Tuesday, January 24, 2012

"...a Fool and a Herytick"

Trabue House Gate by paynehollow
Trabue House Gate, a photo by paynehollow on Flickr.

I am descended from a family that includes a man named Daniel Trabue (1760-1840), whose family were early settlers in Virginia and then Kentucky (in the mid- to late-1700s). Daniel's grandfather was Antoine Trabue, born in Montalban, France and his mother was a Dupuy, also from Montalban. The Trabues in the US are, I've been told, all descended from this one line of Trabues - Atoine's descendents.

We Trabues are fortunate in that Daniel Trabue, at the end of his life, wrote a journal recalling (sometimes imperfectly) his life and times as an early Kentucky settler. He also recorded from memory a bit of what he'd heard about how his grandfather and grandmother escaped France (two separate incidents). I thought I'd share a bit of those two events today because it is fascinating reading.

A bit of historic background:

In 1685, Louis XIV signed the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes. This resulted in much persecution and an inquisition of French Protestants (Huguenots) and from 200,000 to 400,000 Huguenots left France. At this time, the family of Trabue had their seat at Montauban on the Tarne, in old Guyenne, France.

Here is a translated copy of the certificate that Antoine Trabue brought with him from France (written by a preacher friend of his):

"Lausanne, France, 15 Sept. A.D., 1687. We, the undersigned, certify that Antoine Trabue is a native of Montauban, age about 19 years, of good size, fine carriage, dark complexion, having a scar under his left eye; has always professed the Reformed Religion in which his parents raised him. He has never committed any offense that has come to our knowledge, otherwise than that the violence of the late horrible persecutions justified, which persecutions God has had the kindness to stop and for which He has given us reparations. We commend him tothe care of a kind Providence and to a cordial reception from our brethren."

And now, here is how Daniel Trabue begins his journal (all the original misspellings and grammatical mistakes are left intact)...

The Narrative of Daniel Trabue
Memorandom made by me D[aniel] Trabue in the year of 1827 of a Jurnal of events from memory and Tradition

I was born March 31, 1760, as per Register, in chesterfield county, Virginia, 15 miles from the city of Richmond. My Progenitors was from France. My Grandfather Anthony Trabue Fled from France in the year of our lord 1687 at a time of a bloody persicution against the Desenters by the Roman Catholicks...

The law against the Desenters was very Rigid at that time. Who Ever was known to be one, or Evin suspected-if they would not swear to suite [visit] the priest-their lives and estates was forfited, and they put to the most shameful. and cruel Tortue and Death. And worse than all, they would not let any One move from the kingdom. Guards and troops was stationed all over the kingdom to stop and ketch any that might run away.

At Every place where they would expect those persons might pass, there were Guards fixed and companys of Inquisetors and patrolers going on every road, and every other place, Hunting for these Hereticks, as they called them.

And where their was one that made their escape, perhaps their was hundreds put to the most shamefull Tortue and Death and their estates confiscated. When the Decree was first passed, a number of the people thougt it would not be put in execution so very hastely; but the priests, Friers and Inquseters was very intent for their estates, and they rushed quick.

I understand that my grandfather, Anthony Trabue, had an estate, but concluded he would leave it if he could possibly make his escape. He was a very young man, and he and a nother young man took a cart and loaded it with wine and went on to sell it to the furthermost Guard. And when night came they left their horses and Cart and made their escape to an Inglish ship, which took them in. And they went over to ingland, leaving their estates, native country, their relations, and everything for the sake of Jesus who Died for them. [probably he went to Switzerland instead]

My Mother was a Daughter of John Jams Dupuy. His father [left France about the same time. The circumstance was he was an officer in the army and he went home. And before he got home he had heard that his wife was turned Herriteck and when he got home she] told him all a bout the matter. She said she believed that [th]e catholicks was rong and that she had experienced the true [re]ligion of Jesus christ and she could not renunce it. She said the priest had been to see her and threattened her very sverly and told her he would be their again the next Day and if she Did not renounce her sentement and swear thus and so they would put her to the cruelest Death that they could think off.

