Massena town historian presenting special gift to Badenhausen Library

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MASSENA — The Badenhausen Library in Brasher Falls will be receiving a special gift on Dec. 14 — a framed collage with pictures of a Helena woman who qualified to teach at the age of 16, served as an educator and newspaper reporter, and was active in local politics and her church.

Massena Town Historian MaryEllen Casselman will be presenting the collage of Charlotte Butler (Quenelle) to the library for display. It includes pictures of Mrs. Butler and a school she attended, a certificate that was awarded to Mrs. Butler and background information about her life.

“I had this done to give to them,” she said.

Ms. Casselman said she came across the certificate in her files.

“I was curious as to who she was, so I started reading,” she said.

Mrs. Butler was born on Jan. 1, 1880, in Helena, the daughter of John C. Butler and Elizabeth Hammill. She attended St. Joseph’s Academy in Brasher, which Ms. Casselman said had room for 30 boarding students and 120 day students. The girls’ school had been founded in 1882 and wasn’t for any particular religion, as long as students followed the rules. Mrs. Butler graduated from the academy around 1900.

At the age of 16, Mrs. Butler and her twin sister, Lettie, were qualified to teach in rural schools, and she taught first grade and high school algebra in several local schools.

She married Henry A. Quenelle in 1911 and they moved to Boston, where she worked as a reporter for the Catholic News of the Boston American Newspaper. Among her assignments was coverage of a social function at the home of then-Mayor James J. Fitzgerald, grandfather of the late President John F. Kennedy.

Returning to Helena, she helped operate the family homestead and was a rural correspondent for the Ogdensburg Advance newspaper. She was also a first-grade substitute teacher until her retirement in 1928.

Mrs. Butler was also active in politics, serving as the associate chairman of the Democratic Committee for St. Lawrence County, and additionally organized the women of the county into active Democratic clubs.

Mrs. Butler was a member of the national advisory committee on women’s participation of the New York World’s Fair in 1939-40 and was also an active communicant of Sacred Heart Church, serving as treasurer of the Ladies Catholic Benevolent Association for eight years.

From 1941 to 1960, she devoted her time to helping her husband operate Quenelle’s Liquor Store until ill health forced her to retire from active participation. At her death on April 22, 1967, she was the last member of the well-known Butler family of Brasher.

“I think she’s a great model for young women,” Ms. Casselman said.

She said the pictures for the collage were given to her by John McCarthy, the son of June McCarthy, one of Mrs. Butler’s daughters. Mrs. McCarthy died on Jan. 29, 2014.

“I’ve invited John and his brother to come,” Ms. Casselman said.

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