Category Archives: FAMILY

For Those Who Made The Sacrifice

I recently received a number of surprise emails with attachments from the sister who happily dives into piles of old photos and documents, sending me anything that she thinks might catch my fancy.  Louise had turned up a number of WWII era letters to and from Alvin D. Saucier (my father’s younger brother) after his enlistment; the kind of letters that say a lot without saying anything at all.  The folks at home trying to make out like things were normal, and the son in the service so obviously lonely for news of home and family.

I’ve had a wonderful time working through the letters; simple, everyday chatter of babies getting heat rash because the summer had been so very hot that year, the menfolk getting in quality fishing time, but who didn’t catch a lot because the summer had been so very hot that year, and recent overnight showers that cooled things down a bit and will do the garden good because the summer had been so very hot that year.

There was even news of Mrs. Sweeney returning home after an extended and mysterious absence, and that piece of news prompted me to ask myself a few questions:

  1. Who on earth was Mrs. Sweeney?
  2. I wonder where Mrs. Sweeney went for a number of weeks in June & July of 1943?
  3. I wonder if Mrs. Sweeney went to Chicago and took her cow along?  No. Wait. Back up. That was Mrs. O’Leary along about 1871.
V-Mail to Alvin D. Saucier from his mother, Ida Hoffmann Saucier

V-Mail to Alvin D. Saucier, from his mother, Ida (Hoffmann) Saucier, wife of James Garfield Saucier

(Note: You can click on any of these items for an embiggened view.)

The answer to my first question was buried in the pile of email in another letter to Al, this one from Bill Sweeney, dated 21 September 1945.  My best guess is that Bill was the son of the much-travelled Mrs. Sweeney, and in his letter, Bill made no mention of the weather.  His talk was all soldier-to-soldier, mostly concerned with daydreams of life after mustering out.  He did, however, mention that he was just back from “a typical sailors’ leave, one that he wasn’t much proud of, but had to admit it was fun”.  Okay.  A period can be put on that topic.  Moving along.

letter from Bill Sweeney to Alvin D. Saucier dated 21 September 1945

Bill Sweeney and Al Saucier - 1945

Bill Sweeney and Al Saucier – 1945

More letters, more news from home, and the very last attachment included assorted photographs that Al had saved – one photo in particular caught my eye, it was older than the WWII items – and then I realized what I was seeing…

Battlefield burial site of Charles Clide Saucier near Nancy, France

Battlefield burial site of Charles Clide Saucier

And For Those Who Made The Supreme Sacrifice

Charles Clide Saucier 1895-1918

Charles Clide Saucier 1895-1918

The photo was a burial registration photograph for Charles Clide Saucier, who on 27 September 1918, died of wounds received during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive.  This photo managed to reignite my search for great-Uncle Charlie’s final resting place, and allowed me to close another mystery – the date on great-Uncle Ben’s letter home during WWI.

Along the way, I’ve discovered a few more documents and newspaper clippings that not only shed a little light on Charlie’s time in the Army, but from his draft registration, we know a bit about his physical characteristics as well: tall, gray-eyed, with light colored hair.

WWI Draft Registration Card Charles Clide Saucier 5 June 1917

WWI Draft Registration Card Charles Clide Saucier 5 June 1917

Franklin County Tribune (Union, Missouri) Friday, 8 Nov 1918 page 4

Franklin County Tribune (Union, Missouri) Friday, 8 Nov 1918 page 4

From the clipping above, I think that it’s safe to infer that Ben’s letter home was one of the letters written on September 25, 1918.  In the letter, Ben wrote of being bivouacked outside of Nancy, describing his surroundings along with non-battle related experiences in a very general way.  The American Expeditionary Forces had liberated Nancy September 16, 1918, and the Meuse-Argonne Offensive began ten days later on September 26, 1918.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch (St. Louis, Missouri) Tuesday, 5 Nov 1918 (Main Editiion) page 4

St. Louis Post-Dispatch (St. Louis, Missouri) Tuesday, 5 Nov 1918 (Main Editiion) page 4

St. Louis Post-Dispatch (St. Louis, Missouri) Thursday, 14 Nov 1918 page 6

St. Louis Post-Dispatch (St. Louis, Missouri) Thursday, 14 Nov 1918 page 6. The Mrs. Thomas O’Donnell referenced in the clipping was Louise (Lulu Saucier) O’Donnell, one of Charles’ sisters.

Application for Military Headstone/Marker - Charles Clide Saucier

Application for Military Headstone/Marker – Charles Clide Saucier. The application was made by Mrs. Wm. Pace of Washington, Missouri aka Henrietta (Hattie Saucier) Pace, another of Charles’ sisters.

St. Anthony's Catholic Cemetery, Oak Grove (Stanton), Franklin County, Missouri.

St. Anthony’s Catholic Cemetery, Oak Grove (Stanton), Franklin County, Missouri.

I’d long assumed that Charlie’s headstone at Stanton, Missouri was a cenotaph, no remains, simply a marker for family members to take comfort in.  I’ve been through every database I could find, the final say coming from the American Battlefield Monuments Commission – there is no record of Charles Saucier being interred in any of the recognized cemeteries overseas.  Which brings me to the conclusion that Charlie was, after all, brought home.  The one unchecked item remaining on my to-do list is to apply to the Joint Mortuary Affairs Center for Charlie’s repatriation records.

Wish me luck that the records survived the fire of 1973 at the Personnel Records Center in St. Louis (records for Army personnel discharged November 1, 1912 through January 1, 1960 equaled an 80% loss).

Save

Sturgis Union School

Sturgis Union School

Here’s a brick wall that I’ve been taking a semi-masochistic pleasure in butting my head up against.  A single photo found among other family photographs that has no identification other than the imprint on the left: Sturgis Union School.  Is this a keepsake from a cherished friend?  Or is there (fingers crossed) a family member here?  So far, all research has ended in a null result.

Date?  1860-ish.  The original size of the photograph is not known to me, and the only other clue is the sepia toned albumen print on thin paper that has been mounted on card stock – it could be either a carte de visite, or a cabinet card – both were popular in the 1860’s.  I dislike being ambiguous, so for starters, let’s put this one in the late 1860’s.  I arrived at that date through the details and hints in their clothing, and by keeping in mind that these people were almost certainly school staff and would dress conservatively to set a good example for their students…

Nearly bandbox fresh:  Bodices of the 1860’s fastened down the front with buttons, and the buttons got progressively larger as the decade drew to a close.  Small white collars often fastened by a brooch were considered fashion forward.  Shoulders were long and sloping, with sleeve openings that circled the upper arm.  Bishop sleeves, jockey waists with belts, full skirts with a slightly flatter front, hints of braid and bodice trim, and quietly prominent jewelry, all suggest the early part of the decade had been left behind and trends were moving towards the more flamboyant styles of the 1870’s.

Coiffures: Crimps were worn in a girlish and playful style, but the conservative fashionistas often wore their hair center-parted and pulled back into a bun, with a hair net, then let the bun release to fall down the neck.

Birds of a different feather: Let’s not exclude the less showily dressed – and perhaps more telling members of the group.  These two men seem to be dressed in a transitional style; the jackets are baggy (sack jackets), with large flat lapels and low collars, a style very popular in the late 1850’s, but both men sport single-breasted vests, high shirt collars with narrow silk ties, and not the double breasted waistcoat and two-inch wide and knotted silk ties of the previous decade.  On the other hand, neither one wears the wide and squared-ended neckties worn low on the throat that were so popular in the 1870’s.  Their coats and vests are made from contrasting fabrics.  Ditto suits – where all components are made of the same material – were still a novelty in the 1860’s.

The latest from the tonsorial parlor: Hair is cut ear-length in the back, parted on the side, and combed smoothly back with neatly trimmed sideburns and whiskers – a huge departure from the longer, over-the-ear style with a high front wave and the smoothly shaven face of the 1850’s.

I’ve spent so much time being fascinated by the details found in the photograph – from the obvious (that carpet!), to the not-so obvious (is that a pelisse or a paletot?), that even if there is no family connection, I still have a piece of history that has given me a lot of enjoyment.  I adore the nearly matching plaid fabrics that two of the young women are wearing, and the older gent with the far-seeing eyes blows me away.

And the poses; one man’s hand placed on a woman’s shoulder, another woman has her hand on a chair back, the two women in the back row turned slightly inward, one posed in 3/4 profile, and the favorite; the young woman seated in front – yes, the one who is wearing the jacket – fingertips resting on her face, and lounging with an elbow braced on the central figure’s knee.  All of this seems to suggest the idea of a casual family group, but I don’t see any similarities in the faces, and that leaves me firmly in the camp that says this is a group of coworkers (note the bands worn on the ring fingers of the two women in plaid – they weren’t students).