That night she thought she was in a Dreadfull condition. She was looking for her husband at home but was not certain he would come and if he Did come she Did not know how he would act with her as he was a Catholick himself. She fasted that day and prayed to god almighty to Direct her what to Do. She did not ceace to pray all night.

The next day she saw the priest and the inquisitors coming. She had time to fall on her knees a minute or two before they entered her house. She prayed to jesus christ the might God to be with her in this time of great need and strengthen her and Direct her what to Do. She said it came to her not to Deny her saviour.

She Jumpt up and meet them at the Door and told them to come in. They asked her if she would now Do what the wanted her to Do yesterday. She said she had not altered her oppinion. They told her she was a fool, she was Deluded by the Devil, and they would kill her as she was not fit to live any longer, and she would go to the Devil instantly. She said if they despised her and Cast her off and put her to Death her Dependence was in Jesus her saviour, who would receive her soul in heavin.

They told her again she was a fool and a herytick (and many other names they called her), and that the way they was a going to serve her was to pull off all her finger nails with pinchers. And they said, "Look out at the door," that their was a big fat wild horse. "We will tye your hair of your head to that horse's tail and let him go. And then what will become of you?"

She said, "I am a lone woman. You can Do so if you plese. I cannot help myself."

One of them said, "Let her alone to Day. It is thought her husband will come home to Day and he will tell her better." So they went away and left her.

The same Day her Husband came home. She told him all that had passed. He loved her much. She was a hansom young woman-newly marryed and no child. My great Grandfather Dupuy was a strict Catholick but thought this persecution was rong, and that he would take her over to ingland and leave her their untill times would alter, and he himself would come back and enjoy his estate as he was rich. It was said their petitions going Every Day to the king to alter the Decree. My Great Grandfather thought the Decree would be altered. He imediately got a suit [of] men's cloaths that would fit his wife, give her a sword; and she passed as his servant in a man's regimental cloathing a sword by her side.

So they went to ingland.

So, you see, I come by my heresy honestly...


Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

The Saffords in the US are all descended from a single progenitor as well, who first settled in what is now Vermont. A surveyor with a partner named Page, they ended up dividing their business.

A few years back, my youngest sister's husband, pursuing various leads, drove up to northern Vermont. There he discovered that he, whose last name is Page, is a direct descendant of the partner of the progenitor of our surname.

John Farrier said...

That's a fascinating story!

I think that I'm kin to the distiller Jack Daniel, which has always made me proud.

Dan Trabue said...

Sons of heretics and boozers and surveyors, all!

Marshall Art said...

Your ancestors were only accused of heresy, as were many who diverted from the Roman Catholic ideas. They didn't divert from Scripture. How you came by your heresies is an entirely other matter.

Dan Trabue said...

We've established that I'm the heretic, brother Marshall. In which role does that place you?

And really? Here is this amazing set of stories and all you can do is go on the attack?

Lighten up, Frances.

Parklife said...

"Here is this amazing set of stories and all you can do is go on the attack?"

Dan, thats like asking a fish not to swim.. a bird not to fly.

Btw.. its rather nice that youre a heretic. With that out of the way you can actually focus on more interesting things.

She said, "I am a lone woman. You can Do so if you plese. I cannot help myself."

I cant even imagine what that was like to be in her shoes. Unbelievable.

John Farrier said...

Theological speculation is most creative when done thoroughly sloshed. That's the best way to come up with truly original heresies.

Dan Trabue said...

St Barney of Springfield?

St Otis of Mayberry?

Dan Trabue said...


thats like asking a fish not to swim.. a bird not to fly.

Ah, but does the bird not sometimes perch?

Does the fish sometimes not settle down to sleep?

Alan said...

We've gone back as far as we seem to be able to in this country and have traced things to before the U.S. was the U.S.. But before that things get murky as our name was changed from the original German version, so it is hard to find more information over there. And the information we do have on any of these ancestors is not much more than names and dates. How lucky for you to have access to that sort of information!

"Ah, but does the bird not sometimes perch? "

Heh. Surely you know the fable of the scorpion and the frog?

Marshall Art said...

"Here is this amazing set of stories and all you can do is go on the attack?"

