Profroyer
THE FRENCH HUGUENOT ROOTS OF THE ROYER FAMILY
OF LANCASTER COUNTY

By Prof. Donald M Royer

On Learning About My Roots

When I was a boy growing up by the Colalico Creek in Denver, I
assumed that I was "Pennsylvania Dutch". After all, almost everyone
in my neighborhood spoke the dialect; my maternal grandmother prayed
in " Dutch." My mother learned her English in the first grade, but to
her dying day was more fluent in the dialect than in English. When
our high school basketball team played New Holland we were greeted
there by the fans singing "Bretzels und Bier, Bretzels und Bier, ach
du lieber , Denver iss heir". In my home, saur kraut, schnitz und
knepp, latwarrich, fastnachts and shoo fly pie were staples in our
diet. I was literally immersed in the "Pennsylvania Dutch" way of
life, and gave little thought to the fact that my family's origins
might have other roots.
One day, however, when I was about fifteeen, a rev. Francis came
to our home to deliver a genealogy of the Royer family.- a huge volume
on which he had obviouly labored many years . He proceeded to inform
us that the Royer's ancestors were really French Huguenots from the
province of Lorraine in the vicinity of Metz, Nancy and St. Avold.
Since our ancestors were Huguenots they were forced to flee from
France during the 1670's or 1680's, and they chose the nearest haven
Available to them, the border area of Germany just seventy miles to
The East. The area now known as the Rheinland-Pfalz (Palatinate) in
The vicinity of Zweibrucken and Kaiserslautern became the home of
the Royer clan until about 1718 when they emigrated to America at
the invitation of William Penn, first to Germantown and then
following their fellow Palatine, Swiss and Huguenot immigrants
to the fertile limestone lands of Lancaster County. There,
the immediate ancestor of our branch of the Royer clan, Sebastian
Royer, bought land, from William Penn near Brickerville, and settled
there until his death in 1759 (Francis, 1928)
 
French Huguenot Roots
 
So, thanks to Rev. Francis,my own awareness of the Royer
roots began early in life, and grew into a certain fasination
by the time I became a college student with a strong interest in
the historical development of all things.
During my college years I learned from my German mentor,
Professor Rose, that when my father called me his "glas Boovalie"
he was using a corrupt form of :Kleiner Bub" from the high German.
I also learned that "Pennsylvania Dutch" was really a corruption
of "Deitsch" and "Deutsch", so that my roots were actually French-
German. It was not until years later, though, in the 1970's that
I was privileged to explore those ancestal origins in Lorraine
and the Palatinate personally.
 
Who Were The French Huguenots?
The French Huguenots constituted the French Reformed Church in
the early days of the Protestant Reformation. John Calvin, along
with the theologian de Beza and others established the French Calvinist
(Huguenot) church in the mid 1500's. Both calvin and de Beza
were of French origin. While the origin of the name is
uncertain, some scholars believe Huguenot was derived from Besancon
Hughs, a swiss political leader. Others argue that it was a corruption
of the Swiss-German word Eidgenoss (oath-fellow) (Stapleton, 1901).
What is more important is that during the 16th and 17th
centuries the Huguenots became the emancipating force in French
society which toppled the centuries old feudal structure controlled
by the high nobility and high clergy in the top two Estates in
league with the King who was bound by oath to " guard the laws of
the Catholic Church and to destroy all hersey" (Zoff, 1942). The
third Estate in the fuedal structure was composed of all other
free men including the lower nobility and clergy. By the 16th
and 17th centuries the third Estate also included a growing group
of bankers, industrialists, and tradesmaen who formed the emerging
middle class. The Huguenots dominated the new bourgeoisie or middle
class which challenged the religious, political and economic power
of the fuedal Catholic elite (Weber, 1930). During the Huguenot age
in France, roughly 1560 to 1660, these French Calvinists were the
prime movers in the prosperous trade and industry of that country.
They founded great merchant firms, established the silk industry of
Lyon; as well as the textile, paper, lace and weaving industries
throughout France (Zoff, 1942).
Unfortunately, for them, the very success of the Huguenots
economically, and their growing political power posed a greater
and greater threat to the feudal Catholic hierarchy of France. So,
eventually the feudal elite in league with the King resorted to
violence to eliminate the Calvinist hersey from its midst. By 1572,
the violence had erupted into widespread massacres, the most tragic
of which was the St. Bartholemew's Day Massacre in Paris during
which an estimated 2,000 Huguenots were killed along with 20,000
more throughout France (Zoff, 1942).
The remaining half million Huguenots, however, refused to
submit and by 1598 under a Huguenot King, Henry of Navarre, the Edict
of Nantes was enacted which granted them toleration throughout the
country. Despite the Toleration Edict, however, the Huguenots who
grew to an estimated 1,5000,000, were continually harassed by a succession
of Catholic kings, and either fled or migrated in large numbers to
Switzerland, Germany, England and Holland. Finally in 1685, under
Louis XIV, the Edict of Toleration was revoked and the Huguenot Church
for all practical purposes was eliminated. The remaining Huguenots
either converted to Catholicism, or fled to America, England, Holland, or Switzerland.
 
