Biographical and Genealogical History of Morris County New Jersey. Illustrated. Vol. II., Lewis Publishing Company, New York and Chicago, 1899.
This prominent citizen, born in the parish of Port Louis, island of Guadeloupe, French West Indies, April, 1755, died at his residence near Morristown, New Jersey, in June, 1834.
Rev. Father Dutertre, an eminent divine and author, in his invaluable history of the French West India islands (Histoire des Antilles), has traced the history of the island of Guadeloupe from its first settlement in the year 1625, under French auspices, to the year 1667, and since that time Desalles and other well known writers have completed the narrative of events occurring in the Antilles down to more modern times. We learn from them the great hardships these colonists suffered, of their long and terrible wars with the native Caribs, how, after many ears, those savages were finally subdued, and how, in 1674, the island of Guadeloupe was made a colony of France, during the reign of Louis XIV. From this time the colonist took part in all the great wars waged by the mother country, from which they suffered severely. Valiant and successful resistance was made by them against the attacks of the English in the years 1666, 1691 and 1703, and during most of this time they contended single-handed against this formidable foe. France, being so engrossed in her vast continental wars, was unable to render her colony material assistance, owing to which and other causes the island capitulated in 1759 to Great Britain, and remained a British colony until the year 1763. After throwing off the British yoke, in the war of 1794 they were again captured by their old enemy, who, however, in June of the same year was expelled by the colonists from their beloved soil, under the leadership of officers sent by the French national convention. In the year 1810, England was again victorious, holding possession until the treaty of 1813, when the island was ceded to Sweden. In 1816 the French general, Boyer de Peyreleau, obtained a footing in the island when, negotiations intervening, the English withdrew, from which time the island has remained a colony of France.
This brief résumé of the severe trials and sufferings of this brave people is given to show in what heroic mold this valiant race was cast, and how, almost single-handed, they defended their country, contending against one of the most powerful nations of the world, and how, at last, they secured their colonial independence; and furthermore to show that it was from such heroic ancestors that the subject of this sketch was immediately descended. Also, Mr. Boisaubin was of good old Dutch stock, his father being a Van Schal-Kwyck, a lineal descendant of the Van Schal-Kwycks of the town of that name (the family ancestral home), situate in the province of Utrecht, Holland. In 1630 the Baron Van Schal-Kwycks, with his followers and many other compatriots, was banished from his native country for reasons political and religious. He found refuge in Brazil, where for several years he and his fellow countrymen enjoyed peace and prosperity. War having been declared between Portugal and Holland, the refugees were again obliged to flee, and in their own vessels sailed for the French Antilles. Dutertre thus alludes to the arrival of the Hollanders in the island of Guadeloupe:
"In the beginning of the year 1654 the Hollanders who had taken possession of Brazil were in turn driven out by the Portuguese, who it seems had prior claims to that country in that they were the first settlers. These exiles, embarking in their own vessels, sought asylum in the island of Martinique. Duparquet, the governor of that island, profoundly touched by the misfortunes of the exiles, was disposed to permit the landing of the unfortunates, but through the false representations of ignorant and prejudiced advisers, who represented these people to be the offscouring of the Jews of the United Provinces of Holland, refused them permission to land. Thereupon they sailed for the neighboring island of Guadeloupe, where the then Governor Houel received them most hospitably, and soon thereafter their immense wealth was of great and lasting benefit to the island. Duparquet, later, on learning all this, was greatly distressed and soundly berated his advisers, who had given him such bad counsels. It is solely owing to these exiles that the great industries of the island are due, for they brought with them from Brazil the sugar cane which was successfully cultivated by them in the island, whence it was afterward introduced throughout all the islands of the Antilles. They also introduced and manufactured earthenware, proving also a great industry."
The same author also related that it was a Baron Van Schal-Kwycks who led the exiles from Brazil and was most prominent among them in their new home. Mr. Boisaubin therefore came naturally by the great qualities of mind and heart of which he gave such ample proof in after years, possessing in an eminent degree the sturdy honesty, energy and perseverance of the Hollander, as well as the martial ardor, elevated principles, unflinching loyalty, polished manners and courteous bearing of the Frenchman.
