Joseph Henry Labor born 20 July, 1876

Joseph Labor was born 20 July, 1876, in Barton VT, the fourth child of Joseph Genest dit Labarre (later called Labor) and his second wife, Lydia Ann Degoosh.  His father, a laborer, was born in Drummondville, Quebec, and his mother in Shipton, Quebec, according to the Barton birth register for the year ending December 31, 1876. 

Joseph’s parents had been married in on 4 August, 1870, in Sherbrooke, Quebec, at the Congregational Church.  They were apparently not together very many years.  By 1880 Lydia was living with her parents in Barton, with her children Luvia, Nancy, Mary, and Joseph.  There is another child in the 1880 census whose name appears to be “Gerry”.  This is probably Joseph’s brother William Garey aka William Labor. 

In 1885, Joseph’s mother married William Paul, and in 1900, Joseph was living in a very blended family that included his mother and step-father William, three Paul half-siblings (Ethel, Samuel, and Myrtle), his two Garey half-brothers William and Aaron, and a Degoosh uncle, Thomas.  They lived in Barton, and Joseph was a cook.  This census says that Joseph’s mother has had 12 children, 9 still living.  I have only accounted for the nine who are alive in 1900, so it appears that Joseph might have three more siblings or half-siblings not yet identified, if the census is accurate.

Joseph’s sisters Luvia Collins and Mary Pimer and their families moved to Providence, RI, and Joseph moved there as well.  On 25 December, 1901, he married Louise Gertrude Norton, daughter of Thomas J and Katherine Norton.  He was counted in the 1903 Providence city directory living at 457 Smith Street, occupation cook, boarding at 457 Smith.  Spouses were not listed.  Mary and Carlos Pimer also lived at 457 Smith.  Joseph was also counted in the 1904 directory working as a cook, boarding at 33 Pekin, again with his sister Mary and her husband Carlos.  I do not know how Joseph’s first marriage ended.  I have not yet found more records for Louisa.  The index listed Joe as Henry Joseph, so his wife might also have been Gertrude Louise.

Joseph returned to Barton, and on 15 December 1904, Joseph married Mary Theresa Kerr.  She was a widow with three children:  Clarence, William, and Mildred Hall.  The index card record of this marriage does say this is Joseph’s second marriage, but I could not see his prior marital status clarified (widowed or divorced).

In 1910, the Labor family lived in Westmore, VT.  Joseph was a dairy farmer, and the household included his wife, his three children (Beatrice, Carlos, and Mary), the three Hall children, and his mother-in-law Mary Kerr. I wonder if he named his son Carlos in honor of his brother-in-law.   A news article of the era says that about 1914, Joe Labor traded his farm on Dane Hill, Charleston, for the Birch Grove Store.  The news article did not specify the location of the store. 

In 1918, Joseph registered for the WW1 draft, and was living in Barton, employed in farming by W J Gray.  The registration card described him as short, medium build, with blue eyes and brown hair, and no physical disability that would disqualify him from service.  I have no records to indicate that he was in military service. 

A magazine (name and date unknown) published the following information regarding area history:  Around 1915, Joseph Labor swapped a small farm on Dane Hill in Charleston to W. W. Bailey for a small summer store (the Birch Grove Store) and a cottage.  For several years, probably into the 1920s, Mr. Labor operated the “Keewaydin” which he had purchased from Captain Charles Averill.  The boat was fired by slabs which were bought from Ernest Wheeler, father of Royce Wheeler, who owned a saw mill on the road to Long Pond.  In the winter Mr. Labor stored the “Keewaydin” in a building below the Hotel Willoughby, (formerly the Gilman Tavern).  A section of railroad track had been laid between the lake and the building.  The boat was pulled up the track by means of a windlass – a big wheel with a groove for the one-inch rope that was relayed to a large spool; this was turned by a horse which was led in a circle by Joseph Labor’s son, Carl.  No one seems to know what finally became of the “Keewaydin.”  Some say she burned, some say she may be in the lake. . . The “Keewaydin” was evidently the last steamer on Willoughby.  The motor age had arrived and gas engines had become the means of transportation.

