Who is This and How are We Related?
Francis X. Chagnon, was born February 18, 1842 in Vercheres, a suburb of Montreal, Qc. He is the son of Moise & Emelie (Provost) Chagnon.
Francis Chagnon studied to become a priest at Joliette and grand seminaries of Montreal and on Jan 30, 1870, at the age of 28, he was ordained a Catholic priest. He was the Vicar at St Lin, St. Jacques de l’Achigan, St. Philomene de Chateauguay, St. Isidore de Laprairie, St Michel de Napierville, St Jean in Iberville and St. Brigide of Montreal from 1870-1877.
Father Chagnon immigrated to the United States in 1877; when he was appointed as pastor of St. Mary Church in Champlain, NY, on January 6, 1877. He continued to serve at St. Mary’s Church and its community for nearly 35 years.
St. Mary’s parish was financially poor and had a modest antiquated wooden church. However, the congregation was rich in spirit and determination. Father Chagnon soon led the way in raising money for the construction of a new church which still stands in the village of Champlain, NY today. Though it was a struggle to raise the money for the church’s construction, the project was completed before the turn of the century. The new church not only gave the congregation a formidable place to worship, but it also earned Father Chagnon great admiration and respect.
St. Mary’s Church was built with Father Chagnon’s strong emphasis on sustaining and promoting the Franco-American culture of the area. Many French came down from Quebec at that time to work in the factories after the Civil War. They were not always very well-treated and often were looked down upon as foreigners.
In 1906, through Father Chagnon’s efforts, a Catholic school was opened. The Daughters of the Charity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, who were a group of nuns that came to America from France came to teach the students.
What became Father Chagnon’s most notable accomplishment, was the construction of the monument dedicated to French explorer Samuel de Champlain, which is the namesake for the village, town and lake, that divides the states of New York and Vermont.
The town fathers in Champlain wanted to put up a statue in honor of Samuel de Champlain, but couldn’t come up with the money, so they turned to Father Chagnon. He went all over New England and New York to the French communities, meeting with Franco-American societies, and was able to get them to donate to this statue. The statue was erected on church property and dedication on July 4, 1907. This was the first statue in the nation to honor Samuel de Champlain.
Sadly, Father Chagnon died four years later at the age of 69, on Oct. 10, 1911. He is laid to rest in a tomb on the church grounds behind the statue of Samuel de Champlain, which is across the street from the former Catholic school that he had helped establish.
It is said that Father Chagnon was a very influential man in the North Country during his time. And that his strong vision shaped what the village of Champlain, and particularly St. Mary’s Church, is today. In 2011, the congregation of St. Mary’s Church honored the 100th anniversary of the death of the Rev. Francis X. Chagnon. The local Knights of Columbus Council bears the name, the Francis X. Chagnon Council 3525. As you can see Father Chagnon was all of the above, a builder, a principal, a fundraiser, a priest and more.
So, how are we related? Francis X. Chagnon’s grandfather Michel Chagnon is the brother of Joseph Chagnon, making Moise Chagnon and Hypolite Chagnon cousins. Joseph Chagnon is the father to Hypolite. Hypolite is the father of Nazareth (Nazaire) Chagnon. Nazareth is the father of Narcisse (Nelson) Chagnon. Side Note: Nazareth immigrated to the United States in the 1860s and lived Champlain, NY.
(You can see from the chart below how Michel and Joseph were brothers, which makes Fr. Francis X. and Nazareth cousins).
Jean Baptist Chagnon/Marie Francoise Pineau
|Michel Chagnon/ Veronique Fontaine-Bienvenue
|Joseph Chagnon / Margaret Lavallee-Paquet
|Hypolite Chagnon/ M. Louise Lamontague-Lalue
|Rev. Francis X. Chagnon
|Nazareth Chagnon/Euphemia Cusson
|Narcisse (Nelson) Chagnon /Delina Bouchard