STORY OF A JEWISH FAMILY IN EARLY UNION COUNTY NC

princess lamballe
I’m feeling pretty good after recently purchasing the above through amazon.com. It’s in preparation for upcoming talks I’ll be giving on an early Jewish Family and their time spent in present day Union County. About the book, The Secret Memoirs of Princess Lamballe is a mind-blowing account offered and edited by Catherine Hyde, Marquise de Couvion Broglie Scolari. While studying art in Paris, Catherine was noticed by Queen Marie Antoinette and her Princess, Marie Therse Louise de Savore Carignan Lamballe. A childhood friend of Marie Antoinette, Princess Lamballe mentored her protégé, Catherine Hyde, as to the ways of royalty. Telling of her special relation with Princess Lamballe, Catherine Hyde wrote:

Whether it was chance ability, or good fortune, let me not attempt to conjecture; but from that moment, I became the protégé of this ever-regretted angel. Political circumstances presently facilitated her introduction of me to the Queen. My combining a readiness in the Italian and German languages, with my knowledge of English and French, greatly promoted my power of being useful at that crisis, which, with some claims to their confidence of a higher order, made this august, lamented, injured pair, more like mothers to me than mistresses, till we were parted by their murder.

In the days leading up to the 1793 execution of Queen Marie Antoinette, and being fearful for her own life, Princess Lamballe passed on personal memoirs to Catherine Hyde for safe keeping. It is she, Catherine, who edited and first published the above book. Appearing in the special Introduction, the following tells of Princess Lamballe’s final days:

The Princess Lamballe, as will be seen, was as loyal to her own conscience as to her less clear-sighted mistress. When the catastrophe was impending the Queen and King implored her to leave France and so save her life. The beauty and purity of her character was equaled by her devotion to duty and her courage. She scorned to leave her friends in the hour of peril, “faithful among the faithless” titular nobility who scampered away to safe hiding-places until they might creep back in the returning sunshine. She was harassed with repeated attempts at bodily injury, and when arrested, calmly refused to forswear her principle of fealty to the monarchy, while cheerfully willing to accept the mandate of the nation. Thereupon the gentle and brave woman was stabbed to death by the fiends who invaded her cell, and who added the exquisite pang to the sufferings of the Queen by parading the head of the Princess, on the point of a pike, before the window where her mistress was expected to see it.
marie antoinette murder

Okay, so how did I come across all this, what importance is it to me, and what connection does it have to our State of North Carolina? During the reign of Marie Antoinette my family was scraping out a living in the red clay of North Carolina’s southern piedmont. I know little else about them other than their occupation of farmers as is enumerated in the 1850 census. And for Catherine Hyde, it turns out that she was born Jewish, the daughter of Moses Hyams of London. While Catherine left to study art in Paris, her brother Samuel Hyams, a merchant, sailed for Charleston SC. In the early 1800’s Samuel Hyams’ daughter Caroline married Abraham Labatt. Along with Abraham and wife Caroline, Samuel’s son Moses Kosciusko Hyams left for what’s now Union County NC. It’s there, in 1829, that Moses Hyams came into contact with my great-great grandfather David Thomas. Though I can imagine their conversations and how the two young men shared each other’s ways and differences in beliefs, it’s hard for me to imagine the challenges and resulting accomplishments achieved by this extraordinary Jewish family.

The two upcoming talks are designed for two different audiences. In Wake County, I’ll offer an evening of story-telling while illuminating this Jewish family and their extended relations and achievements. As for Union County, the formative site for this adventure, I’ll expand the conversation to include others in this Jewish migration. I’ll also share records historically significant to the county and its present day citizens. Discussion will also reach back to include Mecklenburg from which Union was formed. All are welcome to attend.

Talk 1:

March 26 from 6:30-8:30 pm
Olivia Raney Local History Library, 4016 Carya Drive, Raleigh NC 27610
Wake County Genealogy Society Meeting

Talk 2:

Saturday, April 6 at 2:00 pm
Monroe Library, 316 East Windsor Street, Monroe, NC 28112
Co-Sponsored by the Union County Library and the Carolinas Genealogical Society

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