Thursday, March 23, 2017

Jacques Zeller & Countess Clothilde de Valois

There are stories written about Clothilde, and there are stories written saying she is fiction and never existed.  I don't have the answer for this, but I will include the stories as I find them.  If she existed, she was my (Heather's) Paternal 10th great grandmother.  If she did not exist, I don't know how to trust the same accounts that list Heinrich Zeller's father as Jacques.  I simply do not know when it comes to this line.

Jacques De Sellaire
son of
Born in Switzerland
Died in Switzerland or England before 1711
Clothilde De Valois
Born in France in 1665
Died in Berks County Pa in 1778

Johannes Zeller
Johannes Heinrich Zeller

Marriage: 1682, Deux Ponts (Zweibruken), France.
    No source given

1710 - Arrived in America
U.S. and Canada, Passenger and Immigration Lists Index, 1500s-1900s

Name Clothilde de Valois Sellaire
Arrival Year 1710
Arrival Place New York, New York
Family Members Father Jacques; Mother Clothilde de Valois; Brother Heinrich; Wife & 2 children
Source Publication Code 889
Primary Immigrant Sellaire, Johannes
Annotation Tulpehocken (Pennsylvania) 250 Years Ago, Settled by Germans. Port and date of arrival or date and place of first mention of residence in the New World. Periodical published from Ludwigshafen am Rhein Germany.
Source Bibliography BRAUN, FRITZ. Tulpehocken in Pennsylvanien vor 250 Jahren von Deutschen besiedelt. In Pfaelzische Familien- und Wappenkunde, vol. 7:10 (Apr. 1973), pp. 357-364; vol. 7:11 (Aug. 1973), pp. 385-396; vol. 7:12 (Nov. 1973), pp. 425-428. (Mitteilungen zur Wanderungsgeschichte der Pfaelzer, nos. 1-3, 1973.)

Page 396


Palatine Immigrant Journal - Volume: 7, Issue: 1 Summer 1981 
includes the article :
Lady Clothilde de Balois Zeller: The Little Lady Who Wasn�t There by Jane Bottorff,
(I do not yet have a copy)
The following is taken from a chapter in the book entitled Notable Women of 
Pennsylvania, edited by Gertrude Biddle and Sarah Lowrie (Philadelphia, 1942) 
and is from a short biography of a French woman named Clothilde de Valois:

The history of Clothilde Zeller, born in De Reni of a cadet branch of the Valois family, a subject of France, but through the persuasion of the Governor Keith and the astute Secretary Logan of Philadelphia a citizen of Pennsylvania in pioneer days, is a typical one of a European immigrant to these shores.

Born during the liberalism of the Edict of Nantes when it was the fashion for ladies of high rank to be educated, Margaret de Valois, Countess d’Augergne, in her chatelaineship at LeMont Dore left a reputation for letters, while the Countess Clothilde de Valois de Reni, her many-times-removed cousin, fell in love with a scholar. In her teens, she married Jacques de Sellaire, or, if one knew as the family across the border, Von Zeller of Castle Zellerstein, Zurich, and fled from France with him and their children after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes to Holland.

Shortly after their son’s marriage in Holland the Zeller’s journeyed to England and the Lady Clothilde, as she was recorded there, place herself, her children, and husband under the protection of Queen Anne, who made them welcome not only in England but, should they choose, in her colonies across the sea. With many of their race and a considerable number of their own class and position, they gladly accepted the chance to begin again in a new world. Clothilde at this time was the sole head of her family, her husband having died, either in London or before their ship arrived at New York in June 1710.

These French immigrants, together with many of the Palatinate Germans who were coming to the Americas for the same reason - freedom to worship God according to their own conscience, had a bitter experience of scant welcome and indifferent choice of lands along the Hudson River. The Zeller’s and the French group - which had placed themselves with the Lady Clothilde for protection and advice found even their second venture father north, in the Dutch-English province at Schoharie, little to their comfort though they named their settlement L’Esperance!

 It was at this juncture that Governor Keith of Pennsylvania paid them a visit and, impressed with their character and worth, invited them over to Pennsylvania by a well known and already much used route down the Susquehanna River. Being French and already twice warned, the Lady Clothilde was wary of promises. So Jean Henri, her eldest son, with an Indian guide was sent ahead to prospect. Perhaps it was she who stipulated rich lands as well as clear titles, or perhaps Jean Henri, now in his thirties, was already aware of the soil from a farmer’s standpoint. At all events he journeyed down the Susquehanna below where 
the great river branches at what is now Sunbury, paddled up a creek of some dimensions still known as the Swatara, and so across what is now the Lebanon Valley to a fertile region watered by the Tulpehocken, in which black walnut trees of great age and fine verdure flourished. In the country of Jean Henri Zeller’s mother’s people, the French tradition was that black walnuts meant fertility and a deep soil. So armed with this assuring promise, young Zeller journeyed by foot and canoe back to the Schoharie in northern New York and made his report to his mother and her party.

