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Du Bois


Louis Du Bois - Catharine Blanchan

When Louis Du Bois grew to man's estate and could not bring himself to accept the religious faith of the Jesuits--when he saw with horror the bloody axe of the guillotine and knew that would e his fate if he refused to bow the knee to their demands and surrender the right to obey his conscience. To save his lie he fled to the lower Palatinate of Germany where many other Huguenots had found refuge. Here, on October 10, 1655 he married Catharine Blanchan the daughter of Matthew Blanchan a co-refugee with him from Flanders.

For five years they lived at Manheim Germany until their first two children were born. But Germany even in those early days over populated and crowded and many were looking toward the new world across the sea for new homes. Louis Du Bois and his family emigrated to America in 1660 on the good ship Saint Marie to land in New Amsterdam, (now New York city) and went up the Hudson River to settle at "Nieuw Village" now known as Hurley near to Kingston in Ulster County. At that time there were but a few settlers there and the Minnesink Indians, who claimed all that country, were suspicious and troublesome. Life in outlying settlements was very insecure. Indian raids and massacres were frequent happenings while the new settlers lived in constant dread of surprises and capture not knowing the tragic moment of an Indian uprising with all its horrible possibilities,---death was ever in their thoughts.

On June 7, 1663 the Indians raided the village of Hurley and carried away captive the wives and children of the settlers into the fastnesses of the Catskill Mountains where they were held for three months. Owing to the rugged character of these strongholds covered with dense forests the capture of these savages and rescue of the women and children was a difficult matter. The wife of Louis De Bois and his three children with the family of Jan Joosten Van Meter were among the captives. Captain Martin Kreiger, an old Dutch soldier and familiar figure in the Dutch settlements along the Delaware River in the early days organized a rescue expedition with the help of Louis De Bois and punished the Indians. After three months of ineffectual hunting they finally rounded up the savages and returned the women and children to their homes.

About ten weeks after the raid the Indians decided to celebrate their skill in eluding capture by burning one of the captives alive. For their victim they selected Catharine Du Bois. A large pile of logs was gathered and binding Catharine, placed her on the pile with her little daughter, Sarah, on her lap. They were about to apply the torch when she realizing that death was just at hand, began to sing an old Huguenot hymn she had learned in childhood in Flanders. The Indians withheld the torch to listen. When she finished they demanded another, and so she sang on. Her voice carrying down through the forest gorges reached the ear of Krieger's soldiers who rescued the captive women and children and gave the Indians a terrible beating. Seven years later the Indians again went on the warpath and Louis De Bois served in the Colonial force against them. But settlers came in rapidly to help keep them in line.

Soon after Louis Du Bois came to Ulster County he rose to prominence in the civil and religious life of the settlement. He was one of the twelve original patentees of New Paltz, a village next to Hurley. He later became one of the magistrates of a jurisdiction comprising both New Paltz and Hurley. He is credited with being the founder of and first elder in the French Reformed Church at New Paltz.

Louis De Bois lived to a rip old age of seventy. He and Catharine had eleven children: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, David, Solomon, Rebecca, Rachel, Louis, Matthew and Magdalena. Their descendants became prominent and influential citizens throughout the country. One of whom, Garrett A. Hobart, was Vice President of the United States during President McKinley's first term. A picture of the home Louis built in Ulster County shows a substantial stone house of Dutch style over 200 years ago.

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by Lee Case
Last updated on Sunday, November 10, 2002