In the article that I wrote for the Michigan's Habitant Heritage, “Walking in the Footsteps: A Trip to Nicolas Peltier's Hometown of Gallardon, France” (MHH vol. 20, no. 4, Oct. 1999, pp. 166-169), I described the trip I had made with my wife, Dorothy, in March of that year to my ancestral homeland. (Editor's note: To see Bill's 1999 visit to Gallardon, published on this site, click here) Little did we know then that in July, 2005, we would be returning to Gallardon for a grand event. On July 14th, which is Bastille Day in France, we found ourselves back in Gallardon for the dedication of a plaque honoring the memory of my seventeenth-century ancestor Nicolas Peltier, whose descendants today bear the names Peltier, Pelletier, Antaya, Anteau, Antieau, Antaille, Chateauneuf, Pelkey, Pelkie and Pelky, among others. The actual ceremony took place on the outskirts of Gallardon, in the hamlet of Germonval, where many Pelletier families lived at the time of Nicolas.
What made this trip extra special for my wife and me was that our youngest son, Christopher, our grandson, Nathan, and his mother, Carina Madsen,
were also present at the dedication. I was very proud to have three generations of our family returning to Nicolas Peltier's birthplace for this
celebration of his life. Another descendant of Nicolas Peltier, who came representing the Pelletiers of North America, was our good friend
Benoit Pelletier-Shoja from Nashua, New Hampshire. And representing the Association des Familles Pelletier, Inc. of Canada was
Pascal Pelletier and his spouse, Lise Lapointe. Pascal is not a descendant of Nicolas but of Pierre Pelletier, who was both a contemporary
and an acquaintance of Nicolas. Finally, very much to our delight, that day we met a distant cousin, Jacques Pelletier, and his wife,
Jacqueline. They had come from their home in nearby Chartres. Jacques, who is a very young 81 years old, was originally a native of Gallardon.
Now, one may ask how our visit to Gallardon in 1999 culminated in our return six years later. The answer to that lies in great part in the
wonders of the Internet and countless e-mails to many friends around the world, along with finding multiple articles written on Pelletier
genealogy (Pelletier Genealogy, this site, among others), and mostly, on the cultivation of North American and French friendships. As I sought help to continue my genealogical search in
France, I came to know Xavier Guyot, who was founder and president of the Genealogical Club at IBM France. He was very helpful to my initial
research by going to Gallardon searching for and collecting information on Nicolas which he sent to me. We were very excited by his findings
and decided that we needed to go to France.
In 1999, in preparation for our voyage to France, we contacted the Mayor of Gallardon and told him of our plans to visit our ancestral homeland.
And that is how we came to know Florine Perry. Florine was the Mayor's executive assistant who was assigned to help us when we arrived at the
Mayor's office. Ms. Perry not only helped us at that time, but she also subsequently became our very good friend as she continued to search
the municipal archives for information on the family of Nicolas after our departure and kept in touch with us with her findings. Returning home
from this initial trip to France, we made contact with a young man named Ben Shoja; we had learned that he could help us translate the
documents that we had collected in Gallardon. Well, it turned out that Ben not only translated the documents we needed, but he provided
notes and articles about his historical findings on Nicolas Peltier in the archives in Quebec. Being fluent in French, he was also able to
collaborate with Florine Perry on her early findings regarding the Peltier family in the Gallardon Church Acts from 1578 to about 1640.
(See MHH, Vol. 25, No. 2, April 2004, pp, 60-69, “Nicolas Peltier, A Chronicle, 1594 - 1678”, The continuing research into the Peltier
family in Gallardon has resulted in some changes to the material found over two years ago.)
In May 2003, Florine Perry and her fiancé, Eric Blaise, came for a two-week visit to Quebec. During their fortnight in the Belle Province,
they met for supper with Ben, Pascal and Lise, as well as with Claude E. Pelletier and his wife, Laure E. Gauthier, who were the genealogists
of the Association des Families Pelletier at that time. Florine's research and findings on Nicolas were the main topics of discussion that
evening; over the course of the meal, friendships were forged. Also that evening Florine and Eric sprang a big surprise on everyone. They
presented a letter from Mr. Beaufils, the Mayor of Gallardon. The Mayor indicated his desire to honor his city's native son, Nicolas Peltier,
who had emigrated with his family from France in 1636 and sailed to Quebec City, and whose descendants had returned to his homeland seeking
their roots. The letter stated that a plaque would be erected in the hamlet of Germonval, which is just outside of Gallardon, because it was
the location of a property that is still today referred to by locals as the “Pelletier Farm”. The Mayor extended an invitation to
all those related to Nicolas Peltier to come to Gallardon for the dedication of this plaque; those who could attend this ceremony would be
welcomed as his honored guests. When we learned of this invitation, my wife and I initially feared we would be unable to make the trip to
France for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
The following year Florine and Eric visited with Dorothy and me in Athens, Georgia, for two weeks in August, 2004. Ben Shoja was able to come
down to Georgia as well. Leaving Dorothy at home as she had to work, Florine, Eric, Ben and I headed down to New Orleans and the Cajun
country of Louisiana, where many early French immigrants had settled. Unfortunately Ben had to leave after visiting New Orleans as he was due
in Quebec where he was going to study at the provincial university in Chicoutimi. Florine, Eric and I continued on to visit Memphis, Tennessee,
the mountains of North Georgia, and the Smoky Mountain National Park. We had a very good time exploring these areas. It was a wonderful visit
and during this time we again discussed what specific date would befit the ceremony to honor our ancestor Nicolas Peltier. Sometime in 2006 had
seemed appropriate as that would be the 340th anniversary of Nicolas' emigration from France, But July 14, 2005, was finally selected as the
best date, as the dedication could coincide with Bastille Day festivities in Gallardon and that seemed like a good idea.
A week prior to the July 14th ceremony, Dorothy and I flew to Brussels, Belgium, to visit with our son, Christopher, and his family. After a
week there we rented a car and then drove down to Gallardon, arriving at the town hall on July 13th, where we were met by Florine, Eric, and
Eric's sister and brother-in-law, Joelle and Roger Alamichel. Ben Shoja, who had traveled to southwestern France at the start of the month,
had arrived in Gallardon earlier that week. Also there to greet us were Pascal Pelletier and Lise Lapointe. French hearts and homes were opened
to us during our stay as Eric and Florine hosted Ben, and Joelle and Roger hosted Pascal, Lise, Dorothy and me. Accommodations at a nearby
bed-and-breakfast were provided for Christopher, Carina and Nathan. That same evening Roger and Joelle hosted a down-home BBQ cookout, French
style, for all at their home. The food was accompanied by a sampling of a variety of homemade and local wines, and some wines from the Loire
Valley. Our entertainment was provided by Christopher and Nathan. As Christopher played his guitar and sang for us, Nathan danced happily
along with the music. We also lit sparklers to celebrate the holiday. It was such a memorable evening, setting the tone for the following day's
The next day, Bastille Day, the “delegates” from the United States and Canada, along with the Mayor and other citizens of Gallardon,
and surprising us all, Jacques and Jacqueline Pelletier, who drove up from Chartres, assembled at the Place du Jeu de Paume, the square in
front of the city hall. While waiting for everyone to gather, I noticed American and Canadian flags waving beside the French tricolor and the
European Union flags. They were hanging from the second-story balcony of the city hall. I thought that this was a very nice salute to the
North American guests.