George Thomas Little.

Genealogical and family history of the state of Maine; (Volume 3) online

. (page 37 of 128)
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Island Pond, \'ennont, Grovelon, New Hamp-
shire, to Bcllicl, .Maine, working as regularly
and diligeiuly as opportunity permitted up to
the time be was nineteen years old, when ho
returned to Norton Mills, Vermont, where he
met a highly distinguished and educated fel-
low countryman who, discovering in the future
doctor no "ordinary talents, advised him earn-
estly to study, assuring the young man tliai.
nature had endowed him for a higher field of
usefulness than manual labor for set wages.
No sooner had their acciuaintance been made
than a true and lasting friendship was sealed.
and so deeply interested was that noble heart
in young Fortier that during two years the
tutor devoted his whole evenings to his pupil.
Although our student had to labor very hard
from five o'clock in the morning to six o'clock
in the evening, not one evening during those
two years did he fail to be at his post. Part-
ing from his devoted friend who had insi)irecl
the love of study, he entered in the winter of
1875, during his twenty-second year, the
Christian Brothers' College at Sainte Marie,
Beauce, Province of Quebec. There his earn-
estness to advance led him to sudy unremit-
tingly day and night for eight months, steal-
ing from his now precious time only a few
hours sleep each night. At the end of this
term he was obliged to return to the United
States and to again take up his .labor on the
rivers and in the sawmills of New Hampshire.
But having once acquired the irresistible de-
sire and the right way to study, he rapidly ad-
vanced without the aid of teachers. In 1877
he returned to Canada, prepared to enter Sher-
brooke College, where he remained six months.
Leaving that institution in the spring of 1878.
he went to Gorham, New Hampshire, wdiere
he studied privately a few months with Rev.
N. Charland, and in the fall of the same year
he matriculated and entered the Three Rivers
Seminary, where he spent one year in the study
of the classics. Then the subject of this sketcli
returned to Gorham, New Hampshire, and
resumed for eight months his classical stuilics
with the learned young priest of that placo.
Rev. N. Charland." In the fall of 1880 he d
cided to apply himself directly to the study of
medicine, and made his preliminaries in this
new direction in the office of Dr. H. H. Camp-
bell, of Waterville. ]\laine. From there he
entered the Elaine J^ledical School at Pjruns-
wick, in the winter of 1881. attending between
terms the Portland School for Medical In-
struction, and on June i, 1883, he received his
degree of Doctor of Medicine from the medi-
cal department of Bowdoin College, ranking

among the leaders of the class. Immediatei\-
after his graduation Dr. Fortier went to
Waterville, Maine, to which city his friend and
patron. Rev. N. Charland, had been trans-
ferred, and there at once began the practice of
his profession. Thus, it will be seen,* that tiiis
energetic young man, with no other resources
tlan his strong will and persistent ambition,
and the laudable desire to become a useful
member of society, devoted the principal
part of twelve years in the preparation of his
life's work. He was thirty years of age when
he received the degree of Doctor of Medicine.
Possessing a cheerful disposition, progressive
ideas, professional skill, robust health, rare
tact, and a love for work, with a full sense of
duty, he soon won his way into public favor,
gaining the esteem and confidence of the en-
tire community.

Dr. Fortier is a member of the Maine Med-
ical Association, of the Kennebec IMedical As-
sociation, and also ex-president of the Water-
ville Clinical Society. He has served as city
physician of Waterville during nine years with
great credit to himself and with satisfaction
to his fellow citizens. In that capacity he
was especially beloved for his devotion, tender-
ness and humane feelings toward the poor, the
sick, the aged and the unfortunate.

In 1889 Dr. Fortier was appointed by
Bishop Healy, of Portland, to represent the
French-Canadian citizens of Maine at the
Catholic Congress held in Baltimore, Mary-
land, it being the occasion of the one hun-
dredth anniversary of the founding of the
hierarchy of the Catholic church in the United
States. In 1891 Dr. Fortier was a represen-
tative of the French-Canadian citizens of
Maine at a congress held in Springfield. .Mas-
sachusetts, and was chairman of the commit-
tee on statistics and aiifairs. For that occa-
sion Ite had made at great sacrifice of time and
expense a census of all the citizens of French
tongue in his state, and reported to that body
that the results of his labors showed a popu-
lation in Maine of 87,000 French speaking in-
habitants, with sixteen convents having one
hundred and forty-eight nuns, teaching Iioth
French and English and the Catholic faith to
8,500 boys and girls. It is sadly too well
known that in the New England states, that
part forming what is called the Ecclesiastical
Province of Boston, the Franco-American citi-
zens have been and are to-day, in certain
places, unjustly treated by some of their su-
perior ecclesiastics who give them as pastors,
in congregations where they form the immense
majority, priests alien to their language, cus-


