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The LeMasurier's


Julie Webster


You have heard how a father divided his money and gave it to his sons and sent them out into the world. That is how the story began of the LeMasuriers in Chapman, England, around the middle of the nineteenth century. Joshua LeMasurier did that very thing.

One of the sons, Phillip A. LeMasurier, journeyed across the North Atlantic Ocean and settled in Medonte, Ontario. Phill's neighbors were the Ryan family who were related to the Cowan family. Phillip and Sarah Stone were married and farmed in this area.

Capt. Cowan came to St. Vincent, which was a booming railroad town in the late 1870's. Capt. Cowan liked what he saw and went back for his family and his neighbors.

Phillip opened a store which also housed his family of ten. In his store Phillip had a different way to give credit to his customers. When customers came in and asked for some credit they would sign a note for a certain amount, then he gave the this store money which was made out of aluminum. On one side it said, "Good for $1.00 in merchandise." The other side said, "P. A. LeMasurier, St. Vincent, Minnesota." His customers would use it as cash when shopping. This building was later known as Shorts Cafe.

Mr. Eli Gooselaw remembers Phillip as a short, rugged man with a black beard.

The state had given deeds of land to the railroads to encourage them to build railroads. Phillip LeMasurier, John and George (known as Shorty) Cowan bought the land north of St. Vincent village. The railroad reserved a right of way all along the riverbank and planned to build a bridge across the Red River south of thie coulee. This place by the coulee was a Sioux or Chippewa Indian Village.

William, son of Phillip, recalled the wooden sidewalks which were made of planks that were wired together. During the flood of 1897, when the water got so deep that William didn't have any place for his calves, he took them in through his dad's house and out the upstairs windows and tied them on the floating sidewalks for the duration of the flood. This flood also made the entire railroad move to its present site and made the railroad business of St. Vincent on its way out.

About this same time Phillip sold his land north of St. Vincent to his sons, William and Arthur. William bought the building called the signal house and moved it to his land when he married in 1902 and lived in it. Mose Paranteau picks the site for the hourse, as it was barely covered with water during the 1897 flood.

Eli Gooselaw was helping William early in spring in March to plant the crop. Eli was cultivating while William was planting some crop. He got stuck in a mud hole and when William was turning around the tongue on the planter broke. It started to rain and snow and they didn't get back into the fields again until May of that year. The snow and rain didn't hurt any of the crop. When it came to harvest time they had a good crop.

William's son Harvey was born in this home in 1903. When Harvey was older he worked on his dad's farm and he bought the land from his dad, Arthur's land and also the Cowan land. While the farm changed hands, Eli Gooselaw still would help Harvey out with the farm during planting, haying and harvesting time.

The farm was made up of a house, barn, chicken house, garage, machine shed and shop. They used five horses to farm with and also had cows, pigs and chickens to give them food along with a big garden. The house was pretty much as it is today, but in 1940 Harvey removed the large bay windows and put a row of windows in there instead. There was a porch along the east side which ran around to the south to make a pantry. There was a cellar under the main part of the house. The first electricity was a power plant that was made up of an engine and batteries which were in the cellar. The power plant gave off 32 volts. This was pout into use in 1942. The power plant wat later moved to the woodshed east of the house. In 1945, Otterttail came into the area to give power to the LeMasuriers.

The machinery was a two bottom plow which was pulled by five horses. At harvesting time Harvey had a small threshing machine. Harvey would run both the separator and engine. Harvey would wear a straw hat in the summer time and during harvesting time as he was running back and forth between the separator and the engine, he would often lose his hat and then the wagons would run over it, so Janet would have to go into town and buy a new straw hat.

In the winter they would take care of the livestock and upkeep of the farm. They also would pack the ice house with ice from the river for the summers use. They would haul the ice from the river to the wall and they had to place sawdust all around and in between the cakes of ice to keep it in the summer time.

One evening in 1937, Harvey and Janet were having supper in the Reed Hall, served by the Episcopal women followed by a program. In the middle of the program, Jack Friebohle came in and shouted fire at the Harvey LeMasuriers. Dorothy Finney (Harvey's niece) was singing when Jack came in. The hall emptied fast and Dorothy stood there with her mouth open. She hadn't heard the call to fire. The chicken house caused the fire. Fortunately there was no wind. The load of hay next to the barn caught fire but the men pulled it away and no other building caught fire.

Keeping livestock in the pasture was a problem some times. Whenever Harvey's horses got out of the pasture they would run north to where Frank Gooselaw, who lived with his mother (who lived to be 103 years old) and his sister, her son Dave and his brother Roger. They always drank up the water that Frank had hauled from the river for washing.

Harvey bought his first tractor, a John Deere, in July, 1934.

Being close to the river, the land had flooded a number of years. Some of the worst were in 1897, 1916, 1948, a bad flood in 1940 and 1966.

Stanley was born to Harvey and Janet and as he grew up, he also married and took over the land and Harvey and Janet moved into St. Vincent. Today Harvey still owns the land but the Rueben Ohmanns live in the house and the land is farmed by Webster Bros.

While living in St. Vincent, Harvey worked as a janitor for the St. Vincent School. Harvey also helped Stanley out on the farm. Janet worked as a secretary in the Humboldt School. After the death of their son, Stanley, Harvey and Janet moved to California, where they are now.

People think of them as warm, loving and thoughtful people. If you go and visit them, they keep you busy going to see different items of interest. They are still leading a busy life by taking part in community affairs.


Gooselaw, Eli. Interview, January 10, 1974
LeMasurier, Janet. Correspondence, January 7, 1974

Kittson County Enterprise Obituary, 19 May 1999

Janet LeMasurier

Janet M. LeMasurier, 93, Paynesville, and formerly of St. Vincent died March 4, 1999 at the Koronis Manor, Paynesville. A funeral service will be held Wednesday, May 26, 11 a.m. at St. John's Episcopal Church, Hallock. Interment will follow the lunch at the St. Vincent cemetery.

See Harvey LeMasurier