Germaine Hormel took in kids during war

Last week, I mentioned that Jay Hormel’s wife, Germaine, grew up in France. She had seen war come to her country in 1914 and lived under the stresses of conflict for four years. She was raising her family in Austin when World War II broke out. Perhaps because of the experiences of her youth or perhaps because she was in a position to help, she took in seven children from overseas and sheltered them until the war was over.

I ran across an article from the Minneapolis Sunday Tribune that tells the story well. Dated Dec. 20, 1942, the story "Safe from War Scenes, They’ll Have a Minnesota Christmas" was written by Mary Brown.

"It will be an international Christmas at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Jay Hormel of Austin this year.

"What with the three Hormel sons, representing America, three English children, one French child and twins from Casablanca who are living with the Hormels for the duration — yes, it’s definitely international.

"There’s quite a story behind that. The building up of this international theme started some three years ago when Pierre and Simone Riolland, French nephew and niece of Mrs. Hormel, joined the Hormel household.


"The next international note came with the arrival of Nadia and Callum Darbishire and Gillian George. Nadia and Callum are brother and sister and Gillian is their cousin. All are children of friends of the Hormels.

"Gillian’s father is a colonel in the English Army and is now in Persia. The father of the Darbishire children is a wing commander in the RAF.

"Mr. and Mrs. Darbishire were in the north of Scotland when the children arrived in this country.

"Add to this the twins, Roger and Jeannie, French children born in Casablanca.

"Mix in the three Hormel sons, George, Thomas and James, and there’s definitely an international note.

"The twins are the children of Jeanette Bougerol Martin, former French Canadian governess of the Hormels who, because of concern over the fate of her brother in the French army, went abroad and joined a Red Cross contingent in France three days before the fall of Paris. She married her brother’s roommate, Roger Martin, who later was lost at sea.

"When the Hormels heard of her predicament, they immediately made arrangements to bring her to this country with her twins, a boy and girl, born at Casablanca.

"The latest arrivals to the international group were the twins who came with their mother this fall. They were six months old Dec. 1."


The article goes on to detail where the school-age children were attending classes and what they thought of Christmas in the United States. It would be interesting to know where those seven people ended up in life.

Lunch on Fourth

Join us on Tuesday to kick off Independence Day:

We’re hosting an Old-fashioned Salad Luncheon from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. A variety of heritage salads and a beverage cost $8. Indoor or outdoor seating is available. Call 433-4243 or to sign up.

Coming next week

July 11 — Paper craft class series begins with greeting card class. For more information, call Laura at 433-4243.

Laura Helle is the director of the Hormel Historic Home, 208 Fourth Ave. N.W., Austin.

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