Panama Man

Aspinwall, Panama was a wild-west town deserving of the same notoriety as Dodge, Kansas; Tombstone, Arizona; and Deadwood in the Dakotas. According to David McCullough in his masterpiece on the building of the canal, “The Path Between the Seas: The Creation of the Panama Canal (1870-1914), “the three most thriving industries [in Aspinwall] were gambling houses, brothels, and coffin manufacturing.” Years ago, I found my … Continue reading Panama Man

A Brief History of Montécheroux

Here is an excerpt from Gathering Leaves, A Brief History of Montécheroux, France: My French-speaking ancestors, who lived in eastern France and western Switzerland, were neither citizens of France nor of Switzerland until after the French Revolution. They came from the region that today is within the French department of Doubs and the modern Swiss Canton of Jura. The area is approximately midway between the … Continue reading A Brief History of Montécheroux

History of the City of Renaix (Ronse)

Recherches historiques sur la ville de Renaix, published in 1856, is a book I found at Google Books (see here). The book, written in French, provides the history of the city of Renaix (Ronse), where my father’s Belgian ancestors lived for several centuries before coming to America. Although I studied French for five years and occasionally take lessons at Rosetta Stone through access provided by … Continue reading History of the City of Renaix (Ronse)

The Watermills of My Mind

The obituary for my great-great-grandfather Vital Eugene Louis DeBacker (1835-1918) states that he was employed as a miller by his father prior to leaving for America in 1883. Based on records I was provided years ago by fellow researchers in Belgium, the DeBacker and collateral families owned and operated wind and water mills in the region of East Flanders going back centuries. In fact, it … Continue reading The Watermills of My Mind

Louisville Silver Band

I recently got temporary access to the archives of a number of Louisville Kentucky newspapers going back as far as the 1860s and earlier, and the first thing I did was to search for my Bannon and Kollros ancestors. One of the things that I learned was that my great-grandfather was working as a professional musician earlier than I had thought. In searching for, “Kollros” … Continue reading Louisville Silver Band

Bloody Monday Rhetoric Revisited

Last September, I published a blog post regarding an event in Louisville, Kentucky, in the mid-1850s – an event known as “Bloody Monday.” My interest in this event is due to my having ancestors on two sides of my mother’s family living in that city on August 6, 1855. One family was German, and the other Irish. Both had recently immigrated in the past decade; … Continue reading Bloody Monday Rhetoric Revisited

It’s Complicated

In the month of July, I celebrate three national holidays: American Independence Day which falls, of course, on July 4; Bastille Day, July 14, which commemorates the storming of a hated symbol of feudal oppression; and July 21, a national holiday in Belgium which commemorates an important event that occurred during the Belgian Revolution of the early 1830s. After the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, … Continue reading It’s Complicated

Le Cerneux-Pequignot

On my father’s side of the family, there is an ancestor named Marie Therese Pequignot . She was my fourth great-grandmother and she lived for 90 years between 1782 and 1872 (link to her death certificate). She was born in Chamesol, France, and died in Montecheroux, a tiny village in Eastern France on the Swiss border. Marie married Luc François Jeanin-Gaume in 1802 after the … Continue reading Le Cerneux-Pequignot