But… there is one young woman, center row left, whose features bear a certain family resemblance, and teaching as a vocation keeps popping up in the Saucier family – could we be connected to one of the people in this photo, after all?

Did It Happen At The World’s Fair?

More buried treasure from central Missouri unearthed by my sister, Louise – a cache of photos of Ida Louise (Hoffmann) Saucier (1888-1963), and her husband, James Garfield Saucier (1887-1962).

Ida Louise (Hoffmann) Saucier 1888-1963

I have a theory that this photo might’ve been taken during a trip to St. Louis, when Ida went to the Louisiana Purchase Exposition along with a Miss Saucier, Flora Mack, Minnie Rueppele, and Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Schmuke, all of Stanton, MO – a newsy tidbit pulled from the Republican Headlight of Union, MO dated 29 July, 1904.  Ida would’ve been 16 years old… just about right, I’d say (no corroboration, just happy daydreaming).

I suspect that the photo above was a proof provided by Sidney Studio of St. Louis – the photo does seem sloppily mounted – and that the following photo is the finished portrait.  It’s the same shot, but cropped, and done by L.J. Newton – perhaps a photographer that was local to Stanton or Union?

Ida Louise (Hoffmann) Saucier 1888-1963

Then a pair of professional portraits of Ida and Jim from a little later, possibly the late 1930s or early 1940s.  The photographs were shot by Ruth Rust in Jefferson City, MO (at one time, Miss Rust was the official photographer for members of the state legislature and state officers).

Ida Louise (Hoffmann) Saucier 1888-1963

James Garfield Saucier 1887-1962

Last but not least, a snapshot of our grandparents from the early 1950s: Jim and Ida Saucier in front of their home out on Route M in Taos, MO (or was it Route Y?).  The house is still standing – perhaps my ancillary database (Louise) will tell me where it is.

Ida and Jim Saucier - Taos, MO

A Lot Of People Like Snow…

225bI find it to be an unnecessary freezing of water — Carl Reiner

Oh dear, it’s winter again.

So what do we do when a storm rolls through two days after Christmas with winds gusting 60-70 mph, leaving 3.5 inches of ice in it’s wake, knocking out all of the electrical sub-stations in our area, and leveling utility poles for miles?

Refugee out, because we knew it was going to be an uphill climb back to normal.  Eight days without power if you’re counting… and I was.

233bWe stuck it out at home for three days, and are old pros at making our coffee and meals in the fireplace.  But our water is supplied by a well – no electricity, no water – and we haven’t gotten around to adding a solar system to power the pump, so water soon became the real issue.

When it got to the point that we’d used up the emergency non-potable water, and found ourselves gazing longingly at the water troughs the donkeys use (and the occasional silly rabbit that quickly becomes a dead silly rabbit)… well, it was time to think about 4-wheeling out in search of more civilized living conditions.

220bWe did our best Grapes of Wrath imitation and loaded up clothing, bedding, incidentals, and all three dogs.  First stop was the vet’s office, and after some undignified begging – we weren’t the only homeless family that week – Big Jack, bigger Tank, and lil’ sister Tilly had a new home for the duration.

Then it was off to the hotel for us – land of temperature controlled rooms, running water, lights, and free breakfasts.  Best of all?  A flat screen television and an outlet to plug my sewing machine into.

You didn’t think that I’d leave my sewing machine at home, did you?  Did you, really?

234bAnd living in a hotel isn’t that bad.  All of our meals were eaten out; no cooking, no washing up.  No cleaning up after myself either, a maid came in every single day and tidied up after me – coooool.

Lots of cable channels to choose from, a generous block of time spent in my “sewing area” after work, but before the cocktail hour, and a pile of books received as Christmas gifts to help fill in the blank spots.  All in all, a fairly sweet deal.

227bNote to self: a hotel-sized mini microwave is too small for a standard size bag of microwave popcorn… the burned smell lingers.

There was also enough time to wander the halls in the hotel, snapping random phone pictures of the room numbers.

So… can you identify the international chain that we parked our big-old-fat-ones in?

One of my sisters also chipped in with some interim entertainment (I forgot to mention the free WiFi).  Louise had been rummaging through a cousin’s keepsake bin/box/trashcan, and turned up a treasure in the process.

A birth announcement for a 10# boy, born 5 May 1910, son of James Garfield Saucier (with a big assist from Ida Louise (Hoffmann) Saucier).  The postcard was addressed to Arthur Glauser, care of Judge Glauser.  Arthur was the husband of Julia (Hoffmann) Glauser, Ida’s older sister.  I haven’t been able to ferret out any information on Judge Glauser, but my bet would be that he was Arthur’s pappy.

As for the 10# baby boy?  That would be our dad, Leo James Saucier.  Thanks sis – you did great!

A Nearly Wordless Wednesday

A volume of Longfellow poems: Photo credit Carol Jost FanconiA school prize - but so sad that the person who inscribed the volume of poems to Gertrude wasn't an apt speller: Photo credit Carol Jost FanconiFamily record keeping, penned by Gertrude Saucier: Photo credit Carol Jost FanconiSaucier Children and facing page of the Longfellow volume: Photo credit Carol Jost Fanconi

Voices of the Night

Hymn to the Night

By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Aspasie, trillistos.

I heard the trailing garments of the Night
      Sweep through her marble halls!
I saw her sable skirts all fringed with light
      From the celestial walls!
I felt her presence, by its spell of might,
      Stoop o’er me from above;
The calm, majestic presence of the Night,
      As of the one I love.
I heard the sounds of sorrow and delight,
      The manifold, soft chimes,
That fill the haunted chambers of the Night,
      Like some old poet’s rhymes.
From the cool cisterns of the midnight air
      My spirit drank repose;
The fountain of perpetual peace flows there, —
      From those deep cisterns flows.
O holy Night! from thee I learn to bear
      What man has borne before!
Thou layest thy finger on the lips of Care,
      And they complain no more.
Peace! Peace! Orestes-like I breathe this prayer!
      Descend with broad-winged flight,
The welcome, the thrice-prayed for, the most fair,
      The best-beloved Night!

 

[Edit: Serendipitous that Gertie chose the Longfellow poem that began with a variation on her younger sister’s middle name, don’t you think?]

The Saucier Family: One Last Word

The Saucier Family circa 1900

Top Row: Wayne, Gertie, Hattie, Lulu, Clara, Flo, JoJo, Jim

Middle Row: Stumie, Eugene Saucier, Louise Saucier, Ben

Front Row: Gene, Ethel, Mabel, Cack

It’s been over a year now since I posted a call for help on the photograph of the Saucier Family, and at last I feel that I can put a “period” to this topic.  My thanks go out to everyone who’s contributed gentle advice, corrections, family stories and anecdotes in the process of sorting out the facts.  Thanks specifically to generous cousins of the Cowan, Howell, Tappel, Fanconi, Saucier, Thomas, Cotrufo and Goodin variety, we have photos of each of the children later in life.  Some you’ve certainly seen before, but there are a few that may be a surprise.  There is one photo that I’ve cropped out of a group shot for lack of anything better, but over on the sidebar you’ll find a gallery where you can see the original photo prior to my snip-snip with digital scissors.

I’ve put the photos in the same order as they appear in the photo above, not in order of their ages.

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Regarding Stories of the Saucier Family by Louise T. Saucier

Louise T Saucier

Louise Theresa Saucier

I’ve been having the most wonderful ongoing conversation with Claire Saucier, who stepped forward a few weeks ago and generously shared information she received from her aunt, Louise Theresa Saucier (1916-2012).  Louise Saucier was not only the daughter of Anthony Wayne Saucier (1885-1926), but she was a family historian.  Louise faithfully recorded both the hard data and the family stories we’ve heard since we were children… plus a few more items to be treasured.

Anthony Wayne and Charley Saucier, Washington, Missouri 1923

Anthony Wayne and Charley Saucier

Claire has gathered and organized this information into a book titled: Stories of the Saucier Family by Louise T. Saucier.  How many times have I read it cover to cover, or referenced back to a particular photo or piece of information?  Couldn’t begin to say, but I will say that the book is a delight mainly because much of the focus is on the day to day life of Wayne and Theresa (Walz) Saucier; and their three children, Louise, Charley and Bill.

I’ve been given permission to include a few photos from Claire’s book.  The first is the photo at the top: Louise costumed for either a high school or college production (both of which are mentioned in the book).  The second photo is of Uncle Wayne and his son, Charley Saucier, taken at Washington, Missouri in 1923.  I’ve also added several photos to the new photo gallery located on the sidebar (as if you hadn’t noticed it already), two of which are photographs of Aunt Clara and a more recent photo of Louise.

