Categories2017 ProjectDeBroux

The Union Man

The fourth ancestor in my 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks project this year is my maternal great-grandfather, Leon Joseph DeBROUX. I’m related to Leon via my mother → her mother (Marjorie DeBROUX) → her father (Leon DeBROUX).

Leon was born on 2 November 1901 in the small town of Phlox, Langlade County, Wisconsin, which is very much the near center of the state. His parents were Joseph & Mary Philomene (LAURENT) DeBROUX. He had 5 brothers all with the middle name of Joseph and 2 sisters all with the middle name of Margaret.

Leon’s father passed away in 1918 in Phlox. Sometime between then and 1920, the family moved to DePere near Green Bay in Brown County to live with Leon’s aunt and uncle.About a year later, Leon was back in Phlox, this time marrying a local girl, Mildred Vida VAN PRICE. At the time, he was listed as being a “cheese maker” which is a standard Wisconsin job that every boy must do*. It may have been a rushed wedding, who knows, but the couple did have a child in September 1921. Sadly, the child did not make it. Two years later in 1923, their first son, Norbert, was born. He was better know later as “Dee Bee.” In 1927, my grandmother, Marjorie, was born after the family had moved south to Port Washington in Ozaukee County, where they would stay.

*May or may not be true.

Union Organizer

In 1940, Leon was listed as a laborer at the local chair factory, the Wisconsin Chair Company. By the 1950s, Leon was making a living as an AFL-CIO union organizer. I see his name mentioned many times in local stories about helping workers around the area. In an article from the Sheboygan (Wisconsin) Press in June 1953, it mentions Leon:

PORT WASHINGTON — Employees of the Harnischfeger Corporation, houses division, N. Spring St., Port Washington, voted recently to become affiliated with the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America (AFL). Their vote was 92 for joining, 16 against, according toLeon DeBroux of Port Washington, union organizer who started on this project in May.

Hospital

One big thing that Leon was part of in Ozaukee County was getting the local hospital built. At the time, in 1938, there was no local hospital. Discussions were started after an accident in the area that cost the lives of five people because they had to go to outside hospitals. A few people, including Leon, met at his house in 1938 to figure out how to get a hospital built. In 1939, all of the planning came together and the building of a hospital was approved with the cornerstone being laid on November 3rd, 1940. St. Alphonsus Hosptial opened on May 1, 1941.

I find it quite interesting that this hospital weaves its way through my maternal family. My great-grandfather helped get it built. My mother worked there for many, many years. I was born there, as was my younger brother. Once the hospital moved to a larger facility to the south in 1990s (I think) they converted it into assisted living apartments and a nursing home. My grandmother, Leon’s daughter, would end up living there. She also sadly passed away there in 2015. I had no idea how connected our family was until I found the article about how Leon helped get it built.

Faint Memories

I was alive while Leon was alive, until I was almostthree years old. I have this strange memory of him. Sometimes you think you have memories of someone you barely knew, but it was just from a family photo or something similar. I remember being on the ground by my great-grandfather’s feet at his house in Port Washington and he was using them to play around with me. I can see it pretty clearly in my mind, the chair, his feet, the living room, everything. There is no photo of a moment like this. It may be one of those early childhood memories that sneaks its way into adulthood, instead of getting forgotten like most of them. I do cherish it.

On 15 September 1982, Leon had a heart attack and passed away in Port Washington at the same hospital he helped build. He is buried in Port Washington at St. Mary’s Cemetery overlooking the rural fields of Ozaukee County.

In terms of DNA, I still definitely have DNA passed down from Leon. His mother, a LAURENT, connects me to my French-Canadian ancestry and is my connection to large family lines like the Cloutier line. I have a lot of matches on Ancestry, 23andMe, and GedMatch that I can tell are from that line.

