Peter LaChapelle - An Immigrant Story

An excerpt from the 1880 Census for Houghton County with many family names on it.
The family's 1880 census indicates that they neighbored the George Jacka and Bartholomew Shea families.

1880 U.S. Census Image Courtesy of NARA

Peter LaChapelle was born in Montreal in 1847. He began an immigrant story at the age of 17, when he came to the Phoenix Mine in Keweenaw County, where he worked as a tailor. In 1869 he returned to Quebec, where he married Philomene Roche. Peter must have had fond memories of the Keweenaw for in 1875, the couple was living in Calumet above Peter's tailor shop on Fifth Street. Four children were born there: Anna, Joseph, Amelia and Arthur. Joseph died at three months of age, likely of sudden infant death syndrome.

 
Article from The Anaconda Standard newspaper, Tuesday morning, January 31, 1893 titled "'Tis Medicine and Law"
This article from The Anaconda Standard describes the legal trouble that Peter LaChapelle had in Butte.

The Anaconda Standard, Tuesday morning, January 31, 1893

By 1889 Peter had hung a new shingle in Butte, Montana. Proclaiming himself first an optician and then a doctor, Peter was destined for lawsuits. Still, the family became a prominent one in Butte. When daughter Anna was noticed by powerful "Copper King" and politician William Clark, he offered to send her father to medical school. The offer was accepted, and Anna became Clark's ward. In 1901, William, aged 62, and Anna, 23, wed in Paris to the delight of the media and gossipmongers.

 
A man stands in the center flanked on either side by his daughters.
William Clark and his daughters, Andrée (left) and Huguette (right), visit Colombia Gardens which he built in Butte. Photograph taken ca. 1917.

Photo courtesy of Montana Historical Society

The Clarks had two daughters, Andrée and Huguette. Andrée died as a teenager, leaving Huguette Anna's only living child. A famous heiress, Huguette was also an artist, musician, and philanthropist. She became increasingly reclusive following Anna's death in 1963. Huguette passed away in 2011 just two weeks shy of her 105th birthday, donating the majority of her wealth to charity. The family's home in Butte, where Calumet native Anna once hosted the rich and powerful, is now the Copper King Mansion B&B.

Last updated: January 19, 2018

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