Janssen/Phelan Family History
Our Belgian Heritage
Origin of the Darts
Although the name is French, my Darts were not. They came from French-speaking Belgium. The nation of Belgium has two official languages. The northern half of the country, called Flanders, speaks Flemish, which is similar to Dutch. The southern half of the country, called Wallonia, speaks French. People from French-speaking Belgium, like my ancestors, are known as Walloons. In the center of Belgium there are two provinces, one on top of the other. The northern one, in Flanders, is called North Brabant (Brabant Noord) or Flemish Brabant (Brabant Vlaams). The southern one, in Wallonia is called Walloon Brabant (Brabant Wallon). The capital city of Brussels sits within Flemish Brabant, and is considered its own province. Around the two Brabants is a ring of eight other provinces, four in Flanders, and four in Wallonia. The five provinces that make up Wallonia are Brabant, Hainaut, Namur, Luxembourg, and Liège. We have distant cousins in every province of Belgium, but the vast majority are located in Brabant Wallon.
In the mid-nineteenth century, a wave of Walloons emigrated to northeastern Wisconsin. The city hall of Grez-Doiceau, a town in the province of Brabant Wallon, bears a plaque commemorating this emigration. It states, “In 1853, the first 10 Walloon families left Grez-Doiceau to found a Belgian Community in Wisconsin, U.S.A.” These ten families, and the many others who followed, settled almost exclusively in Brown, Door, and Kewaunee counties. Today the Belgian heritage of this region is obvious in the names of cities and towns; for example, Namur and Brussels in Door County, and Luxemburg in Kewaunee County. Namur, WI is home to the Peninsula Belgian American Club.
For the most part, my family was centered around two small towns in Brabant Wallon, located just a few miles from each other. These two towns are Hamme-Mille and Nethen. Other towns in Brabant that are repeatedly present in my family tree are Bossut-Gottechain, Archennes, Nodebais, Céroux-Mousty, and Wavre, but Nethen and Hamme-Mille are the seat of the family for many generations. Wavre is the largest city in this area of Brabant Wallon, and if you look on most maps of Europe Wavre may be the only town mentioned above that’s big enough to actually show up on the map.
The French Connection
Another fascinating piece of history in this area revolves around a distant cousin of ours, Jacques Plouvier. In 1454, he accused Mahout Coquiel of killing his wife’s cousin and challenged him to a duel. The combat took place on 22 May 1455, at Valenciennes. The Duke of Burgundy made a special trip just to witness the duel. Unfortunately, the battle was extremely one-sided, with Plouvier not only trouncing Coquiel but essentially delivering a public torturing, complete with ear biting, eye gouging, and arm breaking. The spectacle was so brutal that the Duke was thoroughly disgusted. Although he was not able to stop the duel, due to the laws and customs of the region, upon its completion he swore to abolish the practice. Thenceforward, although other legal duels were held some time after in Valenciennes, they did not end in mortal death. A very detailed account of this duel is included in the notes for Jacques Plouvier, in my family tree database.
Another historically important family in this region of northern France is the Chaufforeau family. My great (x13) grandfather Pierard Caufoureau was born in 1475 in Fourmies, in the province of Nord-Pas-de-Calais, France. His grandson Jean Chauffoureau migrated to Belgium sometime before 1560. Once in Belgium, the Chauffoureaus (there are countless spellings of this name) mixed and mingled with the natives of Brabant Wallon and scattered their DNA all over Belgium. One notable family member is our cousin Martine Chauffoureau, who was burned as a witch in 1576. In 1956 the journal Brabantica published a detailed outline of the Chauffoureau family history, the details of which appear in the family tree database portion of this web site, under the individual members of the family.
One notable cousin of mine, descended from the Chauffoureaus, is Louis Henri Joseph Dubois (1768-1844). Twice married and the father of 21 children, a century after his death he had more than 3,000 descendants, earning him the honorary nickname of “Le Patriarche”.
