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American French Genealogical Society Logo
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American-French Genealogical Society
Woonsocket, RI
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Volume XV No.6
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 NOV-DEC  2004

 


AFGS HISTORY CORNER
Beginnings of French-Canadian Parishes of the Blackstone Valley We would be errant if we omitted those mid-valley parishes which are termed "paroisses mixtes", or multi-ethnic. Thus in this issue we will visit the town of Northbridge, MA to discuss two early parishes. These are St. Patrick's in Whitinsville (1889) and St.Peter's in Rockdale, which was its early mission.

As early as 1834 Father Fitton is said to have performed the first Mass in Northbridge, although the site is unknown. In 1846 Father Gibson did a Catholic Census of the valley, listing "fifty railroad men" in Northbridge, believed to be mostly Irish. In 1848 there were families who walked to Mass in Milford. By 1852 they were able to attend the new mission of St. Mary's in Uxbridge. The following year Father Sheridan became the first Pastor at St. Mary's and began saying Masses in a house on Church Street in Whitinsville as well. The Uxbridge Church of St. Mary's was finished by summer of 1855, and thus the Whitinsville faithful traveled the 3 miles there. Finally, in 1867 a mission chapel was erected in Whitinsville at the corner of Church and Cross Streets by Father O'Keefe and named for St. Patrick.

With the completion of the railroad connecting Worcester to the Port of Providence, immigration would swell the populations of the mid-valley. Whitinsville, due to the jobs at Whitin Machine Company, a textile machine manufacturer, would develop as a very unique center of varied ethnicity. There were English, Irish, Dutch, Polish, Italian, and Bohemian people, as well as French-Canadian. Thus, St. Patrick's had a congregation of Catholics perhaps more varied than any other church in the area.

Although a larger church was completed by 1879, it would not be until 1889 that Father Peter O'Reilly was appointed as first resident Pastor of the independent parish of St. Patrick's. It was he who began building a much needed mission church in Rockdale in 1892 dedicating it to St. Peter. Costing $12,000, it would seat 400.

But Rev. O'Reilly had larger visions and in 1897 would begin preparations for a new larger church in Whitinsville. He hired Charles B. McGinnis, a Boston architect, to design an Italian Gothic church. It would be of brick, with terra cotta trim, and an elegant campanile or bell-tower. The new St.Patrick's Church was dedicated on Sept.24, 1899, in a magnificent ceremony attended by thousands.

There were 937 baptisms recorded at St. Patrick's from May 1889 to Jan.1898 as well as 218 marriages. Of the 2,500 parishioners, some 860 were of Fr.-Canadian ancestry, or 30%. Father O'Reilly, like many valley priests, was fluent in French, having studied in Montreal. He did his theology work at the Grand Seminary there and was ordained in 1884.

MEMORY LANE
There have been a few "Down Memory Lanes" but this one tops `em all . .. so, turn on your sound, click on the URL and get ready to scroll down with the words. REALLY COOL !!! http://www.singingman.us/DYR.htm

WRITING A NEWSLETTER FOR THE HOLIDAYS ?
If you're thinking of writing a newsletter to your friends and relatives this Holiday season and want some pointers on do's and don'ts then wind your way to this website for some free tips and let the Newsletter Doctor help you out. http://newsletterdoctor.com/

AFGS VOLUNTEERS TAKE A BREAK
The AFGS Library will be closed for the Holidays from December 15, 2004 through Jan 2, 2005 so that our volunteers can enjoy the Holidays with their families.      We will reopen for business on Saturday, Jan.3RD

DON'T KNOW WHAT TO GIVE THOSE GRANDCHILDREN THIS CHRISTMAS?
How about a geography lesson? Let them see where their ancestors came from while learning where countries are in relation to our own country; and maybe they'll begin to understand what their ancestors had to go through to reach Canada. It will also give them a better understanding of what it was like to cross the ocean. Check out this website and you might even learn a thing or two!    http://www.geographyolympics.com/puzzles.htm

The 2004 AFGS Annual Holiday Ornament
The AFGS is proud to present its first Annual Holiday Ornament. L'HABITATION, French Canada's first permanent colony founded by Samuel de Champlain in Quebec in 1608 is depicted in intricate detail in an exquisite 24-kt. gold electroplated ornament handcrafted of solid brass and beautifully-gift boxed with the AFGS logo embossed in gold on the cover.

