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Belgians Settlements in PENNSYLVANIA at the time of the Civil War

=> Armstrong County (Miners) => Jefferson County (engels Colony) => Elk County (Deham Colony)

Wyoming, Luzerne et Sullivan Counties

Jean-Baptiste Claes, né en 1811 et lieutenant d'infanterie dans l'armée belge, fut mis en non activité en juin 1841. Il se rendit aux Etats-Unis en 1849 pour étudier les possibilités d'établissement de colons belges. A Philadelphie, il eut des pourparlers avec Mark S. Mange, un négociant qui allait devenir consul de Belgique dans cette ville, et qui proposa au Gouvernement belge des terres situées dans le nord du pays. Ces terres étaient situées dans les Wyoming, Luzerne et Sullivan Counties.

En janvier 1850, le gouvernement ne voulut pas donner suite à ces propositions et Claes continua a explorer les Etats-Unis. Il revint en Belgique en 1855 et essaya encore, en avril 1856, de se faire nommer agent du Gouvernement belge pour les émigrants de Belgique aux Etats-Unis, mais sans succès.

 Sources : Antoine De Smedt : Voyageurs Belges aux Etats-Unis  
                 Antoine De Smedt : l'émigration belge aux Etats-Unis
                 Moniteur Belge du 8 septembre 1849 p. 2631
                 Archives du Ministère des Affaires Etrangères

Allegheny County

Nuns of St. Clare - St. Clare's young ladies' academy, Allegheny city

In the year 1828 Sister Frances Van de Vogel, a nun of the Order of St Clare, belonging to a wealthy Flemish family, arrived from Belgium accompanied by another nun of the same Order, and established a convent in Pittsburg. For a short time they occupied a house on the cliff overlooking the Allegheny River, but at length purchased sixty acres of land on the hill west of Allegheny Town, where they erected a large frame convent and academy. Rev. Charles B. McGuire, pastor of St. Patrick's Church and their ecclesiastical superior, took a lively interest in the foundation and encouraged it by his influence and counsel. The spot where the convent, which is yet standing, was built was named Mount Alvernio, but has since been known as ° Nunnery Hill." Rev. Vincent Raymacher, O.S.D., was the first chaplain, but he was soon succeeded by Rev. A. F. Van de Wejer, O.S.D., a Belgian, who refined until the convent was abandoned. When Bishop Kenrick visited it in company with Bishop Conwell, June 27th, 7830, the community had increased to fourteen members, and the academy, although not enjoying the degree of patronage expected, was still in a flourishing condition.
This was the only house of the order in the United States at that time; for although a foundation was made many years before at Georgetown, D. C., it had long since been abandoned. Another house was established at Green Bay, Wis cousin, in 1830 The nuns continued in their quiet and unobtrusive way to work out the ends of their institute, and little further is known of their history until the storm arose which resulted in their expulsion and the sale of their property. This untoward event, which was painted at the time in the darkest colors by sectarian bigotry, is simple in itself and easily explained, although even yet it is looked upon by some as a dark spot in our history. And since I am of necessity constrained to give a sketch of the community, I deem it best to enter into a circumstantial account of the whole affair and thereby set the matter at rest. I have been at great pains to collect and sift the accounts of the very few who remember it, and the statement will be found to coincide with the card which Bishop Kenrick found it necessary to publish. The circumstances are briefly these: A young lady, remarkable for the eccentricities of her piety, lived in Allegheny and by visiting the convent became known to the nuns. It is also probable that she asked to be admitted into the community, and was not accepted. She went at length to Wisconsin and taught school for some time near the convent of the Order in that State, and was finally admitted into the community. In time she was sent to the convent at Allegheny, but not having the requisite letters was not admitted. She stopped with a friend until she could write for letters and receive them. But these did not secure her reception, for Madam Van de Vogel was not aware that she had an ecclesiastical superior in this country after the death of Father M'Guire. The consequence was that Bishop Rese, of Detroit, who held that office, interposed, and, after inflicting certain censures on two members of the community, ejected all the nuns from the convent, May 17th, 1835, and sold the property. Madam Van de Vogel went to Rome, and the other members of the community, after remaining in a house in Allegheny for about two years, supporting themselves by needlework or living on the charity of their friends, either returned to Europe or attached themselves to other religious communities.