The Royers as Huguenots
Sometime during the 16th century, the ancestors of the Royers,
Boyers, Forneys, Lorahs, Leshers, Rettews, Rollers, Rancks, and
hundreds of other Pennsylvania-German families of French origin
left the fuedal estates for the towns and cities of France to
become members of the new bourgeoisie which was in the process of
toppling the old feudal society. Some Royers and other Huguenots
 apparently came from the lower nobility- the Royers have a coat
of arms originating in Touraine. Others came from lower clergy
and still others became businessmen and traders. Whatever their
trade or profession, the desire the Royers and other Huguenot ancestors
had in common was their to be free from the restrictions of
the feudal manor and the Established Church. They wished to follow
the Reformed faith of John Calvin which allowed them to be free men,
pursuing their "calling" in life wothout restriction. Early on,
then, the Huguenots wished to be "their own bosses" governed only by
the Calvinist principles to which they adhered.
Max Weber, in his classical sociological work The Protestant
Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism concluded that the calvinists,
the Huguenots, the reformed in Switzerland, Germany and Holland,
and the Presbyterians in Scotland - contributed heavily to the
establishment of a strong capitalist system in Western Europe after
the 17th century. John Calvin's theology provided a Christian
rationale for banking, commerce, money lending and the accumulation
of private wealth in a manner that no previous Christian theologian
had done (1930).
In any event, the Royer ancestors moved either to Metz or Nancy
in the eastern province of Lorraine sometime during this period.
Some of them apparently escaped the Huguenot massacres of 1592,
but either during the period of renewed persecutions of the 1670's
or right after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685, they fled
across the Saar River into friendly German territory were they stayed
until 1718.
page 5A 
insert scan of dove
  
" Royer- Touraine- D'azur a un aigion au naturel
regardant un soliel d'or pose au canton dextra du chief."
"Royer- Touraine (an ancient province of France)-
Of azure with an eaglet to the life, looking into the sun of
gold, placed in the canton to the right of the head.
 See Noe Royer. p.3.
Note.- The king of France in the days of Joan of Arc lived
in Touraine, where she appeared before him. After her popularity
had waned, she is said to have been cared for by Cathrine Royer.
 While we have no records of the actual flight or emigration
from France, Zoff observes that by the 1660's the Huguenots:
"who sought to escape…. by flight abroad, the penalty
was death. In spite of it, many thousands each year
crossed the frontier. Men, women and children groped
forward barely passable forest trails…the sick
were dragged along; many fell by the wayside; all of
them, always were tormented by the fear that the next
bend in the road might bring the dragoons down upon
them. They fled over the Jura to Switzerland, over
the Vosges to the German Palatinate, through the Argonne
Forest to Holland, traveling at night, from one friend's
house to another's (1942).
The dragoons mentioned by Zoff were really mounted French
soldiers who either arrested the fleeing Huguenats or returned
them to their homes. In some cases the males were impressed
into service as galley slaves on French ships. (Stapleton, 1901).
The Royers in the Palatinate
Our ancestors were able to escape the dragoons, and made their
way from the Metz area of Lorraine eastward through the rolling
Vosges hills to the German border, a journey of less than two hours
by car, but likely one of two days and nights duration under the
circumstances at the time. Saarbrucken on the German side of the
Saar River at the French border was likely their first stop.
 In my personal search for my roots in 1976 and again in 1978,
I learned only that the family of Sebastian Royer settled somewhere
in the Rheinpfalz for about fifty years. Where they settled is not
clear. The Heimatstelle (Family Archives Place) in Kaiserslautern
simply listed Sebastian Royer as recorded on the following page.
The Heimatstelle is a remarkable Family Archive supported by
the Rheinpfalz government, containing the names of at
least six other Royer, Reyer, Royar families who had emigrated
during the past three centuries, none of them gave me a clue
concerning the actual villige or city where my ancestors had
settled. (Scherer, 1978).*
Concering the variety of spelling of the Royer name( Royer, Reyer,
Reier) there are three theories. One is that, an obviously
French name, was changed to the more Germanic sounding Reyer to
avoid detection and arrest by French authorities. Another is that the
fleeing Huguenots having been persecuted by the French for so long
made every effort to renounce their French idenity on settleing in
their new homelands. (Mentha, 1980). A third theory holds that many
emigrants in the 16th and 17th centuries were illiterates, so immigration
officials and ship captains recorded the strange sounding French names
phonetically or as they sounded to them.
 
