Payard, Bettac and Devantier families

We’ve been looking at our Brandenburg Huguenot families again, as a number of researchers have  been interested in these, and some have recently updated their web pages.

One result of this has been to show up a discrepancy in a Payard-Bettac marriage, which needs further research to resolve.

Quite soon after we got interested in family history, back in the 1970s, we discovered that Val’s Decker and Falkenberg ancestors came from East Germany, which was then isolated from much of the world by the Cold War, and there was no possibility of South Africans visiting it. Then there was an announcement in the newsletter of the Genealogical Society of South Africa that a Mr Hans-Georg Bleibaum was interested in South Africans of German descent, and was willing to gibe help and advice to South Africans who wanted to follow up German ancestors.

We wrote to him, and explained our research problem, and asked for his advice. We heard nothing for several months, and then he replied with an ancestor chart going back for several generations. He had contacted a researcher in East Germany, one K-A Jung, who was a member of a local health committee, and sent him a parcel of groceries, in return for which he asked him to look up our family. Mr Bleibaum asked us to refund the cost of the groceries by paying R25.00 into his South African bank account, which we gladly did.

Mr Jung had looked up the ancestors of the Decker and Falkenberg families. He could find little on Christian Falkenberg, but his wife Jessie Schultz had a Huguenot grandmother, Marie Payard, born in 1785 in Briest, in the Ückermark region of Brandenburg. He looked in the registers of the French Reformed Church, and found ancestors going back another four generations. Her earliest Payard ancestor was a Samuel Payard, a tobacco planter from Calais. Her mother was an Elisabeth Bettac, and there were several generations on that side too.

In 1989 the Cold War ended, and Germany was reunited, and records became more accessible, and several other people have been researching their Huguenot ancestry in Brandenburg, and more recently have been putting the results of their research on the web, where it was possible to compare them, and find links between different families.

The links could be confusing, because the Huguenots seemed to like naming their children after biblical patriarchs, and in many families the first three boys were Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and the fourth was often a Jacques for variation. If one died, then a later child was often given the name of the dead one.

Anyway, in comparing the results of different peoples’ research, we came across a possible discrepancy in the information sent to us by Mr Jung — there were two Isaac Payards, one born in 1740 and the other in 1743, in different towns, and two Elisabeth Bettacs, one born in 1752 and the other in 1765. Mr Jung had given us the younger of each as the parents of Marie Payard, but he had not been able to find a marriage for them.  There  is a marriage of an Isaac Payard to an Elizabeth Bettac in Briest in 1765, but Mr Jung either did not see it or did not include it because the younger Elisabeth Bettac would then have been only 11 years old. The older one (the aunt of the younger one) would have been 23.

So Mr Jung was probably right, but it would be nice to be more certain. If anyone would like to know more about the problem, see our wiki article on the Payard-Bettac marriage.  If Mr Jung was wrong about which Elizabeth Bettac it was, then the Berthe and Devantier families would not be part of our ancestry (though they would be related by marriage).

Devantier family

Last year we had a couple of e-mails from Devantier cousins — Deborah Devantier in the USA, and Vanessa Devantier in Brazil, asking about family connections. We couldn’t find any links in our family records, so I passed them on to Torben Devantie in Denmark, who has now confirmed the links, and that both Deborah and Vanessa are cousins. We’ll have to enter them into our program to work out whether they are 4th, 5th or 6th coursins, and how many times removed!

Our link to the Devantier family comes on the Falkenberg side: Val’s great great grandmother was Jessie Falkenberg, nee Schultz, who came to the Cape Colony with the German settlers in 1858, at the age of 9. And Jessie Schultz’s great great grandmother was Judith Devantier.

Torben Devantie is the one who has collected most of the Devantier family tree, which is enormous. The family were Huguenots who migrated from France via the Rhineland to Brandenburg in Prussia after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685. Many other Huguenot families settled in the Ueckermark region of Brandenburg (north-east of Berlin), and they all intermarried and married French for several generations. Many were tobacco planters, and one group, including some Devantiers, moved to Denmarkat the request of the King of Denmark to grow tobacco, and for a long time the town of Fredericia was “Huguenot City”.

Anyway, Torben Devantier wrote to say that he had found the link to Deborah Devantier’s ancestor Carl Wilhelm Friedrich Devantier, which is on his web site. We checked our records, and we found none of the links there, not one, not two, not three generations back. And then found that Abraham Devantier (1692-1761) who married Sarah Feut and had 11 children, which we do have, had remarried to Judith Talman, and had another six kids, whom we didn’t have. No wonder the Devantier family is so enormous. So we’ve got several generations catching up to do. That Abraham Devantier, by the way, was our Judith Devantier’s eldest brother, which means he was Val’s 7th great grand uncle.

And then Vanessa Devantier’s ancestor was Friedrich Albert Devantier, and we found a tentative link in our tree, and now Torben Devantie has confirmed the link, which is also on his web site.

There is more about the Devantier family on our family wiki page.

Huguenot ancestors from Brandenburg

A little less than a year ago I blogged about the Falkenberg branch of Val’s family, where we discovered a couple more generations after more than 30 years of searching. But Val’s great-great grandfather Christian Falkenberg married as his second wife Justine (Jessie) Schultz, who was 9 years old when they came out on the ship together from Germany.

Back when we first started we found that the Schultz and Falkenberg ancestors came from what was then the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) and we thought that that branch was a dead end. But a Mr Hans-Georg Bleibaum in West Germany said he could find a researcher who would look for us, if we would send him some cash for a parcel of groceries. So we sent the cash, and he sent the groceries over to East Germany, and several months later came a letter saying that Val’s ancestor Martin Schultz had married a Marie Payard, and he had traced her cancestry back several generations — all of them descendants of Huguenot refugees from France who had fled to Brandenburg after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685.

And for several generations they had lived in the same area, the Ueckermark, and married French, so their records were all in the registers of the French Reformed Church. And so we had the families: Payard, Bettac, Bevierre, Berthe, Varembourg, Devantier, de la Croix, Peronne, and several others. One thing that surprised us was that the earliest ancestors were tobacco farmers from the French/Belgian border.

For a long time it just remained a list of names until we made contact with Barry Alexander in Australia through the Fidonet BBS network. He was descended from Devantiers, and had a book about the family. Many of the Brandenburg Huguenots had gone to Denmark and from there to other places. So we had not only a list of remote ancestors, but had made contact with real live cousins as well.

There were so many in these families that we found quite a number of other people researching them, and have managed to compare notes. I’m trying to get all the ones related to us in one file, but they intermarried with each othert so much that it is sometimes hard to work out the relationships, and I keep discovering another researcher who has found some more somewhere.

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