Florida’s 6th great grandfather (yes, 10 generations), Rene Binet, came to New France from Loudon, within the historical district of Poitou, France in 1665. For over 200 years his descendants had farmed areas close to the Quebec city when Florida was born in Ste. Elzear, Beauce, PQ. She was the oldest of 11 children of Honore Binet and Adele Perreault. Farms in that area were marginal, they barely supported one large family, families grew their own food, had no cash crop and could not save. So, soon after she and Napoleon Dubois got married in St. Ferdinand, Megantic, PQ in 1897, they must have been recruited to work in the textile mills of New England. They likely immigrated to America by taking the train from Quebec to New Hampshire. I never heard if other siblings of either Florida or Napolean lived in New Hampshire milltowns.

The French-Canadian priests did not encourage wives and mothers to work in the mills. Their son, Philippe was born in Newmarket, NH in 1899, followed by Joseph Irene in 1901, Rene 1902, Alma 1904, Leo 1905, Rachel 1908, Donat 1909, Marion 1911, Donat 1912, Jeannette 1913, and Germaine in 1915. (Joseph Irene and the first Donat died early; others may have been born since Germaine claimed she was lucky 13 – of 11 known children). Napoleon died in 1924 at 51 from bone marrow deterioration. Donat got sick with meningitis which resulted in him being somewhat slow or retarded; he was later able to support himself with a simple job in a shoe factory. She never owned a house or a car. She did take periodic trips to Quebec to see relatives and often made a stop at the Shrine of St. Anne de Beaupre to pray for special intentions.

Because "Memere" only spoke French, I learned French before I learned English – wish I had kept it up. She was able to live in a Little Canada village near downtown Newmarket where she could get her groceries, baking supplies, etc from French stores.

Somehow the Dubois family made it through the depression; but several children, even as married adults, had to temporarily or permanently work in other textile towns in Massachusetts, Maine, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. They tried to keep employed as the shift of textile manufacturing to the South accelerated. Donald Labranche, then 17, remembers going to the wake of Rene, 47, in Lawrence, MA with "Memere"; when she saw her son in his coffin she took his hand and said "C’est vrai" (it’s true).

When we grew up, "Memere" lived with Germaine and her children and Donat. The family gathered on Sunday afternoons in Newmarket, often including "the girls" Marion and Alma from Lawrence. George Verville remembers that as she got older, she was visited weekly by a Dr. McGregor of Durham; he also had a Scottie dog and brought candy for the children. She could not understand his English (or him, her French) but they could communicate. She was a kind and gentle woman, Dennis remembers that while dying in bed, she cut and fed an apple to the five year old. She was a daily communicant, and had extreme faith that the Lord would provide. When she died, many priests celebrated her funeral – a real tribute to a lonely widow from Newmarket.

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