return to church index or main page
Mt. Olive Presbyterian . Church
The story of the Belgian Reunion
at Mt. Olive Presbyterian Church, Vandalia Leader, June 26, 1930
More Belgian descendants were gathered together Thursday at Mt. Olive at their reunion than had been gathered at one time in many years. From Oklahoma, St. Louis, Illinois and many of the immediate places of the state many gathered there to renew their acquaintance and learn their kin. A bountiful basket dinner was spread at high noon and a _______ was administered
The welcome address of Squire G. B. Moore, a life long friend of many Belgians which will be found in another column was the basis of all the comments.
R.M. Shannon, an old neighber and aquaintance greeted them cordially on their celebration.
A.G. Butts of Springfield, who recited many of the incidents of their association and especially of Mary Antoyne Detienne who was possibly the first one present at the entry of their family as well as the Belgians over whom she yielded a potent influence.
A brief history was given by F.B. Detienne which will likewise be found in another column.
Judge E.A. Shannon of Mexico made an address on the responsibility of one generation living for the suceeding generation. W.W. Crow in his comic way spoke on the subject as I know them and his address though short was punctuated with some wit and humor and kept them in high spirits.
Featuring some worn tokens of the occasion delivered by their foreign land, Gregory Bouchant, Constant B. Detienne, Mary Jackson, of Lebanon, MO., and Mrs. Josephine Miles, St. Louis and John Brabant of Wellsville.
This was a scroll under the Belgian and American Flag, as the honored guests of the occasion.
The address of Prof. Wm. Schulze of Maplewood was another one of the features that was worthy of special mention.
Messages were read from Dr. J.A. Detienne who was expected and unable to be present on account of pressing business and also a letter from Dr. H.G. Detienne of Pueblo as well as a letter from Mrs. Odele Lusk of Lakeman, Texas.
Distinguished attendants were honored guests, the youngest descendant, Joseph Gregory Bouchant, three weeks old and the twins Eugene and Ailene Moss of Mr. and Mrs. Hiter Moss.
The address of Gregory Bouchant was not well understood only by a few but his graphic description of his address of the Post Masters Convention at Jefferson City and the voyage which took forty four days was one of the outstanding features. He was applauded when he was completed. He was the oldest person on the grounds, another distinction. The "skitling" by young Chandler was a rare treat for those assembled.
The first Belgian to ever enter this part of the country; John Joseph Godgrey was known far and wide for his culinary accomplishments and was dubbed "Cook John" by which name he was known to all of the descendants of this colony. He came to this part of the country about the year 1854. His glowing description of the land of promise and the spirit of adventure which had became injected into the minds of the younger men led Antoyne Detienne, Christue Hoffman commonly known as Buck, and DeSire Detienne to make the journey. After they arrived, they likewise wrote of the vast prairies and the possibilities and the comfort and the ease of life which had much of hunting and trapping and fishing and of the wonderful land for vineyards which was one of the greatest assets to a Belgian who loves his wine and was considered one of the renown when he owned a vineyard. In 1856 Antoyne Detienne and wife Elizabeth with their three sons, Constant B., Tony and Henry came to America and were joined here by their son Desire who met them at Middletown. Joe and Teresa Detienne arrived in 1870. From there they were provided with a mule team by the late J.J. Moss and made their way toward Mr. Hoffman's who was known in the Middletown territory as the Lone Belgian where the splendid grasses and the excellent vineyards he had grown and the culture he had given this place
In the spring of 1856, the Alexanders came. Joseph, Gustave, Henry and Ford. They likewise became a part of the rapidly growing colony and the sympathy of their fatherland was so extended at this time they were heartily welcomed and provided for and aided in their start to build a home. In the fall of 1857 John Bouchant and his wife Rosalie came to America, landing in New York from thence they came to St. Louis where the colony had formerly started their homes. Here by incident they encountered a french woman whose sympathies were as boundless as the time and whose friendship was one of the crowning features of their new found home. Mrs. Belot (Beloit) , whose memory is still cherished for her kindly deeds and motherly care of the entire colony whom she regarded as one of her family has long passed to her reward.
