Ancestry: The LeGendre’s of Roxton Pond (2)
In 1927, Bob Le Gendre, Maine, won the world pole vault in the Olympic Games. Dad said he was his brother’s son. Dad never attempted to communicate with Bob or family, as far as I know.
In the early 1930’s, Dad agreed to let me attempt to locate his sister Albertine M. Le Gendre. To my surprise, he suggested that I write to Roxton Pond, Quebec, Canada, and request the address of Albertine Le Gendre.
- That was the first time I had ever heard him mention anything about the country of Canada or Roxton Pond, Quebec.
- (As far as we knew all of his early life had evolved around Boston.)
I wrote a letter to the powtmaster in Roxton Pond. Within two weeks, we received letters from the postmaster and Albertine Le Gendre DeLorme, who was married and had moved to Burlington, Vermont, with her family.
Albertine was excited and happy to hear from her youngest brother. She had six living children – five girls and a boy.
- Her oldest child, a boy had drown in Roxton Pond a number of years before.
- Her first few letters were full of life. In time, she began making vague mentions of their childhood.
- Apparently, Dad deflated her enthusiasm because after one of his letters, she clammed up and became somewhat distant. Nevertheless, she and I continued corresponding.
- As years passed, I tried to get Albertine to tell me her side of the story, which she always ignored.
Albertine forwarded my address to her daughter Simone, who lived in Boston. Simone and I have continued corresponding over the years.
- In recent years, I have learned from Simone that her mother’s recollection of her childhood was the opposite of Dad’s
- All of the children were born in Roxton Pond, Quebec, Canada.
- The family was very poor. Their father, Hector Le Gendre was a “traveling” school teacher, and was away from home most of the time.
- Their mother Vitaline Bernier, a Catholic, was frail; and in order to feed her children she remained near her parents. Depending upon their moral and financial support.
- Vitaline died about 1886. Which would make Albert about three years old, at the time.
- The children were placed in a Catholic Orphanage in Rhode Island. (Apparently, the private school Dad referred too.)
(Simone had cancer, discovered three weeks before she and past away, May 13, 1992.)
- Hindsight makes me inclined to believe that Dad ran away from the orphanage at and early age, and was self taught in a great extent.
- Probably, got a job on a Spanish freighter, where he learned to speak Spanish fluently and received his degree of engineering in the boiler room of a ship.
- Dad had a magnetic personality and could get along with anyone until his temper flared up – which was unpredictable.
- (He could sell refrigerators to the Eskimos in the wintertime and they would think he had done them a favor.)
(There is another angle that may be wise to consider: Since Dad was about three years old when placed in the orphanage, there is the possibility that he may have been adopted by an uncle, or relative, who lived in Boston.)
1910 Spring: Albert A Le Gendre arrived in the United States from Cuba and met the owner of the “Arkansas Lumber Company”, Warren, Arkansas. (Mr. Mansfield?), at an electrical convention in New Orleans, Louisiana.
- He never mentioned why he left Cuba – which seemed to have been suddenly.
- About 1940 a group picture, Dad had of the United States orderlies, in Havana, in 1901, was published in the Spanish-American War Veterans newspaper.
- Dad received letters from several of the men. One man inquired about his wife and child?
- (Dad said the man had him mixed up with someone else. Knowing Dad, Mother, was somewhat skeptical.)
- Soon afterwards, Albert A Le Gendre arrived in Warren, Arkansas, to assume the position of Steam and Electrical Engineer at the Arkansas Lumber Company.
He was directed to a boarding house, owned and operated by William and Mamie McDonald. He enjoyed his meals and asked to meet the cook.
- The cook was their seventeen year old niece, Georgia Deever who had arrived a few months earlier from Kansas – to escape from her drunken father, Charles Wesley Deever.
- (Interestingly, Mother never attempted to cover-up or camouflage any of her childhood.)
November 28, 1910 Georgia Deever and Albert A LeGendre were married in Warren, Arkansas.
- Both independent in nature and strong-willed.
- Dad was 5 feet 10 inches in height, and never weighed more than a 145 pounds in his life.
- Dad’s hair was black and straight, when we knew him. Although, he told us that it was blond and curly until he had yellow fever, when stationed in the Panama canal zone. (All of his hair fell out and came back in black.)
- Mother was 5 feet 5 inches in height. Her weight varied during the years, from 120 pounds to 200 pounds – in her late thirtieths – and then back to 120 pounds.
- Mother’s hair was jet black, very fine, and curly.
- Mother was a very friendly person and like to be around people. She was always doing something for her neighbors, the school, or strangers.
Mother often told the story of how Dad had invented an electric bread wrapping machine (1911 – 1912) before I was born.
- To demonstrate his new invention, he would use blocks of wood to represent loaves of bread; and mother would watch as he ran the blocks through the machine to be automatically wrapped and sealed in a paper wrapping.
Dad sent the plans, and all pertinent information, to a patent lawyer in Washington, D.C. The lawyer replied that a number of new inventions would be involved in the patenting of his machine; each requiring a separate patent; and requested an advanced payment of $600.00 in order to proceed with the patent papers.
Dad replied that he didn’t have the money and requested that the application be returned to him.
- The application was never returned. (Dad forwarded several request; which apparently were ignored.)
- In those days, lawyers were in control; leaving the individual with no recourse.
- In the early 1930’s, newspapers nationwide carried headlines regarding a new automatic bread wrapping machine that bakeries were installing.
- After inspection, Dad said that it was identical to the one he had invented.
- Dad concluded that the lawyer had held his plans until the time when his original claim for a patent had expired and the the lawyer filed a claim in his own name.
- Prior to that time, all bread had to be hand wrapped.
In the meantime, Dad and Mother were out buggy riding Their buggy whip was snatched by a passing buggy driver.
- Dad invented and patented a “whip-holder.”
- By the time his patent was granted, buggy whips were going out-of-style because of the popularity of the automobile.
In the next installment, you’ll find out why Alberta wasn’t named Margaret, and why a dog taught her to walk.