Frances Mary Peltier

On December 12, 1902 Celestine Peltier gave birth to Frances Mary Peltier, my grandaunt.  Frances was the 9th of 13 children born to Albert and Celestine.  When Frances was born, all but her next oldest sister Eveline was still living.  A first name was not given when her birth was recorded in the Minnesota index to birth or on the return of births record.  I have to wonder if they thought that maybe she would not survive very long because she was born with a disability.  Judging from the few pictures I have of her I believe she had Down syndrome.  At the time she was born, most children with Down syndrome were institutionalized, but Frances was not.  Albert and Celestine kept her at home and she was raised with the rest of her siblings.  I believe that the family loved her very much and that she was included and active in the family.

Frances Peltier as recorded in the 1902 Minnesota Index to Birth Records1
Baby Peltier – Return of Births record in the town of White Bear2

The return of births record shows that at the time of the birth, Albert was 42 years old and Celestine was 34 years old and Mrs. Bertha Priebe of White Bear was the midwife that assisted Celestine with the delivery.

Frances Mary Peltier – Minnesota certificate of birth3
Frances Peltier, about 1906

In a 2002 interview with Gordon Vadnais, Frances’ nephew, he said that, “I had an aunt [Frances] who was very handicapped, and my grandmother [Celestine] just took care of her.  She raised her herself all her life, taught her what she could.”

The only other information I have for Frances is what I gleamed from U. S. census records.  The 1910 U. S. census has her as Marian F., 7 years old, does not speak any language and she does not attend school.4  On the 1920 U. S. census she is listed as Francis Pelters, 17 years old and she can read, write and speaks English.5  In the 1930 U. S. census, her name is spelled correctly, she is 26 years old, has had no schooling and she cannot read or write.6  Finally, on the 1940 U. S. census record, where her mother Celestine is known to have provided the information, Frances is 39 years old, has never attended school and her occupation is “cripple”.7  My take away is that Frances never attended school or learned to read or write.

Frances in her early 30s

Many children with Down syndrome have multiple health issues.  Frances’ death certificate shows the immediate cause of death was a cerebral hemorrhage (a stroke) that according to her doctor was due to “Has been a Cretin and dwarf like since birth and has been going down hill for past 2 or 3 years” (by definition, a cretin is a person considered to be foolish or unintelligent).  Frances passed away May 24, 1948.  She was 45 years, 5 months and 12 days old.

Frances Mary Peltier State of Minnesota Certificate of Death8
Remembrance booklet for Frances M. Peltier
(Did you notice that the church is in New Canada?  The name did not change to Little Canada until 1953.)
Note of appreciation from Charles A. Godbout & Son Mortuary9

Frances was laid to rest on Friday, May 28, 1948 in St. John’s Cemetery, Little Canada, Ramsey County, Minnesota.  Like her parents, her grave is not listed in the cemetery index. 

I recently read that there is an ongoing project to find the physical location of the graves of everyone listed in the St. John’s Cemetery index.  It is not uncommon for a grave marker to sink into the soil and over time get covered up by the vegetation.  It gives me hope that Frances’ and her parents’ markers might someday be located.

Thanks for visiting, come back soon,

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