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Peter Nicolas Gerardy
Birth: Apr. 25, 1831
Departement de la Moselle
Lorraine, France
Death: May 27, 1911
Clay County
Kansas, USA

From "The Pierre Gerardy Family in America," by Evelyn Potter Park, 1979:

Peter (Pierre) Nicolas Gerardy was born at Waldwisse in the canton of Sierck-les-Bains, Alsace-Lorraine, France, on April 25, 1831, the eldest son of Pierre and Marguerite (Nicolas) Gerardy. Peter was well educated in the schools in France where he learned to speak fluent German and French. According to family tradition, Peter spent two years in training for the priesthood in France, but later left the Catholic Church after he came to America.

In 1854, at the age of 22, he came to America with his parents and two brothers. [See his father's bio for the details.] At first they farmed a homestead near Palermo, Doniphan County, Kansas, but claim jumpers kept trying to seize it. Finally they burned the Gerardy house down, along with everything they had brought from Europe. So they sold their rights to the homestead, and Peter pre-empted a quarter-section of land about four or five miles southwest of Palermo [in Wayne township]. Peter deeded the north half of the section to his brothers, Gabriel and John, and built a large stone house on his half.

On April 20, 1859, Peter was united in marriage to Caroline Christel at Wathena, Kansas. The names and dates of their children are recorded in Peter Gerardy's German Bible. Since Caroline spoke only German at the time, that became the language spoken in the home. None of the children, except perhaps Albert, could speak English when they started to school.

Peter served as a First Lieut. in the Kansas State Militia in 1864. His two brothers, Gabriel and John, also served in the same company at the same time. After the close of the Civil War in 1864, Peter sold his share of the farm to Oliver Cullum and moved to Wathena where he built a brewery, but within three years they had lost everything they had in the brewery business. So they moved into a small house near Wathena which was owned by John Meidinger.

Sometime that same fall of 1869 Peter made a trip out to Washington County , Kansas, to file for a claim, which was about one hundred miles west of Wathena. It was prairie land and was at that time only sparsely settled. The next spring he returned to the homestead in Washington County and built a small frame house for his family . About that time he received a letter from the Land Office warning him to get his family on the claim immediately as someone was making plans to "jump it." He wrote Caroline to come at once. She left the two oldest children, Paul and Anna, with her sister, Henrietta Meidinger, and took the three youngest children with her to Washington County to help Peter save the claim. She stayed alone with the three small children while Peter went back to Wathena for stock, tools , household goods and the other two children, Paul and Anna. He chartered a railroad car from Atchison to Waterville, which was about thirty miles from the claim. He and the children walked and drove the cattle; then he went back for the goods and implements. In all, Caroline was alone about three weeks on the prairie with three babies and neighbors several miles distant.

Herman Gerardy wrote this account of their early days in Washington County. "By the time they were settled in Washington County, they had only a cash capital of $3.00 remaining. Since Peter was a skilled carpenter, he often was away from home for more or less extended periods of time earning money to buy essentials. Caroline's indomitable courage never failed and with her little brood she kept the home fire burning and aided in the matter of providing food for them by attending to her cows and chickens and raising a garden. There were no fences in those early days, so the cattle had to be herded during the day on the prairie. This lonely and tiresome task fell to the boys. The younger boys took over the herding as the older ones grew old enough to help in the garden and in the fields. Two more sons, George and Emile, were born in Washington County."

They stayed on the Washington County farm until the claim was proved by five years residence and improvements. On November 17, 1875, they traded it for one near Fact, Goshen Township, Clay County, Kansas. The two farms, the one in Washington County and the one in Clay County, were only seven miles apart. They joined the Goshen Congregational Church (a German church) after they moved to Clay County, Kansas.

In a letter to [his brother] Gabriel dated December 24, 1881, Peter paints this word picture of their life at that time. "Paul works for a Frenchman who has a coal mine. He weighs the coal and counts it. He has a good place. He earns good money and he is a good friend of his master (boss). Edouard works the farm with William. Herman is our cook with mama since Anna has gone (married). Emile and Frank gather the eggs and pay attention to little Celestin and the papa encourages and watches that the work is done. All love little Celestin (Albert) from the youngest to the oldest. Everybody works, everybody earns their bread, but we were too poorly paid for our work this year. The drought was long . Nevertheless I do not complain, We had a fairly good harvest compared to our neighbors. Our wheat was so-so and I think that our corn will sustain us until next harvest. Certainly I am obliged to take it easy or expand only a little at a time. I have 7 horses, 30 animals with horns (probably cattle), and 30 hogs to winter. We entirely lack potatoes but with good bread and meat we will not be hungry. We have 115 acres in cultivation on our farm and I also have rented 60 acres which makes 175 acres to work in springtime. You will tell me it is a lot, but I have the strength. The drought does not disturb me. We will regain that which we lost. (Though the letter was written in French, Peter concluded the letter with the following wish written in English): A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year."

Around 1901 "Caroline's dream house was built. It was a large two-story house, which is still standing today. East of the house they planted a large orchard and a grape vineyard. They had a cider press for making apple cider and Peter is said to have made wine from the grapes in the vineyard, as was the custom in France where he had grown up. A large garden was also planted each year to provide food for the family.

Peter died May 27, 1911, at Clay Center, Kansas, at the home of his daughter, Anna Faivre.
Family links: 
  Pierre Gerardy (1792 - 1860)
  Marguerite Nicola Gerardy (1797 - 1855)
  Caroline Christel Gerardy (1838 - 1904)*
  Paul Gerardy (1860 - 1927)*
  Anna Gerardy Faivre (1861 - 1948)*
  Louise Gerardy (1862 - 1863)*
  August Gerardy (1864 - 1864)*
  Edward Gerardy (1865 - 1942)*
  William Gerardy (1867 - 1945)*
  Herman Henry Gerardy (1869 - 1941)*
  George Gerardy (1872 - 1874)*
  Emile Lafayette Gerardy (1875 - 1945)*
  Frank Charles Gerardy (1877 - 1951)*
  Albert Lester Gerardy (1881 - 1934)*
  Peter Nicolas Gerardy (1831 - 1911)
  Gabriel Gerardy (1832 - 1916)*
  John Gerardy (1841 - 1907)*
*Calculated relationship
Peter Gerardy, Apr 25, 1831 - May 27, 1911
Appleton Cemetery
Clay County
Kansas, USA
Maintained by: Darrell Brown
Originally Created by: Cristy
Record added: Sep 28, 2008
Find A Grave Memorial# 30156271
Peter Nicolas Gerardy
Added by: Darrell Brown
Peter Nicolas Gerardy
Added by: Darrell Brown
Peter Nicolas Gerardy
Added by: Darrell Brown
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