August "Gustave" Petrus

Josephine Vandersypen and August "Gustave" Petrus.

Gustave was born on February 20th, 1879 in Nopstal-Rillaar, Belgium. He was Ferdinand's youngest brother and was the baby of the family.

On January 2nd, 1906, Gustave married Josephine Vandersypen, daughter of Henry Vandersypen (born July 30, 1837, died February 9, 1908) and Joanna Mary Van Aerschot (born August 30, 1854, died Jan 25, 1944). Josephine was born November 27th, 1882 in Becquevoort, Belgium and died September 17th, 1957. Josephine was buried in Greenwood cemetery in Pineville, La on September 19th, 1957.

Many years ago in the 1930's uncle Gustave and Aunt Josephine came to visit us. A few years later my sister Jennie(?) and I went to N.Y. where ...(missing text)... on our way back we stopped in La. and stayed with uncle Gustave and Josephine for 3 days. We met uncle Constant and his son Louis. -- Esther Robrecht, Watsonville, California, 1984 letter to James & Edith Petrus.


Form 2203, U.S. Department of Labor, Naturalization Service, No. 56

Declaration of Intention

Invalid for all purposes seven years after the date hereof

State of Louisiana, Parish of Rapides
In the 13th Judicial Dist. Court of Louisiana

I Gustave Petrus, aged 34 years, occupation Farmer, do declare on oath that my personal description is: Color white, complexion, dark, height 5 feet 9 inches, weight 175 pounds, color of hair brown, color of eyes gray, other visible distinctive marks none. I was born in Rillaar, Belgium, on the 20th day of February, anno Domini 1879: I now reside at Alexandria, Louisiana. I emigrated to the United States of America from Antwerp, on the vessel Dupuy de Lome; my last foreign residence was Rillaar, Belgium; It is my bona fide intention to renounce forever all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, and particularly to Albert I, King of the Belgians, of whom I am now a subject; I arrived at the port of New Orleans, in the State of Louisiana, on or about the 15th day of October, anno Domini 1891; I am not an anarchist; I am not a polygamist nor a believer in the practice of polygamy; and it is my intention in good faith to become a citizen of the United States of America and to permanently reside therein: So help me God.

Gustave Petrus

Subscribed and sworn to before me in the office of the Clerk of said Court this 11th day of October, anno Domini 1913.

document cut off....


United States of America

Petition for Naturalization

To the Honorable the 13th Jud Dist Court of Louisiana. The petition of Gustave Petrus hereby filed, respectfully showeth:

First. My place of residence is Alexandria, La.

Second. My occupation is Farmer.

Third. I was born on the 20 day of Feby, anno Domini 1879, at Rillaar Belgium

Fourth. I emigrated to the United States from Antwerp, Belgium, on or about the 17 day of September, anno Domini 1891, and arrived in the United States, at the port of New Orleans La on or about the 15 day of Oct anno Domini 1891, on the vessel Dupuy de Lome Companie Trans Atlantic.

Fifth. I declared my intention to become a citizen of the United States on the 11 day of Oct, anno Domini 1913 at Alexandria La, in the 13th Jud Dist Court of Louisiana.

Sixth. I am married. My wife's name is Josephine Vandersypen Petrus. She was born in Bequevoort, Belgium, and now resides at Alexandria La. I have no children.

Seventh. I am not a disbeliever in or opposed to organized government or a member of or affiliated with any organization or body of persons teaching disbelief in or opposed to organized government. I am not a polygamist nor a believer in the practice of polygamy. I am attached to the principles of the Constitution of the United States, and it is my intention to become a citizen of the United States and to renounce absolutely and forever all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, state, or sovereignty, and particularly to Albert I, King of the Belgians of whom at this time I am a subject, and it is my intention to reside permanently in the United States.

Eigth. I am able to speak the English language.

Ninth. I have resided continuously in the United States of America for the term of five years at least immediately preceding the date of this petition, to wit, since the 15 day of October, anno Domini 1891, and in the State of Louisiana continuously next preceding the date of this petition, since the 15 day of October, anno Domini 1891, being a residence within the State of at least one year next preceding the date. of this petition.

Tenth, I have not hertofore made petition for citizenship to any court...(rest crossed out).

Attached hereto and made a part of this petition are my declaration of intention to become a citizen of the United States and the certificate from the Department of Labor, together with my affidavit and the affidavits of the two verifying witnesses thereto, required by law. Wherefore your petitioner prays that he may be admitted a citizen of the United States of America.

