• jodiperras

Minnie's Diary #13: Went to Maud’s to Find the Truth

“On the contrary, real, true love is as sensitive as an ether thermometer, and rises and falls with each lightest variation of warmth or chill. It registers every mood on the part of the beloved, and requires delicate treatment.”

— “Power of Circumstance in Love Affairs, by Helen Oldfield,

Chicago Tribune, March 13, 1904



Monday, March 21 - Rained all day. Went to Hville. Anna over to fix my skirt. Went to Maud. Had no fun.

-- Minnie Gamache Diary, Hermansville, Mich., 1904


“Maud said what?”


“She said you are destined to be an old maid,” whispered Minnie’s best friend, Emily. “She said, ‘She's a crazy feminist. She thinks women are better than men. What man would put up with that?’”


“Why would she say such a thing? I’ve never done anything to her.”


“Don’t be bothered by her. She’s just a 15-year-old girl.”


“A 15-year-old girl who wants to destroy me.”


“Well, you do have strong feelings about women.”

“Yes, I do. This is the 20th century, after all.”

“And…”

“And I want to find a husband who respects me as a person. A partner. Is that too much to ask?”


After her whispered conversation with Emily in the hallway, Minnie had a hard time thinking of anything else the rest of the evening. As the young women played cards and told stories, all Minnie could do was stare at Maud Raiche in anger and resentment. She excused herself early and walked across the road to go to home to bed.


Tuesday, March 22 - Anna fixed my skirt. Went to town with Emily & Anna. Call on Mrs P. in evening. Ed down.

-- Minnie Gamache Diary, Hermansville, Mich., 1904


“Anna, what a wonderful job you’ve done. You should be a dressmaker full-time,” Minnie said, admiring how Anna Mattson had mended the hem of her spring skirt and added a delicate, new lace trim.

“Oh, I wouldn’t have the time,” Anna sighed. “I do love to sew, but I have a toddler and husband to care for.”

Anna Ryberg, 21, had grown up among the Swedish community in Hermansville. Minnie hadn’t gotten to know Anna until 1902, when she married Gilbert Mattson and moved to a rental house in Hermansville, just three doors away from Henry and Minnie Raiche.

Anna Ryberg Mattson

“Well, word is spreading about what a fine seamstress you are. You could make some extra money if you wanted to.”

“Maybe some day,” Anna said.

With her best skirt mended, Minnie felt ready for Easter and the warmer spring weather. The men were still at the lumber camps, leaving Hermansville quieter and calmer than it would be in a week’s time. She and Emily walked to town, where they visited Minnie Raiche and checked to see what new books were at the library. Everyone still buzzed about the murder on March 14, while William Warren waited in the Menominee jail to learn his fate.

In the late afternoon, the young women walked to the Paquin home, where Emily rented a room. When they entered the kitchen, Minnie and Emily were laughing loudly about the latest shenanigans in Emily’s one-room schoolhouse. Minnie suddenly stopped.


“Oh! I didn’t expect to find you here,” Minnie said, spotting Ed Jr. eating some of his mother’s pickles at the kitchen table.

“I do live here,” Ed responded.

“Yes, but I thought the men were still at camp.”

“I just came down for tonight to help Ma with the ice delivery. The ice blocks are a bit heavy for her.”


"It must really be spring, if we need ice deliveries again," Emily said.


Minnie soon found herself flirting with Ed, and enjoying their easy banter. He seemed to enjoy it, too. His dark eyes engaged hers as they discussed the warming weather, the latest escapades in the lumber camp and rising ice prices.

“As cold as it’s been this winter, you’d think ice would be cheaper than ever,” Minnie said.


“Oh sure, if you don’t have to pay your men to cut it out of the lake and haul it to the ice house,” Ed said. “How much would they have to pay you to do that job?”

“Oh, boy. I hadn’t thought of it that way.”


“That’s why I’m here. To haul ice and help keep you girls straight.”


Minnie laughed at Ed’s jokes and admired this young man she’d known for 10 years. Ed had been 18 and Minnie only 10 when the Gamache family first moved to Hermansville. Now he was 28, and Minnie found him more handsome than ever.

Except, she was also dating Ed’s 18-year-old brother, Del. And Del was fun and a good friend, but … he didn’t really measure up to his older brother.