*To my amazement my uncle Rufus Royer's name was also recorded there.
having been gleaned from a Denver Bank avertisment in the Reamstown
Bicentennial booklet of 1960.
 ROYAR-ROYER-REYER EMIGRANTS FROM THE RHINELAND-PFALZ
    Johann Reyer
    Geboren: 1687, Schwabach ( Ohringen)
    Ausgewardert (emigrated): 1732 nach Kreis (County) Montgomery,
    Penna., U.S.A.
     
    Sebastian Royer, Landwirt
    Geborn: Rheinpfalz
    Ausgewandert: 1718 nach Kreis Lancaster, Penna., U.S.A.
     
    Christopher Royer
    Geboren: Rheinpfalz
    Ausgewandert: nach Kreis Daupin, Ort (Town) Middleburg,
    Penna., U.S.A
     
    Conrad Royer
    Geboren: Rismingen bei Folklingen (Forbach)
    Ausgewandert: Ungarn (Hungary)
     
    Anna Royer
    Geboren: Kleinblittersdorf/ Saar
    Ausgewandert: 1766
     
    Fritz Royer, Landwirt
    Abstammungsort (Place of Departure) Neuhofen/Ludwigshafen
    Ausgewandert: 1882 nach Templeton, U.S.A.
     
    Royar
Geboren: Zweibrucken
Ausgewandert: 1848, U.S.A.
 
Also the name:
Rufus Royer
Kreis Lancaster, Pa.
 
Director of Denver National
Bank. From Reamstown, Pa.
Bicentennial Booklet, 1960
 
Abstammungsort: Verleicht
Hassloch, Pheinpfalz
 
Names are
from the files of
Heimatstelle
Benzinoring 6
Kaiserslautern
 
Dr. Karl Scherer, Director
The best available evidence suggests that the variations on
Royer were due to errors in translation, or because Royar or Reier
identified the Royers more easily with their German speaking neigh-
bors (Scherer, 1978)
 
Other Huguenot families who settled in eastern Pennsylvania
also either changed their names for protection or had them
changed by officials or ship captains along the way. So Le Char
became Leshar, Retteau became Rettew, Tonnellier became Kieffer,
Sumois became Sumey, Beauchamp became Bushong, Ranc became Ranck,
Coquelin became Cockly and Le Baiseur became Bashore (Stapleton, 1901)
 
While it is not possible to establish the exact location
in the Palatinate where the Royers settled it was clear why they
left germany in 1718.
 
In 1668 and again in 1774 Louis XIV had devastated the Palatinate
and in 1680 Worms and other cities in the area were burned to the
ground. Once more in 1707 French armies devastated the Palatinate
and the neighboring provinces of Baden and Wurttemberg. For these and
other reasons, religious and political in nature, a wholesale
exodus fro the Palatinate began about 1709. Using the Rhine as
their escape route most of the thousands involved in the first
wave of emigration from the Palatinate arrived in Rotterdam, then
sailed to England and finally either to Ireland, South Carolina,
Pennsylvania or other American colonies (Billigmeier, 1974)
 
The Royers apparently survived the destitution of the
Palatinate until 1718 when they joined the second wave of emigrants
composed mainly of anabaptists who settled in Lancaster County. William
Penn's invitation to the disconted Huguenots. Lutherans and anabaptists
 
had reached the Palatinate in the early 1700's. Consequently
thousands of them in the first and second emigrations already
knew when they were sailing down the Rhine to Rotterdam that their
ultimate destination would be Philadelphia Germantown and then
the rich limestone soil of the counties such as Lancaster west of
Philadelphia (Billigmeier, 1974)
 