I do not want to stress my French roots too much because, mathematically, the Chauffoureaus only make me about 1/9,000th French. It is worth noting, however, that some of the Chaufourreaus remained in the region of Nord-Pas-de-Calais, so we have many cousins there. In fact, we have cousins in every department of France and in various portions of the globe, particularly in the former French colonies of Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, and Madagascar. Among our French cousins are several Counts and Viscounts and at least 50 members of the Légion d’Honneur, an order of merit established by Napoleon that is sort of like a cross between a knighthood and America’s Congressional Medal of Honor.
It’s possible that through this French connection we may be cousins with the two American Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Like us, they had ancestors from the small town of Avesnes, and I have found a few cases where a cousin of theirs married a cousin of ours. In these small villages, centuries ago, everyone was basically cousins, so I suspect we are related but I haven’t yet been able to establish a definitive blood connection. One of our cousins also married a first cousin of Charles de Gaulle, the general who led the French armed forces during World War II and served as France’s President for many years. Jean Armand Marc Philippon, at one time the commanding officer of the French Navy, who served under de Gaulle, is a cousin by marriage. Another notable French cousin by marriage, is Paul-Emile Victor, a famous polar explorer, scientist, and author. Although none of the people mentioned in this paragraph are confirmed blood relatives, it just goes to show how if you follow the wide-reaching branches of a family tree far enough, eventually you begin to touch upon some of the illustrious personages of history.
Belgian Village Life
A few of my ancestors fared a little better in the working world. Some are listed as “cultivateur”s or farmers, implying that they did own land. Skilled trades are also common, such as carpenters, plasterers, masons, blacksmiths, or butchers. The Anciau family, distant cousins of ours, had a number of “garde forestier”s among their ranks. This would be like a game warden, managing the forests of a land-owning nobleman. Other industrious persons owned their own shops or cafes. Some are listed as merchants. A few others worked for the church in positions such as “sacristain” or sexton. A select few held positions within the local government, such as “mayeur” (mayor), “échevin” (alderman or city councilman), or “bourgmestre” (chief magistrate).
Another trend in the historical data that gives us a glimpse into the personal lives of the inhabitants of our Belgian ancestors is the number of interfamily marriages. The term “interfamily marriages” is a nice way of saying “cousins marrying each other”. Prior to the 20th century, in most countries in Europe, it was legal, though uncommon, to marry your first cousin. It was not uncommon to marry your second cousin. Beyond that, if you lived in a small village in Belgium a couple hundred years ago, where your family had resided for centuries, it would be pretty difficult to find a mate who wasn’t your third, fourth, or fifth cousin. This has a lot to do with the fact that many of our ancestors were farmers or farmhands, and probably traveled little if at all, unless they were involved in a military campaign. Once a family put down roots, they had a tendency to stay in one place for centuries. When looking over the records from Nethen and Hamme-Mille, one sees the same family names—Anciau(x), Collard, Draye, Gillard, Hottat, Kaye, Licoppe, Maricq, Maucquoy, Page, Ronsmans, Rose, Socquet—marrying each other over and over again. This was by no means a phenomenon peculiar to Belgium; it was true everywhere. Because the amount of data that’s out there concerning Belgian genealogy is so extensive and so complete, we can see this trend in action over the course of history. Once these Belgian families immigrated to America, they kept their social circles tight and continued to marry each other for a generation or two.
Our Most Famous Relation
The Mystery of the Darts
There is no indication why he was given the name Dart, as neither the nurse nor the witnesses present at the preceedings bore that name. It seems to have been an arbitrary decision on the part of the magistrate. Since Philippe kept the name Dart, it seems that he was never adopted and was most likely raised in the orphanage until manhood.
