The LaFramboise Family
Antoine LaFramboise was living in northern Minnesota when the Moxee Company recruited him to be their blacksmith. He was contracted to work for five years, doing the blacksmithing work for the Company and for others in the community as well. After he had put in his day's hours for the Company, Antoine was allowed to use the shop for his own blacksmith business on the side.
By the end of his five-year contract, he had earned enough money to buy land near the shop and farm his own crops, which included hops. During this time, he lived in the back of the blacksmith shop and slowly built a house on the grounds. Once it was complete in 1902, Antoine returned to Minnesota and fetched his fiancée back to the house he had built for her.
Antoine was ready to open his own blacksmith shop and his father, Joseph, came west bringing equipment for it. He also brought three of his ten children–strong sons to work in the family business. Once the LaFramboise Blacksmith Shop was open, its many customers included the Moxee police and fire departments, which had a continuing need for horseshoeing and wagon repairs.
Antoine wrote to other family members, describing this "Promised Land" he had found, and persuaded many of them to migrate to the wonderfully fertile Yakima Valley.
Cherie Bergevin is Antoine LaFramboise's granddaughter. She lives on her family's original farmstead and has been fighting to preserve it and the surrounding Moxee Company land. The property is on the National Register of Historic Places. Cherie feels that it is her duty to protect what her grandfather came to the Valley for and built here.
Itis with great pride that she shares with you, through this oral history, the story of her family's coming to the Yakima Valley.
For more information, please visit the exhibit on the LaFramboise Blacksmith Shop and blacksmithing in this museum.