My family came to the Land of Opportunity from France to escape the religious persecution of King Louis XIV. In 1685 he decided to rid France of all religions except Roman Catholicism. He issued the revocation of the "Edict of Nantes," in which he ordered all ministers to either revert to Catholicism, leave or be put to death. He gave them two weeks to comply, and ordered all churches and temples destroyed. He also ordered all other Protestants to stay.
In spite of the order to stay, a large group of John Calvin's followers, known as Huguenots, left France. Upwards of two million would leave France for destinations around the world. My immigrant ancestor was one of those who left and went to England, where he met and married his wife, then left for America. They arrived in New York in 1700, where their first two sons were born. They subsequently moved on to a large area of land set aside for them in Virginia. It was a deserted Indian village on the James River near Richmond. Manakin, Virginia, is the site of the Huguenot Church and cemetery marked by Virginia historical sign number 033. The church is still in the design of the original French church.
This immigrant would become wealthy and prominent in the area and the state, with much land and many slaves. His sons would continue to spread across the state and into Kentucky; they would also be wealthy. His grandsons helped carryon and finance the War of 1812.
The fourth and fifth generations of these new Americans would leave Kentucky, cross the mountains, and travel the Ohio, Mississippi, Missouri, and Osage Rivers. They would trek overland to get to the part of Missouri where many of them would remain. They did not leave the Civil War behind them; several of the men joined the Missouri Infantry and fought for their rights.
My great-grandmother, part of the family's sixth generation, would marry a young man who had just arrived from Kentucky. He, his folks and brothers had come to take part in the Cherokee Strip Land Rush on September 16, 1893. They settled in northeast Oklahoma and would have eight children before he died in 1912. Two of the children had died, and she was with child when he -while saving an Indian friend-was dragged to his death by a team of spooked horses. At 36, she was a widow with a large family to raise.
She would have many more trials and tribulations and see sons and grandsons in more wars before her death. She was a very colorful lady who collected rattles from rattlesnakes, used snuff, and lived by "Tulsey" time until the day she died. She went to sleep in her favorite chair at her oldest daughter's home, and hopefully awoke in a better world than the one she left. There were five living generations of her family when she died in 1961. Fourteen generations are now recorded, and she left 305 direct descendants. I'm glad I came from such strong stock; they were certainly brave folks who followed their convictions.
Back in 1955 a call went out from the editors of the then Capper’s Weekly asking for readers to send in articles on true pioneers. Hundreds of letters came pouring in from early settlers and their children, many now in their 80s and 90s, and from grandchildren of settlers, all with tales to tell. So many articles were received that a decision was made to create a book, and in 1956, the first My Folks title – My Folks Came in a Covered Wagon – hit the shelves. Nine other books have since been published in the My Folks series, all filled to the brim with true tales from Capper’s readers, and we are proud to make those stories available to our growing online community.
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