Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Henry Felix Goulet and Leopoldine Devriendt

Henry Felix Goulet and Leopoldine Devriendt - 1910
Henry Felix Goulet was my great grandfather. He was the first generation of my Goulet line to be born in the United States. Henry Felix was born in Pawtucket, Rhode Island October 14, 1889 to Pierre Joseph Goulet (b. 1866) and Marie Cedulie Gagnon (b. 1866). 

 Like Pierre Goulet, Henry Felix was employed in the textile mills of Rhode Island. In October of 1910 Henry married Leopoldine Eugenia Devriendt (b. 1891, Roubaix France) in Fall River. Leopoldine was the daughter of Valentine Devriendt (b. 1861, Belgium) and Jeanne Meau (b. 1867, France).

The Devriendt family had only very recently immigrated to the United States in 1903. Leopoldine appears on the 1903 passenger list for the ship Vaderland with her mother and sister (also named Valtenine). According to this record, the whole family is identified as Flemish  or at least as being Flemish speaking. In addition, a note attached indicates that Valentine Denvriendt had already immigrated to the US with his son Alfred some months earlier. The two had settled in Norwood with a brother-in-law. The rest of the family was going to meet him.

Back two - Henry Felix Goulet and Louise Goulet. Bottom Three- Valentine Devriendt, Jeanne Goulet, Leopoldine Devriendt

In their marriage record Henry is recorded as being employed as a clerk and Leopoldine is recorded as a box maker. According to family members Leopoldine never really became confident in her use of English later in life. Therefore, I imagine one of the things that bonded Henry and Leopoldine was their shared native French language. Though I can’t speak for how the Flemish played in.

I don’t know much more about the origins of Leopoldine and the Devriendts. In Massachusetts the surname is somewhat rare, but many now distant relatives remain in the Walpole area. 

 Of my great grandmother’s sister, Valentine Devriendt (b.1888, Roubaix France), she married the brother of my great grandfather, a man named Leon Goulet (b. 1891, Fall River Ma). This must have made holidays convenient. Together, the couple had two daughters, Madeline Goulet (b. 1922) and Pauline Goulet (b. 1926). Both women, especially my great aunt Madeline, remain larger than life figures in my childhood memory.

I know somewhat less about my great grandmother’s brother, Alfred Devriendt (b. 1885, Roubaix France). Through records, I know he married a woman named Edith Balduf. The family had been living in Walpole during my grandmother’s life.

One of my goals is to learn more about the areas the Devriendts came from. Valentine Devriendt was from Belgium, but his wife and all his children were born in France. I also would love to know more about his wife Jeanne Meau. I know the names of her parents, but not much else. These are all future research goals.

By 1920 Henry Goulet and Leopoldine Devriendt had moved to Massachusetts and by 1930 they had moved to Walpole, where they remained for many years. Henry also switched careers. Where in previous censuses he is recorded as a factory worker or clerk for a woolen factory, by 1920 Henry is recorded as a salesmen in a wholesale meat market.

Henry continued to work in the grocery/meat industry as a butcher. My family even has several of his knives or cleavers. During his later years Henry and Leopoldine lived much of their year in Wareham and Cape Cod, where Henry was employed as a butcher at the 10 Acres Market on Main Street Falmouth.

Henry at the 10 Acres Market
Together, Henry Goulet and Leopoldine Devriendt had two daughters:
- Louise M. Goulet  - 1912 – 1927
- Jeanne Josephine Goulet – 1917 – 1998

Jeanne and Louise Goulet
Jeanne Goulet was my maternal grandmother, fondly called Grammy. Louise, my grandmother’s older sister, died at the age of 15. My grandmother only occasionally spoke to me about her sister. However, my family has many pictures of Louise, who was a very pretty young lady. 

 Henry and Leopoldine lived the rest of their lives in between Walpole, Plainville, and Falmouth. In Falmouth, they owned several houses, one of which remains in use by the family. My aunt Madeline and her husband Bruce even operated a bed and breakfast across the street from this house, so my family saw them often during the summer months. Henry Felix Goulet died in February of 1976, just before the birth of my sister. Leopoldine Devriendt died about 1966.

Although I never knew either my great grandfather or great grandmother, I love to hear stories about them. My father recalls Henry as  a strict taskmaster, who would put him to work at a moment’s notice. My mother and aunts recall that their grandmother mostly continued to speak French throughout her life. As children she would speak to them in French (which they then understood) but they would be allowed to answer in English (which she understood). My aunts also tell a story in which Leopoldine refused to evacuate from her house in Falmouth in the face of a severe hurricane, which sounds surprisingly like my grandmother Jeanne.

Although my family might now self-identify as primarily Irish, it has become so evident through this research that my French, Belgian, and even Flemish (who knew?) ancestry has played a large role in making us what we are today. French culture was obviously central to the Goulet/Devriendt family. I can’t say we retain much, other than our Catholic traditions. However, it’s fascinating to see how the choices and traditions of these families all combined to result in some of my most vivid memories. When I think back to my childhood, the first sets of images that come to mind are hot, sunny, days on a Cape Cod beach. My grandmother Jeanne sitting under her favorite deck umbrella at her beach house and her cousin Madeline bouncing across the street to say hello. None of this would have existed but for Henry Goulet and Leopoldine Devriendt.

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