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BELGIANS   IN   AMERICA Belgian settlements by State  

American Censuses
link to the censuses by States 
 Distribution according
to the State of settlement
link to the State of settlement

The settlers

The Catholic Missions

Belgians Settlements in Illinois at the time of the Civil War

=> Miners (coal mine owners) => CHICAGO => Iroquois and Kankakee



Black Hawk County

Moline : Illinois, and its environs, constitute one of the largest Belgian-American settlements in the United States. Belgian emigrants came largerly from the farms and small towns of the Flanders. They had little difficulty finding jobs on farms and in factories.

Situated in the Valley of the Mississippi River, Moline and surrounding country were once the happy hunting grounds of several Indian tribes, chiefly the Sax and the Fox. Tepee villages were scattered in this part of the country. There were also many battles between the Indians and the white settlers, wo where pushing westward in the first half of the nineteenth century. Western Illinois was one of the fiercest battle grounds between the settlers and an Indian army of 500 warriors led by Chief Black Hawk, who was finally routed across the Mississippi River in 1832. A state park near Moline is named after Black Hawk in memory of this battle.

Originally a river village, Moline's early history depended much upon steamer and barge traffic on the Mississippi from St.Paul, Minnesota in the north to New Orleans, Louisiana, on the Gulf of Mexico in the south.

John Deere, a yankee blacksmith from Vermont, envisioned the opportunities of industrial development in the Mississippi valley when he brought his family westward in a covered wagon. He stopped at Grand Detour, Illinois where he spent a few years before deciding upon Moline. Deere invented a steel plow, first of its kind, that would turn the heavy clay soil of the midwest. This was what the farmers needed.

From a small shop where this new plow was made, a huge industrial giant was developed, and today Deere and C° is second only to the International Harvester C°, in the manufacture of farm and industrial machinery, known around the world for its products.

Several mills to produce lumber from the nearby forests were located along the riverfront, and it has been surmised that Moline derived its name from the french 'Moulin'. Moline today (1977) is an industrial city of about 50.000 people. With the adjoining cities of Rock Island and East Moline on the Illinois side of the Mississippi and Davenport, Iowa on the opposite banks, constitutes a combined quad-city metropolitan community of about 350.000 persons. 

Although records of early Belgians in Moline are meager, it is known that from 1840 to 1850 some Flemish families had arrived, namely Bernard van de Kerkhove and Jacobus Cattour from Lembeke; Constant Van Wambeke from Tielt; Karel Van de Moortele, Bruno De Clercq, Edward D'Huyvetter and Bernard Van den Berghe from Lotenhulle. On an Island in the Mississippi River, now Rock Island Arsenal Island, lived Karel Goethals and Leo Schatteman of Lotenhulle and Frans Rommelaere from Beernem. Other earlier settlers included Willem(1851) and Ambroos Van Landschoot, Ferdinand De Baets of Aalter. Alidor Vereecken of Lembeke arrived in 1857. Jan Vanhetzel and his wife Felicita of Sinte-Margriete came here in 1847.

(From Hans Van Landschoot)

De Kalb Co

Biographies : Nicholas Lanan    Henry Lanan

Henry Co

BELLEN O. Sec. 27; laborer on Nowers Bros. farm; Cath; Belgium
BENTOY BENJ. Sec. 17, P.O. Atkinson; farmer; from Belgium
BERGHAGD PETER Sec. 23, P.O. Atkinson;farmer, W.T. Mussey's farm; Cath; Belgium
CORYN DESRY, Sec. 36; P.O. Atkinson; farmer; Cath; from Belgium
DEBATTS JOSEPH, Carpenter; Cath; from Belgium
DEBOUD C. Sec. 27; P.O. Atkinson; farmer; Cath; from Belgium; 40 acres
DOUBLO LEO, Sec. 36; P.O. Atkinson; farmer; Dem; Cath; from Belgium
FORVANNER BRUNO, Sec 25; P.O. Atkinson; farmer; Rep; Cath; from Belgium
HAMAN FRANK, Sec. 27; farmer on Nower's farm; Cath; from Belgium
VERCRUISSE PETER, Sec. 24; P.O. Atkinson; farmer; Cath; from Belgium
VARHAAKA A. Sec. 17, P.O. Atkinson; farmer on E. Burrall's farm; Rep; Cath; Belgium
WANDEL JOHN, Sec. 29, P.O. Atkinson; farmer; Cath; from Belgium

CELLUS FRANK Sec. 5; P.O. Annawan; farmer; from Belgium
COCKERT FRANK, Sec. 8; P.O. Annawan; farmer, renter; from Belgium
DEBATES JOHN, Sec. 6; P.O. Annawan; farmer; renter; from Belgium
VANLANDSCHOOT A.B. Annawan; saloon; Dem; from Belgium

Source : (collective work) : The history of Henry County, Illinois : its tax-payers and voters : containing also a biographical directory, a condensed history of the state, map of the county, a business directory, an abstract of every-day laws, war record of Henry County, officers of societies, lodges, etc., etc.; Chicago: H.F. Kett & Co., 1877, 585 pgs.

