Monday, October 9, 2017

2017 A-Z Blogging Challenge - The letter B is for Belgium!

Earlier this year, 2017, there was another challenge. I heard about it from jillballau blog and more information can be found out about it on the A-Z Blogging Challenge (which was at http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/) page itself. However, as I was testing links I found the A-Z Blogging Challenge link is no longer working *frown*

Many people had done this challenge in April, but I’m a rebel and do things when I have time, so I’ll do mine now. I’ve been working on it over many days, and was hoping to get it all done before posting BUT it’s taking me a lot longer than I expected. I’ll do a few posts now and work on the rest. 
I know I have about ½ of this challenge done in draft format, so not too bad.  J

What can I say – I’m an original. So, here I go…

The letter B is for Belgium!

Yes, Beligum. This is for my maternal grandfather’s side of the family. They lived in this country back to the 1700’s. My great grandfather Jules, my 2x great grandfather, Alois and Alois’ children all immigrated to the USA in the late 1800s to early 1900s.

From Google Earth in 2015 - Family from Belgium plotted using yellow pins
I do know Alois was a colorful character. He was born in Belgium and ended up being drafted into the Belgium military when he was very young. He served, but either while he was serving or just before he left to serve, he spent the night with Jules’ mother, Florentyna. I’ve never heard of a name like that before researching and finding her. Jules was born illegitimate while his father served. About 9 months after Jules was born, Alois arrived back and found out about his child. He married Florentyna and they had 2 more children. This is where I don’t know what happened to Florentyna as I cannot find anything more about her from here.
Alois Gauquie National Militia paper

My great grandfather Jules' birth record and notation regarding parents.Credit Belgium National Archives.
Alois, on the other hand, I pick up coming to the USA and he lived and worked around Orange County, New York. I know this because I have obtained his naturalization papers. However, I’m not sure what happens to him but I suspect he might have changed his name for some reason. I do have a will in another name which states all 3 of the kids (one being Jules and the others are his siblings which match up) in the will. My great grandfather is awarded nothing.

Extract of Alois' Naturalization paperwork from Orange County Registers NY office.

Now there is a bit of non agreement with this tiny part. Aloyse drops out of site technically from this point. However, I did find a Charles Gauquie who lives in Chester, NY, like Aloyse's naturalization states he does. This Charles Gauquie puts in his will he wants son, Jules, to get nothing in his will. Below I will put the handwritten full page and then a close up of the part where this person omits Jules. Make your own decision....

Charles/Aloyse's 1918 will regarding leaving his son Jules nothing. Credit FamilySearch.org


A close up of the interesting area of the above will with Jules getting nothing. Credit FamilySearch.org

Jules is another interesting character. He sounds very well thought of in the newspapers with being so active in the community and church. However, the stories passed down where something else altogether. To put it bluntly, he was a bastard. He didn’t treat his wife or kids right at all. Unfortunately, this was passed down to the grand kids and then to the great grand kids. It’s a cycle we are still trying to stop today, but failing unfortunately.

1936 11 Aug -Julius Gauquie coming back home from Belgium Middletown Daily Times

1938 9 Apr - Julius Gauquie Fire Dept - Middletown Times Herald

1938 25 Feb  -Julius Gauquie Church car party -  Middletown Times Herald 
Getting back to Belgium, upon doing some research, I found many cousins who are still living in the areas today which is nothing short of amazing considering the World War 1 took place along most of the towns they all lived in. In fact, some of the cousins have fought in the World War 1 and survived. For more information you can click on the Credit link below for books and other information.
The principal town around which the fighting in Flanders revolved was Ypres, and the area around the town of Ypres was also known as the Salient (see below). This region was fought over from October 1914 until practically the end of the war in November 1918. Credit


Going back even further, one of the smaller towns along the border, called Wijtschate or Wytschaete, I have found back in the early 1700s that Napoleon used the church to store his horses when he rode through the town (as it says in the image below). As it’s still a very small town, I would say my ancestors probably had talked or had helped him in some way back then.

Credit


Hopefully, in the future I can go over and meet them all in Belgium. This, in itself, should be fun because I don’t speak Dutch or Flemishwhich are the languages spoken.