Belgian Background

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I am Flemish. To be more specific, I am second generation Flemish American on my father’s paternal side. If you add in the rest of my heritage, Irish, German, English, and French, I am what my dad use to refer to as the Heinz 57 mix of good peasant stock. For the past couple of months it has been discovery time for me about my Flemish roots. The family came from what is known as West Flanders, Belgium. One of the languages there is Flemish along with French and German in different areas.


Wikipedia states that the name ‘Belgium’ is derived from Gallia Belgica, a Roman province in the northernmost part of Gaul that was inhabited by the Belgae, a mix of Celtic and Germanic peoples. I watched HBO’s Rome when it was on and they referred to Gaul often and included when Caesar invaded Gaul in the very first season.


My grandfather, Amos’ ancestors lived in Flemish speaking areas of West Flanders with the names of, Dentergem, Rekkem, Lauwe, Aalbeke, Sint-Eloois-Vijve, Sint-Baafs-Vijve, Oeselgem and Oostrozebeke. His father,Emiel’s family would move from Dentergem, West Flanders, Belgium to Neuville-en-Ferrain, Nord-Pas-de-Calais, France when Emiel was about twelve. One of the biggest surprises with Emiel was that he was one of nine siblings, so much more than just the one brother that the family remembered.


Emiel would reside in his twenties in Rekkem and Mouscroun, Hainnaut. By the time my grandfather and great aunt were born between 1903-1905, Emiel had returned t the Nord-Pas-de-Calais area of France. They would leave France for the United States in 1907. Mary Clemence was pregnant at that time with my great uncle Johnny and he would be born in Pennsylvania in October. has a feature in it that lets you discover the origins of your family name so I typed in a couple of the ones in Emiel’s line:


Flemish name carried in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais and Belgium. Denotes one who comes from a place called Houtte, Hout (very common place name: hout = wood). Variations: Vanhout Vanhouten, Van Houtte, Van den Houdt, Vandenhoute.  The family seems to have stuck pretty firmly to the spelling variation of Van Houtte in the documents found so far. The only difference being that it is spelled without the space between like this: Vanhoutte.


Fairly common in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais, surname Flemish means one who comes from a place called Cruyse, Cruysse. Sense of place name: where there is a cross, possibly crossing. Variations: Vercrusse, Vercruyce, Vercruyse, Vercruyssen.


Flemish name corresponding to the job of cook. There are also variants and Decocq Dekoch.


Equivalent Dutch (Flemish) forms such as French Duchateau: one who lives near the castle or the castle, or who lives in a place called Casteel (e), Kasteel (e). Variations: Van de Casteele, Vandecasteele, Vandecastel, Vandecastele, Vandecastelle, Vandekasteele.


Taken in Nord-Pas-de-Calais, the name is also written Dewinter. It means "winter" in Dutch, the precise meaning of the name to be defined.


Very common name in the department of Nord and Belgium. It means fox in Flemish, and is therefore a nickname given either a cunning man, or one who has red hair, Dutch name related to the fox, the most common forms in De Vos, Devos.


Anyone who has a garden, who lives near a garden or comes from a place called the Garden. It was in the North and Normandy that the name is most common. Variant: Dujardyn.


Descamps, Deschamps
Anyone who lives near the fields, or fields that have, or rather who lives in a place called Champs. In Normandy and Picardy the name is most common. Spelling variation: Dischamps or Dischampts. Variant of Landes Deschamps (= Fields). Similarly Descazaux becomes Discazaux, Discazeaux (40).


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