Source : Lambing, Andrew Arnold, : A history of the Catholic Church in the dioceses of Pittsburg and Allegheny : from its establishment to the present time; New York: Benziger Bros., 1880, 536 pgs.
1428 : Lefevere

Berks County

CHURCH OF THE BLESSED SACRAMENT.— The earliest Roman Catholic Church in the county was erected in this township in the eastern section, about a half-mile from the county line. The first church was built, in 1743, by the Rev. Theodore Schneider, from Bavaria, for the "Society of Jesus." During his efforts in this behalf he was assisted by the Mennonites and Schwenkfelders. This building is still standing in a good state of preservation. The record of baptisms begins with the year 1741, and includes, among other districts, Maxatawn, Tulpehaken and Goshenhoppen. Two patents were taken up for land— one for one hundred and twenty-one acres by Father Neale, in 1747, and the other for three hundred and seventy-three acres by Father Greaton, in 1748. A substantial brick church was erected in front of the old church in 1837, including a steeple, in which two superior bells were placed. The church was recently improved, figures were introduced and fine lamps were supplied for evening services. Two masses are conducted on Sundays.

In 1882 the old mission-house was torn down and a brick residence was erected for the priest. A new cemetery was set apart and consecrated October 6, 1876.

Rev. Augustus Bally began his service here November 1, 1837, and he continued to officiate as priest with great success for a period of forty-four years. He died January 28, 1882. He was a native of Belgium and won a high position as a priest in this denomination. He possessed an active mind, and he was recognized for his liberality and enterprising spirit. Besides completing the church, which had been begun before he arrived, he also erected a fine brick school-house.

Source : Montgomery, Morton L., History of Berks County, 1886.