As a result of this new info, I’m going to reopen the topic of the key for the Saucier Family photograph.  Those lucky enough to have corresponded with Louise will recognize the writing.

Saucier Family Photo Key by Louise T. Saucier: courtesy of Claire Saucier

Saucier Family Photo Key by Louise T. Saucier: courtesy of Claire Saucier

 

The Saucier Family

The Saucier Family

Another cousin and I were discussing the family photo only yesterday, and my conclusion was this: in my experience, a family portrait taken around the beginning of the 20th century was a very big deal.  Not only was every family member included, but also at times, horses and buggies, cats and dogs, prized furniture and sometimes even a quilt or two.  Louise’s key makes so much sense to me, not only because she was Uncle Wayne’s daughter (and in Claire’s words, a daddy’s girl), but also because she grew up in close association with her aunts and uncles.

Saucier Reunion – 2014

File:MOMap-doton-Taos.png

Click on image to see map of Taos, Missouri

I have an update regarding the Saucier Reunion that’s being held July 19, 2014 at St. Francis Xavier Hall, 7307 Route M, Jefferson City (in the old Taos township), Missouri 65101.

The lunch will be a catered affair and our hosts and hostesses, the Alvin D. Saucier kids, are trying to get an idea of how many mouths they should be prepared to feed.  While drop-ins are more than welcome, I thought that I’d try to see what kind of interest there might be so they will have an idea of what kind of invasion to plan for.

I’ve so enjoyed corresponding with all of my newly found cousins out there, and would dearly love to meet you – and continue our conversations – in July.

So call, email, or text your mothers, fathers, uncles, aunts, brothers, sisters, kids, & grand-kids… and bring them along as well!

Hot Diggity, Dog Ziggity!

Sometimes I wonder about myself.  Sometimes it seems like I’m more than just a little slow.

A few weeks ago Tom Saucier sent me the cabinet card of Pelagie Roussin Saucier.  Attached to his email, Tom included a bonus, a photograph of a lovely but unknown woman.  I’ve marveled over the details in the portrait, the silk dress, ear-bobs, wedding ring, and brooch; this well-dressed woman was posed with her right hand resting gracefully on a book that perches on a side table draped with a piece of tapestry.

zoeBut the woman’s name written at the bottom… I read it as Mrs. Zoeda Beaumer or perhaps Beaumen.  I’ve been through my files over and over again, confirming what I already knew – there is no Zoeda in my family tree.

My aha! moment came this morning while staring at the writing – it’s not a “D”, it’s an “L”.  Not Zoeda… Zoe La.  Seriously.  Imagine an old Disney animation, maybe something along the lines of Snow White… the clouds parted, the sun beamed forth, the air was filled with trilling and tweeting birds – all of that happening around me when I realized who the lovely woman was.

Mrs. Zoe La Beaume, wife of George Hammond La Beaume, born Zoe Pelagie Saucier in 1839.  Daughter of Eugene Frederick and Pelagie Saucier, older sister of Eugene Felix Saucier, my great-grandfather… which makes her my very own great-grandaunt.

I recalled that there was a La Beaume mentioned in the 1943 Roussin Roundup Bulletin, where Madeline Roussin writes of Zoe (La Beaume) Steffen, whose sons Jack and Paul were serving in the armed forces during WWII.  Zoe Clotilda Steffen was Zoe Pelagie La Beaume’s daughter.

Roussin Roundup FragmentAnd just for grins, I confirmed the link again in a letter from Louise T. Saucier to Glen Cowan.

I think that I’ll need to start my own gallery soon, a collection of family photos seen at-a-glance.  For now, there’s Kith & Kin, where I’ve begun indexing links to specific posts containing family photos.

Toodles for now… I’m off to work on the next mystery.

Pelagie: A Rose By Any Other Name

Pelagie Roussin Saucier Reunion

Mesdames et Messieurs – I present to you Pelagie Roussin Saucier, born about 1815 – died 1902.  In her youth, Pelagie was described as little, black-eyed, and redheaded.  As far as I can tell, I didn’t get but one of my great-great grandmother’s genes… the black eyes.  What about you?

Another Saucier cousin – a grandson of Anthony Wayne Saucier – stumbled across this site a couple of weeks ago and generously shared the photo from his files.  The image is from a cabinet card, a larger photographic portraiture than the popular cartes de visite that were in wide use until the 1860s.  The cabinet card was given to him by his aunt, my father’s cousin, Louise Theresa Saucier, before her death in January, 2012.

I took the liberty of digitally cleaning and doing a little restoration work on the photograph, but I left the reverse of the cabinet card untouched.  Wondering about the possible date of the photograph, I went on a side trip to uncover some information on the photographer, Charles F. Meier.  As it turned out, he was prominent in the world of 19th century St. Louis, Missouri photography, and from 1875-1887, he operated a studio at 1406 Carondelet Avenue.  About 1892, the address on Meier’s cabinet cards changed when the studio moved to a location on S. Broadway.  Meier continued in the photographic business on S. Broadway until at least 1900.

Pelagie Roussin Saucier Reverse Side of Cabinet Card

I find it somehow reassuring to see Benjamin Harrison Saucier’s Woodland, California address scrawled on the back of Pelagie’s photograph.  Both images are a treasure, and I can’t begin to express my thanks to another newly found cousin.

Don’t Touch That Dial!

I still have a little more information to share that I hope interests at least some of you.  Save the date: there will be a Saucier Family Reunion on July 19, 2014 in Taos, Missouri – southeast of Jefferson City, Missouri – at the St. Francis Xavier Hall (otherwise known as the school cafeteria), from Noon to 4pm.  Lunch will be served at 1pm.  We’re all invited – the more the merrier!

I was told that more details will follow… so stay tuned, I’ll keep you posted as soon as I learn more.

No Wheels? Go By Horse, Of Course.

I’m sitting here at the computer, trying to decide if I should get up and go outside for a little rain dancing.  It’s either that or break out the garden hose and start watering.  We do have an 80% chance of rain this afternoon, and while the sky is overcast – in an on-again/off-again way – I’m thinking that maybe our local meteorologist declared the Happy Hour open just a little bit early today. His prediction doesn’t seem to be based on hard science.

Speaking of happy, my inbox has been a very happy place to be this week.  Cousins have been sharing some very cool family photos, and I’m finally getting around to posting some of them.  (I know what you’re thinking and it’s nothing that I haven’t said to myself… slacker.)

Louise Saucier O’Donnell

First up is a photo from a Thomas cousin.  The photo is labeled, “Bernard, Don, and myself in front of our house in East St. Louis”.  On the back of the photograph, “Aunt Lulu” is written.

Aunt Louise Bernard and Don

Bernard and Don Saucier were Aunt Lulu’s nephews, sons of a younger brother, Eugene Field Saucier.  Bernard was born 17 December, 1915 and Donald was born 23 September, 1917.  Best guess on a date for the photo would be the early 1920s, which would have made Aunt Lulu forty-something – some twenty years or so after the Saucier Family photo was taken.

The information I have on Louise “Lulu” Saucier, is a little hazy: born 25 November, 1880, died 19 March, 1956 in an automobile accident at Times Beach, Missouri.  Aunt Lulu married Thomas O’Donnell, had a large family, and was a long time resident of East St. Louis, Illinois.

I’ve compared this photo of Aunt Lulu to the Saucier Family photo, and I do have a couple of likely looking suspects picked out, with a strong first choice.  That straight nose and determined jawline are very distinctive.  Anyone else care to make a guess?  Leave a comment, or drop me an email.

Eugene Field Saucier

The next two photos came courtesy of a Cardwell cousin, both are photos of Eugene Field Saucier.  Please note that in the first photo, there is equipment hanging on the saddle horn, so Uncle Gene wasn’t out for a leisurely ride in the country.

Uncle Gene Saucier on horseMy dad used to tell stories about his uncles, the Saucier Boys, and how crazy they were for the game of baseball.  I’m pleased to say that I can move the stories from the family legend column, to the fact column.  The next photo shows Uncle Gene, again on horseback, on his way to or from a baseball game, and in uniform.

unclegeneinbaseballuniformCan anyone identify that second man?  He has the deep-set eyes, and a certain look about him suggests, to me anyway, that he is family.  But who?

Francis Field Saucier

If baseball is mentioned at one of our family gatherings, the conversation will soon turn to Frank Saucier, Uncle Stumy’s (Alexander’s) youngest son… but I’ll save that cousin for a future post.

Frank Saucier[Edit.: The rain is pouring down!  Mea culpa for those earlier bad thoughts I directed towards our terrifically smart weatherman – he’s an absolute genius.]

