Tuesday, July 25, 2017

My great gandfather's house

Somewhere in the back of my mind I hear the sweet sound and the lilting lyrics of Judy Collins' Secret Gardens.

Graffigny-Chemin, 1909

Great grandfather's house is still there, but it isn't the same. I drive by and strangers live there. They are kind and invite me in. I go from room to room as we talk. I wish they could see what I see.

"A tangle of summer birds
Flying in sunlight
A forest of lilies
An orchard of apricot trees
Secret Gardens of the heart
Where the flowers bloom forever "

For me, the flowers are the iris and the tree is the sweet fig, the images I forever associate with my grandparents' house in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. In my mind's eye, I see playing on the hills overlooking Graffigny, two small girls, ages nine and seven, my grandmother Marguerite and her sister Paula, laughing and arms stretched out, jumping up and grabbing fistfuls of cherries from the low hanging branches, eating most but saving some, so that their mother Laure* will make them a pie for dinner.

The postcard above was taken on the occasion of the beatification of Jeane d'Arc in 1909.  Shown on the left behind the wall is the carriage house of my great grandfather Charles William Christian Meine and his wife Julia Laure Emma Chevallier.

great grandmother Julia Laure Emma Chevallier and her house in Graffigny

 (*I call her Laure and not Julia since the initials over the front door are C & L, for Charles and Laure)

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Rue du Chêne

Rue du Chêne (Oak Street) 
Rue du Chêne,Graffingy-Chemin

On the street where my grandmother lived in 1909. looking north towards the church of  St. Elophe and St. Christophe.

Une autre vue, Rue du Chêne, Graffingy-Chemin, dans la rue où vivait ma grand-mère, 1909.
Peut-on me dire la direction de la rue? L'église est à droite.

Rue du Chêne,Graffingy-Chemin

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Anne Marie Richier

Anne Marie Richier, daughter of Thomas Richier and Jeanne Morel, was born 6 April 1829 in Graffigny-Chemin, France.

Anne Marie Richier, born April 6, 1829

Archives de la Haute-Marne

Anne married Paul Constant Chevallier.

Anne Marie Richier married Paul Constant Chevallier, 21 April 1847

The way they were

The period from 1830 to 1848, roughly the time between the birth of Anne Richier and her marriage to Paul Constant Chevallier, was known as the July Monarchy. France was ruled by a monarch, Louis-Philippe, crowned "King of the French", signifying his popular sovereignty. Louis-Philippe owed his crown to the rising middle class, les bougoises. With the exception of Algeria, Louis-Philippe's policies with regard to business and foreign policy were free of government involvement, laissez-faire.

The records of the Archives de la Haute-Marne, during this period, reference the class and status of the individuals who are born, marry, and die in the villages of France. Thus, one often sees the descriptions marchand (merchant) , proprietor (property owner), laboreaux (laborer), and sans profession (unemployed) in the village records.

During this period, France was experiencing a population splurge with most of the births occurring in the countryside. Even with the deaths that occurred as a result of the Napoleonic wars, France was second in population (behind Russia) in Europe. If we go back briefly in time, Hilaire Chevallier and Margaret Collin, the parents of Paul Constant Chevallier, recorded four births during the short period 1813 - 1822.

detail, births Graffigny-Chemin, 1813 -1822

Monday, January 27, 2014

The potato famine

The potato blight struck Europe in the mid-1840s. In Ireland more than one million individuals died of starvation, but its effects were also felt in France and in the village of Graffigny, as the following image reveals. The famine lead to a worsening economy and then to the overthrow of Louis Philippe in February 1848. The Second Republic of France followed.

Deaths 1847, Graffigny
The recorded deaths in Graffigny for the year 1847 exceed the normal mortality rate for a village or two to three hundred individuals. Also striking is the number of individuals from the same family.

Archives de la Haute-Marne, 1843-1852

Paul Achille Chevallier was the seven year old son of Claude Alexandre Chevallier and Genivieve Rouyer.

Paul Achille Chevallier

Joseph Chevallier died at the age of seventy, a former military officer, son of Joseph Chevallier and Marie Collin.

Joseph Chevallier, died 1847

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Marguerite Collin Chevallier

Marguerite Collin Chevallier (wife of Hillaire Chevallier) died May 9, 1876 at the age of 92. She was born in 1882. Hillaire and Marguerite had a son, Paul Constant Chevallier, father to Julie Chevallier, mother of Marguerite Chevallier Meine, who is my grandmother.

