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Minnie's Diary #14: A Holy Week, an Unholy Stove

Sunday, March 27 - Went to Mass. Emily came up with us. Del over. Went to Mr. Desjardin’s. Jack, Chas., James were over.

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

“Holy Week, at the end of Lent, begins on a Sunday, which, both in the Greek and Latin Churches, is called Palm Sunday, or the Sunday of branches. The Mass on this day is preceded by a procession in which each one carries a branch, previously blessed, in remembrance of the triumphal entry of Jesus, six days before his death, into Jerusalem.”

Christian Worship: Its Origin and Evolution, a study of the Latin liturgy up to the time of Charlemagne, by L. Duchesne, Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, London, 1903.

The parishioners at St. Mary’s Church began the Mass with slender green palm branches in hand, waving them as Father Glaser and the altar boys entered the church. The smell of incense filled the air. They remembered how crowds had welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem, lining the streets and throwing palm branches on the ground before him.

“Pueri Habræorum portantes ramos olivarum obviaverunt Domina clámales et dientes: Hosanna in excelsis.”
“The Hebrew children carrying olive branches, met the Lord, crying out and saying, 'Hosanna in the highest.' ”

Later, Father Glaser read the gospel reading, recalling Jesus’ last hours and how he had been beaten and tortured. His body covered with cuts. A thorny crown pressed into his head, causing blood to run down his face. The guards had wrapped him in a red cloak and mocked him. They brought him to Pontius Pilate, asking that he be put to death.

At first, Pilate refused.

The crowd would not be satisfied, and Jesus was led away to his crucifixion.

A Sunday Gathering

The Palm Sunday Mass left a solemn mood over the faithful, but not for too long. A fun-loving people, they enjoyed the fresh air and walking outside in the afternoon, gathering in each other’s homes as Lent ended and Holy Week began.

Emily Gagnon joined the Gamache family for Sunday dinner, and soon Del Paquin came to visit.

Later that afternoon, a crowd gathered at the Desjardin home. Eli and Stasie Desjardin beamed with happiness. Their daughter, Mary, and her husband, Joseph Alore, had a baby on the way.

"Félicitations à vous!" said Aurora Gamache, glancing toward her single, childless daughter Minnie. "A baby is such a blessing."

The Desjardines had two more pretty daughters of marriageable age: Jennie, 19, and Rosa, almost 15. Not surprisingly, the party drew a few single men fresh from the woods, including Jack Massie, Charlie Arsenault, and James Bailie. With young men far outnumbering the young women in Hermansville, the girls received a lot of attention.

"Can I get you a drink, Jennie?"

"Hey, Massie. I'm talking to her," said James, glaring at his friend.

"Merci, Jack. I'm not thirsty right now," said Jennie, batting her eyelashes.

Pa Resists a Chore

Monday, March 28 - Sewed to my carpets. Nice day.

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

“Nice day. It’s time to move our stove, Pierre.”

Those dreaded words. Every spring, Ma and Pa would spar about the wood-fired heating stove in the front room. It kept the dining room and front room warm during the winter months, but wasn’t needed the rest of the year.

“Too early, chère. The nights are still cold.”

“The kitchen stove will be enough to keep us warm, mon amour.”

“I don’t see why we need to move it at all.”

“And keep that sooty thing in the front room all summer?”

“The Swedes don’t move their stoves.”

“Last time I checked, we weren’t Swedish, mon cher. I hope you will move it before our bee. We need the extra room.”

Plus tard, chère? I have a lot to do today.”

Later, dear. Ma knew how to be both persistent and patient. She always raised “the stove” subject well in advance of the actual day she wanted it gone. She and Pa would go back and forth all week, but pretty soon the stove would be moved to the shed until October, when the cold winds resumed.

As she sewed her rag carpets, Minnie watched this dance between her parents. She’d seen it many times before. She was beginning to appreciate the gentle give-and-take between a man and wife who still loved and cared for each other.

Marchaterres on the March

Tuesday, March 29 - Nice day. Mr. Joe Marchaterre arrived from Champion.

