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Minnie's Diary #19: Ed and Maud were married

Updated: Oct 13, 2021

Sundays with Del

Sunday, May 1 - Entertained Del. Emily and Perm went out picking wintergreen alone at night.

— Minnie Gamache Diary, Hermansville, Mich., 1904

Pa had noticed Del becoming a semi-permanent fixture at the Gamache farm on Sunday afternoons. Del sat on the living room sofa with Minnie, holding her hand and a glass of beer.

“I tell you, Ora, I wish he’d come during the week so I could put him to work. That might cover some of the beer he drinks and food he eats,” Pa told Ma.

“Now Pierre, you know he works at his pa’s farm all week. Let him and Minnie have some fun.”

Minnie yawned and stretched her arms, pulling away from Del’s sweaty handhold. She enjoyed Del’s company, but his hands didn’t compare to Pie Face’s soft caresses.

“Let’s go for a walk,” she said.

The sun’s warm rays fell on their faces as they walked south, over the hill toward the school. They could see neighbors out visiting and enjoying the spring weather. Del took Minnie’s hand again and gave her a peck on the cheek. Minnie could only think of Pie Face, and his warm lips on her shoulders and neck.

— Detroit Free Press, May 2, 1904

At Del’s home, they found everyone bustling about preparing for Ed and Maud’s wedding. Del’s sister, Permelia, and Emily Gagnon cleaned bedrooms for out-of-town guests while Mrs. Paquin baked cookies and cakes. Minnie pitched in, staying for supper and into the evening.

After sundown, Perm and Emily came running into the kitchen, giggling.

“We must have mints for the wedding party,” Perm said. “Who wants to dance with a fellow who has sour breath?”

"Where are you going to get mints at this hour?" Del asked.

“We need some wintergreen, and I know where to find it,” Emily said.

“You’re going out in the dark? Alone?” Del asked.

“Why not? It’s a beautiful night.”

Emily and Perm grabbed a sack and their jackets and headed out the door into the cool spring air, carrying with them a sense of grand adventure. Minnie could hear them laughing as they disappeared into the night, wishing she was part of their fun.

-- Portage Daily Democrat, Portage, Ind., July 28, 1904

When Del walked Minnie home, they could see the stars blanketing the sky and the nearly full moon shining its silver light over the hills. He kissed her goodnight on the porch, politely but firmly.

“Goodnight, Del,” Minnie said, ducking inside the house before Del could catch her in a long embrace.

Blue All Day

Monday, May 2 - Getting ready for the wedding. Very nice day. Was blue all day. Del over at night.

— Minnie Gamache Diary, Hermansville, Mich., 1904

Nature couldn’t have offered a more beautiful day. The sun shone brightly. The winds blew gently out of the south, bringing warm air to Upper Michigan. Ma even opened the windows and doors to let in some fresh air, removing some of the winter stuffiness.

But Minnie couldn’t help it. While all the world seemed to be filled with joy and anticipation, she felt nothing but sadness and regret.

Ed Paquin Jr. would be married tomorrow, but not to Minnie. His bride was 15-year-old Maud Raiche, her gossipy neighbor who lived across the road.

Minnie wished it had turned out differently, but it was far too late for wishes. She sent a silent prayer to the Virgin Mary for hope and strength.

When Del stopped by that night, she felt no better but tried to put on a gay front. He could see that something troubled her, and didn’t stay long.

“Tomorrow’s a big day,” he said. “I’ll see you at the church.”

“We are now in that season in which we feel languid. Only the luck are able to get off without a spell of fever. When all nature is putting on its beautiful dress, when the trees begin to bud and all nature smiles, man is usually in the midst of his woes and troubles because the poisons have accumulated in his body during the winter and the blood stream endeavors to throw off this debris, and in the process we are perhaps laid on our backs with a cold, possibly to be followed with grip or pneumonia.”

“The Stream’s Source: Spring Freshets and Spring Fever,”

Detroit Free Press, Detroit, Mich., May 3, 1904

The Wedding

Tuesday, May 3 - Went to church. Danced. Had fourteen rigs. Ed & Maud were married. I stood with Del.

