The destroyed village of Ornes

Ruines de l'ancienne église avec le sol bosselé par les obus. ©TCY - GNU Free Documentation License

A few traces still remain of this village destroyed in 1916. A chapel was erected on the site ...

Ornes - Patois: Ioûme Population : in 1803 : 1,035 inhabitants in 1851 : 1,316 inhabitants in 1901 : 861 inhabitants Distances : 11 kilometres North-East of Charny sur Meuse 16 kilometres North-North-East of Verdun Patron Saint's Day 29th September {Saint Michel) Commemoration Day last Sunday in August History This large village, often considered a town, was located at the bottom of a narrow, high-sided valley that separates the Meuse basin from the Woëvre, and at the source of the Orne, the river to which it gave its name; the upper part of the town bore the patois name S'moûne (Somme-Orne). Mention is made of "Orna in Wapria" in 1015 in the cartulary of Saint-Vanne. Ornes, capital of the ancient "pagus Orninsis", was already a significant place in the Merovingian era. It went on to become a barony and the first of the four peerages of the diocese of Verdun (Ornes, Murault, Creuë and Watronville). The freedom charter of the village granted under the law of Beaumont in 1252 by the Chapter of the Madeleine de Verdun and Jacques, Lord of Ornes and peer of the diocese, proves that at that date, the domain was still shared between these men; later, the Chapter owned no more of the place than a territorial income estimated at 1,376 pounds in 1790. There used to be a feudal castle at Ornes, the lords of which often used it to worry the Bishops of Verdun. The "House of Ornes", whose name and arms passed into those of "Nettancourt", consisted of: five red rings arranged in a cross on a silver background. Around the year 1563, the seigneur of Ornes showed himself to be a committed proponent of the Protestant faith. Bishop Psaulme had to resort to force of arms to force his tenant to send away a minister of the new faith who was serving in the castle chapel. In 1587, the area around Ornes was the stage for a bloody battle, between the Calvinist troops from the Jametz garrison, commanded by de Schelandre, and those of the Dike of Lorraine; the latter were beaten and 25 of their men were killed with around thirty taken prisoner. In February 1653, Orne castle was taken by troops from Lorraine, "to the ruin and desolation of the inhabitants of the aforementioned place and many villages in the surrounding area who had stored their possessions for safekeeping in the castle." Trade and industry: 3 mills, cotton weaving employing around 30 workers, distilleries, basket weaving, fruit trading, 2 fairs: 30th August and 15th September Outlying: The Moulin des Prés, a mill located 1,200 metres from Ornes, Les Chambrettes, a farm 3 kilometres away. In olden times this was a village whose Parish Church was answerable to Saint Maur as far back as 1046. (Excerpt from: The Geography of the Département of the Meuse - H. Lemoine -1909)

In 1913, the Meuse directory gives us the following information 718 inhabitants Butcher: Péridon E. Baker: Lajoux Tobacconist: Remy Cartwrights: Bourcier - Lefèvre Cockle gatherers: Colson Maria - Gillet - Lelaurain - Maillot - Mouteaux Alexis - Widow Simon Cobblers: Odin - Pricot-Paquin - Parent Bars : Widow Bernard - Cléandre Alph. - Deville-Cochenet - Legardeur - Péridon-Gille - Paul E. Distillers : Deville-Bertrand - Legardeur-Cochenet - Molinet V. - Rollin Z. - Lajoux Aimé Medical Doctor: M. Simonin H. Grocers-Haberdashers: Widow Briy - Cugnet-Marie - Lajoux A. - Paul-Maillot Workers' accommodation in the north-east run by M. Genoux Fruiterers: Bertrand J. - Jacquart E. Hoteliers: Cléandre A.- Thalmé Yeast merchants: Widow Bauert- M. Gillet Blacksmiths: Désoudin - Legay Millers: Deville V. - Louppe Fishmongers: Lajoux A. 6 Mouteaux Saddler: Belloy L. Tailors: Mme Charton-Lecourtier - M. Chrétien-Saintin - Humbert Eug. - Saillet A. Clothmakers: Poincelet-Meunier - Rémy - Schemouder Basket-maker: Lajoux A. Wine and spirit merchants: Bertrand-Colson - Domange Owner-farmers: Deville M. - Widow Férée T. - Laurent A. - Laurent H. - Lamorlette P. - Lecourtier A - Lecourtier J.G. - Lecourtier L. - Lecourtier V. - Ligier F. - Louppe L. - Gillet - Nicaise V. - Widow Simonet Notables and persons of private means: Férée E. - Dormois C. - Deville M. -Lajoux H.
From the beginning of 1916, all these inhabitants were to discover the violence of modern warfare. With their property damaged, they were forced to flee. And it was only with the hope in their hearts of "one day returning home" that they were able to force themselves to abandon their heritage. For these men and women were fiercely attached to their land, unfertile as it may have been, having long demanded hard toil, but which - for all that - was no less the land in which their roots grew. In the misery of their time as refugees, the prospect of once again finding the happiness of the old days provided precious support.
1919 - After the war Alas, in 1918 the reality was very different, the aftermath of the fighting was too severe, the risk of explosions too great to hope for reconstruction. This landscape of desolation could no longer be a welcoming haven. There was nothing left for them, apart from the dismay to which they would try to find a cure by working for national recognition and the survival of their community through the law. Thus, they put pressure on local elected representatives, on parliament and on ministers, even speaking to Raymond Poincaré, originally from the Meuse area and President of the Republic. Measures were taken. From 1939, a law granted each destroyed village a municipal commission and a chairman whose powers and privileges were those of a mayor. Between the wars, a chapel/shelter was built as well as a monument to the dead where, as in every commune in France, the names of their children who died for their country were inscribed as well as the wording of the mention in dispatches conferred by government decree. Three times a day, the Angelus reminds visitors that on this site covered by forest, where the stones of memory stand, villagers once lived a Christian life.

  • Church ruins. Source: Conseil Général de la Meuse

  • The village of Ornes before the war. Source: Conseil Général de la Meuse