Justina Petrus-Counson

Justina Petrus was the daughter of Joseph Petrus and Christina Meynaerts. She was born in Roth, Belgium on November 3, 1868.

Justinne (my mothers mother) was married with A. Couson(sp) and runned a shop (Feed) and had also seven children. --- Bruno Vinck letter to James and Edith Petrus dated February 1, 1984.

Justina married Alfons Counson. Their seven children were:

Alfonsine Counson. Alfonsine married Jan Jacobs. She died March 24th, 1913 of appendicitus.

Leon Counson. Leon was born in 1899 and married Madeline Jacobs. He died in 1983 at the age of 83 or 84.

Alice Counson. Alice was born February 10th 1902. She married Josef Vinck. Alice died July 31st, 1989 at the age of 87. They had 6 children, Denise, Walter, Hugo, Hendrick, Vera, and Bruno.

Alice Counson and husband Josef Vinck


Painting by Josef Vinck, courtesy of Richard Petrus.

Alfons Petrus visited Belgium in 1927 together with his wife Bernadine Thiels. In 1937 he went to Belgium again together with his son August, and they visited Alice Coulson. Her husband - the painter Jozef Vinck - should have accompanied them in a Buick to the Netherlands where they should have a go at the Dutch "jenever" (gin,Hollands). Alfons should have praised this event later on in the US! When they returned in 1937, they took with them a picture painted by Jozef Vinck. Richard Petrus in Monroe - Louisiana, who is the grandson of Alfons and the son of August, now owns this picture. -- Lucien Meynaerts, 1999.


Josef and Alice's son Bruno wrote to James Petrus in Alexandria, Louisiana in 1984.


Bruno Vinck
Deurnestraat 109
2510 Mortsel.

February 1, 1984

Dear Cousin James,

First let me introduce myself. My name is Bruno Vinck, I am the youngest son of Alice Vinck, daughter of your aunt Justinne. As my mother is 82 years old now, she asked me to answer your kind letter. So I'll try to tell you the story of the Petrus familly as like she told me.

Grandpa ? Petrus was married to ? Nijs. and, as you know, had 7 childeren. He was running a little farm in the neighbourhood of Rillaar, a little village on the road between Aarschot en Scherpenheuvel (a famous place of pelgrimage) but as he could not proceeds enough to bring up those 7 childeren he decided to leave for America in the early years of 1890. From the aerie they lived in Rillaar there's been written a book by a famous flemich writer Ernest Claes, called "De Heren van Zichem" if I find an Englich translation I will send it to you as a present.

My mother never heart about a brother or a sister or parents, so it is as she also thinks, very possible he was an orphan. You know, in the middle of the years 1800, there was famine all over Europe.

My mother didn't heard about killing in self defence neither (James had asked about a story he had heard about Joseph shooting a man in a Saloon and being run out of the country).

Their seven childeren called; Paulinne, Justinne, Alphonse, Constant, Gustaaf, Rosa, Henry (?)

So your Grandpa and ma left Belgium by boat in the early years of 1890 with the five youngest childeren. Paulinne and Justinne were already married here and stayed in Belgium.

When your Grandparents arrived in America they must have got a piece of land in the middle of nowhere, where they have had some very difficult years. (dryness, sneaks, plagues of locusts, indians, A;o.)

All my mother knows about his childeren in America, she thinks you will know better.

Alphonse (your father) visited Belgium with your brother August in 1937. My father made with them a trip to Holland in a Buickcar, they were wearing white stentons and appreciated very much the Duch genever.

Constant must have visite Belgium in 1905 and another time in the years of 1920, afterwards she never heart about him.

Rosa moved to California, she is the mother of our cousins Esther and Agnes. (Big apple cultivators I'was told.)

Henry must have meet whith an accident, in the first years they arrived in America.(?)

So back to Belgium.

Paulinne the oldest daughter married a butcher (Van Opstal) and lived in Leuven, she had 3 childeren (Gaston, Jules and Mary).

Justinne (my mothers mother) was married with A. Couson and runned a shop (Feed) and had also seven childeren. Alphonsine died in 1912 (appendicitis) Bertha, Henriette, Leon, Louis, toke refuge for the Germans in 1914 and went to London. They wrote a letter to your grandparents, received money and emigrated to the U.S.A., where they married and lived till they died.

Only Leon came back to Belgium to fight with the Belgium army the war of 1914-18, and stayed here where he married and had one son? He died last year, 84 years old.

Alice, my mother, married Jozef Vinck, my father, who died in 1979 (79 years old) he was a very famous painter, became in 1969 the European Rembrandreward, and has paintings in several museums.

Their childeren are: Denise; retired schoolteacher, 6 childeren. Walter; also retired schoolteacher (4 sons), Hugo; is in the construction business (3 childeren), Hendrik; died 8 years old, when our village was bombed by an American bomberescadron in 1943 (1800 deads of which 480 childeren in school), Vera and me Bruno are twins. Vera runs a shorttime job office, and has 3 childeren. I am a salesman and also a painter, my wife Greet is sculptor, and we have 3 childeren. The youngest sister of my mother is Alphonsine, she is now 70 years old and she has one daughter.


Lucien Meynaerts provided this newspaper clipping of the bombing of Mortsel in which Bruno's brother Hendrik was killed.


So dear cousin James, I hope this letter brings you some news of your relatives. If you want further details, please let me know. I Hope you will forgive my bath English.

Please give our best regards to your wife Edith and your 8 childeren, and also to the members of the Belgian-American club of Alexandria. If they decided to make a trip to Europe they are always welcome on the neighbourhood-festivities (ball, market, exhibitions and other things) we organizes every year in the month of may. (I am the chairman). And if they will support us a little, we will hoist the Stars and Strips this year on their honner.

On the other side, if you, or someone of the club must have some difficulties or questions on doing bussiness in Belgium or Europe (Shipping, transport, selling, marketing, public-relations or others) they always can count on me. (I worked a long time for Unilever Belgium Ltd.)

I would enjoy hearing from you.

Sincerely yours,

Bruno Vinck.


Bertha Counson. Bertha married Albert Williamson.

Henriette Counson. Henriette married Peter Norsigian(sp).

Louis Counson.

Alfonsine Counson. Alfonsine married Michel De Bodt. (As of 1999, Alfonsine is still living).


Justina died in Mortsel, Belgium on September 20, 1944 at the age of 76.


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Email comments and suggestions to Keith Petrus at ckpetrus@mac.com