— Minnie Gamache Diary, Hermansville, Mich., 1904

Minnie and Del stood at the front of St. Mary’s Church watching Ed and Maud say their vows before Father Glaser. Minnie wished she were hiding in the back row, where no one could see her. She also recognized, somewhat sadly, that all eyes were on Ed and Maud, and not on her.

Maud looked lovely in her white, full-length linen and lace wedding gown. She wore a sheer veil to cover her head and face. She carried a small bouquet of May flowers and wintergreen, which she handed to Minnie to hold during the ceremony.

“A veil is worn always with a white bridal gown, and when married in a church it would not be good form to omit the veil, as the rule from ancient times is that a woman’s head must be covered in a church.”

— “The Observances of Society,” by Mrs. Frank Learned, The Delineator,

The Butterick Publishing Co., November 1904

The ceremony itself was small — attended by family and close friends who didn’t have to work. Most of the men were working in the mill or their farms, and local women were also busy with childcare and their daily chores.

Del and Minnie signed the marriage record, making it official.

Later that evening, the real party began. After farmers finished their evening chores and the lumber mill shut down, nearly a hundred men, women and children gathered at the Raiche farm to eat, drink and dance.

The violinist played traditional French rigaudons. Minnie loved to dance, especially the folk dances dating back nearly 300 years. She skipped, stepped and turned spritely to the music of every single rig, partnering with Del on most of them, but also with Charlie Arsenault, Joe Marchaterre Jr. and Henry Caron.

The dancing took her mind away from her jealousy and regret.

-- From the Encyclopaedia Americana: A Popular Dictionary of Arts, Sciences, Literature, History, Politics and Biography, Volume 11, Edited by Francis Lieber, Lea & Blanchard, 1851.

Minnie Feels Sick

Wednesday, May 4 - Went for breakfast to Mrs. Paquin’s with Del. Felt sick. Danced at night to Mrs. L. Duby.

— Minnie Gamache Diary, Hermansville, Mich., 1904

A day after the wedding, the groom’s family hosted more parties. Armelia Paquin served breakfast for her son, new daughter-in-law and the Paquin and Raiche families. Minnie attended as Del’s guest but she soon felt ill, excused herself and walked home.

“What’s wrong?” Ma asked, when Minnie came home earlier than expected.

“Nothing,” Minnie said, but her mother knew something was gnawing at her daughter.

Minnie went upstairs and laid on her bed. Her thoughts kept turning to the sight of Ed and Maud at the breakfast table, discussing where they would make their home.

A knock at the door, and Ma entered her room.

Relieved for someone to talk to, Minnie laid her sorrows on her mother’s sympathetic but practical ears. After listening intently, Ma spoke quietly but firmly.

“Minnie, you know what you need to do.”

Oui. I need to put him out of my head.”

After a nap and some tea, she felt much better.

That night, Ed’s sister and brother-in-law, Louis and Aldia Duby, hosted another dance for the newlyweds. Determined to leave her regrets and languid feelings behind, Minnie took to the dance floor again.

Not Guilty

When the Chicago & Northwestern train arrived in Hermansville that night, it was filled with men who traveling home from Menominee. They had attended the trial of blacksmith William T. Warren, charged with manslaughter in the death of Gerhard “George” Stulken.

The jury had acquitted Mr. Warren of the charges, apparently agreeing with his attorney that he had acted in self-defense.

William Warren wasn’t on the train. He would not be returning to Hermansville. He would have to find a place to start his life over again.

“The verdict was just about as was expected by nearly everyone from Hermansville who came down to attend the trial. Several witnesses were placed on the stand for the defense and all testified to the good character of the prisoner and that Stulken was of a quarrelsome disposition. Joseph Turner, an eye witness of the killing, was the only witness for the prosecution and his testimony seemed to be more in favor of the defendant than against him.”

— “Warren Is Acquitted on Charge of Manslaughter,” Menominee County Journal, May 7, 1904

Worked in the Garden

Thursday, May 5 - Worked in the garden. Mrs. Paquin, Mrs. Gravel and Mrs. J.N. Raiche called.

— Minnie Gamache Diary, Hermansville, Mich., 1904

“A garden prevents doctor’s bills, reduces grocery bills, gratifies the appetite, and is lots of fun for the young chickens.”

