Ancestral energy lives in the stars above us, the stones beneath us. Their memory gathers in oceans, rivers and seas. It hums its silent wisdom within the body of every tree.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Zabriskie Mystery, Part 2

Harlem, circa 1765, with Dutch Reform Church.
Francois Le Sueur and the French Connection

By uncovering our relation to the Polish immigrant Albrecht Zabriskie, and realizing the truth behind the story I had been told about the Polish princess who married the Frenchman, I discovered our unknown roots in France. We had another immigrant ancestor who was an early colonist in America, Francois LeSueur. The surname means “to toil” and in the sixteenth century, the LeSueurs were well established clothmakers in Rouen, France.
Francois was a civil engineer and surveyor, born in 1625 in a small town 3 miles south of Dieppe, Normandie, France. He was born in a town called Challe Mesnil that doesn’t exist on a modern map. There is a small farming village eight miles south of Dieppe called Colmesnil-Manneville that may be some evolution of where Francois was born. His parents are listed as Jean LeSueur and Marye Gruter, though that remains unverified.
On April 10, 1657, Francois and his younger sister Jeanne arrived in New Amsterdam and settled in Flatbush, Long Island. He was 31 years old. When they came to the New World as Huguenots, they were better accepted by the Dutch colonists than the English. The Huguenots were French Protestants whose belief in salvation through individual faith and an individual’s right to personally interpret scriptures threatened the hierarchy of the Catholic church. For centuries they had been persecuted and burned for their faith. In the 1600s over 200,000 French Huguenots fled the country, though emigration was illegal.
Francois was among twenty men, heads of families and freeholders, who, so that they might continue the language and customs of their homeland, applied to the Council of New Netherlands and the Directors General to be allowed to purchase land adjoining the Harlem River. On August 14, 1658, they broke new ground and named the settlement New Harlem, per request of the Dutch Governor, Peter Stuyvesant. I also want to add that much of the land for New Harlem was cleared, laid and built by African slaves who were employed as labor force for the Dutch company.
In 1659 Francois married Jannetje Hildebrand Pietersen in the Dutch Reformed Church. She was born in 1639 to Hildebrand Pietersen and Femmetje Albertse. In 1661 the civil engineer helped finish the engineering of New Haarlem. Francois, his wife and his sister moved to Esopus, NY early in 1663 because of high taxes in New Haarlem. From the book Harlem: its origins and early annals, authored by James Riker, 1881: “The three years allowed them (the people of Harlem settling on Montagne’s Flat) in which to pay for their lands had nearly expired, and with not a few it became a difficult problem how they should provide the 8 gl. per morgen which the government must have… It was plainly owing to the difficulty of raising this morgen-money, or morgen-gelt, as called…that a number of persons quit the town during this year (1662), to try their fortunes elsewhere; as well landholders as well others designing to become such. Of these were Coerten, De Pre, Du Four, Gervoe, and Le Sueur.”
From Harlem: its origins and early annals, by James Riker, “Francois Le Sueur, who left the town early in 1663, was the anc[estor] of the families of Leseur and Lozier, now mostly seated in N.Y. City and Bergen Co., N.J. Francois first lived in Flatbush after coming to Manhattan, and in 1659 m[arried] Jannetie, d[aughte]r of Hildebrand Pietersen, of Amsterdam; in which year Jannetie’s brother, Pieter Hillebrands, was captured by Indians at Esopus, but this did not deter her from removing there with her hus[band] Before going from H[arlem] he sold some of his effects, and his w[ife] bought “a little bed,” etc. at Sneden’s sale. Le Sueur’s s[iste]r Jeanne went with them to Esopus, and there m[arried] Cornelius Viervant, with whom she returned to H[arlem].”
Francois was a soldier in Captain Pawling’s Company during the Esopus Indian War. The Esopus were a tribe of Lenape Indians. The land they lived on, and shared with the colonists, was named after their tribe.
While in Esopus, Francois shows on record as being involved in a physical altercation with another colonist. On November 8, 1667 in Schout Beekman, Plaintiff vs. Francoys Le Shier, Defendant, “Plaintiff says that defendant has behaved very badly against Michiel Verbruggen, and had badly pushed and beaten him, and has hurt his ribs, on which account he has lodged a complaint, and demands a fine, in consequence of 100 gldrs. Defendant admits to having beaten Michiel Verbrugge with a stick so that he fell to the ground. The hon. Court orders defendant, for his insolence committed against Michiel Verbrugge, to pay a fine of 50 gldrs.”
 In a second case soon after, we see the end of the case in Michiel Verbrugh, Plaintiff vs. Francoys Le Schier, Defendant, “Plaintiff demands payment for doctor’s fee, pain, and lost time for seven days, on account of the maltreatment committed against him without reasons. Also demands wages for having taken care of the cows, alone, for seven days at six gldrs. per day. Defendant (Francois) also demands proof of his having killed Hend. Aertsen’s calf, of which plaintiff accuses him. Plaintiff says that he did not say that he killed said calf, but that he hung up the pieces of a skin. Defendant agrees to prove his assertion. Plaintiff is ordered to bring in a specified account of the doctor’s bill at the next session.”
Francois and his family moved back to New Haarlem in 1670 because his health was failing. He died the next year. From Harlem: its origins and early annals, by James Riker,“Le Sueur was living in 1699, but on Nov. 30, 1671, his wid[ow] bound out her son Hillebrand, eight years old. He was engaged by the deacons in 1673 to ring the bell at 3 gl. a year. Afterward the wid[ow] m[arried] Antoine Tilba, and by him had ch[ildre]n also…” Thusly, it is assumed that Francois died in 1671. Jannetje died in 1678.
I am descended from their fifth and last child, Nicholas (Claes) Lozier, born June 1668. The name Le Sueur changed with its descendants. Soma variations are Lozier, Leseur, Lesier and Lazier.

One last note: There is a persisting rumor readily found on the internet, that Francois LeSueur and his sister Jeanne had another brother, the painter Eustache Le Sueur. Eustace was one of the artists who founded the French Academy of Painting. It is possible that there is some familial connection, as the Le Sueur clothmakers sold fabric in Paris, Dieppe, and Rouen over the centuries, but Eustache was born and lived his life in Paris, while Francois and Jeanne were born outside of Dieppe and seemed to spend their lives there until they left for the new world.

The Zabriskie Mystery, Part 2 of 3


  1. I might be your relative through the LeSueur connection and my great grandmother who was Annie "Minnie" Ette LeSueur (LeSeur) Please email me so I can find out the connection :) I am doing my family tree and genealogy. Thank you so much!
    Kimberly Leaman

    1. I would love to! I don't see an e-mail address but you can reach me at and I will tell you what I know of the LeSueur line.


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