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Garcelon family papers

Identifier: MC106

Scope and Content Note

The collection contains papers related to six generations of the Garcelon family, which was originally from France and eventually helped to settle Lewiston, Maine. In particular, there is significant material about Pierre Garcelon (1685-1772), William Green Garcelon (1786-1872), Alonzo Garcelon (1813-1906), and Charles Augustus Garcelon (1842-1935), such as papers held by William Garcelon related to the estate of Jackson Davis, an Indian agent for the Penobscot tribe; Civil War letters written by Alonzo Garcelon, Surgeon General of Maine, and C. A. Garcelon, a volunteer in the 16th of Maine regiment; material related to Alonzo Garcelon's service as Governor of Maine and the controversy surrounding the election of 1879; and information about Charles A. Garcelon's service as general superintendent of the Pullman Car Company.


  • 1750-2010, undated


Access Restrictions

Permission to consult the original Civil War letters in the C.A. Garcelon series needs to be obtained from the Director of Archives and Special Collections. Reference photocopies have been substituted in the main files for research purposes.

Use Restrictions

The collection is the physical property of Edmund S. Muskie Archives and Special Collections Library. Bates College holds literary rights only for material created by College personnel working on official behalf of the College, or for material which was given to the College with such rights specifically assigned. For all other material, literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. Researchers are responsible for obtaining permission from rights holders for publication or other purposes that exceed fair use.

Historical Note

Pierre Garcelon

Pierre Garcelon was born in May 1685 in Mauriac, France to Pierre Garcelon and Marie La Garige. He became a Catholic priest in the diocese of Clermont, France. During the persecution of the Huguenots (French Protestants), Pierre became disillusioned with his faith and country and fled around 1721, at age 35, to London, England.

On January 14, 1722, Pierre married Anne La Rue, with whom he would later have one son, Pierre. A few months later, he renounced the Catholic faith to join the Church of England. From 1739 to 1772, he served as first curate and then rector of the Episcopal Church at St. Pierre du Bois on the Isle of Guernsey in the English Channel.

Shortly after the death of his first wife in June 1734, he married Jeanne Bedat, and the couple had four children: Peter, Jeanne, Louise, and James. Born in 1739, James came to the United States as a cabin boy on a ship in 1752, and is the direct ancestor of the Garcelon family of Lewiston.

Pierre's second wife died in 1742, and the following year he married Anne Le Large, with whom he had six children: Martha, Anne, William, Marie, Susanne, and Judith. Pierre died in 1772, at the age of 87, in Guernsey.

William Green Garcelon

William Green Garcelon, born September 21, 1786, was the great grandson of Pierre Garcelon, the grandson of James Garcelon, and the son of William Garcelon and Maria Harris. He was one of 11 children born to William and Maria. By the time of his birth, the Garcelons were a prominent family in Lewiston, Maine, having been some of the earliest white settlers in the area. During the American Revolution his grandparents had fled from Falmouth to Lewiston Falls, which was then an Indian garrison. In Lewiston, they made a living by operating a ferry across the Androscoggin River and running a boarding house for travelers.

William Garcelon's father, William Sr., had opened the first store in Lewiston, and also operated a store in Durham and a shipyard in Freeport. William eventually took over his father's business in Lewiston. He also held a number of important civic positions, including: town clerk, selectman, coroner, collector of taxes, representative to the legislature, colonel in the state militia, surveyor, justice of the peace, and probate court judge.

On July 19, 1810, William married Mary Davis, and the couple had three children: Alonzo, Charles, and Mary Ann. When William passed away in 1872, the Lewiston Evening Journal's lengthy obituary described him as a "Christian patriarch and venerated citizen."

Alonzo Garcelon

Alonzo Garcelon was born in Lewiston on May 6, 1813, the oldest child of William and Mary Garcelon. An 1836 graduate of Bowdoin College, Alonzo was Governor of Maine, surgeon general of Maine during the Civil War, and a prominent community leader and businessman.

In 1839, Alonzo earned his doctoral degree from the Medical College of Ohio, where he was a private student of the celebrated physician, Dr. Reuben Muzzey. He then returned home where he established a medical practice that he maintained into his 80s. In 1841, he married Ann Augusta Waldron and between 1842 and 1855, the couple had seven children. Ann died in 1857, and in 1859, he married Olivia Nelson Spear, with whom he had one child, Edith Spear Garcelon.