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

Finally the sun’s rays shone through the windows and warm air blew in from the south. Green shoots were rising from the cold soil, as the remaining snow melted in the sun. Minnie spied a pair of coyotes with their new pups, checking out the hillside.

With smiles on their faces and happy hearts, Peter and Aurora Gamache went to the train station to welcome Joe Marchaterre on the afternoon train. A skilled carpenter, Joe was coming here to stay.

“How are things in Champion? Horrible,” Joe said. “Hundreds of men have left town, looking for work. The stores are empty. The wives walk about the streets with no money to spend and no joy in their hearts.”

Je suis désolé,” said Ma. “I’m sorry.”

“It’s OK,” Joe said. “We will be happy to build our own farm here. I can be my own boss. The boys will follow me in a few days, and Mary and the girls when we get a house up.”

“You’ve come to a good place,” said Pa. “Tomorrow we’ll take you to Hermansville and you can buy some land. I've found just the right spot up the road.”

Wednesday, March 30 - Pa & Ma went to Hville. Henry Caron & Chas. Arsenault came over to see me. Went to call on Perm. Saw Em.

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

In the morning, Pa took Joe to see the vacant property just north of the Gamache farm. Then Aurora accompanied both men to Hermansville, where the Gamaches vouched for Joe’s character. They’d known each other since childhood in Rimouski, Canada, and had lived near each other in Champion when both men worked for the Champion Mining Co.

By afternoon, Joe had a mortgage for 80 acres of land, and a delivery of lumber and hardware scheduled for the next day.

Bail Set for William Warren

Henry Caron and Minnie's cousin, Charles Arsenault, stopped by to see Minnie while her parents were out. The lumber mill wasn’t hiring yet, and both young men had idle hands and heads filled with gossip.

“Did you hear they set bail for William Warren?” Charlie asked.

“No, when did that happen?”

“On Wednesday. Three thousand dollars.”

“William has to come up with the money, or he’ll be in jail until his trial,” added Henry.

“Three thousand dollars? He’d have to work ten years to earn that much money,” Minnie said.

“That’s true if he was a laborer,” said Henry. “But he’s a blacksmith. It’s only about four years’ work for him.”

“Still a lot of money,” Minnie said. “The only man in town with that kind of money is Dr. Earle.”

State of Michigan v. William T. Warren, via Michigan State Archives

"...William T. Warren, having failed to furnish the Recognizance required by me, I thereupon did adjudge and determine that the said William T. Warren stand, and is herby committed to the Common jail of the County of Menominee, there to await the trail of said cause, and then and there to wit, on the 2nd day of May, A.D. 1904, to answer to an information to be filed against him."

-- Henry James, Justice of the Peace, March 25, 1904, Bail $3000, with two or more Sureties

Making Progress

Thursday, March 31 - Raining today. Mr. Marchaterre called.

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

Joseph Henry Marchaterre, 1855-1929

“It’s raining too hard to lay a foundation today,” said Joe Marchaterre.

“How’s the work coming?” Pa asked.

“Just like you said, I found plenty of field stones around the property, so I have the makings of a foundation. Those stumps, though. They are breaking my back, and the horse’s, too.”

“Some fellows use dynamite,” Pa said. “But ya gotta be careful with that stuff.”

“Yah, and dynamite’s no good on a rainy day.”

"The boys and I will come and help you tomorrow," Pa said. "They're not working at the mill yet."

"That would be very nice," Joe said.

Good Friday

Friday, April 1 - Went to Hville. Emily went home.

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

With school on break, Emily Gagnon boarded a train to visit her parents in Marinette for the Easter holiday. Minnie and Emily kissed each other on both cheeks when it was time for Emily to leave.

Bon voyage, Em,” said Minnie. She stayed to wave until the train rolled out of sight towards the junction in Powers, where Emily would switch trains to go south.

St. Mary’s Church opened its doors for the faithful to walk the stations of the cross on this Good Friday. Minnie met her mother and Mrs. Paquin there, and they followed the stations that recalled Jesus’s final hours, praying the rosary along the path.

