Forum logoOnderzoek in België en Luxemburg » Jean-Baptiste DeSaegher * okt. 1841, immigrated to USA 1870/71.

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Looking for info on my g-g-grandfather Jean-Baptiste DeSaegher, nee Oct 1841, immigrated to USA 1870/71.


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Ruth DeSaegher - 25 jul 2020 — 04:13 (laatst bijgewerkt 25 jul 2020 — 11:48 door moderator)

Was he married to Constantia de Witte? If so then there was a son Aloijs (1867) born in Sint Gilles Waas Belgium

Edit: This Aloijs was a son of Jan Baptist de Saegher died 1899 te Sint Gillis Waas

Rob van der Weijde - 25 jul 2020 — 12:23 (laatst bijgewerkt 25 jul 2020 — 12:41 door auteur)

I assume you are referring to the John Desaegher (08.10.1841-05.03.1921) in de US census of Chicago in 1880, 1900 and 1920, married 26.05.1875 to Jane Shay (05.05.1857-14.08.1922)?

the question is whether his birthdate is actually correct... I did for example find a Joannes Baptiste born 12.03.1841 in Elewijt, son of Petrus Johannes Desaeger (whose father was a Jean Baptiste) & Clara Florentina Lathouwers who were married in Hever on 08.10.1840 [here]

Peter B - 25 jul 2020 — 12:29 (laatst bijgewerkt 25 jul 2020 — 12:58 door auteur)

Yes he immigrated to Chicago. His marriage in USA in 1875 listed name as Jean-Baptiste DeSaegher marrying Jane Shay. I don't know anything about his life in Europe. I can't find out when or how he immigrated or where in Belgium he came from. His American name was John B. DeSaegher.

One USA census showed he was born Oct 1841. He spoke both French and Flemish and worked as a cook. He may have been part of Les Optants, because family history says he had nothing "after the war" and immigrated. His obituary said he was in "European Camp I," but I don't know what that means. I have been looking for his origin for 40 years!

Ruth DeSaegher - 25 jul 2020 — 18:54

would you have a link to the aforementioned obituary?

he had nothing "after the war"

there was no war in Belgium around 1872 when he emigrated

Peter B - 25 jul 2020 — 19:46

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What is "European Camp No. 1" from 1800s??

Ruth DeSaegher - 25 jul 2020 — 20:48 (laatst bijgewerkt 7 okt 2020 — 04:14 door auteur)

Ruth DeSaegher - 25 jul 2020 — 20:48 (laatst bijgewerkt 25 jul 2020 — 20:54 door auteur)

Ruth DeSaegher - 25 jul 2020 — 20:49

Apparently they immigrated into the US in 1872 and got naturalized ten years later in 1882.
According to this document his wife was of Irish origine and John himself was born in Belgium.

This document however, clearly concerning the same family, states that John was not a Belgian citizen but French.
That would be more consistent with your information that he had nothing "after the war" because contrary to Belgium, France indeed had been in war during the Franco-Prussian war in 1870-71

Since Desaegher or "de Saegher" doesn't sound like a name of French origine I would guess that if he indeed was of French nationality he probably was born near the French Belgian border. There are lots of villages in the Northwestern edge of France (region Dunkerque/Duinkerken , Cassel/Kassel , Hazebrouck/Hazebroek) with Flemish sounding names and also their local language is a mix of French and Flemish.


Leo 2 - 7 okt 2020 — 01:18

Another possibilty might be he was of Belgian nationality but served in the French Army during the war.


Leo 2 - 7 okt 2020 — 02:26

Thanks for you comments. The family oral history is that he was French, but censes mention he also spoke Flemish and in Chicago he was a member of the Belgium-American Club. Maybe he was part of Franco-Prussian War? Maybe he was part of "les optants?" He immigrated in his late 20s, so don't know if he was married before he came to USA. My first records of Jean-Baptiste DeSaegher (marriage license) are in Chicago, Illinois, USA. I can't even find ship he came on. I continue to look :)

Ruth DeSaegher - 7 okt 2020 — 04:11

Thanks, those are the US census I have also :) The first documentation I have on him is his marriage license in Chicago and he was 32 yrs old when married in May 1875. In a voter registration dated 1888 he writes he was born in Belgium and was a resident of state of Illinois 20 yrs--but that could be a rough estimate. So he may have immigrated in 1868, but that was before the Franco-Prussisan war! He states he had been in "county" 17 years.

His death certificate in 1921 lists him as 79 yrs old and also gives birthplace as Belgium and birth date of Oct. 8, 1841--but it was filled out by his son JP, who got his middle initial wrong. It lists parents as "unknown."

I'll keep looking, any help welcome :) 

Ruth DeSaegher - 7 okt 2020 — 04:41

Looking at both his surname AND the fact he spoke both French and Flemish in my opinion he definitely was no part of the so called "les optants".
His surname is typically one of those common in the Northwestern part of France (Region "Nord-Pas-de-Calais") and totally uncommon for the Alsace-Lorraine region.
Furthermore both nowadays and in those days almost nobody was able to speak Flemish in the Alsace-Lorraine region.

It won´t be of a great help, but if he was born in Belgium there is also a possibilty his first name was Joannes Baptist(e), the Flemish counterpart of the French Jean-Baptiste.

I'm intrigued by the search for this person so from time to time I will have a search myself.
Checked the Bruxelles births in 1841 manually yesterday and didn't find him...

Leo 2 - 7 okt 2020 — 23:06 (laatst bijgewerkt 7 okt 2020 — 23:27 door auteur)

I came to your same conclusions that he may be from north France or French-speaking Belgium. Oral history was he was from Alsace-Lorraine area, but it doesn't add up to me either. It would be helpful to find his immigration origin or ship he came on with exact date, and then trace backwards. We spelled our last name De Saegher (with a space and large D) here in USA. Even his oldest son didn't know who parents were!

Thanks for your interest Leo, it means a lot. I'm 65 yrs old and been trying to track down his origins since my 20s! My family tree is extensive, but on his side I'm stuck at both Jean-Baptiste De Saegher & jane Shay (who could have been Shea?). Then his son JP (Joseph Patrick) married a woman from Poland.

I can read some French, but NOT any Flemish so that hinders my search. He was a member of Belgium American Club of Chicago, but they had no info on him other than his name as a member. 

I live in California--where are you from? I spent time living in Europe when I was a teenager as dad was military, and I spent a month in Paris apartment in May 2008 and May 2009 and loved it!!

Ruth DeSaegher - 7 okt 2020 — 23:51

Hi Ruth.
Do I understand right that you also have no information on Jane before her immigration into the US?
As far as myself: I (53yrs) got interested in my personal family tree recently after I discovered the reason why my grandfather on my father's side had a different surname than the rest of his brothers and sisters. I have been trying about five years to find his ancestors online, but each time I was searching for the wrong surname ;-)

If ever you have questions on Flemish texts (which in fact is almost the same as Dutch) you can contact me thru my profile here.
I'm from the South of the Netherlands (near Maastricht) and as you may notice Maastricht is close to both Belgium (Flemish and Wallon/French language) and Germany. Reading and writing Dutch/Flemish, German and English is no problem, reading French neither, writing French correctly is something else ;-)
Since I'm member on this forum for less than one month I'm not able to contact you thru your profile, but I think you will be able to contact me.
Greetz Leo.

Leo 2 - 8 okt 2020 — 22:46

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