Monday, February 5, 2018

Camille Oreste Chevallier

Recently, a distant relative in France mentioned the name Camille Oreste Chevallier, holder of the Legion of Honor, renewing my interest in the Family Chevallier in Graffigny-Chemin, an ancient and small village traces its existence back to Roman times.

From the online Archives of  Haute Marne and the National Archives in Fontainbleu, concerning the Legion of Merit for Camille Oreste Chevallier, I am able to put together this brief summary:


Camille Oreste Chevallier

Camille Oreste Chevallier is our great uncle.

On the 16th of January, 1852, he was born at home in Graffigny at 5 o’clock in the afternoon. His parents were Paul Constant Chevallier, then 29 years old, and Anne Eugenie Richier, then 23 years old.

Promptly, at 8 am on the following morning, the proud father Paul Constant Chevallier appeared before the mayor of Graffigny-Chemin, his brother Alexander Chevallier, to confirm the birth. Present at the declaration of birth was Hilaire Chevallier, father of Paul, and grandfather to the newborn Camille.

Ten years later, a daughter, Julie Laure Chevallier was born to the couple. She is our great grandmother.

Camille joined the French 1st Mounted Artillery Regiment on the 20th of March 1869, and later served with the 11th Artillery Regiment, achieving the rank of Lt. Colonel and in 1909, receiving for his service the Legion of Honor.

Who is this? 


This leaves unanswered the question of who is this in the photograph. This appears to be a post World War I photograph showing the Croix de Guerre and Battle of Verdun medal.

Qui est-ce?

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.