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.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Marguerite Chevallier Meine

My grandmother was French, so she said.

Ma grand-mère était française, disait-elle.

Marguerite Chevallier
I was perhaps ten when I first recall seeing her. She spoke in a French accent even after 30 years of speaking English. Her maiden name, as I knew it as a child, was Marguerite Chevallier. And when she spoke of Germans, it was always with a touch of disdain. The few bits and pieces of history that I recall her telling me as a child include her parents hiding silver and valuables from the Germans during the Franco-Prussian War, and then the devastating consequences of the First World War on Graffigny-Chemin, the small village in Haute-Marne, formerly the province of Lorraine, where she and her sister grew up with their mother.

 J'avais dix ans quand je l'ai vu la premier fois. Elle parlait anglais avec un accent français fort. Son nom de jeune fille, comme je l'ai connu par enfant, était Marguerite Chevallier. Et quand elle parlait aux Allemands, c'était toujours avec une touche de dédain. Les quelques bribes de l'histoire que je me souviens qu'elle me dit comme un enfant comprennent cacher l'argent des Allemands pendant la guerre franco-prussienne, et puis les conséquences dévastatrices de la Premier Guerre mondiale. Graffigny-Chemin, où elle et sa soeur ont grandi avec leur mère, estais une petit village dans le Haute -Marne, la province de Lorraine ancienne.

Madison Pearson's 2nd Division Campaign medal
My grandmother met my grandfather in France in January of 1918. He was serving with Second Division, later the Third Division, near Graffigny. Indeed, when he first arrived, he was billeted in the town of Graffigny, as the Second Division was headquartered in the nearby town of Bourmont. The family history is that my grandfather, Madison Pearson, was injured in one of the many battles and nursed back to health by my grandmother. There are no military records of his exploits, so that can not be documented. What I do know is that my grandfather has several medals including, a Purple Heart that proves he was wounded, and the Silver Star, that shows he fought with gallantry in action. 

Ma grand-mère a rencontré mon grand-père en France en 1917. Il servait près de Graffigny, dans la deuxième division, et plus tard la troisième division. Quand il est arrivé, il était cantonné dans la ville de Graffigny, comme la deuxième division a son siège social dans la ville voisine de Bourmont. L'histoire de la famille, c'est que mon grand-père, Madison Pearson, a été blessé dans l'une des nombreuses batailles et ramené à la santé de ma grand-mère. Il n'existe aucune documents militaires. Mais, ce que je sais, c'est que mon grand-père a plusieurs médailles dont une Purple Heart qui prouve qu'il a été blessé, et la Silver Star, qui montrent qu'il a combattu avec bravoure au combat.

Marguerite Chevallier Meine

My grandmother and grandfather somehow found time during the progress of the war to court, and after the armistice in November of 1918, they married. Eventually, they returned to the United States. My grandfather remained in the military retiring as a Brigadier General. 

Mon grand-mère et grand-père a trouvé le temps à la cour pendant la guerre, et après le fin de guerre, ils se sont mariés. Finalement, ils sont retournés aux États-Unis. Mon grand-père est resté dans l'armée sa retraite comme général de brigade. 

My visits as a teenager to their home in Chapel Hill, North Carolina were always enjoyable. I remember the purple irises that lined the stone driveway to their house. I enjoyed the fried chicken and Spanish rice my grandmother loved to cook. I played cards with both my grandparents, Canasta with my grandmother, and bridge with my grandfather.

Mes visites à l'adolescence dans leur maison à Chapel Hill, Caroline du Nord étaient toujours très agréables. Je me souviens des iris violets qui bordaient l'allée de pierre de leur maison. J'ai apprécié le poulet frit et riz à l'espagnole ma grand-mère aimait cuisiner. J'ai joué aux cartes avec mes deux grands-parents, Canasta avec ma grand-mère, et pont avec mon grand-père.

There was a garden in the back of the house which had lost much of its splendor with the passing of years. My grandparents, now in their seventies, had slowed down. Still, it was fun to explore the garden with its chicken coup, its trellises, its water pond, the fig tree, and crushed stone pathways that were lined with ancient flower beds gone to seed.

Il y avait un jardin à l'arrière de la maison qui avait perdu un peu de sa splendeur au fil des ans. Mes grands-parents, maintenant septuagénaires, avait ralenti. Pourtant, il était amusant d'explorer le jardin avec son poulailler, ses treilles, son bassin d'eau, et les voies qui ont été bordée de parterres de fleurs anciennes.

All family histories are a mixture of memories both sweet and sad. Our grandparents pass on as do our parents, and we are left with but a few things to remember them by.

Les histoires de toutes familles sont un mélange de souvenirs doux et triste. Nos grands-parents se transmettent comme nos parents, et nous nous retrouvons avec quelques petites choses à leur souvenir.

My grandmother was French, as I said, but there is always more to the story…

Ma grand-mère était française, comme je l'ai dit, mais il ya toujours plus à l'histoire ...