A Promise Is A Promise Is A Promise

June has blown right by with little thought on my part for anything in the way of regular posts.  The only excuse I can provide for the chirping of electronic crickets at this end was the unusual weather we’ve been enjoying here in SW Oklahoma.  We have certainly seen the mercury rise, eleven days over 100° so far (37.7° Celsius for my metric using friends), but other than those few days, when all I wanted to do was to hunker down and ride out the heat, it really has been a balmy spring.  Now my definition of balmy may differ somewhat from yours, but trust me on this one, it’s been a season worth remembering.

Weeks ago I mentioned the existence of a key to the much celebrated Saucier Family photograph.  Both photo and key were generously contributed by Glen Cowan, but time has unfortunately gone into overdrive since I made that promise.  At last, today is the day for the unveiling.

Here’s the photo once again, this time accompanied by the key that was provided by Aunt Mabel’s daughter, Mary Virginia “Ginny” Cowan Wahl (b. 17 June, 1922 – d. 12 September, 2011).  Aunt Mabel is seated in the bottom row, third from the left.

saucier_familysaucier_family_photo_keyGo ahead and click on the image for a larger view – as you will see, there are question marks and omissions in the key.  One glaring error is the line, “Grandfather Saucier… died two years after picture”.  It is known that Eugene F. Saucier died in 1913, so the supposition that this photo was taken in 1911 is, I think, slightly off-base due to the ages of the identified children.

At the same time there are a few tasty tidbits included that give us a glimpse of the people we came from:  great grandfather Eugene F. played the violin, his father played the organ at the Old Cathedral in St. Louis, Missouri.  Stumy lived for nearly 100 years – a jaw-dropping 98 years to be exact – and may have played the fiddle as well.  Charles was killed in World War I (in the first days of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive); and two of the Saucier boys, Stumy and Wayne, together with a third man by the name of Dan, bought the Old Mill Farm (aka the Twin Springs Farm) and paid it off in a year.  So here’s yet another mystery – who in the world was Dan?

I had hoped, by some incredible stroke of luck, that the mysteries of the Saucier Family photograph would be unraveled by now.  That hasn’t happened, but perhaps the key will kick-start someone’s memories, or simply spur somebody to step forward to help set the record straight.  Stranger things have happened, and the eternal optimist (yours truly) refuses to give up on this particular little pipe dream.

One of the side benefits of this discussion has been the surfacing of family photographs.  I’ll wrap up today’s post with a few of my favorites:

Nana on horseback sidesaddleHere is a photograph of my grandmother, Ida Louise Hoffmann Saucier (b. 23 June, 1888 – d. 14 September, 1963).  Ida married James Garfield Saucier on 16 February, 1909 at Union, Missouri.  James is located top row, far right in the Saucier Family photograph.  And yes, you have my permission to giggle or chortle over the hat that she’s wearing – I do, every single time I see it!

josephinesauciercowanJosephine Saucier who married Eugene Cowan, Sr.,  photographed at her home in Columbia, Missouri (which, by the way, is still standing at 406 Conley Avenue).  Aunt Jo was one of the eight daughters of Eugene F. and Louise A. Saucier.  Unfortunately, Jo does not appear in the Saucier Family photograph.

Lastly, from another of Josephine’s grandchildren, a photograph said to be of a much younger Jo Saucier with an unidentified man.  The photo captures the final moments of a profitable day spent hunting – I spy pheasant, rabbit, possibly raccoon or maybe just a tangle of squirrels, in addition to some unidentified bits and pieces.

Josephine (JoJo) SaucierI’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again – thank you, each and every one of you, who’ve made these wonderful photographs of our family available.

Roussin Roundup Bulletin – 1943

Antique Typewriter

In a recent email from a Cowan cousin, the subject of Pelagie Roussin was raised.  While musing on the subject of the black-eyed French girl who caught my great-great grandfather’s fancy, I remembered a bit of buried treasure that I’d tucked away years ago, a Roussin Roundup Bulletin from 1943.

The Roundup was an annual event with the exception of the war years, when gasoline rationing made travel difficult.  The following bulletin was sent out in 1943 by Madelyne Roussin (later Warnhoff), who for many years served as the secretary of the Roussin Family association.  Madelyne faithfully recorded and reported all of the newsy events of the large clan.

This particular bulletin was found in the papers of my aunt, Gladys Saucier Barron, and given to me by one of her daughters some fifty-odd years after its mailing.  Contained within the bulletin are all sorts of interesting snippets of family doings – names, dates and family connections, births, weddings and deaths.  There’s something here for just about everyone… dive in, the water’s fine.

Roussin RoundupRoussin RoundupRoussin Roundup

GREETINGS TO ALL

Another year slips by and no ROUSSIN ROUNDUP.  It is the regret of all concerned, but war imposes many setbacks and disappointments.  As true ROUSSINS, dating back to the original strain, we will take it all in the same stride and hope for better times ahead.  Perhaps another second Sunday in August will see us together again having the happy time known to those who have gathered in the past under the banner of the ROUNDUP.

In the absence of that pleasant occasion we must rely on the annual bulletin to keep us in touch with the clan and its most notable events.  I sent out a memorandum requesting information for this year’s issue and in general the response was good.  But I realize the coverage of news is not complete.  There are, perhaps, as many items missing as there are included in this bulletin for all of which I am very sorry but I’ve done the best I could considering handicaps.

*********************

In the beginning, let me tell you about the very serious illness and operation which our esteemed treasurer, Mrs. Floyd D. Roussin, underwent last November.  She is well and strong again now and, like the rest of us, looking forward to seeing everybody at the next ROUNDUP.  Sickness seems to strike the officers of our organization.  Mrs. Hattie Saucier Pace, our first president, has been physically incapacitated for many months and at this writing is under medical treatment at Mt. St. Rose Sanitorium in St. Louis where Bee Casey, sister of Danny and the late Lawrence Casey, is a nurse.  The two get together often and reminisce about ROUSSIN doings.  On my visit back to Missouri in May I enjoyed seeing our president, Miss Anne Waldbart, who seems in very good health.  And your secretary hasn’t been stricken with anything except Washington, D.C.’s insufferably hot weather.

MARRIAGES

Three weddings have been reported to me, two from the same family.  Mary Louise Whitmire married Robert Earney last year and on Jan. 30, 1943, her sister, Eva Whitmire, and Junior Otten of Union, Mo., were wed.  Both are daughters of Mr. and Mrs. Roy Whitmire of St. Clair, Mo.  Mrs. Whitmire is a daughter of the late Ferninand Roussin whose death was reported in last year’s bulletin.  She will be remembered as the one who baked the ROUNDUP’S third birthday cake.

Chas. T. Roussin, youngest son of Mr. and Mrs. Grant Roussin of Fletcher, Mo., married Betty Leach of St. Louis, Mo., the 5th of last March.  It’s certain that Cupid was more active than this in a year’s time, but no more weddings were reported to me so that’s that.  I might add that a wedding to be in September is that of Miss June Roussin who will wed a soldier at that time.  Many will recall her pleasant personality at the 1941 ROUNDUP when she with others came from Michigan to attend.

BIRTHS

There are four births to announce, two of them in the same family.  To Capt. and Mrs. Thomas F. Nelson a son, christened Thomas F. II, was born on June 26, 1942, at Jacksonville, Fla.  On July 26, 1943, a little girl was born to this same couple at Tampa, Fla.  Captain Nelson is the oldest child of Mrs. Blanch A. Nelson who is a niece of Henry Roussin, our beloved member from Durand, Michigan.

Maxine Sue made her appearance to take up residence in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Floyd Roussin.  This Floyd Roussin is the son of Ben Roussin of De Soto, Mo., and is not to be confused with the Floyd Roussin on whose premises the second ROUNDUP was held.

A son was born in July this year to Mr. and Mrs. Ben Saucier.  Ben is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Stuma [sic] Saucier of Washington, Mo., and carries the name of his uncle, the Ben Saucier who distinguished himself in the first World War.

DEATHS

Five deaths were reported to me, two of them in the same family.  Richard and David Roussin, twin sons of Mr. and Mrs. Cecil Roussin, died Sept. 8, 1942.  Their father is the son of Ben Roussin of De Soto, Mo.

Our Michigan relatives had sorrow in the passing of Mina Blouin (Cossett) at Traverse City, Mich.  She was Rose Roussin Cossett’s oldest girl who spent all her life with Mina Roussin Blouin in Ludington, Mich.

On Jan. 5, 1943, Ben Roussin lost the wife who had been a faithful companion for many years and the mother of a large family.  Her maiden name was Anna May Maness.  She enjoyed our 1941 ROUNDUP so much and had looked forward to the next one.  Great tribute was paid her with striking simplicity when her son, Amos Roussin, wrote thus to me about her passing, “Dear Mom, we miss her so much.”