They accepted the good sign at once. Rafts were built, provisions were packed, utensils, canoes and baggage were assembled and the contingent set forth, arriving at the Mill creek region not far from the present Newmanstown and the larger settlement of Womelsdorf in 1723.

Here the Zellers built a fort to protect themselves and their neighbors and procured deeds for land from three Penns - John, Thomas and Richard. Somewhat later they helped to start the first church of that vicinity. Under pressure of Indian raids, in 1745 they rebuilt their log fort with stone outside and plaster over wattles inside, placing over the door the carved emblem of their faith and the family crest as knights of the Holy Roman Empire. About this time the Zeller name was Germanized – Heinrich Zeller – for the America all about them was German in speech and behavior.

Clothilde de Valois, who saw all this and much else come to pass, lived to be past eighty and to remain a personage long remembered in her family, a tradition of dignity, of authority, land of exalted if shadowy backgrounds, remaining extant generation after generation.


The News-Chronicle 
(Shippensburg, Pennsylvania)
22 Oct 1943, Fri  • Page 6


Found in the Full text of "Huguenot Society of Pennsylvania Proceedings"

De VALOIS— (Sellaire, Celliere, Zeller — Lady Clothilde) France, Swit- 
zerland to Lebanon Co., Pa., b. 1660, d. 1749, m. James Zeller, who 
was b. 1659, d. 1710. 

son, John, b. 1790-6, m. about 1817 Catherine Freidt (Swiss). 
SELLAIRE, ZELLER-Lady Clothilde de Valois, France 1710 to N.Y. 
later Pa. 1723, b. 1689, m. 1749 James Zeller who was b. 1660, d. 1709. 
son, John Hean or John Heinrich, b. 1684, d. 1756 or Jacques Sel- 
laire, m. Anna Maria Breigal, d. 1765. 

VALOIS de— Clothilda, France to Livingston Manor 1710 and then to 
Tulpehocken, Pa. 

Jacques, d. England, or at sea 1710, m. 1688 Clothilda, in France 
who was b. 1689, d. 1749. 

son, John Heinrich, b. 1684, d. 1756, m. Anna Maria Breigal.


The Valois were of French Royality The House of Valois, and I have found alot of information on them.They governed France from 1328 - 1589, and had three branches:direct line of Charles of Valois, Valois-Orleans decended from Louis I d'Orleans, and the Vaois-Angouleme branch which decended from Louis I d'Ang FRancis I in 1515.Also, St. Joan was from the Valois family.But, I can find very little info after 1589 and no links to her.There are also Valois married into English royalty and throughout Europe.If you find anything, keep me posted.


Also what information do you have on the Lady Clothilde de Valois...

Do you know anything of the jewel case she carried ...??


"In the 1920's Frank Zeller, a Philadelphia lumberman and consulting engineer, with the aid of Bailey, Banks and Biddle Co., "Purveyors of Crests," published a genealogy of the Zellers going back to ca 1450, in which he gives the parents of Johan Heinrich as Jacques Zeller and Lady Clotilde de Valois, of the French nobility. No documentation has been found for this family tradition, but it has been picked up and published in various forms several times, as Frank Zeller furnished an entry for Virkus' Compendium of American Genealogy. It would be nice to believe that we are descended from French nobility, but recent Zeller researchers as well as several eminent genealogists , including Dr. Milton Rubincam, believe that Lady Clothilde is totally fictitious."


