Presentation on theme: "Incorporated in 1816, Dexter is a hilly region that is cut in half by the Sebasticook River. Amos and Jeremiah Abbott were one of the first settlers in."— Presentation transcript:
Incorporated in 1816, Dexter is a hilly region that is cut in half by the Sebasticook River. Amos and Jeremiah Abbott were one of the first settlers in Dexter, and built a woolen mill powered by the river. In addition to the woolen mill there was, at one point, two gristmills, many saw mills and a tannery. Although a rural area, there was still some work opportunity for immigrating Franco families.
Dexter received news that the railroad would be extended from Newport to Corinna and Dexter in 1876. The presents of railroads had a huge impact on Dexter's economy allowing growth of the Mills that could now import more raw materials and export more product. The rails also aloud for passenger transportation and access for immigration. Top photo: Dexter Railroad station in upper village, built in 1889 Bottom photo: Silvers Mills Station built in 1889.
The initial St. Anne Church was built in 1871 as a mission from a group out of Waterville in correlation with the Parish of Portland Diocese. Became established in 1893. By 1895, under the care of Pastor John. W Houlihan, the church grew in numbers. (over 600, many of which were Franco-Americans.) However, did not have a resident French Priest until 1931. ST. Anne’s Church on High Street in Dexter
Dexter and Millinocket had the largest Franco-American population centers without a Catholic school. A (public) French speaking school was established in Dexter before the year 1890 but was closed after little over a year, with not much of an explanation except “ it did not work, and the idea was abandoned” Interesting Bits of Local History- Alice Bradford.
While the KKK was only present in Dexter in the early 1920’s and last just a few years, it was still long enough to spread terror to the Catholiques and other minorities in the area. The Klan held meetings, and would often march down Main Street spreading fear. There was also a documented burning of a cross in the Catholic section of Mount Pleasant Cemetery.
1970 1908 Approximately 1,277 Franco-Americans with 354 recognizing French as their first language. (about 29%) Dexter total population; about 5,725. Approximately 855 Franco-Americans (about 25% of Dexter’s population) With a majority recognizing French as their first language.
“…this dual society could not be maintained. Dexter’s small size and rural nature encouraged cross- cultural contacts.” – Dorothy Blanchard Franco-Americans lived in separate parts of Dexter; primarily in the south end of town, and in close proximity to mills and railway depot. (Grove Street Pleasant Street, and upper Church Street) However, they were still thrown into the “Yankee” community, using the same post office, shopping centers, and schools.
Cloutier ~ Clukey Rancourt ~ Ronco Giguere ~ Higgins Daillon ~ Dyer Photo: Weave Room of Woolen Mill Courtesy of Dexter Historical Society
Franco-Americans were not completely withdrawn from the Dexter community. Francos in Dexter often were involved with town sports (primary baseball, which was popular at the time) and seen to the right, The town Fire Company. Eagle Hose Company No. 1, the French company, posed for this photograph on the Pleasant Street School grounds during the late 1800s. Pictured here are, from left to right: (front row) ? Bertrand, Peter Mountain, Edward Mountain, and Zeb Pomroy; (middle row) Harry Dyer, John Ronco, Edward Clukey, and Elmer Clukey; (back row) Charles Mountain, Frank Clukey, Charles Clukey, Charles Dulac, and Joe Mountain. Most of the men lived in close proximity of the school grounds, mostly on Pleasant and Grove Streets. (Courtesy of Dexter Historical Society)
“Their roots are deep, and underlying the assimilation process is a profound awareness of who they are and a strong commitment to the proud French- Canadian heritage.” - Dorothy Blanchard
Allen, James Paul. Franco-Americans in Maine: a Geographical Perspective. S.l.: S.n., 1974. Print. Dexter Historical Society. Oct. 2002. Web. Mar. 2010.. Lapomarda, Vincent A. The Catholic Church in the Land of the Holy Cross: a History of the Diocese of Portland, Maine. Strasbourg: Editions Du Signe, 2003. Print. Madore, Nelson, Barry H. Rodrigue, and Dorothy Blanchard. "Into the Heart of Maine: A Look at Dexter's Franco-American Community." Voyages: a Maine Franco- American Reader. Gardiner, Me.: Tilbury House, 2007. 139- 49. Print.