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Walter & Josephine De Keyser

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Walter and Josephine De Keyser With Their Thirteen Children

This photograph of Walter and Josephine (Delveaux) De Keyser with their large family was taken about 1890.  Their stylish clothing of that day show that by their hard work, through the years, they had overcome the severe poverty that had plagued them in their earlier years in America.  They came to Wisconsin’s Door County with the earlier Belgian settlers.  They met and were married in Door County.

FRONT ROW (seated on the floor left to right):  Josephine (Josie) and Mathilde.

SECOND ROW (all seated left to right):  Emma, Walter De Keyser (the father of the family), Alice, Josephine (Delveaux) De Keyser (mother of the family and daughter of Ferdinand and Maria Francoise Delveaux) who is holding Victoria on her lap.  Mary Therese is sitting at the right of the row.

BACK ROW (all standing):  Anna, Edmond, Julien, Frank, Jules (the youngest son), Joseph and Gabriel. 

All of these children survived to adulthood.

The Walter De Keyser Family

Walter and Josephine De Keyser

These enlargements have been taken from the family group picture (below).  It is the only known photograph of Josephine (Delveaux) De Keyser.  Another photo of Walter can be seen on the following page.  The graphic was chosen to remind us of their first rustic log cabin that was situated deep in the virgin forests of Namur, Union Township, Door County, Wisconsin.  The little log cabin that Walter and his family had built was still standing for years after they had moved to Green Bay.  The Belgian settlers not only had to clear their land of the thick forest growth, but the areas also had many rocks and stones that needed to be cleared out before they could plow their fields.  At first they planted around the stumps.  Then they hauled the rocks to the edge of their fields and made them into stone boundary fences around their property.   This graphic resembles the description of the first little log cabin that the Walter De Keyser family lived in.  The door and window were nestled under the front gable.  In later years, before it was torn down, the land had been completely cleared around it.  It sat quite a ways back in the field on a big curve in the road near Uncle Joe’s Tavern.  (This Joe De Keyser was actually a nephew of  Walter, our subject.)  Darlene Verhagen saw the cabin when she was quite young.  Although she was never in it, she said it looked like it was just one big room.  She thought she remembered our grandmother, Emma De Keyser Aldrich, describing it as a one-room cabin.  No wonder they needed a larger house.  Their family grew to include  thirteen children.  Wow!

Walter De Keyser’s Funeral Picture

Funeral pictures were very popular during this period of time in Wisconsin.  Walter died October 30, 1900.  A memorial of flowers and white doves surround a photograph of him at his funeral.  The inscription “Forget Me Not” appears like a mournful dirge in the foreground.  This custom may seem strange to us today, but customs change over time.  Many of our customs would seem very strange to them too. 

LEFT:  This is a photo of a photo of a photo, at the very least.  It was enlarged from the photograph above and may even be a fourth generation reproduction because it is doubtful that the above photo is the original.