A note about the name of the family:

The ancestors of Antoine Desrosiers, who emigrated to Maine around 1870, were all known as either Desrosiers or Derosiers dit Dargie.  And if that's not confusing enough, some are Dargis or Dargy or Dargie dit Desrosiers.  This all stems from the four sons of the original settler from France (also an Antoine Desrosiers) each taking a separate identity.  The last son of Antoine Desrosiers, a Pierre Desrosiers, born in 1667, chose Dargis.  Depending on the priest who recorded events in the parish register over the years, the dit name can be spelled Dargie, Dargis, Dargy and even D'Argis.    


 Antoine Desrosiers was born in Nicolet, Québec around 1820.  He married Hélène Lafond in Granby, in 1844.  She was about 18 years old at the time.  Together, they had at least 9 children, most of them born in St. Norbert.  Horror, in the form of an epidemic, struck in the summer of 1860 when two of the children, 5-year old Auxilia and 3-year old Napoleon, died within a week of one another.  The following summer, another son was born and he was named Napoleon.  This is my great-grandfather.  The children were sometimes baptised as Desrosiers dit D'Argis, sometimes just Dargie.  Once in the United States, the name Dargie (or Dargis) was kept and Desrosiers dropped.

Haymaking by Horatio Walker

The Dargies left Canada around 1870, and settled in Lewiston, Maine, with their children: 17-year old Antoine, 11-year old Marie, 9-year old Napoleon, 7-year old Arsène, 6-year old Alphée, and 3-year old Marie Alma.  The oldest daughter, Elida had married in May of 1868 in St. Norbert.  It is unclear as to whether she followed the family to Maine. 

One might wonder why a 50-year old man and his middle-aged wife would want to sell many of their possessions and migrate to another country; my guess is that family members had preceded them to Maine, maybe siblings or cousins.  Plus, Lewiston was up and coming, prosperous and growing rapidly.  It had just become a city with all the amenities, and the town fathers, mostly successful Yankee entrepeneurs who had harnessed the Androscoggin River, made it easy for French-Canadians to make the move... willing laborers in search of work, all. 

Soon after a railroad spur was built from Portland to Lewiston, Canadians simply poured into Lewiston, swelling the population by thousands and eventually becoming the dominant group in population.  They settled in the many blocks built by the mills or in an area called "Little Canada."  In 1880, Lewiston had a population of better than 19,000.  From 1840 to 1880, the city had grown tenfold.

Data about Lewiston is taken from the website "The History of the City of Lewiston" www.ci.lewiston.me.us/history/   

Not much more is known of Antoine and Hélène (LaFond) Dargie except that Antoine died in Lewiston in June of 1890, and his wife, Hélène, died in Lewiston in January 1896 at the age of 69.  Their three sons, Antoine, Napoléon and Alphée all were married in Lewiston, so it appears the family remained in the area for several years.

As mentioned before, Napoléon Dargie was my great-grandfather.  He was about 9 years old when his family migrated to Lewiston, Maine.  Among the many migrants choosing to make Lewiston, ME their home was the family of Zoël Turcotte.  They arrived around 1879.  One of the daughters, Leonise Turcotte, would marry Napoléon Dargie in October of 1883. 

Léonise (Turcotte) Dargie would give birth to many children, 10 of which would survive to have families of their own.  But they were not all born in Lewiston.  After my grandmother, Delia Hélène Dargie, was born in August of 1891, the family moved to Attleboro, MA about 1893 where Napoléon's brother, Alphée was living.  At this time, Napoléon and Alphée were both loom fixers by trade.  From 1893 to 1897 there was a severe depression nationwide, this might have been the cause of their leaving Lewiston.  Napoléon and his family remained in Attleboro until about 1900.  Since they lived in the Dodgeville area, it is likely Napoléon worked in the Dodgeville Mill.  In 1900, the family consisted of 15 year-old Maria, 10 year-old Freddie (Alfred), 9 year-old Delia, 6 year-old Blanche, 4 year-old Harry (Henri) and 2 year-old Gene (Eugene).  The last move the Dargies would make as a family would be to Adams, MA where 4 more children were born: Arthur in 1901, Adelard in 1902, Annette in 1906 and Oscar about 1907. 

Most of my grandmother Delia's childhood memories revolved around Adams, MA, home of the mighty Greylock Mountain that often caused floods to the village below, and the nearby famous or infamous Hoosac Tunnel bored through a mountain of rock that took twenty years and $20 million to build.  Although completed in 1875, which was before Delia's time, it was a point of pride for the area and often spoken about. 

Most of Delia's memories, however, were of the Currier and Ives sort...  at least that is how I interpreted them.  A time of no electricity in homes nor cars in the garage.  Her father had a horse and sleigh, and perhaps a surrey of some sort to take the family to church on Sundays.  He was a foreman in the textile mill, and even she, during the summers would work in the mill.  Standing on a box, she would untangle threads with her delicate fingers.  I suspect her father was nearby because she was never endangered.  She continued to take piano lessons and play for the family sing-alongs.  Meanwhile, her mother, Léonise, ran a small neighborhood variety store that sold the usual staples of canned goods and vegetables and the occasional box of snuff.

Susan B. Anthony was born in Adams, MA in 1820, but my grandmother was unaware or maybe unimpressed.  After all, it wouldn't be until 1920 before women were allowed to vote.  By then, Delia Dargie would be married and living in Attleboro, raising a brood of her own.

Napoléon Dargie died in Adams, MA in October of 1918, at the relatively young age of 57.  In time, his wife, Léonise, moved to Pawtucket, RI where she bought a tenement with three of her youngest unmarried children, Arthur, Annette and Oscar.  One of her tenants was her eldest daughter Maria now married to Edmund House and their growing family.     

Within the next five years, Léonise Turcotte Dargie would remarry in January 1926 at the age of 61.  Her new husband was her widowed brother-in-law, David Lemieux, whose longtime marriage to Léonise's younger sister, Marie, had ended at Marie's death in 1924.  Léonise was astonished by the proposal; her children were delighted and encouraging.  The marriage meant moving back to Lewiston, ME where David Lemieux had a home and a construction business, and where her sister Eva, as well as other family members, still lived. 

David Lemieux died within 10 years of their marriage, but Léonise remained in Lewiston where she died in July July 1945 at the age of 81.                        


The Dargies in Adams, MA c. Spring 1902

Back row standing:  Maria 16, Delia 9 and Freddie (Alfred) 12

Front row:  Harry (Henri) 5, Leonise (mother), Blanche 7, Gene (Eugene) 4, Napoléon (father) with year-old Arthur on his knee.

Missing from the photo are Del (Adelard), Annette and Oscar who are not born yet.

Delia Dargie, c. 1908


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