Saturday, December 15, 2012

Allagash Journeys

In early December of 2012 I joined my long-time friend Steve on a trip to the Allagash region of the North Maine Woods. Our destination was Round Pond in T7 R14, where we set out to do a little exploration and early winter camping.

Camping on Round Pond

The Allagash and especially Round Pond have a deep significance in my life, in part as I first visited the area about 30 years ago and have continued to venture there over the years. However, part of the bond that ties me to that area is because of the connection my Dad had to the area.

Starting in the 1950’s he and his closest friends, appropriately named the Allagash Travelers, would set off to the North Maine Woods on adventures. Back in the day, it was a significant journey for them to get there. From Lewiston-Auburn Richard Merriam, his brother Babe, Marsh Emery and my Dad would drive up to Greenville, have a pilot fly them and boxes of heavy gear into Caucomgomoc Lake. From there they would paddle up Ciss Stream, then the length of Round Pond, up Poland Stream, around the Poland Pond dam, and then make one last lengthy paddle through the long and sinuous Poland Pond before finally making camp on a little piece of land simply called “The Island”. After making a meal and setting up camp, which included cutting fir boughs for their "mattresses", they had little time before night fell. As Dad often said, "at the end of the day no one had to rock us to sleep.”

The Island, Poland Pond

For years he continued to go to the area with the Allagash Travelers. In the 1970’s when roads became more plentiful up there, he and his friends would make the long trip through a series of dirt roads shared with logging trucks. They eventually settled on Round Pond as their base, from which they explored and fished countless ponds and lakes in the area.

Dad (on the right) and his best friend Richard Merriam

Once his friends were no longer able to make the trip, he continued to go with family and other close friends, including Richard Merriam’s grandson Rick Aspinall whose love of the area led to him becoming a Registered Maine Guide.

Dad at Round Pond, late 1990's

No matter what, Dad would always want to go up to the Allagash. It held an almost spiritual place in his mind, a reverence which he passed onto me. Besides the wonderful times had there, and there were many, it always held a special allure to him, in part I think because of its remoteness and of the effort needed to get there. You had to want to get there.

Today, while a much easier trip than in years past, it still takes about 6 hours to drive to Round Pond from Lewiston on a series of dust-covered roads. As Steve and I rode throughout the area, my mind was alternating between wonderful memories of my Dad and already planning future trips. Indeed the Allagash is still a place worthy of a journey.

Sunrise at Round Pond

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Getting Ready for a Genealogical Road Trip...

I'm in the midst of preparing for a research trip down to Boston, Massachusetts to look for the gravestones of my 3rd great grandparents: John Randall and Louisa Bryant Randall. I’m pretty excited about it as for years upon years I had no idea where they were buried. I tried numerous times to locate a death certificate that actually listed the burial place, but none of the death records I found had that precious nugget of information. Finally, I learned that the City of Boston kept death records with burial places versus State records which often omitted that information during that time period. After numerous attempts at obtaining the City record, at long last I received a certificate from the City of Boston complete with a bright red seal of authenticity that revealed John’s final resting place. Yeehaw, paydirt at last!

According to John’s death certificate, he was buried in “Bunker Hill, New br gnd” in Charlestown, Mass. on August 29, 1881, having died on the 27th. So based on that tantalizing piece of information, my first inkling was, well he has to be buried at the Bunker Hill Burial Ground. It made sense to me as the family lived just down the street on Baldwin Street for decades and was living at 375 Bunker Hill Street when John passed away in 1881.

So, in anticipation of my upcoming road trip I called to have the Bunker Hill Burial Ground opened for me and while on the phone I asked the very helpful person if the cemetery was ever called the “New Burial Ground”. She wasn’t sure but suggested I contact the Archdiocese of Boston as they might have more info. So, another phonecall was made and they did a search of the records they had for Saint Francis de Sales Cemetery, which is located at 303 Bunker Hill Street. They didn’t find John or Louisa listed, but did find their infant son John C. Randall who died in 1843. His death record listed him as buried in the “new part”. Hmmm… It certainly seems plausible to me that they might be buried in the same cemetery as their infant son. So, based on that I’m checking out St. Francis de Sales Cemetery first and then perhaps Bunker Hill Burial Ground.

