Photo courtesy of Kathleen Poole.
Ferdinand PetrusFerdinand was born on March 25, 1860 in Antwerp, Belgium. Ferdinand's parents were Josef Petrus and Christina Meynaerts.
Transcribed text of actual document by Jan Scholliers.
Birth act nr. 20. In the year 1860, on the 25th of March, at 11 am, before us - Ludovicus Franciscus Van Calster, mayor and the one in charge of the birth, death, wedding etc. registration (free translation of the words 'ambtenaar van de Burgerlijke stand') of Rillaer (in that age spelled with 'ae', now 'aa') Arrondissement (county?) of Louvain, province of Brabant - appeared Joseph Petrus, age 43, Profession: Mason born in Antwerp and living at Roths in Rillaer, who showed us a child, male, of which he declared that it was born this day at 3 a.m., from him, living as stated earlier, and from his wife Christina Meynaerts, age 23, born in Nieuwrhode, manual worker living in Rillaer. He declared that he wanted to give to this child the Christian name of Ferdinandus. This declaration has been done in the presence of Ludovicus Miseur, age 42, Profession: Farmer, living in Rillaer and in the presence of Jan Baptist Vos age 48, Profession: Sheriff (local policeman, literally 'guard of the fields) living at Rilllaer.
After lecture of this act, the father and the witnesses signed with us.
Note : I did the best I could. This language sounds very old, and I tried to stay close to the original. Please correct where it is neccessary. You will remark that Petrus signed as a witness in act. nr. 19 for his neighbor who had a son only 4 days earlier. -- Jan Scholliers, Feb 24, 2003.
Ferdinand was apparently the first of his family to immigrate to the United States. According to the 1900 and 1910 census Ferdinand immigrated to the United States in 1881. He settled first in Alexandria Louisiana where he married Laura Treadway. The 1900 census indicates they had been married 15 years (the 1910 census indicated 24) so the marriage date must have been around 1885.
This photo, found by Belgian relative, Lucien Meynaerts, was sent to me via the internet. It shows Ferdinand Petrus holding a trumpet in a marching band. The name "Ferdinand" is hand-written at the top of the photo and according to the Belgian side of the family, the only known "Ferdinand" at the time was Ferdinand Petrus. Note: I originally believed Ferdinand to be the younger man holding the baritone. Ferdinand is in the top row, third from the left. Rik Thiels of Belgium corrects my error below.
1- The picture with Ferdinand Petrus (see attachment): The one with the big drum, in front of Ferdinand is Joseph Mariën, born in Ramsel - Belgium in 1860 and died in Alexandria in 1963. The picture was taken in 1915. I have scanned the original picture from a Belgium Mariën. Ferdinand look young on that picture although he is 31 years older than Joseph!! Are you sure this is Ferdinand, or is it perhaps the one behind, the one with the trompet.?? Who knows? -- Rik Thiels
Ferdinand and Laura's Children were:
Mary Elizabeth PETRUS was born November 22, 1887 in Alexandria, Louisiana. She married a man named HOLSTEIN and a man named GAYLE.
Henry Menard PETRUS was born October 22nd, 1889 and died November 1st, 1906 at the age of 7. Ferdinand moved to Skidmore, Texas less than a year after Henry's death. Henry is buried in the Rapides Cemetery in Pineville Louisiana.
Anne Rose PETRUS was born December 15(?), 1890, in Alexandria, Louisiana. She married Orville G. PARKHILL.
Addie PETRUS was born in 1891 in Louisiana. She died in 1945 and is buried in Evergreen Cemetery in Skidmore, Texas. She married Reagan WATTS.
John Ferdinand PETRUS was born November 30th, 1893. He married Justina Catherine Hartman on November 12, 1917 in Skidmore. He died March 18th, 1979 in Skidmore, Texas and was buried in Evergreen Cemetery. Justina was born on 4 August 1895 in San Antonio, Texas and died on 11 February 1992 at Memorial Hospital in Beeville, Texas. She was buried alongside her husband in Evergreen Cemetery.
I use to spend the week in San Antonio with my Aunt Anne Petrus Parkhill as a child and we would always take a ride to Skidmore and stay with Aunt Justina and Uncle John Petrus. I shall never forget Aunt Justina's fresh peach cobbler and through the years have tried to copy it but without much success. -- Anne Moseley
"When I first became interested in genealogy, I met briefly with "Baby" Petrus to talk about the family history. Justina Petrus, whose health was declining rapidly at that point, brightened noticeably when she heard us talking about the "old days." She described her wedding to John Petrus. She said that she had gotten the "pick of the litter" when she married John and that they had a big Bar-B-Que at the wedding. -- Keith Petrus"
Emma PETRUS was born September 12th, 1896. She married Ludovicus "Louis" THIELS. He was born on June 7th, 1877 in Ramsel, Belgium. Emma Petrus died June 12th, 1946 and is buried in the Rapides Cemetery in Pineville Louisiana.
Julius Raymond PETRUS was born in in Alexandria, Louisiana. He married Ella Cecelia "Billie" PRIOUR in 1918. He died on 13 May 1926 at the Gulf Oil Co. Hospital in Maracaibo, Venezuela and was buried on 14 May 1926 in Grave 24 Row 20, of the Municipal Cemetery in Maracaibo.
