Oconto County WIGenWeb Project
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WOMEN of EARLY OCONTO COUNTY

EVANGELINE BELONGIA La BROSSE 

Dick LaBrosse
.

Midwife 
Evangeline Belongia La Brosse
c: 1890 
The LaBrosse family were longtime residents of Frenchtown,  Oconto County, Wisconsin. For many years Evangeline Belongia La Brosse delivered a majority of the French and Metis babies born in the area as  a registered midwife. In the late 1800's and early 1900's she  was called upon to assist the women in labor and birth. Evangeline charged a fee of $5 to assist with the delivery and care for the mother and newborn for nine days thereafter. This would often include making meals, doing laundry, and cleaning for the entire family.  For distressed  families, she never bothered to collect the fee, and if it was paid to her long after the event, she used the money to buy supplies for a new family without funds. Doctors were sometimes not called as their fees could not be paid.  

Evangeline also taught infant care and hygiene to young married women, some of whom were as young as 13 years old. She taught other women the skills of midwifery and assisted doctors. It was common for a woman not to want to be seen by a man other than her husband, so the midwife would do the "hands on" delivery work and describe what was happening to the doctor standing behind a screen or blanket hung from the ceiling joists.

At a time when refrigeration of food was almost unknown, many infants died from food poisoning shortly after starting to wean from breast milk. These babies would gradually weaken and succumb to diarrhea and dehydration. They were described as "not having the will to live" or other vague notions since the disease causing deaths was not known.  Dairy products, cooked meats and other prepared foods were often made once a day and stored at room temperature to be eaten throughout the entire day or longer. The bacteria that grew in the food, although not greatly affecting most people, was deadly to infants and the elderly. Many young mothers lived far from their original families, having no one to consult on important child rearing concerns.  Evangeline, along with other midwives,  was called upon to help them understand and overcome the problems of infant mortality due to food poisoning and other dangers of the time. They were also consulted on many family illnesses and often knew how to prepare the medicines necessary for treatment. More than a few cattle, sheep, goats and horses were assisted in the difficult births of their young by midwives, since these animals were valuable and essential to the prosperity of the family.

Evangeline (Angele) BELANGER was born in 1840 at Quebec Canada.  She was married 16 Sept 1861 at St-Andrew-East, QC to Moise LABROSSE.  Moise (also Mose) LABROSSE  was born 1828 at QC, Canada and died  1910 at Oconto WI, US. Evangeline Belanger La Brosse died 1935 at Oconto, WI, US. Evangeline was 95 years old. She was the mother of  Exilda La Brosse Dalton, John La Brosse, Sophie La Brosse Frechette, and William La Brosse. 
For more information of the La Brosse family please click HERE
For more information of the Belongia family please click HERE

Evangeline's daughter
Sophie La Brosse Frechette
c: 1890

 Descendant Richard La Brosse has done extensive research and was able to properly identify the photograph of his ancestor, Evangeline Belongia La Brosse. In several published histories on Oconto County, her photograph and history were credited to Sophie La Brosse. In reality, Sophie was the daughter of Evangeline and not the midwife described in the histories.  The photo of Sophie La Brosse Frechette was also mislabeled in these histories. This photo has been identified by family members as Sophie at about 1890.  Sophie La Brosse Frechette was born 21 Sept 1862 at St-Andrew-East QC. She died in 1939.

 

 

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