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The Belgian Lineage > Biography of Edmond Ernest Forret

Biography of Edmond Ernest Forret

Written by his wife, Ella (Hahn) Forret, and submitted here by his grandson, Jeff P. Forret. This biography details the emigration of Edmond and his father, Camille, from Belgium to the United States.

Edmond Ernest Forret departed for the United States on October 10, 1910, from Antwerp, Belgium, with his father, Camille. They sailed to England in a day and took a train to Liverpool. There, one mile out in the deep water of the ocean, they loaded a ship bound for New York City and departed at 2:00 AM. That day, they stopped at Ireland for men, women, children and mail. The trip to New York took three days, the ship arriving at 10:00 PM. Camille and Edmond Forret remained on the ship until morning, at which point they were processed at Ellis Island. They were given physical examinations and were checked to see if they had enough money to enter the United States. Each person needed $60. One man who did not have enough money was sent back to Belgium, but Edmond's mother had given him $150 before he left for the U.S., so he was allowed to stay.

That night, Camille and Edmond boarded a train for Moline, Illinois, changing trains at Chicago en route. They arrived in Moline ten days after leaving Belgium. In Moline, Camille and Edmond met Edmund Verbeast, Camille's half-brother. Camille and Edmond took Verbeast's horse and buggy to Verbeast's home, where they had supper. They stayed with him until they found work. The next week, Edmond Forret went to Davenport (Iowa) with Verbeast to buy potatoes, but he also went jobhunting. The following Monday, Edmond began working at the Sash & Door Works in Rock Island, Illinois. He remained there until March 1, 1911, when he began working on the Ed Ransom farm east of Grand Mound, Iowa, where he stayed through August.

Meanwhile, Camille went to work for Emil Rotty west of Grand Mound. Verbeast then got Camille and Edmond to work on his farm; they did this until the corn was harvested. Edmond then began working at a dairy farm for the winter, only to return to the Ransom farm where he stayed for five years. Camille returned to Belgium and urged Edmond to do the same, but Edmond refused. He gave his father $150 to give back to his mother, payment for the money she had given him when he left.

In 1916, Edmond began working for Henry Green west of Grand Mound. He stayed there until 1917. On January 24, he married Ella Hahn in Grand Mound and began working for Ella's father, Louis Hahn. Edmond continued to work for his father-in-law for nine months. He and Ella lived in the smaller of the two houses on Louis Hahn's farm. Edmond earned $35 per month, feed for two cows, and two dozen eggs per week. Ella's parents furnished the house, two cows, and two dozen chickens.

On March 1, 1918, Edmond and Ella moved to the Henry Griebel farm, 120 acres six miles northwest of Grand Mound. They farmed there for seven years. While at that farm, they lost a premature baby and, on March 8, 1921, were blessed with the birth of a daughter, Mary Ellen. Nevertheless, Edmond said that the next child would come after corn picking so Ella could help with the farm. In 1925, they moved to the Nell O'Brien farm, one mile east of Calamus, Iowa, along Highway 30. They bought this 160-acre farm in 1942 for $125 per acre. Edmond and Ella stayed on the O'Brien farm until May 21, 1955, when they moved to Grand Mound into a house that their son, Jim, built. In September of 1920, Edmond broke his leg in Elmer Pruh's gravel pit while working out his poll tax (road funds). On January 24, 1928, he had his appendix removed at Mercy Hospital in Davenport, Iowa. In June of 1954, he went there to have his kidney stones removed as well. Edmond developed a large sore the size of a silver dollar on his toe, and it would not heal, so in June of 1962, he went to DeWitt Community Hospital and discovered that he had diabetes. He remained in the hospital for eleven day.

He returned to the hospital on December 14, 1962, for on the 17th, in a one and one-half hour operation, doctors amputated his left leg just below the knee. The pain ceased after four days, and Edmond went home January 2, 1963, weighing 190 pounds. He was confined to a wheelchair for five weeks, but after that, crutches were all that was necessary. On March 26, 1963, Edmond was measured for an artificial limb at Winkley Artificial Limb Company in Davenport. He got the nine pound aritificial limb on May 3, and quickly dubbed it "the log." In June of 1963, he started driving again. Unfortunately, by January 3, 1964, Edmond's weight ballooned to 237 pounds, an increase of 47 pounds in one year. On Thursday, January 23, 1964, Johnny Hahn's Piggly Wiggly grocery store opened. Frank Forret drove his parents Edmond and Ella to the store. He and his mother went in, while Edmond stayed in the car. When they came out with their groceries at about 3:00 PM, Edmond was dying of a heart attack. Frank and Ella rushed Edmond to the hospital, but he was dead on arrival. Edmond always called Ella "the woman." Another of his catch phrases was directed at her: "Hurry up, now!. Ella said that "when the boys didn't want to do what he said or done something he didn't like, Edmond would say you are just like your mother." Edmond and his wife were both Catholics.

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Last Modified: 6-October-2000
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