Here's hoping their gravestones are still intact and readable. Wish me luck!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Old Settlers Burial Field, Lancaster, Massachusetts

Thanks to recent posts by Bill West, Pam Carter and Heather Rojo, I decided to explore more about an ancestral line of mine I had not delved into much to date: John Prescott & Mary Gawkroger of Lancaster, Massachusetts. John and Mary are my 10th Great Grandparents and I descend from them on my mother’s matrilineal line, which has several lines going back to colonial times.

With the help of Find-a-Grave I located that John and Mary were buried in the Old Settlers Burial Field in Lancaster, Massachusetts. So, Sunday morning at the crack of dawn I left home off on a genealogical road trip down to Lancaster to explore this cemetery.

The Old Settlers Burial Field is not an easy place to find unless you know what you’re looking for. It is located in the back of Middle Cemetery off Main St, itself being a beautiful old cemetery with a multitude of large, ornate markers.

Once you’re in Middle Cemetery, go to the upper left-hand corner of the cemetery and look for a path leading to the railroad tracks. From there walk left until you see graves across the tracks perched within a hilltop forested glade.

Once within the burial ground, I had such a sense of peace. Large trees are scattered amongst the graves and the stones themselves blend in with nature as if they have always been there.

Indeed, most of the graves are from the late 1600’s to the early 1800’s and have been here for a very long time. I easily located John & Mary’s grave near the back of the cemetery which had numerous old worn-down stones which were barely readable, but over which a large dark gray marker installed more recently loomed:


Unfortunately many of the stones are now unreadable due simply to wear over the hundreds of years since the markers were installed. Some though are still readable and reflect different styles of gravestones depending upon the era in American history.

On my way back to my car, I perused Middle Cemetery and located the gravestones of my 6th great grandparents Captain Daniel Rugg and Elizabeth Divoll.

I hope to visit this cemetery again, not only for its history, but as this is one of the most beautiful cemeteries I've visited.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Conference Keepers - New Genealogy Conference Website

I just have to share a website I recently learned about through my ProGen Group (special thanks to Terri O'Connell of Finding Our Ancestors).

For a while now I've been searching for ONE place that has ALL of the various genealogy conferences listed. Well, much to my satisfaction and excitement, I've learned that apparently Jen Baldwin of "Ancestral Journeys" was searching for a similar site, so she ended up just creating one!

Conference Keepers is a simple, visually appealing website that gives you exactly what you need regarding dates and places of conferences, without a ton of other information. I highly recommend it.

You can see Jen's blog regarding her site here:


Sunday, October 14, 2012

Monday, August 6, 2012

Remembering Edna Louise Hanson

Today would have been my grandmother’s 107th birthday. “Nana” as her grandchildren called her, was a very important figure in my formative years, so I wanted to take this opportunity to reflect on her life a bit.

Edna Louise Hanson, also known as Betty, was born August 6, 1905, in Salisbury, MA, the daughter of Herbert Walter Hanson and Olive Jewel Boyd. Her parents married young and also divorced young and at least by age 14 if not much earlier, she was living with foster parents Joseph and Nettie Truitt who raised her.

As a child in Northwood, New Hampshire

On Sept 9, 1922, just barely 17, she married Jean Baptiste (aka John) Roy in Auburn and soon had a family of her own. Their eldest child, Joseph John, died at birth February 7, 1923. Betty and John went on to have three daughters: Beatrice Irene was born in 1924, Alice Jeanette in 1928 and Bernice Ann was born in 1933.

