This document has detailed information about the GOMMES and LEJOLY families. Both names originated in eastern Belgium, an area which is part of the former Lotharingia, the "middle" kingdom into which Charlemagne's empire was split between three of his grandsons (Lothar is buried in Prüm, not far from my home town of Sankt-Vith).

Lotharingia extended roughly from Basel (Switzerland) across Alsace and Lorraine (now France), Luxemburg, eastern Belgium to Maastricht and Friesland. The region has known endless border changes, usually accompanied by a switch of the rulers' language from something germanic to something of Latin origin - or vice versa -. For us, the latest change occurred in 1919 when we became Belgians after having been German for one century, French for 15 years, Austrian before that.... (See note 48 or Our distant cousin, the German writer Ludwig Mathar had written about the "new" Belgians around 1950 ein paar Jährchen noch, und ihr sprecht Französisch wie die aus Liège (oder aus Sourbrodt) (See note 1).

Although Mathar's statement applies to many families, most people in the area have continued to speak their own language, Walloon/French and Plattdeutsch, among others thanks to a relatively tolerant policy of the Belgian government over the last 30 years or so. The line dividing the Walloon villages from the German speaking ones is a rather uncomplicated one, by Balkanic standards. The Walloons and their language are known in plattdeutsch as Welsch, while the Germans are known to their Walloon neighbours as Tige (Tiche, i.e. Teutsch, Teutonic).

My mothers family (LEJOLY) stems from the walloon area around Waimes (German: Weismes), while the family name of my father (GOMMES) originated near Burg-Reuland, just across the northern tip of the Grand-Duchy of Luxemburg.

My wife, Annie FRANCOU, stems from Orp-le-Grand in the Brabant province of central Belgium. The locality is famous for a remarkable church where Alpais, the great-grandmother of Charlemagne was buried in the 8th century. .

The names of our immediate relatives are listed below, starting with our sons Thomas (born 1974) and Cédric (born 1976), up to their great-great-grandparents.

We have excellent information about the LEJOLY family, good for GOMMES, GOFFART (GOFFARD) and HULS, and poor for most other names, except where other people have done genealogical research, as for MATHAR .