1 83 1

tomi and aspirations, thus forcing them to sup-
port and love as their pastors, priests who do
not sympathize v. ith them, nor cannot speak
the French language in an intelligible manner,
and who, moreover, do not appear disposed to
learn it. Not only the laity and faithful among
Franco-American citizens have been thus
treated, but in many instances good priests
who have had the courage to attempt redress
in behalf of the unfortunate but faithful ad-
herents have become odious to those implac-
able, ultra-zealous and too often sadly partial
bishops. So incredible and unintelligible is
and has been this unprovoked and uncalled-for
persecution to those devoted and saintly
priests that the biographer will abstain from
further comments, leaving to history, posterity
and to the development of future events to
relate these facts and pass judgment upon
them. During 1904, 1905 and 1906 those in-
ternal troubles, which it was said had existed
for more than twenty-five years with more or
less intensity in some parts of the Ecclesiastical
Province of Boston, came to a climax in the
diocese of Portland, Maine, under Bishop
William 11. ( I'Connell, whose methods of
quick assimilation dififered from the more con-
sistent policy of 'iaisser faire" of his prede-
cessors. Fearing with just cause that the
complete loss of the French language would be
for an immense majority of our French citi-
zens the loss of their religion, morals, and
consequently of their good and useful citizen-
ship, most of all the Franco-American priests,
the mass of the people, all of the professional
men. the known leaders among our Franco-
American citizens, and foremost among them
Dr. J. L. Fortier. rose with utmost firmness
against such encroachment of their religious
rights, guarded both by the civil constitution
of state and nation, as well as by the laws,
customs and practice of the universal Catholic

On .March 12th and 13th, ii;o6, a convention
of all the Franco-Americans of Maine was
held in Levviston. A committee was appointed
to carry out the desires and resolutions of the
convention, which were to assist with all their
possible means and true and effective devo-
tion our Franco-American clergy in elevating
the religious and moral standard of the people
intrusted to their care. This permanent com-
mittee was invested with the power to ap-
point sub-committees in all places where a
certain number of Franco-Americans reside,
and their combined duties are to preach and
encourage naturalization and good citizenship,
to request of ecclesiastical authorities, priests

of their tongue and race everywhere in par-
ishes where the Franco-Americans form the
majority of Catholics, to encourage by every
just means the building of Catholic convents
and colleges where both the English and the
French languages shall be taught upon the
same footing, so as to preserve among them-
selves and in their families the most desirable
of all accomplishments, i. e., speaking correctly
the beautiful French language. The Franco-
Americans contended, and contend now, that
the duality and also the multiplicity of lan-
guages is an accomplishment and a refinement
that every American citizen should strive to
acquire ; for surely the possession of more than
one language is not an obstacle to one's loy-
alty, patriotism and love for our institutions.
This fact has been demonstrated beyond any
possible doubt, one instance being the break-
ing out of the Spanish-American war, when
our Franco-American citizens everywhere in
New England were among the first to the front
to offer their services to their adoptive country,
and they proved to be true, brave, loyal, patri-
otic soldiers.

During the winter of 1906, Bishop O'Con-
nell, through his own eft'orts, was appointed
co-adjutor of Archbishop Williams, of Bos-
ton, with right of succession. This left the
see of Portland vacant and opened the doors
to new troubles. The Franco-Americans, rep-
resenting four-fifths of the entire Catholic pop-
ulation of Maine, were disgusted, tired, and
irritated by not having their just representa-
tion in the affairs of the diocese, and by the
more recent ill treatment received at the hands
of Bishop O'Connell. Knowing very well also
that the Metropolitan and his suffragans would
do their utmost to keep in their power the
diocese by placing on the vacant episcopal
throne of Portland an Irish-American bishop
who, it was understood, would foster and carry
out their concerted plans of forced assimila-
tion, regardless of the great danger of losing
many souls to the faith, to the church and
to God, it was resolved to no longer remain
silent, but to make known to the Pope himself,
Pius X, the exact condition of affairs, to ex-
pose their griefs, and to solicit of the Holy See
their just reclamations. At this decisive hour
for the Franco-American Catholics of Maine,
all eyes turned to Dr. Fortier as the right man
to fulfill such an important mission. He was
consequently chosen by the unanimous voice
of the "permanent committee." So deeply and
earnestly interested was this patriot in the re-
ligious welfare of his fellow countrymen that
he refused all pecuniary aid from his com-