While Sebastian Royer left the Palatinate in 1718 with the
Anabaptists migration- Amish, Brethren and mennoites- he was
apparently still Huguenot or at leeast a german Reformed throughout
his life. The land grant of nearly 300 acres he received from William
Penn just east of Brickerville, Lancaster County is bordered by a Lutheran
church on the north and a Zion reformed( long known as Royer's) on
the west. The land for the reformed Church, organized in 1740, was
first built on land donated by Sebastian Royer (Francis, 1928).
A number of other Huguenot families also settled in the
Brickerville between the 1720's and 1750's, presumably on land
granted them by William Penn. Included among these families were
Jacques Simonett (1727); Nicholas Parrett (1730); Jacques LaTour
(1749); Martin Oberlin (1730) (Stapleton, 1901).
 
Having briefly described the origins, migrations and the
travail experienced by my Huguenot ancestors in France and later
in the Palatinate, let me turn in the final part of my paper to
my discovery of the Royar clan still living in the Palatinate.
 
The Royar Clan in the Palatinate- 250 years later
 
Certainly the most rewarding and exciting part of my search
for the Royar and Huguenot roots in 1976 and again in 1978 was the
discovery of a Royar clan in the Palatinate near Zweibrucken and in
the Saarland near Saarbrucken.
 
While on a teaching assignment for my university in Zweibrucken
in 1976 it occurred to me to ask the local grocer whether she knew
of any Royers in the area. " Yes", she said I went to school with
Kurt Royar, and he lives on a farm just eight kilometers south of here".
So, on the following Sunday afternoon in June, 1976, I drove to the
Royar farm located in Bodinger Hof. I was greeted at the door by an
elderly man and his wife. Karl and Elfrida Royar, the fatjer and mother
of Kurt. Speaking with a combination of High German and Pfalzer Deitsch
( the original Pennsylvania Deitsch) I tried to identify myself and
explain my search for my Royer roots. Having only spoken Pfalzer
Deitsch all of their lives, seldom having left the dairy farm to which
they had been tied for over fifty years, the elder Royars had great
difficulty understanding me. So, they called Kurt, a handsome
rugged man in his late forties, and he immediately understood what
I was about.
 
The German Hof (Bodinger Hof) I first visited that day in 1976
was a page out of German rural life as it must have existed 200 years
ago. The Royars had lived at Bodinger Hof for fifty years. Karl and
Freda in their 70's with Kurt, their son, and Elfrida, their daughter
both in their 40's; working from dawn to dusk, caring for seventeen
 
milk cattle; using modern machinery for all farm labor, but
following a provincial peasant life style as it must have been
a century ago in terms of the food and the way it was served; in
terms of the stark simplicity of their home and their wants.
 
The Hof is a collection of four houses and barns huddled
together in an area smaller than a city block. The Hof or Court
is, in turn surrounded by several hundred acres of rolling crop-
land, along with meadows and pastures that have long since passed
from common to individual ownership. Even commonly owned tractors
and combines have been replaced by family owned equipment.
 
The four families in the Hof had lived in their barns over the
livestock until post World War II period. With the recovery of
the German economy, however, in the early 1950's each of the four
families built their own homes. Despite this fact, the visitor
felt that he was stepping into a rural German commune not too
different from the one the Royers left behind them in 1718.
 
Returning to the Royar visit. the conversation soon turned
to our common origins and possible family relationship. Kurt
indicated thet they too had roots in Lorraine just twenty miles
to the west. When their ancestors arrived in the Palatinate he
did not know, but he did relate that the Royars have always been
members of the German Reformed church. How close or how distant
our family relationship we could not determine. What was important
at the first meeting in 1976 was the fact that they accepted me
as a family member. Again and again in 1976 and later in 1978,
 
I was invited to share their simple meals. In return I worked with
them in the fields during harvest time, and in time became like a
brother to Kurt. He responded to my curiosity about our common
Royer-Royar roots by taking me to visit to all of the Royar families
he knew within a radius of thirty miles. Some of them were teachers,
others carpenters and farmers, but none of them had any family
records. This border area had been a battleground in every town
since the days of Louis XIV. Family records were destroyed by the
fires, bombings and devastation that laid waste almost every town
and city in the area in one war or another for the past 250 years.
 
