formerly part of Madawaska Plantation or Settlement; also known as:

Chateaugay or Chautauqua;
Dionne Plantation;
Township Number 18, 5th Range
(in 1860 US census);
(in 1870 US census)

What is today Frenchville (and Upper Frenchville) was originally part of what was called Chautauqua or Chateaugay, which included both north and south banks of the St.John where Frenchville and Baker Brook now stand. It was at the upper reaches of the Madawaska Settlement, which was settled mostly by the descendants of Acadian refugees from about 1785 onward, then by French Canadians in the 1820s and 1830s. By 1830 112 families, with a total of 746 people, lived in Chautauqua. Until 1842 Madawaska settlement was a territory that was in dispute between the US and Britain.

Prior to 1830 it this entire area was referred to as Ste-Emilie, after the chapel, built in 1826 and served by priests who travelled from Saint Basile. This chapel stood where Ste-Luce now stands. From about 1830 to 1843 it was referred to as Ste-Luce, after the newly renamed chapel; the name change was apparently ordered by the Bishop of Québec. Sometime after 1843 Frenchville came to be known informally as Dionne plantation, named for Father Henri Dionne, who built there the first Catholic church in 1843 -- Ste-Luce -- on the site of the old chapel. Father Dionne served the parish until 1860.

From 1843 to 1869 it was known as Frenchville Plantation (although at the time of the 1850 US Census it was included as part of Madawaska Plantation and in the 1860 US census it was under Township 18, Range 5). (Fr. Dionne was the brother of my great-great grandmother Hortense.)

"It was incorporated Feb. 23, 1869, under the name of Dickeyville, in honor of Hon. William Dickey, of Fort Kent. The name was changed Jan. 26, 1871, [to Frenchville] to indicate the nationality of the inhabitants." In the 1870 US Census, it is listed as "Dickeyville". Thereafter it was known as Frenchville. The area around Ste-Luce, down the road towards Fort Kent, and the back settlements, are known as Upper Frenchville.

The town of St. Agatha (Ste-Agathe) was formed in 1899 from the southeastern part of Frenchville. (Varney, p.244; Chadbourne, p.116, Guimond, p.iii)

Ste-Luce church

 A Photo of Ste-Luce church (the new building):
 The church from behind, with the cemetery:
Both photos are by Steve Young, One World Artisans Photography

The original church structure was built in 1843, when the parish received its first permanent priest, Father Henri Dionne. A Chapel had been built at this site in 1826, for priests coming from Saint-Basile to celebrate masses; prior to about 1830 it was named Ste-Émélie, and was changed to Ste-Luce about 1830 or so. But until about 1843 the residents of the entire Madawaska region, including what is today Frenchville and points west, were part of St. Basile parish, whose seat was located across the river in New Brunswick. After 1843 Ste-Luce served a very large population, covering all of what was then Madawaska Plantation and Hancock Plantation in the US (pretty much everything from today's Madawaska westward), as well as populations on the other side of the St.John, in what is today New Brunswick, west of Harford's Brook, as Three Mile Brook was then called. The resolution of the border dispute in 1842 resulted in the division of the Madawaska Settlement by an international border, which provided the impetus for the separation from Sainte-Luce parish of communities north of the St.John River, which in 1859 formed Saint-François parish, and in 1868 Saint-Hilaire.

Ken Roy has included on his new and excellent website a map of the Ste Luce cemetery, searchable by name. Here's a link to his Ste Luce site:

Frenchville Transcriptions on this web site:

Be sure to check out Ken Roy's pages on Frenchville:

Other Frenchville Links:

Return to Upper St.John Valley Communities Page

Last revised 24 Jan 2012
©2003-2012 C.Gagnon