Family History


The DuBois family of New Paltz, NY are descendants of Chretien DuBois b.ca1590) and his wife Francoise le Poivre. He was a prosperous middle class linen merchant and devout protestant from the village of Wicres, outside of Lille. In 1659 the area was handed over by the Catholic Spanish Netherlands to the Catholic regime of Louis XIV, who imposed high taxes on the middle classes and cruelly persecuted the Protestant (Huguenot) dissidents.

Chretien was the father of seven children: Francoise (b.1622),Anne(b.1624),Louis (b.1626-d.1696),Jacques (b.1628-d.1676),Antoine, Philippe and Toussaint

Resentful of high taxes and fearful of religious persecution, Francoise and Jacques settled in Leyden, Holland. Meanwhile, Louis along with other Huguenot refugees moved to Mannheim, Germany (near Heidelberg) on the Rhine River. This area was called die Pfalz (hence the origin later of the village name of New Paltz).

While in Germany, Louis DuBois married another French Huguenot, Catherine Blanchan in 1655. They emigrated to America in 1660 and traveled ninety miles up the Hudson River to a small community in the Kingston – Hurley area where he obtained a land grant in 1663.

Francoise, and her husband Pierre Billiou also emigrated in 1661, settling in Staten Island, NY. Fourteen years later Jacques and his wife, Pierrone Bentyn arrived in Kingston.

In the 1660’s during the “Esopus Wars”, there were many hostile incidents between white settlers and the Esopus Indians. During these times in 1663 a raid killed 21 people and Catherine Blanchan DuBois and her three children were carried off and held captive for three months before being rescued by a contingent of Dutch soldiers. During this expedition to rescue his wife tradition has it that Louis DuBois discovered the beautiful Walkill valley which became his new home.

Jacques children spread across the Hudson River and helped to establish Fishkill and Poughkeepsie. The children of Louis married the offspring of other patentees of New Paltz which gradually grew into a small self governing village. One daughter, Sarah, married a Van Meter and moved to New Jersey and then farther south. This branch of DuBoises helped open the way west and contributed to the settling of Kentucky and West Virginia.

The DuBoises, and other Huguenot families of New Paltz, were slave owners. Louis purchased two slaves at public auction in Kingston 1674. The 1755 census shows Solomon DuBois as owning seven slaves.

The DuBois family takes some small comfort that Catherine DuBois Cottin (Louis DuBois widow) made specific mention in her 1712 will that a manumission letter written for her slave girl Rachel in 1709 shall “remain in force and be properly observed”.

Perhaps another counter balance to that history is that W.E.B. DuBois, a founding director of the NAACP and editor of The Crisis from 1910-1934, dedicates his autobiography to his great grandfather Dr. James DuBois, a physician in Poughkeepsie, who he claims is descended from Jacques in the fifth generation. DuBois in his nineties, discouraged by the inability of capitalism to bring the highest welfare to its people, believed in communism.

Other famous branches of the family tree: General George Patton, artist Mary Cassatt, actor Marlon Brando, actress Joan Crawford and Sam Walton, founder of Wal-Mart.