18 Aug 2007
My maternal grandparents were Charles Anthony GAILLIOT (1894-1948) and Margaret AUSTEL (1894-1964). Charles was born in Braddock, PA, as the first-born child of Henry Caspar Gailliot (1862-1920) and Franceska DUMOULIN (1871-1941). Thus, Henry Gailliot was my great grandfather. His birth certificate which I obtained from the Virginia Department of Vital Statistics stated he was born in Wesel, located on the right bank of the romantic River Rhine in the northwestern German state now called North Rhine Westphalia, or as the Germans call it, Nord Rhin Westfalen. This lowland region is known as the Niederrhein (lower Rhine). Furthermore, the certificate stated Henry's parents were Anthony Gailliot and Helen SCHLEBUSCH. From a microfilm ordered from the Mormon Library in Salt Lake City, Utah, I discovered Henry was baptized in St. Marie Himmelfahrt Catholic Church (in English, the Assumption of the Virgin Mary). He was the youngest and the last-born child of a Master Shoemaker in Wesel, named Anton (Anthony) Gailliot and his second wife, Helen Schlebusch.
A Personal Internet Connection with Wesel Germany
Through a fortuitous meeting over the Internet in 1998, I began correspondence with a fellow genealogist named Rudolf Kerbitz who lived in the very town of my great grandfather's birth- Wesel. Through him, I discovered that Anton Gailliot's wife, Helen Schlebusch, was actually his second spouse. She was originally from Rees, a small village a few miles further down the Rhine. The Catholic Church there, as in Wesel, is called St. Marie Himmelfahrt-Rees. Of course, Mary, the mother of Jesus, is a popular name among Catholic churches; however, Helen Schlebusch's mother, Johanna OFFENBERG, was baptized in a beautiful Catholic chapel named after St Catherine (St. Katharine) located in another village along the Rhine River valley known as Grietherbusch. Interestingly, but not uncommon in those tolerant times for religion, Helen's father, Johann Schlebusch, was baptized in the Evangelistic Reformed Lutheran Church, in Rees, Germany. The Lutheran Church is the National Church of Germany. Therefore, Helen Schlebush's parents were partners in a marriage of mixed religions and baptized their eight children, alternately, between the Catholic and Lutheran churches. Surreptitiously, Helen, the second-born child, was baptized in the Catholic Church at Rees, Germany.
I thank my correspondent, Rudolf, for sending me copies of Parish Records that have been archived at Munster and Bruhl, Germany, as well as several photographs he took of the landmarks already mentioned. Since many of these landmarks were demolished at the end of WW II, it is fortunate that Rudolf enjoys digging around for old photographs and lithographs of the buildings and churches before they were destroyed.
Two Gailliot Brothers Emigrate to America in early 1880s
Two brothers of the first generation Gailliot family came to America in the early 1880s and settled in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. They were Henry Gailliot and his older brother, Karl, whose name became anglicized to Charles. Charles Gailliot was the son of Anton Gailliot and his first wife, Maria DISSEL. So actually, Henry and Charles were half brothers- same father, different mothers.
Charles married Barbara WEITMULLER in Germany before he emigrated, alone, to America. Charles and Barbara had two children who were given their German names of Anton and Karl, Jr, but who were known later as Andrew and Charles, Jr. Though it is believed that the sons emigrated to America about 1891, the fate of Charles first wife, Barbara, is not known. In the meantime, in Pittsburgh, Charles met and married Mary JUND of Barr, Alsace in 1882, and in the next 12 years they produced five children, one of whom died young. Unfortunately, Charles died in a tragic railroad accident in 1895 on the tracks at Carnegie Steel Mill, 33rd street bridge, near the Strip District in Pittsburgh. He was buried in Section W, in the historic St. Mary's Cemetery in Lawrenceville (take a walking tour through the cemetery). Charles' widow, Mary, single-handedly raised the family in the Lawrenceville precinct, Pittsburgh.
