Louis Petrus was born "Lodewijk" Petrus on September 21st, 1864 in Rillaar, Belgium.
Louis immigrated to the United States in 1889. According to his immigration records, he left Antwerp, Belgium on November 9th, 1889 and arrived in New Orleans on December 1st, 1889
Louis married Mary Bernedine Brems around 1891. Their children were:
Valentina Petrus. Valentina was born in October 2nd, 1892.
Eveline Petrus/Baker. Eveline was born August 19th, 1894.
Florentine Petrus. Florentine was born April 17th, 1897.
Frances Petrus. Frances was born October 1st, 1898.
Blandine Petrus. Blandine was born April 6th, 1901.
Joseph Petrus. Joseph was born December 7th, 1903.
Louise Petrus. Louis was born December 11th, 1905.
Jerome Petrus. Jerome was born December 3rd, 1909.
Louis's wife Bernedine Brems & daughter Valentina
Louis Petrus's house in Alexandria, LA is located at 2203 Main St. (photo courtesy of Snuffy Hobbs).
This appears to be the same house under construction. The photo/postcard was given to me by Edward "Baby" Petrus of Skidmore, Texas.
Audrey Vandersypen provided copies of Louis Petrus's immigration papers
Form 2203, U.S. Department of Labor, Naturalization Service, No. 215
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 Louis Petrus, aged 55 years, occupation Truck Farmer, do declare on oath that my personal description is: Color White, complexion, Dark, height 5 feet 8 inches, weight 140 pounds, color of hair Grey, color of eyes Brown, other visible distinctive marks none. I was born in Province of Braband, Rellaer, Belgium, on the 21st day of September, anno Domini 1864: I now reside at Second and Live Oak Sts, Alexandria, Louisiana. I emigrated to the United States of America from Antwerp, Belgium on the vessel Marselle; my last foreign residence was Rellaer, Belgium; I am married; the name of my wife is Bernedine; she was born at Ramsel, Belgium and now resides at Second and Live Oak Sts, Alexandria, Louisiana. 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 Belgiums, of whom I am now a subject; I arrived at the port of New Orleans, in the State of Louisiana, on or about the 1st day of December, anno Domini 1889; 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.
Subscribed and sworn to before me in the office of the Clerk of said Court this 16th day of June, anno Domini 19(?) (cut off by xerox machine)
R.M. Hetherwick, Clerk of the 13th Jud. Dist. Court
By H.P. Stephens Dy. Clerk
United States of America
Petition for Naturalization
To the Honorable the 13th Jud Dist Court of Louisiana at Alexandria La. The petition of Louis Petrus hereby filed, respectfully showeth:
First. My place of residence is 2nd & Live Oak, Alexandria, Louisiana.
Second. My occupation is Gardener.
Third. I was born on the 21 day of September, anno Domini 1864, at Province of Braband, Rellar Belgium
Fourth. I emigrated to the United States from Antwerp, Belgium, on or about the 9 day of November, anno Domini 1889, and arrived in the United States, at the port of New Orleans on or about the 1 day of Dec anno Domini 1889, on the vessel Marseilles.
Fifth. I declared my intention to become a citizen of the United States on the 16 day of June, anno Domini 1920 at Alexandria, in the 13th Jud Dist Court of Louisiana.
Sixth. I am married. My wife's name is Bernedine. She was born on the 12 day of March, anno Domini 1871 at Ramsel, Belgium, and now resides at 2nd & Live Oak, Alexandria, La.. I have 8 children, and the name, date and place of birth, and place of residence of each of said children is as follows:
Valetine, Alexandria, La, born Oct 2, 1892 - Alexandria, La
Eveline, Baker "" "" born Aug 19, 1894 - Alexandria, La
Florentine "" "" born Apr 17, 1897 - Alexandria, La
Frances "" "" born Oct 1, 1898 - Alexandria, La
Blandine "" "" born Apr 6, 1901 - Alexandria, La
Joseph "" "" born Dec 7, 1903 - Alexandria, La
Louise "" "" born Dec 11, 1905 - Alexandria, La
Jerome "" "" born Dec 3, 1909 - Alexandria, La
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 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 1st day of December, anno Domini 1889, and in the State of Louisiana continuously next preceding the date of this petition, since the 1st day of December, anno Domini 1889, 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).