Archives Haute-Marne, 1843-1852

Charles Hippolyte Chevallier

[Hilaire Chevallier is father of Paul Constant Chevallier, father of Julie Chevallier, mother of Marguerite Chevalier Meine, mother of Elmire Pearson, my mother.]

Children of Hilaire Chevallier and Marguerite Collin Chevallier include:

Charles Hippolyte Chevallier (older by five years)
Paul Constant Chevallier


Charles Hippolyte Chevalier married Elise Victoire Journieaux the 10th of May, 1876. Charles was 60 years of age at the time and Elise was 32. Charles was born in 1815, the same year as the battle of Waterloo. Charles' father was Hilaire Chevallier, his mother was Marguerite Collin. Hillaire died in 1852, Marguerite was 84 at the time of her son's marriage.

This information comes from the Archives Haute Marne.

Side note. One of the stain glass window in the chuch of St. Elophe and St. Christophe was donated by Madame Charles Hippolyte Chevallier.

Church of St Elophe et St Christophe, Graffigny,
donation Elise Victoire Journieaux Chevallier

list of weddings Graffigny 1876


marriage Charles Hippolyte Chevallier and Elise Victoire Journieaux

Note to self. No births recorded in the parish records 1873 -1882. One marriage, that of Charles Chevallier to Elise Journieaux from Rocquigny.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Voie Romaine

The fall of the Western Roman Empire occurred on September 4, 476, when Romulus Augustus, the last Emperor, was deposed by Odoacer. Even then and for a thousand years afterwards, overland trade in France followed the old familiar Roman roads known as the Voie Romaine (Roman Way).

Voie Romaine, around Langres
and northeast to Solimariaca (Soulosse)
 on the route to Trier
[Image French National Library, Carte des voies romaines du Département de la Haute-Marne 20 Lieues gauloises / Th. Pistollet de St. Ferjeux del., 1860. Map detail shows the route north from Langres past Graffigny-Chemin to Soulosse-sur-St-Elpohe. The route continues to Trier.

In Roman Gaul a system of roads was organized in the decades before Christ by Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa around Lugdunum (Lyon). The collection became known as the Via Agrippa (Road Agrippa) and contained over 21,000 kilometres (13,000 miles) of paved stone roads. One route, beginning in Lyon, goes north  270 kilometers (170 miles) to Langres. At Langres it branches. One branch goes northwest to Reims, the other north and east to Toul, then further north to Trier.

The Roman Way to Toul and passes through the village of Graffigny-Chemin. Indeed, as one drives north through Chemin, the road will be marked as Voie Romaine.
heading north on the Voie Romaine, church of St Nicolas de Chemin
[Images of Graffigny-Chemin downloaded from Google Earth.]

Graffigny-Chemin's location is well-situated as a way station on the route. Then, as now, it lies 60 kilometers north of Langres, capital of the Gallic tribe the Lingones, and a further 70 kilometers north to Toul, capital of the Leuci. (In Commentaries on the Gallic Wars, Julius Caesar mentions both Lingones and Leucis.)

From Langres to Toul, it is about 125 kilometers (about 80 miles). This would be about 4 days travel for a Roman legion or those who followed in their footsteps: bishops making parochial visits, priests, wandering minstrels, students, tinkers, merchants, beggars, gentlemen, and those on their way to the various fairs of medieval Europe.

The trip to Graffigny-Chemin is about half that distance, or two days out either way. Graffigny-Chemin possesses a spring for water (the well for the spring water is still found outside the Church of St.Christophe and St. Elophe) as well as nearby fields where traveling merchants could rest by the roadside for the night while their animals grazed.

view of the Church of St. Christophe and St. Elophe, Graffigny

Only the well-to-do and soldiers rode, everyone else walked. Those who walked would have to put up with the horse droppings, and make way for horse and cart. One imagines that, like in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, the commoners known as the pied "dusty feet" would seek out fellow travelers for companionship. If there were houses in the location where Graffigny and Chemin now stand, it is not hard to imagine that they served as a guesthouse or an inn.

detail Tabula Peutingeriana Francia

The Peutinger Table was drawn in 1265 by a monk from Colmar, but its information dates back at least to before 79 AD since Pompeii is included. Moreover, Cologne is identified as Agripina, the Roman general who under Octavian, organized the roads in Gaul into a system collectively known as the Via Agippina.

The detail above shows the route from Lyon, capital of Gaul, to Langres, then to Neufchateu (Noviomagnus) and Toul (Tullio). From Toul the route crosses the Moselle River at Dieulouard, Meurthe-et-Moselle (Scarponna) before going on to Trier (Tresviroy).

More info on the map.