American French Genealogical Society
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American-French Genealogical Society   
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AFGS French Canadian Hall of Fame


The American-French Genealogical Society hall of fame recognizes individuals of French-Canadian ancestry who have made significant contributions to their community, or who have achieved success in their life’s endeavors.  Four individuals inducted in the Class of 2008
French-Canadian Hall of Fame Inductions and Special Achievement Awards were Presented During Annual Gala 2008 Hall of Fame Induction Dinner October 17, 2008

Class of 2008
William E. Aubuchon Sr.*- Founder 130 store Aubuchon Hardware chain
Brothers of the Sacred Heart - Religious order involved in American education since 1847
Edward Wright - Owner Wright's Dairy Farm and Bakery North Smithfield, Rhode Island
Rhea Bouchard Powers - Columinst, Valley Breeze Newspapers

William E. Aubuchon Sr.
William E. Aubuchon Sr.
As so often happens with immigration into the United States, it all began with adversity. And so it was with the Aubuchon Family. On April 3, 1901, a young widow, Georgianna Aubuchon and three of her four teenage children left Canada and entered the United States in search of employment and a better life. They came to Fitchburg, Mass., where the two eldest, William and Arthur began working in the yarn mills. Albanie remained at home with her mother, while John stayed for awhile with an uncle on a farm in Yamaska, in the province of Quebec.
At the beginning of the 20th Century many French Canadians were arriving in Fitchburg, Massachusetts to work in the busy mills. The founder of Aubuchon Hardware, William E. Aubuchon (1885-1971), was a member of this industrious group. He labored for several years, saving his wages and dreaming of a business of his own. In 1908, at the age of 23, he bought his first hardware store. He studied the market, purchased merchandise carefully and began to make a profit.
William took on his youngest brother, John B. Aubuchon (1890-1981), as a partner in 1913. Together they opened their second store, in downtown Fitchburg, in 1917. By the end of the 1920’s there were 8 Aubuchon Hardware stores in central Massachusetts. In spite of the depression years, the 1930’s brought growth. There were 22 more stores added which included the first locations in New Hampshire. The Company was incorporated in 1934. Aubuchon Hardware continued to expand over the past century. Today the Aubuchon Hardware chain has 130 stores across New England and New York.
William E. Aubuchon, Jr. became President in 1950 and brilliantly followed in the giant footsteps of his father until 1993. Building upon his father’s foundation, he enlarged the enterprise further. Both William Sr. and his brother John remained active in the daily affairs of the Company until their deaths. Besides the hardware business they were also involved in the funeral business in the John B. Aubuchon Funeral Home and in real estate in the Aubuchon Realty Company.
Today, two grandsons of the founder became the new leaders of the W.E. Aubuchon Company. William E. Aubuchon, III was elected Chairman and CEO in 1993 after serving many years as Vice-President of Marketing. In the same year M. Marcus Moran, Jr. became President and Treasurer.
The Company is fond of promoting from within, which means that many people involved in management started in one of the hardware stores. This also means that they have many years with the company and are treated as family. This interaction of family and business has helped Aubuchon Hardware prosper for 100 years and will assist it in the years to come.
 

Brothers of the Sacred Heart Escutcheon
Brothers of the Sacred Heart
The French community of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart, founded in Lyon in 1821, responding in its missionary spirit to the Bishop of New Orleans to come to the “new world” to open schools for the French communities of the South.
By the close of the 19th Century, a vast number of French Canadians were migrating to the mill cities and towns of New England and with them came many clergy and religious to begin French Canadian parishes and schools. The Franco-American clergy of the area cherished the dream of assisting these immigrant families by educating the young, preserving the language and enkindling the Catholic faith. There was a prevalent belief that “Qui perde sa langue, perde sa foie”, (He who loses one’s language, loses ones faith.)
This newly founded American Province of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart quickly began to expand in the United States, arriving at St. Augustine Parish in Manchester, NH. The Brothers, due to a growing number of men joining the community, quickly opened parish schools in Nashua, NH in 1891, Haverhill, MA in 1894 and Precious Blood Parish, Woonsocket RI in 1898. These schools not only nourished the faith and culture of the French Canadian communities but enabled families to educate their children to the 8th grade.
In 1909, the Brothers began their first junior-senior high school, Sacred Heart Academy in Central Falls, R.I. In 1924, Mount Saint Charles Academy, a diocesan all boys high school, opened its doors to a number of boarders and commuting students through the leadership and mission of the Brothers. The school was immediately recognized as an excellent seat of learning and increasing enrollment and expansion marked the ensuing years. Young men now attained a high school diploma and many began going on to college.
Throughout the 20th century Catholic French-Canadian education continued to expand with the Brothers.
Two of the Brothers’ schools, Bishop Guertin and Mount Saint Charles took advantage of the closing of their sister schools in the late 60s. A decision to transform the schools into co-educational institutions coincided with the announced closing of the all-girls’ schools in each city. During the ensuing decades, the schools continue to flourish. They have been accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges and recognized as Blue Ribbon Schools of Excellence by the U.S. Department of Education.
The Brothers of the Sacred Heart maintain a strong presence within these educational facilities, carrying on the dreams of its founders. Collaborating with lay educators, they prepare students to meet the challenges of the new millennium as they urge their students to be guided by the schools’ mission to develop their gifts and talents for the betterment of themselves and in service to society.

