Bill Green's Maine tells story of early Bates champion Alonzo Garcelon

A recent segment on Bill Green’s Maine, produced by WCSH-TV in Portland, sheds light on Alonzo Garcelon, a Lewiston native and 19th-century Maine governor, instrumental in bringing the Maine State Seminary, forerunner of Bates College, to Lewiston. (At Bates, his name graces the college-community philanthropic partnership and the football field.)

Green’s story notes that after Maine voters elected Lewiston native Paul LePage, a Republican of French Canadian heritage, as governor in November, some called Garcelon Maine’s first Franco American governor.

Not exactly, explains Green, who interviews Garcelon’s great-great-grandson David and visits Bates’ Muskie Archives and Special Collections Library, which houses the Garcelon family papers.

While Gov. LePage’s Roman Catholic family came to Maine from French-speaking Canada, Green says, the Garcelon family’s French connections are much less distinct.

The Garcelon ancestors fled France for England in the early 1700s during the persecution of the Huguenots (French Protestants). In fact, Alonzo Garcelon’s great-great-grandfather Pierre was an Episcopal priest on Guersey island, long a British dependency in the English Channel, in the mid-1700s. His son James emigrated to America in 1752, settling in Lewiston in 1776 after fleeing Falmouth the night before it was burned by the British.

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