CategoriesDeBroux

In Honor of Grandma

Marge ThielkeI’m going to be doing a few posts this week about my maternal grandmother’s ancestry in honor of her. She has not been doing too well for the last few months and her condition has taken a turn for the worse this week. I visited her yesterday, possibly for the last time, so I thought I should honor her with a few posts about the people who came before her.

Her maiden name, DeBroux (deh-broo), as far as we can tell at this point, hails mainly from Belgium. Though, Belgium itself has gone through a few “owners”throughout history (Netherlands, Spain, Austria, Burgundy.) By the time the earliest ancestor we have documented dates for, Jean Joseph Desire DeBroux, was born in 1830, Belgium had just gained independence from the Netherlands. The DeBroux family was mainly from the Walloon-Brabant region, which is a predominately French-speaking area. Also, based on the amount of DeBroux burials from the Walloon Region on BillionGraves, I may have a lot of cousins still living there.

This same ancestor was the first DeBroux in our line to arrive in the United States, settling in central Wisconsin in the mid-to-late 1850s. The family stayed in that area for a few generations before her father, my great-grandfather, Leon DeBroux, moved with his family to Port Washington, Ozaukee, Wisconsin in the 1920s presumably due to employment.

Next post I will dig into another interesting line from her mother’s ancestry, the Van Price (van Parijs) line. For now, keep her in your thoughts.

CategoriesBig NewsDeBrouxThielke

The Other Half

Up until now, I really only had photos and documents from my paternal side of the family, not including documents found online, etc. Recently, I’ve finally been given a collection of those things from my maternal side and it’s pretty awesome.

As always, a lot of the photographs are unlabeled, but I can tell who a few of the people probably are. Plus, I am fortunate that my maternal grandparents are still with us and hopefully we can find some time to sit down with them to discuss some of items.

I am currently in the process of scanning them, so you can probably expect an increase of “Way Back Wednesday” posts.

Here is one nice photo from the dozens I have scanned.

Thielke Family
circa 1919-1920. Click for larger. Much, much larger.

I’m almost positive that the couple on the left side of the photo are my great-grandparents, Arthur & Madora (Last) Thielke. Most of the photos are not labeled, but based on other photos and face recognition, I’m pretty certain it’s them. I will confirm with my grandfather at some point. My guess is this is either their wedding (since it’s dated around 1920) or another important event. I have no clue who the other couple is, but it’s safe to say that they are probably a relation to Arthur and/or Madora.

CategoriesBelgianDeBrouxSurname Saturday

Surname Saturday: DEBROUX

The DeBroux surname first enters my family tree as my maternal grandmother’s maiden name. The surname itself is Belgian, at least when I trace it back from America. According to Ancestry.com, the surname along with the prepositionde (“from’), denoting someone from either of two places called Broux, in Rhône and Vienne. Both Rhône and Vienne are located in France, which a lot of my Belgian and Dutch surnames tend to originate from.

I’ve been able to trace it back the early 1800s. First through my great-grandfather, Leon DeBroux, who was born in 1901 in Phlox, Langlade Co., Wisconsin. Another piece of information for the DeBroux surname is that the DeBroux family seemed to have settled mostly in Wisconsin, which is good for me. Leon’s father was Joseph DeBroux, who was born in May 1865 in Grand Chute, Outagamie Co., Wisconsin. The Grand Chute and Little Chute area is a very high-percentage Belgian and Dutch area. It’s obvious by all of the “Van” and “De” surnames and businesses in the area.

I originally had Joseph’s parents listed a Desire and Desiree DeBroux. I know it sounds like they were a traveling folk duet, but I’m pretty sure they were just normal people. Even though they sound like a unique name combination, I had no luck in finding any more information about them…until. I ran across a site called “Netradyle” (which is all in French) that seems to be a location of a lot of Belgian vital records. Thanks to Google Translate, I was able to find my way around and after some searching I found my DeBroux family. It turns out that Desire and Desiree were their middles names. They probably used them to separate themselves from the others since it seemed that every family named their children either Jean Joseph or Marie. I know why, but it does confuse things now.

