Monday, July 14, 2008

This is not the house of my ancestors. But it's a stone house in New Paltz New York, 90 miles due north from New York City, near Poughkeepsie, where there are houses my ancestors, on both my mother and father's side, once lived in around 1680-1720, that are still standing. New Paltz means new Palitinate, the papal state where my Huguenot French protestant ancestors took refuge during the purges, and then moved on to Holland and then America. This came up in conversation with my mother yesterday. My mother was born in France, before another set of purges, but of American parents. When my father was slowly dying of the cancer, he continued his research into the family history and they took a trip up there and found a number of useful birth and marriage records. If I remembered better what Mom said yesterday, I might have been able to find a picture of the exact house.

Historical Heritage
New Paltz has boasted that it has the "oldest street in America with the original houses." New Paltz is the location where refugees of the Netherlands settled in the latter years of the 1600s. At that time the Netherlands were under Spanish rule which was Catholic, and these refugees were Calvinist Protestants. In an earlier century their forebearers had fled from persecution of Protestants in France where they were called Huguenots. From the Netherlands they came to settle here in New Paltz overlooking the Wallkill River. Their houses still stand, and tours are offered regularly throughout the summer. Another great web site providing information on the houses, the original families and their descendants is maintained by the Huguenot Historical Society.

Site says mom is, or more likely I was, wrong and the palitinate is not the Papal state, but was one of the principalities in what is now Germany, governed by an Elector. This is when Huguenots found that their part of France has become part of Spanish Netherlands (now Belgium?) as borders shifted during wars, and they were called Walloons, meaning foreigners by the Dutch. The Elector, and some of the intrigue of that period, is discussed in Neal Stephenson's Baroque Cycle. Obviously this is one of those threads that can just keep getting longer indefinitely, so I'll stop here.
I had just felt like googling New Paltz, which I figured was probably in Connecticut.

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