Gustave Petrus

Declaration of intention and (crossed out) filed this 20 day of Oct 1915


Naturalization document provided by Audrey Vandersypen


Gustave and Josphine had no children of their own.

Uncle "Stave" drove the most unique little car and he just took such good care of it. They had no children so everybodys' children were their children. -- Audrey Vandersypen.

Gustave Petrus lived at the end of this street, just off Jackson St. in Alexandria Louisiana. His home has since been torn down.

Uncle Gustave's house was at the end of that street and they sold some of the land around it so it's just a little one block long street.It was such a nice house, it's a shame they tore it down. -- Edith Petrus

Gustave died in 1967. According to Edith Petrus, Gustave is buried in the Monroe, Louisiana Cemetery.

His estate was put up for sale after his death

Gustave Petrus Estate (classified ad, unknown source)
Fronting 204.6 feet on Dawkins street, entrance from Nelson. Beautiful pecan and magnolia trees, one of the finest residential locations in Alexandria. Must be sold to settle estate, $40,000.00. hab nonsur Real Estate 443-7343

Gustave sent the following letters to his eldest brother, Ferdinand Petrus, in Skidmore, Texas.

Alexandria, La. May 31, 1908 -- Translated from Dutch by University of Texas language student Fred Schwink. -- Best brother Ferdinand, Since it has been a long time since you heard news from all of us, I have decided to write a few lines to let you know that all are healthy and hope the same of you.

Father and Mother are still living in town and are both in good condition. Mother goes every day to the (?) and Father still has his garden to give him something to do. Sometimes both of them stroll on over our way.

How are you all doing, brother, and have you become well settled there.* We are both doing quite well. We are healthy and live contentedly and happily with each other. I hope this year to pay off my place. Only $2000 and then I have no more debt.

Yesterday I finished putting out the potatoes. I had 5 acres and they brought in easily 400 bushels. The price is presently from 55 to 50 cents per bushel. The harvest is looking good, but we're getting too much rain again and the farmers have a lot of work to keep the grass back. I am already finding boll weevils in it. In a few days I'm going to try to eradicate them with Paris green. I am not hearing any news from Alphons and Gust Thiels.

Mrs. Thiels and Mrs. Filette have now been about 3 weeks on visit to Corpus. L. Thiels has also returned two or three weeks ago from Tampa, Florida. I still haven't seen him yet but I've heard that he has already gone to work on the town hall in Pineville.

Now, best Brother, I know for sure that this matter with Louis and Emma has caused you much sorrow and it is certainly a question worthy of sadness, but it's not your fault and it is my wish that you can become friends again and live in happiness with each other as is proper. Just who is more to blame I don't know, but the Thiels and even the neighbors blame Emma.**

Louis, I mean our brother, is still butchering with Frans Marien and Constant has got August and Jeff Michiels to help him. so far as I can see their matters are going well. I am sending you a death notice from my father-in-law Zaliger*** who, as you will already know, died not 4 months ago

I will now close by wishing all of you health and happiness and I remain yours faithfully, your loving brother, Gustaaf

P.S. Mrs. Thiels and Filette returned here last Tuesday the 26th.

*Ferdinand Petrus had just moved from Louisiana to Skidmore, Texas in 1907, hence the question about how "settled" he was.

**Ferdinand's daughter Emma married Louis Thiels. Apparently there was some controversy involved although I do not yet know the details.

*** I orginally thought that "Zaliger" was the last name of Gustave's father-in-law. As it turned out, "Zaliger" is Flemish for "deceased." The death notice Gustave speaks of is that of his father-in-law Henry Vandersijpen (Americanized spelling is Vandersypen).

Alexandria, La. March 12, 1913 -- Translated from Dutch by University of Texas language student Fred Schwink. -- Best brother Ferdinand, With no result I have waited for an answer to my letter. Nonetheless, I will be so bold as to write to you a few lines again to let you know that I and my wife and our mother are still in good health and we hope the same of you.

It would be an understatement, best brother, to say that we are highly amazed not to hear from you, no, we cannot comprehend your silence. We had hoped strongly to see you here at Father's funeral, all the more so because you had repeatedly promised to come visit us. We can do nothing else but assume that there were good and sufficient reasons which held you back. Whatever the reason was, best brother, believe me when I say to you that it angered me a first and caused Mother especially sorrow, that you didn't at least write.