From St. Louis they came to Herman by rail and were met by some of the early settlers who piloted them to Middletown by wagon and team and then on Sandy Creek where Buck had started his colony and where a welcome that was only equal to a people whose love and affection were expressed in this nationality. Their journey like all the others their home and that longing for their native land and friends which had gained a stronghold on those making the journey came near causing them to return when they lost one of the children who was buried at sea under the most pathetic scenes ever held. The members of this family were John Bouchant and wife Rosalie, John Bouchant son by first marriage, Gregory Bouchant and Mary Jane Bouchant who afterwards became the wife of Henry Detienne.
Brambants who came from a providence which bears their name also were among the early settlers in this country. In that family John Brabant their only survivor. All of the early settlers were reared near Brussel, Belgian and Harve yet the communities there were not adjoining but were in such close proximity that they knew each other and their acquaintance in foreign field was but a matter of meeting. The battlefield of Waterloo, to them was not revered as it is today as they looked upon it as a very commonplace and not as one of the International historic places and the deciding factor of civilization.
Their means of transportation was by ox team and afoot. Most of them were carrying their small bundle of holdings in their handbags or possibly across their shoulders on the end of a stick. Poor in wealth bu rich in apprenticeship each of the men were equipped with a trade that would give them labor without having to seek employment. such trades were the salvation of the colony. After wandering up Desota's trail along the Mississippi they finally landed in a French settlement near St. Louis and remained there a brief time when later they decided to go further to the interior of Missouri in search of this man Buck who through his ingenuity and skill had gained renoun and was known as the Lone Frenchman of Sandy. Starting with their ox teams and wagons ans most of the colony walking they arrived one Sunday evening at the home of Jas. Mosby in rain that was short of a downpour to inquire the direction to the place of the Lone Frenchman. So pitiful were they through his generosity they were given freedom of a small tenant house where they were provided with a stove and some wood to dry their clothes and be sheltered from the rain and sleet. Early the following day after having spent the night lodging as best they could they were given the direction to the home of the Lone Frenchman. Here they found a welcome that was hearening and homelike and from this splendid reception they began their lives anew and dug from the soil the wooded plains their existance. The friendships received on the journey was climaxed by the courtesies of the late Jas. Mosby who aided them with his wagons and teams instead of having the ply all hands on a wagon to get their wood from the nearby timber. This friendship and courtesy was never forgotten and to this day it has brought its fruition in the friendship that exists among the descendants of the noble and generous man and the colony.
Logs were hewed from the timber and rude huts first their abodes yet in those thatched roofed huts was that ever conquering spirit of being able to care for themselves and at all times to make their own existance. From their crudly constructed homes they began to prosper and give retribution feeling for their new found friendship which proved to be great and fullsome. Toiling and laboring always for themselves in the pain they never at any time would permit any of their neighbors to want for anything of any assistance without a desire to accumulate and many of the habits and traditions and ease of life were expressed in their families. they however placed honor and integrity as their standard and though never attained any great wealth were known for their independance and standard of mortality.
Among those who compose this colony were Alexanders: Joseph, Ford, Henry and Gustave whose ancestors are now represented as follows. Mrs. Thresa Tyggle, and daughter, Mrs. Elsworth Fry. of Detroit, George Alexander, Mrs. Am. Lovelass,
Wm. Belot (Beloit) , whose ancestors were represented in Mrs. Charles Day of Montgomery City, Mrs. Z.---- of St. Louis, Alva Belot (Beloit) ,
Desire Detienne, Mary Brabant, John Brabant only living members of the Brabant family who came from Brabant, Belgium. D WashingtonN,
Eugene Detienne, Marcous Detienne and descendants---- C.B. Detienne, W.E. Detienne, Ben Detienne, Lula Detienne, Hattie Detienne, Tonie Detienne, wife Charlotte in hospital, Granite City, Mrs. Mollie Ibbotson, Mrs. Viola Bradley, Springfield and Ernest Detienne of Vandalia.
This article and ( "permission to use" from the Vandalia Leader accompanied the article) was first submitted several years ago to Audrain County by Cheryl Oberhaus. Due to a computer crash, the article was not published. The newspaper permission was also lost in the crash, but the article was found again on the Belgium website, and is used here for educational purposes only. Some of the obvious errors in spelling have been corrected, others have not. Copyright still remains with the Vandalia Leader, not this or any other website.