patriots, and assumed himself all the expenses
of that necessarily expensive mission and voy-
age. Ur. Fortier sailed from New York on
May 10, 1906, arriving at Rome on the morn-
ing of May 23, and remaining there fifty-
five days. During his sojourn in the Eternal
City, he worked unceasingly for the cause he
had so fervently embraced. He adjoined there
to himself a learned Roman doctor, the Rev.
J. B. Geniesse, D. D., and furnished the
greater part of the most important documents
to that devoted and erudite priest, who wrote
a memoir for the cause, entitled "The Ques-
tion of Nationalities and of Languages in the
United States of North America, Considered
in Its Relations with the Choice of Parish
Priests and Bishops. Reasons Showing That
a French-Canadian, Instead of an Irish-Amer-
ican, Should Be Chosen for the Vacant See of
Portland. Memoir Addressed to His Holi-
ness Pius X, to the jMost Eminent Cardinals
and to Their Advisers." Dr. Fortier, while in
Rome, had interviews with nearly all the Car-
dinals of the Propaganda and presented them
with the Memoir and many important private
documents. On June 16, 1906, he was re-
ceived in private audience by the Pope Pius X.
After this devoted son of distant America had
made known to His Holiness the object of his
mission, and had read his address in behalf of
the 87,000 (now 92,000) Franco-American
Catholics of the diocese of Portland, the Pope,
with the most fatherly kindness, granted him
more than an hour of his overtaxed time, lis-
tening with his characteristic benignity to
every word the petitioner had to say in behalf
of his people and regarding the treatment to
which the faithful and the priests of French
language were subjected in some of the dio-
ceses in the New England states. In taking
his leave from His Holiness, the Holy Father
blessed Dr. Fortier, his family, and all the
I'Vanco-Americans scattered in the United
States, and promised that henceforth he would
make a thorough study of the situation and
would see for better administration of justice
as soon as time and opportunity would per-
mit. During his stay at Rome the doctor
made many lasting and valuable friends, both
among the laity and the clergy, and he in-
terested most of them in the cause he is laI)or-
ing for.

As a citizen. Dr. J. L. Fortier has always
taken an active interest in all public and so-
cial affairs, being thoroughly in sympathy with
whatever advances the well-being of his fel-
low citizens and his adoptive city. He took
an active part in bringing to Waterville the

Ursuline nuns who for over twenty years have
been an uplifting power to the French boys
and girls of that city, and who have affoi
them educational (jualiticaiiuns in the tongue
of their fathers not possible in the public
schools. Dr. Fortier is ardently patriotic for
the land of his adoption, and aiivises all Can-
adians entering the United States to become
naturalizecl citizens. His devotion to charit-
able and religious works is well known to all
the Franco-American population in Maine.
Many a young man and young woman owe
their start in life to his generosity and his
innate desire to help those possessing real
merit and justified ambition. Dr. Fortier is a
great admirer of the masters of French liter-
ature, and he is a deep student of poetical and
historical works, and he possesses a fairly pro-
ficient pen, both in the French and the Eng-
lish languages.

As has been heretofore stated, Dr. Fortier
has received recognition of his splendid abili-
ties as physician antl surgeon and his integrity
as a citizen. In the spring of 1908 he was
elected alderman of his city, and in 1909 was
re-elected by a largely increased majority. In
September, 1908, he was further honored by
a very decisive election as representative to
the state legislature, and February 2, 1909, he
was unanimously elected a trustee of the
Waterville public library. In politics he is an
Independent Democrat, always urging his
party associates to honor inner worth rather
than to foster allegiance through machine rule.
In addition to an extensive and exacting med-
ical practice, attention to large business in-
terests and an unceasing devotion to church
work. Dr. Fortier finds time to contribute
regularly to the columns of Le Messager, a
newspaper published in Lewiston, Maine, in
the French language, and he chooses for his
various articles those themes of most useful-
ness to his numerous readers.

In his home life, the subject of this sketch
is the same generous and kind-hearted gentle-
man he is anywhere else. Dr. Fortier has been
twice inarried, his first union being with Miss
Leonille Martel, on October 21, 1886, resulting
in a daughter, Leora C. Fortier. His second
marriage, to Miss Marguerite Dunn, of Lewis-
ton, Maine, took place January 11, 1904. The
Fortier family reside in a spacious home at
No. 86 Silver street, in the most fashionable
quarter of Waterville, and the doors of the
fine residence surrounded by beautiful grounds
are always opened to give cheerful and cor-
dial welcome to every one, friend or foe. good
or indifferent.