Henry Menard Petrus was born October 22nd, 1899 and died November 1st, 1906 at the age of 6 years. Henry is buried in the Rapides Cemetery in Pineville, Louisiana. More about Henry.
Margaret PETRUS was born June 3rd, 1902. She married A. C. RAMSEY. Margaret died of ptomaine poisoning August 2, 1930, in Mobile, Alabama. They had no children. More about Margaret
(un-named baby) PETRUS was born and died August 19th, 1905 and is buried in the Rapides Cemetery in Pineville, Louisiana.
Louis A. PETRUS was born June 22nd, 1906. He died May 24th, 1917 in Skidmore, Texas. He was buried in Evergreen Cemetery in Skidmore, Texas. His tombstone reads "Asleep in Jesus blessed sleep, from whence none ever awake to weep." Louis was only 11 years old when he died.
Frank PETRUS was born December 18th, 1909. He died November 24, 1974 in Skidmore, Texas. He was buried in Evergreen Cemetery in Skidmore, Texas. Frank never married.
Lawrence PETRUS. Lawrence was killed in a hit-and-run accident in May of 1946.
Ferdinand and family moved to Skidmore in 1907 where he built a house on the North side of town. The house still stands today although it is no longer owned by the Petrus family and has been allowed to deteriorate.
Ferdinand's house in Skidmore.
"That house was built like the rock of Gibraltar. Grandpa Pete built that house and I'll tell you it was sturdy... That land was great when Grandpa Pete farmed it. It had beautiful fruit trees, beautiful garden, everything he planted was just beautiful so the land must have been good land. Grandpa Pete even built the outhouse like it was there for a storm. He had an outdoor water pump where you could just go out and use the handle to pump water. They had everything that nobody else had. I remember the bathtub, people didn't have bathtubs back then, but they had one. -- Annie Laurie Petrus
He [Ferdinand Petrus] was a mason and a farmer... he came over here and built our old "chimbley" and I'll tell you it was good, it just stayed good all the time, we didn't have a bit of trouble with it at all. He was mostly a loner. He stayed over there and tended to his own business. He hardly ever even mixed with the men in town hardly, but Papa, he liked Papa [Theodore Priour] and Papa liked him. And the poor old thing was going across to his youngest daughters grave when he was killed. -- Anna Belle Priour/Thiele
On August 2, 1930, Ferdinand's daughter Margaret died of ptomaine poisoning in her home at Birmingham, Alabama. Margaret had just returned from Texas on a visit to her parents. Ferdinand was understandably distraught over the tragic turn of events.
When the train carrying Margarets body arrived in Skidmore, Ferdinand was so upset that they had to push him off the tracks to keep the train from running him over. -- Annie Laurie Petrus
The death of his daughter delivered a staggering blow to the 70 year old Ferdinand. Whether by chance or by design, Ferdinand was destined to join his daughter.
On August 5th, Ferdinand was run down in an "unavoidable auto accident" while crossing the road to the cemetery to view the grave where Margaret was to be interred.
Ferdinand died the following day, August 6, 1930, in the hospital in Taft, Texas. Margaret's funeral services were postponed after the death of her father so that the two could be buried in a double ceremony. The burial took place on August 8th, 1930 in Evergreen Cemetery in Skidmore, Texas. News of Ferdinands death was reported in the Beeville Bee Picayune:
Transcribed from front page newspaper account.
Crash Fatal To Man, 70
Was On Way to Cemetery to Supervise Vault for His Daughter's Burial
BEE PICAYUNE, Friday August 8, 1930.
Ferdinand Petrus, 70, of Skidmore, died Wednesday evening at 6:30 o'clock from injuries sustained when he was run down in an unavoidable automobile accident in front of the Skidmore cemetery Tuesday morning about 11:30 o'clock. Mr Petrus had just gotten out of a car and was crossing the highway to enter the cemetery when a truck knocked him down. The driver, accompanied by his wife and children, made every effort to avoid striking him, going into the deep ditch, doing serious damage to his truck and risking injury to himself and family. Mr. Petrus suffered two fractures of the skull but his body was not mangled. Tuesday his condition was so serious the following day he was rushed to a hospital, but efforts to save his life were unavailing. The unfortunate man was en-route to the cemetery to superintend the construction of a brick vault in which the body of his youngest daughter, Mrs. A. C. Ramsey, was to be laid that afternoon at 4 o'clock. Mrs. Ramsey as stated in Tuesday's Bee-Picayune, had died suddenly at her home in Birmingham, Alabama.
Thanks to Margie Petrus, who donated memorabilia belonging to Ann Petrus/Parkhill, I now know that Ferdinand's existing gravestone is a replacement of the original stone. Upon Laura's death (11 years later) a new stone was ordered to replace the old one. The gravestone was apparently modeled after one of the "Hudson" stones.
Ferdinand's original 1930 gravestone (Margaret's grave is unmarked on the left).
Sketch of the new Petrus Headstone.
A few of Ferdinands belongings including a cigar tin containing "Letters to Ferdinand" were salvaged thanks to Edward "Baby" Petrus.
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