flax or hemp.
Laurent seemed to be involved in the lumber business, the farm produced 1,300 cubic feet square of timber and 100 standard spruce and other logs and ten cords of firewood.
In 1881, 18-year-old Magloire (indexed on Ancestry.com as “Magloir Malonson”) was a laborer, living with his parents and seven siblings in Scoudouc, Shediac Parish. None of the children were attending school. The family included:
- Lorang [Laurent], farmer, 63
- Pélagie, 48
- Alexandre, laborer, 22
- Magloire, laborer, 18
- Osite, 17
- Pierre, 13
- Madeleine, 12
- Zelica, 0 (born March)
Magloire’s future wife Ansithe/Osite Dupuis is the next family listed in the census, and perhaps lives next door or down the road [see the red arrow in the image].
On 14 September 1881 Magloire’s father died at age 62 (cause unknown).
On Sunday, 8 Feb 1891, Magloire, married Ausithe/Osite Dupuis, daughter of Jean-Bénoni DuPuis and Nathalie Boudreau, likely a girl he had known his entire life. On that date, Magloire was reported as a farmer residing in “Scoudouc near Shediac” (likely in an area known as Dorchester Road; the same farm owned by his father). The couple was married, with the consent of their parents, at the church of Scoudouc, near Shediac (St. Jacques), in the presence of witnesses Joseph Bourque and Bibiane Dupuis (Ausithe’s sister).
Later that year, the couple was enumerated in Scoudouc, Shediac Parish, with Magloire listed as a general laborer; it seems he had assumed the position of head of household on his late father’s farm. Although it is his brother Peter/Pierre who is noted with the occupation of farmer. Living with them were Magloire’s widowed mom and single siblings:
- Magloire,laborer, 25
- Osite, 23
- Peter [Pierre], farmer, 21
- Pélagie, general house, 56
- Osite, servant, 23
- Madeleine, servant, 21
- Marie, 13
- Zelica, 9
No one in the family could read or write.
*Clarification from cousin Michael Melanson 29 Jan 2014: “The confusion regarding Scoudouc and Shediac comes about because Scoudouc is an area within Shediac Parish. The nineteenth-century censuses in Westmorland County were done by parish (with the town rarely mentioned) and, sometimes, the word parish was omitted. Since Shediac was both a town and parish, it can lead to a lot of confusion. In 1891, Magloire Melanson and his family were living on his late father’s farm in Scoudouc.
The issue regarding Sackville is something else entirely. There appear to have been some issues with the microfilming (and subsequent digital scanning) of the 1891 census of Westmorland County, NB. I’m not privy to what actually occurred. However, in this case, some of Shediac Parish was tacked onto the end of Sackville Parish. At the top of each census page on the right is a notation as to the “S. Division” (subdivision) which was noted by a letter. Sackville was the letter “E”. Shediac was the letter “G”. The page with Magloire’s family was noted as “G” div. 1, p. 20. [It would have been a lot easier if they had filled in the name of the place ….] If you go back three pages, you’ll find “E” div. 3, p. 70, which was Sackville. Ten pages (with two census sheets on each page) of Shediac were (accidentally) added to the end of Sackville during the microfilming process. This was never corrected, so now digitalized copies (such as on Ancestry.com) have this part of Shediac noted as Sackville in the search engine. I’ve found similar issues in other localities in the 1891 census, which makes the research all more challenging”.
Magloire and Ausithe had two daughters. Laura Marie [my grandmother] born 23 Mar 1892 and Marie Melesse Belzemie “Nelsey” born 16 Nov 1894, in Scoudouc.
Ausithe/Osite died on 25 Aug 1897 in Scoudouc at age 30 after a 2 year illness of “consumption” (likely tuberculosis) – https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/XG4S-SZD.
I have not located Magloire in Canada in 1901, but Magloire’s daughters, 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 which continues to be run by their 27-year-old unmarried uncle, Pierre Melanson (Laura’s godfather), in an area known as “Dorchester Road/Malakoff”, in Shediac Parish. His mother’s death certificate (1918) lists her place of residence as Malakoff. Next door (or very close by) lived Magloire’s brother-in-law (Ausithe’s brother) Phillas Dupuis who likely took over his father’s farm. His wife, children and Ausithe’s mother, Nathalie (Boudreau) Dupuis reside with him. Other Melansons and Dupuis lived nearby, likely all related.
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. Nearby Shediac was a sub-port of entry and a station on the Intercolonial Railway and had 1 post office, 13 stores, 2 hotels, 1 boot factory, 2 steam sawmills, 1 flour mill, 1 tannery, 3 carriage factories, 5 churches, 1 convent, and a population of 2,000.
Magloire married second, Judith Cormier, on 26 May 1902, Acadian daughter of George Cormier and Madeleine LeBlanc in Scoudouc. It was her first marriage.