“Humanity has not yet attained the state of advancement, moral, mental, or spiritual, in which one can be sure of one’s self, or trust infallibly to the correctness of one’s judgment and one’s reason. One may even be mistaken as to the state of one’s affections! That which is lovely and beloved today may be repugnant tomorrow, and pleasant again the day after.”

— “Power of Circumstance in Love Affairs, by Helen Oldfield,

Chicago Tribune, March 13, 1904



Wednesday, March 23 - Washed and went to Maud’s to find the truth. She didn’t say it, she said.

-- Minnie Gamache Diary, Hermansville, Mich., 1904


Minnie didn’t believe Maud’s denials, not for a minute.


“Of course I didn’t say that, Minnie. You know I only look up to you, like an older sister.”

“Are you saying that my friend is lying?”


“I don’t know who told you that, but it’s not true.”


Minnie felt sick to her stomach. If Maud wouldn’t admit to spreading stories about her, she could never be persuaded to apologize and correct the record. Small towns could be so unforgiving. One misstep, one mistake or one lie told about you, and a girl could lose not only one friend, but be tossed out of an entire circle of young women.

Minnie marched back home, but she didn’t have any appetite for dinner.


“What’s wrong?” asked her mother, Aurora.


“I’m just not feeling well tonight,” Minnie replied. “I think I’ll go to bed early.”


“Someone has wittily said that the stomach is often accountable for the freaks of the heart, and that the pangs of dyspepsia are frequently mistaken for those of love, while headaches and heartaches are twin sisters.”

— “Power of Circumstance in Love Affairs, by Helen Oldfield,

Chicago Tribune, March 13, 1904



Thursday, March 24 - Pa & Ed came down from camp. Mrs. Duby down from camp. Slept here. Had circus.

-- Minnie Gamache Diary, Hermansville, Mich., 1904


Minnie felt better on Thursday, and just in time. Camp had broken up for the season and Pa and her brother Ed had walked back home from Camp 20.

Aldia Duby, one of the camp cooks, rode down with her daughters, 6-year-old Clara, 3-year-old Flora, and 18-month-old Marie. Since the Duby house hadn’t been heated for several weeks, Mrs. Duby and her girls stayed at the Gamache house for the night. Between Pa and Ed's happiness to be home and the Duby girls' delight at having a break from the camp cookhouse, good cheer and laughter filled the Gamache home.


Peter Gamache started the singing.


A is for axe which we swing to and fro,

B is for boys that handles them so,

C is for canthooks, the logs we make spin

D is for danger that we’re always in."

Everyone joined in the chorus:

"And so merry, so merry, so merry are we,

There’s no-one, none half as happy as we.

Sing hi-derry col-derry hi-derry-dum

Give the lumberjacks whisky and nothing goes wrong"

E is for echo which through the woods rang, and

F is for foreman that pushes our gang,

G is for grinding stone, the axes we ground,

H is for handle that turns them around. (Chorus)

I is for ink which our letters we’ve wrote, and

J is for jacket we wore for a coat,

K is for kindling, the fires we’d light,

L is for lice that bothers by night. (Chorus)

M is for money, which everyone owes,

N is for needle that patches our clothes,

O is for oxen the road we swung through, and

P is for Peerless, which everyone chews. (Chrous)

Q is for quiet, when we are asleep,

R is for rabbits which everyone eats,

S is for sleigh so stout and strong, and

T is for teams that tote them along. (Chorus)


U is for use which we put ourselves to,

V is for valley, we tramp it right through,

W is for woods that we leave in the Spring,

And now I have sung all I’m going to sing.


The men put their arms around the women’s waists and slowed way down for the final chorus:

"And so merr-eeee, so merr-eeee, so merr-eeee are we,

There’s noooooo-one, NONE! half as happeeeee as weeee.

Sing HI-derry COL-derry HI-derry-DUM!

Give the lummmmmm-berjacks whisk-eeeee and NOTHING goes wrooooooooong!"


Fri 25 Mar - Ed over. Mrs. Duby went to the camp. Kept the babies. Went home at 4:30 pm

Aldia had to return to camp in early morning to finish cleaning the kitchen and packing up supplies, so she left the girls in Minnie’s care.

“Let’s help Flora and Marie learn their colors,” Minnie said to Clara.


Quelle couleur est-ce?” Minnie asked, pointing to Clara’s dress.


