Family Origins

Four Poncelet siblings, three brothers and a sister, migrated with their families to Wisconsin in the 1840s: Jean Nic, Nicolaus, Joseph and Anna.

They were from Battincourt (then Bettem) in Commune Aubange of the Province of Luxembourg, Belgium, or the Commune of Clemency (then Küntzig or Kënzeg) in Canton Capellen in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. The two places are less than seven miles apart and approximately two miles from the French border. Battincourt is just at the dividing line between the German (Letzebeurger) and French (Walloon) languages.

Nicolaus and Joseph migrated first. Nicolaus was single. Joseph was married to Magdalena Steinbach and had three young children, Marie, Nicholas and Mathias. They sailed from Antwerp to New York, arriving in July 1845, and traveled to Wisconsin where they settled in the wilderness now called Holy Cross (Helleg Kräiz" in Luxembourgish) in the Town of Belgium, six miles from Port Washington on the road to Fredonia.

The area was then an endless forest. Indians still roamed the area and their presence stirred fear among the white settlers. Their first homes were log huts and transformation of the dark, silent virgin forest into green, fertile fields and pasture required hard work. The group lost no time, however, in constructing a parish church of logs. In the early days, there was no money for a church bell; the Ave Maria was sounded with a shepherd's horn.

Jean Nic Poncelet came later, perhaps the following year. His sister Anna and her husband Francois La Fontaine arrived in 1847.

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