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Bevier-Gillett Lineage

First Generation

By Alta Cecil Koch

1. Louis Bevier b. about 1646 in France d. June 1720 Married to Maria Le Blanc in 1673

Perhaps the desire to know about one's ancestors is due in part to the same instinct which prompts one to look into a mirror. A mirror that must reflect over three hundred years may give a dim reflection, and our mirror gives but a faint image of the ancestor who left France in the seventeenth century. No portrait exists, nor is there any description of his appearance.

As far as is known, all the Beviers in America are descended from Louis Bevier who with his wife, Maria Le Blanc (Blanc or Blank), came to this country in 1675. Family tradition says that he was born about 1646 near Lille, France. No confirmation of this has been found, but in several old manuscript records of 1690 in the Bibliotheque Nationale at Paris, Beviers of Lille are mentioned.

Family history also tells us that our ancestor left France because of the persecutions against the Huguenots. The term "Huguenot" is of unknown origin, but believed to be a diminutive of the personal name "Hugo." It applied to the Protestants of France during the religious struggles of the 16th and 17th centuries. Records indicate that Louis Bevier spent about ten years in the Palatinate, an area in Germany that offered refuge to those seeking religious freedom. An established fact is that in 1664 a family by the name of Bevier was living at Winden, a small town of the Palatinate, about twenty miles from Speyer (or Speier or Spire). There can be little doubt that this was the family from which the American Beviers sprang. Oddly enough, no document in which Louis Bevier is mentioned gives the place of his birth or his old home.

In 1673, Louis Bevier was married to Maria Le Blanc at Spire (or Speier). This fact is supported by the evidence of a letter which Louis brought with him to America. It is written in German and a literal translation is as follows: "That the bearers of this, Louis Bevier and Maria, born Blank, in accord with the order of the church of his Serene Highness of the Electoral Palatinate, after regular church proclamation, were married by me,. the undersigned, without objection from anyone, as members according to the word of God of a Reformed communion, since they have not only in the public worship of God and in the use of the Holy Sacraments, but also in their walk and conversation, behaved themselves in the presence of many witnesses in good and Christian manner, as befits Christian married people or persons; further that now already in the course of their wedded life, a young daughter named Marie, has been born to them and was baptized the ninth day of July, 1674, for which baptism there stood as witnesses Herr Johannes, hospital secretary, (or Herr Johannes Spital, secretary) of this city; all this is communicated at their request, since they, the married couple, are minded to journey from this land to New Holland, (America). Communicated in attestation of the truth. Given at Speier the 11th day of March 1675.

Andreas Henricus Treviranus
Pastor there in Churpgalz-Church

The little daughter named Marie died in infancy, but whether in the Palatinate or on the long hard journey to America, no one knows. The ships of those early days were slow and were neither commodious nor comfortable. Tradition states that the flat top of the large chest in which the Beviers brought their belongings served them also as a bed during the long voyage. There is reason to believe that Marie Le Blanc belonged to the old Catholic family of that name whose descendants were still to be found at Lille at the turn of this century. It is probable that she had been tenderly reared and had lived in more or less luxury till she met and married the young Huguenot, for love of whom she changed her faith. At any rate she was a loyal and uncomplaining wife, and with him faced the dangers of a new life in America, to seek religious freedom in the western wilderness. We do not know just when, or from what port, the Beviers sailed. Tradition, and some historians say that they came over with Abraham Hasbrouck. In that case they came from the Palatinate and went to Rotterdam and then to Amsterdam and embarked from England. From England they sailed to America and arrived in Boston. From Boston they sailed to New York, and from New York to Esopus, in Ulster County, arriving there in July, 1675. Where Louis and Marie spent the two years between July 1675 and November 1677 is unknown, although they are said to have stayed with friends in the vicinity of New York. It may have been on Staten Island near an old French church whose records have been lost, for no record has ever been found of the baptism of Louis and Marie's eldest son, Jean, who was born January 2, 1676. Baptisms were of utmost importance, and more often that not, the baptism record is the only record of a birth.

The first established fact concerning Louis Bevier in America is that he was one of the Twelve Patentees to whom a grant of land, containing 144 square miles, was made by Governor Andros in November, 1677. (refer to note # 1)

In January, 1678, when Abraham the second son was born, the Beviers were for a time at Hurley. We know this because when Abraham was married in 1707, the marriage entry states that he was born in Hurley. Hurley (Horle) seems to have been the gathering place for a number of the Patentees just before they made their final move to New Paltz - the new Palatinate. Here, Louis Bevier took his place at the age of thirty four as one of the leading men of the community.