With her eldest daughter Irene

Betty’s adult life with John had its share of hardships as the family was poor and John battled alcoholism throughout his life, passing away in 1951 at the age of 53. However, the bond that was forged between Betty and her three girls was strong and enduring. Family was the most important thing in Betty’s life and her girls adored her. We're lucky to have many wonderful letters they exchanged throughout their lives and they paint a picture of four amazing, close-knit women that shared humor, mutual love and respect.

Betty, John and Irene Roy celebrating Christmas in 1949.

As a child she was a constant part of my life and no family gathering was complete without her. I fondly recall Sunday dinners and holidays spent together. As my family didn't have a vehicle, her and her close friend Henry Rose often took us kids on trips to explore New England, which made a lasting impression. She also kept a journal of all of the trips she went on and made scrapbooks from which much rich family history was gleaned in later years as I became interested in genealogy.

Henry Rose, Betty Roy, myself and sister Jeanine.

Betty passed away on November 17, 1981 in Lewiston at the age of 76, when I was 15. Despite the challenges she endured throughout her life, and mostly likely because of them, she was a very strong woman and could be fierce when she perceived injustice was being done, particularly to her “girls” and their families. Her sharp wit and sense of humor, kindness and empathy towards others also made a mark on me at a young age and which I’ll remember her always for.

Happy Birthday Nana! Thanks for being a wonderful influence.

Below are a few additional pictures:

With daughters Jeanette (on left) and Irene

With friend Sadie Feeney

Foster parents Nettie and Joseph D. Truitt

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Wordless (Almost) Wednesday - Nancy Eaton Boyd

My 3rd Great Grandmother - Nancy Eaton. Born 19 Nov. 1835 in Seabrook, NH - Died 26 May 1921 in Newburyport, MA. Married John P. Boyd 8 May 1852 in Salisbury, MA.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Research Plan - Andrew Hanson

For the ProGen Study Group I’m fortunate enough to be a part of, we needed to draft a research plan for our homework, so it thought it might be interesting to some to see the one I drafted for a particular brick wall ancestor, Andrew Hanson of Massachusetts. While I’ve used research plans in the past, the exercise has already proven to be a great tool in furthering my research and I highly recommend the process to folks who haven’t used one as of yet.

Below is what I know. I’ve used a timeline for analysis of all existing records regarding Andrew Hanson collected, to date, which I can prove with a high degree of certainty is the same Andrew I am searching for.

Known Facts:
• Andrew historically lived in the Ward 2, Ship St, Ann St area of Boston, MA.
• Andrew had a son Andrew, born in 1818, daughter Abigail born in 1820 and son Abel born in 1824.
• Two of his children’s death certificates (Abel & Abigail) list their father’s country of origin as Sweden.
• Andrew Hanson, in between 70 & 80, was living as of June 1, 1840 when the 1840 Census was enumerated.

Working Hypothesis:
Based on the information collected to date, it is possible that Andrew originated in Sweden prior to when passenger records were kept and located in Massachusetts. It is also likely that Andrew was born in the mid to late 1700’s and died between 1840 and 1850 as he wasn’t found in Boston in the 1850 census.

Research Plan:
Below is a spreadsheet outlining each task to be performed based on what is currently known about Andrew Hanson, as well as actions taken to date and subsequent results. It seems most prudent at this time to focus on trying to find church records which could reveal his town/country of origin. As it appeared the family lived in the same general area for decades, trying to locate churches near those neighborhoods may yield results. Also, a death record for Andrew could reveal his country of origin, so that should be searched for. Additionally, numerous other records have been identified online that could offer tantalizing clues, but to date confirmation that those records are of the subject Andrew Hanson has not been found, so those will be researched as well to tie up any loose ends and perhaps yield an unexpected discovery. Will also check with Mass Hist. Society to get City of Boston Overseers of the Poor records, may have info about the Andrew and Abigail who died in 1843 & 1833 respectively, as both death records state “City Poor”

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Genealogical Road Trip - St Joseph de Beauce, Quebec

In early May of 2010 I tossed a travel bag into the car and headed north of the border to Quebec. After a long Maine winter, I seriously needed some road therapy to soothe my soul and decided a genealogical road trip to the ancestral homes of several relatives was a great way to spend a week.

