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Pioneer Families
the French/Swiss Connection

A. W. Cissel

Several of the early area families though emigrating from the German provinces were originally of French or Swiss ancestry. These families had spent two of more generations as refugees in Germany, adopting the language and culture (even the spelling of their names) as their own.

Religious and dynastic wars rocked Western Europe for over a hundred years culminating in King Louis XIV's revocation of the Edict of Nantes requiring conversion of all French Protestants (Huguenots) and forbidding emigration. The French had also conquered some of the Swiss cantons where there were many Mennonite followers. These French or Swiss Protestants fled to the neighboring non-Catholic countries.

The majority crossed the Rhine River to the provinces and city-states of Lutheran Germany.

Some were expressly invited by various German Princes whose lands had been desolated by earlier wars. In the mid-18th century, when the land agents of William Penn and George Calvert beckoned men to a better life in the New World, these former French/Swiss families joined in the migration, entering America as citizens and emigrants of the German Palatinate.

Several noted historians and genealogists have documented the ancestry of these Frederick County residents. What follows is a partial list of those who settled in the Thurmont/Emmitsburg neighborhood.

Bonnet - From Lorraine, the tract "Bonnet's Resolution" was surveyed for Jacob Bonnet in 1742 and is included in the Johnson brother's Catoctin Furnace holdings

Colliflower (Originally Collifleur/ Goranflet) From Friedenthal in Baden. a town founded in 1699 specifically for Huguenot refugees. George Adam Colliflower emigranted in 1749: his descendants were members of the Moravian Church.

Delauter (De Latre/De Lateur) - Huguenot family fled Lille, France to Germany about 1640. David Delatere had a child baptized in Delatere had a child baptized in Frederick County by an EvangelicalReformed minister in 1749. David was described as a "Calvinist" at his naturalization in October, 1761.

Fornev (Fahnev) - Family has been traced to Ferney in Depart of Ain, France. Some fled to Protestant cantons of Swizerland, some to Palatine Germany. Adam Furnie purchased land southwest of later Emmitsburg in 1762.

Fortnev (Fortineaux) - Jean Henri Fortineau was listed as Fortinee by Pastor Stoever who baptized a daughter at Monocacy Church in 1738.

Motter (Motteur/Mottrie) - Originated in Alsace, France, said to be Huguenots, settled in York, Pa. by 1757 from German Palatine.

Royer (Rier) - Several originated in France - Sebastian Royer was in Pennsylvania in 1718. (Note: Not all Royer, Boyer or Moyer are of French descent.)

Staub - The Government of the Commune of Ochlenberg, Switzerland reported in November, 1774 that Andreas Staub had surrendered his citizenship and settled in Maryland.

Troxell (Drachsel) - Johan Peter Trachsel born at Lenke, Canton Berne in French controlled Switzer-land, emigrated to Saar area of Western Germany. His 17 year old grandson John Peter Troxell emigrated with parents in 1737 and was buried at Tom's Creek near ''Emmitsburg in 1799

Woodring (Vauterin/Voturin) - Jean Voterin b. Hellerigin, Lorraine (France) in 1711, served in French Dragoons at age 17, became a Moravian, settled in York Co with wife and three children. He and second wife moved to Frederick County, both buried Graceham in 1786. Son Jean (John, Jr.) lived near Graceham, d. 1779.

Williar(d) (Vielliard) - Nicholaud Vielliard fled from France to Erlenbach in the Palatine provinces. Son Jacob (1667-1717) married Mary Elizabeth Gordier who died in 1770 and is buried at Graceham. Grandson Peter Williar (1714-1794) was one of first communicants at 1758 organization of this Moravian congregation. Peter acquired land near Sabillasville, fathered 10 children.

Some names which are more obviously French included the Bussards, DuVals, Delaplaines, Juliens, and Lefevers. Many Swiss names ending in "j'' or "i" were given an Anglicized ending of "ie" or "y" resulting in Leidie. Tshudy, Rudie, and Welty. Not all present day bearers of the same name as those mentioned here are descendants of the particular people named. In many cases, the original name/ nationality has disappeared or been changed so drastically that Murray can be Irish or the Swiss Muri, but for some families, their "German" heritage eventually leads back to France or Switzerland.

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