Despite the lack of geneological evidence, each family we
visited assumed we were relatives. So despite the slight difference
in the spelling of the family name and despite the fact that none
of the Royars spoke a word of English, except for the two teachers,
there was a feeling of being "at home" or having found my roots.
 
In the closing paragraphs of this paper I would like to convey
some feelings about the quality of life today at Bodinger Hof as
I foundit in 1976 and 1978. In doing so, I hope to give each of
you who might have either Huguenot or Palatinate roots some sense
of how life is lived by a family whose lifestyle has changed little
since our ancestors left for America.
 
The following paragraphs are excerpted from the diary I kept
during my 1978 visit there. (Royer, 1978).
 
Working on the Royar Farm
I had hoped to work rather steadily with Kurt during July,
but Friday, August 4, was the first time he needed me - to help
 
harvest hay. I spent the afternoon lifting about 100 thirty-five
pound hay bales with a pitch fork from the ground to the top of
the hay wagon. Then at the barn my job was to stand high in the
hay loft; catch bales as they came off the conveyer belt and then
arrange them in piles around the loft. After four hours of that
work, I was ready to drop from exhaustion. My legs were weak
from fatigue, and my lungs were full of hay dust.
Kurt observed that I could barely walk after haymaking,
so he chided me a bit by saying, "Donald, du bist nach einer
lehrboo ( apprentice boy) am hoi macha".
Our tractor driver during the haymaking was Herr Rudolf Pirrman,
Kurt's 82 year old uncle, a strong quiet man who in his time, Kurt
reported with pride, was the best farmer in the area. He was and
is Kurt's idol and one of his best friends.
Uncle Rudolf related to me in the fields one day in his Pfalzer
dialect that the pride of his life had been his three sons whom he hoped
would take over his sizable farm when they grew up. But World War II
came along and the two oldest and brightest of the three were
killed on the Russian front. This is a sorrow that he carries with
him forty years later.
After our work at 4:30 or so on that hot afternoon in August
of 1978 we repaired to the kitchen as usual for beer and wurst.
Only this time, Kurt also served some schnapps along with coffee.
All of the wurst served in the Royar household is from their own
butchering- Hausmacherwurst out of the can; along with links of
 
Blutwurst and Leberwurst. These were heavy fatty bauerenwursts
that "stuck to the ribs" but were hard on the stomach of one not
used to them. Still these were the kinds of home rendered wursts
that Kurt's grandmother and in turn her grandmother had served to
their men after a hard day's work.
Again on Sunday, August 20, I helped load hundreds of bales
of straw. During harvest time Sundays are not sacred. About seven
o'clock that night totally exhausted from lifting bales all day,
I collapsed in the Royar living room in front of the TV set while
Kurt and his sister, Elfrida, milked and fed cows. I wrote
in my diary at the time.
 
Kurt's strength and stamina are amazing . He works
fast from dawn to dusk. Working with him is like
working on a rural asswmbly line running at top speed.
Needless to say, when I am on that line (loading
bales of hay) the pace slows quite a bit, but
Kurt is patient with the Lehrling.
 
The whole operation on the Royar farm reminded me of a remark
by Dr. Sammler in Mr. Sammler's Planet by Saul Bellow. Sammler
says that the thing he resents about Germans is they have
too much system, they and their lives operate like machines with
too little room for creativity imagination and warmth. He admired
only Max Planck and Albert Einstein among modern day Germans and
considered the Nazi "machine" the ultimate expression of the
German "system".
While the Royar farm does run like a well-oiled machine,
Kurt, the chief cog in that machine ( the dairy farm operation)
enjoys his work. He invests himself in it verve and vitality.
After years of back breaking work he retains a zest for life which
allows him to operate like the master of the machine.
 