Well, we hope to hear from you shortly and if you should decide to come quickly, be certain, best brother, despite the fact that your opinions are different, that we will all be happy to see you and that we will all do whatever is possible to make your stay here as pleasant as possible. Send our regards to your beloved wife Laura, to my Peter Julius, to John, Marghariet, Mary and the other Children. I couldn't get hold of their names.

I remain respectfully your loving brother, Gustave.

How are Anna and Adda? Are they still in San Antonio?

Alexandria, La. April 24th 1913 -- Dear Brother and Family, Your kind letter of March 23rd received. We were indeed very glad to hear from you. We fully sympathize with you that cruel circumstances prevented you from coming over to fathers funeral, we know how much you must have regretted it and you are hardly to blame.

We are all in good health. Mother is still living with us and I think she will stay here the rest of her days. She missed father very much at first and she seemed very lonesome but she has about got over that and become reconciled to her fate. We are doing what we can to make her stay with us cheerful and comfortable.

Dear brother, I am sad to inform you of the death of our niece Mrs. Joannes Baptiste Jacobs, before her marriage Alphonsine Counson, oldest daughter of sister Justien. She died the 24th of March and was buried on the 27. She was the mother of two little girls the oldest of which must be around two years old, and which will now find a home with their grandmother Justien.

We note with pleasure that Mary and her husband have opened a new business and we wish them much success.

Also are we glad to know that Annie and Addie have made good in their chosen profession and I wish to congratulate them for the noble work they are doing. How is John and Julius? I think they must be both fine young men now, they were so big already when I was over there.

You know, dear brother, it may seem funny for me to say so now, but I have always regretted that I could not stay with you all a few days when I was there, but I felt so homesick that seemingly nothing could have induced me to remain behind when Alphons an Louis where going. I always remember with pleasure the kind reception we received at the hands of you and your good wife.

And this brings to my mind your coming visit. I do hope and expect, dear brother that you will make good your promise. We all look forward to it with joy, and let me assure you that we will all be glad to have you among us for a few days and we will do everything to make your stay a pleasant and happy one,&emdash;so don't forget to come.

You will find so many changes since you left here. So many new Belgians have settled around here and more are on the way, till I do not know them all by name, in short there will be many things here to interest you. I will close for this time.

Please accept the best regards from Mother, my wife and myself and our love to your dear wife and all the family, Gustave.

Alexandria, La. March 24th 1920 -- Dear Brother & Sister-in-law, I write you to let you know that we are both in good health and we hope you are the same. Up to now we have had much bad weather here and farmers are much behind with their work. The prospect for a crop of Irish potatoes is very unpromising as much of the seed has rotted in the ground. Am now planting corn and hope to finish this week, the weather permitting.

Dear brother, I take pleasure in mailing you in this letter $200 worth of Liberty bonds, and I feel there is some explanation due here about this.

As you must know Mother died on the 16th December of last year with sister Rose in California. There remained in my care in cash in bank besides $600 Mother loaned to Rose to build her house which are still unpaid and on which they have been paying the yearly interest. I have entrusted the work of the succession to brother Louis as he is living in town and has more leisure time at his disposal than myself.

But Louis, Constant and Alphonse take the view that it will be to the best interest of all concerned on account of the very dull times prevailing here to wait until fall to sell any property belonging to the estate. That is why nothing has been done yet in this matter.

Now last week I got a letter from sister Pauline asking me if she had anything coming to her of the estate of her parents to send it to her right away. I have every reason to believe they need help as she and her husband saved nothing but what clothes they had on their back.

I have therefore decided to divide those bonds among 7 of us thus $200 each. I am going to let sister Rose wait. Four hundred dollars worth of these bonds I have sold in the Commercial bank receiving therefore 4655 francs. This I sent them the other day, trusting it will help them out for a while.

As the city council has passed the ordinance for paving Monroe Street. with vitrified brick and the contract will probably be given out soon I have deemed it advisable keep the remaining cash to pay for this paving as far as it will go as I figure the cost will run close to $1,000.(?)

I have tried to make this matter plain, dear brother and trust it will meet with your approval. As you probably know the oil excitement has spread to Alex. and Rapides parish. Land has been leased all over the parish to prospect for oil an gas. A well here in the neighborhood has a good gas pressure and evidences of oil, however I have not been greatly impressed yet.

Hopefully this will find you all well. I remain your loving, Gustave.

Alexandria, La. April 4th 1920 -- Dear Brother Ferdinand, I am sending you in this letter a document which sister Pauline sent me from Belgium a couple of days ago. It is concerning an inheritance which we have coming from an uncle of our deceased Mother Mr. Theophiele Claes and his sister who before their death resided at Liege, Belgium.

