I fully intended to begin posting documents about Jean Le Forêt last week, but it was a long day, and when I realized the first document was in French and I would need to type both the French and the translation, I just wasn't up to it. I don't want to let myself slack off another week, though, so it's time to start working on Emma Schafer's second husband!
The first document I have for Jean Le Forêt is 7" x 8 7/8". It seems to be two narrow pieces of paper layered to create a wider sheet. The paper is quite yellowed and spotted with age. It is backed with some sort of textured material. The texture is reminiscent of plastic, but it's unlikely to be that. I really don't know what it is. It has a small grommet in the lower left corner which attached it to two additional French documents. The document is entirely handwritten in French except for two rubber stamped circular seals. Both seals have German and French words.
First comes the transcription:
Le Soussigné Maire et officier de L'Etat civil de la commune de Salonnes, Lorraine, certifie par les présents que Monsieur Jean Léon La Forêt a exercé les fonctions d'Instituteur dans cette commune du premier Janvier mil huit cent soixante treize au premier Octobre mil huit cent soixante quinze
Monsieur La Forêt a dirigé son école avec zèle et distinction et il a quitté la commune, unanimement regretté de ses élèves, des habitants et des authorités locales, pour prendre la direction de l'école Communale de Villers-aux-oies
En fai de quoi le présent certificat
Salonnes le dix Décembre mil-huit cent quatre vingt quatre.
Salonnes * Bezirk Lothringen * [Buer]germeisteramt [seal]
Writing on left side:
Vu par nous Juge cantonal à Chateausalins pour ligalisation de la signature de M. Michel maire de Salonnes
Chateausalins le 12 Décembre 1884.
Kaiserliches Amtsgericht * Château-Salins [seal]
And now the translations:
The undersigned mayor and official of the civil state of the town of Salonnes, Lorraine, certifies by these presents that Mr. Jean La Forêt fulfilled the functions of a teacher in this town from January 1, 1873 to October 1, 1875
Mr. La Forêt managed the school with enthusiasm and distinction and left the commune, universally missed by his students, the residents, and the local authorities, to run the town school of Villers-aux-Oies
In witness whereof the present certificate
Salonnes, December 10, 1884
Salonnes * Lorraine District * Mayor's Office [seal]
Writing on left side:
Viewed by us canton judge in Chateausalins to witness the signature of Mr. Michel, mayor of Salonnes
Chateausalins, December 12, 1844
Imperial County Court * Château-Salins [seal]
This is obviously a recommendation letter. Even though in the United States the only information I have for Jean so far is that he was a laborer or in the military, he apparently was a school teacher and administrator in France from 1873 to 1875. He seems to have been respected for his work.
On Emma's emergency passport application, she stated that Jean was born in Angevillers, Lorraine, France. That town is about 50 miles from Villers-aux-Oies (now known as Villers-sur-Nied). Salonnes, of which Mr. Michel was the mayor, is roughly 11 miles from Villers-sur-Nied, and Château-Salins, where Mr. Michel's signature was verified, is between Salonnes and Villers-sur-Nied. So all of the places mentioned make sense together!
The two seals, with their combination of the town name in French but the rest of the information in German, are examples of the effect of Germany having taken control of Alsace-Lorraine after the end of the Franco-Prussian War. Emma wrote about Lorraine being a French-speaking country but part of Germany, and J. K. Rowling's ancestor, who had been French, became German.
Just because Germany was in control didn't mean everyone had to like it. Mayor Michel wrote that Salonnes was in Lorraine, not Lothringen. A small act of defiance, but a point was made.