The Parsons family is a very
PARSONS numerous one, and several of

the name are numbered
among the early Colonial settlers. The fol-
lowing branch is probably of Massachusetts
origin, but owing to the lack of early records
it has not been possible to trace the ancestry
prior to the revolutionary period.

(I) Kendall Parsons lived in New Hamp-
shire, and was a revolutionary soldier. The
old musket carried by him in the struggle for
independence descended to his son John, who
cherished it to the day of his death. Tradi-
tion says that Kendall Parsons was an officer
under Washington, but this is probably incor-
rect. The name of "Kendal" Parsons ap-
pears but twice in the New Hampshire Revo-
lutionary Rolls. In August, 1779, he received
"£6 travel money to Springfield, Massachu-
setts." In a document dated February 21,

1780, at E.xeter, New Hampshire, and directed
to the selectmen of Jaft'rey, that state, he is
mentioned as one of three men who enlisted
for one year under Colonel Enoch Hale, and
as being entitled to a bounty of sixty pounds.
Kendall Parsons does not appear on the list
of revolutionary soldiers from Jaffrey, so it
is probable that he came from some other
town. The ^Massachusetts Rolls furnish no
clue, because the only reference to Kendall
Parsons refers to the payment of three months'
service in 1783, and it is stated that the resi-
dence of the recipient is unknown. The only
Parsons whose service under Washington can
be authenticated was Solomon Parsons, of
Leicester, Massachusetts, who was frightfully
wounded at the battle of Monmouth, New Jer-
sey, June 28, 1778. Kendall Parsons married
Eliza Bryant, and they had six children : Levi,
Sarah, Polly, Betsey, John, whose sketch fol-
lows, and Abigail. Levi Parsons was a prom-
inent clergyman and revivalist in New Hamp-
shire, but he must have been born in some
other state, as he is not included in "Carter's
Native Ministry of New Hampshire." An-
other Rev. Levi Parsons, who died in Africa,
where he went as a missionary, was a brother
of the mother of Vice-President Levi P. Mor-
ton, and the man from whom the latter took
his name.

(II) John, younger son of Kendall and
Eliza (Bryant) Parsons, was born in June,

1781, died at Easton, Maine, March 26, 1879.
He spent the early part of his life at Cam-
bridge, ?ilassachusetts, but when a young man
removed to Oxford county, Maine, where he
married Polly Hanniford, who died at Fort
Fairfield, Elaine, September 15, 1855, aged

seventy-four years eight months and fifteen
days. To John and Polly (Hanniford) Par-
sons were born ten children : Eliza, Mary,
Kendall, Sarah, Robert, Alanson, Harriet,
John, Margaret, Levi, whose sketch follows.

(HI) Levi, fifth and youngest son of John
and Polly (Hanniford) Parsons, was born at
Canton, Maine, December 25, 1823, dieil at
Easton, i\Iaine, March i, 1890. He was given
the name of his father's brother, the New
Hampshire clergyman. When Levi Parsons
was a small boy, his parents moved to San-
gerville, Piscataquis county, where the lad
grew to manhood. He attended the public
schools at Sangerville and Foxcroft, complet-
ing his education at Foxcroft Academy. He
is remembered by some of his schoolmates as
a young man of fine character and a leader in
his classes. His education, which was liberal
for the time and place, afterwards proved of
great value to his children when they lived in
a new neighborhood, remote from schools. Be-
fore his marriage Mr. Parsons lived for a
time at Fort Fairfield, but he afterwards re-
turned to Sangerville, where his four eldest
children were born. The family lived there
until i860, when they decided to establish a
permanent home in the Aroostook valley.
They found a desirable location on a new farm
in what is now Easton, on the stage route
from Fort Fairfield to Houlton. Air. Par-
sons was a first-class mechanic, and he worked
in his carpenter shop when not engaged on the
farm, thus giving his boys a trade which they
used to good eftect in starting in life. Always
industrious, Air. Parsons worked with his
hands during the day, and taught his children
during the long winter evenings. He made
great sacrifices to keep them at school, count-
ing the accumulation of property as nothing
compared with giving therri advantages. He
was a devoutly religious man, and long before
the new^ settlement could boast of a school-
house, services were frequently held at his
home on the Sabbath day. He was a good
neighbor, kind husband and devoted father;
and as a citizen his influence was always ex-
erted for the upbuilding of the community.
His health was hardly equal to his ambition,
and his excessive industry undoubtedly short-
ened his days, and he died at the compara-
tively early age of sixty-six years. He was
a Republican in politics, and a member of the
Free Baptist church.