Iroquois  & Kankakee  Counties

M. l'abbé Cartuyvels, fondateur de la colonie de Sainte Marie en Pensylvanie, qui habite depuis quatre mois la prairie de l'Illinois où il a les missions de Menteno, Petite Iles, Kankakee et Erable m'a dit qu'il regrettait de n'avoir pas connu plus tôt cette contrée, car il se serait bien gardé de fonder une colonie dans les forêts de la Pennsylvanie où après 6 à 7 années de travail l'émigrant était encore dans un état de souffrance et de dénuement presque aussi grand qu'à son arrivée et que, pendant ce temps, il avait dû travailler comme un nègre pour pouvoir défricher quelques acres de terre.
(Rapport d' Adolphe Poncelet, Consul de Belgique à Chicago, en 1855)

Adolphe Poncelet, originaire de Neufchâteau, avait acquis en 1856, au nom d'une société belge, le "Belgian Syndicate"  des milliers d'hectares dans l'Iroquois County sur les rives du Langham, un affluent de l'Iroquois River dans la commune de Chebansee.en vue d'y créer des exploitations agricoles modèles et en confia la garde à un nommé Harbaville. 
Douze familles rurales originaires des provinces de Brabant et de Namur futrent les premiers métayers de l'entreprise, qui pour cette raison s'appela la "Belgian Farm" : Beger, Cnudde, Dacosse, Ducat, Hougardy, Leménager, Mathys et Wauthier. 
A la mort inopinée de leur employeur,  il fut remplacé par le Dr Henrotin et les métayers belges continuèrent l'exploitation.
Marchands et convoyeurs belges réalisant la fertilité extraordinaire du sol finirent par renforcer la colonie belge en s'y installant : citons Jean-Baptiste Lecocq un fermier de Sart-Melin et son beau-frère Charles Renier ancien bourgmestre de Jodoigne.
(Dentelle belge 1988/1, p 3: Le cheval brabançon..., par Jean Ducat et
Dentelle belge 1992/1 p 4-7 : L'Erable et Belgian Farm en Iroquois County, par Jean Ducat

THE BELGIUM FARM on the State road at Langham creek, now owned by W. W. Gray, was improved as early as 1845 or 6, by William Farmer. A log house and some sheds were all the buildings he had. In 1854 he sold to Adolph Poncellet, the Belgium Consul, at Chicago. Poncellet built a new house and large barns, and greatly improved the appearance of the place; and many French people were induced to come and settle in the neighborhood. Poncellet was drowned in the spring of 1857. He was coming from Chicago to Chebanse in his carriage, and was drowned while crossing a stream. The farm then came into the possession of Dr. Henrotin, of Chicago, and his nephew, Louis Henrotin, our present tax collector, came, in 1860, to superintend the farm, and remained there several years. HENRY A. KINSON, French, was related to Dr. Henrotin by marriage; and came to the Belgium Farm when Henrotin owned it. He afterwards moved to Clifton, and remained there until his death, about 1876. He never engaged in any settled business, but preferred to be about the Justice office and town business. He acted as constable for many years; but that was as high as he was able to climb on the official ladder. His widow and children still live in the village.

Biographies : Joseph VANDERPOORTEN   Charles CREVECOEUR    A. J. STOUFFS

NO 1

Naturalized Citizens

This is a partial list of persons who became naturalized citizens of the U.S. in the Courts of Iroquois County, Illinois,
for the period 28 August 1867 - 27 November 1868.

Name Date of Certificate Country of Origin
BERGER, Pierre J. 21 September 1868 Belgium
BERTRAND, Joseph 27 Oct 1894 Belgium
DELPHAUTE, Jean Joseph 26 October 1868 Belgium
DUCAT, Francis 21 September 1868 Belguim
FRONVILLE, Florent 21 September 1868 Belguim
FROONINCKX, Jasse 21 September 1868 Belguim
GEENS, Henry J. 28 September 1868 Belguim
LAURENT, Geriet 21 September 1868 Belgium
THOMAS, Francis 21 September 1868 Belgium
DE WAIDE, Joseph 1 Nov 1884 Belgium
FORTEMPS, Constant J. 1 Nov 1884 Belgium
HAMENDE, Nicholas 3 Nov 1884 Belgium
CORLERE, Philip 6 Nov 1894 Belgium
DE WAIDE, Joseph 1 Nov 1884 Belgium
FRONVILLE, Joseph 21 Sep 1868 Belgium
LACOCK, John 1 Nov 1894 Belgium
LEBIN, Emile 5 Nov 1894 Belgium
NAKAERTS, Nestor 1 Oct 1894 Belgium
POSKIN, Auguste 16 Mar 1894 Belgium
TOUNE, Victor 21 Jan 1896 Belgium
CHARLIER, Antony 20 October 1888 Belgium
CHARLIER, Francois 20 October 1888 Belgium
HAMENDE, Emile 26 October 1888 Belgium
MARLAIRE, F.X. 30 October 1888 Belgium
WAUTHIER, Simeon 26 October 1888 Belgium

