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Ancestors of Marie-Florida Blais


Introduction
History
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Introduction
This original 121-page, ahnatafel-style report was graciously sent to me by DON BLAIS for inclusion in my web site, and this report is the sole property of DON BLAIS. While the history below encompasses both Don's grandfather, Alfred Blais, and his grandmother, Marie-Florida Blais, the lineage contained in the next 12 pages concerns Marie-Florida Blais specifically. GENERATION BARS have been added above to aid the researcher in locating his/her ancestors, but it should be noted that the years listed on the bars are only approximate. If you are looking for a person from a specific year and don't find what you are looking for, please check other pages, particularly the ones with the generations listed before and after the years you are researching. Names contained on the pages of "ANCESTORS OF MARIE-FLORIDA BLAIS" are searchable through the FreeFind search engine, which you will find at the bottom of every page of this document.

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History


Alfred and Florida were my father's parents. In telling about them, I should point out at the start that Florida's maiden name was Blais. Although I'm sure they did not know it, I have found that Alfred's Great Great Grandparents were also Florida's Great, Great, Great grandparents. This made Alfred and Florida third cousins once removed. Their common ancestors were JOSEPH MARIE BLAIS and MARIE LOUISE GOULET who were married November 15, 1762 in St. Charles, Bellechasse County, Quebec. Alfred descended from their son Michel whereas Florida descended from their son Joseph.

Florida was born in St. Charles, Quebec on June 7, 1873. St. Charles is in Bellechasse County, on the South shore of the St. Lawrence River, roughly across from Quebec City. It appears that her family moved south to Sherbrooke, Quebec about 1876, and then returned to St. Charles about 1883. Florida came with her parents when they moved to Duluth, Minnesota about 1887. She was about fourteen years old at the time of the move. The family lived in what is now known as West Duluth. Florida died unexpectedly of a stroke about November 1, 1944. She was 71 years old.

Alfred was born in Princeville, Quebec on February 22, 1866. He came to the Duluth, Minnesota area with his family in 1869 when he was three years old. The family lived briefly in Superior, Wisconsin, and then moved to Duluth's Minnesota Point where his father opened a saw mill. In 1873, the family left the Duluth-Superior area for Lake Linden in Michigan's Keweenaw Peninsula. From there they moved to Southern Minnesota, near Cedar Lake, about seven miles west of the village of Faribault. Alfred's father, Francois, went into farming there and that is where Alfred spent the majority of his childhood.

In 1882, by the age of 16, Alfred had left home and was working as a Cook's Helper in a Northern Wisconsin logging camp. He spoke of an incident in which he and some others walked sixty miles in one day from the site of a logging camp to Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin. They ran the first ten miles. He said that when he arrived at a hotel in Chippewa Falls he was so tired that he fell asleep in the lobby and the Innkeeper, thinking he was drunk, carried him up to a room.

At some point, Alfred moved to Duluth, where his family had lived briefly when he was quite young. What drew him to Duluth is unknown. His older brother, Philip, was married in Duluth in 1888. Possibly Philip had arrived there first and had influenced Alfred to move there. Or, perhaps Alfred had gone there to visit Philip and, while attending church at St. Jean the Baptiste, which was Duluth's French Catholic Church, had caught sight of Florida. In any event, Alfred and Florida were married at St. Jean the Baptiste Church on November 28, 1889.

Alfred and Florida's marriage was part of a double wedding ceremony. In the same ceremony, Florida's sister Emma married a man named Napoleon Blais. Emma and Napoleon eventually moved to California. Napoleon’s ancestry is unknown, other than that he was born in Canada, that he had a brother named Arthur who was married to someone named Anna, and that he lived for a period in Superior, Wisconsin and then also moved to California. Napoleon and Arthur had a brother, named Charles, who apparently stayed in Canada.

There is a record of a Fred Blais obtaining a Land Patent for property in Duluth on September 28, 1893. I presume that that was Alfred, who was generally known by the name "Fred." According to the 1895 Duluth City Directory, Alfred was living at 1416 West First Street in Duluth's "West End." By 1899 the family was living on West Third Street, just East of Eleventh Avenue West. At some point, the family moved to 119 East Fourth Street, where Alfred and Florida remained for the rest of their lives. During their marriage, Florida presented Alfred with five sons and a daughter.

On July 1, 1890, shortly following his marriage, Alfred went to work for the Duluth Post Office as a Letter Carrier, which was the term in those days for "Mailman." He remained a Letter Carrier for 41 years, retiring from the Post Office in February 1931, when he reached age 65. According to a 1929 article in a Duluth newspaper, he had so far walked the equivalent of six times around the world while delivering mail. His route was in the downtown area, where he delivered mail to most of the retail and other businesses. Also shortly after his marriage, Alfred contracted for the building of a commercial building in Superior, Wisconsin. He named the building the "Blais Block," and this name was etched into the concrete header displayed on the front of the building. The building was listed in the Superior City Directory for the years 1893 and 1894. It was in the 1700 block of the South side of North Third Street. It was still there in the 1950s and may still be

Alfred and Florida enjoyed camping. My father spoke of two-week family camping trips during Alfred's vacation time to a spot on Lake Superior's North Shore where the Temperance River flows into the Lake. Their campsite was on a bluff overlooking the mouth of the river from its East side. At that time, there was no road on the North Shore of the Lake. The family would arrange for transportation on a freighter, which would temporarily anchor while they would be rowed to shore at the designated point. Two weeks later, they would be picked up on the boat’s return trip to Duluth. Their food was kept refrigerated by storage in the Lake, which remains about 38 degrees water temperature year round. They would pick blueberries and Florida would bake blueberry pies over the campfire. As a point of interest, the Temperance River is so named because it is the only stream flowing into Lake Superior's North Shore that has no bar at its mouth.

During World War II, Alfred went to work as a guard at the shipyards in Duluth. He must have been well over 75 years old at that time. It shows how much the "folks at home" were willing to pitch in to the war effort. He also cultivated a World War II " Victory Garden." It was located on the Kenwood Avenue property of the St. Scholastica order of Benedictine Sisters. He had a sister, two nieces and a cousin who were members of that order.

Alfred remained quite healthy throughout most of his life. He enjoyed swimming up to just a few years before he died, which was at age 88. Eventually, his heart became too weak to allow him to carry on his normal activities and he soon was hospitalized for congestive heart failure. He went into a coma but, shortly before his death, he was heard singing in French. He died on September 1, 1955.
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Created 15 Aug 2000 by Kathi Clark-Colton
with permission of Don Blais