Family non-stories

Caroline Neveu and her three youngest: Back row Arthur and Jerome, and Agnes.

Every so often, while digging through records, one discovers something which should have been an interesting family story but apparently never was. In this case,  the mystery father of Arthur’s step-children.

First, the brief of how we are connected: Grandma Charlotte’s mother was Evelyn Gagne, whose father was Edward Napoleon, whose mother was Mary St. George. Mary’s youngest brother, born nearly 10 years after she had married, was Arthur Joseph.

Okay, the story involves three main characters – Olive Lessard[G] and her two partners Randall Williamson Peck[G] and Arthur Joseph Alexander St. George[G].

“With you we swear to save France” Leon Gambetta.

Arthur was working in the telephone industry when the USA joined the Great War in Europe. He filled out his draft card 5 June 1917. It may have been the threat of the , or it may have been her brand-new baby, or something entirely else, but Arthur married Olive a few months after she gave birth to Juel Frances Peck[G], in November of 1917.

The child, who was known through most of her life as Frances Julia (and the indexed name may be transcription error), was the daughter of Randall Peck, as was her older sister Marian Cecilia[G]. Randall’s family lived in Superior, Wisconsin, just across the river from Duluth, and they were also from Canada; his father William was born there, while his mother Cecilia was born in Scotland; Randall himself was born in Wisconsin.

Randall and Olive appear to have had at least an established relationship; their daughters are more than two and a half years apart. They may have met or spent time in Chicago; a census lists their father as having been born in Illinois. The children, though, were born in Minnesota—Marian in Hennepin County, and Juel in Saint Louis County.

So there are several stories here which we do not know.

The most romantic is the relationship of Randall and Olive. Did they marry? Did they divorce? Randall appears to have disappeared from the records after Olive became pregnant. Perhaps he died, though there is no record. Perhaps he was unable/unwilling to deal with a second child and ran away, changed his name, disappeared.

But how did Arthur and Olive meet? a clue is back in 1915, a year after Marian was born, and Randall is living in Duluth and working for the Duluth Telephone company, probably the same company Arthur is working at in 1917. Randall and Arthur may well have been acquainted. Did Arthur and Olive choose a marriage of convenience – Arthur wanting a family, Olive needing a provider for herself and children? I could certainly respect those motivators as well.

But so far there is no documentation supporting any of these fairy tales. What we do know is the family held together for a dozen years, and three more children. Then Olive died during/after a medical surgery in hospital.

Arthur would marry his cousin Ida Mae St. George three years later, their relationship lasting the rest of their lives; he died in 1982 and she in 1992.