Massachusetts family with 24 children


Here’s a French-Canadian family that welcomed at least two dozen children from the 1870s to the 1890s.

Francois Gervais was born in St. Roch (near Montreal) in 1847. He later moved to Worcester, Massachusetts, and found work as a carpenter.

He and his second wife, Marie Louise, became the parents of 21 children within their first 20 years of marriage, according to a New York Times article from 1895 about “Francis” and his family. At that time, only 9 of the children were living:

  • Frank, 18 years old
  • Arthur, 17
  • Roch, 14 (called Rodrique elsewhere)
  • Henry, 10
  • Louise, 9
  • Eugene, 5 (middle name George)
  • Edward, 4
  • Eva Marie, 3
  • Albert, 1.5

According to records, two of their non-surviving children were named Josephine (b. 1889) and Joseph (b. 1893).

After the article came out, Francois and Marie Louise had several more children, but it looks like only one survived:

  • Joseph and Marie, twins, b. 1896, died of “infantile weakness”
  • John, b. 1898, survived
  • Dorila, b. 1899, died of diphtheria

Francois also had triplets with his first wife, Melvina, but the babies didn’t survive, and Melvina died a few years later.

Source: “Twenty-One Children in Twenty Years.” New York Times 23 Jun. 1895: 21

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