Marc Chapelle:
In Search of Religious Freedom


References and Links






  The Chapelle's Escape from France - Part I

Marc Chapelle left his home in Finiels in 1685 or a few years thereafter.  He would have been a young man then, in his mid-twenties.  There is no record of the death of Marc's father, Isaac Chapelle, so we do not know if he was part of the fleeing family or not.  Nor do we know if Marc was married when he began his journey.   However, we do know from researcher and author Eugen Bellon that the registers of Lausanne, Switzerland, showed the family resided there in 1698, originating in Languedoc (the old French province containing Finiels, in which the Chapelle's had lived) (1).  Nothing is known of the family in the intervening years (1686-1698).    Most likely, they either were living in another area of Switzerland, or perhaps they had actually remained in the Finiels area longer than previously stated.  The Cevennes region was one of the last Huguenot areas to evacuate, and in fact still had sufficient forces to revolt in 1702 although the rebellion was quickly put down by King Louis XIV's forces.  There is a possibility they had moved east into the Queyras Valley in the Dauphiné province, since so many of those people will become future associates and neighbors of the Chapelles. 

The escape itself was a venture, required courage, good nerves, and a presence of mind.  Recall that under Louis XIV's Edit of Fontainebleau, attempting to leave the country carried severe punishment or death.   The Chapelle's first dangerous point living just west of the Rhône River, was to make it across one of the river's fords without being caught by those monitoring for illegal emigrations.   Another feared point, which was monitored, was the border crossing near Grenoble.  This crossing would make for the easiest physical route into Switzerland and on to Geneva.   Aside from the dangers of being caught, it would be a logical path for the Chapelle's to follow.  The alternative would be to follow paths that passed through the Alps, used with experienced guides.  Any of these dangerous areas and borders was best passed by individuals or small groups.  Remote alpine huts and dwellings of their Calvinist brethren along the way were used as rest stops. 

By the time Marc Chapelle arrived in Lausanne, Switzerland, in 1698, he had married an Antoinette, and they had one son (Salomon).  Antoinette's father was also traveling with them when they registered in Lausanne.  When refugees entered Switzerland, they were checked at the border for proper documents from the church, or assigned into groups where the leader carried a document which served as a group passport.  The refugees could not be armed and had to follow prescribed routes.  They were provided travel money to assist in their journey.  Food and lodging were at the expense of the towns where the refugees spent the night.  This could be either in the form of mass accommodations or small inns.  After arriving in Switzerland, there was a waiting period until arrangements were complete on what their destination would be.  The refugees would use this period to recover from the strain of the earlier journey, and attempt to earn some money.  This would also be a period for family units to reassemble if they had traveled separately. 

Possible route taken by the Chapelle family

Meanwhile, Switzerland had become very crowded and could not continue to support the numbers of refugees that were arriving.  In May 1699, the family was forced to move on, and traveled to Brugg (over land for at least some of the distance, and perhaps by boat after Bern).  During the autumn, they traveled the remaining distance through Basel probably by boat on the Rhine River.  Schröck was the port at that time used for refugees coming down the Rhine.  It was a short distance to their destination in Dürrmenz, Germany.


Continue to the "Simon's Escape" Page...


(1)  Bellon, Eugen.  Vertrieben, verweht, verwurzelt : die französisch-reformierten Einwanderer in Dürrmenz, 1699-1735.  (Sickte : Verlag des Deutschen Hugenotten-Vereins, 1987), 149.  Family History Library international book, no film copy.


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