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 please contact us. 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).

Update 15 Sep 2017

Another, and somewhat more difficult problem has arisen in that the Elisabeth Bettac (or Betac) burn in 1752 died in 1842. That would have made her 90 years old, but her age at death is given as 93, which would mean that she would have to have been born in 1849. We have found no likely candidate born in that year, but there is one who might be closer — Elisabeth Bettac daughter of Jean Bettac and Marianne Sy, who was a first cousin of the one born in 1752. She appears on several web sites of Ueckermark families but none of them shows her as marrying. Could she be the right one.

She would have been 92, not 93 if she died in 1842, but old people would often say things like “I’m in my 93rd year”, and in some places and periods people would count their age from the day they were born, so it is possible that she might be the more likely candidate. You can find her here, and her slightly younger cousin here.