Frankly Dan, as one with an interest in history, family histories like this are incredibly fascinating to me. But then you had to go and tarnish the mood with your last line. They were accused, as most who debated against the Holy Roman Catholic Church back then were. What you do is far different and to parallel yourself in this manner to those noble people is worthy of attack, though all I did was point out the error of your comparing yourself to them.

Dan Trabue said...

They were accused of heresy.

I am frequently accused of heresy.

It is an apt point to make.

Further, they were FALSELY accused of heresy.

I am falsely accused of heresy.

They had their inquisitors, I have mine.

Even more apt.

But that is not the point of the post, so let it go, Marshall. No one may expect the Spanish Inquisition, but we've all learned to expect yours.

Nonetheless, let it go.

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

My maternal great-great-grandparents arrived at Ellis Island on the run from the Roman Catholic Church's excommunication. He had been a priest, serving a convent in southeastern France. She had been a Jewish orphan, raised in seclusion by the nuns. When she came of age and emerged in to the community, the priest was smitten, and off they went to Chicago. Burdened by guilt, my ancestor entered the confessional and poured his heart out to a parish priest, who alerted Diocesan authorities. My family is barred from joining the Church of Rome until my great-grandchildren.

One of their sons, whose last name was "Reiner", entered the ministry of what was to become the Evengelical United Brethren Church. He rose through the hierarchy to become a bishop; in an old history of the denomination (which later joined The Methodist Church in 1968, forming The United Methodist Church), I found his name on a roll of bishops.

As an elderly man in 1948 when my mother was graduating from the University of Dayton, he happened to be in town (the headquarters for the denomination were in Dayton; United Seminary used to be known as Bonebreak Seminary, and the EUB publishing house was there; my mother's younger brother worked as a night watchman there his senior year in HS) and was invited to the celebratory mass and graduation. He demurred because he had been raised to never enter a Catholic Church.

Dan Trabue said...

"Bonebreak Seminary..."?

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

Name of a Bishop in the Brethren Church (a precursor of the EUB).

Totally off-topic, but when the EUB and Methodist Church united in 1968, one thing everyone agreed on was the curriculum writing, and general state of Sunday School management was far better in the EUB than the Methodist Church. All those curriculum writers, the publishing bureaucracy, etc., were located in Dayton, OH, but the Methodist Publishing House was located near the campus of Vanderbilt University in Nashville.

The "compromise" reached was the Dayton infrastructure was moved to Nashville. The only old EUB imprint left in Dayton is United Theological Seminary.

One more church/family note. My home Conference, the Wyoming Conference, was named for the Wyoming Valley, wherein lie the cities of Scranton, Wilkes-Barre, Hazleton, and Forty Fort, Pennsylvania. The original "conference" was on a charge founded by Francis Asbury, the first Methodist Episcopal Bishop, who got himself Consecrated in 1784. Afterward, he was determined to move in to "the frontier", which included what is now north-central Pennsylvania. He founded a community that built a small church at the bottom of a hill in the town of Wysox, PA. One of the members of that church was a Revolutionary War veteran who donated a small portion of the land he received in lieu of payment for his service in the Continental Army. His name was Samuel Shores, who is my direct descendant through my paternal grandmother Graces Shores Safford. Samuel Shores is buried in the Shores family plot in the Wysox Cemetery which is at the bottom of Shores Hill, hard on to a large United Methodist Church on the same land Samuel gave for Francis Asbury's new congregation.

Parklife said...

Another person with an interesting family history is Mitt Romney. What with him bringing up his LDS / polygamist Great Grandfather the other night. Great Grandpa was born in Iowa.. Later he was one of the first missionaries to Mexico, where Mitt's father was born. Sadly.. this "immigrant" family did not speak Spanish.

Oh.. and lets not forget Edward Davies, Mitt's Father-in-law. A big time atheist, but the family set that straight after he died by posthumously converting him to Mormonism.

Perhaps this is how Mitt Romney justifies his ability to take both sides of every issue.

Marshall Art said...

"Ah, but does the bird not sometimes perch?

Does the fish sometimes not settle down to sleep?"

Yes. Between readings of "Through the Woods".