Edward Wright
Edward R. Wright
Born in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, Ed Wright grew up on the family farm on Woonsocket Hill Rd, North Smithfield.
Upon graduation from Mount Saint Charles Academy, Ed went to work on the family farm with his father, Ernest and his grandfather George. Ed and his wife Claire assumed ownership of the farm in the early 1970’s.
The dairy farm has remained a family farm for over 100 years. In the early 1900s, George Wright had a dozen cows, whose milk he delivered daily to his neighbors. By the 1940s, his son Ernest grew the herd to about 30 cows, added a pasteurization plant, and expanded the home delivery route. Ernest’s son Edward saw many regular customers turning to convenience stores’ low prices, and he knew it was time for a change. He asked customers to shop in their new “milk shed,” a rustic building the size of a one-car garage, with just the necessities: a cooler, counter, and wooden change box.
Today, Edward’s three children and their spouses, with his advice and help, run an efficient operation, employ 55 full and part time workers, see an average of 800 customers per day, and sell all of the milk that is produced by their 130 cows. Their “cow shed” has grown into a 2,400 square foot retail store, with an expanded product line including bakery items and real whipped cream.
Wright’s Dairy Farm is an institution for many Rhode Islanders. Customers who visited the dairy farm as children now bring their own children to buy milk and bakery items, and watch through the viewing windows as the cows are milked.
In 2007, Wright’s Dairy Farm was named Rhode Island’s Outstanding Dairy of the Year by the Rhode Island Green Pastures Committee, which is made up of agricultural interests such as state and federal agricultural offices and farm organizations.
Ed Wright believes in giving back to his community and has been active in supporting many non-profit organizations and has served as a committee member of the Rhode Island Farm Service Agency, and has worked closely with the Natural Resources Conservation Service to ensure that his farm is proactive in the latest conservation practices. Wright is a past member of the Autumnfest Steering Committee and was active with the organization for the past 30 years.
Since his birth, Ed Wright has lived within earshot of his dairy farm. It is more than a profession. It is a way of life that he values for future generations.

Rhea Bouchard
Rhea Bouchard Powers
Rhea Rosalie Bouchard was the first of four daughters born to Honore and Rhea Bouchard. Rhea’s parents had settled in Manville, RI. from upstate New York in 1940 because Honore had found employment in the local textile mill, the Manville Jencks.
Being transplants to a village of French Canadian residents who all appeared to be related to each other left Rhea feeling on the outside looking in. If you add this to the fact that her parents opted to speak English in the home and then enrolled her in a French speaking convent school you can understand that she grew up very close to her parents and sisters.
Rhea attended St. James Parochial School where she did well academically. She began to write poetry while a student at St. James and received high praise from the nuns (not an easy feat). Rhea made friends easily and has maintained many of the friendships that began in her grade school days. She became an avid reader very early on and it is probably still her favorite pastime.
Rhea is a Cumberland High School graduate. She married in 1961, and shortly after her fourth child was born, Rhea enrolled in the nursing program at Rhode Island Junior College (now the Community College of Rhode Island). She graduated with an Associate Degree in Nursing in 1975 and was hired as a registered nurse at Fogarty Memorial Hospital, where she specialized in orthopedic nursing.
While working at Fogarty, Rhea began writing a weekly column for the Woonsocket Call. Her column quickly became popular. She eventually moved on to the Valley Breeze. Around the same time that Rhea started writing her weekly column she began volunteering at Adopt-a-Family, where she is a member of the Board of Directors, and is a past president and vice president.

The American-French Genealogical Society, founded in 1978, is a non-profit organization devoted to assisting people of French-Canadian ancestry in the research of their family history.

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Updated 25 December, 2008

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