Monday, March 28, 2011

Geographical History

This is just a footnote on the geography of the area.

Link to the Manual of Alsace-Lorraine for a geographical description of the area. The Meuse River is covered beginning at page 81.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

On the Revolution in France

Just a short note that should be expanded.

France in the 18th and 19th Centuries experienced several revolutions. The first and best known was the French Revolution of 1789, celebrated today on July 14th, Bastille Day. The French anthem, The Marsailles was composed during the tumult that followed. Napolean eventually gained control of power in France and proclaimed himself emporer....

With the defeat of Napolean, the monarchy was restored in 1824 under Charles X. The July Revolution of 1830 saw the overthrow of the Bourbon King Charles X by his cousin Louis-Phillipe, the Duke of Orleans. This revolution is the subject of the novel by Victor Hugo and play, Les Miserables.

Next came the Revolution of 1848 removing Louis-Phillipe and creating a Second Republic.The Second Republic was short lived, being overthrown in 1851 by Louis-Napolean Bonaparte, nephew of the first Napolean.The Second Empire established by Louis-Napolean ended with France's defeat in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870.

The impact of the three revolutions on Graffigny was not felt directly. For the most part, the farmers and merchants of the village went on about their ways.(Question: what really happened?) The Archives do reflect a temporary change of recording months and years. See Cecil Richier born 1805,6 recorded as the month of Brumaire and the Fourth Year of the Republic.The Franco-Prussian War directly impacted Graffigny. ...

(Explain this.)

The causes and results of the three revolutions should be expanded. ...

Painting by Jean-Pierre Louis Laurent Houel (1735-1813), entitled ''Prise de la Bastille''or the "Taking of the Bastille". The original image is in the National Library of France. The image itself was taken from Wikipedia and it reflects the taking of the Bastille by storm on July 14, 1789.

The second image is a painting by Eugene Delacroix titled Liberty Leading the People.  The image is taken from the website, While most people incorrectly assume the painting is of the revolution of 1789, it actually reflects the later French Revolution of 1830. If you need an historical reference, think Les Miserables,  the book by Hugo or the play Les Mis, which dramatizes events leading up to the revolution. Delacroix's 1831 painting hangs in the Louvre Museum in Paris.
is a French website listing all of the victims of the French Revolution of 1789. The site is alphabetized making a search by family name simple. Here is the listing for the name "Chevallier" spelled with two l's:

CHEVALLIER Joseph, aubergiste, âgé de 21 ans, né et domicilié à Montbrison, département de la Loire, condamné à mort comme contre-révolutionnaire le 15 frimaire an 2, par la commission révolutionnaire de Lyon.

CHEVALLIER Mathurin, domicilié à la Podrignière, département de la Mayenne et Loire, condamné à mort comme brigand de la Vendée, le 15 nivôse an 2, par la commission militaire séante à Nantes.

CHEVALLIER Joseph, domicilié à Genet, département de Mayenne et Loire, condamné à mort comme brigand de la Vendée, le 16 nivôse an 2, par la commission militaire de Nantes.

CHEVALLIER Mathurin, serger, domicilié à la Jumellière, département de Mayenne et Loire, condamné à mort comme conspirateur le 6 nivôse an 2, par la commission militaire séante à Saumur.

CHEVALLIER François, domicilié à Dol, département d'Ille et Vilaine, condamné comme contre-révolutionnaire à la déportation jusqu'à la paix, puis au bannissement perpétuel, le 18 ventôse an 2, par le tribunal criminel dudit département.
The connection with Graffigny and the Chevalliers of our family is unlikely. The geographical place names of all of these victims are located elsewhere in the west of France in the Vendee, Loire, and Brittany.The Vendee was the area of a popular revolt of the French people against the revolution. An estimated quarter of a million people died in suppressing the revolt.

Interestingly, our grandmother Marguerite kept a royal document of leave for a person named Brunel. The date of leave is during the reign of King Louis XV. Here is the link to the victims of the Revolution named Brunel. A second interesting fact is that my grandmother's house in Graffigny was built in a style unlike any of the other houses in Graffigny and more similar to the house styles of Brittany.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Julie Laura Emma Chevallier

Julie Laura Emma Chevallier Meine is my grandmother's mother and my great grandmother. Oh, how little we know about our past.

There is a story of her during World War II, and how she saved the village from destruction by the Germans, but that must come later.

Julie was the daughter of Paul Constant Chevallier and Anne Marie Richier. They married in 1847. Julie had two brother, (Paul Ernest Chevallier, born 1848 and married 1893. Marcel Edmond Chevallier, born in 1859, married 1887) .

My grandmother's house

As the song says, my grandmother's house is still there but it isn't the same. Today it is a bit overgrown with vegetation. It is owned as a summer vacation home by a couple from Holland.

To the left is an image of the house circa 1910, courtesy of my cousin. If you squint you can see a female figure to the left of the house, who is most certainly Julie Laura Chevallier Meine.

The main entrance to the house is up the stairs on the right of the image. Over the door is an iron decorative piece with the initials "C & L", representing the names Charles and Laura. [Recheck this]

I know that Julie married Charles William Meine. I know nothing of him. I know that

Julie, presumably, did not marry in Graffigny. I can't find a marriage record, and it may be that she married in Frieburg or Hannover, Germany.

My cousin also had this picture of Julie and her two children, Paula and Marguerite. Which girl is the younger and which is the older is not for certain. The image is taken by photographer Carl Theis in Hannover, Germany. A letter in my grandmother's collection identifies her birthplace as Hannover. Surprising to me as my grandmother hated Germans.

[Note to self. Look for a birth record of Paula Meine in Graffigny.]

My great grandfather Charles Meine died before the First World War began, so Julie was left to raise her two daughters alone.

[Recheck this fact. During World War I, Julie wrote to her daughter from the the church in Viviers. Check out the stunning 360 degree panorama by Claire Thibau. Her daughter Marguerite remained in Graffigny at the house where she grew up.]