Mr. Boisaubin was born in the year above stated and at the age of seven was sent to Paris for his education, after the completion of which, at the age of seventeen, he was enrolled as a member of the famous Garde de Corps of King Louis XVI, which was composed of the nobility only, being commanded by the Duke of Luxembourg. He served therein for sixteen years, attaining the grade of first lieutenant. Having obtained leave of absence for the purpose of visiting his estates in the island of Guadeloupe, he happened there when the French Revolution, with its attending horrors, broke out. Its emissaries reaching the island, Mr. Boisaubin, being a well known and devoted royalist, to save his life, was obliged to flee. Hastily gathering what valuables he could, he took passage, with his family and body servants, on an American vessel bound for the United States. His parting with his slaves, some twelve hundred in number, was most affecting. Having been to them a kind and protecting master, they were greatly attached to him and wished to follow him and share his fallen fortunes. As the vessel on which he was to sail was lifting anchor, a negro was discovered in the water alongside. Mr. Boisaubin recognized him as one of his slaves; the faithful creature, wishing to join his master, swam three miles from shore to gain the ship! Mr. Boisaubin, in the kindness of his heart, was unable to refuse the appeals of the devoted black, and brought him to the United States.
Morristown, in New Jersey, being a town well known to most Frenchmen, by reason of the reports of travelers, and of the French officers who had served with Washington, with many of whom Mr. Boisaubin had been acquainted in France, he determined to make that place his home, which he eventually did, purchasing a tract of land midway between Morristown and Bottle (now Madison). Here he settled and began the life which he ever after maintained, that of a plain Jersey farmer. The mercenaries of the Revolution having seized upon his estates, he found himself impoverished and was obliged to earn his living in the same ways as did his farmer neighbors. Upon his arrival in this democratic country he dropped his titles to nobility, and, adopting the name of one of his plantations in Guadeloupe, became simply Vincent Boisaubin, which name he bore ever afterward.
In a few years after Mr. Boisaubin's arrival in America, the great Emperor Napoleon, wishing to have it known that he was friendly to his royalist subjects, though opposed to the Bourbon family, magnanimously restored to them the estates and properties which the Revolutionists had confiscated. Thus Mr. Boisaubin entered into his own again and with return of wealth he extended aid to neighbors and friends in distress with lavish hand.
Later on, Charles X, king of France, wrote Mr. Boisaubin an autograph letter, inviting his return to France to resume at his court the high position previously held by him under the good but ill-fated Louis XVI. The old Garde de Corps in courteous terms replied "that having found peace and justice in this noble land, he was content to abide therein, and devote his best energies for its advancement and prosperity!" It was the same king who sent him as a reward for his many eminent services, past and present, the much coveted honor of Chevalier de St. Louis, together with the insignia and jewels of this most ancient and renowned order of knighthood. The following obituary notice, taken from the Newark Daily Advertiser, of June 12, 1834, is a just tribute to this grand character and nature's nobleman.
"Died on the 8th instant at his residence near Morristown, Vincent Classe Van Schal-Kwyck Boisaubin, Esquire, in the eightieth year of his age. The death of this distinguished citizen and philanthropist is a serious loss to the society of which he was an ornament, and will be feelingly deplored by a large circle of friends and acquaintances. He was a nobleman in the best sense, who exhibited in all his intercourse with society those qualities of mind and heart which dignify and adorn the human character. Mr. Boisaubin was a native of the island of Guadeloupe, though educated in France under distinguished advantages, and emigrated to this country during the frightful troubles in that island consequent upon the French revolution. He settled at Bottle Hill within about three miles of Morristown, where he has lived during a period of forty years, universally beloved and respected conspicuous by his noble form and bearing, his polished and courteous manners and the munificence of his charities. The respect of the community which knew so well how to appreciate these qualities was properly evinced on the occasion of this funeral. The stores were closed, and it has been remarked to us that nearly the whole adult population were assembled at the interment. It was a distinguished expression of feeling that within a mile of the cemetery the horses were spontaneously taken from the hearse, which was thence drawn by a company of his oldest and most worthy neighbors. Mr. Boisaubin leaves a family of six children to inherit his good name and virtues."
His descendants to-day are represented by the families of the Boisaubins, Beauplands and Thebauds, of Madison, New Jersey (the latter also of New York city), and the Van Schal-Kwyck de Boisaubins and Formons of France, most of which take rank amongst our most distinguished citizens and do honor to their noble ancestor. The eldest son, named Boisaubin, was a graduate at the United States Military Academy at West Point, and died in the service of his country.
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