Getting an early start, I drove northward into Canada via Jackman, Maine and made my way to Saint Joseph in Beauce County, Quebec, which is the ancestral home of my Gagne line, with my great grandfather Jean Evangeliste Gagne having been born there in March 21, 1848.

Saint Joseph is an idyllic little village nestled along the banks of the beautiful Chaudière River. Surrounding the village are acres upon acres of open verdant farmland. Several folks warmly waved to me as my car crawled through the town, my eyes taking in as much as possible.

Chaudière River in Saint Joseph with farmland in the background.

My first stop was at the parish office, which was closed for lunch. As I was about to head back to my car, I heard a joyful voice say “Bonjour!” I turned around to be greeted by a friendly and enthusiastic fellow named Andre Breton. He quickly transitioned from French to English as my French is poor on a good day and generously assisted me as my tour guide, companion and translator for the day in Saint Joseph which proved to be invaluable.

The village of Saint Joseph looking towards the church and parish office.

With Andre’s help I was able to locate the jail where Jean Evangeliste’s father Francois Xavier Gagne worked as a bailiff and also located the former site of Francois Xavier’s home. I wandered through the parish cemetery looking for grave sites of my ancestors. Unfortunately as many of the town folks including my ancestors were poor, instead of headstones, wooden crosses were often used to mark gravesites and unfortunately they disappeared many years ago making finding the exact location of my ancestors' final resting sites impossible. I did learn through parish records that despite not knowing the exact location, Francois Xavier, my great great grandmother Marie William (who was part German) and my 3rd great grandfather Laurent Gagne and 4th great grandfather Louis Gagne are definitely buried in the parish cemetery.

Saint Joseph Cemetery

Later, I walked through the town and stumbled upon the old rail line that used to run through town. This was the same railroad that brought Jean Evangeliste from this town and eventually into Lewiston. My Voyer ancestors from the little town of Saint Marie further north, must have also taken this same railroad line into the U.S in the late 1850’s with their hopes and dreams of a better life.

Former railroad line to the U.S.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Military Monday - Jean Evangeliste Gagne

Jean (anglicized to John) was my great grandfather (father to my grandmother Diane Gagne who I've talked about in previous posts).

I have lots more to say about Jean which I'll do so in future posts, but wanted to share this photo seeing today is Military Monday. According to the back of the photo, Jean was "corporal acting sergeant in the Quebec Militia", which is all I know about this photo. Jean was born in 1848 in St Joseph, Beauce, Quebec and had immigrated to Lewiston, Maine by 1873, so I assume this was taken within that time frame. If anyone knows how to access records regarding the Quebec Militia, I'd love to know more!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

To My Ancestors

To my ancestors,

As may have been noticed, I’ve slacked off a little lately telling your stories. For that I apologize.

However, I’m sure no apology is needed as I’ve being doing things you surely enjoyed with every fiber of your being. Things you would trade anything to do just one more time. Things such as playing, talking long walks, snowshoeing, spending time with family and friends, caring for loved ones, cooking, learning, loving, laughing, planning, working and dreaming.

Of course, I will write more soon. Sharing your stories as I know them is very important to me. Sharing your stories connects me with those that came before me, most of whom I’ve never met. Sharing your stories connects me with current relatives and opens up new and wonderful relationships. Sharing your stories so that future generations will understand more about the lives that came before them is something that I believe is my responsibility.

So, until the next time I write know I am thinking of you as I live my life. In the interim, feel free to send me a tip or two about my brick walls.


Your descendant Michael

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Down on the Farm

Louis Theophile Auger & Virginie Laflamme Auger’s old farmstead no longer exists, but as it once played such an important part in their family’s life, I’ve always been intrigued by it. Actually, perhaps because it no longer exists, I’m more fascinated by it. I’ve visited the site in East Poland, but the old farmhouse is long gone (apparently having burnt in the 1950's), the land has long since been subdivided and all of the former fields are now forested.

