Marie Anna Thesier Dechene
Marie Anna Thesier, known as Aunt Anna, was the third child born to Mose and Vittaline Thesier. She was born in Canada. When she was still a baby, her mother died. Her father remarried Rosanna Charette who took over the responsibility of raising Vittaline’s three children. When Anna was about 5 years old, Mose moved all of his family to New York State to a town called Fine. By this time Rosanna had had 3 more children of her own, so by now there were 6 children, the youngest being less than a year old.
How difficult for us to imagine in the day and age that we live in and all the advantages we have now, to imagine what it must have been like to take care of this family, move into a new country where a different language was spoken, into a log cabin where there was probably no running water, no electricity, definitely no washing machine. What stamina the women at that time must have had just to survive. It makes you wonder how they kept warm, what they had to eat, how their place was heated. Also what did Anna’s father do to make a living? Since so many of these stories that I have heard, and based these stories on, have told so much of logging, I wonder if that was what he did to make enough to live on.
Anna’s growing up years can be only guesses. From Uncle Bill’s accounts, school was a long way away, so did she go? Who knows? Anyway, we know she must have been a great help to her stepmother, taking care of her brothers and sisters and helping with the work that must have been enormous. In 1902, when she was 19 years old, she married Angus Dechene.
Aunt Anna and Uncle Angus moved to Carter, N.Y, near Old Forge. Uncle Angus worked at logging as a lot of the family did. They had a nice home, and Aunt Anna had her first child the following year. In the next 12 years she had had 8 children. Angus delivered all of the children except for Joseph Leon who was born in the hospital. But that is when Aunt Anna’s problems began. She became pregnant again and gave birth to twins, a boy and a girl. One of them died shortly after birth and the next one died the next day. Uncle Angus put them both together in a wooden box and buried them under the cucumber patch. Twice later, she became pregnant and neither time did the pregnancy go full term and the babies both died at birth.
Aunt Anna may have sensed that something was wrong with her. On November 15, 1920, when Arthur, the youngest was 5 years old, she took the kids to school, and then walked along the railroad tracks to the railroad station. She took the train to Utica and went to St. Elizabeth Hospital. This is where she died at the age of 37. No one is sure of just what she died from or even where she is buried.
Uncle Angus was now alone with 8 children, ages 5 to 1 7 years. He was working in the woods at the time, and he stayed there working. Bertha the second child was 16 and she tried to keep the children all together. But after 2 years it was just too much. The 4 youngest, Steve, Art, Leon, and Gene went to an orphanage run by the Sisters of Ogdensburg. Bertha visited them every day. This cost Uncle Angus $4 a day per child to have them stay there, which was an awful lot of money at that time. The three oldest stayed together but Wilfred went to stay with another family for a while.
It makes you wonder how a family survives when things like this happen to them. But this family did survive. Though I did not know Aunt Anna, I did get to know Uncle Angus and the children. As the kids got older we used to see them quite often. Uncle Angus was always at the family reunions. The family maintained a real close relationship with their Mother’s brothers and sisters. Most of the family remained in the Tupper Lake area and Tupper Lake became know as the place that we all loved to go visit, where the men always went to go deer hunting. Even though we lost Aunt Anna long ago, her family is still our family.
This story of about Aunt Anna was written by Marge Thesier Phillips