In 1847, Alonzo co-founded the Lewiston Journal with his brother-in-law, W. H. Waldon. He served in the Maine House of Representatives from 1853-1854, 1857-1858, and in the Maine Senate from 1855-1856. It was primarily because of Alonzo's support and encouragement that Bates College was located in Lewiston, Maine, when the institution opened its doors as the Maine State Seminary in 1855. He served as an instructor and longtime trustee at the College. He was elected as a Delegate to the Republican National Convention in 1856.

During the Civil War, Alonzo served in the Union Army as Maine's Surgeon General, establishing a hospital in Portland, Maine for the care of Maine's troops. During the impeachment of Andrew Johnson after the War, he switched from the Republican Party to become a Democrat. In 1871 he was elected mayor of Lewiston, and in 1879 he was elected Governor of Maine by the legislature, serving one term until 1880.

Alonzo's governorship was marked with controversy because of alleged voter fraud during the 1879 election. The controversy nearly led to violence when an armed standoff ensured between Senator James Blaine and one hundred men on one side and the state militia under the leadership of Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain on the other. In December of 1879, Alonzo was warned against an assassination plot against his life. Four years later, his son, Alonzo Marston Garcelon, was elected mayor of Lewiston.

Garcelon died in Medford, Massachusetts on December 8, 1906 while visiting his daughter, and was buried at Riverside Cemetery in Lewiston, Maine.

Charles Augustus Garcelon

Charles Augustus Garcelon, the oldest child of Alonzo and Ann Garcelon, was born on November 14, 1842 in Lewiston, Maine. He married Esther Coffin on March 27, 1872, and the couple had three children.

During the Civil War, Charles served as second lieutenant in the 16th Maine Infantry. He fought in several battles including Gettysburg where his uncle, W. H. Waldron, was injured.

Following the war, Charles married Esther Coffin on March 27, 1872, and the couple had three children.

Charles became a prominent figure in the railroad industry, serving as the General Superintendent or Chief Operating Officer from 1889 to 1906. He was one of the pallbearers at George M. Pullman's funeral. He lived for many years in Chicago before retiring to Lovell, Maine. He died May 12, 1935.

Davis Family

Material relating to the Davis family of Maine and elsewhere, in particular John Augustus Davis and William Garcelon Davis. John and William were brothers, born to John Augustus Davis and Maria Garcelon Moody (Maria was born to Robert Moody and Sally Garcelon, hence the Garcelon family connection). William was born on September 22, 1838, the fifth child of John and Maria; John A. was born on December 20, 1841, the sixth and final child. Both John and William fought in the Civil War: John for the South, William for the North. Living in Alabama out the outbreak of the war, John joined Barlow's Company Alabama Cavalry, which later was merged with other units into Company C, 15th Confederate Cavalry. William, living in Wisconsin, joined the 2nd Regiment of Wisconsin Infantry. John survived the war, but William was killed at an engagement near Gainesville, Virginia, in 1862. [Probably at Brawner's Farm near Groveton, during the Second Battle of Bull Run.]

The bulk of this series consists of letters written by John and William Davis to other family members, as well as other Civil War materials relating to their service. In addition, there are photographs, Davis and Morrill family genealogical material, and other miscellaneous items belonging to John or William Davis.


2.5 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



The collection contains some of the papers of Pierre Garcelon (1685-1772), William Green Garcelon (1786-1872), Alonzo Garcelon (1813-1906), and Charles Augustus Garcelon (1842-1935), among other family members. Of particular note are William Garcelon's financial records related to the estate of Jackson Davis, an Indian agent for the Penobscot tribe; Civil War letters written by Alonzo Garcelon, Surgeon General of Maine, and C. A. Garcelon, a volunteer in the 16th regiment of Maine volunteers; letters and other material related to Alonzo Garcelon's service as Governor of Maine and the controversy surrounding the election of 1879; and C. A. Garcelon's material related to his work as general superintendent of the Pullman Car Company.

Organization and Arrangement

The collection is organized into eight series: I. Pierre Garcelon, II. William Green Garcelon, III. Alonzo Garcelon, IV. Charles Augustus Garcelon, V. Other family members, VI. Photographs, VII. Publications, and VIII. Research material.

Acquisition and Custody Information

Gift of David Garcelon, 2008. Accession No.: 2008-035.

Processing Information

Processed by Kat Stefko, June 2008.

Guide to the Garcelon family papers, 1750-2010, undated
Edited Full Draft
Kat Stefko
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Description is in: English
Edition statement

Repository Details

Part of the Edmund S. Muskie Archives and Special Collections Library Repository

70 Campus Avenue
Lewiston Maine 04240 United States of America