Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Huguenots, Walloons and the Reformed Church

The Protestant Reformation gave birth to the Calvinists. The Low Countries of The Netherlands and modern-day Belgium became central to the Reformed Churches. Dutch-speaking Flanders and French-speaking Wallonia made up early Belgium. The Low Countries were under Catholic control, but hotbeds of the Protestant faith.

Refugees from the Low Countries and northern France would make their way to North America during the 1600s, settling along the Atlantic coast. One of the primary havens for these people was the New Netherland colony settled by the Dutch. They would attend the French and Dutch Reformed Churches established in the new colony.

The Bloms were exceptions to the rule, coming to New Amsterdam from Sweden. Barent Jansen  Blom settled on a farm on Long Island. His daughter, Tryntje, married 1st Hans Christoffles and 2nd Arent Jansen Prall.

Louis and Francoise DuBois were natives of Artois, in what would become French Flanders. They were born into the Catholic faith, but later converted to Protestantism. Louis and Catherine Blanchan settled in Mannheim, the Palz in Germany. Francoise and Pierre Billiou settled in Leiden, Holland. The DuBois, Blanchan and other families moved to The Netherlands before setting sail for New Netherland in 1660. The families settled at Esopus and Wildwyck in what would become Ulster County. They founded the village of "Nieu Dorp" [Hurley] in 1662. In 1677, Louis founded the village of New Paltz. He later moved to Kingston. The attended the French Reformed Church.

Francoise DuBois and Pierre Billiou arrived in New Amsterdam in 1661. The Billious were Walloons. Pierre became one of the patentees of the new Staten Island settlement. He built a home there that still stands today. Their daughter, Marie, who had arrived with the DuBois family, married Arent Jansen Prall in Kingston in 1670. They moved to Staten Island about five years later.

The Christopher/Christoffels family was ether from The Netherlands or Normandy. The family may have been on of those that settled on Staten Island by 1655. Hans Christopher resided on Long and Staten Islands. Hans married Tryntje Barents Blom. Their daughter, Maria married Pieter Prall, son of Arent Jansen and Marie [Billiou] Prall.

Jan Arentsen and Barentje Jansen, from Heerde, Gelderland, The Netherlands, settled on Staten Island between 1653 and 1655. Jan was one of the bouw meesters [farmstead managers] for Cornelis Melyn's settlement. The family was one of a handful to survive the Staten Island Massacre during the 1655 Peach War and relocated on Manhattan Island. Jan and the wife of Capt. Adrian Post were sent to Zutphen to report on the massacre. Jan and Barentje vanish from the records in 1658.

Their son Arent began to appear in the Kingston records during the mid-1660s. He was a wheelwright. Arent married in the Kingston Dutch Church in 1670 and moved to Staten Island about 1675. There Arent and Marie raised eight children. Arent's name started appearing as Prall on a regular basis, along with several of his siblings. Prall became a leading citizen and owned considerable property. Following Marie's death about 1690, Arent married Tryntje Blom Christopher. He died in 1725 and named a 3rd wife, Madlenor, in his will.

Arent's eldest son, Pieter married Maria Chistopher. He acquired a 750 acre tract of land in Hunterdon County, NJ about 1716. Sons Cornelius, Peter and Aaron settled there during the 1730s. Another son, Johannes settled in Bucks Co., PA.

Aaron Prall was probably a merchant-trader. He spent time in Kingston as well as on Staten Island before settling in New Jersey. He fathered a daughter, Alida, by an unknown first wife. Alida was raised by her grandfather. Aaron married Mary Whittaker in Kingston in 1728. They had six children.
The family joined the Presbyterian Church in Hunterdon Co., since the Dutch Church had not been established there. The Pralls would remain Presbyterians until Isaac Rittenhouse Prall, Aaron's great-grandson, married Ann Bethia Rhodes, who was a Methodist.

Abraham Titsoort settled in New Amsterdam and  married at the Dutch Church in 1647. Son Willem settled in Schenectady by 1670, where he married Neeltje Swart. They were driven from their home due to an Indian raid and moved in Albany. Later the Titsoorts settled in the Minisink Valley. The Titsoorts lived out their last few years in Poughkeepsie.

Neeltje Swart's parents, Teunis Swart and Elizabeth Vander Linde were natives of The Netherlands. Teunis settled at Fort Oragne/Albany during the late 1640s. Elizabeth's mother and step-father settled in Rennselaerswyck about 1642.  Teunis and Elizabeth settled in Schenectady about 1664. After Teunis' death [1577-80], Elizabeth remarried and moved to Albany.

Elizabeth's heritage as a Protestant stretched back several generations. Her great-great-grandmother, Anneke Esiasz was executed by drowning for heresy. Arent and Anneke DeLint had fled Holland for England after becoming active as "religious dissenters." Arent died in 1538. Annke returned home the following year and was executed.

The Dally family originated in Flanders and fled to London, England. Jean Dally married Marguerite Madou in the French Protestant Church there in 1638. The Dallys settled on Staten Island in the 1670s, after several years as a mariner based in New Amsterdam and Virginia. Nicholas Dally would settle the family in New York City, where he and his children would marry in the Dutch Reformed Church. Henry married Sarah Gifford in 1739 in Perth Amboy, NJ. The Giffords were members of the Anglican Church in England. This probably marked the switch in churches for the Dally family. Henry's daughter, Catherine, married twice, both time in the Trinity Church on Wall Street. Trinity was Anglican. Catherine's 2nd husband was John Simmoms.

The Obee family was from Denmark and settled in New Amsterdam where they attended the Dutch Church. Elizabeth Obee married John Dally in 1668.

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