Alphonse was born June 20th,1873 in Nopstal-Rillaar, Belgium. Alphonse apparently wrote a "New Years" letter in 1886 to his older brother Ferdinand who had already immigrated to America. He was only 12 years old at the time and unfortunately, his letter appears to have been lost in the mail.
Alfons had written a New Years letter and he can write so good and we think this letter is lost like we already have written in this letter.
As a young man, of about 16 years of age, Alphonse and his brother Louis apparently earned money selling newspapers.
Now you ask me how my papers are doing? I stopped. People don't have money here. But Alfons continues and is selling about 38 pieces every day, which isn't that much. In winter it will become more again. I'm sending you hereby the paper of last Sunday. The one of Monday which is plenty about the election of Tuesday and thus doesn't contain much other news. -- Louis Petrus letter to Ferdinand Petrus dated June 10th 1888. -- translated into English by Mark Thiels.
Our Belgian cousin, Lucien Meynaerts, confirms that Alphonse took over "dag - of weekbladverkoop huis aan huis" - the selling of daily or weekly newspapers from home to home from his brother Louis.
One year later, in 1889, Alphonse's cousin, Joseph Branders reports that Alphonse has no interest in becoming a blacksmith.
Have you already heard that your brother Alfons doesn't want to hear anything about smiths? He says that it's too hot next to the fire. -- Joseph Branders letter to Ferdinand Petrus dated August 20, 1889.
Bernedine Thiels and Alphonse Petrus.
Alphonse immigrated to the United States in 1891 and married Bernedine Thiels in Many, Louisiana. Their children were:
M. Silvia Petrus. Silvia was born December 3rd, 1900 and died as an infant September 1st, 1901 at the age of 9 months. Silvia is buried in the Pineville, Louisiana Cemetery.
Henry Petrus. Henry was born February 7th, 1902 and died July 4th, 1903. Henry is buried in the Pineville, Louisiana Cemetery.
Alphonse J. Petrus. Alphonse was born December 3rd, 1903. Alphonse married Mathilda Vandewelde. Their children were Bernadine, and Alphonse Petrus Jr.
Joseph Petrus. Joseph was born December 4th, 1904.
August Petrus in 1970.
August Petrus. August married Mary Atherton. Their children were Charles Alphonse, Richard A., and David Arthur Petrus. August Petrus and partner, George Tyner, founded the Tyner Petrus Co, Inc. The original store was opened in the late 1920's in a converted horse barn.
The story goes that Mr. Tyner and my father lived in back of the store and made change out of a Cigar Box. There was another outlet in West Monroe - the wholesale seed division of the business. This business was closed several years ago. Presently Tyner Petrus Co., Inc. consists of a West Monroe location and a Monroe location and is owned by my brother David Arthur Petrus and his three sons and one daughter, These are David Wayne Petrus, Robert Petrus, Bill Petrus and Dr. Cynthia "Cindy" Petrus Bimle. The three boys and David actively manage the two stores. My father was founder of several other businesses including one in Managua, Nicaragua. -- Richard August Petrus
Simon Henry Petrus. Simon was born March 10th, 1907. He died January 7th, 1923 at the age of 16, and is buried in the Pineville, Louisiana Cemetery.
Mary Louise Petrus. Mary was born October 29th, 1908. She married James Thomas Van Veckhoven in the cathedral in Alexandria, LA in June of 1932. From this union two sons were born, James Thomas Van Veckhoven, Jr. and Alphonse Petrus Van Veckhoven (born 6-7-35 died 7-3-65). Mary Petrus died January 8th, 1992 at the age of 83, in Baton Rouge, LA.
Charles Louis Petrus. Charles Louis was born June 19th 1910 and died March 12th, 1932 at the age of 21. He is buried in the Pineville, Louisiana Cemetery.
Leo Petrus. Leo was born June 16th, 1912. He died in 1994 and is buried in the school cemetery in Bay, St. Louis.
My fathers brother, Leo Petrus, was a Sacred Heart brother. He joined the order very early in his life, and was teacher and librarian for most of his years. He was stationed at St. Stanislaus School for Boys, located in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. His hobby was fishing, and in the summers my father often sent me to visit and fish with him there. Every few years he was allowed to visit relatives in Alexandria and Monroe. -- Charles A. Petrus
Edith Elise White and James August Petrus.
