A Canadian Family

First Nations, French Canadians & Acadians

Let’s Put Some Meat On The Bones! Paulie “Cat” Lagasse (1/3)

It’s been a while since we’ve heard from Peter Lagasse – an American descendant of Andre Mignier dit Lagace. This is another post in his family history series about his Lagace branch which now resides in Maine. You will find links to his former articles in the  Index: Mignier Lagaces | France/QC/NB.

Guest Post 5:  Peter Lagasse

So often in our research of our roots we gather a collection of names, dates, and places of those that have gone on before us. Our family tree has a collection of skeletons hanging from their appropriate branches swinging in the breeze of times gone by with dates and cities attached. I’d like to encourage you to add some flesh to those bones. Make your ancestors come alive, so to speak. To show what I mean, let me share some of the flesh I have placed on my father’s skeleton of dates and places.

If you were to view my father on our family tree you would discover his character, hardships, and shortcomings. In other words, you would come face to face with a real person who lived a life and doesn’t just exist on a branch of a family tree.

My father did not have an easy life and his personal life played that out. Roland Paul Lagasse born in Les Mechins, Quebec, Canada in 1909 would grow up in a family where holidays were a time to drink and argue. He was only 7 or even younger when his parents divorced and his mother remarried. They were a good Catholic family so these realities were never brought out in the open.

This was clearly shown when his father Joseph Gaudias Lagasse died in 1926 at the age of 41 in the arms of his 17 year old son, Roland, while living in Lowell, Massachusetts. Though his former wife, Marie Agnes Ross, had been married for over 9 years to her second husband the obituary makes it sound quite different as the obituary shows below.

My father would become quite a rebellious young man and will have his first court appearance before he turns 18 with the help of his mother and step-father, Frank Stackpole. They were caught bootlegging in their home in Lowell during the United States prohibition period. The newspaper article tells it all.

TRANSCRIPT –

Sold Rum For His Lodging

Man So Tells Court When He and Two

Others are Arraigned For Keeping

Gets Two Months on Second Offense-

Other Two Defendants are Fined

George Ewing told Judge Fisher in district court this morning that he was under verbal agreement with Frank Stackpole whereby he would sell liquor for his room and board at Stackpole’s residence at 5 McIntyre Street, when Ewing, Stackpole, and Roland Lagasse went on trial jointly charged with keeping and exporting liquor for sale.

All three were found guilty, and Ewing was sentenced to two months in the house of correction on a second offense: Stackpole was fined $200 and Lagasse fined $100. Sergt. William L Keegan testified that in a raid with other officers at the place in McIntyre Street, he found two coffee pots filled with distilled spirits, and glasses and bottles. He said he found three men there, and

That Ewing admitted having sold six drinks on the night of the raid. Ewing said that he had previously “taken the rap” for Lagasse and his mother, who is Stackpole’s wife, and that he had been out of jail two weeks previous to the raid. He went there and the arrangement was that he could have board and room if he would assist in the selling of liquor, he said.

Stackpole said that Ewing was a stranger to him, and he had come seeking board and room. He was broke, he said, and so he gave him a right to live with him until he got a job. Stackpole said that he knew nothing of the sale of liquor on the premises.

Lagasse said he had not sold any liquor, and he should not be blamed when his mother and her husband sold liquor.

End of transcript

By the age of 18 in 1927, my father had married and had his first child by age 19. The marriage will last only 2 years after a daughter is born. My father becomes more rebellious and angry at life as his second wife dies in childbirth. People encourage him to use his anger in the boxing ring. To use his energy in a sport that was all the rage during this time and that is what my father did from 1929-1934.

He was known as Paulie “Cat” Lagasse, the “New Canadian Flash”. He was the “Cat” because of his fast foot work and he gave spectators an evening of seeing a real boxing match. I will close this article with a variety of pictures of my father’s boxing years. Remember; put some flesh on those skeletons hanging from your family branches.

Click here for Paulie “Cat” Lagasse Slideshow

Click here for vintage boxing poster

March 2, 2011 - Posted by | .

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