His sister, Elfrida, on the other hand, seems to be simply
a cog in the machine. She has milked cows all her like (now with
milking machines) and that's all she knows besides gardening and
housekeeping. She plods, she does her duty (Pflict), watches
some TV, and goes to bed.
One senses on this dairy farm that Kurt and sister are slaves
to their cattle, to planting and harvesting. It must have been
something like this generations ago when the first Royars tried
to eke out a living from the hills nd valleys which Kurt
and Elfrida are now tilling. Back breaking work day in and day
out with little time for relaxation and pleasure.
Still, Kurt takes time occasionally to enjoy some of the
simple pleasures provided by the area, chief among which are
attending the numerous Weinfests celebrated from July to October
by the wine villages in the area. Through the years, Kurt has
become a connoisseur of German wine, and he takes great pleasure
in sipping a glass of white Rhein-Pfalz wine at a local Gasthaus
surrounded by acquaintances and friends.
Returning to the August 20, 1978 entry in my diary. That
morning I attended a mennonite church service in Ixheim near
Zweibrucken. The Mennonites have been there in scattered con-
gregations since their migration from Switzerland in the 1700's.
There is actually a Mennoniter Hof just down the road from
Bodinger Hof. The members of the Gemeinde were quite friendly
that morning, and offered to take me to the Royar homestead
 
just three miles south where I was to have dinner that day.
When we arrived, Kurt was well acquainted with the mennonites
who brought me, and after they left expressed great repect for
the Mennonites in the area both as farmers and good citizens.
That Sunday dinner at the Royar homestead was unusual in
the sense that this was the first meal during which any meat
other than wurst was served. That day we had pork roast served
with parslied potatoes, pea soup, and fresh lettuce from the garden.
Elfrida announced that she was going to serve me something I had
never tasted before- a Fastnacht. I remarked that Fastnachts
were peddled door to door when I was a boy on Shrove Tuesday, but
that in all of my visits to Germany I had never seen or been
served one. She replied that the Royars had a family recipe which
had been handed down from her great grandmother, and that they
were served during several religious holidays not just on Shrove
Tuesday, and last week there had been such a holiday.
The table setting on that Sunday was, as usual, quite simple.
On a bare table we were given a large soup bowl along with a
fork, knife, and on this day a soup spoon. The one loaf of bread
was passed from one hand to another and each person sliced his
or her own. For the bread there was butter and a thick dark
spread that resembled a boiled down apple butter. I asked Kurt
what was being served. The reply was "Lattwarrich" "Lattwarrich"
I exclaimed, "I don't believe it". I explained that apple
Latwarrich was a staple in our diet in Pennsylvania, and that
in all of my travels throughout Germany that this was my first
taste of it.
 
So, on a farm in Rheinland-Pfalz I was finally beginning
to experience not only the roots of my own family, but also the
sources of the distinctive "Pennsylvania Deitsch" foods which all
of us have relished, but few of us have traced to Their origins.
 
Kurt, the Nazis and the Huguenots
 
Of all the Royars I met in Germany the one who, in my judg-
ment, best exemplified the traits usually associated with the
Huguenot view of the world, was Kurt Royar himself.
The Huguenot Weltanschauug was defined by Max Weber (1930)
as a form of "worldly asceticism" in which wealth was rationalized
as a sign of God's reward for hid servant's obedience, industry
and good management on this earth. This was the worldly aspect of
the ethic. The "ascetic" quality derived from the assumption that
the servant of God should not enjoy his wealth. His life should
be plain, simple and frugal. Weber argued that the Anabaptists*,
most of whom had been Calvinists, came to exemplify this ethic
better than any other Protestant group.
"Worldly asceticism" in the Calvinist or Huguenot world view
was combined with a strong sense of individual responsibility and
freedom, a sense of "calling" about one's work, and honesty in
dealing with others. Finally the Huguenots from their inception
defied tyrannical powers which threatened their freedom, and
 
_________
        *The Royers in Lancaster County did not identify with the
        Anabaptists untill Emig Royer, one of Sebastian's sons became a
        member of the Middle Creek Church of the Brethren in the 1730's.
        Emig was a Landwirt on the Middle Creek, and was known as a good
        friend of the Indians with whom he traded his cider for baskets
(Francis, 1928).
willingly suffered torture and death for their beliefs.*
The Royar family at Bodinger Hof reflected this view of the
world admirably. For Karl, the father, and Kurt the son, farming
has been a " calling" to which they have dedicated their lives. Kurt,
a creative inventive man, could have been an engineer, but he chose the
life of the landwirt because he wanted to. The almost religious
dedication of the entire family to the work of their 63 acre farm
has produced some wealth for the family - a Mercedes Benz car, two
tractors and a combine; but also contributed to the premature deaths
of the father and mother in 1976. They literally worked themselves to death.
If a sense of freedom, independence and rugged individualism
characterized the early Huguenots who left the feudal estates for the
towns and cities of France, then the Royars in Boginger Hof are modern
day carriers of those values.
During the 1930's when loyal germans were expected to join the
Nazi party or at least attend meetings and give the Nazi salute, Karl
did none of them. He defied Hitler, the party and the local Nazi
leaders. His neighbors protected him and the family( Kurt was born
in 1929) because the Royars were recognized as hard working, honest,
loyal citizens.
Then in the late 1930's and early 1940's Kurt was pressured to
join the Hitler Youth Group in the nearby village of Alt Hornbach. Even
at this tender age, Kurt, with his father's example od defiance before
him, refused to join. He not only refused to join but he
 