I’m still trying to piece together the exact timeline through property deeds but it appears Louis and Virginie made their first purchase of land on what was known as the Bray Road (now known as the Torrey Road) in East Poland in 1873. This road was also referred to as “Elmwood Extension” in the 1920 Federal Census for Virginie, who was living on the farm with her two youngest sons Oscar and Leon. Louis & Virginie continued to add to the farm with subsequent purchases (as well as a few transfers of land) throughout the years.

Below is a map from 1873 – Louis & Virginie’s land was approximately where the No. 6 is, just north of the land owned by F. Disosea.

Below are a series of photos given to me by Madelyn Provancher (thanks Madelyn!). As an important aside, it was Madelyn and her husband Alfred Provancher (my Dad’s cousin) and Laurette Provancher (Alfred’s sister in-law) who have been so instrumental in my knowing what I know about the old farmstead (and so much about this family in general). They blazed this genealogical trail in the 60’s and 70’s and I assume their work was at least part of the impetus for my brother Donald’s interest, which in turn inspired me.

The photo above appears to be of the old farmhouse. If you look closely at the door, the columns appear to match those shown in the photo I posted previously of Virginie and most of her children (in which Alfred Provancher makes an appearance in as a baby):

It also seems to be large enough to fit the description of the farmhouse in the real estate ad I posted previously – “a fine house of 11 rooms”:

What has thrown me off a bit, is another picture of a house, which is also labelled “the old farm in East Poland”, but which is clearly (or at least to me) a different structure.

One guess I have is perhaps it is the farmhouse on Empire Road in East Poland (just “down the road” from the Bray Road site) where my grandparents raised their family, but it doesn’t look like the same structure that now exists on that site and I never heard of any fire occurring. So, was it simply another structure on the old farm? That seems unlikely to me.

Lastly, I wanted to share a photo of Virginie, which I love. I assume is the old farm owned by my great grandparents, especially because of the topography of it, but again it could be on my grandparent’s land.

What is unfortunate is that these questions probably could have been easily answered if I would have asked them perhaps 10 or so years ago, when more of the family was still around, but now I’m left being a detective piecing together bits of old clues. Hopefully this will serve as an impetus to genealogists who still have lots of family members around – ask lots of questions now and write down the answers citing the sources of the info!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Beyond Names and Dates - More Information Regarding Louis Theophile Auger

A few posts ago I talked about my great-grandfather Louis Theophile Auger being one of my most persistent brick walls. Today I’d like to focus on some of the things that I do know about him. Before I get into some of the details I must say to know anything about Louis feels like quite an achievement. He died in 1906 when my grandfather was only 16 and my Dad always told me that his Dad (my grandfather)never talked about his father, so not much about him appears to have made its way into the family oral history.

I was able to locate his death and birth records relatively easily (finding their marriage record was another story!), but had trouble putting some “meat on the bones” if you will regarding who he was as I lacked stories that are typically passed down from one generation to the next, but slowly through a series of newspaper clippings and other documents I’ve been able to learn enough to make him come a little more alive in my imagination.

I love the mention of his daughter Theodora “Dora” Auger playing piano to the group and how the group sang all the way from Lewiston-Auburn to East Poland. It sounds so “It’s a Wonderful Life” to me.

Ok, to follow my earlier theme, this could be called the “anti - It’s a Wonderful Life” document. The article describes an altercation between Louis and an abutter Frederick Disosca. I plan on trying to research what additional records may be available about this as it may be a treasure trove just waiting to be discovered. As a bit of an aside, but an important one, I’m also very curious about the mention of his wife Virginie being “sick and unable to attend court”. Now this is pure speculation, but work with me on this… In April of 1884, Louis & Virginie tragically lost three young daughters, Emma, Anna and Marie, to diphtheria, which is an infectious disease of the throat. I can’t even imagine the pain of losing one child, not to mention three young girls all in the span of eleven days. That had to have impacted the rest of their lives and I wonder if the sickness mentioned was depression. I also wondered how it may have impacted Louis’ above-mentioned “stabbing affray”. Again, this is all conjecture and not to be taken as fact, but it is interesting to ponder about.

