Notes: From David A. Nims:
John Napoleon PELKIE was born on 26 Jan 1879 in West Boylston, MA. He died on 24 Feb 1946 in Leominster, MA.
Assistant Town Clerk Nancy McLaughlin of West Boylston forwarded birth verification for John Napoleon Pelkie upon my request. She indicated that originally this child was listed as being born on January 27, 1879, and a female with the name Pauline. The certificate was later corrected in 1939. It must have been that someone confused the name Napoleon with Pauline at the time of the original recording of the birth. Actually, I have observed other errors as well in following this family member. On his grave marker, the birth date is incorrectly shown as January 24, 1884. His death certificate obtained from the Leominster, MA City Clerk shows his mother as Cordelie Guilmette rather than Cordelia Liberty. In fact, for a while I was convinced I did not have the correct person. However, the reading of his obituary in the local newspaper showed that this Napoleon J. Pelkey is the right one indeed:
“Napoleon J. Pelkey, 67, of 101 Second St died yesterday at his home following a short illness. He was born in West Boylston and was a resident of Leominster for 45 years. He was employed by the Whitney Reed Corp. (Toy Manufacturers on 171 Lancaster St. in Leominster at the time of his death.) Survivors are his wife, Mrs. Mary Grenier Pelkey, two sisters, Mrs. Mary Madden of Newton and Mrs. Blanche O'Donnell of Fitchburg, and one brother, Edmond Pelkey of Peterborough, NH. A military funeral will be held Tuesday from the M. A. Simard and Son Funeral Home followed by a High Requiem Mass in St. Cecelia's Church at 9 o'clock. Burial will be in the Parish Cemetery.”
The lead that J. Napoleon Pelkey, apparently known by the nickname Paul to some, was buried in St. Cecelia Cemetery came from Andrew O'Donnell, Jr., the son of Blanche Pelkey O'Donnell. A call to the St Cecelia Rectory verified the burial in the cemetery and gave me directions to the grave markers. Then a trip to Leominster City Clerk's office gave me the death certificates for J. Napoleon and his wife Mary Grenier, and street directories for several years allowed me to follow this man on moves round Leominster.
The federal census of 1900 shows the Pelkey family in Peterborough, NH, though the spelling is Philkey. But there is Napoleon, shown as a 21-year-old working as a cotton weaver. He later appears in 1911 as a boarder at 279 Water St., and employed at FAWC Co., which sources tell me was probably F. W. Whitney Carriage Company, located on Water St.
J.Napoleon and wife Mary lived variously at 117 Seventh St., 14 Second St., and 101 Second St, while employed at FAWC Co., Dupont Viscoloid Co. at 511 Lancaster St., and Whitney Reed Co.
He is listed over the years as a woodworker, combmaker and glassmaker. Advertisements for Viscoloid Co. indicate that it manufactured rods, tubes, brushes, mirrors, toilet articles, tooth brushes, toys, dressing combs, hair pins and ornaments.
He enlisted in the 2nd Co. Marines in Leominster during 1918, according to the Leominster Veterans' Agent. Cause of death was listed as arteriosclerosis, aneurysm coronary occlusion.
With all the errors made on “official” records of this man, I nearly made one more serious. Earlier in the Fitchburg street directories I had followed a J. Napoleon Peltier from 1889 until his death June 19, 1937 at the age of 68. He was employed variously at Falulah Paper Co. and F. Worsted Co., residing with his wife Anna at Melrose and Hartford Streets in Fitchburg. I was sure this was the family member until checking his death certificate, which showed his birthplace as Tabasca, Canada, and his parents as Honore Pelletier and Elizabeth Mineault. There certainly are a good number of people named Pelkie, Pelky, Pelkey, Peltier, Pelletier, Philkey, etc., and often with the same first names as well!
Back to “our” J. Napoleon:
He was married to Mary 0. Grenier on 30 Nov 1905 in Peterborough, NH. Mary 0.Grenier was born on 23 Mar 1881 in Sweetsburg, Quebec, Canada. She died on 24 Aug 1973 in Leominster, MA. She was buried in St. Cecelia's Cemetery, Leominster, MA. John Napoleon PELKIE and Mary 0. GRENIER had no known children.