While mystery shrouds the origin of the Darts, a wealth of information exists on the ancestry of Philippe’s wife. Marie Julienne Licoppe was born 27 Apr 1820 in the town of Nethen in Brabant, Belgium. She married Philippe on 24 Jan 1847 in the same town. The Licoppes can be traced back to Jean Licoppe, one of my great (x 6) grandfathers, who died in Bossut-Gottechain in 1745.
On to America
The census records show two other Dart families living in Brown County at this time, headed by Jean Baptiste Dart and August Joseph Dart. Given that Philippe was a foundling, it’s safe to say that these men were not biologically related to him. The census records of 1860, 1870, and 1880 show that almost all of Philippe’s neighbors were Belgian, many of them in fact his wife’s cousins from Brabant.
Marie Julienne Licoppe Dart died 4 Nov 1905 in Green Bay. Philippe survived her; his death date is unknown. Of their children, I know very little about Jean Joseph Dart. Daughter Josephine Dart married Nicholas Gille, who was also born in Nethen, Brabant, Belgium. They had eight children. Son Jean Baptiste Dart married Amelie Moreau, who was born in Michigan to Belgian parents. They moved to a farm in the Town of Scott, Brown County, and had nine children. Marie Julinenne Dart, distinguished from her mother by the nickname Henrietta or Harriet, married Philip Allen, a native Belgian whose family name was actually Hallaux. They settled in the Town of Humboldt, then moved to a farm in the Town of Preble, Brown County, WI, and had 10 children. Gustave August Dart married Clara Moureau, and they had ten kids. He farmed in the Town of Sugar Camp, Oneida County, WI, and died sometime between 1910 and 1920.
Felix and Family
Felix and Mary moved from Green Bay to De Pere, WI about 1878. Felix was a blacksmith by trade, and the 1880 census shows him practicing that occupation in De Pere. By 1900 Felix became business partners with his wife’s brother-in-law John C. Mularky. They formed the firm Dart & Mularky, a dealership in farm implements and machinery. Felix was forced to retire early from the business due to ill health, and he sold his share of the firm for $5,000. At the time of his retirement, a local newspaper noted that “The firm has built up an extensive business in farm machinery, and bears an enviable reputation among the farmers.” Felix was ill for a year before his death. He died at his home on S. Michigan St., De Pere, on 18 Feb 1909, at the age of 49. His obituary described him as “one of De Pere’s well known citizens” and “an industrious, upright citizen.” Mary Anna lived until 1937. The 1930 census shows her residing in the home of my grandparents, Carl Janssen and Loretto Dart.
Felix Dart and Mary Anna Kaye were the parents of 12 children: Flora, Sarah, Julia (Jewel), Bertha, Ida, Simeon Arthur (Sim), Geneva, George Henry, Lilimae, Philip J., Lorena, and Loretto.
The eldest daughter, Flora M. Dart, was born 7 Dec 1910 in Green Bay, WI. While I don’t know much about Flora, I was able to dig up quite a bit of dirt about her husband. She married Dr. George E. Thompson in Menominee, MI in 1806. Dr. Thompson was a bit of a shady character. He moved around quite a bit, and I’ve tried to piece together his life story, based on what fragments I have found. He was born in Indiana, and practiced medicine in Fort Wayne, IN and Dubuque, IA. He moved to Green Bay about 1902. Shortly before his marriage to Flora, George took a trip to Stevens Point, WI to look into the possibility of opening up a hospital there. He even went so far as to rent office space to house this hospital. He then married Flora in Menominee, MI, and married her again in Chicago. After the wedding(s), the Stevens Point Daily Journal reported that Dr. Thompson had “suddenly disappeared” and given up his plans to open a hospital in Stevens Point. In fact, George and Flora moved to Kenosha, WI in June or July of 1906, and he began practicing medicine there. In August of 1906 George was arrested by the Kenosha County Sheriff on a charge of obtaining money under false pretenses. Perhaps this had something to do with the financing of his hospital project. He was ordered to appear before a judge in Green Bay. The charges didn’t stick, and he was discharged. He was immediately arrested again, however, on a charge of bigamy. Another woman had appeared, claiming to be his wife. I have found no record of whatever became of the bigamy charges, but George remained married to Flora Dart. They are shown living together on the 1910 census. Flora died on 7 Dec 1910. Ten years later the census shows Dr. George married to an Anna, with six children in the household. Some of these children are under ten years old, but some are in their upper teens. All are listed under the name Thompson. I can only assume that this is his first wife, the one who accused him (apparently truthfully) of bigamy, and that the children in the household are his. George and Anna must have gotten a divorce sometime between 1920 and 1923, because in January 1923 George was arrested in Fessenden, ND, on a charge of failure to pay alimony for support of his wife and six children. His whereabouts beyond that point are unknown to me.