Death came May 8, 1943, for Mrs. Cyrus Curtis of Fletcher, Mo., who with her daughter, Mrs. I.H. Asplin, made the ROUNDUP’S acquaintance in 1941.  She was born June 14, 1864, near Richwoods and was the daughter of Etienne and Agatha Thedeau and the granddaughter of Wash Roussin.

THE BOYS UNDER THE COLORS

Hats off to those of our clan serving their country both here and abroad.  Their number is many and their records all splendid.  I wish a copy of this bulletin might be sent to each one of them.  I am retaining some extra copies and if the parents or other relatives of these boys share my wish, they have only to write me and I will see that everyone is furnished with a copy.

Where addresses were supplied me I have given them herein and again I urge readers of the bulletin to select a name or names of boys in the service to write to.  Make your motto “Get Better Acquainted With My Relatives by Writing to the Boys in Service”.  You’ll be killing two birds with one stone since it will not only promote good will among the clan but also help boost the morale of our fighters at the front.

Corporal Glennon Oscar Thedeau, son of Mr. and Mrs. J.C. Thedeau, is an airplane mechanic with the U.S. Army Air Forces and was stationed a year in Newfoundland.  He is now at Micthel [sic] Field, N.Y. with the 20th Anti-Sub Squadron.

Norman Roussin, son of Clyde Roussin and the grandson of Ben Roussin of De Soto, Mo., is in the Navy.  No further details supplied me.

Robert Earney, husband of Mary Louise Whitmire Earney, since last year has been a private in the Army, 376 Infantry, APO 94, Company F, Camp Phillips, Kansas.

Another “in-law” in the service is Patsy Cowan’s husband whose name I do not know.  He is from California and is the son-in-law of Jo Saucier Cowan of Columbia, Missouri.

Pvt. Chas. T. Roussin, youngest son of Mr. and Mrs. Grant Roussin of Fletcher, Mo., is stationed at Camp Hulen, Texas, where he drives a truck convoy.  He is with Battery C-555, A.A.A. Bn. The Grant Roussin’s also have a grandson in the forces, fighting in North Africa and the Sicilian campaign, but name and address I do not know.

Pvt. Clement Bourisaw, brother of L.A. Bourisaw, 1469 Graham Str., St. Louis, Mo., is with the 127th Infantry, Company “D” somewhere in Australia.  Mail addressed to the brother will reach him.  This also goes for the following two boys.

Pvt. Clement Coleman with an infantry regiment somewhere in Alaska (having seen two years in service) and Pvt. Linnus Coleman who, at only seventeen, enlisted in some branch of the air service and has already made a trip overseas.  Their father is the son of Sarah Roussin Coleman of Richwoods, Mo.

Lt. Chas. B. Pace, son of the ROUNDUP’S ex-president, Mrs. Hattie Saucier Pace, is now serving somewhere in England with the Corps of Engineers.  His brother, Lt. (J.G.) Jack T. Pace, is an instructor in aviation at the Hutchinson, Ks., Naval Air Base.

Mrs. Lawrence Casey has one boy a “blue jacket” and the other in khaki.  Theodore, in Panama, has been promoted to a captain while Frank (Francis) is a Pharmacist first class in the Navy.  He has served his country three years in service and at present is in Australian waters.

Pvt. Stewart Roussin Fischer, son of Mr. and Mrs. C.H. Fischer and nephew of June Roussin, is stationed at Camp Barkeley, Texas, where he is not only a member of the band and orchestrates some of its numbers but has also completed the cooking course at Cadre School.  What that kind of combination turns out to be is beyond my guessing.  His address is 30-454-756 M.N.T.C. [partially obscured] Band, Camp Barkeley, Texas.

Pvt. John T. Reinhold is the son of John Reinhold and the grandson of Lucy Roussin Reinhold.  Many will recall her gracious presence at the 1941 ROUNDUP when she made her first acquaintance with the annual get-together.  Playing the clarinet and winning for himself many medals for his musical ability during school days, it is no wonder Pvt. Reinhold is now a member of the 343 Infantry Band.  APO 450, Camp Howzie [sic], Texas.

Chas. J. Reinhold, son of Charles Reinhold and another grandson of Lucy Roussin Reinhold, has been in the Coast Guard 2 1/2 years and has seen considerable active duty.  His home was at Mobile, Alabama, but address him now U.S.C.G., CPO USP Docks, Algiers, Louisiana.

Edwin Roussin, the grandson of James Monroe Roussin (brother to Lucy Reinhold), is in the Army but his address is not known to me.  His father, Edwin Roussin, died many years ago.

Jack Steffen is somewhere in the Aleutians, caught as he says “in the world’s worst hole in which troops are stationed”.  He doesn’t expect a furlough until the war is over and he’s been in service 4 years next October, three of which have been spent in the Alaska country.  I think here is a lad who would truly appreciate “fan mail”.  Write him in care of his mother, Mrs. Zoe (La Beaume) Steffen, De Soto, Mo.  His brother Paul has more recently entered the armed forces, March 16, 1943, and is stationed at Camp Butner N.C., where he has been promoted to corporal in the Corps of Engineers.

Lt. Nicholas C. Nelson is a regular Navy man on board the U.S.S. Card (aircraft carrier).  He is the youngest child of Mrs. Blanch Roussin Nelson of Gulfport, Fla.  Her other son, Capt. Thomas F. Nelson is in the Medical Corps and operates five days a week in the Station Hospital at Ft. Benning, Georgia.  She also has a son-in-law in the service, Lt. Leslie Haverland,  Commanding Officer of the St. Petersburg Coast Guard – Aides to Navigation Department.  Six years in the Coast Guard, Lt. Haverland takes care of deep water navigation all along Florida’s west coast.  He married Maxine Nelson.

As far as I can ascertain, the ranks of ROUSSIN have only one feminine member in the service.  She is Miss Rosalie Roussin, oldest daughter of Victor Roussin of Grand Junction, Colo.  That makes her my own niece.  Rosalie is a WAC and the last I heard about her she had been selected as one of seven to attend Radio Instruction School at Kansas City.

Others of the clan reported in last year’s bulletin (but about which I received no information for this year’s issue) I jot down here to remind you of their services given to our country and let us remember them all in our prayers that they may return safely to home and loved ones:  Paul Nicholson (Navy); Joe Roussin (Cavalry); Ester Cotoon’s son (Navy); Ernest Wall’s boy; Rhodell Sherk; Wm. E. and Chas. J. Saucier; Richard and Alex Waldbart; Alvin D. Saucier; the Pratt boys; M.M. Saucier; and Bernard Saucier.

It is with deepest regret that the death of Arthur Sanford (Jerry) Higginbotham is announced.  He died July 16, 1943, as a result of multiple burns following enemy action while in the performance of his duties and in the service of his country.  Jerry, Motor Machinist Mate, second class, U.S. Naval Reserve, enlisted last Labor Day and was serving on a minesweeper in the Atlantic when his number “came up”.  The son of Mr. and Mrs. Frank Higginbotham of Potosi, Mo., he was 38 years old and though not long in the service covered himself with glory while therein and was buried an honored hero in the waters of the Atlantic.  A faithful attendant of the ROUNDUPS, Jerry will meet with us no more.  But in memory we will pay him homage and remember how great our debt of gratitude to all who lose their lives fighting this war for us.

*********************

In closing I want to voice the hope that another year will find us clear of the present conflict, free to Enjoy another get-together of the ROUSSIN clan.  In saying this I am echoing the wishes of all who communicated with me in helping fix up this bulletin.  Their regret at the war stopping the ROUNDUP is superseded only by their hope that the war itself will soon stop.

Memories of past ROUNDUPS live pleasantly on as witness this report recently written to me by Mrs. Henry Roussin of Durand, Michigan, “We never tire talking about the wonderful reunion and the wonderful people we met while there.  I only wish we could be with you all longer —– to know you better and you to know us.”  In anticipation of the next ROUNDUP she continues, “And believe me, the next ROUSSIN ROUNDUP will find not one but two car loads on their way to be with you.  Surely hope and pray that will be in 1944 with the war all over!”

I’m sure we have many delightful prospects in store for us at the next get-together.  With more of those Michigan cousins attending, we are certain of added interest.  And I’ve scared up a brand new batch of Roussins in Maine.  That shouldn’t be surprising, however, because all Roussins on this side of the Atlantic came from Quebec so that any descendants living in nearby Maine aren’t near as far from the original stomping grounds as those in Missouri where the tribe seems to have thrived in greatest profusion.

