The Fourniers 

      The Fourniers appeared to be a young family caught up in the agricultural crisis of Québec of most of the 19th century.  The Louis Fournier who is my great-great grandfather, born in the county of Rouville, PQ in 1830, was probably a day worker like his father before him, or maybe a tenant farmer.  At any rate, agriculture was the mainstay of this area.   

When Louis was seven or eight years old there was a serious rebellion known as Les rébellions de 1837-38 (Rebellions of 1837) against the government in what was known as Lower Canada (Quebec province).  Patriots were dealt with harshly.  A dozen of them were from the county of Napierville, about 25 miles from the farms of Rouville.  A skirmish took place in November 1837 in St. Denis in the adjoining county of St. Hyacinthe, about 25 miles north of Rouville.  A depiction of the Battle of St. Denis.

The disorganized rebels won this one, only to be defeated two days later at St. Charles, about 3 miles south.  Battles and skirmishes -- no doubt the news spread quickly across these farm communities.  It is easy to imagine that the idea of equal rights for all citizens ran through the minds of even the most peaceable farmers, it is also easy to imagine the fear that gripped them when they eventually learned that 99 rebels had been rounded up and were sentenced to hang.  Ultimately only a dozen paid the price, and 58 were shipped off to Australia.  Scary times.  

The root cause of the rebellion was said to be the agricultural hard times that his family and others in the area had been enduring for quite some time.  Subsistent farming was the norm, and even that was not working out anymore. 

But, with the spirit and abandon of youth Louis Fournier married a girl from the same parish, Marie Doré.  They were wed in the church they were baptized in, Ste. Marie de Monnoir, in January 1853.  Soon the family swelled, Marie-Elise was born in 1854, Célina in 1856, Louis Ulderic in 1857, but who died a year later, then Adele in June 1860.  All born in the same village located in the same area that fed and maintained the Doré and Fournier clans for generations.  Soon, however, it must have become apparent to Louis and Marie that the demand for the skills Louis had were in short supply.  The land was spent no matter how hard you worked it, the yield would be inadequate.  Some villagers were packing up and leaving, selling or giving away what could not be brought with them.      

At what point, and for what reason the young family came to the decision to leave is not fully known but can easily be imagined.  Perhaps stories were coming back to Marieville from the States of endless job opportunities and decent housing, it could have been that the newly laid railroad tracks made Vermont very tempting.   RR station in Waterville, VT  

After all, the border was no more than 40 miles away.  A day trip.  In Vermont, he could find work as a farmhand, or in one of the lumber camps or even making bricks in one of the brickworks.  Whatever the thought process was, staying in Canada was no longer an option.  So off t0 Vermont they went, with three little girls in tow.  The year was about 1861, Louis would have been about 31 and Marie, 28.  The Civil War had just begun between the states, and Abraham Lincoln was president.                

The Fourniers stayed in Vermont for about eight or nine years where my great-grandmother Mathilde was born around 1863, followed by her sister Philomène in 1867.  Now the family had five girls, the oldest ones surely in their teens.  The word was out that textile mills in Connecticut were hiring and employing entire families.  Another move was planned, and sometime around 1868 or 69 they were in the Thompson, Connecticut area.  Three more children were born: a son, Olivier in 1870, a daughter, Emma Rose (or Délima), in June of 1872, and another son, Joseph Clovis, born in March of 1874, but who lived only four months.  Assawaga Mill, Killingly, CT

The 1880 U.S. census places this family at 100 Broad Street in Valley Falls, RI.  Louis Fournier is listed as working as a huckster, Marie Doré as "keeping house".  He is 50 years old and she is 47.  It is a long grind for these folks, there is no such thing as retirement.

The oldest daughter, Marie-Elise is married and living next door.  Her husband, Magloire Côté, works in a cotton mill.  They have two children.  With them lives Magloire's brother, 23-year old Gédéon Côté, who works in a cotton mill.  Also living with them is a 22-year old boarder, Bruno Giguère, who also works in a cotton mill.  

Getting back to the Louis Fournier household, the oldest four daughters, Célina, Adèle, Mathilde and 14-year old Philomène are all working in a cotton mill, 10-year old Olivier is at school and 7-year old Délima is at home.  Within a year or two, Célina will marry Gédéon Côté.

