[Editors Note: The following article appeared in THE BELVIDERE NEWS, Lowell, MA, July 2004, p.3. We
are grateful to Dora St. Martin for allowing us to reproduce it for our readers.]
Leaves by Dora St. Martin
One of the most noted Franco-Americans in Lowell was Belvidere resident Joseph Henri Guillet (1853-1931).
J. H. Guillet, of 262 Wentworth Avenue, entertained the Lowell group of LAlliance Française very pleasantly at his home
last night. The ultimate object of the group is to secure, if possible, French lecturers
and to further the movement, several people interested in French literature had
been invited to be present past night. During the evening Miss Blanche Dextra sang
Nevins Rosary, and Beachs Chanson dAmour, Miss Laura Chabot being her
accompanist. The music followed an interesting talk given by Mr. Guillet."
Honorable Joseph Henri Guillet was one of the most eminent residents of Lowell, honored on three
different occasions by Popes, and foremost for many years among the civic leaders of the
Franco-American community in the city.
1853, at Marieville, Québec, Joseph Henri left his studies at the Seminary of Sainte
Marie at the age of sixteen and enlisted in the Pontifical Zouaves regiment in Rome. Helping defend the Vatican City against the
army of King Victor Emmanuel II in September of 1870, he was wounded and taken as a
prisoner at Leghorne, Italy. After his release, he made his way back to Canada and later
immigrated to Fall River.
Mr. Guillet moved to Lowell and gained prominence as a community organizer and Lowells first
Franco-American lawyer and Justice of the Peace. In 1881 he organized the first French
evening school in the city serving 400 adult students. In 1884 he was a founder of
"LAbeille," the first Franco-American daily newspaper to be published in
the United States. Mr. Guillet was a charter member of the Franco-American
Orphanage (now the Franco-American School) and later became its secretary and director. He was a
founder of the C.M.A.C., and a founder and director of the Caisse Populaire Jeanne
dArc (now the Jeanne DArc Credit Union). He was a member of the District Court
of the United States, the American Bar Association and the Lowell Board of Trade.
Mr. Guillet married Clara Chabot of Haverhill in 1898 (his first wife, Leah, died in
1895). In 1901, the Guillets purchased a splendid Queen Anne and Colonial Revival style
home on Wentworth Avenue.
For his love of the Catholic Church and his work in fostering Catholic schools, Mr.
Guillet was made a Chevalier Commander of the Order of Saint Sylvester by Pope Leo XIII.
The investment ceremony was held at St. Patricks Church in Lowell. In 1891, he
received the "Bene Merenti" medal from the pope for the same work. For his work
to preserve the French language, he was made a member of "Academie Française"
by the French government. His last honor came in 1921 when he received an autographed
photograph and a letter of personal thanks and blessing from Pope Benedict XV.
November 1930, a year after his wife, Clara, had passed away, Mr. Guillet suffered a
stroke and retired to his home in Belvidere. Three months later, he married Louisa A. (Leonard) Hurtibuse,
his long-time housekeeper. Mr. Guillet died a mere three weeks later on April 5, 1931 at the age