(document cut off by xerox)
At one time Louis purchased land near Corpus Christi, Texas, in what was to become the tiny town of Violet. "Nuecestown," indicated on the map on the below, no longer exists. The "New Handbook of Texas" details the history of Violet, Texas.
Violet, Texas. --The New Handbook of Texas, Vol. 6, 1996, David L. Kircher
Violet is on State Highway 44 twelve miles west of Corpus Christi in Nueces County. It came into being in the early 1900s, as immigrant farmers converted the fertile blacklands of the Coastal Bend from cattle to crops.
In December 1906 Erwin Cushman and Louis Petrus acquired a 1,030-acre tract of land containing the site of Violet, then known as Land or Land Siding. Petrus subsequently acquired Cushman's interest and in early 1908 appointed John W. Hoelscher as agent to sell the tract for a commission of fifty cents an acre. Hoelscher decided to promote the area as a community of Catholic farmers of German descent. He advertised in several Texas German-language newspapers and secured the endorsement of the Most Rev. Peter Verdaguer, qv the vicar apostolic of Brownsville.
Within a few months families began to settle this mesquite and brush country. A school district was established in 1910 on ten acres of land donated by Louis Petrus and Charles Hoelscher to Bishop Verdauger. John and Charles Hoelscher donated the money to erect a school building, which opened that December with Geraldine Dunn as the first teacher. The school also served temporarily as a church, and the first Mass was celebrated on December 26, 1910, by the Rev. Ferdinand Joseph Goebbels, the first missionary priest assigned to the community.
In 1911 an acre of land was set aside for a cemetery, and in 1912 a rectory was constructed. The following year the rectory was converted to a school, and the original school building was then used exclusively as a church. In 1913 the community was renamed after Violet Fister, the wife of the first storekeeper, John Fister, and a post office was opened that remained in operation until 1947. In 1918 a larger school was built for the increasing number of students, and in 1919 St. Anthony's Church was expanded and remodeled.
When the parish erected a new and modern church in 1952 the original church was moved to Clarkwood to serve the mission parish, and its name was changed to Our Lady of Mount Carmel. It was abandoned in 1972, and the following year the Violet Historical Society was formed to raise money to return the building to Violet. IN 1974 it was place some 200 feet east of its original site and restored by third and fourth generation descendants of the original builders. In 1988 approximately 400 people lived on the original farms surrounding Violet which has remained predominantly a farming community. The community had a population of 160 in 1990.
Bibliography: Corpus Christi Caller, September 18, 1977. Nueces County Historical Society, History of Nueces County (Austin: Jenkins, 1972)
Louis died June 11th, 1937 and is buried alongside his father in the Rapides Cemetery in Pineville, Louisiana.
Louis sent the following letters to his eldest brother, Ferdinand Petrus, in Alexandria/Pineville, Louisiana.
Reillaer, Belgium February 24, 1886 -- Translation provided by Mark Thiels - a researcher on the Belgian side of our family. -- My dearest brother I come to write you some words how great was our astonishment when we opened your letter and we were reading that it was so long ago that you received a letter from us and we have sent you a letter at New Year and we think that it must have lost somewhere.
If maybe in some months you could need me because your family will become bigger then you just have to let me know, I will come then on a Sunday. Tell this to your Laura that I will come to be god-father and mother will also come and visit you before she dies she would like to meet her daughter in law.
Your brother L. Petrus
Our compliments from parents and sisters and brothers to you and your wife and all the Belgians you know overthere.
*Note that Mark indicates a date of February 2nd, 1886 rather than the previously recorded date of February 24th, 1886. I cannot tell from the original letter which is correct.