Based on the census data, it seems there is not enough work for the entire family in Valley Falls, although there are mills all around in this area of rivers and ponds.  Valley Falls, RI

On the census form there is a question:  Number of months this person has been unemployed during the census year.  For Célina, it was 4 months, Adèle 3 months and 14-year old Philomène it was 8 months that she was without work in 1880.  The fact that Louis is working as a huckster (peddlar) is another indication that work had slowed down in the area.

In 1882, the Fournier and the two Côté households will be in the Dodgeville section of Attleboro, MA working in the Dodgeville Mill.  It is in Attleboro, population at about that time of 7,000, that they will live out the rest of their lives and leave a great legacy of descendants.

The early Attleboro city directories, which tend to keep track of only the men, follow Louis Fournier and his son, Olivier (known as Levi) through this timeline:

      1883-84    Fournier, Louis, operative, house 19, at Dodgeville

      1885-86    Fournier, Louis, operative, house 19, at Dodgeville

      1887-88    Fournier, Louis, house 19, at Dodgeville

      1889-90    Fournier, Louis, house 19, at Dodgeville and Fournier, Levi, card stripper, boards 19, at Dodgeville. (Louis would have been about 59 at this time, and Levi 19.)

      1890-91    Fournier, Louis, hostler, house 19, at Dodgeville and Fournier, Levi, speeder tender, boards 19, at Dodgeville

The Depression of 1893 was one of the worst in American history with the unemployment rate exceeding ten percent for half a decade.  It appears that Levi Fournier continued to work at the mill, but 63-year old Louis Fournier begins to be listed as a farmer.    

Levi Fournier married Louise Cheney in May of 1890, and it appears as if the new couple stayed with father's family until about 1897.  By this time, the older sisters were all married and no doubt in established households of their own...  Adèle married Joseph Charron in 1883, Mathilde married Ernest Camirand in 1885 and Philomène married Henri Massé in 1887.  

Sad events occurred during this time with the deaths of young, Emma Rose (Délima) Fournier in October of 1896 at 24 years old of pleurisy, and the death of the Fournier's eldest daughter Marie-Elise Fournier Cote, in September of 1897 of double pneumonia.  She was 42 years old and the mother of a large family, the youngest at the time of her death, not yet three year's old.

      1892-93    Fournier, Louis, farmer, house Dodgeville road, 2nd from County and Fournier, Levi, speeder tender, who boards with Louis Fournier.

      1894-95    Fournier, Louis, farmer, house opposite 33 at Dodgeville and  Fournier, Levi, speeder tender, boards opposite 33 at Dodgeville

      1897          Fournier, Louis, farmer, house opposite 26 at Dodgeville and Fournier, Levi, speeder tender, house 63 at Dodgeville

      1899          Fournier, Levi, card grinder, house 63 at Dodgeville

      1901          Fournier, Louis, laborer, house opposite 24 at Dodgeville and Fournier, Levi, card grinder, house 84, at Dodgeville

      1903          Fournier, Louis, laborer, house rear Thacher, 4th from County and Fournier, Levi, overseer, house 559 S. Main, Dodgeville

      1905          Fournier, Louis, laborer, house 52 Ottawa and Fournier, Levi, second hand, boards, 19 Bellemore

      1907           Fournier, Louis, laborer, house 52 Ottawa and Fournier, Levi, second hand, boards 5 at Hebronville and a second entry for Levi is that he is removed to Central Falls.

Louis Fournier died in Attleboro in November of 1909 at the age of 79.  It is highly unlikely that he ever returned to Canada after moving away from Vermont.  His wife, Marie Doré, died two years later in November of 1911 at the age of 78.  Their last years were spent in a house on Ottawa Street in the Lonicut section of Attleboro. 

Louis Fournier was a direct descendant of the Parisian apothecary, Louis Hébert, who was one of the first colonist in the adventure that became known as New France and Canada.


              Mathilde Fournier Camirand standing perfectly still and squinting at the sun in this April 1907 photo taken at the wedding of her eldest daughter.  She is 44 years old.  My great-grandmother.          

                    Wilfred Cameron, son of Mathilde, best man at his sister's wedding in the Spring of 1907.  He is 19 years old.  My maternal grandfather.  


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