St. Martin, Joseph
Age: 26, credited to Charlotte, VT
Unit(s): 7th VT INF
Service: enl 2/16/65, m/i 2/16/65, Pvt, Co. I, 7th VT INF, m/o 2/16/66
See Legend for expansion of abbreviationsVITALS
Birth: 07/30/1837, Berthierville, PQ, Canada
Burial: Arkansaw Memorial Cemetery, Arkansaw, WI
Marker/Plot: Not recorded
Gravestone researcher/photographer: Glo Wellman
Findagrave Memorial #: 55544492
Alias?: None noted
College?: Not Found
Veterans Home?: Not Found
(If there are state digraphs above, this soldier spent some time in a state or national soldiers' home in that state after the war)
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Arkansaw Memorial Cemetery, Arkansaw, WI
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Joseph St. Martin
A Biography of Our Ancestor
Compiled by Glo Wellman
Joseph St. Martin was born on 30 July, 1837 in or near Berthierville, Berthier county, Quebec. He was baptized on July 1st, 1837 in the Roman Catholic parish of Berthierville. His parents were Louis Joseph Bidagan dit St Martin and Marguerite Valois Belisle. Louis Bideguin St Martin was described at the time of his son's baptism as a "cultivateur" or farmer of that parish. It has been reported that Joseph's father Louis was born in France, but baptism records confirm he was born 1 Sep and baptized 2 Sep 1788 in Berthier, Quebec, son of Pierre Louis Bidagan dit St Martn and Marie Angelique Gibeau. Louis' father Pierre was also born in Quebec in 1764, the son of Martin-Louis-Pierre Bidagin (born about 1735) who was a soldier from Masparet, Bayonne France. So Joseph, his father, and his paternal grandfather were all born in Quebec. The roots go back even deeper in Quebec looking at the maternal ancestors.
Louis Joseph, father of our Joseph, was about 20 years older than his wife Marguerite, who was born in Oct 1807, when he married her on 12 Oct 1824 in Berthier. One year after their youngest child Joseph's birth, the father Louis died on the 22nd of September and was buried the 23rd of September, 1838 at Ste-Genevieve, Berthier, Quebec, leaving behind his wife Marguerite and several young children, including Joseph's brothers Louis and David, and a sister Marguerite.
Soon after her husband's death, Marguerite Valois Belisle married about 1839 Joseph Blondin, a much younger man. They left Quebec and by 1840 are living in Grand Isle, Vermont, near Lake Champlain. Listed in the household of Joseph Bladue age 20-30 are his step children - 1 male less than 5 (Joseph) and 1 male 10-15 years (David or Louis), 1 girl 10-15 (Marguerite), and a woman 30-40 (his wife Marguerite). They are living between David Valware (Valois) and David German (Germain dit Belisle - likely half brother of Marguerite) and near Leo Pateno (Patenaude) and Alexander Pocket (Poquette - father of Eleonora and Anna Poquette who married Joseph's brothers David and Louis).
It is important to say a little about names before going any further. When researching these French Canadian families, it is necessary to keep an open mind about names and spellings. The English speaking census takers often had to guess what people where saying with their thick French accents. At least some of these people did not read and write. And in years past, names did not always have an established, universally accepted way of spelling the name. Name were also often anglicized in the process of becoming established in a predominantly English speaking community. For example, Bergeron became Bashaw, Lebrun became Brown, and Bidagan became Bidagan dit St Martin, finally simplified most often in the records to Martin. So one must watch for significant variations.
In the biography about Joseph St Martin in the History of Buffalo and Pepin Counties, Wisconsin, as also confirmed with census records, Joseph was raised in Vermont. When a very young man, he worked on the railroad, was a sailor in freight service on Lake Champlain, and then he worked in the stone quarries. (3) By 1860 he moved to NY where he engaged as a farmer. He moved back to VT within a few years where he enlisted during the Civil War in Company I of the 7th Vermont regiment (his gravestone erroneously says for the state of Wisconsin), serving as a private for one year. He returned to NY briefly, but soon resumed military service going to New Orleans and to Texas where he eventually mustered out in 1866.
After the war, in 1866 he joined others with primarily French Canadian ancestry - family members and friends from VT and NY who were making their way west, and eventually settled in Pepin Co, WI. He bought forty acres in section 26 of Waterville Township, over the years adding more land to this original farm. In the 1870 census, Joseph is recorded living next to his brothers David and Louis and their families. He is a farmer (32) owner of the property with Joseph Moron (23) farm laborer and wife Sarah (17) living with him.
In 1871 Joseph (age 32) married Agnes Brown (LeBrun) Sweeney, a widow with three young children. Her husband John Sweeney died about 1869. Agnes then moved with her mother and other family members to Pepin County following the death of her father Joseph Brown in NY. Her third child, a daughter Rosella Sweeney is said to have been born in Wisconsin. Joseph and Agnes had eleven children between 1872 and 1892. One son died as an infant, and a daughter died as a young child.
Joseph and family lived and farmed property within Waterville township now known as Arkansaw, Pepin County at and near the junction of present day Route and Martin Road. His neighbors, in addition to his brothers, included many of the French Canadian families who settled the area of what was known as "Dead Lake Prairie."
Joseph's mother Marguerite and step father Joseph Blondin stayed in Vermont, where they are buried at St Ann's Cemetery in Milton, Chittenden County. Marguerite died in 1891 and her husband Joseph Blondin/Blodo died in 1903. They were survived by several children and many grandchildren.
Did Joseph stay in touch with his mother and stepfather? Did he know his step siblings?
References:1) Quebec birth, marriage records
2) U.S. Census records
3) The History of Buffalo and Pepin Counties, Wisconsin, published 1919 (the year of Joseph's death)
4) 1896 Plat Map of Waterville Twp, Pepin Co, WI