Sarah Dart, the second child of Felix and Mary Anna Dart, was born 19 Mar 1880 and died 26 Aug 1880.
Julia M. Dart, also known by the name Jewel, was born 28 Feb 1881. She married Louis J. Flanigan, a native of Marquette, MI. Louis was in business with his brothers. The “Flanigan Brothers” firm was a dray and transfer service, essentially a trucking company of horse-drawn wagons. It eventually grew into motorized transport. Louis died in 1825, and Jewel Dart went to live with her sister and brother-in-law, Carl and Loretto Janssen, until her death in 1948. Louis and Jewel had no children.
Bertha C. Dart was born 18 Feb 1883. She married Arthur G. Jennings, who owned a Buick garage in New London, Outagamie County, WI. On 29 Jul 1927, Arthur committed suicide by shooting himself in the chest while Bertha was outside mowing the lawn. Bertha continued to live in New London until her death on 3 Jul 1965. They had no children.
Ida Dart was born 6 Apr 1885. She died 23 Sep 1903, at the age of 18, of tuberculosis.
Simeon Arthur Dart, known as Sim, was born 15 Jul 1886. Sim was a clothing salesman. He lived in Milwaukee the last 40 years of his life, and at the time of his death was employed as a buyer for the mens’ department of C. A. Chapman Company. He died in a Milwaukee Hospital on 25 Jan 1961, after a long, unspecified illness. The Dart family bible, maintained by Loretto Dart, lists three wives for Sim: Emma Terneugen, Marie A. Leddy, and Norma Berg, but to my knowledge he had no children.
Geneva Dart was born 4 Oct 1888. As a young woman she worked at a paper mill, until she married Arthur Hilgenberg in 1921. I don’t know much about Arthur, except he died 30 Jan 1958. Geneva lived until April of 1985. They had two children: Gene Arthur Hilgenberg and Jacqueline Sue Hilgenberg.
George Henry Dart was born 27 Nov 1890. As a young man he worked in a furniture store, but I don’t know anything about his career beyond the age of 30. He married Marie Virginia Engles. They moved to Kenosha, WI sometime between 1925 and 1937. They had three children who died in infancy, and then two children who survived: John Richard Dart and Robert George Dart. Robert and his wife Bernice Pileski owned Pileski & Dart Grocery Store in Kenosha until 1957. He died in 1994. John Richard Dart died in 2009. His descendants still live in Kenosha.
Lilimae Dart was born 28 May 1893. She worked in a paper mill as a young woman, until she married Egon J. Norman in 1920. They had two children, Donald Philip Norman and Mary Elizabeth Norman. Lilimae died in 1982.
Philip Jessie Dart was born 3 Feb 1895. Philip was a World War I veteran. Following the war he worked for the telephone company, starting out as a cableman helper, then moving on to bookkeeper, and becoming a manager by 1930. He married Clara Van Vonderen in 1920. They lived in Algoma, WI for at least a decade, and then moved back to De Pere. They had three children: Philip Anthony Dart, Patricia Marguerite Dart, and Carol Marie Dart. Patricia married Walter Mott, and Carol married Merlin Wilmet. Philip Jr. died in 1971, Patricia died in 2004, and I do not know if Carol is living or deceased.
