The Aubry and Grillot Families in France

The Aubry and Grillot families were from the department of Meuse in the region known as Lorraine in northeastern France. This is the region of France that has seen major destruction in this century's two World Wars, as it was the site of so many major battles.

 The Grillots and their ancestors were from the small towns of Hennemont, Pintheville, and Pareid on the plain east of the Meuse River, between Verdun and Metz. Although most residents of this area were farmers, Louis Grillot was a mason and stone cutter and his father was a weaver. 

Ancestors of Anne Marie Francoise "Frances" Grillot

 The Aubrys and their ancestors were from several towns a few miles to the southwest - Herbeuville, Hannonville-sous-les-Cotes, and Tresauvaux. These towns are in the hills (the "Côtes de Meuse") closer to the river. Like many of their neighbors, the Aubrys earned their living by cultivating small vineyards on the lower slopes of the hills, although a narrow garden plot near their home probably provided many necessities.

Ancestors of Etienne "Stephen" Aubry

 The history of the vine growing on the Côtes dates back as far as the early Middle Ages. Although Lorraine never produced any of the "great" wines like the regions of Burgundy and Champagne, cultivation of the vine was an important source of income.

 Before the French Revolution, vineyards were primarily the property of large landowners - the nobility, religious communities, and wealthy merchants. They were leased to local wine growers who did the planting, cultivating and harvesting. By the 19th century, however, hillside slopes all across northeast France were covered with small vineyards owned by peasant farmers.

 The vineyards required almost year-round attention to complete the pruning, staking, tilling, and harvesting. The yearly schedule in the vineyards often followed this pattern:

One endless job, throughout the season, was carrying up the hill buckets of soil that the rains washed down. During the summer, much of the vineyard work was done by women, as the men were busy haying and harvesting other crops on nearby farms. When harvest time for the grapes arrived, however, the entire family assisted.

 The typical home of the vine growers of the Côtes de Meuse was pretty small. One of these homes which has been preserved as a museum in the town of Hannonville. Historian Marianne Doyle provides the following description:

It's basically one room wide. When you come in from the street, you're in a dim, windowless corridor that runs straight through from the front door to the back.
You can get to the front room -- a bedroom also used as an occasional parlor -- only through the central kitchen. The kitchen was the main room of the house, where the family spent most of its indoor time. With the huge Lorraine fireplace and no openings to the outside, it must have been cozy and warm in the wintertime, but imagine how stuffy in the summer, and how it was surely always in a sort of twilight haze.
The kitchen of the museum house has a big wooden table in the middle, benches and a few wooden stools, and some simple wood cupboards against the walls. In the old days, beds for the children would have been here, too.
Farther down the corridor, in the room behind the kitchen, is a stall for the family cow (who entered by the front door just like everyone else) and outside the door, a lean-to shelter for a pig. A small open square separates the back of the house from a detached two-story structure -- up a few steps to space for vine tools and equipment, the winter supply of potatoes, maybe a sack or two of grain ... down to the wine cellar.
(From French Ancestors newsletter, Vol. 3, No. 3, 1990, p. 26.)

Note on Sources

Vital statistics on these French families have been gleaned from publications compiled by Marianne Doyle of Beavercreek, Ohio. She transcribed these from microfilm copies of the original French civil and church records, focusing on the records of the families who emigrated to western Ohio in the 19th century. Then she published the transcriptions in book form (for Hennemont and Hannonville-sous-les-Côtes) or in her bimonthly newsletter French Ancestors (published from 1988 to 2002). In addition to vital records transcripts, the newsletters contained articles and stories about the everyday lives of these ancestors, many of which were useful in preparing this sketch.

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