marysevdiary


The following is taken from the diary written by
 Mary Severyns Haumont

27 April 1848 - 30 April 1932


          Joseph Severyns came to America in April 1875 from Lanklaer, Belgium. His brother, Thomas, Sister Mary and their cousin, Jules Haumont, followed in July 1875. All the men worked in Moingona, Iowa in the coal mine. Their sister kept house for them. In 1877 they moved to Wood River, Nebraska. Tom who had returned to Belgium in 1876 came again to America in 1877 and Edmond Haumont came with him to Wood River. Having not enough work on the farm in Wood River, Tom went to Moingona in July 1877. His brother Joe Severyns, followed him in September. In October, Ed Haumont and Mary Severyns went too. They did not have enough money to stay idle on the farm. There was no work in winter among the farmers, so they had to go to Moingona where they knew they could get work. Jules Haumont stayed on the farm to take care of their four horses and one cow. In the spring of 1878, Thomas Severyns returned to Wood River and he and Jules farmed. Joe Severyns, Ed Haumont and Mary stayed in Moingona until July 10, when most of the coal mines closed there. They went to Des Moines, Iowa to find work, which they found in the Eureka coal mine. Mary kept house for them. In August the mines hardly made anything. Eureka, which had only local trade, could not sell any coal in summer. That month Joe and Ed made only $12.15 for both. Of that $4.00 was paid for rent and the balance of $8.15 was for living. All the vegetables had to be bought. Flour sold for $1.40, coffee .25, bacon $1.00, sugar .50, vegetables $1.14, potatoes .63, broom .25, meat $1.25, one pair of shoes for Joe $2.00. We came .63 short but the boys had sent $5.00 from Wood River, so no credit was asked. September was better and on pay day in October for the month Sept, it was $48.40. November was $77.60. Two horses, or colts as they had never been harnessed, Joe bought one for $40.00 and one for $30.00. An old wagon for $10.00, harness double $4.00, a muslin for wagon cover $1.00.

          On April 13, 1879 the three, Joe, Ed and Mary started from Des Moines for Nebraska and arrived at the farm in Wood River May 1, 1879. In the fall, having read of the homestead and timber claims in Custer County, Tom Severyns and Jules Haumont went to locate land in Custer and having found what they thought good place, took each a homestead. Joe Severyns took one also. All three each also had 80 acres timber claim in Wood River along the Platte. Ed and Mary each also took a homestead and timber claim and they all agreed that after making final proof they would divide even in everything. The Wood River land was sold later and the money from this sale along with the land that Tom, Jules, Joe, Ed and Mary took in Custer County was equally divided between them. A homestead and tree claim each consisted of 160 acres.

          Mary Severyns and Edmond Haumont were married June 18, 1879. Their son, Paul John Joseph, was born June 18, 1880. The winter of 1880-1881 proved a very severe one. It commenced October 15 with severe cold and a blizzard. Ed had no hay near, so he tried early to set some but the horses did not want to face the storm. After a few days the weather improved, but in November one blizzard after another came and this lasted until April. Jules and Ed often had to go to the canyons for wood when it was so very cold. They had one team of horses, one cow and about 150 sheep. They had to haul water about two miles from a creek, the hay the same distance from the canyon. The sheep had been bought in the fall from a western herd. They were scabby and about seventy died before spring of scab and poor feed. Those that survived were so poor they could not raise their lambs only fourteen of the lambs lived. One horse died and the cow died also.

          Our little son, Paul, nine months old, got Pneumonia. We were very discouraged but he recovered and although he was puny all that summer, pulled through.

          The last of April the weather all at once changed. It became warm; the grass grew so fast that it seemed all green in one night. The summer was nice and not very hot. The following years in the eighties were average crop years. The railroad came to Broken Bow in 1886. Until then, the settlers had been obliged to go to Grand Island and Kearney for supplies.

          On October 10, 1882, Ed and Mary Haumont's little girl, Sylvie, was born. In March, Thomas Severyns had gone back to Belgium to see his father. His mother had passed away March 4, 1876. He returned here with Edmond Haumont April 1877. In December 1882, Joe Severyns went on a visit to Belgium. He returned April 1882 with Isadore Haumont, Mrs. Haumont (Elizabeth Francois), their son Joseph, Louis Haumont, Nicolas Smets, his wife and five children, Walter and Bartel Francois, Theodore Reisdorf and Marie Francois. She and Joe Severyns were married in 1882.

          The year 1890 was a dry year with partial failure of crops and everything was very low, economy had to be practiced. In December 1882 Isadore Haumont, wife, John Francois and Theodore Reisdorf visited Belgium for four months. In 1893, Ed Haumont, wife and their children, Paul and Sylvie went to Belgium for four months, with them returned Pete Govaerts, wife and 4 children (fall of 1893). The year 1894 was the dry year. Nothing was raised. The corn stalks were cut for fodder. There was hardly any hay. The pigs had to be given away or killed. Ed Haumont sold his old sows and kept seven of his largest pigs. He fed them a little corn and let them rustle but he said afterward it was a mistake as the pigs went runty. Two old sows would have cost less to keep and could have given him a start in pigs again. The horses and a few cattle rustled. Everyone let their stock run and did not care if some were lost. A great deal of relief was sent to Custer County from the whole U. S. and the Supervisors all had relief stations where people went on certain days. Most of the pastures were searched for cow chips for fuel. In 1895 the year was better. Crops were tolerable, but everything was low price; wheat .45 cents, corn .10 cents a bushel.

          In 1886 Jules Haumont paid a visit of four months to Belgium. He returned in April 1887. In August 1886 Soplue Loderuick Severyns came to America with her two children. Joe Loderuick followed in September (her husband) followed in September, but they stayed only until April 1887 when they returned to Belgium.

          In 1898, Joe Severyns, having had a severe case of inflammatory rheumatism, decided to move to California hoping the climate would benefit him. His wife and four children followed after he was located. The climate seemed very good. Joe was well until 1901 when he died of another attack of rheumatism. Joe was the first one to die of all who had came to America.

          Isadore Haumont was born in May 1820 and died in the spring of 1904 at the age of 84 years. He was buried in Broken Bow cemetery. He was the oldest Belgian to come here of this family.

          Thomas Andre Severyns who had returned to Belgium in 1886, came back here with his three daughters (Julie, Lucienne and Blanche). His wife died November 14, 1911. They had been in Belgium through the war and were weary of it. The Great War started in 1914. They arrived back in the U.S.A. on October 1919. They made their home on French Table near Broken Bow, Nebraska. The next fall their sister, Laure and husband, Gustave Hornet came just about a week after their fathers' death. Tom Severyns died October 19, 1920 age 70 years 9 months.

          Gustave and Laure stayed a year or so and then went back to Belgium. Blanche went a short time later. Lucienne married Loren Haumont and Julie married Oscar Hopkins. Both are living near Caldwell Idaho, Blanche and Laure in Paris, France.





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