En comparant les " Illinois Adjutant General Records " pour le Comté d' Iroquois County et les noms repris au census de 1860, il n'y eu que deux belges qui servirent dans la Guerre de Sécession : Lewis T Fronville et Leon J. Lourant 
(Verna Drake)


Rock Island

Biographies : Gustavus H. DODELE

Vermillion County

The real beginning of the great coal industry in Vermilion County dates from the time William Kirkland, Hugh Blankeney, Mr. Graves, and Mr. Lafferty opened up their mines in Grape Creek in 1866. J. S. Morin was in charge of the Kirkland mines; Kirkland was unable to carry on as extensive a mining business as he wanted to, on account of scarcity of miners, and he imported two carloads of men and operated extensively by stripping with horses and scrapers northwest of Tilton. The number of men still inadequate a for his business, and a whole shipload of Belgiums were imported to work in the mines. Kirkland sold his coal principally to the Illinois Railway Co., who had tracks laid to his mines.

Source : Jones, Lottie E. : History of Vermilion County, Illinois: a tale of its evolution, settlement, and progress for nearly a century; Chicago: Pioneer Pub. Co., 1911, 1328 pgs.

Coal minners

Dès 1859, le Dr Henrotin, consul de Belgique à Chicago recommande Louis Dochez, engagé par les propriétaires de charbonnages pour venir recruter en Belgique des houilleurs. Louis Dochez publiera en Belgique un Avis aux ouvriers mineurs en charbon, afin de les attirer vers les mines de l'Illinois.

En août 1863, Steinmann et Cie d'Anvers et Louis Dochez, 23 rue Impériale à Schaerbeek, demandent la réduction des tarifs de chemin de fer pour "400 à 500 ouvriers houilleurs belges" qu'ils doivent diriger des stations du bassin de Mons à Anvers, pour l'Amérique, pendant les mois d'août et septembre. Suite à la campagne de recrutement faite par  ces agents d'émigration, les autorités des villes de Jemmapes et Cuesmes s'adressent au Ministère des Affaires Etrangères : faut-il  les croire ?

La réponse est oui, le ministre s'appuyant sur les recommandations du consul à Chicago et du Ministre (ambassadeur) de Belgique aux Etats-Unis d'Amérique et,  vers le 13 de ce mois d'août 1863, un convoi de mineurs part du port d'Anvers, suivit bientôt d'un deuxième vers le 17 septembre. 

Ces deux groupes débarquent le 5 octobre, avec 82 personnes a bord du Joana Kepler, et le 3 novembre, a bord de l' Adèle avec 171 personnes. A l'arrivée du premier groupe, le consul belge à New York note que 4 belges se sont engagés dans les armées du Nord.

Dans l' "Avis" figurent  les noms des exploitants de mines dans l'Illinois qui sont représentés par M. Dochez :

E. D. G. Taylor

 Illinois coal and Iron company

 La Salle

 LaSalle County


John L. Page

 La Salle coal mining company

 La Salle

 LaSalle County


Joseph Hirkland

 Carbon coal mines


 Vermillion County



 Illinois central coal and Iron company

 St John

 Perry County


J.-A Eddy

 Kingston coal company

 Kingston mines

 Peoria County


C. A. Keyes

 Du Quoin coal mines

 Du Quoin

 Perry County


Doulan et Daniel

 Danville coal mines


Vermillion County


Neely Movers and C°

 Neely'sville coal mines


 Morgan ou Scott county


A. G. Warner

 Morris coal mines


 Grundy County


W. Morris

 Colchester coal mines


 Adams County


G. C. Godfrey

 Bevier mines


 Marion County


John Galloway

 Kewanee mines


 Henry County


Sas Bowles

 Western mines


 Gallatin county


Warren Co

Van Hoorebeke A.G. importer; from Belgium

Van Hoorebeke L.M. horse dealer, from France

Floyd township : Brogan Peter, Farmer; sec. 23; P.O. Abington : born in Belgian, July 10, 1837; came to this country in 1850; Dem; Cath; value of property $500; married to Mary Hay; who was born in Ohio, Febr. 15, 1835; married April 1, 1866; has four children, two girls and two boys 

Source : (collective work) : The Past and present of Warren County, Illinois : containing a history of the county, its cities, towns, &c., a biographical directory of its citizens, war record of its volunteers in the late rebellion, portraits of early settlers and prominent men, general and local statistics, map of Warren County, history of Illinois, Constitution of the United States, miscellaneous matters, etc., etc.; Chicago: H.F. Kett & Co., 1877, 344  pgs.


Links :

Verna Drake and the
Iroquois County Genealogical Society
103 West Cherry Street Watseka, IL 60970-1524 Phone-(815)432-3730 Fax-(815)432-3732

Bill Burrows and the Blackhawk Genealogical Society

Bev Francque and the Belgian Culture Society in Moline
712 18th Avenue Moline, IL 61265