(Published in the Spring 2009 MAGIC Newsletter)
By Bernard Brouchoud
Once upon a time, long ago, in the far-away land of Switzerland, numerous families decided to leave their beloved homeland and journey to America. Most were farmers and when the human population kept growing the realization that there just wasn’t enough space for them to continue making their living from the land became apparent, they became immigrants. They did not come as a group, but spread their travel over a period of about fifty years: from 1848 to 1898. It still seems a mystery as to why these people chose Gibson and Mishicot Townships in Manitowoc County in Wisconsin as their final destination.
We have been told that the family Pellsier was the first Swiss family to arrive in our area. The date that we have for their arrival was 1848. We have another account, of unknown families, who left Le Havre, France on a steamship. They arrived in New York, then traveled westward on the Erie Canal, then by train across Michigan, then by ship across Lake Michigan, and finally by horse and wagon to Gibson Township.
On the 1872 plat map of Gibson Township (in the Manitowoc library) you will find these family names: Bodwith, Brouchoud, Cochenet, Courtion, Cretton, Fiely, Filey, Galiant, Lambert, Luisier, Michaud, Ribordy, Rosery, and Rouiller. In 1893, there were added these five families: Abbet, Bouda, Fortier, Guex, and Trolier. Still present in 1920 were: Bouda, Brouchoud, Courchaine, Filliez, Guex, Lambert, and Trolier.
These were all French-speaking people. There were also two other families with the Swiss: Yelemene (from the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland) and Weihmuller (from the German-speaking part of Switzerland).
My great, great grandfather and his wife, Joseph and Rosalie Maret Brouchoud, arrived here in 1865. His son, my great grandfather, Camille Brouchoud and his wife, Mary Cochenet, arrived ten years later in 1875. They lived on a farm on the north side of what is now Highway 147, several miles west of Mishicot. Their youngest son, Pascal Brouchoud and his wife Anna Kronforst, lived in the same house after his parents moved into a smaller, nearby home.
Over twenty families came here from the Canton (State) Vallais in the French-speaking part of Switzerland. Most of the families came from the Le Châble/Villette area of the Bagnes (pronounced Bah-nya) Valley. The Dranse River separates these two villages. There are thirteen small villages in the valley.
The cemetery in Le Châble looks like the Catholic part of the Mishicot cemetery. Names such as Cretton, Lambert, Abet, Brouchoud, Rouiller, etc are all repeated in both villages. I have extensive genealogies of the Filliez, Cretton, and Brouchoud families. If anyone is interested, please call me at 920.684.6082.
Return to List of Articles