Lastly, the above real estate ad is from when Virginie was trying to sell the farm after Louis passed away in 1906. Prior to this piece of information I had no idea their farm was so extensive. 120 acres in high cultivation certainly sounds like a major farm. Louis' obituary (which I posted previously) mentions he was a milkman, so I wonder if he was also a dairy farmer, which could attribute to why they had two large barns.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

My Auger line: From Canada to the U.S.

Today I want to go back a little further on my branch to talk about my Auger ancestors that emigrated to the U.S. from Canada.

Joseph Mathias Auger was born on February 13, 1818 to Pierre Auger and Marguerite Chicoine in St. Jean Baptiste de Rouville in Quebec Province. St. Jean Baptiste is a small picturesque village located east of Montreal on the Huron River in the shadow of Mont St. Hilliare.

1864 map showing St. Jean Baptiste area (St. Jean Baptiste is in upper portion of map, just under the "B" in "Brome").

The Auger family had been in the St Jean Baptiste/Beloeil area since at least 1779. Prior to that our Auger ancestors had lived in the Neuville area just west of Quebec City since 1680 or earlier, and prior to that came to the New World from the Poitou area of France. More on that later...

Mathias’ wife was Marie Marine Desmarais the daughter of Jean Baptiste Desmarais and Magdeleine Lacasse, born on May 13, 1817 in St Jean Baptiste.

No known pictures exist of Mathias or Marine, however they were described in great detail in 1947 by their grandson Alphonse W. Auger in his wonderful story about Mathias and Marine and their journey to the U.S. from Canada: “La Vie de Grand-Pere Auger” (which was generously transcribed from the French to English for me by Jennifer Gendron Carleton!).

“Grandpere was handsome and had a wonderful voice. Since he could sing naturally, and also had an extraordinary memory, he knew by heart all the beautiful popular songs of his time. Add this ability to his rare personality – it made him very popular.

In the winter during carnival time folks came to get him for evening fun from miles around by sleigh. He would sing with Grandmere and bring fun to gatherings of family and neighbors. They were the souls of the events.
Grandmere was well educated for that time. She had been a teacher in school before marrying Grandpere, and she was “kind as a fly” “as sweet as could be” to use Papa’s expression. She was good natured and knew when to put her foot down. Of a gentle nature and well likeable, she could be firm when needed. She was beautiful, short and petite, barely weighed 100 lbs. She had the courage of lion though, and once she’d made up her mind about something she’d stop at nothing until she got her way.

Apparently not content with St Jean Baptiste and being of a “gypsy-like” nature, Mathias and Marine moved with their six young children; Marine, Leocadie, Pierre Jean-Baptiste, Alphonse Toussaint, Louis Theophile and Marie Octavie to the village of Wotton further east in 1856. Wotton was in the process of being colonized and there was ample opportunity for Mathias to clear a forested tract of land to convert it to farmland similar to what he had done in St Jean Baptiste. Another possible reason for the move eastward could have been that Mathias’ father died in 1828 and his mother in 1841, giving him no immediate family ties in St Jean Baptiste any longer.

Most of their belongings were sold, two horses and wagons were obtained and the family moved eastward. After almost getting robbed en route to Wotton, they settled in and began a life of great toil. All eight family members, including the youngest children, worked constantly to clear new farmland and to simply survive. Despite their efforts, the family almost starved during the winters and by 1860 Marine, having heard of work opportunities in Biddeford, Maine, convinced Mathias to take the train from Danville to the United States.

They arrived with nothing except for the clothes on their backs and Marine and the five oldest children immediately found work in the mills. Mathias did not want to work in the mill, but found work as a printer.