James August Petrus. James was born May 29th, 1920 at the Baptist Hospital in Alexandria, Louisiana. James married Edith Elise White September 19th 1940 in Shreveport, Louisiana. Their children were James August Jr, Ann, Mary Ellen, Joel Walter, Karen Kathleen, Timothy Leo, Thomas Lee, and Gregory Claude Petrus.
Petrus Feed & Seed store on Highway 1 North, Alexandria Louisiana.
In 1900 Alphonse signed a petition opposing the construction of a dam on the Bayou Rapides (article courtesy of Rik Thiels).
Residents oppose dam -- Alexandria (March 9, 1900) -- "To the Public: We, the undersigned citizens of Bayou Rapides, beg Town Talk to please publish these facts in your valuable paper for us, in regard to Bayou Rapides being dammed up. Now, as it stands, we have a healthy country, and Alexandria is a healthy city. 1st, (sic) it would cause Alexandria to be wet, lobloilie (sic) of seip (sic) water all the time. Remember, how it was in 1892 and all high waters. 2nd, (sic) it would render all the low lands along the Bayou useless to the present owners, which have cost some from $75 to $10 per acre. Besides, it would render our country very sickly by the water, and the trees logs, etc. decaying around our homes. And besides it would ruin our high lands by continually caving in, as it is all loose and sandy and seip (sic) through and keep all the low part too wet. We oppose the same and will no consent to its being dammed.
Very respectfully, (signed) J.W. Sellars, M. Andries, T. Andries, A.C. Brister, M.B. Brister, Henry Thiels, L. Brems, Alphonse Petrus, Jim Nolen, F. Vangoedsenhoven, R. D. Solomon, J.H. Holdridge.
Alphonse started the Petrus Feed & Seed store which is now run by his grandsons Joel and Greg Petrus. A Salvation Army store now stands at the original store's location. Petrus Feed & Seeds provides conventional feeds and specially formulated "zoo" feeds for exotic wildlife.
Alphonse & Bernadine apparently moved to Corpus Christi, Texas around 1907 and back to Alexandria, Louisiana in 1909 (source-Snuffy Hobbs).
Alphonse and his wife and, I don't know how many children they had, moved down there to Texas for a while. One of their babies was born out there and died. -- Edith Petrus.
My mother, Mary, was born in or near Corpus Christi, Texas in 1908. My grandfather, Alphonse bought farm land there. He heard, after selling out some years later, oil was discovered on this land! -- James Van Veckhoven
They may also have lived in (or visited) San Benito, Texas at one point as evidenced by the following excerpt from a letter by Gustave Petrus...
Have inquired about the address of Alphonse and have learned he is in San Benito. -- Gustave Petrus letter to Ferdinand Petrus dated May 2, 1920.
In the 1920s, Prohibition must have been especially hard on the Belgians, whose homeland was famous for it's long history of brewing...
My mother tells the story that she and her cousin Cecelia, Constance's daughter, were invited for a trip into old Mexico, with their fathers, during prohibition, the 1920's. After crossing the border leaving Mexico they discovered to their dismay their luggage was loaded with liquor. She also talked about running a sour mash still for her father's drinking stock during this time. She said the odor was so strong you could smell it in the surrounding country side. My grandmother was frantic they would be discovered every time a batch was cooked off. She finally had her sons load up the still and throw it in Bayou Rapides. -- James Van Veckhoven
In 1927, Alphonse, Bernedine and Gustave visited Belgium. Alphonse sent to the following postcard to Ferdinand Petrus postmarked from Southampton Docks.
Postcard, June 28, 1927 -- Translated from Dutch by University of Texas language student Fred Schwink. -- Brother Ferdinand, We are underway to Belgium to visit our sisters. Believe you me, brother, we're having fun. I, Bernadien and Gustaaf feel sorry for the people in the USA drinking rotgut, Alphonse.
Alphonse died June 7th 1939 and is buried in the Rapides Cemetery in Pineville, Louisiana. Bernedine died December 8th, 1945 and is buried at his side.
Prayer Card courtesy of Jan Scholliers.
I remember when my grandfather Alphonse, died in Alexandria. I was seven or so years old, and he was operated on for stomach cancer. It was too far gone. They sewed him up and he died a few days later. I remember the wake at the old family home on Bayou Rapides. My grandmother, Bernardine, moved to Monroe and lived with us until she died. She prayed to the Virgin Mary to let her die on the feast of the Immaculate Conception, ie. December 8, and so it was. -- Charles Alphonse Petrus
Send comments and suggestions to Keith Petrus via email at firstname.lastname@example.org