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Edgar Noel-Josephine Brunell

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My great-grandparents

Edgar Moses NOEL was born on May 6, 1885, in North Adams, Berkshire Co, Massachusetts, the son of Charles NOEL & Mary BAKER.1 Edgar married Josephine BRUNELL on 2 October 1905 in Brockton, Plymouth Co., Massachusetts.8 She was the daughter of Leandre BRUNELL & Hermeline D'AOUST, born to them about 1879 in Lyon Mountain, Clinton Co, New York.2,3,8

The story of Edgar and Josephine seems to begin in North Adams--the town in which Edgar had been born and raised. Josephine was a girl of New York's "North Country"; a native of the small mining town of Lyon Mountain. She relocated to North Adams with her family sometime around 1900, when she was 21 years old and went to work in a Berkshire County shoe factory.2
In 1900, Edgar would have been only 14 years old. It wasn't likely that he looked older. According to both his World War I and World War II draft cards, he was of medium to short build--his WWII draft card shows his height as 5'4" tall with a small frame, weighing only 128 pounds in 1942! But Edgar is absent from the 1900 census. He is not listed in the household in North Adams with his mother and sister. I don't know if there was an oversight on the part of the census taker or if Edgar was off living with his father, Charles, who has been MIA in census records since 1880. Edgar had to have spent considerable time with his father during his formative years, as he spoke with a thick French accent all of his life. Edgar's mother was not French, but his father was.2,6
Edgar followed the example of both of his parents and worked in the shoe manufacturing industry; most of the records found for him have listed his occupation as such.

At some point, Edgar and Josephine, along with a host of shoe employees, left the beautiful Berkshire Mountains and headed east. What could have caused the exodus of shoe workers from Berkshire County to the easternmost counties of Plymouth and Norfolk? Some of the reason can be found here. Brockton would eventually have so many shoe factories that it would be known internationally as "Shoe City".

So....how did Edgar and Josephine meet? The following scenarios come to mind:

  • Edgar and Josephine make acquaintance in Berkshire County, probably meeting in a shoe factory. Edgar is 14; Josephine is 21. Not much chance of romance at that time. Fast forward five years: Edgar and Josephine, independent of each other, found themselves in Brockton; a much larger and less friendly place than small-town North Adams. Edgar and Josephine may have naturally gravitated toward each other, delighted to find a familiar face. They then fall in love.
  • Edgar and Josephine, again, meet in a Berkshire shoe factory. They either become friends or romantically involved. One of the couple moves with their family to Brockton and sends word back to the other about the job opportunities in the area. They and their family also make the move the Brockton, where the couple eventually marry.
  • Edgar and Josephine did not know each other at all in Berkshire County; they did not meet until they both ended up in Brockton and found common ground in the fact that they had both worked in Berkshire County shoe factories. From this, they fall in love and get married.
  • Edgar and Josephine actually moved to Brockton together and got married there.
Some evidence points to the two latter scenarios. At the time of their marriage in 1905, both Edgar and Josephine listed their address as 445 Montello Street in Brockton. This was the same address that would appear on Josephine's mother's death certificate the following year. As Josephine and her mother had been living with Josephine's brother Charles Brunell since 1900, it would be safe to assume that the Montello Street address was his residence--and that Edgar may have been rooming there.
This is also the first that we see of Josephine lying about her age. On the marriage record, Edgar's age is written as 21--which is stretching the truth by a matter of months. Josephine, however, also lists her age as 21--when, in fact, she was 26!

By October of 1907, when Josephine gave birth to the couple's first child, Viola, they were residents of Randolph, Norfolk Co. This is about 10 miles south of Boston and about 6 miles north of Brockton. They were still living there when the 1910 census for Randolph was conducted, and through February of 1911 when their second child, Joseph Russell was born. It would seem that sometime between Joseph Russell's birth and the birth of their third child, Hazel, in 1913, they moved back to Brockton, which was Hazel's place of birth.2,10

Edgar and Josephine had 5 children:

