Hugo Freer stone house still standing 320 years later: painting by Wendy Harty 2020. This house is at #243 Huguenot Street, a National Historic Landmark on the oldest street in America with its original houses, the Freer House was built by my 8th great grandfather Hugo Freer Sr. It features clapboard gable windows, solid shutters and divided door with overhang hood, common in Dutch colonial architecture.
In 1692 Hugo Freer began building this stone house, finished in 1694. It was three rooms stacked one atop the other: a cellar, a ground floor room and a loft. The fireplace was located in the main ground floor room and originally had been jambless as was the building style of the times.
Hugo “Hugue” Freer was born about 1636 in Herly-en-Boulonnois, Picardie France son of Hugues and Catherine Renee De Fontenaille Freer. One story tells how he was smuggled out of France as a child in a wine barrel and lived in exile in a Huguenot community in Mannheim, Germary. Mannheim was a major town of the Palatinate, Germany (in German, the Pfalz) at the time a center of Protestantism. The Huguenots were religious refugees who fled France during religious persecution to Germany, then to Holland and some to the New World. By reading their history, France ended their political and military privileges and they were forced to convert to Catholicism or flee as refugees; they were subject to violent dragonnades and reduced in population from 800,000 to 1500. Many that fled possessed skills of silk weaving, clock-making, silversmithing and optometry.
Hugo Freer married twice the first time on Oct 2, 1660 in Mannheim, Electorate Palatine, Holy Roman Empire to Marie de la Haye a native of Douaye, France. They married in the French Congregation at Mannheim, Germany when she was 15 and had these children: Marie, Sarah, Hugo II. She and the two daughters died in the plaque of 1666 the same year Hugo II was born and Hugo I married secondly Jannetje Wibau (1634-1693) on Jan 22, 1667. They had the following children: Abraham, Isaac, Mary, Jacob, Joseph and Jean. Hugo and Jannetje with sons, Hugo II, Abraham and Isaac sailed to America on a Dutch ship, “The Spotted Cow”. They arrived in New York about 1675 formerly called New Netherlands along with his family who joined a Huguenot community developing in the Hudson Valley. From there the 12 Patentees established the town of New Paltz, NY in 1677.
Hugo was one of a group of a dozen Huguenots, known as the Duzine, who contracted with five Chiefs of the Esopus tribe for the sale of land at New Paltz in the New World in 1677. In 1683, Hugo was elected and installed as deacon of the Christian congregation gathered at New Paltz. Although surrounded by the Dutch and on friendly terms with them, the Huguenot settlers of New Paltz resisted intermarriage with their neighbors and for many years preserved their own way of life. The original system of government for New Paltz consisted of a council of twelve heads of families. My Hugo Freer was one of them. This Huguenot Street was a haven for European refugees. Along the east shore of the Wallkill River they built their first shelters having been told to build on that side to prevent flooding. As they grew prosperous they built their stone houses further from the river along with the church, schools, blacksmith, seamstresses and stores that flourished for the benefit of those that needed seed, tools, clothing and alcoholic beverages. They were given a royal patent of 40,000 acres stretching to the Hudson River divided between these twelve families and then their relatives which each had large plots, part wilderness and part farm. Today it is a living museum community.
How do I fit into the tree? Hugo Freer II born July 1, 1666 at Mannheim, Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany died June 29, 1732 at New Paltz, Ulster, New York. He married Maria Ann Le Roy 1673-1718. Their daughter Blandina Freer 1703-1772 married Simeon LeRoy 1712-1776. Their son Simeon LeRoy 1746-1832 married Wyntje Jaycocks 1753-1825 and their story was in my blog “40 Days and 40 Nights”.
And if you go to You-Tube #MuseumsFromHome you can find Let’s Read Together! Hugo the Hugunot read aloud because the museum is closed for Covid-19! “This place reminds me of the Paltz it’s here that I will stay”.