Recently I received an inquiry from a researcher doing research in Mexico City on a Claudon line that moved there in the 1870s from New Orleans. He wondered if my family was related somehow to the family he is researching. While I had no information for him, I realized that much of the family research I did during the 1970s might not be easily accessible for others doing research, so I decided it was time to tell about my gr-great grandfather Nicholas Claudon.
The only copy of a picture of Nicholas and his wife is a very bad xerox copy given me in the 1970s. Seen in the picture at top, he has what my family always referred to as the Claudon look--balding, square body, stocky like the horses they raised.
My family line stems back to Nicholas Claudon, born 7 March 1800, in northern Lorraine, France, under the rule of Napoleon Bonaparte. According to family tradition, Nicholas was orphaned as a child, so I'm not sure whether his biological family was Claudon or if he took the name from people who raised him. Nor do I know whether he had any siblings. One of his early memories was the experience of guarding prisoners of Napoleon’s army.
In his youth, Nicholas joined the Mennonite Church. As an adult he became a farmer and, according to family tradition, sold Percheron horses to American dealers [quite possibility to my great-great grandfather David VanDolah].
In 1836 Nicholas married Barbara Baechler (born 1814 in Lorraine). One of the only things told of her was that she had a lovely singing voice. The couple settled in Reding, Lorraine, near Sarrebourg, until around 1848 when they moved to Eich, also near Sarrebourg. They lived there until the 1870s (probably until the Germans invaded Lorraine during the Franco-Prussian war). They then joined their daughter, Mrs. Chris Sommer, at Pagny-sur-Meuse, near Toul.
The Claudons had five sons and three daughters:
- Christian Claudon (1837-1892), farmer, came to Canada in 1859 and moved to Tremont, Tazewell County, Illinois in 1860. Later settled in Yates Township, McLean County, near Chenoa, Illinois, in 1866. Married Anne (Baechler) Rupp Claudon in 1861 and four children (2 daughters survived him).
- Joseph Claudon (1840-1898),farmer, located near Pekin, Tazewell County, Illinois, around 1858 and moved later to Waldo Township, Livingston County, Illinois where he farmed. He and his wife had eight children.
- Mary (Claudon) King (1844-1897) came in 1866 to the US, marrying in 1868 Daniel R. King, who lived in Nebraska Township, two miles south of Flanagan, Illinois. The Kings had no children, but provided for an orphanage (The Salem Children’s Home) which was erected in 1888.
- Andrew Baechler Claudon (1846-1932), banker, grain and coal dealer, harness maker, located in Chenoa (1867) and then Fairbury (1869). He ran the Fairbury elevator with his brother Nicholas Jr. and owned the Claudon State Bank, Fairbury, Illinois. He married Mary ‘Mollie’ Alice (McDowell) Claudon in 1877. They had five children.
- Barbara (Claudon) Sommer (1849-1928), married Christian Sommer (a miller) in France in 1869. They had five children. Came to the United States with her son in 1891 and her husband and daughter followed. Settled in Bellflower Township, McLean County, Illinois. She finally settled in Pontiac, Illinois.
- Peter (Pierre) Claudon (1852-1913)—this is my line—farmer, came to Livingston County, Illinois in 1871. Married Catherine “Kate” Vercler) Claudon in 1855. They had two children. After her death in 1881, he married Magdalena “Lena” (Englel) Claudon and they had four children.
- Nicholas B. Claudon, Jr. (1855-1913), grain-dealer, came to the US in 1873 to Chenoa, Illinois, working on Dan King’s farm until 1881 when he became a partner in Stuckey & Claudon, a mercantile business at Danvers (1881-1883). Later established the firm of Claudon Brothers which put him in the grain business. He married Mary Ann (Schirtz) Claudon in 1858 and they had two children.
- Daughter who died in infancy.
Family tradition holds that Nicholas Sr. did not believe in military service, so to avoid his sons’ conscription he sent each to the United States when they came of age. [I don’t know that this is a true assumption.] Ironically, during the Franco-Prussian was, his youngest son, then about 16, was captured by the Germans and compelled for three days to haul provisions for the enemy on the line near Strasbourg.
