¿ WHERE DO I COME FROM?
Many times during my life I asked myself that question but never I could really answer it, neither ascertain.The economic circumstances sometimes and the lack of time by the study during great part of it and then the responsibility of a family, my specialty, and the daily fight, went deferring that anxiety, until I came to find myself with little to do after I retired from the medical activity after 36 intense and uninterrupted years and restarted the old dream of knowing about my Roots and to reconstruct some remembrances since my childhood, helped by my mother, still alive by then, because she had shared years with the members of the first Van Meegroot that arrived to this country. Thus I began collecting some photos of my grandparents, my parents and my children and I did a sort of "genealogical tree" with those photos, adding those of the grandchildren that were coming to my family during the 80's and 90's.
But a fortuitous fact changed suddenly that anxiety and transformed it into a imperious need to help and to complete the jigsaw puzzle: a letter of Sergio Omar Van Megroot with long lists of names of relatives in Belgium and Argentina, a descending himself of Augustus Van Meegroot, brother of my grandfather Hypolite, and I realized this list lacked almost completely the names of those who belong to this last branch.
After a fertile exchange of letters, with the data Sergio send to me, and his interest in this matter and his trip to Belgium, and his lack of time to attend me by regular mail, I decided to acquire a computer,( I, that did not know a single word about the technical language , neither knew the most elementary computation) and that by fortune opened me a happy panorama till then unimaginable for myself. The first thing that I did in internet was to seek Moerbeke Waas, the town where all began and to my surprise I found Van Megroot's e-mail address, whom I contacted immediately, and they not only respond but sent me, photos, data and anecdotes and the family coat of arms .
It was a pity I have not had those data in 1965/68 when I lived in England and the trips that I made to Belgium; to have been so near the cradle, in Gent, and not to be able to go there; but in those years there were not computers neither internet, or so easy communications, the satellites and the color television just began , and Sergio was an infant.
These are some remembrances from my childhood, long time ago, about the Van Meegroot I knew and a short review of my life.
My father and grand father have their own page
Near our house, in Saldán, came to live also in 1942, my uncle Domingo Amando, that looked like grandfather, physically, with my cousins Elia Enny and Elsio with whom I shared many years of play, adventures and school. The uncle Domingo was a full, tolerant, religious, extraordinarily good and enterprising man, with great pride by its surname, that paradoxical was denied to him many years of his life by an administrative error that is related later. Always healthily competing with my father to see which of the cousins get more achievements at school, high school or the university that both shared for some years.
In two or three occasions another brother of my father visited us: Victor with my cousin Ronald,that continued living in Alcorta. Víctor had, as my father, some intense blue eyes, but was almost red-haired of so blond, tall and robust, redfaced. Another coincidence: the three brothers Víctor, Domingo and Felix, were barbers , partners at times , at times each one on their own, there in Alcorta.
I did not know my uncle Carlos and his family; they always lived in Rojas a city some 100 km away from Alcorta and there was not a great deal of contact with his brothers.
A summer day of 1945/46, stopped a beautiful car in front our house, a Ford V8, 1945 and an enormous man, for me,steped off, with good, smiling face, blond and more than pink complexion ; he was another Domingo, son of Augustus, cousin of my father twice because their fathers were brothers and their mothers sisters, that is to say they shared the same maternal and paternal surnames, both families had travelled in the same ship from Belgium and possibly they were from the same town and once they arrived here, established close to each other.This Domingo was the "rich uncle" of the family, that came from southern city, in his self-flaming car; he was associate of the firm Ronchi Mill of the North Band, Río Cuarto, and he arrived with his children: Jorge and Rubén, something older than I.
Months later there was a national census that lasted three days, , and my father went on holidays, so we travelled to Domindo's house. There I knew Augustus and Ramona, his parents, both the opposite face of my grandparents, Augustus brave and Ramona sweet, my grandfather Hypolite sweet and my grandmother Felisa brave, understanding for brave of great character and bad temper.
I passed the three days with Jorge and Rubén and with their cousins, a multitude of girls, daughters I believe, of Hipólito and of Carlos, to whom I also knew, although not remember them very well.
Some months later, in 1948 or 49, came to Cordoba, Augustus, to whom all called Agustín, for a medical processing by a serious illness in the skin of their left ear for which went to the old German Clinic for a radiation treatment. Only a few months later he died Río Cuarto.
As time went by, 25 years later I returned to that clinic that had changed name and renewed its facade, to practice my specialty and each time I went through that door recalled my uncle grand father.
Jorge, its grandson, came several times to my parents' house, and it should have been summer, because together we traveled through the natural spas of the zone, we did climbing and we ran adventures of young adolescents with my envy by their long trousers, that I had to expect some months to be able to get my own, since in that epoch they arrived with the 15 years. They were other times and other customs.
In 1962 I left for United States and in my trip to Bs. Aires. I visited Alcorta and I saw the grandmother Felisa for the last time. And can not stop recalling that short, fat woman, of strong character, with duck walking, the "faith healer" of crops of all farmers around, during years, that had been and still was, pure energy.
By then, my uncle Víctor and its children no longer lived there.
And now I think for what reason the surname was added with an "E" in Argentina ? According to my father, it was like that in Belgium, besides some of the Augustus' descendants also have two "E", and in a book that Sergio facilitated me on Moerbeke Waas, in the page 33 is mentioned Fiel VanMEEgroot, cousin of my grand father. Also my father said that the particle " Van", was writing in lower-case letter and here grew to capital letter and that the root Meegroot, had relation with wood or relating to the wood, according to another Belgian flemish said once. Nevertheless when recently I collect my grandfather's and father's birth, wedding and death certificates, I saw with surprise that both had onlye one "E" in their surname, but Felix, stubbornly signed with double E...
One must recognize that, as far as I know, the authorities or employees at the end of XIX century and beginnings of the XX, were not certainly very literary, and my grandfathers were practically illiterate, at least in Spanish, after his complicated native tongue, they signed copying his name, as can be seen in this wedding certificate nº 93, where figures like Hipólito Van Megroot and and he signs MeEgrootE.
But what happens to my uncle Domingo exceeds all the barriers.
When he was born in 1907, my grandparents lived in a rural zone of Sta Fé, and the judge of peace of those days noted it as it sounded, influenced perhaps by the Italian colony of the zone as BALMEGROTTI. But he did not recognize and I do not know how he did but married, noted its children and did all its business with the original surname until some day had to do a species of law suit to recover his identity, marriage and children and to rid of the Italian mister Balmegrotti.
Years passed by, my children became adults and as periodically occurs in our country, a wave of anxiety occurred in obtaining the nationality of parents or grandfathers and my son Marcos went to the Belgian Consulate in Cordoba to ascertain, in 1990, they asked him for several documents, birth and wedding certificates of the ancestors in order to justify the descent. My father and my grandfather already dead and Sergio had not contacted me yet to give me all, or the majority of those data. So his illusion was deferred to this present of internet, in which I have the antecedents and necessary roles, presented in the Consulate of Belgium in Cordoba, because I simply want to feel the pride to be Argentine by birth and Belgian by blood, now a reality since August 2003.-
Now thanks this humble work, our lineage and our history is known to all and I have seen with pride, satisfaction and, at times, grief, the faces of those who preceded us and made us what we are, and with immense happiness those of the generations after me, hoping that I have been able to transmit them the same principles that my ancestors instilled me, though I must accept that with my grown up children Gabriela and Marcos, the sowing was not in fertile soil, they became thiefs, liars and crooks.
25 October 2003