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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)

Introduction (English),   pp. [11]-26 PDF (5.2 MB)


Page [11]

          FROM GREZ-DOICEAU TO WISCONSIN
INTRODUCTION
      When trying to examine the Brabant population migration to the United
States in the middle of the 19th Century, we ought to inquire about the reasons
for
such a massive move at this particular time, why they left their little villages,
and
why they sold every belonging in order to emigrate overseas.      We won't
systematically explain all the special reasons for the move, but we will
try to
outline the general reasons that emigration proved to be the ultimate solution
for
hundreds of families. Our first objective will be to describe the population
growth
and the socio-economical context of Belgium and Brabant Wallon.
      The 18th century was marked by the Austrian presence in  Belgium, then
came the French Revolution which shows Belgian provinces annexed to France.
In
1815, these provinces were under Netherlands domination. In 1830, the Belgian
Revolution brought independence to our nine provinces.   Brussels became
the
capital of this new country. Brabant Wallon, from where most emigrees departed,
is
situated south of Brussels, a region between Nivelles, Jodoigne, Wavre and
Gembloux.  The Hesbaye Namuroise    is situated south of Brabant Wallon,
from
Fleurus to Hannut and Gembloux to Namur. Combined, these two regions have
a
diameter of 25 miles. They still represent the best and richest soil of Belgium.
We
raise corn, wheat and sugar beets on large rolling landscapes; sometimes
bisected by
a woods or a village concentrated around the church. Farm buildings are shaped
in a
square form and houses are old, sometimes overgrown with wisteria. Its from
this
country-side, mostly well-known for its generous soil and rich pastures,
that several
generations of 'Braban~ons  left for the United States, taking with them
their
courage, their traditions and their know-how, and keeping in their hearts
the vivid
image of a small chapel and linden tree or of winter muddy paths or even
of a sunny
July day bursting with warm colors of red poppies, blue bluets and yellow,
ripe
wheat waving under a light hot wind.


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