— Sturgeon Bay Advocate, May 7, 1904

With the boys’ earnings from the lumber camps and some extra farm income, Pa had purchased a two-furrow riding plow at auction and a cultivator to till the soil.

“Look at you, riding up there like a king,” Minnie said.

“You bet,” Pa said. “I might not mind the plowing and tilling so much now that I don’t have to walk. Look here.”

Pa excitedly showed Minnie all the ways the plow could be adjusted from his seat. But the almost-new plow would work best with a three-horse team instead of two, and Pa found he’d traded one set of problems for another.

Pa didn’t often work with three horses and Jake didn’t know Pa’s team, Beau and Clem. Nor was he used to being called “Jacques.”

“Whoa, Jacques,” Pa said, as Jake threw his head back, backed up awkwardly and stepped onto Beau’s foot. Beau kicked. Jake jumped. Pa pulled back on the reins.

“Whoa,” Pa said. “Whoa, maintenant. Facile.

“The horse doesn’t know French, Pa,” Minnie told him.

“What’s French about ‘Whoa?’ Every horse knows that word.”

-- The Times, Harbor Beach, Mich., Apr 15, 1904

Picking Stones

Minnie followed behind and picked stones that the plow turned up. Some fit in the palm of her hand, but others were the size of a man’s head. It took all her strength to hoist some of the stones onto a wheelbarrow and dump them in a pile at the edge of the field.

“Where do all these stones come from every year?”

“It’s the crop that never fails,” Pa replied, shrugging his shoulders.

“The ground for carrots and parsnips should be free from small stones. The best soil is a light and sandy loam. The roots would grow forked and irregular if they should meet with obstructions in the soil.”

— The Sturgeon Bay Advocate, Sturgeon Bay, Wis., April 2, 1904

Contaminated Water

When Armelia Paquin came to visit that evening with Velatine Gravelle and her daughter, Alida Raiche, talk of the wedding had finally died down. Alida carried along her eight-week-old son, Joseph Charles Raiche, and the women took turns holding him while he slept. Alida had already lost two infants, and she kept a close eye on young Charlie. Velatine had left her 10 children in care of her husband and mother-in-law in Delta County.

“What's happening with the water in Escanaba, Velatine?” Ma asked.

C'est horrible. More than 60 people died of typhoid fever in less than two months,” Velatine said.

"Mon Dieu. Those poor people."

“They say the disease is finally under control, but the city needs a new water supply. The water company wants to lay a pipe farther out in Little Bay de Noc.”

“You know, the water in Menominee is unsafe, too,” Alida said. “It’s filled with parasites.”

“People are boiling their drinking water and even their milk to prevent the typhoid,” Velatine said. “I've heard it brings on a terrible fever, stomach pain, and vomiting.”

“Oh dear. I’m glad we’re out here with clean water,” Ma said. “Just imagine.”

“Oh, being on a farm isn’t completely safe,” Mrs. Paquin said. “You still have to make sure your water supply isn’t contaminated by manure or waste. ”

“Better to drink beer or wine than water,” Minnie said.

"How about hot coffee and tea?" Ma said. "Who would like some?"

-- "Peninsula News," The L'Anse Sentinel, L'Anse, Michigan, May 7, 1904

Fire West of Nadeau

Friday, May 6 - Worked in the garden. Ma went to Hville. Mrs. L. Dubey & Lena call a short while.

— Minnie Gamache Diary, Hermansville, Mich., 1904

“The garden dotes on well rotted manure; see that it gets it when the time comes.”

— Sturgeon Bay Advocate, May 7, 1904

Minnie worked dried horse and cow manure into the garden soil, hoeing and raking the clods of clay into soil that would be ready to plant. She clutched her aching back and rubbed her sore arms. When Aldia Dubey and Lena Brumsted came to visit, she smiled and welcomed them to sit while she washed up.

“Have you seen the smoke from the fires?” Lena asked.

Oui, where are they?” Minnie asked.

“In the woods west of Nadeau and in Nathan. Frank Desar lost his home,” said Aldia Dubey.

“It’s early for fires, isn’t it?” Minnie asked. “With all the wet snow we had, I’m surprised we have forest fires already.”