Lycoming County

a biography: John J. BIEBER

Northampton County

About the year 1830, the attention and curiosity of the farmers of the vicinity, was excited by the discovery of a strange mineral deposit upon the lands of Jacob Ueberroth, in Saucon Valley. The character of this deposit was unknown and unsuspected, but thinking it possible that it might prove to be as valuable as the ordinary iron-ore, the proprietor took a wagon load of the strange substance to the "Mary Ann Furnace," in Berks county, to be smelted. The attempt was a failure, and the subject was for the time dropped. No further attention was paid to it until the year 1845, when, by chance, the deposit came to the notice of Mr. William Theodore Roepper, who, after examination, pronounced it to be "calamine," the hydro-silicate of zinc. This discovery led to a development of the apparently inexhaustible mines which have now fed the Zinc Works at South Bethlehem, for almost a quarter of a century. Under the superintendence of Mr. Samuel Wetherill, works for the production of zinc-oxide, in furnaces, and by a process, of his own invention, were erected, in 1853, on land which he had purchased of C.A. Luckenbach within the limits of the town plot of Augusta. These works were completed at a cost of $85,000, and on the thirteenth of October, 1853, the first zinc-white ever made in America was produced in these works, by the combined processes of Wetherill, and of Richard Jones, Esq.
At the commencement, the works were run by an unincorporated association, which, however, was, on the second of May, 1855, incorporated by Act of Legislature, as "The Pennsylvania and Lehigh Zinc Company," with a capital of $1,000,000; the object of which organization, as set forth in the Act of incorporation, was "for the purpose of mining zinc-ore in the counties of Lehigh and Northampton— of manufacturing zinc paint, metallic zinc, and other articles, from said ore, and of vending the same." The originators of the company were residents of New York; and Thomas Andrews, of that city, was the first president.
Mr. Wetherill continued in the superintendence of the works from the commencement of operations until September, 1857, when he was succeeded in that office by Joseph Wharton. During the administration of Mr. Wetherill (a little less than four years), 4,725 tons of zinc-white had been produced, and many experiments had been made looking towards the production of metallic zinc, but these had been only partially successful.
On the sixteenth of February, 1860, the corporate title of the company was changed, by Act of Legislature, to the present one, "The Lehigh Zinc Company." In the previous year, Mr. Wharton had contracted with the company for the erection of works for the manufacture of metallic zinc, and the construction of these was intrusted to Louis De Gee, of the firm of De Gee, Gernant & Company, of Ougree, Belgium, who had been induced to come to the United States for this express purpose. These works were completed, and the first metalic zinc was produced in them in July, 1859. Three experts in this department of the business were at that time imported from the spelter and oxide works in Belgium. Their names were Andre Woot Detrixhe, Francois Lemall, and Jean Henrard. Importations of Belgian experts and workmen have since then been made by the company, at various times.
In 1864 and 1865, the company erected a mill for the rolling of sheet zinc. This was constructed under the superintendence of Alexander Trippel, who had previously been sent to Europe to acquaint himself with the methods of this production. The first sheet zinc was rolled in April, 1865. This was the first introruction of that art into this country; and all these several works have continued in unremitted activity to this day, their capacity being; for oxide of zinc, 3,000 tons per year; for metallic zinc, 3,600 tons per year; for sheet zinc, 3,000 casks per year, respectively— about one-half the annual consumption of the country, and of known superior qualities, owing to the unusual purity of our ores. The mines have been worked to meet the demands of the several manufacturies, amounting in some single years to 19,000 tons of ore, including rich blende, which has been developed in the progress of mining.
The mines of the company are situated at Friedensville, in the Saucon valley, three and a half miles from South Bethlehem. In the working of these mines, at a very early day, and at shallow depth, water was encountered, and overcome by a small pump worked by a single horse-power; followed by a donkey pump, which is now in use for dressed ores. Next came a Burdon engine of thirty horse-power, followed, in 1863, by a Corliss engine of one hundred horse-power, working a series of centrifugal pumps which found their limit at a depth of sixty-five feet, with 1,500 gallons of water per minute. At this time the company decided to make more lasting provision for controlling the water by establishing power to raise 4,000 gallons per minute from a depth of one hundred and fifty feet, if so much should come, and, to this end, they erected and started, in 1865, an engine of thirty-two inch cylinder and nine feet stroke, working two twenty-two inch lifting pumps, to which a third twenty-two inch lift was soon added, and the shaft carried down to one hundred and twenty-two feet in 1866, when it encountered, and with seventeen strokes per minute, raised 5,600 gallons; and there found the limit of its capacity. But the engineer, Mr. John West, had already matured a plan of engine, pumps, and shaft for raising 12,000 gallons per minute from three hundred feet depth; and, in December, 1868, the company contracted with Messrs. Merrick, of Philadelphia, for this new engine, and a year later with Messrs. I.P. Morris & Co., for the pumps, boilers and mountings. The timber for shaft and pump rods was contracted for, in Georgia. This monster engine and pumping apparatus was put in motion at Friedensville on the nineteenth of January, 1872. From the address of the president of the company, made on that occasion, the following extract is made, as giving some idea of the enormous power of the machinery: "This is the engine which is destined to become famous as is the house that Jack built; this is the engine whose cylinder is one hundred and ten inches, and whose piston rod is ten inches, in diameter, with a ten-foot stroke; this is the engine that can work ‘comfortably,’ as we are told, at twelve strokes per minute, and yet is not the least ‘fussy’; the engine, each of whose walking-beams weighs 48,000 pounds; twenty-six of whose pieces weigh each upwards of seven tons, and whose entire weight, including girders, is 1,313,300 pounds; the engine that can lift 52,800,000 pounds, or 26,400 tons, one foot high in one minute of time, with the majestic ease and consciousness of power with which an elephant lifts a straw; the engine that can raise 12,000 gallons of water per minute, from a depth of three hundred feet; which works, day and night, without rest; and whose influence is a mighty one towards transforming the subterranean haunts of Kobalt and gnome, where, from times Silurian, these spirits have sported undisturbed in the ice-cold sea, that noiselessly washes the shores of their crystal kingdom."

Sources :   Ellis, Capt. Franklin, History of Northampton County, 1877.

Note : Allegheny City (1788–1907) was a Pennsylvania municipality located on the north side of the junction of the Allegheny and Ohio Rivers, across from downtown Pittsburgh. It was annexed by Pittsburgh in 1907. The area today is known as the North Side of Pittsburgh, and its waterfront district, along the Allegheny and Ohio Rivers, as the North Shore.(Source : Wikipedia)

a biography: Peter Charles RENIERS

Dubois County

C'est ici que débarqua en 1863 le premier wallon Louis LARMOYEUX fondateur d'une verrerie. Suivi bientôt de beaucoup d'autres.

Source :   Dentelle belge Vol 3 n° 2 p 1: Sur les traces des verriers et houilleurs wallons, par Jean Ducat  


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