How the settlers built their first homes we do not know, but soon substantial buildings of stone were erected. The old Bevier house still stands today - "on Huguenot Street, with its gable end to the street." It was evidently built in two sections and the older part probably as early as 1694. The county records show that Louis purchased some additional land for "140 schepels of wheat" in 1699. A chimney stone in the newer section of the house bore the date 1735, which section was no doubt built by Louis' son Samuel, who with his family came back to live with his father in 1714 or 15. The house has a large cellar and below this is a deep sub-cellar, entered by a trap door. This may have been arranged as a hiding place from Indians or as a wine cellar - for those early settlers had come from a country of vineyards. The house has three large rooms on the ground floor. The kitchen , in the cellar, is below the center room. A "cellar" room is beneath the room facing the street. The third room, for the slaves, is under the back room. Its only heat was that radiated from the kitchen fireplace chimney. Entrance to this room is through the kitchen. The top floor is a tremendous loft.

In the documentary History of New York. Vol 2, Colonial Series, page 451, we find that "Lewes bevier was in 1686 as sergeant in the company of Fott in Kingstown, of which Captain Matyson was Captain and Abraham Hasbrouck was Leftennant." (refer to note # 2 concerning the spelling of Bevier.)

Also, "in 1687 the French invaded Seneca County, an act that was followed by the first invasion of Canada by the Colonists, war being declared between the English and French in May 1689." From this, Mr. Ralph Le Fevre concludes that all descendants of the men named are entitled to membership in the Society of the Colonial Wars. (see "History of New Paltz"). It was in the year 1689 that the colonists were asked to take the oath of allegiance to Great Britain. Louis Bevier with most of his neighbors threw in their lot with the country which had given them safe asylum.

It was during these troublesome days of 1689 that Solomon, the youngest child of Louis Bevier was born. He was baptized on October 13, 1689, his father appearing alone with him. It is evident that the deaths of Maria Le Blanc Bevier and the baby occurred soon after, for no further mention is made of either of them. Maria must have been thirty-eight or thirty-nine years of age, having lived longer in events than in years.

From the family record, written probably by Louis Bevier himself, in the big folio French Bible published in Geneva in 1644 and brought over by Louis Bevier in 1675 from his old home, we learn nothing of the place or year of birth of the parents, but this record is complete with regard to the children. Though time has made the writing almost illegible, we fortunately have reference to a copy of the record in the Bible, made before the original had become too faded to read. The record in the Bible is written in French, and an English translation is as follows:

1. Praised be to God, our first daughter Marie was born to us the 9th of July of the year 1674.

2. Praised be to God, in the year 1676, the 2nd of January, our first son Jean was born to us.

3. Praised be to God, our second son Abraham was born to us, the 20th of January of the year 1678.

4. Praised be to God, our third son Samuel was born to us the 21st of January, of the year 1680.

5. Praised be to God, our 4th son Andre was born to us the 12th day of July of the year 1684.

6. Praised be to God, our second daughter Esther was born to us the 16th of November of the year 1686.

7. Praised be to God, in the year 1689 the 12th of July, was born to us our 6th son Solomon.

On July 15, 1701, Louis Bevier's denization papers were granted, with a number of other New Paltz Patentees receiving theirs at the same time. Since the applicants did not have to appear in London in person, it is thought that the applications were taken by one person. Tradition persists, and some historians state it as a fact, that Louis Bevier went to England at this time. The story says that he re-visited France at about this time and there met his uncle, a good Catholic, riding on a white horse, who on recognizing him refused to talk with his renegade nephew. As a British subject, his visit to France would have been rendered safe. The story also says that he brought back with him a considerable sum of money, his inheritance, or that of his wife from the Le Blancs. At any rate, soon after this date he settled his sons comfortably, buying for Jean and Abraham each a farm in Wawarsing, and for Louis the farm at Marbletown. Moreover, he left at his death, property to the value of about $60,000 - a large sum of money for those days, and practically impossible to have been accumulated at that time by farming. In 1714, Louis Bevier was taxed in New Paltz on a property valuation of 350 pounds, the largest amount on the tax list.

In his signatures, attached to various New Paltz documents, Louis Bevier frequently added, as did others of the Patentees, the word "laboreur" to his name. This has greatly disturbed some of his descendants, but it must be remembered that this French word is not correctly translated by the English word "laborer" but signifies rather, "farmer" or "tiller of the soil."

Louis Bevier's children married: Abraham in 1707, Samuel in 1710, Jean in 1712, Louis in 1713, and Hester (Esther) in 1714. After this, the big house which had sheltered a large housefull was empty. It must have been about this time that Samuel Bevier moved with his family from his own house, back to the old family home to live with his father and care for him till the day of his death.

The exact date of the death of Louis Bevier is not known, though it was somewhere between May 20, 1720, the date of his final will, and July 14 when it was probated. The New Paltz Church Book dealing with the period from 1718 to 1729 was either lost or none was kept, so we have no record of the death of the old man. It is said that he was buried in the ancient churchyard, probably beside the body of his wife. No stone marks the exact spot although a monument has been erected in the old burying ground. Today as we look back, we are proud to trace our ancestry to a man who sacrificed so much for his principles and who served his generation faithfully.

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