A short history of L'HABITATION accompanies the ornament to enhance your understanding of the significance of this settlement in sheltering our early French-Canadian ancestors. The proceeds from the sale of this ornament will benefit the AFGS Building Fund, thereby contributing to providing "permanent shelter" to the AFGS' rich genealogical and historical resources.

This first in the series of Annual Christmas Ornaments commemorating our French-Canadian history would make an excellent holiday gift. A descriptive flyer with order form accompanies this newsletter.  http://www.afgs.org/xmasornament.html

ESTABLISHMENT OF AN E MAIL MAILING LIST FOR AFGS MEMBERS
An E-mail Mailing list is a way of forwarding messages to people interested in similar topics.

The AFGS member's mailing list is for members of AFGS to communicate with each other on genealogical research. It also will allow AFGS members to discuss the resources available at the society library and suggest ways to improve the American-French Genealogical Society.

Important, You must be a member of AFGS and a list subscriber to post a message.

Members of the American French Genealogical Society will NOT be automatically joined to this AFGS-MEMBERS-L@rootsweb.com e-mail list. Check out : http://www.afgs.org/maillist.html for further details or contact Bill at wgp@afgs.org

THE ACADIAN CULTURAL SOCIETY
The Acadian Cultural Society, P.O. Box 2304, Fitchburg, MA 01420 is dedicated to promoting Acadian culture, genealogy, heritage & history. This year is the 400th anniversary of the settlement of Acadia (NB, NS & PE) in New France in 1604. Mr. Denis M. Boudreau of North Providence, RI is the President of the Acadian Cultural Society. The A.C.S. periodically publishes the journal, Le Reveil Acadien. Check out their web site (www.acadiancultural.org).

These are additional web sites about Acadians: Acadian & Cajun Genealogy & History (www.acadian-cajun.com)
Acadian Genealogy (www.acadian.org)  Congres Acadien Mondial 2004 (www.cma2004.com)

JOYEUX NOL

Au Revoir.
A La Prochaine

"AFGS-AFGNEWS. A read-only mailing list for members of the American-French Genealogical Society (AFGS) or anyone interested in AFGS activities who would like an electronic version of the AFGnewS that is sent bi-monthly by postal mail to members. The AFGS is a genealogical and historical organization dedicated to the study and preservation of the French-Canadian culture. Additional information on the AFGS can be found on the AFGS web page at http://www.afgs.org.
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AFGS Newsletter - AFGnewS

The American-French Genealogical Society 
P.O. Box 830, Woonsocket, RI 02895-0870
Editor: Roy Forgit, Sylvia & Roger Bartholomy, Normand Deragon, George & Therese Perron


  ATTACHMENTS  
Holiday Shopping Ideas
The 2004 AFGS Annual Holiday Ornament

The AFGS is proud to present its first Annual Holiday Ornament.L'HABITATION, French Canada's first permanent colony founded by Samuel de Champlain in Quebec in 1608 is depicted in intricate detail in an exquisite 24-kt. gold electroplated ornament handcrafted of solid brass and beautifully-gift boxed with the AFGS logo embossed in gold on the cover.

A short history of L'HABITATION accompanies the ornament to enhance your understanding of the significance of this settlement in sheltering our early French-Canadian ancestors. The proceeds from the sale of this ornament will benefit the AFGS Building Fund, thereby contributing to providing "permanent shelter" to the AFGS' rich genealogical and historical resources.

This first in the series of Annual Christmas Ornaments commemorating our French-Canadian history would make an excellent holiday gift. http://www.afgs.org/xmasornament.html


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Updated 27 November 2004

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