This website, upperstjohn.com, is devoted to the history and genealogy of the communities in the valley of the upper St. John River (called the Wulustuk by the original inhabitants, members of the Maliseet nation), in Aroostook County, Maine, USA and in Madawaska & Victoria Counties, New Brunswick, Canada.
It includes the valleys of the Allagash and the Fish Rivers in northern Aroostook County, and the valleys of the Green and Madawaska Rivers in Madawaska County. It also includes some information on the rest of Aroostook County, Maine and on Victoria County, New Brunswick
In the early days the community spanned both banks of the St. John River, known to the original population of the valley as Wulustuk. Many of the documents transcribed here, especially from the first half of the 1800s, therefore include communities on both sides of the river.
The site includes:
And lots of other stuff. All of the transcriptions have been done by myself,
unless otherwise noted.
I was hooked. In 1980 I had the chance to actually visit the Gagnonnière in the Perche region of France, the homestead of the three Gagnon brothers who emigrated to New France in the 1630s (see photo at right). When my brother Dave bought me the Family Origins genealogy software for Christmas in 1996, I began in earnest organizing all the info I'd collected.
My interest in the history of the upper St.John River valley and the families
who lived there led me to expand what was at first just a family genealogy site
into a site dedicated to the entire valley. So in April 2000 I started this
website, combining the genealogical info from my own families with a transcription
of the 1850 US census of Aroostook County. It's grown and grown since then.
My parents are from Frenchville and Fort Kent, and while mostly French (both from Québec and Acadie), my family tree also includes branches going back to England, Ireland, and the native peoples of the region. My childrens' branches go (via their mom's family) even further afield, including to Scotland, Poland, and Sweden.
My grandfather Wilfred Philippe Gagnon lived in what is called the "back settlement" of Upper Frenchville, on the "Quatrième rang", or Fourth Range. On the left is a photo from 1995 of me with my children and dad at the old barn (The farmhouse was torn down long ago), and one from the same time of the kids playing in the fields of the old farm.
My mom's mother, Christy St.John, was born on the family farm in Daigle. During the depression, her mother lost their farm, and they moved into Fort Kent. Christy's parents' families, the Jalberts and St.Johns, were from the Allagash and St.John Plantation areas. My grandmother too was an important inspiration in creating this site. Her stories about the old days, about teaching in one-room school houses; staying in lumber camps with her mom, who was a cook; and all of her relatives, on both sides, provided not only information but a real human feel to history.
I see this site as a work of love: for my children, so they know where they came from; for my family, to keep alive memories of the old days; and for the whole community, to preserve the history of a region that was special in so many ways.
My thanks to all the visitors to this site who have contributed information or made useful suggestions. I've tried to give credit where it belongs.
The main page of the site, the "The Upper St.John River Valley," has links to transcribed documents and short histories of various aspects of the Valley located on this site. It also has some links to my main family lines. The other part of the site, "Cousins and Ancestors of Nellie and Lucas," is genealogical and historical information about the ancestors of my children, as well as their cousins (going to fifth cousins when I could find the information).
Val, Barb, Dave, Grammy Christy St.John
and me, about 1960.
Return to the Upper St.John River Valley main page
Last revised 15 Jun 2007
© 2005-2007 C. Gagnon