Optional Assignment – Christian Cherau


I used Ancestry.com to do research into my Mom’s side of the family, given that I know they have been in the Americas for many generations. My father’s father side of the family came over from France in early 1900s, and my father’s mother from Sweden about the same time. From my mother’s side, I know her father’s family has a long history in the Fairfield County, Connecticut area, however I found difficulty coming up with linked census records there. I know most about my mother’s mother’s family, which I managed to trace back many generations. My grandmother was born in 1936 in Madawaska, ME. I knew from her that her family had been established potatoes farmers in the Madawaska area for generations. Using census records, I actually managed to trace her line back to France. The family was living in Madawaska as of 1800, with prior generations living outside of Quebec City, Quebec. Prior to that, the family births/deaths can be traced to the Arcadia region of Nova Scotia. My quest ended with Etienne Hebert, who was born in the Lorraine Region of France in 1625, and died in about 1670 in Arcadia, Nova Scotia. It was very, very cool for me to realize that I can trace my family back 350 years on the American continent.

For this assignment, I have decided to zero in on the 1912 election and my great great grandfather, Fortuna Hebert. Fortuna was born in 1878, in Madawaska Maine at the family farm. The 1910 Census records shows Fortuna at 32, married to wife Marie, and with 4 children, ages ranging from newborn to 3. My great-grandfather was born in 1912, therefore was a newborn during that election.

For the election, I am fairly confident that Fortuna Hebert would have voted for Theodore Roosevelt. I based this inference off of several factors: (1) Aroostook County, ME, where Madawaska is located, is a largely agrarian county. With very little industrial penetration to the very northernmost reaches of Maine, the economy was (and still is) based on farming and lumbering. Much of that farming was for subsistence. (2) I know from my grandmother’s and great-grandmother’s stories that the Heberts were, and some still are, potato farmers. My grandmother continually attributes her bad knees to many childhood years spent digging potatoes. (3) Election results show the state of Maine casting their electoral votes for Wilson, with Wilson winning the more populated and urban Southern counties of Maine, including the cities of Portland, Lewiston, and Augusta. The Northern Counties are noted as voting for Roosevelt in electoral maps, and as a whole the state of Maine voted 39% for Wilson and 37% for Roosevelt. Taft garnered 20% of the vote. Roosevelt was the candidate who took on the populist and farmer’s platform in the 1912 election, while Wilson ultimately appealed to more urban sentiments. Therefore, this dispersion of votes in Maine makes remarkable sense, with the north end of the state, including Madawaska, historically being agricultural while Portland, Auburn, and Lewiston especially making the southern part of the state much more industrialized.

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