Saturday, August 14, 2010

New Branches in the Family Tree

House  built 1720I have discovered another ancestral home that now serves as part of an historic site: Huguenot Street in New Paltz, New York. This is the Freer-Low House where a ninth great-grandfather, Hugo Freer, once lived.

Regular visitors to this blog will have noticed my genealogy hobby and my pride in Mahaffie family history.  I have written a few times about The Mahaffie House, now a museum in Olathe, Kansas.  It was home to my great-great-grandparents JB Mahaffie and Lucinda Henderson who were among the first settlers of that town.

But that was in the mid-1800s. Hugo Freer came to the New York colony sometime before 1677 as part of a wave of religious refugees -- Huguenots -- who had fled France, stayed for a time in Germany, and eventually came to the colonies. Hugo Freer was one of a group of twelve men (the "Duzine") who purchased land from the local Esopus tribe and received a patent to settle the town of New Paltz in the 1670s.

At the very end of his life, Hugo Freer replaced his original wood home with the stone structure that stands today. He died in 1698. The house passed through various family members and served different functions before being purchased by the Huguenot Historical Society in 1955 and made part of the Huguenot Street Historic District of New Paltz.

"My great-grandmother, of French Huguenot ancestry"
I am related to Hugo Freer through my maternal grandmother, Isabel Cooper Mahaffie, another frequent subject of this blog. Towards the end of her life, she had inventoried her home (filled with a wonderful collection of treasures and art).  Reading through that inventory the other day, I found her reference to "an especially fine small colonial covered pitcher with the dragon finial, which belonged to Joanna Freer, my great-grandmother, of French Huguenot ancestry."

That led me to renew genealogical searching along that branch of the family tree, which had been stopped at Joanna Freer and her husband, Nathan Myers.  The renewed searching led me to a new treasure trove,  the Freer-Low Family Association, which provided six more generations of family, back to Hugo Freer (who appears in some records as "Hugo Freer Patentee").

So now, allowing for possible error over more than 300 years, the generations look like this:
  1. Hugo Freer and Marie de la Haye
  2. Hugo Freer, Sr., and Maria LeRoy
  3. Simon Freer and Marytjen Vanbommell
  4. Zimeon Freer and Catrina Vanbenschoten
  5. Simeon Freer and Anna Maria DuBois
  6. Elias Freer and Arreantje Veley (Viele?)
  7. Joanna (Johanna?) Freer and Nathan Meyers
  8. Isabella Meyers and Thomas Cooper
  9. James Cooper and Honora Henry
  10. Isabel Cooper and Charles D. Mahaffie, Sr.
  11. Charles D. Mahaffie, Jr. and Judith Farrar (my parents)
And, because I keep all these records on, additional connections are made as data in other family trees is compared to data from my tree. The Freer-Low Family Association records start with Hugo the Patentee, but geni connections suggest at least another five generations back in time.

And so I am once again happily wandering among my ancestors in the near and distant past.

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