And now for something completely different - meeting my French ancestors

That's right. French. French/Belgian to be more exact - Brench, if you will. My ancestry gets more and more interesting every day.

So I've been looking into my Stutzmann family tree lately, trying to determine if they were part of the more well-known Swiss Stutzman family and as it turns out, they are. Which made me think about one of my connecting Stutzmann lines, the D'huy family. My 5x great- grandmother was Ottilia Elisabetha D'huy, born in Grossbockenheim, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany in 1779. Her father, Johannes Dhuy, was born in Grossbockenheim. His father, Johann Nicolai D'huy, was born in Munsterappel, about 37 km northwest but still in the Rhineland-Palatinate. HIS father, Johann Simon Dhui, was born in Kriegsfeld in the Rhineland-Palatinate, 6 km south-east of Munsterappel. This brings us back to the late 1600s - so this line, the D'huy/Dhuy/Dhui family, is pretty deeply established German. Simon is my 8x great-grandfather. But the name, D'Huy, has never rung German to me. It's always sounded, well...French. 

 Kriegsfeld, Germany

Kriegsfeld, Germany

But I couldn't get past Simon and I actually only recently discovered he was born in Kriegsfeld, but that was an important discovery, because when I did a Google search for D'huy and Kriegsfeld, I turned up a ton of research, including a book, on the Duy family, who settled in Kriegsfeld and ended up being German but who were actually Huguenots and/or Walloons from, you guessed it, France.

Quelle surprise!

 Kriegsfeld, Germany

Kriegsfeld, Germany

 Hanau, Germany

Hanau, Germany

The family actually goes back in Germany - Kriegsfeld and before that, Hanau - two more generations, but the Duy family, or Douay, or Douai, actually hails from a tiny village in the north of France called St. Python, or St. Pithon, only about 25 km from the border with Belgium.

 

 

 Hanau, Germany

Hanau, Germany

 Saint-Python, France

Saint-Python, France

I think it wasn't always considered a part of France, that the border shifted during those years to make St. Pithon a part of Belgian or even Dutch territory (Walloons were French-speaking Belgians), but apparently the Duys became Protestant during the Protestant Reformation (Huguenots were French Protestants). During this time, France remained a Catholic stronghold and the Huguenots were terribly persecuted - in fact, thousands of Huguenots were slaughtered in France during the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre on August 24, 1572. Germany, however, became a safe haven for Protestants and so that's probably part of the reason my Duys left France and ended up in Hanau, Germany. Again, I'm not going to go into all the details - the book I found, very well researched and documented, lays it out much better than I ever could, but I'll link to it below if you're interested in finding out more. My Dhuys fled back to Amsterdam in the mid-1600s as the Thirty Years' War flared among the German states and kingdoms, and when they returned, they ended up in Kriegsfeld for a couple of generations. It appears they were still in the path of French military incursions, though, the family moved further away from the French border, settling in Grossbockenheim.

Family history research is such a deep, complex, interesting journey - you think you know your heritage, because that's where your family lived for hundreds of years, so long that the culture and language and traditions of that place DO become your heritage, but it turns out, your family came from somewhere else - we think of America as being a land of immigrants, but we forget that other countries have immigrants and refugees, too, who become a part of their cultural and historical landscape.

In any case, trust your gut when it comes to your tree. There was never anything German about my D'Huy family name, but they lived in Germany for so long I couldn't find any proof that they WEREN'T German. Sometimes the proof just isn't there, even after an exhaustive search. But sometimes, if you keep plugging away, you find your instincts were right, and you find exactly what you never knew you were looking for. Surprises, anticipated or not, happen all the time when researching your heritage! 

Do you have a story about discovering your family came from somewhere different than you expected? Do you have questions about my journey or how to go about solving your own puzzle? Leave me a comment below!

Websites I used in this research:
Ancestry.com
Archion.de
Duey Family History - The Wolfenberger Family Association (this is a Word document book)