Updated: Feb 4, 2019
Nearly a third of the original proprietors of New Harlem were from Picardy, France. The families of Cresson, Demarest, Casier, Disosway, and Daniel Tourneur, my ancestor. They were exiles and refugees who were blessed enough to have escaped France with their lives in a war that was said to be responsible for the death of 8 million people.
Picardy once encompassed the region from Paris to the Netherlands. It was part of the Frankish Empire in the 5th century. They spoke the Picard language, still spoken today by a minority in the region.
The book Revised History of Harlem (City of New York): Its Origin and Early Annals, by James Riker, Henry P. Toler, and Sterling Potter, 1904, gives this description of the people of Picardy, or Picards, on page 50:
"A quite superior people to the average French; being of mixed origin, descendants of both the Belgae and the Celtae, and occupying the border between these two ancient nations, or rather the district which parted the Celtae from the Nervii, the most invincible of the Belgic tribes. Thus, sanguine and choleric like the Celts, they approached the Belgae in their moral and physical stamina. In stature above the medium, with usually a well-developed frame, they betrayed their affinity to the Walloons, whose patois, rough and disagreeable, theirs resembled: yet, proud and spirited, they held those neighbors, and all others in disdain. The love of independence was not so strong with them as the love of equality; it was here their vanity showed itself, but it tempered the popular homage to wealth or titles. Though hasty, blunt, and obstinate, yet without the effrontery of the Normans or the superstition of the Champenois, - and more religious than either, - the Picards were withal lively, generous, honest and discreet. Their conversation sparkled with wit, mirth and sarcasm. Necessity, rather than inclination, made them industrious, yet they yielded their full share of workers and proficients in the arts and sciences; as also of able physicians and divines, - some of the latter as much distinguished in the controversial history of the Reformation as others had been who were its earliest champions. With intelligence, and a manly aim to excel in what they undertook, even though it were but agriculture, - in which by far the greater number were engaged, - the Picards could not but add a valuable element to any society so fortunate as to attract them."
Continue reading here:
This video shows scenes from Picardy. Enjoy!
Picardy article on Wikipedia [Link]
Revised History of Harlem (City of New York): Its Origin and Early Annals, by James Riker, Henry P. Toler, and Sterling Potter, 1904.
Peeps into Picardy, by W. D. Craufurd, E. Manton, and E. A. Manton, 1919.