Louis Theophile Auger was the youngest of the three boys in the family. While Pierre (also known as John or JP)and Alphonse worked in the grocery business, bought and sold real estate and became wealthy men in Lewiston, Louis was drawn, like his father before him and generations before, to the life of a farmer. Like the rest of the family, he moved from Biddeford to Lewiston in 1865. Soon after he married Virginie Laflamme, who similarly to Louis, had arrived in Lewiston during the same time period. Family oral history has it that as she arrived in the U.S. the train conductor announced that President Lincoln had been assassinated, although this has not been proven.

Virginie Laflamme Auger

Louis became a US Citizen in March of 1876, however later in September of the same year his mother Marine passed away in Lewiston at the age of 60. Mathias died of an apparent heart attack in 1885 while loading hay bales into the barn at his son Alphonse’s house on Third St in what would eventually become New Auburn.

Mathias and Marine are buried at St. Peter’s Cemetery in Lewiston in the large family plot marked by a prominent monument near the current administrative office.

According to an article found in the Sun Journal, Marine was the first adult buried in St. Peter’s Cemetery, which was apparently known as St John the Baptist Cemetery at the time. I’ve since located information that may indicate there were other burials in the cemetery prior, although they may have occurred before the cemetery was named St. Peter's. More research needs to be done…

A note about sources

One thing some folks may have noticed during my short life as a blogger is that most of my family history info I've been posting does not have source citations. This is a conscious decision I have made and one I haven't made lightly. I've long been a stickler for making sure the information I have is correct, however most of my source citations are not perfect and need work before I'm willing to share them with the light of day, which became glaringly obvious to me when I took the Boston University Genealogical Research Program in 2011.

So since the program ended in May 2011 I have been going through my tree adding proper source citations. The progress has been slow though as I don't have as much time as I'd like right now to work on genealogy. At the same time I am quite aware of the fact that most of the information I have is not possessed by many of my relatives. So, if I get hit by a bus, a lot of the family information I have might be lost, which I cannot let happen after spending so many years on this. With that in mind, at this point I am trying to simply get the information out to those who may be interested. My hope is still to produce a beautifully crafted family genealogy with impeccable source citations, but I don't see that happening soon unfortunately. So, in that spirit, I am more than happy to provide source information for any piece of information on my blog and strongly encourage those interested to contact me.

Also, as a general disclaimer, while I have made every effort to make sure the information I'm presenting is correct, I always encourage others to do their own research.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Louis Theophile Auger - Brick Walls 101

In my previous posts I’ve mentioned my great-grandfather Louis Theophile Auger. Besides being a fascinating character to me he is also one of my most persistent brick walls or road blocks as I do not know with certainty where he is buried.

Louis T. Auger

I'll go through the sources I've searched for him in, but wanted to give a bit of background first.

For years I assumed that Louis was buried in St. Peter's Cemetery in Lewiston, Maine. This was a natural assumption for me as the rest of his family is buried there and being a French Catholic, St. Peter's was the natural choice. However, I have always been bothered though by the lack of evidence placing him there. Father Youville Labonte's Necrology does not list him as buried in St. Peter's Cemetery. The large family plot headstone doesn't list him (as an aside it does list his god-son Louis E. Auger which was a source of confusion. Because of the similar death dates (1904 for Louis Edmond Auger) and being listed on the stone, Louis E. was assumed by some to be my great-grandfather and it was accepted he was buried there by the family until I located his birth certificate which revealed his middle name as Theophile).

Anyhow, as I was searching for information I reached out to the Maine Franco-American Genealogical Society who informed me that they checked the database for St Peter's and Louis was indeed buried in St. Peter's and had him listed in the same family plot that everyone else is buried in. I was thrilled, however, soon after I reached back out to my source to get a printout of the evidence he had provided me, and he told me he had erred and could not confirm he was buried there. He said there are two "Louis Auger’s” in St. Peter's but can neither deny or confirm if either one is him. Back to square one...