Le bleu,” said Flora.


“Boo!” said Marie.


Quelle couleur est-ce?” Clara asked her sisters, pointing to a jar of tomato sauce on the shelf.


Le rouge,” said Flora.

“Wooooz!” said Marie.

“In English, le rouge is red,” said Minnie. “Can you say red?”


“Wed!” said Flora.


Minnie heard a knock at the door, and Ed Paquin Jr. poked his head into the breezeway.

“Anybody home?”


“Just us girls,” Minnie said. “We’re learning our colors. Flora says this tomato sauce is ‘wed.’”


“Ah, just like a girl to be thinking about a wedding.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?“ Minnie asked.


“I’m just kidding. Quelle couleur est-ce?” Ed asked the girls, pointing to his plaid workshirt.

Le rouge et le noir,” said Clara. “Red AND black!”

Quelle couleur est-ce?” he said, pointing to Minnie’s eyes.

Le bleu!” said Clara.


Oui. Beautiful blue eyes,” said Ed, giving Minnie highly dramatic kiss on the cheek, and grinning at the little girls.


Minnie blushed.


“Uh oh. I think Minnie’s face is turning le rouge,” Ed said, and the girls all laughed.


“Love, air plant though it be, thrives best under favorable conditions, even an air plant needs sunshine, air, and dew. Like all other good things in this world, it is perfected and strengthened by care and culture.”

— “Power of Circumstance in Love Affairs, by Helen Oldfield, Chicago Tribune, March 13, 1904



Sat 26 Mar - went to Hville with Emily, Ma & I. Pie-face slept to Anna Livagne.

Hermansville bustled with hundreds of men returning from the lumber camps. They checked into rooms at the boarding houses, cleaned themselves up for the first time in months, and started looking for places to spend their money. Canadiens, Swedes, Italians and Croatians stood in line at the barbershop, crowded the general store and filled the saloons.


-- Rapid River news from The Iron Port, Escanaba, Mich., April 2, 1904

“I don’t know what we were thinking, coming into town today,” Aurora said, trying not to get pushed over by the men crowding the general store.

“Let’s go to the Lavigne house and get out of this crowd,” Emily said.


At the Lavignes, Minnie came face to face again with Pie-Face, who had also come down from the camps.

“I didn’t think you dirtied your hands working at the lumber camps,” Minnie said.

“Oh, I like to help keep them supplied, that’s all,” he said. “This time of year, I can buy items they don’t want and resell at a profit.”

Un entrepreneur, eh?”

“Always,” said Pie-Face. “While other men waste time, I’m getting ahead.”


“The love which lasts must be founded upon the rock of mutual respect, else, when the storms of adversity come and the floods beat upon that love, it will fail and fall like the house in the parable which was builded upon sand.”

— “Power of Circumstance in Love Affairs, by Helen Oldfield, Chicago Tribune, March 13, 1904


"Did you hear about the fire in Escanaba?" asked Anna Lavigne.


"No, what happened?"


"The hospital caught fire yesterday and they had to evacuate all the patients. Some were too sick to get out of bed, but they had no choice. They had to get out or be burned alive."


"Mon Dieu," said Aurora. "We should pray for them."


-- Chicago Tribune, March 26, 1904


Notes and Further Reading


Disclaimer: Minnie's Diary is part history and part fiction. My great-grandmother's diary entries and the news clippings are real, but I've taken the liberty of creating dialogue and back stories for the characters. While I've tried to research the history of the time and people, any account of actions or dialogue comes from my imagination. I welcome your corrections and alternate interpretations.

-- Jodi Perras, Minnie's Great-Granddaughter


Subscribe to Minnie's Diary: I've really enjoyed hearing from readers who look forward to Minnie's Diary each week. As the weather gets warmer and I have more to do outside, it's harder to find time to research and write these posts. But the weekly deadline gives me a goal, so I'll continue to write weekly if I can. If you don’t want to miss an entry, become a subscriber by filling out the form at the bottom of the page. I’ll send an email with new blog entries, but I won’t sell or share your information with anyone else. If you’re a subscriber and not receiving my emails, you might check your spam folder and mark any emails as “not spam.”


