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