Oui, but the lumberjacks left piles of branches, needles and twigs on the ground. It only takes a spark,” Lena said.

-- “Woods on Fire Again,” Portage Daily Democrat, Portage, WI, May 5, 1904

Not a Care in the World

Saturday, May 7 - Rained all forenoon. Misses Caron were over. Played cards. Had a circus.

— Minnie Gamache Diary, Hermansville, Mich., 1904

The rain was a blessing for those fearing forest fires. With rain falling steadily all morning, the ground became too wet to continue working in the garden. Instead, Minnie played cards with 14-year-old Nellie and 12-year-old Mary Anne Caron.

They didn’t talk about weddings. They didn’t talk about typhoid fever. They didn’t talk about Nellie and Mary Anne's mother, who needed a few hours of quiet time to rest her diseased heart. They didn’t talk about the girls' sister, Corina Dishno, who was battling tuberculosis while trying to care for three small children in Ontonagon, Michigan.

Instead, they made a rule forbidding any talk of sickness, sadness or tragedy.

They put on fancy spring hats, drank tea from Ma’s best china, and ate petite sweet cakes that Minnie baked that morning. They imagined they were three high society women in Detroit, enjoying a card party at the club. They talked about their handsome and wealthy husbands, healthy and intelligent children, and the latest in spring fashions.

For one afternoon, they didn’t have a care in the world.

--Detroit Boat Club card party, Belle Isle Park, Detroit, Mich., early 1900s. Source: Library of Congress, public domain.

Notes and Further Reading

Disclaimer: Minnie's Diary is part history, part fiction. It's based on my own research into the history of the time and the people who lived in Hermansville in 1904, as well as a bit of imagination. It's a first draft, so I apologize for any errors. I welcome your corrections and alternate interpretations.

-- Jodi Perras, Minnie's Great-Granddaughter

Note to Readers: It's getting harder to keep up with the calendar now that spring is here. We also have some intensive house projects that will make it hard for me to complete a blog entry in the next week. Please be patient and I'll get to the May 8-15 diary as soon as I can.

Subscribe to Minnie's Diary: If you're enjoying Minnie's Diary and don't want to miss an episode, subscribe to my blog using the form below. You'll receive an email every time I post a new blog entry, typically once a week. I promise I won't sell or give your information to anyone else.

Characters: New characters in Minnie’s Diary this week include Vitaline Marie (Jean) Gravelle and Mrs. J.N. (Alida) Raiche. Minnie also spends more time with the Caron sisters, who appeared in the blog in January when their mother was mentioned.

Like Minnie, Vitaline Marie Jean (b. 1868) was born in Rimouski but immigrated to Michigan. (In some records, her name is spelled "Velatine.") She married Joseph Emile Gravelle (b. 1869) in Nadeau, Michigan, in 1888. They lived for more than 10 years in Hermansville before moving to Delta County, where they farmed 40 acres. Vitaline was the daughter of Louis Jean and Domithilde Frappier, natives of French Canada. Tragically, Joseph Gravelle died of typhoid fever in March 1905, leaving behind Vitaline and 10 children. At the time, their oldest child was about 15 and the youngest less than a year old. Vitaline lived to be 84 and died in 1949.

Mrs. J.N. Raiche was born Alida Marie Paquin in 1882, the daughter of Edouard Paquin and Hermeline LaFrancois. That makes her the oldest sister of Ed Paquin Jr. and Del Paquin. Alida married Joseph Napoleon Raiche in May 1900 in Hermansville. (Joseph was Maud Raiche's first cousin. I really need to create a chart to show all these inter-relationships.) In the 1900 census, Joe worked as a carriage rider at the sawmill. By 1910, he was a clerk at the department store in town. Joe and Alida lost their first two children, 2-month-old Joseph Earl in 1901 and 9-day-old Mary Anne in 1902. Their third child, Joseph Charles, was born on March 3, 1904, and appears in this week's blog. They had seven young children still living when Alida died in 1924 at age 47 from gallbladder complications due to pregnancy.

Joe Raiche and Alida Paquin Raiche, 1900.

