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Holand, Hjalmar Rued, 1872-1963 / Wisconsin's Belgian community : an account of the early events in the Belgian settlement in northeastern Wisconsin with particular reference to the Belgians in Door County

Chapter VII: Belgian characteristics and customs,   pp. [81]-97 PDF (4.0 MB)

Page 96

other sacred adornments built in propitiatory remembrance
of a parent or departed relative. Here the neighbors go
for a few minutes of quiet devotion, particularly in the
month of May. Many are the loving and reverent touches
given to these chapels by the women.
    The French language or its Walloon dialect is even now,
in the third and fourth generation, the general medium of
communication, although very few can read French. But
the Belgians read very little, finding their intellectual stimu-
lus in social gatherings as stated above. They do not main-
tain many parochial schools, but are liberal in their appro-
priations to the common schools, conservatively believing
that a moderate knowledge of reading, writing and arith-
metic is good for almost every one. Lately (1923) a high
school department was added to the school in Brussels, the
chief Belgian rural center, and many young people are
delving into Physics and Mathematics to the mystified ad-
miration of their elders. There are also each year quite
a few young people who go to colleges and universities.
     In politics as in religion and sociability the Belgians
are a whole-souled people. Their forefathers had no vote
in the old country (even now less than five per cent. of the
people are electors), but here they have as much to say in
the ballot box as the president of the bank, and this is a
privilege they greatly appreciate. They are conservative in
their expectations, and if a political leader has gained their
support, they stand by him loyally. For this reason the
Belgian settlement has continued a solid LaFollette strong-
hold. - But although nominally Republicans, they are not
hide-bound in their allegiance, and in the fall of 1932 they
cast an overwhelming vote for a Democratic president. The
town of Union gained wide publicity as being the largest

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