On 11 Mar 1880 at Pagny-sur-Meuse, Lorraine, France, Barbara (Baechler) Claudon died. [This date is from the Gerig family bible, which was originally Joseph Claudon’s. Nicholas obit lists the date as 14 February 1878.]
In the summer of 1889, Joseph Claudon returned to Lorraine from America to see his childhood places and his aged father. When he returned home, he brought his father and nephew J.C. Sommer back with him to Illinois. It was stated that Nicholas Sr. at 89 had been the oldest man to ever cross the Atlantic Ocean [probably referring to the ship's history]. The group arrived in Fairbury, Livingston County, Illinois, on 3 July.
Nicholas was said to have been pleased with his new home and never regretted leaving Lorraine. His grandchildren were impressed with the fact that he never drank anything but wine the whole time he was in America.
Nicholas stayed with his daughter, Mrs. Daniel King, near Flanagan, Illinois. Unlike his daughter and son-in-law, however, who attended the Salem Mennonite Church, Nicholas attended the Flanagan Mennonite Church, then known as “Stuckey Amish.” He joined the church in 1890.
On Tuesday, 28 December 1893, after an illness of four days, Nicholas Claudon, Sr. died at Dan King’s home. He was buried in the Waldo township cemetery, Livingston County, Illinois. The tombstone has now almost disappeared under a large shrub.
Sources: Nicholas Claudon obituary, Bloomington (IL) Pantagraph, 1 Jan 1894; the Gerig family bible; Christopher Strawn, Fordyce B. Johnson & George H. Franzen. Ed, History of Livingston Co (IL), vol. 2 (Chicago: Munsell Publishing Co, 1909), p 876; my grandmother, Leta Elson Claudon; Ivan Lorenzo Claudon, my father; Stephen Estes.
As I was growing up, there were other Claudons and Claudins in the Pontiac, Illinois, area who I could not connect to my family. (I do remember my father introducing me to a Claudin at a restaurant in Pontiac, but he was unable to connect him to our history.)
When I was doing research in Livingston County, Illinois, I found the following Claudins listed but do not believe they are part of my line. Listing their information, however, might help someone else sort out the families.
Other Claudon, Claudin, Clandin, Clodine, Choldina information:
Births, Livingston Co, IL
- Lea Claudin b 9 Feb 1880, Waldo Twp. to Basile Claudin, farmer Gridley, b La Munch, France, 46 and Mary Sommer, b Ohio, 41. 10th child.
- Richard J. Claudin, b 9 Nov 1914, Pontiac to Jake A. Claudin, b IL 23 and Harriet Morris, b IL 20. 1st child.
- Mary L. Claudin, b 29 Aug 1882, Waldo Twp, to Basile Claudin, farmer, b Lovejir (?) France, 48 and Mary Sommer, b Tazewell Co, IL. 11th child of mother.
- Jerome Howard Claudin, b 2 Oct 1929, Pontiac, to Howard Irvin Claudin, printer, b Pontiac, 25 and Alice Malmrose, b Pontiac, 25, first child.
- Gloria Jean Claudin, b 30 Oct 1936, Pontiac, to Robert James Claudin, shoe worker, live 807 E. Livingston, b Pontiac, 25 and Harriet Jean Phipps, b Mitchell, IN, 26. First child.
- Hugh John Claudin, b 29 Sep 1908, Fairbury, IL to John W. Claudin, electrician lineman, Fairbury, b Roanoke, IL, 20, and Mabel A. Harrington, b Toronto, Canada, 22, first child.
Marriages, Livingston Co, IL
- Christian Claudin of Roanoke, liveryman, b Gridley, 23, f John Claudin, m Magdalena Abersol married 25 May 1899, Livingston Co, to Florence Thompson of Roanoke, b Roanoke, 24, f Charles Thompson.
