The second document for Jean La Forêt is similar in many ways to the first, which I wrote about last week. This sheet is larger, 8 1/4" x 10 7/8", and is only one piece of paper. But it is also spotted and aged, and backed with the same type of material as the first. The backing has separated from the paper on the right side, and it looks as though the texture might be from threads (there's a loose thread near the top), so it might be some kind of treated fabric? It is attached to the first sheet by the grommet I described, which is why the bottom left corner is folded under in the scan. As with the first document, this one is entirely handwritten in French except for two rubber stamped circular seals, both of which have German and French words.
This is the transcription of the document:
Le Soussigné, Maire et officier de L'Etat civil de la commune de Villers-aux-Oies, Département de la Lorraine, certifie que M. [?] La Foret Jean Léon a exercé dans cette commune les fonctions d'Instituteur principal du premier Avril mil huit cent soixante seize au premier Janvier mil huit cent quatre vingt.
Directeur zèle de l'école communale confiée à ses soins, il a su se faire aimer de ses éleves et de toute la population, et il a quitté la commune, regretté de tous, surtout les autorités réligieuses, civiles et scolaires, pour entrer comme secrétaire de la Mairie et biblio officaire [sic] de la ville de Dieuze.
En foi de quoi le présent certificat
Fait à Villers-aux-Oies le dix Décembre mil huit cent quatre-vingt-quatre
Villers-aux-Oies * Bezirk Lothringen * Buergermeisteramt [seal]
Writing on left side:
Vu pour légalisation de la Signature de M. Benoit maire de la Commune de Villers-aux-oies, apposée ci-contre [?]. Delme le 12 décembre 1884
Le Juge Cantonal
Kaiserliches Amts * Gericht zu Delme [seal]
And now the translations:
The undersigned, mayor and official of the civil state of the town of Villers-aux-Oies, Department of Lorraine, certifies that Mr. Jean Léon La Foret fulfilled the functions of senior instructor in this town from April 1, 1876 to January 1, 1880.
Enthusiastic director of the town school entrusted to his care, his students and the entire population liked him, and he left the town missed by everyone, above all the religious, civil, and school authorities, for his work as the administrator of the town hall and official library of the city of Dieuze.
In witness whereof the present certificate
Done at Villers-aux-Oies December 10, 1884
Villers-aux-Oies * Lorraine District * Mayor's Office [seal]
Writing on left side:
Viewed to witness the signature of Mr. Benoit mayor of the town of Villers-aux-Oies, signed below. Delme December 12, 1884
Imperial County Court * Court of Delme [seal]
Like the first letter, this is a recommendation for Jean's time as a teacher. This position followed very closely his earlier one, which he left October 1, 1875. Again, everyone loved him and his work (or are these stock phrases used in the 19th century for reference letters in Alsace-Lorraine?).
Villers-aux-Oies was mentioned in the first letter. I am a little confused about where each school was, however. The first letter was from the mayor of Salonnes, who wrote about Jean's work at the school in Villers-aux-Oies, but he said "in this town." This letter was from the mayor of Villers-aux-Oies, apparently writing about Jean's work at a school in the same town. Are the two men referring to different schools? I plan to ask a colleague from France if he can clarify this for me.
According to this letter, Jean also worked in Dieuze, which is about 16 miles from Villers-sur-Nied, the current name of Villers-aux-Oies. The judge who verified Mr. Benoit's signature was in Delme, about 18 miles from Dieuze but less than 8 miles from Villers-sur-Nied. So all of these towns are close to each other, and all are in Lorraine.
Germany still controlled Lorraine in 1884, as evidenced by the German in the official seals. Again, however, we see the small act of defiance: Mayor Benoit writes that Villers-aux-Oies is in the Department of Lorraine, not Lothringen.
I may watch too much NCIS. When I saw the mayor's name of Benoit, I immediately thought of Jeanne Benoit.