Many French Canadians left the farms of Quebec and migrated to the mills of New England in the mid 1800s. Some worked and then returned home while other like Dolphis Bruneau settled in the United States.
Dolphis was the eldest son of Barnabé Bruneau (1807-1880) and Sophie Marie Prud’homme (1812-1892) my great great grandparents. One would think he would inherit the family farm in Saint Constant, Quebec but he had moved to North Adams, Massachusetts, long before his father’s death.
North Adams, a mill town in Berkshire County, grew at the convergence of two branches of the Hoosic River, which gave the town excellent water power for the developing industries. Dolphis arrived there 1864, at the end of the Civil War. He first lived in a rooming house and worked as an operative, presumably in a mill. At the same time, his younger brothers, Aimé and possibly Napoleon also lived and worked there.
He married Nellie Saunders the daughter of an Irish immigrant Thomas Saunders. She worked in a shoe factory. They started a family with Maude born in 1871 and another daughter Nellie three years later. Tragically, his wife died during that childbirth so Dolphis was left to raise his two daughters alone. He must have had help from Nellie’s family, as he didn’t move back to Quebec like his brother Napoleon and applied for his United States Naturalization Petition in 1895.
Dolphis continued his quiet life in North Adams. He worked as a carpenter possibly not at a mill but for for a cabinet maker. He kept in contact with his family in Quebec. Some pictures of his growing girls were taken in Montreal so they certainly went north to visit. He didn’t move much as his address, a rental property, is listed as 15 N Holden St for most of his life. His daughters continued to live with him. Maud seems to have kept house and Nellie worked as a bookkeeper.
Dolphis remarried eleven years after his wife died to a widow, Ester Mary Halse Tingue. Information about his second wife is scant and rather confusing. Ester received a Civil War pension from her first husband and so had some income. The census and city directories show them living apart although listed as married. He lived with his daughters and she lived with her daughter Emma Tingue. Dolphis died in 1909 and Ester in 1924. In her obituary she is refered to as Mrs. Ester T. Bruneau, living at 108 Quincey Street and survived only by Emma. “Her death will bring deep sorrow to her many acquaintances,” it said. Dolphis and Ester were buried in different cemeteries.
The year after her father’s death, Nellie married Arthur Henwood. They moved in with her sister Maud at 15 N Holdon Street. Nellie and Arthur never had any children. Arthur kept a steady job working for James Hunter Machinery as a machinist. His draft registration cards for both WWI and WWII showed him working at the same company. Nellie continued to work as a bookkeeper and Maude continued to keep house. Both sisters had a close involvement with the First Baptist Church.
Maude never married and after her sister’s death in 1939, she and her brother-in-law continued to live together for the next twenty plus years, still at 15 N Holden Street. Arthur died in 1960 and Maude then moved to the Sweet Brook Nursing Home in Williamstown, Massachusetts where she died two years later. Maude’s death ended the Bruneau line in North Adams although most of the family are buried in Maple Street Cemetery.
Dolphis Bruneau Massachusetts, U.S., Death Records, 1841-1915 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2013. Original data:Massachusetts Vital Records, 1840–1911. New England Historic Genealogical Society, Boston, Massachusetts.Massachusetts Vital Records, 1911–1915. New England Historic Genealogical Society, Boston, Massachusetts. Accesses March 15, 2022.
Dolphis Bruneau – Massachusetts, U.S., State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1798-1950 [database on-line] NAI Number: 4752894; Record Group Title: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1787-2004; Record Group Number: R G 85. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011. Accessed Mar 12, 2022.
Nellie Bruneau Henwood Obituary.The North Adams Transcript (North Adams, Massachusetts) December 27,1939, Page 3. Accessed on Newspapers.com Mar 27, 2022.
Maude L Bruneau Obituary. North Adams Transcript (North Adams, Massachusetts) March 17, 1962, Page 3. Accessed on Newspapers.com Mar 23, 2022.
Mrs Ester T Bruneau Obituary. North Adams Transcript (North Adams, Massachusetts) Dec 19, 1924, page 14. Accessed on Newspapers.com Mar 30, 2022.
1900 Census: North Adams Ward 3, Berkshire, Massachusetts;Roll:632;Page:7;Enumeration District:0051;FHL microfilm:1240632Ancestry.com.1900 United States Federal Census[database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2004. Original data: United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Twelfth Census of the United States, 1900. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1900. T623, 1854 rolls. Accessed Mar 2, 2022.
Arthur Henwood: Draft Card H. Registration State:Massachusetts; Registration County: Berkshire Source Information Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918.Imaged from Family History Library microfilm M1509, 4,582 rolls. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2005. Accessed April 5, 2022.