Most of Charles' children remained in the Pittsburgh area for all of their lives. However, the oldest son, Andrew, was a wanderer. Early in the 20th century, Andrew, a pattern maker (draftsman), went to Panama to help on the construction of the Canal. Later, in late 1920s, he moved to Saginaw, MI, and worked in the Chevrolet Grey Iron Foundry. There, he married a second time but never had any children of his own.
Henry Caspar Gailliot met his wife, Francesca DUMOULIN, in Pittsburgh. She was born in Roeschwoog, Alsace (France). They were married in 1893 in the old St. Augustine Catholic Church in Lawrenceville. Soon afterwards, Henry and Francesca migrated to the south side of Pittsburgh, to Braddock, and had 6 children (5 boys and one girl). A seventh child, Edward, died young. Henry and his sons found jobs in the Edgar Thompson Steel mill. They attended St. Joseph's Catholic church in Braddock where most of the German immigrants worshipped. Henry's oldest son, Charles, married a German Swiss immigrant, Margaret Austel, they and moved to Washington, DC, about 1917. Shortly afterwards, Charles' parents and siblings followed him to the Washington area and bought a farm in Alexandria, VA. The Gailliot family worshipped at St. Mary's Catholic Church and several members are buried at the historic graveyard old town, Alexandria. Only one son, Henry John Gailliot, stayed behind in Pittsburgh. He boarded with the MYERS family and worked in their hardware store in Swissvale, a boro in Pittsburgh. Henry eventually became proprietor of the store. Though the owners have changed hands over the decades, the hardware store is still family-owned today (2005).
The Farm in Alexandria has seen some changes since it was first purchased in 1920. First, it was a chicken farm and chickens were sold at a meat market in old town Alexandria during WW II. A chicken virus wiped out the stock in the 1950's and the farm was then turned into a gravel and sand business. After the gravel and sand were excavated, the farm became a land fill (Hilltop Sand and Gravel Company). This all occurred as the famous or infamous (depending on whether one is a commuter) Beltway was being constructed around Washington, DC. The Farm is now being converted into a nine-hole golf course. A golf driving range is already open.
Another Branch of the Gailliot Family Recently Uncovered.
Realize that the Gailliot surname is quite unique in America. All of the Gailliot-named persons in America descend from either of the two immigrants, Charles or Henry, the sons of Anton Gailliot. However, I knew that Anton had more children whose descendents must have remained in Europe. So, it was one of those wondrous genealogical happenings when a three times great grandson of Anton Gailliot emailed me in May 2005. He lives in Halle in the former East German region of Sachsen-Anhalt, near Leipzig. His line descends from the older sister of Henry Caspar Gailliot, my great grandfather. The sister was Johanna Elisabetha Gailliot, known as "Elise". From this distant cousin, whose name is Gunter, I learned that Elise apparently moved from Wesel to Osnabruk, Germany, where she and her husband, Fredrick Meier, had a least one daughter, Helen Meier. The young family moved to Berlin and then to Halle/Saale. The ultimate reward in this whole connection, is that Gunter had in his possession vintage photographs taken in a studio in Wesel of none other than Anton Gailliot and his second wife, Helen Schlebus(ch). See their picture in the scrapbook.
Oh yes, Gunter emailed me after he saw a brief genealogy of Anton Gailliot which I had posted at Geneanet.com, a genealogical web site with many European contributors. So, our meeting was an accident, I believe, that was waiting to happen.
More Pictures of Gailliot and Dumoulin Homelands
I have posted 16 or more albums to my Yahoo! account. One on these albums entitled, "MOMS HOMELANDS" contains several pictures of Wesel, including the Catholic churches associated with our family history, as well as other historical landmarks. So, bookmark this page so you can return to it, then go to my Yahoo Albums and select MOMS HOMELANDS. (I will return here later to add a link. I can't do it now, because Yahoo is closing down its photo ablum feature and is migrating their pictures to Flickr).