Louis DuBois (Huguenot)

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DuBois stone "fort house" on Huguenot Street in New Paltz, New York, now serves as a visitor center and museum

Louis DuBois was a Huguenot colonist in New Netherland who, with two of his sons and nine other refugees, founded the town of New Paltz, New York. These Protestant refugees fled Catholic persecution in France, emigrating to the Die Pfalz, the Rhenish Palatinate (in present day Germany), before going to New Netherland where they settled in Wiltwyck (present day Kingston, NY) and Nieuw Dorp, settlements midway between New Amsterdam (present day New York City) and Beverwyck (today known as Albany, New York) before ultimately founding New Paltz.

Early life[edit]

Louis was the son of Chrétien du Bois and Françoise le Poivre of Wicres, and later Herlies, in Walloon Flanders, then part of Spanish Netherlands.

The 3rd part of Horton, "The Memory of the Just is Blessed",[1] begins with an extract from a document in the Archives du Nord, and commentary:

Louis du Bois fils de feu Crestien de stil couturier dem(eurant) à Herlÿ ...at par ceste vendu cede et t(ran)sporte audict Franchois du Bois ... touttes tel part droict et action quil poeut ... avoir des suscessions et hoiries à luy venu ... par les trepas dudict Crestien son père et de Franchoise le Poivre sa mere ... (2E3/3572-110 (August 12, 1643)).

On this day in 1643, our future Patentee sold his interest in his parents' estate to his uncle "Franchois du Bois fils de feu Anthoine dem(eurant) à Wicre" (for 3,600 livres parisis). Ibid. Although he was already a 'dressmaker' by profession ("de still couturier"), he would have been on that date, according to our tradition, aged merely 16 years. The reader is justifiably struck by the singularity of this professional status and contractual capacity at such a tender age. There is no suggestion of record, for example, that he was operating under any tutelage or guardianship in this sale of his birthright. Nor does it indicate that Louis was merely a couturier's "apprentice" or the like. When presented with the new evidence from Lille, readers will likely agree that American traditions regarding the birthdates of the three known Huguenot children of Chrétien du Bois — Louis, Françoise, and Jacques — should be revisited, and, perhaps, accordingly revised.

The article demonstrates convincingly that the christening recorded 21 Oct 1626 at Wicres refers to Toussaint du Bois, not his brother Louis. Louis du Bois and his (apparent twin) brother Antoine were christened at Wicres 17 Jun 1622. Louis and Antoine appear to have been named after their paternal grandfather and great-grandfather.

Refugee from Religious Persecution[edit]

Louis fled persecution in France to Mannheim, Germany before 1650. Louis married Catherine Blanchan in Mannheim, Germany on October 10, 1655.

New Netherland Immigration[edit]

The DuBoises eventually moved to Kingston, New York within New Netherland around 1660, then to Hurley, New York. In 1663 the Esopus Indians captured DuBois' wife and three children who were eventually rescued three months later. According to legend but unmentioned in the detailed journal of the rescue expedition's commander, his wife, Catherine DuBois, was singing the Psalm 137 about the Babylonian captivity when they were rescued. Louis DuBois was also physically attacked by the Indians, but fought back and survived.[2][3]

New Paltz Patentee[edit]

DuBois and the others bought a 40,000 acre tract of land from the Esopus Indians in 1677. The tract, known in 17th-century colonial New York as a "patent," stretched from the Hudson River to the Shawangunk Mountains. DuBois was one of eleven men to begin settling on a rise over the Wallkill River, in the center of the patent, in 1678.[4] Louis DuBois served as one of the original elders in New Paltz's French Reformed Church, which is still in existence today.[5]

In the early years, DuBois and his fellow patentees governed the land communally. In 1728, the surviving patentees and their descendants created a more formal form a government called "The Twelve Men" (later known as the Duzine). This body consisted of one elected representative for each patentee families. Membership was restricted to their descendants through either male or female lines. To this date, some of the DuBois land is still owned by the family descendants. In 1785, the New York State Legislature confirmed the actions of this body. Although a standard form of town government was established in the late 18th century, the Duzine existed in at least ceremonial form into the 19th century. In the later years of the Duzine, the members were consumed with lawsuits defending the boundaries of the New Paltz patent. At one time, the Duzine hired Aaron Burr to represent them in such a lawsuit.

Final Days[edit]

Louis himself eventually returned to Wiltwyck, by then known as Kingston, where he died prior to his will entering probate on June 23, 1696.[6] His widow remarried, and in her will freed two of her slaves.


Reformed church in New Paltz. Dubois co-founded the congregation and served as an elder.

The original settlement of Louis DuBois and his fellow patentees survives today as Historic Huguenot Street, a National Historic Landmark District. The site includes the DuBois Fort, a colonial stone house built by one of Louis' sons.

W.E.B. Du Bois is said to be grandson of a loyalist descendant of Louis DuBois' brother who left for the West Indies. Most DuBois descendants supported the revolution, though, and now, descendants of the family's "French father" can be found in every state of the union.

Some of the notable descendants of Louis DuBois include:[7]


  1. ^ Monte Horton. ""The Memory of the Just Is Blessed": The Ancestry and Extended Family of Chrétien du Bois, bailli, lieutenant, greffier, et receveur de la Comté de Coupigny, notaire, homme de loi, laboureur et marchand; Resident of Wicres, then of Herlies." DuBois Family News (July 2012): 4–7, Part III: "Birthdates of Three Huguenot Children — A New Proposal"
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-09-30. Retrieved 2010-09-20. 
  3. ^ The American Descendants of Chrétien Du Bois of Wicres, France Part One, William Heidgerd, The DuBois Family Association, Huguenot Historical Society Inc., New Palz, NY, 1968, A-3
  4. ^ The Early Families of New Paltz, Historic Huguenot Street, 1999
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-09-30. Retrieved 2010-09-20. 
  6. ^ The American Descendants of Chrétien Du Bois of Wicres, France Part One, William Heidgerd, The DuBois Family Association, Huguenot Historical Society Inc., New Palz, NY, 1968, A-3
  7. ^ DuBois Family Association. Historic Huguenot Street [1] Retrieved September 3, 2017.

External links[edit]