Incorporated in 1816,
Dexter is a hilly region that
is cut in half by the
Sebasticook River.
Amos and Jeremiah
Abbott were one of the
first settlers in Dexter, and
built a woolen mill
powered by the river.
In addition to the woolen
mill there was, at one
point, two gristmills, many
saw mills and a tannery.
Although a rural area,
there was still some work
opportunity for
immigrating Franco
families .
Dexter received news
that the railroad would
be extended from
Newport to Corinna
and Dexter in 1876.
The presents of
railroads had a huge
impact on Dexter's
economy allowing
growth of the Mills that
could now import
more raw materials
and export more
product.
The rails also aloud for
passenger
transportation and
access for
immigration.
Top photo: Dexter Railroad
station in upper village, built in
1889
Bottom photo: Silvers Mills
Station built in 1889.
The initial St. Anne
Church was built in
1871 as a mission
from a group out of
Waterville in
correlation with the
Parish of Portland
Diocese.
Became established
in 1893.
By 1895, under the
care of Pastor John.
W Houlihan , the
church grew in
numbers. (over 600,
many of which were
Franco-Americans.)
However, did not
have a resident
French Priest until
1931.
ST. Anne’s Church on High Street in
Dexter
Dexter and Millinocket had the largest Franco-American
population centers without a Catholic school.

A (public) French speaking school was established in Dexter
before the year 1890 but was closed after little over a year,
with not much of an explanation except “ it did not work,
and the idea was abandoned” Interesting Bits of Local History- Alice
Bradford.
While the KKK was
only present in
Dexter in the early
1920’s and last just
a few years, it was
still long enough to
spread terror to the
Catholiques and
other minorities in
the area.
The Klan held
meetings, and
would often march
down Main Street
spreading fear.
There was also a
documented
burning of a cross in
the Catholic section
of Mount Pleasant
Cemetery.
1970


1908

Approximately 1,277 Franco-Americans
with 354 recognizing French as their first
language. (about 29%)
Dexter total population; about 5,725.
Approximately 855 Franco-Americans
(about 25% of Dexter’s population) With a
majority recognizing French as their first
language.

“…this dual society
could not be
maintained.
Dexter’s small size
and rural nature
encouraged crosscultural contacts.” –
Dorothy Blanchard

Franco-Americans lived in
separate parts of Dexter;
primarily in the south end of
town, and in close
proximity to mills and
railway depot. (Grove
Street Pleasant Street, and
upper Church Street)
However, they were still
thrown into the “Yankee”
community, using the same
post office, shopping
centers, and schools.
Cloutier ~ Clukey
Rancourt ~ Ronco
Giguere ~ Higgins
Daillon ~ Dyer
Photo: Weave Room of Woolen Mill
Courtesy of Dexter Historical Society
Franco-Americans
were not
completely
withdrawn from the
Dexter community.
Francos in Dexter
often were involved
with town sports
(primary baseball,
which was popular
at the time) and
seen to the right,
The town Fire
Company.
Eagle Hose Company No. 1, the French company, posed for this photograph
on the Pleasant Street School grounds during the late 1800s. Pictured here
are, from left to right: (front row) ? Bertrand, Peter Mountain, Edward
Mountain, and Zeb Pomroy; (middle row) Harry Dyer, John Ronco, Edward
Clukey, and Elmer Clukey; (back row) Charles Mountain, Frank Clukey,
Charles Clukey, Charles Dulac, and Joe Mountain. Most of the men lived in
close proximity of the school grounds, mostly on Pleasant and Grove Streets.
(Courtesy of Dexter Historical Society)
“Their roots are deep,
and underlying the
assimilation process is
a profound
awareness of who
they are and a strong
commitment to the
proud FrenchCanadian heritage.” Dorothy Blanchard

Allen, James Paul. Franco-Americans in Maine: a
Geographical Perspective. S.l.: S.n., 1974. Print.

Dexter Historical Society. Oct. 2002. Web. Mar. 2010.
<http://www.dexterhistoricalsociety.com/>.

Lapomarda, Vincent A. The Catholic Church in the Land
of the Holy Cross: a History of the Diocese of Portland,
Maine. Strasbourg: Editions Du Signe, 2003. Print.

Madore, Nelson, Barry H. Rodrigue, and Dorothy
Blanchard. "Into the Heart of Maine: A Look at Dexter's
Franco-American Community." Voyages: a Maine FrancoAmerican Reader. Gardiner, Me.: Tilbury House, 2007. 13949. Print.