Navarre Was Never Far

Few things were held in higher esteem within the Family Project than our ancestry.Navarre2

Dad was proudly French, with German on his mother’s side. Mom was Irish, her father’s family making up the English half.

But Mom happily became an honorary Francophile after we’d moved to Maryland in the mid-1960s. We learned that Dad’s ancestor, Gabriel Maupin, “was born in Navarre, France, around 1651, so the traditions of the family say.” After the Huguenot persecutions of the late 17th century, Gabriel and his young family emigrated to America around 1700.

Spending vacations touring the Eastern seaboard, we visited the original Williamsburg, Va., family home (photo above from the late 1960s, me at right), formerly known as the Custis–Maupin House, situated on the south side of Duke of Gloucester Street, across from the Bruton Parish Church.

“Yay!” we nearly shouted in unison. “We’re from France! Probably royal lineage of the Kingdom of Navarre!”

—Or, so the traditions of the family said.*

During the winter of 1970–71, when we packed up and headed to Minnesota, Dad took that particular tradition and ran with it. Our move, he boasted, was “written in the stars” because—wonder of wonders!—we would be living west of Minneapolis, on Lake Minnetonka—in Navarre, Minnesota.

The Family Project was finally “going home,” in a sense.

Well … not so fast, homie.


Navarre, Minn., lies at the intersection of County Road 15 (aka Shoreline Drive) and Shadywood Road. It’s now a couple of gas stations, a Culver’s, one bank, a bar, a grocery store, with County 15 all sided by strip malls.

The Navarre we drove through that winter’s day in 1971 included a butcher shop (Axel & Bob’s), a bar named Jimmie’s Lounge, a dry cleaners (owned by high school classmate Mark McCurdy’s family), a bowling alley (The Navarre Lanes), and a tiny, family-run pharmacy called Keaveny Drugs.

As you proceeded west on 15 toward Casco Point Road (the location of our new home), you passed a Dairy Queen, a record and head shop called Third Stone from the Sun (or, as we knew it, “Third Stone”), A-1 Rental (its longtime “This Idiot” sign pictured below) and, hard to your right, the old Navarre Drive-In Theater.

Before you knew it, you’d whizzed through Navarre and were suddenly in Spring Park, enjoying breathtaking views of Lake Minnetonka.

Hardly “the Kingdom of Navarre,” but hey, a name’s a name. The coincidence was odd.

NavarreRentalAs kids, we rummaged through Navarre entirely on bicycle. With wide tires, high-rider handlebars and banana-shaped seats, we scooped up all our pocket change and biked to the D.Q. for Mr. Misty slushes or Peanut Buster® Parfaits. We bowled a couple lanes on Saturdays, then on Sundays were dragged to the evangelical church by a freshly devout Family Project.

Still, the profane had its chance.

One summer Dave Rogers and I stole cigarettes from Keaveny Drugs, furtively smoking them later down by the lake.

Keaveny Drugs was like the Olney drug store in Maryland: narrow aisles, floor-to-ceiling shelving and end-caps packed with gum, candy, postcards, greeting cards, gag gifts and novelties, and (you needed a bulldozer to push me away) racks of the latest comic books.

I was in heaven.

We took in summer movies at the drive-in, bought T-bone steaks at Axel & Bob’s, and Dad’s office duds always returned crisply from the dry cleaners. Our official mailing address was Wayzata, we attended grade school in Mound, but we lived in Navarre.

So, it was some years later (Nov. 2001, to be exact) that I learned from an updated family history that we did not originate from the Kingdom of Navarre.**

We did not have royal blood running through our veins.

And no, ancestor Gabriel did not marry an English daughter of the Earl of Spencer which—Gosh, golly, imagine that!—would’ve given us a direct bloodline to the late Princess Diana.

According to Dorothy Maupin Shaffert, the book’s editor, Gabriel Maupin hailed from the Loire Valley, near Orléans, in the river town of Jargeau.

It’s likely Maupins live there to this day.

The same cannot be said, however, of Navarre, Minnesota.

*From the 1969 self-published History of the Maupin Family by Ruby G. Heard Maupin.

** The Story of Gabriel and Marie Maupin: Huguenot Refugees to Virginia in 1700, published by Gateway Press, Baltimore, Md. (2000)

~ by completelyinthedark on February 14, 2014.

7 Responses to “Navarre Was Never Far”

  1. Nice reading your recollections. I grew up on the other side of Casco Point off the dead end road, Ivy Place off of Casco Circle. From you posted photo it appears you are facing Spring Park Bay. I too became a writer having been produced in TV, film, and live shows in Hollywood, and some interactive media beyond that. My imagination really flourished with such an environment to go from ages 1963 1976 ages 6 to 19, then lived there in the same house 1982-84. My dad sold the home around 1989. It was my Wonder Years.
    I found your posting while thinking back to the terrible night of tornadoes 50 years ago today. Watched out our picture window at the tornado go across the far end of the bay right into Navarre.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good to hear from you, Bill! Are you in the Twin Cities now, or still out in CA? Perhaps we can work together on a project. Always wanted to do a 1970s story of some sort. Yes, we lived on the Casco Point hill facing Spring Park Bay. Happiest damn days of my life. 🙂


  2. I’m also a relative of Gabriel Maupin.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Fun story!
    I had to laugh when I saw the Williamsburg picture, because I took a similar photo of my then-7-year-old daughter by the sign on the corner of Gabriel’s reconstructed Market Square Tavern. Some say we’re descended from him, and I thought the lineage was clear, but I’ve not been able to trace that line to my satisfaction. There’s an annoying gap in the evidence. So I’m leaving open the possibility that we came from some other Maupin immigrant, though I’ll be happy to claim Gabriel with or without royal lineage if I can prove he really is Great times Whatever Grandpa. We do have a McCurdy ancestor though, so maybe I should virtually “snoop around” Navarre, Minnesota for clues.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Vicki, thanks for your message. And big thanks for checking out the blog. My late parents were pretty proud of our heritage and tried to pass that on to me and my brother. Someday I’d like to visit Williamsburg again. Best wishes, Mike


  4. Boy did you bring back memories! My family and I moved to MN – to Casco Point – in 1971 when I was 13. My first job was mowing Dick Keaveny’s lawn and second was as a part time stock boy at Keaveny Drug! Thanks for sharing…


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