Viola Emmeline
Joseph Russell
Marion Hazel- Born March 10, 1913 in Brockton.7 She married a man whose last name was Richardson.6
Maude (or Florence)- Born ca 1914.2 Maude also married a man whose last name was Richardson; it is unknown if Maude and Hazel's husbands were related. There are two known Richardson children--one that went by "Sonny" and one named Wally. It is unknown which child belonged to which mother.6
I met Wally Richardson in the fall of 1976 in Baltimore, Maryland. I was working for my cousin Sonny Pelaquin, selling tickets for his motor drome; we were playing a 3-day street fair. Wally was in Baltimore at the time and happened upon the drome. He and Sonny hadn't seen each other in years. All I seem to remember about him is that he had the same brown eyes that my father had.
Charles Edward- Born 16 March 1920 in Brockton, MA and died 14 July 1980 in Brockton of lung cancer. He was buried 17 July 1890 in Blue Hill Cemetery, Braintree, MA. He was a talented carpenter and artist.6,11

After 14 years of marriage, Josephine died on 15 May 1920 in Brockton. This was also 2 months after the birth of their youngest child, Charles. The family was living on Franklin Street at the time. Josephine's obituary stated that the family had only been living in Brockton for a few months; however her daughter Marion Hazel was born in Brockton in 1913, seven years earlier. Did she have Hazel in Brockton and the family moved there later? I have no idea. The obituary stated that she had not been well after the birth of her son, and that she died from acute indigestion. The death record concurs, citing the cause of death as:

'An Epilectic. Attack of Acute. Indigestion with vomiting and convulsions. A few twists."
Spelling and punctuation are exactly as they appear on the death record.

Josephine was buried in Calvary Cemetery in Brockton.3,4

Josephine's age is not officially known--no birth record has come to light thus far for her. The Dannemora, Clinton Co., NY census enumeration for 1880 has Josephine's age at 1 year old. In the 1900 census of North Adams, MA, she is listed as being 21 years old and born in 1879. She was 21 again in 1905 when she got married. In both the 1910 and 1920 census enumerations of this family, Josephine lists her age as 29 years old. Her 1920 death record lists her age as 38 years old--three years younger than her actual age. It is clear that Josephine was sensitive about the 6-year age difference between she and Edgar.2,3

Edgar, or Edward as he is referred to in most records, lived until the age of 58. His brown hair was gray and his brown eyes had been wearing glasses since at least 1942.5 He is enumerated in the 1930 Brockton census as living at #18 Beacon Street in what appears to be a building with 2 apartments. His household shows his known children Russell, Hazel, Maude, and Charles. It also lists a child named Marion as his daughter. She is a little over a year old.2 Check out our family mysteries page to learn more about this interesting situation and see if you can give us a clue!
Edgar was living at #44 Haverhill Street in Brockton when he died on 25 January 1944, of carcinoma of stomach with metastases of liver (stomach cancer spreading to liver). Oddly enough, Edgar was not laid to rest with his wife. His death record states that he rests in Central Cemetery in Randolph.3,5

My father--who inherited Edgar's brown eyes!--remembered regularly visiting Edgar on Haverhill St. before Edgar's death. Edgar would always insist on giving my father a snack of bread sprinkled with a little water and then sprinkled with sugar. My father also remembers him as always seeming to need a shave. He also remembers him speaking English with a thick French accent--which leads me to believe that Edgar was bilingual and that he spoke French conversationally at times. My father seemed to enjoy visting with his grandfather; he especially enjoyed the snack! Guess all grandparents like seeing their grandchildren and giving them something special.6
My aunt Mary Ellen Noel also remembered Edgar; and she even remembered Mary, Edgar's mother. For some reason, she didn't know that Mary was Edgar's mother--and she wondered why he was with someone so much older than him. She remembered Mary as a large woman--"as big as a barrel". Dad also remembered a woman always being there, but he didn't know who she was.6

Sources:
1. Birth records from North Adams provided by lookup volunteer Julie
2. Census records
3. Death records from Brockton, Mass.
4. Obituaries from the Brockton Enterprise provided by Larry Noonan
5. Copies of Edgar's WWI and WWII draft cards
6. Personal recollections Joseph Russell Noel, Jr. and Mary Ellen Noel Bolinder--who were my father and aunt.
7. Birth records from New England Historic Genealogical Society
8. Marriage records from New England Historic Genealogical Society
9. Death records from New England Historic Genealogical Society
10. Randolph birth records from lookup volunteer Catherine.
11. Records from a relative who I will call "S" to protect their privacy.

This page was updated February 2012.

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Noel Family of Brockton, MA by Jolynn Noel Winland is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License
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Email: littleangeljw@yahoo.com