As for Roussins across the Atlantic, history records the fact that Joan of Arc stayed with a woman named “Roussin”.  And lately here in Washington I met a French lady recently from Paris who says she knew several Roussins there.  So we are well represented on two continents.  I have heard it frequently expressed among members of our clan that they wish there was some kind of family history compiled so that they could tell who they are kin to and to what extent.  I have been working on something of this order and any family history you may care to send in will be much appreciated and used to good advantage.

Our organization is running low on funds.  No dues were asked last year, so that while we had enough in the treasury left from the 1941 ROUNDUP to meet 1942 expenses, your secretary is advancing the money to cover postage, paper, and printing costs for 1943’s bulletin.  No set dues have ever been prescribed, but as a matter of policy it is generally agreed that at least ten cents per person be looked upon as nominal dues with anybody giving more that wants to.  Dues should be sent to our capable treasurer, Mrs. Floyd D. Roussin, St. Clair, Mo.  She carefully records all receipts and sees that all bills are paid.

*********************

Added notes:  Though not reported to me by the families involved, I have heard through other channels of the marriage last summer of Virgil Nicholson, twin brother of Velma Robinson and both children of Mrs. Laura Roussin Nicholson of Potosi, Missouri, and also of the death of Fred Collins last June.  He was the husband of Myrtle Roussin Collins and was widely known throughout the ranks of the clan for his friendliness and the hospitality extended to all within his home.

A late item on our WAC member, Miss Rosalie Roussin, discloses the fact that she has been assigned a secret code number and presumably has been sent to England or elsewhere outside the continental limits of the United States to handle the radio work for which she was trained at Kansas City.

And now until another year, God bless and keep you all.

Miss Madelyne Roussin, Sec’y,
1320 Valley Place, S.E.,
Washington, D.C.
 

The Gibson Girl: An American Ideal 1890-1910

nanapa2Time for me to toss another family photograph in the mix, and the only people that I can positively identify are the couple on the left, my grandparents: James Garfield Saucier (b. 16 April 1887) and Ida Louise Hoffmann (b. 23 June 1888).  James and Ida were married 16 February 1909 in Union, Franklin County, Missouri  [Note: Anyone recognizing the three people on the right, please feel free to sing out.]

This photograph, coupled with the Saucier Family photograph in the May 1st post ought to provide enough clues to help date the latter.  To arrive at that destination, we’re going to take a stroll through the women’s department.  You men out there?  Just carry your lady love’s handbag proudly, and bear with me for a few minutes.

Ladies Fashion Circa 1900

A little bit of background: Charles Dana Gibson was an American artist who realized fame and fortune for a series of pen and ink illustrations satirizing the relationships between men and women.  The women in his artwork personified “a composite of thousands of American girls,” and he portrayed the women dressed in the current fashions.  For thirty years, Gibson’s work regularly appeared in Life, Harper’s Weekly, Scribner’s, and Collier’s, and the illustrations became so iconic that the style of the era was named for him – The Gibson Girl.

First Stop: The Beauty Salon  During the Gibson Girl period, a woman’s hair was her crowning glory, and putting your hair up was still considered a rite of passage – a young girl did not put her hair up until she was considered old enough to go out into society.  The typical Gibson Girl wore her hair piled high on her head in a loose pompadour style.

English: Pen and ink drawing of the Gibson Gir...Second Stop:  Lingerie  The S-shaped, or “kangaroo” corset was in vogue.  Nipped waists decidedly got a thumbs up.  Busks, bustles, and crinolines… nix.  The natural silhouette – and I use that term loosely – was finding favor, but in the 1900-1910 era, that look was still a few years off.

Image: Courtesy of Bridges on the Body - bridgesonthebody.com

Image: Courtesy of Jo at Bridges on the Body

We have the hairstyle, and we have the form to hang clothes on, so let’s slide on past the After Six department in our search for daytime fashions.

Final Stop: Ladies Dresses  Frills, flounces, and furbelows were fading into the background while the tailored look took a giant step forward.  An A-line skirt was the order of the day, worn with a shirtwaist that often sported a high-necked collar.

Love in a Garden, Gibson.jpg

In the Saucier Family photograph, I count six shirtwaists in the top row alone, all with high-necked collars – and please note, every woman is wearing her hair up in the Gibson Girl style.

collarsThe following illustration for Arrow Shirts: 1907, was a lucky find.  I stumbled across it while doing some homework on the Gibson Girl, and it stopped me in my tracks.  Take another gander at the photograph above – the young woman on the far right – she’s wearing a tall, stiff collar and a narrow necktie in the manner of menswear.  Then, as now, fashion houses often based their designs on what was seen on city streets, so it really doesn’t surprise me in the least to see this advertisement dated 1907, especially during a period of conservative fashion.

Arrow Collar 1907Let’s Put A Bow On It

saucier_familyI’m very comfortable with the suggested 1902-03 dating of the Saucier Family photo, but I’ve been toying with the idea that it may have been as early as 1901 – not any earlier than that – and here’s why:

jg3I’ve extracted James G. from both photographs.  If we assume that the photo on the left was taken about 1902-03, James would have been fifteen or sixteen years old at the time.  Looks about right – so far, so good.

I’ve also extracted two more “knowns” – Mabel (b. 18 March 1899) and Eugene Field (b. 21 August 1894).  In 1902-03, Aunt Mabel would have been three or four years old, and Uncle Gene would have been eight or nine (still in short pants!).  Taking a second look, Mabel might be as young as two, and Gene as young seven, but no younger than that – so I think 1901 is a viable possibility.  I would not, however, place the photograph any later than 1903.

Which brings me back to the reason I’ve started this conversation… who were those extra women in the Saucier Family photograph?  I’ve provided a little more information for you to chew on, but for now, the ball is back in your court.

May Day – Or In This Case… Mayday

Vacations are very nice.  Unfortunately, at some time I have to admit that it’s past time to return to schedules and the workaday world.

I’ve got a new item on my to-do list (as if the list isn’t long enough already): The Frederick F. and Louise A. Saucier family photograph, circa 1902-03. I’ve spent a fair amount of time staring at the photo for the last few weeks, always referring back to the key that accompanied the photo.  Here’s my problem, I’m seeing a few names with question marks after them, and no. 5 in the top row is omitted completely.

Those of you that don’t know me are wholly unaware that I’ve got a wide streak of stubborn, and a mystery like this photo is guaranteed to bring out the mule in me.

Eugene F. Saucier Family Photograph circa 1902-03It occurred to me that it might be entertaining to make this an interactive sleuthing process, so I’m putting out a call to all the cousins.

Here are the facts: One child from a previous marriage, fifteen children born of this union, one foster daughter.  Seventeen possibles but only fourteen children in the photo.

Below I’ve listed all of the Saucier children in order of their birth.  I’ve marked in red the people I could either positively ID or eliminate altogether.  By the time this photo was taken (1902-03), William would have been in his mid-thirties, long gone from the family hearth, Frederick had died in an accident, and Andrew died as an infant (cholera, or so the story goes).  Subtract those three, and we’ve come full circle to the number fourteen again.

William – Married with home of his own
Frederick – Deceased
Gertrude
Andrew – Deceased
Henrietta – Top row, fourth from left
Louise
Alexander – Center row, left
Clara
Anthony
James – Top row, far right
Benjamin
Florence
Josephine
Eugene – Bottom row, left
Charles – Bottom row, far right
Mabel – Bottom row, third from left
Ethel – Bottom row, second from left

So I’m asking for help with this project… mayday.

If you don’t instantly recognize your grandparent, grandaunts, or granduncles in this photo, do you have some old photos tucked away for comparisons?  Pester your brothers and sisters (I pester my sisters mercilessly, one of the perks of being the baby of the family).  Have they seen the photo?  If so, do they remember anything they were told at the time?  I do see one major stumbling block, Clara, who became a Daughter of Charity, no descendants to appeal to.  But if we can ID the other thirteen, all that’s left is Clara – beautiful.

Lastly, I’m not going to post the key, yet.  I don’t want to influence you this early in the game, and logic tells me that if you have a copy of the Saucier Family photo, you probably have a key of your own anyway.

Feel free to comment with your guesses, assumptions, or “I was told” stories.  If you’d like to chat privately, for whatever reason, just leave a comment saying ’email me’, and I’ll do just that.

Color me anticipating your input.

The Great War, A Biplane, & Damson Plums

Ben Saucier Ree Heights South Dakota 1920

The following is the transcription of a letter written by my granduncle, Benjamin Harrison Saucier – that’s Ben in the photograph above – addressed to his younger sister, Josephine (Saucier) Cowan.  The letter came to me through a Howell cousin, who was also the source of the bios written by Henrietta (Saucier) Pace.