In looking over this paper you will find that we have signed same in the presence of a Notary and it will also be necessary for you to do the same, and you will do me a favor and it will also be to your interest to attend to this matter as soon as you can. After having signed it in the proper manner, you will please send it back to me and I will then send it to sister Rose to get her signature after which I am going to send it to the Belgian consul at New-Orleans to have it legalized and then it will be in order to mail back to Belgium.

It's a great deal of red tape, it is true, but they want to make sure we are no impostors. In this connection dear brother, it may be interesting for you to know that the division of this estate has been held up for several years. We first heard of this just before the outbreak of the war when they first made inquiry about the whereabouts of mother as one of the heirs.

I have written several letters and sent them the necessary papers and had this thing about straight but on account of mothers death it has to be done over again. Then also of course nothing could be done during the war.

As you will see, dear brother this document is written in French, this is unfortunate. However, we have had this thing read and explained to us by Rev. Father Cronenberger of Alexandria and what he asks us is in substance to give him the power to act as our agent to sell this property under such terms and conditions as he sees fit and to the best advantage and personally we know of no good reason why we should not sign.

Now, dear brother, I trust that you will see fit to attend to this matter at once as the people over on the other side are very anxious to proceed.

I also am waiting to hear from you about those Liberty bonds I sent you on the 25th of March last. I hope they have arrived safe. We are in good health and this being Easter day will close by wishing for yourself, your good wife Laura and all the nephews and nieces a good and joyful Easter.

I am you affectionate brother, Gustave.

Alexandra, La. April 15th 1920 -- Dear Brother Ferdinand, I received yesterday the letter from Mr. Carlisle with the paper enclosed all O.K. I will lose no time to send it further on to the different destinations so as to have it in proper order to mail back to Belgium and then we will await further developments.

In regard to that corn mill am pleased to let you know Mr. Vanhoof will take $25 for it provided I will load it myself. I have not seen it myself but he assures me it is in good order but needs sharpening and he also says an 8 horsepower engine can pull it. As regards to hauling and loading will say I would be glad to do this for you without any charge for my work. Have told Mr. Vanhoof I would write you his terms and let him know what you decide to do about it.

For answer to your question about Mother I can assure you, dear brother, that she had no objection to going to California and the reason she was buried there was&emdash;so sister Rose has informed me&emdash;because she expressed the wish before she died to rest by the side of her.

Personally I would have preferred to have her buried here, but as it was she was already dead and buried when I heard from Robbrechts, so could not change the matter.

We are both in good health and hope the same of you all. With best regards for yourself, your wife and family I am

Your brother, Gustave.

Alexandria, La. May 2, 1920 -- Dear Brother Ferdinand, I am writing you to let you know I received your last letter enclosing cheque for $30.00. I have this day been over to Mr. Vanhoof, bought the mill an paid him for same and will haul same and ship to you soon, probably the first day it rains and am unable to work in the field.

I wish to thank you for your generosity in allowing five dollars for my trouble. Would have been glad to have attended to this matter as a small favor as you certainly have always been kind and obliging to me. As to the cream peas am sorry to say I have none and do not know of any in the neighborhood.

Have inquired about the address of Alphonse and have learned he is in San Benito. Am sorry to hear you do not get enough rain. We had a good rain here a week ago and it has greatly improved the prospect for a crop here.

I wish to thank my good niece Marguriete for her kind invitation and congratulate her on her successful studies and wish her much success and happiness in her future life.*

Hoping this will find you all well, I remain with kind regards to all, your brother, Gustave.

*Ferdinand's daughter Margaret graduated in the class of 1920 so Gustave must be speaking of her Graduation announcement when he thanks her for her "kind invitation."

Alexandria, La. May 18, 1920 -- Dear Brother Ferdinand, I take pleasure in letting you know I have shipped your old corn mill yesterday by the L.P.(?) route and you will find bill of lading enclosed. I have boxed the movable parts separate as you directed and trust everything will reach you in good order and give satisfaction.

We are all in good health and hope this may find you all the same. We had a good rain here after a dry spell of 3 weeks duration and crop prospects are fairly good.

Brother Constant, Ferdinand and Peter Peterman are expecting to take a trip to Belgium next month. Constant will leave his children with us and expects to bring a wife from over there.

With best regard to you and all the family I remain your brother, Gustave.


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