Ancestry: The LeGendre’s of Roxton Pond (1)
I’m going to take a chance, writing word for word what my mother painstakingly typed on the computer my sister gave her for Christmas (I gave her the printer). The document I’m looking at said, “Revised: October, 1992.”
It was written 8 months before she died.
Will anyone out there be interested in the lives of a poor family from Roxton Pond, Quebec, or the destiny of a son wanting more than to die in obscurity?
Please let met know.
Below this sentence is typed word for (punctuation included) from the faded pages of her journal:
Family History of Albert A LeGendre
(pronounced La Zhun)
Georgia Deever Le Gendre
Alberta Le Gendre Dempsey
The early life of Albert A Le Gendre and his family background, has always been wrapped in a veil of fantasy and mystery, coupled with his desire for aristocracy and adventure, as far as I am able to determine.
Dad rarely mentioned anything regarding his early life – prior to his arrival in Arkansas. When he did, we usually had company, and his stories were aglow with travels and adventures he had encountered as he traveled from country to country and continent to continent with his parents; or during his enlistment in the Spanish-American War and the years he continued to live and work in Cuba.
According to Dad’s word-pictures of his childhood – as he described to his immediate family: He was born in Boston, Massachusetts, October 3, 1883. His father, Victor Le Gendre, born in San Francisco, was attached to the U. S. Diplomatic Service.
- His mother, Agnes Livingston a protestant, was from a wealthy Kentucky family — where he learned to ride and enjoy horses.
He said he had two brothers named Arthur and Augustus and a sister named Albertine (but called Bertha); and they were all older than him:
- Arthur and Augustus were educated in military schools; and his sister Albertine attended a private school in the states
- while their father, Victor, traveled around the world on various assignments. Accompanied by his wife and their youngest child, Albert.
He stuck by that story very religiously; and claimed Boston as the city of his birth on all legal papers.
According to Dad’s account of his early life, he attended school in various countries, wherever his father was stationed. Thus he became fluent in a number of languages – especially English, French, and Spanish.
Dad gave us the impression that he had graduated from MIT and had attended Harvard. I never gave it a second thought, until recently.
Now, looking back, I realize that he would have had to be a very gifted student to have accomplished so much in a life span of fourteen years:
He was supposed to have been the youngest student to attend Harvard.
- (Although, we should not overlook the possibility of a correspondence course or two – if they existed at that time?)
- He had many volumes of Electrical Engineering encyclopedias, which he treasured.
- He was born October 3, 1883. Enlisted at the age of fourteen in the Spanish-American War, which began in Cuba, April, 1898, and ended four months later; but he remained in Cuba as a Spanish interpreter for General Wood.
- (This I know to be true.) Dad wrote General Wood – after applying for his Spanish-American War pension in the 1930’s, which was denied because all records had been destroyed in a fire.
- General Wood replied immediately. He was happy to hear from Dad and said he would see what he could do. Shortly afterwards Dad received his first monthly pension check of $35.00 – which looked like a fortune at the time.
- Dad also gave us the impression that his brothers had beaten him out of an inheritance of $30,000.00 – his share of their parents estate.
Albert A Le Gendre had a brilliant mind, enjoyed reading, and was well educated; thus, leading his family to believe that he had actually received his degrees from MIT and Harvard.
- He was strictly an individualist.
- Friendly to everyone, but had no special friends or catered to anyone, that I know of.
- He would enchant people with his charm, interesting stories of adventure, and his knowledgeable ability.
- He was never confronted with a problem that he couldn’t solve. To him ever(y) problem had a solution.
- If an answer didn’t exist, he would work until he found a solution that would solve the problem.
- He had the gift of perfect pitch. (Which none of his children inherited.)
- His worst enemy was his own hot temper.
After completing his enlistment, he remained in Cuba and worked for the Havana Railroad Company until 1910.
He worked as a steam and electrical engineer for the Havana Railroad; where he invented, the railroad track switching system that enables locomotives, box cars, and trains to be switched and rerouted from one railroad line to another. (Used world-wide today.)
This is, quite literally, where my mom drew stars in a line. If you’re interested in reading more, part 2 will tell how my mother learned her dad wasn’t born in Boston, but in Roxton Pond, Quebec.