Was He a Builder? a Principal? a Fundraiser? or a Priest?


 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 churcchagnon family treeh. 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.
chagnonfamilytreeIn 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.
 chagnon family tree
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
Moise Chagnon/ Hypolite Chagnon/ M. Louise Lamontague-Lalue
 Rev. Francis X. Chagnon Nazareth Chagnon/Euphemia Cusson
Narcisse (Nelson) Chagnon /Delina Bouchard