Dear Jo,

Yes, I hear from you from time to time but not as often as I’d like, so get on the job and show your class – Am writing this in a greenhouse that is attached to a chateau that’s surrounded by the most beautiful grounds you ever saw.  We are in a small village 6 or 8 miles from Nancy and about the same distance from St. Nicolas – both good towns.  

With the possible exception of the day I was born, yesterday was possibly the biggest day of my life.  Two of my corporals & myself were strolling around a little and wandered over to the aviation field – going down I remarked that all I needed was to take a fly over Nancy.  They ran out a light bombing plane and one of the assistants asked – Who’s going along.  I said – “I am” first, so we soared for awhile — He started straight for Nancy and reached it at an elevation of 5000 feet.  The view was something that I shall not soon forget.  

We circled over the city rising to 8000 feet in doing it, then went out in the country.  It seemed more like a dream than anything I’ve ever experienced – We went to 11,000 feet high and came back over Nancy at that height at a speed of 96 per.  Could only see the earth then in spots for the sky was cloudy & the clouds were all below us.  

The only thing I regret is that I did not enlist in that branch.  It’s too late now to think of transferring.  We were up for about an hour and I wouldn’t exchange it for any other hour I ever spent.  It sure was great – The clouds as seen from above with patches of mother earth here and the mountains in the distance etc. etc. is the most wonderful picture I’ve ever seen.

We came back from the front lines again a few days ago and will most likely be back for a month or 6 wks.  We are altogether yet and feeling fine. – We are out of the mountains – in a beautiful rolling country almost level and for a change it looks pretty good.

There are worlds of damson plums in this vicinity.  I wish you might see this country – Pass this on to some of the rest for I’ve neither time nor stationery to write to all – been writing to Mother at Stanton today — Haven’t seen anything of Eugene’s bro. yet.  Would like to run across him.  Write – Good luck & lots of it to both of you —

Ben — Cack is right with me & is ok.

Sleuthing: It’s Not Just For Hard-Boiled Detectives

Many happy hours I’ve spent daydreaming while reading this letter.  Besides the letter being a cherished piece of family history, I’ve often wondered what kind of impact it may have had on my father, who later became a pilot.  Dad would have been eight years old at the time this was written, and it’s easy for me to imagine the family gathered to hear Uncle Ben’s letter from France being read.

What’s hard for me to believe is that this letter has been on my ‘to-do’ list for well over a decade – funny how time gets away from you.  My goal was to date it as closely as I could with something other than “Sometime during WWI: April 1917-November 1918”.

I was recently provided with a new clue from a Cowan cousin that rekindled my interest in the letter.  That one item, along with the clues supplied in the body of the letter itself have allowed me to narrow down the date considerably.

the clue

For a dove of long standing, I find it just a little embarrassing to admit to an interest in military history, but it helps that I’m aided and abetted by a husband who shares that interest.  Sifting through source material is an engaging pastime for us – so here’s hoping that you don’t find the journey a dry one.

Look Out… This May Be Your MEGO Moment

Shoulder Insignia of th 35th "Santa Fe" Division, WWIBenjamin and his brother Charles ended up in the 138th Infantry, Company E of the 35th “Santa Fe” Division made up of National Guardsmen and draftees from the states of Missouri and Kansas.  They trained for over seven months at Camp Doniphan near Fort Sill, Oklahoma (which by the way, is located less than fifty miles from my back door).

Those seven months must’ve been eye-openers for a couple of farm boys hailing from a green and ‘water fat’ state, finding themselves just a stone’s throw from the 100th Meridian, the onset of the great American desert (only about sixty miles from my front door).

As mind boggling as southwestern Oklahoma may have been to them, the pair probably had little time to gape – the infantrymen of the 35th were drilled intensively by British and French instructors in the use of bayonet, hand grenades, and gas masks.

I’ve provided a few online sources below that you may find interesting, but what it boils down to is this: the 35th division was mobilized, leaving Camp Doniphan in late winter, 1918.  They were moved to the east coast by train, embarking from New York Harbor arriving at LeHavre, France May 10, 1918.  The infantry received additional training in Amiens until June 6, 1918.  Then traveling by rail – 40 men and 8 horses per boxcar – the destination was the Wesserling sub-sector on the Western Front in the Vosges Mountains where they remained through mid-August.  On September 1st, the 35th moved forward to St. Mihiel where they fought their first battle.  Between September 12th-16th, the American Expeditionary Forces liberated the town of Nancy and the 35th bivouacked in the Foret de Haye just a few miles west of town.  The Meuse-Argonne Offensive began September 26, 1918 lasting until the Armistice, November 11, 1918.

The 35th Division collapsed after five days of fighting in the Battle of the Argonne, which has been described as the greatest battle in the history of the American military.  In little more than four months, the division casualty list totaled 7,296 (killed in action – 1,018; wounded in action – 6,278).

It saddens me when I think of Ben’s last line: Cack is right with me & is ok… less than two weeks later, Cack was killed in action.

Charles Clide (Cack) Saucier born April 6, 1895 in Sullivan, Franklin County, Missouri – died September 27, 1918, age 23, in the Argonne Forest during the second day of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive.

Chas_Saucier Headstone App

Sources:
United States, Adjutant General Military Records, 1631-1976 (p. 191-2)
The 35th Infantry Division in the Great War
The Diary of a Doughboy
The Meuse-Argonne Offensive
From Vauquois Hill to Exermont by Clair Kenamore

Froggy Went A-Courtin’

I’m in the mood this evening for old folk songs.

I like to say that I grew up in a car, and that’s really not very far from the truth.  My family crisscrossed the American southwest when I was young and we nearly always went by car.  My very first memory of a car was our family Nash Rambler.

Over the years, as both our family and the concept of American transportation changed, the family “beater” changed with us; we eventually graduated to a full-size Country Squire station wagon.  But before we acquired that behemoth, I can remember times when my sisters would stuff me up into the rear deck of the sedan so they could ride more comfortably in the back seat.  (Note: seat belts were not in common use at this time)

In those days AM radio was king.  This was long before the FM band came standard in a car, and the music and chatter would fade in and out as you traveled along the highways.  After sunset was the best.  It was then when many of the AM stations would boost their signals and you’d be able to hold a station far into the night.

SaucierOccasionally there would be times when we couldn’t find a station at all.  At these times my dad would chime in, keeping all of us kids quiet by singing old folk songs in a very acceptable baritone.  Froggy Went A-Courtin’ was definitely the front runner, with The Crawdad Song and Bill Grogan’s Goat finishing in the money.

Personally, I always favored the latter (nothing like a little blood and gore to get, and keep, a child’s attention).

I don’t know why I started thinking about those songs tonight.  All I really wanted to do here was to let you know that I’ve got the final part of Henrietta’s Story posted.  I won’t say that this is the last of Aunt Hattie’s stories, new items turn up from time to time, plus I’m constantly surprised by things that I’ve squirreled away and forgotten.  For now at least, you can find the latest segment here, Henrietta’s Story: Part Three.

Grandmother’s Choice: It’s Another Twofer

Centennial Barbara Brackman Fight For Womens Rights Grandmother's ChoiceBlock Fifteen: Centennial

Ah… nothing like a cold to make life a little less interesting just when you’re gearing up for the holiday season.

I located enough energy last weekend to keep current with Barbara Brackman’s quilt project, just enough.  I spent a fair amount of time on the couch afterwards admiring the happy orange fabric in this block.  It was me, the block, the TV tuned to Turner Classic Movies, and a jumbo box of Kleenex.

This block was used to commemorate the centennial celebration in New Zealand – the first country to grant women the right to vote in 1893.

Capital T Barbara Brackman Fight For Womens Rights Quilt Grandmother's ChoiceBlock Sixteen: Capital T

The T is for Temperance.  Apparently, many women came to the suffrage movement from the temperance movement.  For those of you unfamiliar with the term, it was a social movement that urged the prohibition of Demon Rum.

One notable woman was Sarah Pellet who was known as a mighty temperance speaker.  Sarah was firmly convinced of the soundness of the movement, so much so, that she traveled out west during the Gold Rush to address the men in the California gold camps.

I could tell you more about Sarah Pellet, but I think Barbara Brackman did a fine post on the subject, so why not jump over to her blog when you’re finished here?

I’d like to share with you today a little story about my great-grandpappy Eugene, who could’ve given us a first-hand account of gold mining and the temperance movement.  I’ve mentioned him in passing before, but here’s a bio written by his daughter, my grandaunt, Henrietta Aspasia Saucier Pace.  Just click on Henrietta’s Story: Part One.

Oh, Those Crazy Americans And Their Cars

September already.  The weather is finally starting to turn, and like a lot of Septembers, I have a tendency to take a Sunday kind of drive down memory lane thinking about summers from the past.