History and genealogy of the descendants of Jacob (Eppli, Aepli, Ebli) Eppley : the pioneer Eppley of America, and some short a
Second generation


She was a descendant of Charles Comte de Hardie of France, who obtainedde Volois as an appanage from his father in 1285.
She lived in France, Holland, London, England, Livingston Manor in New York City, Schoharie, New York, and Fort Zellar, Pennsylvania.
She was French Huguenot who left her homeland shortly after her marriage, torn by religious upheavalsand persecution, and came to new world by way of England. Their transportation had been provided by Queen Anne.
Countess Clotilde had fallen in love with and married her scholar husband (Jacques Zeller) while still in her teens. They were sincere Huguenots, as were their two sons. Fearing for the safety of their family, the Zellers sought refuge in Holland for some years. While there, the eldest son (John Heurich Zeller) married a Dutch girl (Anna Marie Breugal). Shortly after the marriage, the family journeyed to England, where Countess Coltilde placed herself and her children under the protection of Queen Anne. They became British citizens. Jacques Zeller died while they were in England or at sea. It is known that many of these Palatine and Swiss immigrants did die during the voyage.
At thesame time another family seeking their future in the new world was a Swiss family,
Ann Marie Botdorfin (Swiss form of Bottorff) with her young son, Mardin and daughter, Catherine Elizabeth. Ann Marie Botdorfin was also a widow like Countess Clotilde.
The two families were united some years later when John Adam Botdorfin, grandson of Ann Maria Breugal Botdorfin, was married to Anna Elizabeth Zeller, grand daughter of Countess Clotilde.
In the year 1709 or 1710, ten ships, loaded with immigrants, landed in New York (New York City now). Queen Anne, not only made them welcome in her country, but also in her colonies across the Atlantic.
Queen Anne had not stopped at furnishing ships for the immigrant families, but had arranged that their immediate needs in the new land be cared for. Both Countess Clotilde and the Botdorfin family were guests for a time at Phillip Livingston Manor. Part of the Livingston farm. It was located in what is now Brooklyn Heights, New York. A plaque, erected by the Daughters of the American Revolution at Hicks and Jorolemon Streets, marks the site of "The House of Four Chimneys", the Livingston home.
Phillip Livingston was a wealthy farmer and a signer of the Declaration of Independence. His home served as headquarters for General George Washington during the battle of Long Island. It was here that General Washington, and his advisors, decided to abandon Long Island after being defeated by England's Lord Howe.
The settlers, seeking freedom to worship God according to their own conscience, were not satisfied with the Choice of land, along the Hudson River, and were advised to venture north. This they did, settling in Schoharie County, New York.
They were not happy there, because of what they felt was unfair treatment by the Dutch settlers.
Governor Keith of Pennsylvania visited them, and was so impressed by their character andtheir worth, that he invited them to the Penn lands.
John Heinrich Zeller, son of Countess Clotilde, a farmer and good judge of soil, was sent ahead to view theland. He walked through forests to the Susquehanna River, traveled by canoe to a branch called Swatora and made his way to Lebanon Valley, Pennsylvania.
There he found a black walnut tree of great age, by French tradition a sign of fertility and deep soil.
He returned with the good tidings. Fifteen families traveled through uncharted forests, loaded their belongings on rafts they had built, and sent out down the Susquehanna river
to Lebanon Valley. Arriving near the Mill Creek region not far from the present Newmanstown and the larger town of Wompelsdorf in 1723.
They arrived in Berks County (Lebanon Valley), Pennsylvania in 1723. Here the Zellers procured deeds from the three Penn bothers, John, Thomas and Richard. Some what later they helped to start the first church in that vicinity.
A fort was built to protect them and their friends from Indians raids. Further molestation by Indians (1745) forced them to rebuild with stone on the outer walls of the fort and plaster the inside. A carved emblem of their faith and family was placed over the door.
They built the first church in the vicinity and the emblem of their faith and family hung over their door. Countess Clotilde was long remembered by her family for her dignity and authority. She died in 1749 (89) in Tulpehocken, Pennsylvania. Nominated by Miss Sarah D. Lowrie for inclusion in the Book of Honor to be placed in Strawberry Mansion, Fairmont Park. The Sponsoring Committee representing various women's historical organizations requested any public spirited citizen to send names for a memorial of Penn women.
The people that met here in the land were German in language and behavior, and many of the family names became Germanized.

Eight generations of her Childres children lived in the house on the wide farm beside the Zeller Fort, keeping the gardens and Fort as she had know them.


Hello! My name is Kim Michelle Zeller and I am a descendant of the original Zeller family who immigrated to the United States and built Fort Zeller. Here is a small amount of information I have from our family records which have been passed down through the centuries through photographs, chalk drawings, letters, memoirs, family Bibles, and from what many know through history. James Zeller (Sellaire) was born in Zurich, Switzerland in the year of 1660. He married Lady Clothilde de Valois in France in the year of 1682. They had one child together, a boy named J. Hinrich ( Jean Henri) born in France, 1684. James Zeller was the first male settler in America of the Zeller descent. By Act of Parliment he was made a citizen of Great Britian in 1709. He died en route to America in 1709-1710. Jean Henri Zeller and his mother Lady Clothilde de Valios did arrive in NY, America 1710. Jean was active in the campaign of 1711 provision of NY. He eventually settled in Tulpehochen Township, Berks Co. Pennsylvania. He married Anna Maria Berigal. Those two had one child, a son, born in 1732 named George John Zeller. Jean Henri Zeller died in 1756.