They had two known children Antoine, born 1903, who died at 10 months, 12 days, cause unknown and Marie Alida, born 1905, both in Shediac.
Around 1907/8 Magloire relocated to Gardner, Worcester County, Massachusetts.
Central Street, Gardner circa 1908
In 1932, when his daughter Laura Marie Melanson returned from a visit to Canada, she stated that she had resided in the US from 1908-1911 and 4/12/1916-11/11/1932. It is likely that she resided with her father and step-mother upon arrival in 1908. She was married in 1910 and returned to Canada where she resided with her in-laws for 5 years.
In 1909, Magloire appears in the Gardner, Massachusetts city directories living on 184 Reagan Street and working for Heywood-Wakefield Company, a US manufacturer of wicker and rattan furniture established in Gardner in 1897.
In 1910, Magloire (48), Judith (45), 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, he is the only member of the household who can not read or write. He has not become a US citizen. Judith is a self employed washer woman, Laura and Melesse also work and are not attending school.
The 1912 city directory places Magloire at 27 Reagan in Gardner, still working for H Bros & W Co., in 1914 and 1915 his address is given as 31 Regan (we don’t know if they moved a few doors away or if perhaps the house numbers changed).
The 1920 census places him at 137 Connors in Gardner. He is not a citizen and is working as a planer at a chair shop, Judith is not working. Alida (14) resides at home. Magloire and Judith have two lodgers, Albert and Arthur LeBlanc (likely relatives) and rent in a 3 family home with a Landry and LeBlanc family in the other units. Daughter Melesse, her husband and 4 boys are next door at 139 Connors. Daughter Laura and her husband are about a half mile away on Parker Street with 5 children and a lodger.
By 1923 Magloire and Judith purchased a home at 88 Nichols, Gardner (it was valued at $7,000 in 1930 and Judith is listed as the widowed owner, it is a multi unit home; her renters were paying $28 monthly in 1930 & 1940). In June 1948 the home caught fire (sadly Alida died at age 43 in the fire while trying to save her youngest son) the photos below depict what the home likely looked like when Magloire resided there.
photo courtesy http://www.gardnerfirefighters.org/history/
Magloire’s known residences, all a block apart were less than a mile from his work location. 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, 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.
In 1917 the Fitchburg Sentinel published the following compilation from the 1915 census. Of 5,821 foreign born residents, about 1/3 were of Canada, 426 of them from New Brunswick.
Magloire died of Chronic Interstitial Nephritis (a kidney condition characterized by swelling in between the kidney tubules), on 17 Sep 1926, in Gardner, Worcester, Massachusetts.
Fitchburg Sentinel, 18 Sept 1926, page 4: “Magloire Melanson, 64, of 88 Nichols street, died in his home yesterday. Born in Scoudouc, New Brunswick, son of Laurent and Pelagie (Leger) Melanson he had made his home in this city for the past 17 years. He leaves his wife Judith (Cormier) Melanson; three daughters, Mrs. Paul Roy, Mrs. Thaddee Landry and Alida Melanson, all of Gardner; a brother Pierre of Scoudouc, NB and five sisters, Mrs. Rose Bourgeois, Mrs. Phillip Donnell, Mrs. Zelica Leger, Mrs. Pierre Foster and Mrs. O. Melanson all of Shediac, NB. The funeral will be held tomorrow at 2 in the Holy Rosary Church. Burial will be in the St. John’s cemetery.”
The obituary claims burial in the St. John’s cemetery, his death certificate places him at Notre Dame Cemetery. His grave has not been located.
Magliore’s second wife, Judith is remembered by Laura’s daughter, Alida: Judith did not like Magloire’s daughter Laura and was very mean to her, but seemed to adore her step-daughter Melesse with whom she shared the two family home. When her step-granddaughter Alida and her brother stopped by the house after school to pick up the newspaper, Judith would scream at them in a threatening manner as they approached, making sure they did not make it past the front porch.
Strangely, in later years, she would call Laura’s youngest daughter Alida (who resided with Laura), every Sunday, and insist she be picked up and brought to Athol farm for Sunday dinner.
Judith passed away 18 August 1957. Her biological grandchildren (her daughter Alida’s children) inherited the home and it remained in the family until October 2009.
That’s it – Was he a good dad/husband? Who were his friends? Did he belong to any clubs? Was he involved in his church? Why did he relocate to Gardner – for work? How did he get into the chair building profession?
With at least 20 grandchildren, Magloire’s descendants are likely numerous. His daughter Laura married Pius/Paul Roy and gave birth to 8 known children. Melesse married Theodore/Thadee Landry and gave birth to at least 9. Alida married Maxime Lavoie and had at least 3. There are 21 public trees on Ancestry.com who include Magloire. My research plan includes some cousin tracking, locating the original land deed for Nichols Street and searching for a probate record with hopes to learn a bit more of his life.