Items in the Franco-American Collection – Who received the Bronze Star?

Tours of the Franco-American Collection are encouraged!  Please call the phone number at the end of this blog for appointments.

LEWISTON, Maine  – As a Board member of the Franco-American Collection, located at the University of Southern Maine Lewiston Auburn College, one of the special moments I enjoy are when people request to tour of the archives.

Located on the Lewiston campus, in the main building on Westminister Street, the FAC supports community access. The Collection is part of the University of Southern Maine’s library system.

A tour on Thursday August 15, with Don Quaid and Sherri Bergman of Brunswick, provided a chance to showcase some of the special items in the catalog of archived items.  Among them was a Bronze Star and a Chaplain’s military decoration, both donated because they belonged to a Franco-American veteran (or veterans). However, we are not sure about the identity of the original owner or recipients.

Bronze Star and Military Chaplain medal at the USM LAC FAC in Lewiston.

Who was the recipient of this Bronze Star and Chaplain’s military decoration? They both belonged to a Franco-American veteran or veterans, but their names are not known. Can anyone help with this information?

In my experience, as the wife of a retired Navy veteran, it is rare to find a family that would donate an award with the significance of a Bronze Star to an archives. Consequently, this query is now open for a response.

Who was the recipient of the Bronze Star and Chaplain’s medal in the Franco-American Collection? Also, where was the Bronze Star awarded?  We only know a little about the donor,  but no information about the recipient (s). Although the names of Bronze Star recipients were researched, the information did not reveal a specific person who matched with the donor who provided the award and medal.

Anna Faherty, the archivist for the FAC, send me this information:

“Here’s the information I found about the Bronze Star. The Bronze Star is given to members of the US Armed Forces who demonstrate heroic or meritorious achievement or service. This heroic event can take place while engaged in action against an enemy of the United States, while engaged in military operations conflict with an opposing foreign force, or while serving with allied countries against their enemies. The owner of the Franco American War Veterans (F.A.W.V) hat and Bronze Star in our collection was Ernest Peloquin, who was a member of Post 29 (Massachusetts) of the F.A.W.V. That is all we know about him so far, apart from the donor being Jeanne-Louise Peloquin, relationship not stated. The wording on the catalog record is confusing, it says the hat “belonged” to Ernest, but that the medal was “given” to him. That could mean that it was presented to him/he earned it, which I think is more likely, or that someone gave it to him as a gift. I don’t know which war he fought in, or whether he was a Chaplain based on the records we have. I hope this information is helpful for your blog, and that someone reading can help us learn more about him!”

Lewiston immigrant history.

Lewiston history in a painting collage by Mercedes Gastonguay.

Mercedes Gastonguay

Mercedes Gastonguay signature on Lewiston collage.

Included in the tour of the archives on August 15, was a review of the Lewiston collage painting, by Mercedes Gastonguay.  She loaned her painting to the Franco-American Collection. In the collage, the key images about the work, family, education and religious lives of the immigrants who arrived at the Grand Trunk Railroad Station are depicted with the Androscoggin River as a matrix.  This chain migration began around 1870. French speaking immigrants, mostly from Quebec Provence, came to Lewiston to work in the city’s textile and shoe manufacturing mills. This immigration also brought to the city many professional, health care, retail, and service businesses, because the influx of workers depended on ways to provide resources to help them to establish homes and find services for their families.

Mercedes Gastonguay is a retired school teachers who lives in Lewiston.  She was an art teacher who organized jurored shows of her pupils for many years.

Tour of USM LAC FAC

Leading the tour taken on August 15, 2019, at the Franco-American Collection at the University of Southern Maine Lewiston Auburn College were (left) Board member Celia McGuckian, Archivist Anna Faherty, USM LAC Librarian and Board member Maureen Perry and Board Member Andrea Quaid, with Juliana L’Heureux (photographer).

Information about the Franco-American Collection is available at this site https://usm.maine.edu/franco

Call for an appointment to take a free tour  (207) 753-6545.

Please contact Anna Faherty at the Collection if you have information about the Bronze Star and Military Chaplain medals – email: anna.faherty@maine.edu.

Juliana L'Heureux

About Juliana L'Heureux

Juliana L’Heureux is a free lance writer who publishes news, blogs and articles about Franco-Americans and the French culture. She has written about the culture in weekly and bi-weekly articles, for the past 27 years.