Clergue (family)

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Clergue (family)

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The Clergue family were of French Huguenot ancestry from Montfermier France. Francis Hector Clergue has been recognized by the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada for his development of the industrial complex in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario at the turn of the 20th century. Joseph Hector Clergue, Francis's father, was born in L'Orient France March 20, 1830 the only child of Jean Clergue and Marie Josephine Roland. His father died about 1837 and as a young man Joseph worked aboard ships travelling to Iceland and Martinique. Eventually he settled in Bangor, Maine where he established himself as a barber. He married Francis Clarissa Lombard and they had eight children, Josephine (1853-1939), Francis (1856 - 1939), Ernest (1858 - 1902), Helen (1860 - 1938), Mary (1866 - 1867), Grace (1869 - 1944), Gertrude ( 1871 - 1951) and Bertrand (1875-1930). Francis Hector Clergue studied law however in the 1880's turned his attention to the promotion and financing of railways, hydro electic plants, pulp mills and mining projects in Maine. As a promoter Francis was very successful in gaining financial support for his schemes, however most of his schemes failed due to his lack of management skills. Unable to obtain further financial support for his projects due to his business failures, Clergue travelled to Persia in 1888 with plans to build a railway across Persia. Unfortunately Clergue was unable to gain the approval from the shah for his scheme. In 1894 Clergue went searching for investment opportunites in Canada for a group of Philadelphia investors when he heard of the unfinished hydro electric plant in Sault Ste. Marie. Clergue was able to gain the financial backing necessary to complete the project. From this initial investment Clergue developed in Sault Ste. Marie and industrial complex which included a hydro electric power plant,a pulp and paper mill, mines,a steel plant and a transportation network of railways and ships. Clergue built a large mansion in Sault Ste. Marie for his parents and other members of his family which he called Montfermier after his great grandfather's home. Clergue also restored the North West Company bateau lock as well as the Blockhouse which he used as his own residence. Once again however, Clergue's vision overeached his management skills and in 1902 the large complex known as the Consolidated Lake Superior Corporation was forced into bankruptcy. Clergue lost control of the company and he moved to Montreal. Clergue became president of the Waterbury Tool Company in Waterbury Connecticut and turned his attention to the sale of the patent which he held for a universal transmission device for heavy gun turrets. In 1910, Clergue obtained a contract from Russia for the manufacture of munitions which he transferred to the Canadian Car & Foundry Company of which Senator Nathaniel Curry was president. Clergue earned a substantial commission for obtaining the contract and was elected as a director of the company and was subsequently appointed a member of the executive committee, positions that he held until is death in 1939. Clergue was also president of the Universal Engineering Company in Montreal. Francis's two brother, Ernest and Bertrand Clergue were also involved with his busness enterprises. Ernest who died in 1902 managed the iron mine at Michipicoten. After the collapse of the industrial complex in Sault Ste. Marie, Bertrand Clergue travelled to Germany where he had some success selling interests in mining properties in Temagami and the Sudbury District. While in England he married Margaret Murray Roscoe on October 3, 1906. Bertrand died suddenly in Waterbury Conn. in 1930. Francos's sister Josephine married Bernhard Pol in 1876 and they had one daughter, Francis Mary Pol. Helen Clergue took up residence in England and became a well known author writing several books on 18th century France as well as contributing articles to several publications including the Edinburgh Review. Grace Clergue married Willaim Lynde Harrisson in 1900 and had one daughter, Sarah Gertrude Plant Harrisson. Gertrude lived with Francis in Montreal and in 1917 Gertrude and Grace launched a cookbook in the lavish Clergue style to raise funds for the devastated areas of France. Most of the family members are interred in the family plot in Mount Hope Cemetery in Bangor,Maine.


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