They fasted all day, eating only one small meal and drinking only coffee and water. That night, the Gamache family gathered in their front room to pray a novena. The stout winter stove still stood there, quiet and intimidating.

Pa vs. the Stove

Saturday, April 2 - Boys came up and called. Moved our stove.

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

Ma was dressed for battle. She’d put on her oldest dress and covered it with an apron. She protected her shoulders with one of Peter’s old shirts, and tied up her hair in an old handkerchief. With her broom and dustpan in hand, she was ready to supervise the work.

Wearing his usual work clothes and boots, Peter stared at the cast iron stove. It glared back at him.

Iowa County Democrat, Mineral Point, Wis., 1904.

“Don’t you give me any trouble,” he said.

The stove stood quietly, anticipating just how it was going to make this chore more miserable than last year's.

Ma had already cleaned out the ashes and stored them outside, to be used for soap making. Pa needed to take down the stove pipe and move it outside, where Minnie would clean it. Then Pa would move the stove, clean the flue pipe, and cover the hole with a decorative flue cover.

Pa almost tiptoed toward the stove pipe. He reached out to caress it before gently pulling one section apart from another.

Clang. Bonk. Crash.

What a fracas! After standing strong and straight all winter, the stove pipe fell apart in Pa’s hands. Soot fell everywhere, including on Pa’s head.

Minnie and her brothers tried not to laugh, but couldn't hold back.

Merde! Saint-sacrament!” Pa cursed.

Jésus, Marie, Joseph,” Ma said, offering up an indulgence to make amends for Pa’s curse words. “Surveille ton langage. Watch your language.”

“I bet Joseph never had to take down a stove pipe,” Pa replied.

The stove cooperated, for the most part, with the rest of Pa’s chore. Soon, Pa had it stored away and Ma and Minnie began to clean up the mess.

“As the husband went off to more compatible chores, the housewife would stand in the doorway and survey the disaster area. There were soot and spilled ashes to clean up, windows and curtains to wash, a carpet to beat, floor and woodwork to scrub, walls to be swept down with a cloth-covered broom and, most interesting of all, furniture to be rearranged. She would start to work at once. In the midst of the chaos, she was completely happy. It was Spring, and the stove had been taken down.”

-- “Taking Down the Stove," by Dorothy Cummings, White River Valley Historical Quarterly, Vol. 2, No. 3, Spring 1965

William T. Warren Released

“The blacksmith is free.”

Minnie looked at Charlie with surprise.

“What? Where did he come up with three thousand dollars?”

“Someone put up surety bonds. His trial is set for May 2, but he’s free until then,” Charlie said.

“Do you know who? Did "The Company" bail him out?”

Everyone had been wondering if the Wisconsin Land & Lumber Company would bail one worker out of jail after he was accused of killing another.

Non. I heard they were four businessmen from Menominee and Marinette,” said Henry.

The four men who bailed out William Warren didn’t have any clear connection to the young blacksmith. Charles McGinley sold real estate in Menominee. Henry Klein owned a farm in Ingallston Township. Leopold Lowenstein, a jeweler, had a well-known brother, Albert, who owned the only wine and liquor wholesaler in Menominee. The fourth, John Semrau, owned the St. Paul Hotel, a small inn near the lumberyards. Together, they posted enough surety to meet the $3,000 bail and set Warren free.

“Why would they put up bonds to help William?”

“All I can say is, it doesn’t hurt that the chair of the county board was on William’s side,” said Henry.

“You mean Mr. Radford? You think he asked for a favor?

“I don’t know, but I wouldn’t be surprised. Maybe some of these men want something from the county board, eh?” said Charlie.

“Do you think William is coming back here to work?”

“I guess we’ll find out,” Henry responded.

“Well, I don’t think the men will want to see him around town, after he killed George,” Charlie said.

Easter Sunday

Sunday, April 3 - Had some company. Entertained Del. Rest went and drink beer at Mr. Joe Raiche.