New Characters


The only new character in Minnie’s Diary this week is Anna Ryberg Mattson (1882-1957), who fixes our heroine’s skirt. In 1895, Anna’s Swedish-born parents moved to Hermansville from Norway, Michigan. Anna was 19 in 1902 when she married 41-year-old Gilbert Mattson, another Swedish immigrant and a skilled carpenter who worked for "the Company." Together, they had four children, including an infant who didn’t survive. Like many women of that era, Anna’s story involves both tragedy and resilience. In the 1920 census, Gilbert, 59, and Anna, 37, lived at 32 Third Street in Hermansville with 16-year-old Dora, 8-year-old Gertrude, and 5-year-old Willard. But by 1930, Anna’s husband was in the Newberry State Hospital with 1,100 other psychiatric patients. According to his death certificate, he began to suffer from senile dementia in 1926 and stopped working as a carpenter at the sawmill. He was 65. Anna remained in Hermansville, where she worked as a dressmaker while raising the children. Most of Anna’s Hermansville neighbors in 1930 were French, including Gideon Grondine, Art and Anna Moreau, Philip and Mary Raiche, Philip Sonard, William and Mary Machie, Henry and Rose Trudell, Adam and Malvina Ayotte and Adolph and Elizabeth Alore. Sometime in the 1930s, Gilbert returned home. He died on Feb. 7, 1939, two days after he fell at home on his 78th birthday, injuring his ribs. Anna remained active, holding officer roles in the Royal Neighbors society, a mutual insurance organization founded in 1895 to give women access to life insurance. Newspaper social columns indicate she liked to travel to visit her daughters in Munising and Detroit, and even made a cross-country road trip in 1947 with Gertrude to Yellowstone National Park with two other women. You go, girl!

-- Escanaba Daily Press, July 3, 1947

Feud with Maud: Minnie’s diary reveals very few quarrels or emotions, so her dispute with Maud Raiche really stands out. As I’ve noted earlier, 15-year-old Maud lived across the road with her parents, Joe and Emelia Raiche. Her older sister Eva had married William Rochon in 1902 at age 16, leaving Maud the only daughter still at home. I imagine Maud, who had finished school, was eager to find a husband. I don’t know exactly what Maud said about Minnie, but it clearly damaged their relationship. Minnie spends very little time socializing with Maud the rest of the year, only seeing Maud when she has no other choice.


Historic North Menominee County Facebook Page: If you enjoy the history of North Menominee County, I recommend Dan Langenfeld's Facebook group, "Historic North Menominee County, Michigan." It's a private group, but I believe Dan is pretty generous in letting folks join. He's been posting some great photographs lately of communities, trains and people in the northern reaches of Menominee County, dating from the early 1900s to 1960s.


Love Affairs: Here's the full essay by Helen Oldfield on the "Power of Circumstance in Love Affairs," printed in the Chicago Tribune on March 13, 1904.


— “Power of Circumstance in Love Affairs, by Helen Oldfield, Chicago Tribune, March 13, 1904


Lumberjack Song: I found the lumberjack alphabet song in "Songs of the Michigan Lumberjacks," from the Archive of Folk Song, Library of Congress, Washington, 1960. Accessed at https://www.loc.gov/folklife/LP/AFS_L56_opt.pdf


Troubles in Menominee: On March 25, 1904, a justice of the peace set a $3,000 bail for William Warren, the Hermansville blacksmith accused of killing Gerhardt (George) Stulken with a blow to the head. While he waited in the Menominee County Jail for his trial, the legal authorities were having trouble of their own, as noted in the Detroit Journal. The clip below came from the March 26, 1904, edition of The Iron Port in Escanaba, Mich.


Lent Coming to an End: Soon, soon, soon the French Canadians will be dancing again. With Easter coming on April 2, festivities will return to Hermansville and other communities in the U.P. I found the stories below about Eugene Sullivan's orchestra in the March 26, 1904, edition of The Iron Port in Escanaba. The towns of Norway, Iron Mountain, and Florence are just west of Hermansville on the Chicago & Northwestern Railway line. Niagara, Wis., is also nearby -- across the river from Quinnesec, a prosperous mining community in that era. If you had $25 in 1904, you could get an eight-piece orchestra to play at your dance from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m.



-- The Iron Port, Escanaba, March 26, 1904

One More: I enjoyed this cartoon from the Chicago Tribune of March 26, 1904. I hope spring is getting the better of Old Man Winter wherever you are.



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