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All Roads Lead to Ulster County, NY

It was no great surprise to find a lot of grandparents on the maternal side of my family tree to have initially settled in the part of the New Netherland colony that Dutch traders first called the area of present-day Ulster County "Esopus."

Ulster, one of the original New York counties, was created in 1683. It is bordered by the Hudson River to the east and the Catskill Mountains to the northwest. It was named for the traditional Irish province of Ulster, then under the control of James, duke of York and Albany, who later became King James II. Kingston, the county seat, was the first capital of New York state in 1777 and the eastern terminus of the Delaware and Hudson Canal when it was completed 1828.

My direct DuBois maternal line emigrated to America in 1660 and traveled ninety miles up the Hudson River to a small community in the Kingston/Hurley area where they obtained a land grant in 1663. Louis DuBois and his son Isaac were two of twelve patentees who were issued a Patent for the town of New Paltz by Governor Edmond Andros on 29 September 1677. New Paltz contains six houses built by the first settlers along Huguenot Street (1692–1712), one of the oldest American streets with its original houses. One of them, the "DuBois Fort" was built in1705 as mandated by the Colonial Government to provide a redoubt "for a place of Retreat and Safeguard upon Occasion." Although there are three gun ports on the ground floor, it is said no shots were ever fired from them.

The children of Louis married the offspring of other patentees as it gradually grew into a small self governing village. They also married new Dutch, French and English settlers who emigrated to Ulster County.

As the family grew, certain branches began to expand and explore new territories. They spread to the south and west, heading to parts of New Jersey and Pennsylvania before striking out even further to West Virginia and Kentucky.

All of this was not surprising to me, based upon my prior knowledge and supplementary research. I considered Ulster County as "home base" for my maternal line. I did not, however, expect it to also be the location for of my paternal branches as well. That surprise came in the direct form of Pawling and De Witt families, starting with my 6th times great grandmother, Deborah DeWitt Pawling (1715-1770) and proceeding back.

Deborah's parents, John Pawling and Aagje De Witt, were both born, raised, and married in Kingston, Ulster County. Then the family moved to the area where my paternal line had settled, in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. That discovery turned my prior belief on its head. I had assumed (obviously incorrectly) that all members of my paternal branch had always lived in Pennsylvania upon their arrival in America, a contrast to my maternal side which found various branches from multiple colonies eventually making their way to New Jersey.

Even before the Pawling family removed to Pennsylvania, they were very familiar with direct and extended members of the DuBois family. They were sponsors at their children's baptisms and witnesses to their wills. They served together in military companies. But that was to be expected when living in the same area and attending the same churches.

However, it was the De Witt family that married directly into the DuBois family, making it, to date, the only connection I have found between my maternal and paternal lines, although I only have De Witt grandparents on my paternal side.

So, in both of my paternal and maternal trees, I have branches that all lead back to Ulster County, New York.


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