Reillaer, Belgium July 17, 1887 -- Translation provided by Mark Thiels - a researcher on the Belgian side of our family. Dear brother, It is a long, very long time ago that we got some news the one from the other. I think from the 11 February that we received your last letter and we haven't replied yet. Didn't you think we all were dead my dear brother no it isn't that worse we all are in good health, parents, sisters and brothers.
I has been dry for a too long time and the harvest suffered very much by that especially on the dryer fields there the oat isn't good and the potatoes were like cooked. When it started to rain 2 days ago on Friday everything became a little normal again and the corn harvest will be good again on different places one is harvesting already.
Dear brother our work is doing fine we have constructed already many pits (waterpits) and we have still to make 3 more all of them good deep. How is your work and how is your wife and daughter and the landwork ? In one word how are you and how are your friends.
The wife of Mertens the blacksmith has visited Peetermans and van de gaar. We must pass on their greetings. Polina is doing fine and has a son now and a servant and a maid-servant. They slaughter 6 big porcs every week.
Compliments from all of us parents, sisters and brothers and especially you brother Lodewijk Petrus.
Justine lives in Leuven.
Dearest brother I cannot stop without having you in mind.
I live here like a hermit and I'm about 23 years.
Leaving my parents I couldn't do now without giving them some pain,
but when the time will come then I'll leave
and will come to the sun-land where we can give the one the other the hand.
Reillaer, Belgium June 10th 1888. -- Translation provided by Mark Thiels - a researcher on the Belgian side of our family. -- To come to you is something father doesn't like, somewhere he is right, as long as we can make some money here. On the other hand it will be very hard to come to you for old people like them. They don't have that much of work but they are used to live in that modest way. But mother would like to come. She will do so in winter when the evenings are longer.
Another word about your last letter. We thought you'll were dead, or that you had an accident, because if took so long before you wrote. We were so happy to receive your letter that we thought it was a treasure.
P. Andries will also never come to America, because he walks with a cane and is always sick. But, he would dare to cross, although when he talks about crossing over to America.
A lot of greetings from all of us, parents, brothers and sisters. Till we meet again. For sure there will be some amongst us whom will come and see you, no doubt about that.
Constant did his First Communion on Passion Sunday and Gustaff started to learn after his first year, those kids are about even tall now.
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.
Receive the best greetings of your brother Lodewijk and that you may live for long years in peace and happiness with your wife. That is all what I can wish you. See you in some years brother, I'm closing now and till the next time. Lodewijk Petrus
Alexandria, La. January 17, 1913 -- Translated from Dutch by University of Texas language student Fred Schwink. -- Dear brother, Father has died on January 9th at 12 o'clock in the night. Carrying out of the holy sacraments and burial on Saturday the 11th. Pray for his soul that He who created us may give him quickly the kingdom of heaven.
On the evening of Saturday the fourth he fell from the ditch and broke his collarbone and suffered internal injuries and had and attack of pleurisy. His suffering was very great. And I hope the Lord will give to him eternal life.
Well, best brother, Mother is in quite good health and so is our entire household and hope that this letter reaches you all in best health.
Cordial greeting from all of us to your wife and children and to you. Your brother, Louis.
Postcard, November 20, 1919 -- Translated from Dutch by University of Texas language student Fred Schwink. -- Brother, we took our mother to Sister Rose who wanted her very much. We brought her there in good health and she is there very content as are Sister Rose and her family who are in good health. Rose and Robert are doing well in Watsonville and have 10 acres of young, fertile, fruit trees and are earning their bread well.
Your brother, Louis Petrus.
Alexandria La. June 7, 1922 -- Brother Ferdinand and family, We are all in good held at present and my only wishes is that this few lines will find you all in the same condition.
We had a very wet spring and the crop is late except on high land. I suppose you know all about the high water and flood from the Red and Mississippi River. There is land around Alexandria not in the flood district what never has been planted yet just dry and now they plant.
Joseph has finished school and is sure a good boy. He is about 4 inches higher than myself and is sensible just like a man of 35 or 40 years.