Marriages, Woodford Co, IL
- Claudin, Bazil m Mary Sommer, 5-30-1858
- Claudin, Eugene m Mary Ann Parsons, 10-16-1847
- Claudin, John m Mary Sontag, 7-15-1854
- Claudin, John E. m Magdalene Eversole, 11-8-1868
- Miller, John Peter m Gisteen Claudin, 5-21-1847
Death Records, Livingston Co, IL
- Jacob Claudin, d 31 Dec 1945, Pontiac.
- Res 702 S. Locust Pontiac.
- Wife Harriet Morris
- Occupation printer, Pontiac Leader
- B 15 Sep 1890 (55-3-16) Roanoke, f John E. Claudin, b Metamora, IL and m Magdalena Abersol, France
- Bur Pontiac
- Res 702 S. Locust Pontiac.
- Peter Claudin, d 9 Mar 1949, Pontiac.
- Res 1100 N. Hazel
- Wife Jennie C. Irvin
- Occupation carpenter and grocer
- B 22 Jul 1871 (77-7-15) Gridley, f John E Claudin, IL and m Magdahlena Abersole, IL
- Bur Southside, Pontiac
- Res 1100 N. Hazel
- Ben Claudin, d 29 Mar 1959, Pontiac.
- Res Pontiac, 20 years
- Occupation carpenter
- B 1 Dec 1878 (80), Roanoke, f John E. Claudin and m Magdalene
- Res Pontiac, 20 years
- Richard J. Claudin, d 16 Apr 1975, St. James Hospital, Pontiac, IL
- Res Pontiac
- Wife Zelda Murray
- Occupation commercial artist
- B 9 Nov 1914 (60 years), f Jake Claudin and m Harriet Morris
- Bur Pontiac
- Res Pontiac
Probate, Livingston Co, IL
#13637 Jacob A Claudin, d 31 Dec 1945, Pontiac. Wife: Harriet E. Married once. Son Richard J. Claudin, 1420 E 65th St, Chicago. Personal estate: $1800.
26 Oct 1850 Woodford Co, IL
- Claudin [spelled Clodine], Mary, b 56 (1794), f, France, $400.
- Charles, 21 (1829) m France, farmer
- John, 18 (1832)f, France [md 14 Jul 1854, Woodford Co, to Mary Sontag]
- Adell, 17 (1833), France
- Baszille, 15 (1834)m, "La Munch, France" [md 30 May 1858, Woodford Co, to Mary Sommer]
- Mary, 14 (1836), France
- Augustus, 13 (1837), France
- Claudin [spelled Chlodina] Eugine, 22 (1828) m France, farmer
- Mary Ann [Parsons, md 16 Oct 1847]
- John, 2, m IL
- Mary E, 3/12, f IL
18 Jun 1880, Waldo Twp, Livingston Co, IL
- Claudin, Basile, w m 47, farming, b France, fb France, mb France
- Mary, w f 41, wife, keep house, b IL, fb France, mb France
- John w m 19 son work on farm, b IL, fb France, mb IL
- Emma w f 17 dau at home same
- Samuel w m 15 son work on farm same
- Edward w m 13 son same
- Jacob w m 10 son at school same
- William w m 7 son same
- Joseph w m 4 son same
- Wilhelmene w f 2 dau same
- Leah w f 4/12 (Feb) dau same
The Biographical Record of Livingston and Woodford Counties, Illinois, Chicago: The S.J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1900.
Joseph R. Clandin, born 5 January 1870, Metamora, IL. [While the spelling may well be Clandin, I know that I often have people assume the u's I write are n's.]
Grandfather Eugene Clandin, one of the pioneer merchants of Roanoke was born in France and came to the new world about 1853. For several years he was engaged in farming. In 1880 he purchased a store and went into merchandizing under the firm name of E. Clndin [sic] & Son until 1882. He is seventy years old; his wife Marian died in 1892. John E. Clandon was born in 1844. He was a Merchant. Married in 1868, Woodford County to Madeline Ebersoll, native of France. He is a member of the German Apostolic Church, Roanoke. They have 12 children.
If you have a Claudon connection or have anything to contribute, drop me a line and tell me where you fit or where you think you might fit.