By MARK EVANS
STE. GENEVIEVE HERALD
Aminda Badeau Wilkins may be gone, but she is not forgotten. The same can be said for her great-grandfather, Michael Badeau.
Badeau, a late colonial era resident of Ste. Genevieve, built or helped build three houses that still stand today, the Francois Bernier House at 807 Market, the Jean Marie Papin House at 699 N. Fourth and the Guibourd-Valle House on North Fourth.
Aminda Wilkins, meanwhile, helped build a legacy of modern social work and equal rights that also still stands.
The new Ste. Genevieve Settlement Daughters of the American Revolution chapter recently posthumously honored Wilkins, who died in 1994.
The May 14 event, at the Center For Colonial Life, featured some important guests. In addition to members of the Old Town Fenton DAR chapter, it included two descendants of Badeau and Wilkins.
Dr. Grace Young of Los Angeles and her brother, Edward H. “Eddie” Young, Jr., a retired meteorologist living in Hawaii, attended and accepted a framed certificate honoring Aminda Badeau Wilkins, who was their great-aunt.
Some genealogical research led to the discovery that Aminda Wilkins was Badeau’s great-granddaughter.
Genealogist and DAR member Judy Belford said that two years before, local historian Bob Mueller had told her a grant had been received to abstract colonial era baptismal records.
“Boy, did I jump on that,” Belford said.
In going through the records, she noted a name she had not been familiar with began “jumping out at me.”
“It was intriguing, also because this gentleman baptized his sons with very musical names,” Belford said, “like Adrian Stanislaus, Louis Gonzaga and Israel. It was interesting. As I went on, I noticed that this gentleman started being a godfather to people of color.”
The person she referenced was Michael (or Michel) Badeau, a leading local carpenter.
“When his first wife died and we looked at the burial record, the most powerful men in Ste. Genevieve witnessed it,” Belford said. They also witnessed his second marriage and many were godparents to his children.
“Being intrigued, I went out and started a family tree for him because I wanted to see where this family went,” Belford said. “I discovered Aminda.”
Aminda Badeau, know to her family as “Minnie,” was born in 1905 in St. Louis. She graduated from the University of Chicago and became a social worker in Jackson County, Missouri. In 1929 she married Roy Wilkins, who would go on to gain fame as long-time leader of the NAACP.
President Lyndon B. Johnson named her to the National Advisory Council on Education and Continuing Education. She was a charter member of the National Association of Social Workers and served on the board of the National Interracial Council and a national nursing home board.
Aminda Wilkins retired in 1971 as assistant commissioner in the New York City Welfare Department.
“Can you imagine the accomplishments of this woman?” Belford asked.
She outlived her famous husband, who died in 1981, by 13 years.
“The thing that I feel very proud of is that, all of her life, she tried to help the downtrodden,” Grace Young said. “I’m sure that was a value she carried over from the Badeaus.”