The Farmer

Anastasie and Eustache, Part 2

French Canadian immigrants, Anastasie Paradis and Eustache Martin came to Brunswick, Maine, from the Chicoutimi region of Quebec to work at the cotton mill. (See Le Cultivateur) In 1895 they married and started a family. By 1910, they were a family of nine: Anastasie; Eustache; sons Eustache Jr and Ovila; and daughters Rose, Eva, Alfreda, Marie Anne, and Noella.

Libby to Martin 4016_4_24_1913 cd

Both Eustache Sr and Jr worked at the Cabot Company’s cotton mill. Like many French Canadian immigrants who had left the family farm, Eustache Sr likely saw himself as a farmer working a supplementary job. He was a weaver at the mill, a stonemason, and operated his own wood-sawing machine business. He may have held onto the dream of returning to Chicoutimi, for, unlike a large number of his fellow immigrants, Eustache Sr never sought to become a naturalized citizen of the United States. As his American-born children grew, perhaps he gave up the idea of going back to a place he hadn’t called home for twenty years. Instead, in April 1913, Eustache Martin Sr bought a farm on Bunganuck Road near Maquoit Bay.

Eustache Farm 1910 Brunswick Map cd

Because Bunganuck was at the other end of town from the Cabot Company and commuting was still by foot or hoof, it seems unlikely that either Eustache Sr or Jr continued at the mill. Instead, the entire family would have developed a daily rhythm of rising early to feed the horse, pigs, and chickens; feed and milk the cows; collect the eggs; pasture the animals; clean the barn; tend the crops; build or repair fences; and, finally, bring the livestock in for the night. In between all that they did household chores: cooking, cleaning, sewing, mending, chopping wood, building a fire, and doing laundry — all without the electric appliances we take for granted in 2016.

The next day, they’d do it over again.

Eustache_Anastasie c1915

Anastasie and Eustache Martin Sr at Jalbert Farm at Gurnet before 1915, courtesy of Agnes (Martin) Maynard

As all consuming as the work was, it paid dividends mill work never could: brisk ocean breezes, bird song, swimming in the brook, the scent of freshly mown hay, independence, and a return to a life tempo that seemed natural for the Martins.

Then, suddenly, everything changed.

Without warning, on Thursday, January 21, 1915, Eustache Sr died of a stroke.

The Brunswick Record didn’t publish a death notice or obituary for Eustache Martin Sr. Perhaps Jr, the only family member who spoke English, didn’t know he could bring a notice to the newspaper. Or perhaps the death of one more French Canadian wasn’t of interest to the readers of an English language publication.

Since it was the dead of winter and the ground was frozen, Sr’s body was stored until the spring thaw. When the earth was soft enough to be parted by a handheld shovel, Eustache Eusebe Martin Sr was buried at St. John’s Cemetery on Pine Street.

380 Bunganuc Rd

“Bunganuc” Road in area of Martin Farm

An age-old story repeated itself: lacking the wherewithal to pay the mortgage, the family lost the Bunganuck Road property. Anastasie and the children moved back to Little Canada, to 9 Union Street Extension between Cabot and Mill Streets, just to the west of the cotton mill by the river. Eustache Jr, and then each sibling as they became old enough, went to work to support the family.

Still, Eustache the farmer left an internal legacy to his family and their descendents. Even though they had lived at Bunganuck only two years, his farming identity had taken root and grown to maturity in the hearts of his children. Daughter Alfreda, for instance, was born in the shadow of Cabot mill; lived there for all but those two years until she was thirty-eight; and worked for decades at Cabot’s successor, the Verney Mill. Yet, years later she would tell her grandchildren that her parents were farmers from Chicoutimi and she herself was raised on a farm. Millwork, after all, was simply supplementary income. Farming was the Martin’s lifework.

Next Blog: Anastasie, épouse de feu Eustache Martin



About Barbara Desmarais

Writer and amateur historian
This entry was posted in Bernier & Martin Genealogy and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Farmer

  1. Deb Gould says:

    Nice blog, Barbara! And, yes, life does change suddenly — Eustache’s death tipped their world on its axis…I’m always amazed by the resilience of those who came before us!

  2. Thank you, Deb. No wonder our ancestors said “What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.”

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