The potato crop was good on high land but the price is low has been to one cent a pound but is improving. The price was two cents yesterday and I think will go higher.
Best wishes from Bernedien and all the family and from myself. Your Brother, Louis. (Write soon)
Alexandria La, July 13, 1923 -- Dear Brother and Sister, Since it is a good while I have wrote you, I am wondering how you are getting along on this hot summer.
We are all well at present and Frances is at home now with us some boy(?) you bet and is working for J. C. Lelser Auto work. Joseph is working in the post office.
You will find enclosed your share of the last election(?). If you have not any use for same and return me the checks enclosed I can invest same for you at 8% good security our time deposit 4 1/2% make it work we have to do so our self.
I have in my mind to come over the last part of August and will stop with you and hope this few lines will find you and your family in the best of health with best wishes from Bernadine to others Petrus and yourself and from your brother. Louis
Alexandria La. February 11, 1924 -- Brother Ferdinand, I just feel like writing you a few lines to let you know that we are all in good held and I hope this few lines will find you and your family in the same condition. We have a very good winter here but to much rain not so good for the farmer if it don't stop soon how is it over there
We had to have a road to the Land father left I suppose you know we had no outlet. Some August Vandersypen bought the 20 acres what I bought from Thomas Hinson and he is a dombel don't do nothing to help his maken. Abe addams bought the Hyman Land next to it and Comten has the Land in front Abe addams donated 15 feet Comten 15 feet making 30 feet road to August Vandersypen Land but August wont 1000 dollars a acre for his so we bought from Abe addams 15 feet more and we have a 30 feet road to Jackson street now August don't understand this.
Well this morning I received this deed from Abe addams for 175.00 dollars and wile you had your part in the Bank yet you are that much short but I will replace it just as soon as I see Gustaaf he has that much left I think from last years sent.
Did you decide yet to use your share and make it bring interest of so and you have no use for it over there send me the checks and I will put it in the saving bank at 4 1/2% and send you the time deposit slips.
Hoping again that you are all well and write me a few lines I am as ever your brother, Louis Petrus.
Alexandria La. June 17,1924 -- Brother Ferdinand, Will you please send me your two checks Heterwich paid his lest note lest Saturday and I am to divide this again and give every one his share. We had considerable expenses on the farm Road. Beoofing, finseng enz.(etcetera in Dutch)
I wont your checks send them to the Bank for collection or send them to me, if you send them to me I will make you one for all any way do. but do so at once I will have my axe Balanced and take yours out first and divide the Balance understand I wont to be sure.
We are all in good held and have some very warm whether but the crop is reasonable good. Best regards from all of us to your family and your good wife from all of us
Your respectful Brother, Louis Petrus
Alexandria, La. December 1, 1925 -- Translated from Dutch by University of Texas language student Fred Schwink.-- Brother Ferdinand, I received your letter with the check and thank you. Your portion is $1652.79. I have locked up the old check here. You can burn it up. Now tell me what to do with your part.
I advise you to take it from the bank and to invest it in the savings bank. I don't need you for that. You must understand that as long as it isn't in the savings bank it brings you nothing, if you lose the check, perhaps you lose everything. Remember that we don't live forever. If it is in the savings bank under your name you can't lose it.
Best greeting from all of us to your wife and children and I hope that she shall recover her health quickly. Your brother, Louis Petrus.
(If you want it in the bank of Skidmore, I'll send it, it makes no difference to me.)
Alexandria, La. January 30, 1928 -- On December 17th I sent you your Certificate of Deposit from the Alexandria Bank Alexandria amounting to 1652.79 and carrying interest of 66.28 making in all $1719.07 dollars by registered mail did you renew it.
I went to the bank yesterday and you have not collected same and I want you to write me at once. Please remember that the bank pay no more interest unless you renew same.
Deposit same in your bank for collection after signing your name on the back and you must do it at once or return it to me and I will take care of same.
Your brother, Louis.