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

On Easter Sunday, the Gamaches had a big dinner with ham, mashed potatoes, baked beans, deviled eggs, greens, sweet rolls and cake. The ham was covered with a delicious maple syrup and mustard sauce. They even had a few chocolates that Pa bought at the general store.

"I don't care if I never eat fish again," said Minnie's youngest brother, Fred.

"Oh, you'll eat fish again," Minnie replied. "We all will."

Joe and Emelia Raiche invited everyone to their farm to celebrate, but Minnie didn’t want to go. She still couldn't look their daughter Maud in the eye, after what she’d said last week. Since the Raiche farm sat across the road, Minnie could see everyone coming and going and hear the music and laughter.

Del popped his head in the doorway, asking if Minnie wanted to join him at the party.

"No, I'm not going."

“Why not, Minnie?” Del asked.

“I just can’t. Let’s stay here. We can have our own party.”

Notes & Further Reading

Disclaimer: Minnie's Diary is part history, part fiction. While I've tried to research the history of the time and the characters, 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: Receive an email every time I post a new blog entry by subscribing on the form at the bottom of the page. I promise I won't sell your information to anyone else.

New Characters: Minnie's Diary has two new characters this week. James E. Bailie, b. 1884, worked as a painter in Hermansville. He married Sopha Dory of Bagley on April 12, 1913. Joseph Henry Marchaterre Sr. moved to Hermansville in 1904. According to the Champion city directory, he had been the foreman carpenter for the Champion Iron Co., where Peter Gamache had also worked as a miner until about 1895. The two men were about the same age, and may have known each other as boys in Rimouski. Joe and his wife, Mary Arthemise Marchaterre, had six children: Estelle, Archibald, Frederick, Joseph, Hilda and Nellie. Their farm sat just north and east of the Gamache farm. According to a history of St. Mary's Church, Joe also built the steeple added to it in the early 1900s. Like many in the French community north of Hermansville, they had roots in Rimouski, Canada.

1912 Plat Book Map, showing locations of this week's events

Taking Down the Stove: My mother remembers a coal stove that kept her family's dining room warm in the winter, but she doesn't remember it being moved during the summer months. The Benson family kitchen stove in Nadeau Township was fired by wood, but their heating stove used coal. I'm indebted to Dorothy Cummings and her description of moving the family stove, written for the White River Valley Historical Quarterly in 1965. The White River Valley is located in southwest Missouri, near the Missouri-Arkansas border. I also learned that in 1904, a Portage, Wisconsin, man announced he had invented a device that could transfer heat from a central stove to other rooms in the house. John Wagoner said he planned to apply for a patent for his hot air radiator invention.

William Warren Court Records: Many thanks to Annakathryn at the Michigan State Archives and Jen at the Menominee County Library in Stephenson for retrieving records related to William Warren's 1904 court appearances. There's more to come. The trial before Judge Stone is set for May 2.

WL&L Payroll Records: Thanks also to Jacob, a student at the University of Michigan, for pulling some Wisconsin Land & Lumber Co. records from the Michigan State Archives for me. Due to the pandemic, the Archives has been closed to visitors since last year. With Jacob's help, I now have some 1904 payroll and timesheet records from the Wisconsin Land & Lumber Co., which show when the mill started hiring spring workers as well as pay rates for different men. The image captured below shows partial records for March. Head blacksmith Martin Anderson, employee No. 301, worked 27 days at $2.50 per day, for earnings of $67.50 that month. Blacksmith William Warren, No. 302, worked 12.75 days at $2.25 per day, for earnings of $28.69. His last day was March 14, the day he killed Gerhardt (George) Stulken with a fist blow to the head. A laborer at the mill might make $1.00 to $1.40 per day.


Apr 04, 2021

Thank you. I enjoy writing them and hearing from readers who enjoy the tales.


Chris Ross
Chris Ross
Apr 04, 2021

I absolutely love these daily accounts of life in those times. Thank you for all of your research - it clearly paints a wonderful picture.

Apr 04, 2021
Replying to

Thank you for reading. I’m

glad my research is interesting to more than just me. :-)


Apr 04, 2021

So enjoy your stories, Jodi.

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