American Gold Star families are immediate relatives of members of the U.S. Armed Forces who have been killed in combat or in support of certain military activities.
Emma Martin Morin was a Gold Star mother as the result of her son Napoleon’s death at the 1918, Battle of Chateau Thierry, during World War I, in France. Her sacrifice has stayed with the family even 58 years after Ms. Morin’s own death, at 95 years old, when she died at home on March 20, 1960, in Biddeford. She was the oldest World War I Gold Star mother of Biddeford’s Tighe-Beaudoin-Farley American Legion Post 26, auxiliary, in York County.
It is appropriate to research Emma’s history and to include her historic documentation in our family’s narrative. Mrs. Morin was my husband’s maternal grandmother.
In 2018, the world remembers the Centennial of the signing of the Armistice, ending World War I, on November 11, 1918, in France. Tragically, Corporal Napoleon Morin was killed in August, 1918, at Chateau Thierry. He was 19 years old when he was killed.
When Mrs. Morin turned 95 years old, in 1959, her birthday was reported on the front page of the December, Vol. 75, N. 281, local section of the daily Biddeford-Saco Journal, with a story continuing on page 6, inside the newspaper.
Many thanks to McArthur Library reference librarian Brooke Faulkner and the excellent archives maintained on microfilm by the library, for finding the birthday article and the obituary for Gold Star mother Mrs. Emma Martin Morin, 1865-1960.
A tribute to Mrs. Martin is described in the caption beneath her birthday photograph: “The 95th birthday of Mrs. Emma Martin Morin, Pike Street, Biddeford, will be celebrated with open house on Sunday, from 2-5 PM in the residence where she has made her home for over 60 years. A communicant of St. Andre church, she is the oldest Gold Star Mother of the Tighe-Beaudoin-Farley American Legion auxiliary. The arrangements for the celebration were in the charge of Wilfred A. Cote, her son-in-law, and Mr. and Mrs. Harold J. Duranceau, and family, who also resided in the family home.” In fact, Mrs. Morin moved into the Pike Street home in 1899, when her family arrived in Biddeford, from Roxton Falls, in Quebec.
In the report, verified by my husband Richard L’Heureux who is her grandson, Mrs. Morin raised 11 children and at the time of her 95th birthday, she counted 49 grandchildren, 102 great-grandchildren and 10 great-great grandchildren. Five of her children were living at the time of her 95th birthday and six were sadly deceased. (My husband told me that Mrs. Martin, his Memere, once said to him that she wondered if Jesus had forgotten to take her, instead. Of course, all of their conversations were in French.)
One of her deceased sons was Napolean Morin, a World War I soldier, who was killed at Chateau Thierry. At 95 years old, Mrs. Morin was reported to have been in good health and she was fond of playing card games. She had a “remarkable memory”, reported in the newspaper by her family She enjoyed telling stories as a “raconteur”, who skillfully related the family’s Franco-Americans customs.
Nevertheless, she understandably mourned the deaths of all of her family members and grieved for her son Napoleon, who was only 19 years old at the time of his death.
A few months after her 95th birthday, Mrs. Martin died on March 20, 1960, at her Biddeford home.
During this Centennial commemorative year, when the world remembers the end of World War I in 1918, we also want to acknowledge the thousands of Gold Star families who continue to grieve the loss of their loved ones, even when the deaths occurred a century, or more, ago. Napoleon Morin’s remains are interred at the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery, in France.