So here's where I have checked (probably missing a few, but want to get this out sooner than later). I welcome "fresh eyes" on this!
• Death records: I've searched in the Town of Poland's (which is where he died) records as well as the State of Maine's death records. Both records do not list a burial place for him.
• Cemetery records: I've contacted St. Peter's on numerous occasions now and finally after years of insisting a Book of Interments existed for the cemetery (as an old letter referred to it), was able to have them check the original hand-written Book of Interment records and he is not listed. I've also contacted Oak Hill, Riverside, Mt Hope Cemeteries which do not have records for him. I've also checked with the Town of Poland's Historical Society and he is not listed in any of their cemetery books. I've also went to the old farm property in East Poland where Louis died (which is now subdivided) and spoke to the current landowners who assured me there are no gravesites on the properties. I've also bought the St Peter's Cemetery CD and couldn't locate him.
• Obituary and funeral notice: Neither of these which I've found in the Lewiston Sun and Journal list where he is buried. I've checked in Le Messager and have found a "condolence" write-up about him, but nothing about burial.
• St. Louis Church: As Louis' funeral was at St. Louis, I reached out for burial info, but none exists.
• Funeral Records: As Louis' undertaker was FX Marcotte I spoke to Jim Lynch of Dillingham & Sons who informed me that all of FX's records from that time period burned in a fire.
• Church Records: For over a year now I've been trying to access the original church records from St. Peters and St. Joseph's (for other records as well). They have not been able to locate Louis' death to date. I've also gone through a ton of microfilm from LDS looking at both old City and Church records from Lewiston and can't locate his burial info.

Louis T. Auger's obituary

My current plan is as follows:
• Continue to work with Prince of Peace Parish (now the custodian of the old St Peter's and St. Joseph's records) to look once again for his death/burial record. A former secretary there told me there were some old death record books that should be searched through. I've offered to volunteer for them doing lookups as they no longer have a volunteer - am waiting to hear back.
• Contact City of Auburn. While Louis died in Poland, his funeral was in Auburn so there is an inkling of a chance that he might be listed in an old record.
• I hope to meet with a distant cousin soon who apparently has a box of old photos. My very distant hope is he might have a funeral card for Louis.
• Continue to search in Le Messager and other local newspapers of that time period.
• Check with the Town of Poland as it is rumored they have “genealogy books” in the Town Office.
• Blog about this hoping a very helpful distant cousin can help me break down this wall (done!)

Friday, January 27, 2012

Movin' to the Big City...

Above is a photo of the family in taken on April 26, 1945. The reason why everyone is all dolled-up is that this was the 25th wedding anniversary of the parents (my grandparents) Leon Henri Auger and Diane Catherine Gagne.

Left to right back row:
Lucille Florence “Flo” Auger, Leon Marcel Auger, Alfred Dominic Auger and Gerald Henry Auger

Left to right front row:
Diane Catherine Gagne Auger, Leon Henri Auger, Oscar Edmund Auger, Louis Paul Auger

The family had moved to Lewiston from the Empire Road in East Poland, Maine in the late 1930’s and settled into a second floor apartment at 18 Maple St., which is where this photo was taken. The building is long gone, now replaced by a parking lot, but it used to sit on the corner of Maple and Lisbon St., across the street from where the Public Theatre (formerly the Ritz Theatre) currently is.

The location was convenient as Leon found work literally right around the corner at the Caron & Tardif Filling Station on Lisbon St.

Leon is on the far right, closest to Lisbon St with his arm around his son Gerald Auger (thanks Sister Sue for pointing that out!). I’m uncertain who the two other men are and when exactly the photo was taken. Caron & Tardif no longer exists and on the site now sits Kaplan University. As an aside a few years ago my office was in a building immediately in back of the “Esso” sign – so without knowing it until recently, I was in my grandparent’s old neighborhood on a daily basis.

The family lived on Maple St. until 1950 when Flo bought a house on Manley St in Auburn and Leon & Diane along with youngest son Oscar moved in with her.