This Saturday from 1-4 pm, the French Heritage Museum in Kankakee will honor the Bertrand family in the museum’s ongoing recognition of early French and Belgian families to the Kankakee area.
Louis and Lucie Bertrand arrived from the Quebec Province in time for the 1850 birth of their daughter, Marie Liberia, in Bourbonnais, Illinois. Leon Bertrand’s wife, Marie Aglae Perreault, gave birth to her 8th child in Bourbonnais in 1852, he was their 1st child born in the United States. The Bertrands have been at home in the area for 169 years.
All the Bertrands in the area do not descend from just one Bertrand who originated in France and sailed for Quebec in the 1600s; there were several of the surname who came to the New World in the 1600s and are not closely related. In 2014, 56% of all known bearers of Bertrand surname lived in France, 13% in Canada, 12% in the U.S., and 6 % in Belgium. Perhaps a large percentage of U.S. Bertrands live in Illinois, in Kankakee and Iroquois Counties. It is Iroquois County, in the Clifton and L’Erable areas, where the Belgium Bertrands settled by 1856. They were French speaking Walloons from south of Brussels.
Genealogist, Norma Meier, will give short histories of all the area’s first Bertrands, and attendees will be given genealogies tracing them back to their distant ancestors. Genealogist, Andrew Mann, will present a brief power-point program on the villages and churches of these ancestors both in France and Belgium. The event, genealogies and refreshments are free; donations are gratefully accepted.