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Defnet, Mary A.; Ducat, Jean; Eggerickx, Thierry; Poulain, Michel / From Grez-Doiceau to Wisconsin : contribution à l'étude de l'émigration wallonne vers les États-Unis d'Amérique au XIXème siècle
(1986)

Foreword,   pp. [5]-6 PDF (481.5 KB)


Page [5]

                                FOREWORD
                                         'To forget our ancestors is to be
like a river
                                         without a source, like a rootless
tree".
                                                                      (Chinese
proverb)
 Dear reader,
 This book is dedicated to all who restlessly search for their ancestors'
early origins, to
 all who try to remove dust from forgotten and concealed treasures, to all
who try to
 gather the pieces of their history in order to pass on to their descendants
their proven
 origins. A little before my father died, I promised him that I would find
information
 about one of his great-grand fathers who had gone to the United States.
Our family had
 lost track of his adventurous steps. The note found in records at the former
community
 of Petit-Rosi~re, Belgium, confirmed the story of Antoine Ducat, born in
Glimes,
Brabant Province, who had gone to the United States the 24th of August in
1858 at the
age of 54 years. Since the departure coincided with the large migration wave
in the 19th
century (a wave that took thousands of countrymen of Brabant to the Midwest),
I
traveled three times over to the old Belgian colonies in Illinois and Wisconsin.
Once
there, the same old questions came over and over again      Why did the immigrant
ancestor leave and with whom? Where is the native village situated? Does
his house
still exist? I also wanted to know more about these Walloons who, during
the past
century, created a Roman Country in huge America. So, the idea was born to
satisfy
the natural and deep curiosity and to plan a long term project.  On both
sides of the
Atlantic Ocean, people were ready for long researches.  It was decided to
stick to the
rural emigration phenomenon only, and particularly to the East Brabant and
Hesbaye
Namuroise areas from which most pioneer families originated.      Scientific
help was
found at the Demographics Departmenf of Louvain-la-Neuve University which
is
situated in the area touched by the rural emigration of the 1850's. Research
was first
directed toward the village of Grez-Doiceau. This choice wasn't pure chance.
The first
expedition of emigrants originating from Grez-Doiceau opened the way to the
Midwest
for more waves of emigration after 1853, into Brown, Kewaunee, and southern
Door
counties in Northeastern Wisconsin.  On the other side, Grez-Doiceau provided
more
than 500 pioneers who settled around the present-day Robinsonville-Champion
area
(originally called  "Aux premiers Belges} This book is relating
the
socio-economic
situation of the Grez-Doiceau families at the time of their departure from
Belgium. It's
not the history of the Belgian colony created in America. The writers will
detail each


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