In 1919, Joseph and Mary had a daughter named Claire, but she died at age 12 days.  In 1920, Joseph’s family lived in Barton on High Street.  The household included his wife, her son William, and Joseph’s children Beatrice, Carl, Marian, Dorothy, and Merton, and his mother-in-law.  Joseph was a laborer in the lumber business. 

On April 30, 1926, Joseph leased for a year the Normandy Cafe in Barton.  The cafe was in the basement of Flood Block.  This block of buildings has since burned.  In the 1930 census, Joseph was recorded in Orleans village.  He and Gordon Patton, who lodged with him, were listed as chefs in a restaurant.  He was also counted with his family on High Street in Barton, listed as proprietor of a restaurant.  The household included his wife and children, Carl, Marian, Dorothy, Merton, and Genevieve. 

Joseph died 19 September 1936, at the age of sixty, in a car crash.  The 21 Sept 1936 Newport Daily Express reported that several people had been killed in car wrecks in one weekend in New England.  “A lumber camp cook, Joe Labor of Barton V., was killed when his car went off the road on a curve.”


Joe Labor of Barton Crushed Beneath Car In Which He Was A Passenger

Two automobile accidents on the West Charleston and Island Pond highway at a late hour Saturday caused the deaths of three people.  The accidents happened nearly at the same hour of the night and only a few miles distant from each other.

A 1927 model Chevrolet touring car, with winter top, failed to make the bend in the highway at the end of Bucks flat late Saturday night, causing instant death to Joe Labor of Barton.  Labor, a passenger on the driver’s seat, was thrown from the car and the automobile landed on his body crushing him to death.

Labor was a camp cook and was employed in the lumber camp of George Ames in Charleston.

On Sept. 23, the newspaper also carried the story of a chase from Derby to Charleston, which resulted in a crash, but the date, people, and even the type of car were not the same as the Joe Labor crash.  The Sept 24 paper also referred to the three fatalities over the recent weekend, indicating that they were headed in the direction of a dance hall at Island Pond.  The article spoke against speed, alcohol, and youthful drivers – the two killed in the other car were a young couple.

26 Sep 1936 Newport Daily Express


Tremblay of Island Pond Accused of Taking Money and Valuables from Corpse

Leonard Tremblay of Island Pond was acquitted of the charge of grand larceny of money from the body of Joe Labor by the jury hearing the evidence in county court Thursday and Friday.  Tremblay was a passenger of the automobile which was in the accident on Buck Flat, Charlestown, Saturday night in which Joe Labor of Barton was killed.  Investigation following the accident revealed that Labor cashed checks at Island Pond amounting to over $50.00 prior to the accident and following his death only a small amount of change was found on his person.  Tremblay was arrested and charged with the crime.

Apparently the missing money was found at the jail when Tremblay was booked in.  The driver of the car had been charged with the fatality and theft, but I do not know if he was convicted or acquitted. 

Joseph was buried at Lakeview Cemetery in Westmore, near his mother and step-father, Lydia and William Paul.



  1. david Sicard said,

    October 10, 2012 at 05:02

    Very good job.

  2. david Sicard said,

    October 10, 2012 at 05:03

    Very accurate,I knew many of these people.

  3. sooze471 said,

    October 10, 2012 at 07:44

    Thanks – Not living in the area or knowing the people personally, I used only vital records, newspapers, and similar sources as the basis for my story. I had originally been told that Joe was a bootlegger being chased by the authorities at the time of the crash – I see now I didn’t make that clear in my story, but I was glad to find an old newspaper that clarified that his crash was a different incident.


  4. david Sicard said,

    October 10, 2012 at 10:16

    I have heard that before, so was my father Henry( Lawrence) a bootlegger. That is how many of the people in Orleans County lived.

  5. sooze471 said,

    October 10, 2012 at 11:36

    Well, Joe may have been, especially since he was in the hospitality business – with his own restaurant, and also working for others as a cook/chef. But he wasn’t killed in a police chase…Since there was another chase at the same time involving law enforcement, I’m sure that if Joe’s crash was while being chased by revenuers, that would have been mentioned in the story.

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