Sunday, September 15, 2013

Matthias Lavillette, Twelfth Wisconsin infantry.

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Matthias Lavillette was born April 15, 1843, at Carleton, Bonaventure county, Province of Quebec. He was the youngest of a family of eight boys and two girls, and is of  French descent. He was brought up on a farm till he was seventeen years old, when he went to sea, sailing on the Atlantic two years. In 1862 he came Wisconsin, and worked two winters in the lumber woods on the Menominee river.

When the boys of the 12th came home on veteran furlough, in the spring of '64, he concluded to enlist and join the regiment. Accordingly, he entered the United States service on the 10th day of May, being mustered in at Green Bay. He went to Madison from there, and was sent at once to the regiment, which he found at Huntsville, Ala. From there he served with the rest of us through the Atlantic campaign, on the march to the sea, up through the Carolinas, through the Grand Review at Washington, and then on to Louisville, where he was mustered out with the rest of us, July 16, '64, after which he returned with the regiment to Madison. He says, being six feet three inches in height, he had no chance to forage after chickens and things, the Captain desiring always to keep him close by to hide behind in case of serious danger.

Mr. Lavillette went, the winter after the war, to work again in the woods on the Menominee. In the spring of 1867, he went back to his old home to visit his parents. During the following summer he became a sailor on an English vessel bound from Boston to the Islands of Hayti. After sailing two years on the Atlantic, he came again to the Western States, and became a sailor on the Great Lakes till 1873, when he joined the fire department in Chicago. During his sailing on the lakes he had some rough experience in storm}' weather, more than once coming near losing his life.

Once while in the fire service in Chicago he brought two women down a fire escape, thus barely saving their lives and at great danger to himself.

Mr. Lavillette is the champion checker player of Lower Canada, or Quebec, also of both North and South Dakota. His present home is at Hecla, Brown county, South Dakota, where he went to take up a soldiers' claim on the prairies after resigning his position in the Chicago fire department

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