Notes of Augustine (Gus) Van Hee

Recorded by his daughter, Margaret Van Hee (Sister Aimee). Gus was 12 when he came to America with his father, David, four brothers and five sisters.

Lived in Merchem, Belgium, a township in West Flanders. Population 4,000 mostly farmers. Had 100 acre farm.

The house had big rooms, straw roof. The first floor above the basement was wooden. All others were gray blue tile.

There was a horse barn, grainary with cement floor, stock building, cow building, machinery building around a u-shaped court with brick floor. Underneath, fertelizer is mixed with water which was pumped out and used on the farm. A shed contained a big tank in which a mixture was made for the cows (10 cows, 2 horses). There was a shed for tools, another building for straw to thresh by hand in the winter. Nothing went to waste. There was a flax house (rett it [?] - clean it in the winter) calf shed, and pig shed.

Big orchard: apples, 3 kinds of pears.
Garden: potatoes, cabbage, peas, beets, turnips, onions, beans.
Bakery: one door, baked rye bread for cattle once a week, baked 20 to 30 loaves at a time.
Fireplaces: in the big kitchen, dining room, huge chimneys.
Work kitchen: everything for work, washing, churning, etc.
Dining room: table, chairs, clothes closets.
Well water: soft, ravines, all soft streams through the farm, flat, much meadow, pastures, hardly any trees.
Weed the fields like weeding a garden, oats, rye, flax, wheat.
Climate: mild, moderate.
Beds: straw mattresses, plus wool.
Amusements: in winter - skating, in summer - every town celibrated a few days every year, walked every place.
Roads: cobblestone on highway, only farm roads.

Why they decided to come. Cannon [Peter] Van Hee and Archbishop Ireland. In 1870, after the war, taxes, poverty, etc. Chrisnoble - a priest came to America, made a fortune, relatives came after.

[Dad] David Van Hee had 6 brothers, 1 sister, Aunt Louise.

Sold the farm. Sold 90 ft. high tree to make a mast for a ship.

Two families came, David and Sophie and families.

Left Antwerp. Took 16 days to Philadelphia. Old ship, 1600 people on it, only 6 people came to meals. Children mostly sat in the sun on the deck. Blue waters, very rough.

Angelus Van Hee met them in Philadelphia. From there went to Chicago, nothing to eat from Phil. to Chicago, mud hole, one depot. Adam hotel to eat, $1 each for steak, potatoes, cake (15 people, Bommers a brewer).

Took Northwestern R.R. from Chicago to Tracy. Stayed in Tracy all Sunday. Train to Ghent on Monday. Prairie roads like 2 ditches with a strip of grass between. In Ghent, two stores, few houses, depot, Le Tourneau.

Arrived Aug 9, 1882. Lived in a grainary for a while. Built a frame house, no plaster, snow flew in, square big house.