Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Beeks line: The well traveled and fascinating David Demarest 1620-1693

I've used the name Demarest in this post, although he was known by the name David Des Marets and David Des Marest during his lifetime. Demarest is the name by which his descendents were known. 

David was born about the year 1620 in the town of Beauchamp, Picardy, France.  This is a small town (current population slightly over 1000) very near the coast, in northern France and is located on the Bresle Rever.  It might seem as though this was a backwater town which time could pass by, and perhaps it was that kind of town for the French Catholics.  For the French Protestants, or Huguenots, though, it was not that kind of town.  Religious persecutions including economic forces, caused the Demarests, probably including David's parents, Jean Demarest and possibly Marguerite de Herville to move or flee to Middleburg, on the island of Walcheren Zeeland, Holland.  There the Demarests were members or congregants of the Walloon Church, and there David maried Marie Sohier on July 24, 1643.  Marie was the daughter of Francois Sohier and Marguerite. 

The new Demarest family stayed in Middleburg long enough for two sons, Jean and David, to be born into the family.  In 1651, the family moved to Mannheim, on the Rhine, in what was then the largest city of the Lower Palatinate.  The Elector, or ruler, of this state badly needed settlers to work and help the area recover from the Thirty Years War, and he offered inducements to French Protestants to come to settle in his lands.  He even built them a church, which was used also by the Lutherans. 

However, peace did not long visit Mannheim, and soon there were fears that the German Catholics were going to bring war to the area.  Having seen what had happened to the Huguenots in France, the Demarests decided that they would go to the New World, to settle near the Dutch (possibly even some of their friends from their days in Middleburg).  David and Marie and four children, (Jean, a second David who had been born in Mannheim after the first son David died, and Samuel, plus one unnamed who likely died young) came to New Amsterdam on the ship "Bentekoe" where they landed on April 16, 1663.  They settled in the French Huguenot colony on Staten Island, a little south of the Narrows, where they lived for about two years.  This was about the time the English took control of New Amsterdam. 

Apparently David was a very adaptable man, for he next bought property in New Harlem, and stayed there about 12 1/2 years.  Another son, Daniel, was born to the couple in either Staten Island or New Harlem.  The Demarests might have stayed there forever, but David was dunned for taxes (tithes) he did not feel he owed, so he and his family left the area.   

This time they settled in what became Bergen County, New Jersey, on the Hackensack River.  Compared to some of the moves the family had made in the past, this was not a particularly long move, but it had significance because at last the family found a place to put down roots.  Unfortunately Marie died here, shortly after they had arrived, and she was the first burial in what is known as the "French Cemetery."  The family carried on, regardless of their loss. They purchased large tracts of land, set up a mill and mill house, lived peaceably with their neighbors and continued worshiping God. During this time period there were no significant problems with the native Americans, and David lived out his days there until he died in 1693.

Most of the information for this post came from a book or pamphlet called "The Huguenots on the Hackensack", which was presented as a "paper" in 1885. It was written by Rev. David D. Demarest, and is available for free on the internet.  There is a more recent book out, that is now at the top of my wish list, called A Huguenot on the Hackensack:  David Demarest and His Legacy.  I can't wait to order it, because I'm sure it contains a lot of valuable information.  David Demarest lived a fascinating life, and I'm sure the book will be extremely interesting.

The line of descent is:

David Demarest-Marie Sohier
Jean Demarest-Jacomina DeRuine
Peter Demarest Maretje Meet
Lea Demarest-Samuel David Demarest (yes, a descendent of the same couple)
Sarah Demarest or Demaree-Benjamin Slot
William Lock/Slot-Elizabeth Teague
Sarah Lock-Jeremiah Folsom
Leah Folsom-Darlington Aldridge
Harvey Aldridge-Mary Catherine Dunham
Cleo Aldridge-Wilbur Beeks
Mary Margaret Beeks-Cleveland Harshbarger
Harshbarger children, grand children, and great grandchildren