I remember the summer my father died.  So many firsts during that long summer that I moved to Missouri.  The very first ‘first’, was when I inadvertently declared my independence by lighting a cigarette in front of  the family after the funeral.  ‘Nuff of that.

My first job.

My first car.

My ’60 Starliner was white on white with a Y-block V8.  It was long and it was wide and it could fly.  I proved that late one night trying to lose my first, but regretfully not my last, blind date.  Yeah, he really was that bad.  I finally shook him loose when I opened it up and ran that car nearly flat out on the Nebo Hills road.  I’ll swear that all four tires left the blacktop a few times.  I really miss those flat fins.

I bought my first stereo.  How many times did I listen to Joe Walsh on vinyl that summer?

I helped my sister stain the exterior of her house – one particular highlight was climbing down the ladder and stepping (barefoot of course) into a paint pan of red stain.  Sweet… one redwood colored foot.  That was a slapstick  first, and spending the first few weeks of summer not being able to wear my favorite pair of water buffaloes was another.

After a childhood spent outdoors year-round in the Southwest, I peeled for the first time in that Missouri humidity, just like a snake.  Nice.  So much for my carefully cultivated tan, for that summer at least.

Speaking of snakes, I had my first encounter with a copperhead that summer.  After an ineffective attempt to slice and dice it with a lawn mower, which by the way, merely managed to make it righteously pissed off, I dispatched it with a set of post-hole diggers.  Oh, and incidentally, another first – I learned how to tan snake skin.

That summer I read William Peter Blatty’s book, The Exorcist, and I recall one night spent babysitting my nieces and cleaning up after them.  I’ve never been sure if the cause was my first attempt at cooking an entire meal, or a 24-hour bug, but either way, the result was the girls doing their level best to outdo Regan from the book – whip-saw vomiting while still in bed – when one would leave off , the other would begin, then they’d start all over again.  A whole lot of bedding ended up being hosed down in the bathtub that night.

Thank you little baby Jesus they didn’t start spider walking.

Back then, the legal drinking age in the state of Kansas was eighteen.  It was a quick trip to cross the state line for a beer run.  Now I’m not saying that I was legal, but I was close, and that was the summer of my very first hangover.  On waking up the next morning chilled to the bone from the air conditioner, I decided that the only place to hide out and sleep it off was in the backseat of my brother-in-law’s Chevy.  Was it a ’56 or a ’57?  Whatever it was, it just felt so darned good to be finally warm.

I placed my first long distance call that summer.  One call to an ex-boyfriend out in Arizona who wanted me to come home for a Doobie Brothers concert.  I didn’t go home that summer, and I didn’t see the Doobie Brothers either

I did see Elton John in a fabulous concert at Arrowhead Stadium instead.  I went with a cousin who, I’m fairly certain, had been assigned the task of shepherding me that summer.  I don’t know how many times I was introduced to his friends as his fiance.  He eventually got over the embarrassment of having me tag along, and for the first time we became less like relatives – more like friends.

An odd first, nearly surreal, was the night I went to the Twin Drive-in and saw a double feature re-release of a couple of movies I’d never seen: Gone With The Wind and The Green Berets.  What were they thinking when they screened those two movies together?  I loved one, slept through most of the other.  You guess which.

I discovered In-A-Tub and the taste sensation of a taco salad topped with their proprietary blend of powdered cheese.  I know it sounds bad, but really, it was good.

One of my favorite memories of that summer was driving home from town with my sister in her ’73 Ford pickup (I believe it was Mill Valley Green).  We were talking about – oh, everything – and working around to a discussion of a neighbor who had been out to her house for a barbeque earlier that week.

The guy had the most incredibly, wonderful belly laugh.  He was one of those people who sincerely laughed, from way down deep inside.

We wondered: how did he do that?

The two of us ended up parked in the driveway, sitting there in the cab, trying so very hard to imitate his belly laugh…

Hah-hah-hah-hah-hah!

Wait, had anybody seen us?  Then completely cracking up over the craziness of the situation.  Our own laughter ringing out, loud and true, laughing for the joy of being silly together.

That summer began with a death in the family and by the time the summer ended I had a job, a car, a stereo, a worn out Joe Walsh LP, one slightly pink foot, a patchy tan, a much cherished snakeskin, and semi-permanent emotional scarring from reading one of the scariest books ever.

Some might describe that as a so-so summer, some might even consider it pretty tame, but to tell you the truth, it was one memorable summer – time spent in some great cars, having a few laughs, and making that first conscious move towards adulthood.

It’s Shake ‘n Bake™ – And I Helped!

This morning I’m still thinking about family – and wondering about the women in particular – in conjunction with the 19th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.   I’ve been trying to imagine how becoming politically enfranchised might have impacted their lives.

For a woman of today, the opportunity to voice an opinion with a vote is something that is very often taken for granted, but enfranchisement just wasn’t always so.  It was such a short time ago that we American women gained that right.

On June 4, 1919 the 19th Amendment was passed; it was then ratified by Congress August 18, 1920.  Ninety-two years ago this month.  In a nutshell, the amendment prohibited any U.S. citizen being denied the right to vote based on sex.

Mom… Our House Smells Funny.  New Wizard™ Air Freshener Will Cure House-itosis!

My grandmother on the paternal side of the family would have been 34 years old at that time, and if a contemporary were to describe her you would probably hear something along the line of:  Ida, wife of James, mother of four, homemaker.  All you would need to encapsulate her life for a headstone would be to insert “faithful” and/or “beloved” somewhere.

James and Ida

Now really, looking at the woman in this photo (pictured with her husband James who always looks to me like the proverbial cat that ate the canary), do you think she’d willingly let herself be limited by that definition?  I’d like to think she wouldn’t.

ring around the collar!  RING AROUND THE COLLAR!!

If we switch over to the distaff side of the family, you might be interested to hear about Dr. Ella Green Ware, my first cousin twice removed.  Ella was 50 years old at the time we’re talking about and had already been practicing medicine as a country doctor for twenty-one years.

Ella was the first woman in the state of Texas to practice medicine after graduation from the University of Texas Medical School at Galveston in 1899.  It was said that she had been offered a prestigious professorship, something more suited to a lady doctor, but the position was gratefully declined.  (Note: other sources disagree with the graduation date of 1899.  Karen Mac Smith in her book On The Watershed Of The Ecleto And The Clear Fork Sandies cites the date as 1898.)

Dr. Ella Green Ware

Encouraged by her father, Ella stepped outside of the traditional boundaries set for a women of the day.  During the fifty years she practiced, she not only delivered 6,000 babies, but treated injuries and illnesses as any male doctor would.

Who Jacked This Post And Reminds Us Of Stereotyped Women And Bad TV Commercials?

Would the ratification of the 19th Amendment have changed anything in a woman’s day-to-day life?  Probably not.  But it would certainly have influenced, I think at least subconsciously, how they raised and educated their children, more specifically their daughters, to believe that exercising their hard-won right to vote could help to make a difference.

Mother Pin A Rose On Me

Helen M. Saucier

I’m sure that every family has replayed a similar scene, a gathering of the clan.  The uncles and aunts with their respective spouses, all of the adults lingering in the dining room long after the dishes had been cleared.  Smoke curling from lit cigarettes, the ever-present bottle of Scotch, stories being told, jokes swapped, most of the content unsuitable for tender ears. Tender ears… that would be me, my sisters, my cousins, the kids who were supposed to be safely tucked in bed, and usually weren’t.  Not many of us could resist the lure of crouching in a dark hallway outside of the dining room listening to the grownups talk.  We knew better than to venture into the lighted room – bedtime was worse than Coventry when you’d been sent there for the second time.  Then the rules were strictly enforced. Helen was my father’s youngest sister.  Like all of the siblings, she was quick witted and had a fabulously dry sense of humor.  Long is my list of ‘Helen-isms’, and when I hear myself repeating them, I can see her face, the way she would strike a pose, or point her finger for emphasis. I was rummaging through old letters and documents today when I came across an article written and published by Helen.  Not sure that many in the family have seen, let alone ever read this particular story, I thought that I’d post it here.  If you’d like to read it, just click on Story Time.

Hello World!

Eugene Felix Saucier 1841-1913

Felt the need to participate in the noise, so here I am.

Like a lot of people, I have things to say from time to time and I do love to correspond.  But sometimes I feel that I have so much to say that it’s eye-glazing, off-the-chart boring for the lucky person who receives the email or letter.

Instead, or better still, in addition, I’ll be here and if you choose to go along for the ride, wonderful!

If you’re wondering about the photo, that would be my great-grandpappy Eugene, a Civil War veteran who served in the the Grand Army of the Republic.