Alexandria, La. December 12, 1928 -- Voor U. Brother, On Dec 14 your certificate of Deposit is one year old and has to be renewed or get your money. The amount is 1787.83 and 4% interest for one year 71.51 = 1859.34
If you do not need same I can have it renewed if you do let me know at once. I can use one thousand of same and will give you 6% for one year or until you need some, that is, I can pay you at any time. On account of having much repair and one half of the rent I used to get, I am in the hole on cash, not on notes. I have plenty of them earning 6% but I had to lend from the Bank and cost me 8% you see the difference.
In case this agree with you write at once and I will send your check and you can send me yours for $1000.00 and I will send you my note for same.
I suppose you understand, Your respectful Brother, Louis (Don't forget to write)
Alexandria La, December 12, 1928 -- Enclosed in envelope with previous letter -- Dear Brother Ferdinand and Family, The year is getting short and Christmas & new year are coming soon and time to greet one another. So I am going to let you know that we all are in good heath and hope the few lines will find you and your family in the same condition and my only wishes are that you all may have a happy Christmas and a good New Year.
We are having some rain now but we had a good fall so far that we could not wish for better had a good potato crop not many vegetables the are late but begin to get plenty full also a good Pecan crop but not much Cotton on account of the late Spring.
Everything is getting very dull in Alexandria plenty houses for rent and also stores and I don't see how it is going to get better.
Best wishes from all of us and especially from your brother, Louis Petrus
Alexandria LA. December 4, 1929 -- Dear Brother Ferdinand and Family, It is sure a long time since I wrote you but now year end is close by and so I am writing you a few lines to let you all know we are still alive and [in] reasonable good health and hope these few lines will find you and your family in good health.
We are having some cold weather just now. Yesterday morning we had ice and this morning ice and have frost but it seems to get warmer we have sunshine just now.
How are you all getting along it is a long time since I have [been] over there but I hope I [will] be able to come over next summer.
Jerome is in Milwaukee taking a Ciardia(?) Counts(?) and will soon finish he has a intention of staying over there he thinks he can get work over there.
Best regards from all of us to you and your good other half from me, Bernedine and the whole family and hope to receive a few lines from you.
Your respectful Brother, Louis. (Don't you feel like coming over, you are very welcome)
Alexandria La. January 2 1930 -- Brother Ferdinand and family, Received your letter of Dec. 13 and sure was glad to hear from you and that you and your family are in good health.
We are all doing very well here and are at present in good health, and wish you and your family a happy and prosperous new year.
I am looking for you to come over someday but I advise you to wait until the weather gets better. We had a real winter here, snow 6" deep and freezing but the snow left us, had a few days sunshine and had rain last night and is looking like we will get some more.
I suppose you seen in the paper where my house in 1250 9th Street had a gas explosion and killed 3 Nigers and done about 600 dollars damages to the house. I suppose some of them was drunk and left a gas jet open.
I had just spent a thousand dollars on same about 2 years ago, had it in good shape but all is lost. I do not know if I will repair same or not, did not start yet.
Best regard from all of us to you and the whole family. Your Brother, Louis.
Alexandria La. July 5, 1930 -- Brother Ferdinand & Family, This is to let you know that we are still alive and in reasonable good health and I hope this few lines will find you and your family in the same condition.
We have a very hot summer here and also dry. One time I was thinking that corn and all my garden stuff would burn up but on the 3rd we had some rain and everything is looking better now.
I suppose you all now about the high water, it done some damages around Alphonse's on to the road to Boyee(?) the water wash about 10" from the floor of Alphonse's home.
The river is getting low now and the contract to put a lock and dam across the mouth of the Bayou Boqiules(?) was started last summer but the contractor was a bom, and after fiddling around for about three months he had to stop &emdash; and they have I think a better one now started again and I hope will finish before the next high water. I suppose you know that the water is backing up through Bayou Rapides.
Best regards from all of us to you and your family, L. Petrus.
Email comments and suggestions to Keith Petrus at firstname.lastname@example.org