We briefly met Nellie and Marie Anne Caron in January, when Minnie was helping their mother, Mary Filatreau Caron, with housework. We’ve also met their older brother, Henry, who took Minnie to the New Year’s dances. Census records mostly show the Carons living in Champion, but they must have briefly moved to Hermansville when the Champion iron mine shut down. By 1908, both Mary Caron and her husband, Isadore Joseph Caron, would be gone. Mary died of heart disease in 1905; cirrhosis of the liver took her husband's life in 1907.

Nellie Caron married iron miner Napoleon Duhame in February 1909 in Champion. They had two daughters, Florence (b. 1910) and Agnes (b. 1912), and twin sons, Clarence and Julius, who died within a day of their premature birth in 1913.

Napoleon Duhame was the stepson of Minnie’s widowed aunt, Victoria Dubé Arsenault, who -- you may remember -- married widower Alex Duhame in 1898 in a marriage of convenience. Napoleon was Alex’s oldest son and suffered from curvature of the spine. Despite his disability, Alex found some work as an iron miner and laborer. However, World War I draft records in 1918 show him out of work. He died in 1930 of myelitis, a spinal infection.

Nellie remarried in 1934, at age 42, to 54-year-old lumber camp cook Albert Beaupied before a justice of the peace in Champion. Albert had one son and three daughters with his first wife, Ida, before they divorced. The divorce would explain why Albert and Nellie didn’t have a church wedding. By the 1950s, Nellie was again a widow and living in the Detroit suburb of Lincoln Park.

Nellie's sister, Mary Ann Caron, was born July 5, 1892, in Champion, Michigan. Mary Ann is harder to trace in on-line genealogy records. In the 1950s, I found a Mary A. Caron working as a maid at St. Mary’s Hospital in Marquette. She died in October 1969 in Marquette, Michigan, and apparently never married.

Ed & Maud's Wedding: I thought it odd a couple of weeks ago that Del asked Minnie to stand with him at Ed & Maud's wedding. Did that make her a bridesmaid? Wouldn't you expect Maud to issue the invitation and not Del? Then I found the marriage record and saw that Del and Minnie were listed as the two legal witnesses. Minnie must have carried a lot of conflicted feelings into the wedding, and this week's diary entries show it.

Brideswear: A bride's gown in rural Hermansville in 1904 was probably something relatively simple, such as Alida Raiche's skirt and ruffled jacket above. For a look at what society brides were wearing in 1904, check out the April 1904 magazine, The Delineator, a publication distributed by E. Butterick & Co., a popular publisher of sewing patterns to this day. Notice the patterns were for a skirt and "waist," or shirtwaist. We'd call the top a blouse today.

Rigs: It took me a while to figure out what Minnie meant by "14 rigs." The rigaudon was a country dance that came from Provence in the 17th century and later arrived in Paris. Would it have traveled from Quebec to Upper Michigan? Minnie's Diary seems to indicate it did. Here's a lively rigadoun tune on violin that Minnie and her beaus might have danced to. To see a historical recreation of a rigaudon dance, check out this YouTube video. The dance is sometimes spelled "rigadoon."

-- Rigaudon en Dauphine. Source: Wikipedia, public domain.

Fieldstones: I recall picking many field stones from our home garden and from the fields owned by my Uncle Jerry Benson in Menominee County's Nadeau Township. During the Ice Age, one-mile-thick glaciers gifted Michigan with millions of rocks and stones mixed with sand. The state's glacial drift averages 300 feet, thicker than in most states. Here's an interesting article about Michigan's fieldstone heritage from the Historical Society of Michigan, including some amazing buildings made with the abundant stones.

Horse-Drawn Farm Machinery: To page through examples of farm machinery in the early 1900s, check out the first few pages of this J. I. Case farm encyclopedia from 1905. The early 1900s were the glory days for horse-powered farms in America. By 1920, farm horses started to decline and be replaced by tractors. It wasn't until the 1940s that tractors took over most of the work on the farm. Here's a modern link on hitching three horses.

-- The Platteville Journal and Grant County News, Platteville, Wisconsin, August 24, 1904

May Day: The temperature at 8 pm in Escanaba, Mich., on May 1, 1904, was a balmy 60 degrees. Happy May! And thank you for reading my blog.

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12 mai 2021

I know how much work there is in the spring. Am looking forward to the next chapter when you have time.

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