Lorena Marion Dart was born 3 Aug 1899. She died 16 Dec 1900.
Loretto Marie Dart was born 23 Jun 1901. She was my grandmother. Her name is often misspelled in documents and articles as Loretta, but it was in fact Loretto with an “o”. Amongst her grandchildren she was known as Tetta. Loretto lived in De Pere, WI all her life. She graduated from De Pere High School. As a young woman, she worked at George Vander Zanden Jewelry Store, before marrying my grandfather Carl W. Janssen on 14 Apr 1925. She was a member of St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church, the De Pere Catholic Women’s Club, and the American Legion Auxiliary. For over 30 years she was the pianist for the De Pere Rotary Club. Tetta died 25 Sep 1933. Carl and Loretto had two children, ten grandchildren, and 17 grandchildren and step-grandchildren. To find out more about Carl Janssen and the rest of the Janssens, see my page on our Dutch Heritage.
Belgian Cousins Everywhere
One interesting piece of history involves a branch of our Belgian cousins that settled in Louisiana. Jean Philippe Detiège (1777-1828) and Marie Josèphe Lambeau (a great great great aunt of Curly Lambeau of the Green Bay Packers fame) were born and died in Belgium, but at least four of their sons emigrated to the United States, arriving in New Orleans, Louisiana in the 1840s. They settled in St. Martinville, St. Martin Parish, LA, where many of their descendants remain today. Nicolas Detiège married Roséline Dartès, who was a slave. Their two children were also born slaves. Upon his death, 21 Jul 1843, Nicolas asked his brother Noël to purchase Roséline and their two children, thus freeing them. The son of Nicolas and Roséline, Nicolas Émile Detiège, went on to fight in the Civil War as a First Lieutenant in the Union Army’s 73rd Colored Infantry. After the war he had a successful political career, serving as Sheriff of St. Martin Parish and also in the Louisiana House of Representatives. Another fascinating character from this Louisiana branch of the family was my fourth cousin, thrice removed, Hippolyte Cervais Martinet, who was of 1/4 black descent and listed as a mulato on the 1880 census. Hippolyte undertook the audacious task of walking around the world. Departing Seattle, Washington on 18 Apr 1920, he arrived in New York on 15 Aug 1920. On Oct 1920 he boarded the SS Finland as a crewman. The ship took him to Southhampton, England. He then took a ferry from London to Antwerp, Belgium. His travels took him through Belgium, France, Switzerland, Monaco, Italy, Albania, Greece, Egypt, Palestine, Syria, Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, Bangladesh, Burma, and China. In some places he was arrested, and in others he was treated like a king. Unfortunately he was unable to complete his circuit around the world, as he died in Yunnan, China of an illness, possibly yellow fever.
I have had the opportunity to communicate with a few of my Belgian cousins over the course of my research. Michael Kaye is a fifth cousin of mine, born in America but descended from the Kayes of Hamme-Mille. He is the source to go to for all things Kaye. Nancy Maurer Verkist is a fourth cousin, living in Washington state. The Verkist family are descendants of the Kayes who settled in Bellingham, WA. Michel Mordant is a fifth cousin, born in Belgium and living there today. He is a descendant of Jean Baptiste Gastuche and Marie Josèphe Hottat, my great (x 4) grandparents. Michel has quite an extensive genealogical web site which was very helpful to my research. We have many more cousins living in Belgium who are genealogists with informative web sites and extensive genealogical databases posted online. While I won’t mention them all here, if you navigate through the database portion of my site, you will find them all cited under the source numbers after each individual’s name. My thanks go out to all of them.
I have not included any footnotes within these historical essays. For information on my sources look up the names of individuals in my genealogical database (links below). All source information is listed there.
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Karl Janssen • www.karljanssen.com • firstname.lastname@example.org
Last updated 3 Oct 2012