Levi Parsons married, June 7, 1848, Lydia
Ellis, born at Weld, Maine, March 9, 1828,
died at Cliftondale, Massachusetts, July 6,
1894, daughter of Freeman (2) and Eunice



(Shcdd) Ellis (vcc Ellis. \'ll) and a de-
scendant of Governor liradford and Dr. Fuller
(see Fuller) of the Plymouth colony. She
taught the first school ever held on what is
calletl the "center road" at Fort Fairfield, and
after her marriage devoted herself to the edu-
cation of her children, who have reason to
rise up and call her blessed. To her tender
love, wise counsels anil unwearying devotion
they owe much of their success in life. To
Levi and Lydia (Ellis) Parsons were born
seven diildren : i. Levi, born at Sanger-
ville, Maine, January 14. 1850. has been
one of the most successful master builders
and mechanics in New England, and has also
been engaged in the wholesale and retail lum-
ber business: is now residing in New York.
On September 11. 1870, he married (
Lottie Parsons, of Easton, Maine, who died
at Iloulton, November 9, 1870, after a wedded
life of less than two months. On May 22,
1874. Mr. Parsons married (second) Laura
St. Clair, of P.ath, Alaine, now deceased. 2.
Freeman Kendall, born at Sangerville, Maine,
May 17, 185 1, (lied at Easton. Maine-, Septem-
ber 10, 1864. 3. \\'illis Ellis, mentioned below.
4. John Wilbur, born at Sangerville. Maine,
December 9. 1834, now lives at Cliftondale,
Massachusetts: a man of sterling qualities
and christian character. On June 15, 1892,
he married 'Annie liurleigh. of Cliftondale,
and they have three children : \\'illis Bur-
leigh, bom May 17, 1894: John Wilbur, De-
cember 25, 1895: Alice (iertrude. March 19,
1900. 5. Clarence \'anderlyn, born at Sanger-
ville, Alaine, January 18, 1857, was educated
for the ministry, comjjleting his education at
the Theological Seminary at Stanfordville-on-
the-Hudson. He is a preacher of ability, .still
engaged in pastoral work in New York state.
On February 28, 1883, at Lakeville, New
York, he married Lula E. Xorthroii, a niece of
the prominent Philadelphia divine and author.
Their children are : \'erna Agnes, born No-
vember 17, 1885, now deceased: Leon Leslie,
March 23, 1892: Elva Luella. January 15,
1896; Henry Davenport, April 15, 1900, now
deceased. 6. IJzzie Christina, born at Fort
Fairfield, Maine. July 7, i86t, married, Jan-
uary 2, 1879, Frank De Laite, at Easton,
Maine. He died at Revere, Massachusetts,
July 21, 1900. Their children are: \\'iUis
Ellis, born at Easton, November 6, 1880:
Maud .\ngela, December 9, 1883. 7. Leslie
Elmer, born at Easton, Maine, June 16, 1866,
is now in business at Cliftondale, Massachu-
setts. On July 3, 1894, he married Flora I^.
C. Crosby, of Cliftondale. They have had two

children: Elmer Evans, born November 24,
1896, died January 17, 1907: Phyllis Marjorie,
born in June, 1907.

(I\') \\'illis Ellis, third son of Levi and
Lydia (Ellis) Parsons, was born at Sanger-
ville, Maine, May 16, 1853. He grew up on a
farm at Easton, early developing a taste for
work as well as play. His advancement at
school was rajiid. and he soon mastered all that
was taught in the country districts. He sub-
sequently attended the high school at Fort
Fairfield, the academy at Houlton, now the
Ricker Classical Institute, and the City Acad-
emy at Burlington, \ermont. afterwards tak-
ing a four years' university course in Eng-
lish. Inheriting mechanical skill from his
father, he learned the carpenter's trade at
which he worked in the intervals of attending
and teaching .school. He won the reputation
of being as good a workman as stood on the
banks of the Kennebec, and at the age of eigh-
teen he had charge of work in Boston and the
neighboring towns. But Air. Parsons had am-
bition in other directions, and while still in
charge of a crew of mechanics began reading
Kent and Blackstone. He had already devel-
oped oratorical powers, and his graduation ad-
dress at Burlington .\cademy was considered

Online LibraryGeorge Thomas LittleGenealogical and family history of the state of Maine; (Volume 3) → online text (page 37 of 128)