About the Upper St.John River Valley website

View of the St.John at Clair, NB and Fort Kent, ME
The St.John River at Fort Kent
Photo by Charles Feil (with permission)

This website, upperstjohn.com, is devoted to the history and genealogy of the communities in the valley of the upper St. John River (called the Wulustuk by the original inhabitants, members of the Maliseet nation), in Aroostook County, Maine, USA and in Madawaska & Victoria Counties, New Brunswick, Canada.

It includes the valleys of the Allagash and the Fish Rivers in northern Aroostook County, and the valleys of the Green and Madawaska Rivers in Madawaska County. It also includes some information on the rest of Aroostook County, Maine and on Victoria County, New Brunswick

In the early days the community spanned both banks of the St. John River, known to the original population of the valley as Wulustuk. Many of the documents transcribed here, especially from the first half of the 1800s, therefore include communities on both sides of the river.

The site includes:

And lots of other stuff. All of the transcriptions have been done by myself, unless otherwise noted.

Website history

La Gagnonniere in Perche, France
La Gagnonnière, 16th century homestead of Gagnon family, Perche, France (click for more info)
I first got interested in the history of my family and the community they came from about 30 years ago when the priest at Ste-Luce let me look through the actual old parish records, including the first ones dating from the 1840s. I saw there the names not only of my grandparents, uncles and aunts, but of my great-grandparents, my great-great grandparents, and my great-great-great grandfather, Prospère Gagnon, who, I would eventually learn, moved to what is now Frenchville from the Kamouraska area of Québec in 1831. That was also my first look at the Dictionnaire Généalogique de Madawaska, the registry of all marriages in the Valley as well as marriages of ancestors in Quebec going back to France.

I was hooked. In 1980 I had the chance to actually visit the Gagnonnière in the Perche region of France, the homestead of the three Gagnon brothers who emigrated to New France in the 1630s (see photo at right). When my brother Dave bought me the Family Origins genealogy software for Christmas in 1996, I began in earnest organizing all the info I'd collected. 

My interest in the history of the upper St.John River valley and the families who lived there led me to expand what was at first just a family genealogy site into a site dedicated to the entire valley. So in April 2000 I started this website, combining the genealogical info from my own families with a transcription of the 1850 US census of Aroostook County. It's grown and grown since then.

The barn of Philippe Gagnon, Upper Frenchville
The old barn from the homestead of Wilfred Philippe Gagnon, Upper Frenchville, Quatrième Rang. From left, Philippe's son Val, his great-grandchildren Nellie and Lucas, and grandson

My kids at the barn
Nellie and Lucas at the old farm of their
great-grandparents in Upper Frenchville in 1995
My family in the valley

My parents are from Frenchville and Fort Kent, and while mostly French (both from Québec and Acadie), my family tree also includes branches going back to England, Ireland, and the native peoples of the region. My childrens' branches go (via their mom's family) even further afield, including to Scotland, Poland, and Sweden.

My grandfather Wilfred Philippe Gagnon lived in what is called the "back settlement" of Upper Frenchville, on the "Quatrième rang", or Fourth Range. On the left is a photo from 1995 of me with my children and dad at the old barn (The farmhouse was torn down long ago), and one from the same time of the kids playing in the fields of the old farm.

My mom's mother, Christy St.John, was born on the family farm in Daigle. During the depression, her mother lost their farm, and they moved into Fort Kent. Christy's parents' families, the Jalberts and St.Johns, were from the Allagash and St.John Plantation areas.  My grandmother too was an important inspiration in creating this site. Her stories about the old days, about teaching in one-room school houses; staying in lumber camps with her mom, who was a cook; and all of her relatives, on both sides, provided not only information but a real human feel to history.



1959 Frenchville
Val, myself and Pépère Philippe Gagnon at his home in Frenchville around 1959.
This site is meant to provide genealogical and historical information for people researching their family histories in the valley of the Upper St.John River in northern Aroostook County and Madawaska County, or for people who are just interested in the history of this region. It was inspired by all of the volunteers who on so many other internet sites have taken the time and effort to transcribe documents and put them online; their efforts were a tremendous help to me in researching my own family.

I see this site as a work of love: for my children, so they know where they came from; for my family, to keep alive memories of the old days; and for the whole community, to preserve the history of a region that was special in so many ways.

My thanks to all the visitors to this site who have contributed information or made useful suggestions. I've tried to give credit where it belongs.

The main page of the site, the "The Upper St.John River Valley," has links to transcribed documents and short histories of various aspects of the Valley located on this site. It also has some links to my main family lines. The other part of the site, "Cousins and Ancestors of Nellie and Lucas," is genealogical and historical information about the ancestors of my children, as well as their cousins (going to fifth cousins when I could find the information).

Val, Barb, Dave, Grammy Christy St.John
and me, about 1960.


All the information on this site is available to researchers for free, there are no charges at all for using it, and it is not meant to be used for commercial purposes. For information about citing the information on this site, domain ownership, and general policy, see the "Terms of use."

If you have any comments or suggestions I'd love to hear from you! Send me an e-mail: sign the guestbook, or visit the website Message Board.


Return to the Upper St.John River Valley main page

Last revised 15 Jun 2007
© 2005-2007 C. Gagnon