So, it turns out the Desire’s full name is Jean Joseph Desire DeBroux and he was born 16 Feb 1830 in Piétrebais, Walloon Brabant, Wallonia, Belgium, which is a smalltown in central Belgium just east of Brussel. Desiree’s full name was Marie Desiree LOOD. After that I was only able to find Jean Joseph’s parent’s names, but not any specific information from the records on the site. His parents were Jean Joseph DeBroux (go figure) and Anne Catherine LANGELE.

I did some mapping of the DeBroux family using Google Maps, in case you wanted to see all of the locations. It may include other parts of my maternal line, too.

Any other DeBroux families out there?

CategoriesBelgianDeBrouxTell Me Thursday

Tell Me Thursday: Laurent Sisters

Click for larger

This photo was recently sent to me by another DeBroux/Laurent researcher. The ladies shown are the three youngest daughters of Jean-Baptiste LAURENT and Olivine Marie ST. LOUIS. They are Josephine KING, Philomene DEBROUX, and Milly RABIDEAU. Philomene is my great-great-grandmother on my mother’s side. I’m not sure when the photo was taken, but if I had to guess, I ‘d say somewhere from 1940-1950 since Philomene passed away in 1956.

CategoriesBelgianDeBrouxFamily Tree

New DeBroux Info and Some Belgium Questions

Just spent some time today browsing around random Dutch and Belgian websites looking for that one clue to break open some information. I have listed that my 3rd-great-grandparents, Desire and Desiree DeBroux (that’s a mouthful), were both born in Belgium. It specifically lists it as Brussels, Belgium, but that was a major city, so who knows. I ran across a Belgian site called “Netradyle,” and with some help from Google Translate, was able to figure out how to use it.

I originally got there while doing some random searching for some of my wife’s ancestors, but I thought I’d give the DeBroux family a shot. They both had pretty unique names, even if it was a somewhat normal Belgian name, it still sticks out. I searched birth records for DeBroux and found a lot and checked all of the Desires with no luck. I then figured out that I was only searching birth records, so I tried the marriage records. Fortunately, I did have an idea of when they were married due to census records and I had their birth dates from their headstone (as much as I could read it.) Using all of these dates, I ran across an entry for a marriage between Joseph Désiré DEBROUX and Marie Désirée LOOD on 30 Nov 1854.

A few things match up here. Désiré and Désirée both match their names in the census records. I also have their marriage as being in about 1855, due to math using the census records, and it says there were married in Wallon Brabant, Belgium, which is the same province that Brussels is in.

Using that info, I then looked up their birth records and I found Jean Joseph Désiré DEBROUX born on 16 Feb 1830 in Piétrebais, Walloon Brabant, Wallonia, Belgium. Piétrebais is a small village southeast of Brussels. Well, look at that, another match. I have that Desire DEBROUX was born on 16 Feb 1830 from both the census records and his headstone. The same thing happened with his wife. I found a Marie Désirée LOOD born on 1 Apr 1829 also in Piétrebais, Walloon Brabant, Wallonia, Belgium. I didn’t have her exact birth date, but I did have Apr 1829 from the census and the readable parts of her headstone.

Obviously, I can’t guarantee a perfect match, but this does seem to fit a lot of the required fields. Along with this information, it also lists Desire’s parents as Jean Joseph DEBROUX and Anne Catherine LANGELE (LENGELE). It also lists a village after their name in parenthesis. I’m not sure what this means exactly, but Jean has (Corroy) and Anne has (Gistoux) which are both in the same province. It then lists Desiree’s parents as Francois Eugene LOOD and Marie Catherine DUPONT. This one only lists a village after her mother’s name, Opprebais.

This brings me to my question. While typing in some other names from this search, it seems that one family gave every child the middle name of Joseph (Josephe for the girls.) But, besides that, I see Joseph an awful lot in these searches. Was there anything special about the name Joseph, or do you think it was a family name of some sort?