__________
*The familiar hymn, " Faith of Our Fathers" was written by a French
Huguenot, Frederick Faber. Its central theme, keeping the faith in
spite of "dungeon, fire and sword" was a direct reference to the
suffering of his ancestors.
 
 
declined to attend the meetings or to wear the Hitler Youth uniform
which most of his peers were wearing at the time.
Then in 1944 the German High Command ordered all families living
within five miles of the French border to leave the area until the
expected Allied attack in the winter of 1944 and spring of 1945
were over. The Royar family was billited with another farm family
some fifty miles to the east near the Rhine river. While they were
there, Kurt now 15 years old received his military draft notice
from the board in Alt Hornbach just one half mile from Bodinger
Hof. He was ordered to report for military duty during December
of 1944 just before the battle of the Bulge which eventually
devastated the towns surrounding Bodinger Hof.
Kurt, however , had grown increasingly cynical about Hitler and
the Nazis so he steadfastly refused to support the war or the regime.
He simply did not report for induction, and since his family was
billited fifty miles away, and all military effort in the winter
of 1944 was involved in the last ditch effort to stem the Allied
tide, no effort was made to search for and arrest him. During that
time, however, from december, 1944 to April, 1945 he returned home
on several occasions to check on the abandoned family farm. On his
first visit he discovered that a detachment of elite guard SS (Schutz
Staffel) troops had taken over the farm as a base for spying on Allied
troop movements at the French border just a few miles away. In
addition one of the barns in the Hof had been coverted into a field
hospital. One of the original tasks of the SS had been to spy on
 
the Nazi movement and to ferret out unworthy persons as well as to
protect the body of the Fuhrer (Halperin, 1946). So when young Kurt
returned with the family horse and wagon to Bodinger Hof on that
December day in 1944 only to discover that the feared SS troops
were there he felt his own life in danger. Instead of returning
to his own home he sensed he was walking into a trap.
To his utter amazement, however, the SS troops were more inter-
ested in using young Kurt as an errand boy since he alone knew the
terrain intimately. They, too, according to Kurt were disillusioned
with Hitler and were fighting for their own survival. Soon he was
using his horse and wagon to haul medical and food supplies from
Zweibrucken just six miles north. On these trips, however , he
had to pass the military draft office in Alt Hornbach. The local
officials there knew Kurt and his family well, and on one of his return
trips for the SS he was spotted by the draft officials whose orders
he had defied. They took out after him and nearly caught him as he
approached Bodinger Hof, but the SS guards at the Hof intervened
and saved Kurt from sure imprisonment; if not death for defying
the Nazi regime. After that he was never bothered, and in his own
was he helped his fellow Germans survive the fateful winter of 1944 and
1945 as an errand boy bringing the food and medical supplies
they needed to live. This went on until April of 1945 when Zweibrucken,
a city of 40,000 was almost completely leveled by the Canadian Air
Force.
After the German surrender a month later,  
the Royars returned to their abandoned farm in Bodinger Hof.
Slowly they restored and rebuilt the land, their herd, and their
home. Through it all and for the intervening thirty five years
they have maintained the view of the world which their Huguenot
ancestors passed on to them-- a sense of independence, a sense of
"calling" about their work, honesty in dealing with others, and
a certain " worldly asceticism". They have accumulated some
property but their lifestyle continues to be a plain, simple and frugeal
one. They do not attend the German Reformed Church in nearby
Alt Hornbach with any regularity, but I am sure on all other counts,
John Calvin would have been proud of the Royar family in Bodinger
Hof almost 300 years after their ancestors had fled the Huguenot
massacres in France for the safety of the Palatinate hills of Germany.
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