DeWaele Family Tree





The DeWaele Name

The name DeWaele in Dutch means "the foreigner, coming from the South".  The French-speaking people living in Southern Belgium are called in Dutch 'de Walen' which translates into English as 'the Walloons' (French-speaking people of Celtic descent inhabiting southern and southeast Belgium and adjacent regions of France).  The Germanic name was Walha, originally for the Celtic Volcae.  In England the name translates to Wales.  The name was used for foreign neighbors (Celtics, Romans, Roman-speaking) (source: Frank DeWaele).  

DeWaele History

Our DeWaele ancestors lived in Belgium, and the first known de Waele - Jan Andries - was born in Gent.  He and his wife Lysbette De Vriendt had grandchildren who moved to Lochristi, just northeast of Gent.  Decedents of these de Waeles spread to Sinaai, Zaffelare, Elksaarde, & Zeveneken, all very close to Lochristi (see map) - which is why we are able to trace the de Waele lineage back to ~1500.  See a picture of the Church of Sinaai where most de Waeles are buried.  It is said there is further info going back to a priest named John back in the 1100s (Sandra Thorne Borgon, quoting her mother Lorraine DeWaele Thorne).

Click to enlarge.

On the 24th of October, 1839, Charles Leonard DeWaele (from Charles onward the spelling of DeWaele will be with a capital D and no space) was born in Sinaai to Henricus de Waele and Adelaide Scheiris, who are actually 3rd cousins as you can see in the tree. Adelaide died when Charles was six. In 1869 Charles and his wife Blondina Heuninck (both baptized in the Church of Sinaai) immigrated to the United States. They went to Rotterdam (Netherlands) where they boarded a ship - they never returned to Belgium. Their sons Edgar and Emiel remained behind with their grandparents. Charles and Blondina lived briefly in La Fayette, Indiana, and then settled in Michigan, which is why most DeWaeles still live there today. They started out poor, but Charles worked hard to eventually become Prosecuting Attorney of Roscommon, Michigan.  Charles & Blondina had 10 children: 3 died at very young ages, another died as a teenager, 2 were raised in Europe and 5 were raised in Michigan. Charles and Blondina have many descendents in both the United States and Belgium. 


Click to enlarge.  


Left:  DeWaele family in October 1889, reunited for the Silver Wedding Anniversary (25th) of Charles and Blondina.  Names listed above  photo.

Right:  DeWaele family, Summer 1908.  Names listed beside photo. 



Left:  DeWaele brothers:  Alfred, Henry, Arthur, & Emiel.  Edgar had returned to Europe.

Right:  DeWaele family reunion photo, August 2001.

Click here to see ALL the DeWaele photos

Keeping In Touch Overseas

Although Charles and Blondina never returned to Belgium, they kept in touch with his family in Belgium through letters (click to view a copy of one).  In this letter to Edgar, Charles congratulates him on the birth of his third child Maria DeWaele.  Charles then announces the birth of Calvin Arthur Campbell in 1902.  He writes: �Little by little I�m getting old, I�m 64 years old.  From my sister Mathilde no news.  In the USA this year we had great accidents, inundations, whirlwinds, and drought.  Nevertheless there is hope for a good harvest.�  Charles finishes with greetings from Blondina.  

Many visits between the children, grandchildren, and great grand children have occurred through the years:  

In 1938 Arthur DeWaele, his wife Helen, his daughter Alice, and his sister Emily DeWaele drove their car from Michigan to Canada (750 miles), boarded a boat to Scotland (with their car), and drove to Belgium to see Edgar (for the first time in ~47 years), his wife Marie, and their children.  

Joseph DeWaele (son of Edgar) kept in touch with Lorraine DeWaele (daughter of Arthur) - Joseph would come to American each year in the summer to teach at different universities and would always come to spend some time with her family in Bay City (the Thornes).  Joseph also visited some of Alfred's family like Elizabeth DeWaele and her daughter Mary Donnelly Smith, who met Joseph in the 1950s.

Joseph's son Joseph (Edgar's grandson) and his wife Denise would visit Lorraine DeWaele as well.  Then for Lorraine & Robert Thorne's 50th wedding anniversary Joseph called Sandra Thorne Borgon and said he was in Miami and would like to come up for the party, where he met many DeWaeles for the first time. "He asked me if we could trade children over the summers and that's what happened," said Sandra Borgon.  Nienke & Cookie (daughters of Joseph) both stayed with the Borgons in the summer in the late 1980s, and Susan Borgon traveled to stay with the cousins in Belgium as well.  Hopefully this will become tradition.  Sandra and her husband Frank Borgon have also visited the European cousins in Nijmegen.

The Reunion

On August 2nd through August 5th 2001, 82 relatives from both Europe and the United States attended a DeWaele family reunion in Traverse City, Michigan.  The event was organized by Mary Donnelly Smith, granddaughter of Alfred.  It was very unique, and a great time was had by all.    

The Tree

Click here to enter the actual DeWaele Tree (see below for tree summaries)

DeWaele Family Tree summary (click to enlarge)



Dewaele & Heuninck



            Arthur                                 Emiel                     Emily             



           Alfred                       Henry                               Edgar


For more information email me at

Romania DeWaele:  Romanie (daughter of Edgar) dedicated many, many hours researching the DeWaele Family Tree. She is responsible for almost all of the information in the tree and we are all very thankful for her hard work.  Since most DeWaeles lived in neighboring towns in Belgium, Romanie was able to compile our family tree by researching marriages, birth records, and tombstones.  Romanie passed away in 2000.  Click to see some of Romanie's original work from which I gathered data:  (1) (2)

Walter Gaspar:  Walter (grandson of Edgar) provided the foundation for the DeWaele Family Tree.  He initially compiled much of Romanie's work into books on the DeWaele genealogy, and entered much of the data (most names & dates found here) into a computer file & printout which I utilized for this tree.  He also provided  many photos for Frank DeWaele's reunion book (many of which are used in the tree) and the poem & letter written by Charles.  Click here to see a photo of Walter's original tree.

Frank DeWaele:  Frank DeWaele (grandson of Edgar) is another great source of information for the DeWaele Family Tree. He compiled a book of the DeWaele Family Reunion 2001 in Traverse City, MI which has helped fill in many gaps and added flavor to the family history.  Hopefully I will have time to one day scan the entire book and put it online for all to see.

John Arthur Thorne:  John Thorne (grandson of Arthur) has dedicated many years researching the DeWaele, Archambault, Chene, & Thorne family trees. He has visited genealogy libraries, churches, courthouses, and graveyards in many cities to piece the individual branches of our trees together.

Sandra Thorne Borgon:  I would like to thank my mother (granddaughter of Arthur) for her input on the DeWaele Family Tree.  Without her I would have had access to none of the DeWaele information (from the previous 3 sources) and this website would have never gotten off the ground.  She also provided many stories on DeWaeles here in America.

Mary Donnelly Smith:  Mary (granddaughter of Alfred) organized the DeWaele Family Reunion in 2001 where 80+ people from this tree met for a weekend in Traverse City, MI. Mary is one of the main sources for Alfred's branch of the DeWaele tree, and has provided a lot of valuable information, as well as contacts to most of the other branches. 

Mark Zielinski:  Mark (great grandson of Emiel) has filled in the majority of Emiel's tree, and provided many unknown names and dates in that branch.

Sue Parker Coscarelly:  Sue (great granddaughter of Henry) has provided most of the names and dates for Henry's section of the tree.