John and Jeanne Picot, emigrants to the USA

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John and Jeanne Picot:

emigrants to the USA


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John Picot and his wife Jane, nee Filleul


Jean Picot and his wife Jeanne, nee Filleul, (anglicised to John and Jane in the USA) to where they emigrated from France, having moved there after their marriage in Jersey - or so the story goes, although there are several errors in a family history written by Mary Estella Balcam, nee Picot (1893-1974), one of their grandchildren, which cast doubt on this sequence of events. The history has been reproduced as written, with editor's notes below


Mary Estella Balcom, nee Picot

Mary Estella Balcom, nee Picot, wrote the following passage about her family's history to her nephew, Robert William Grafe:

"John Picot, born on the Isle of Jersey, 1804, my grandfather. Jeanne Phillieul, born on the Isle of Jersey, 1827, my grandmother. They were in that town (she did not name it) and became Mr and Mrs John Picot. This Isle of Jersey was under the French rule when my grandparents was born there, but later it was under the English rule, and still is.
"They moved to Alsace-Lorraine, which borders France and Germany, and as they were continually fighting, my grandparents decided to come to America, and had their money, French Bible and English Bible as their only possessions. They also wanted to come to America, because the country was strictly Catholics, and my grandparents wanted to be able to worship as they chose.

Wall Street

"They left France and landed in New York and stayed there on a farm on what is now Wall Street, the Stock Exchange section of New York, so when it no longer was farming country they moved over to New Jersey, and settled in a small village called South Orange.
"My grandfather was a contractor mason and had his business there.it was the custom for fathers to bring up their sons to learn the same trade as their father, and the mothers taught their daughters all their mothers knew in the home, including weaving of cloth.
"My grandparents had seven children, four boys and three girls, namely John, Jeanne, Mary, Charles, Elizabeth, Philip and George. They were all born in America.
"When all their family married and settled in their own homes, the grandparents sold their business and home, and moved to a small, quaint town, called Dingmans Ferry, Pennsylvania, and bought a farm 12 miles from the town, on a 590 acre farm, and built themselves a 14-room house, and they had cattle, sheep, a pair of oxen, many chickens, pigs etc.
"They raised all their own grain, such as wheat, corn, oats, buckwheat, etc. They alsraised many fruit trees, such as cherries, peaches, plums, apples and several kinds of grapes.
"They had many acres of sugar maples, which they got maple sugar for their buckwheat pancakes for the winter. Also they raised many hives of honey bees, which provided them with honey.

John Picot dies

"While my grandfather was getting pretty old by then, my father and mother moved from South Orange to Penn to help my grandparents with the many chores and marketing of their wares, etc. We stayed until my grandfather passed away in 1896. My father sold the farm and my grandmother got her money that was from the sale of the farm, and she moved to Columbia Street to be near her other living son, Phillip Picot.
"My father and mother, your grandparents, moved from the farm to the centre of town, where your mother, Lily, was born on Easter Sunday, 18 April 1896. My father, George, your grandfather, died from typhoid fever and pneumonia on 12 November 1900, and was buried in Dingmans Ferry, where he still is.
"Your grandmother, Camilla, my mother, moved back to New Jersey as soon as everything was sold and settled, and although she was only 30 years old, she never remarried, but rather she worked and sewed to raise her family.
"Digressing, I'll go back and say by father, George Gilbert, and Camilla Angle Jagger, met and married both at the age of 21, and they had six children, George A, Mary E (that's me) Charles P, Lily Camilla (your mother), Edna F and George C Picot.
"After a short time your grandmother found it very had to make ends meet properly, and your three aunts, Jennie, Mary and Elizabeth, offered to help her, but demanded that she stay away from her three children, but they were never adopted. What could my mother say in the circumstances, so they were brought up by their aunts, as follows: Charles P was brought up by Aunt Mary Picot Rockwell, your mother Lily C Picot Orben was brought up by Aunt Jennie Orben, and Edna was brought up by Aunt Elizabeth Picot Irwin, so my mother struggled on, and gave us as good (or better) education than they received from their aunts.
Five of George and Camilla Picot's six children. The sixth, and youngest, Gilbert, was missing from this family reunion in 1933, for reasons the family have been unable to discover

Camilla Picot dies

"My mother was found unconscious in her own little store, where she finally had a pet shop, by my brother Gilbert, and he had her removed to the Newark NJ Hospital, where she died from pneumonia five days later. She was buried back in Pennsylvania with my father in the cemetery plot she had purchased for the two of them, and where their remains rest in peace.
"George was born in South Orange NJ and Camilla Jagger was born in West Orange NJ, both in 1870. My father died on 12 November 1900. My mother died on 28 October 1927. Strangely enough, my only son, Fred A Balcom, was born exactly three years later to the day - 27 October 1930.
"I'm sure this has brought you up-to-date on who's who, and who is your rightful grandparents and what your mother's name was and is, when the Roll is called up yonder. Her gravestone reads a lie, through no fault of your father, but by the wrong information my Aunt Jennie gave your father."

Editor's note on accuracy of the history

There are several obvious errors in this family history. John Picot was baptised in Trinity on 11 April 1816, the son of Jean and Elizabeth Bertram (Trinity). His marriage record confirms that he was born in the same year, not 1804 as the writer stated.

He married Jeanne Filleul (not Philleul, as stated in the history, or Filiel, as shown in some American records) in Trinity on 31 August 1850.

Jersey had not been under French rule for several centuries and was a possession of the Crown of England throughout the period under discussion, and remains so today.

After Jean and Jeanne's marriage they lived in Chevalier Road in St Helier, and were recorded there in the 1851 census.Jean was a master mason. Their passage to the United States is on record as having taken place in May 1852 and was on a vessel from Jersey.

This calls into question the writer's assertion that the couple moved from Jersey to Alsace-Lorraine on the France-Germany border and left from France for America to escape fighting and rules on religion. There was no fighting on the border in 1851-52, the only period the couple could have lived there, and Alsace-Lorraine was a name not coined until 1871, when the German Empire annexed the territory.

Although Catholocism was the majority religion of France in the 1850s, under Emperor Napoleon III there was a policy of religious tolerance.

So it seems that the couple's French residence and reasons for going to America were a family invention and that they left Jersey for the USA just under two years after their marriage.

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