 I have all of the family lineage from this point up until today. Everything is current and our lineage lives on. There is one soul surviving Zeller male, who is my father. My father has two children, both girls. I am married with two children of my own and my sister will be married in June. The Zeller family name will cease to be upon my fathers death. I have so many original documents that I will pass this family album down to my children in hopes that they continue keep the information up to date once I pass on. Even though they do not bear the Zeller Surname they are descendants just the same and my hopes are that they will carry on the Zeller name and history

. The Zeller Coat of ArmsThe Shield: the center third of the shield is gold in color and represents generosity, valor, or preserverance. The outer thirds are blue in color and denote loyalty and splendor. The Charge: The cross which appears in the center third denotes a closeness to the supernatural or that the bearer was a veteran of the Crusades. The Motto: Mit Freuden Hindurch loosly translated means "with a happy or joyful heart all through the night"

I would love to hear more about your group and why you have such an interest in the Zeller family. I would also love to be of any help to you. I am very proud of my family name and am honored to have come across someone with the interest. Please contact me for anything in regards to the Zeller Family. I currently reside in NY and will be traveling to York, Pennsylvania this Memorial Weekend. If you do not get a prompt response from me that is the reason why. Thanks again! Kim M. Zeller
I found a page in a biographical encyclopedia at my local library
 which contained the following info:
   Jacque de Sellaire (1660) met Clothilde de Valois (huguenots) at
Deux Pont 
(zweibrucken) and were married in France around 1682, had two sons, 
fled from France after the revocation of Edict of Nantes, later fled to
England under protection of Queen Ann. Came to America in 1710,
(Jacque became citizen of Great Britian in 1709.)
Jacque died during the voyage to America, his widow and two sons settled 
in Scholarie, New York. The eldest son, Jean Henri (Hans Heinrich)" Zellers"
(name changed in America to accomodate German atmosphere) was born in France
around 1684. He married Anna Maria Briegel.
The rest of the entry talks about his son Francis Paul (Paul Frantz), 
then Francis Paul's son Daniel, (one of seven children), 
then Daniel's daughter Henrietta C. The second son of Jacque and Clothilde 
is not mentioned by name. If you need the rest of the page, let me know.


Source: The Trail of THE HUGUENOTS in Europe, the United States, South
Africa and Canada by G. Elmore Reaman--Thomas Allen Limited, Toronto Canada

pg. 134: "The Zeller (Zelaire) family came from Strasbourg to London in
1708-09. Clothilde de Valois Zeller came to America with her two sons
settling at Livingstone Manor, New York, then Schoharie and later in
Pennsylvania, at Newmanstown, and Womelsdord in 1723."

pg. 301: "The claim that the Zeller family was founded by Clothilde de
Valois Zeller, of Huguenot origin, is a pleasant day dream. There is an
implication in The Compendium of American Genealogy, vol. III, 1928, p. 641,
that "Lady Clothilde de Valois belonged to the former French royal house of
Valois. This is nonsense; in spite of this statement and that in John A.
Zeller's A Brief History of the Zeller Family (1945), p. 13, Clothilde De
Valois Zeller NEVER EXISTED. My friend, Dr. Albert H. Gerberich, the
leading authority on Pennsylvania German genealogy informs me that
"Clothilde de Valois'" real name was Anna Catharina, and her maiden surname
is unknown. She died at Tulpehocken, in Berks county, near the Lebanon
County (Pennsylvania) line, in 1749."

From - Clothilde de Valois Zeller--Myth and Myth-Conception by 

   Henry (Hank) Jones III, an authority on the 1709-1710 Palatine immigration, has stated, "I
have not found Lady Clothilde in anything other than strong family
tradition.  Remember, many times when an American family eventually owned property, their descendants often concocted
some European nobility to go along with their American success.  This is true, for example, in my findings on
Jost Hite, 'Baron of the Shenandoah Valley,' who supposedly was a baron in
Germany and became a large landholder in Virginia.  However, we find him as [the] son of the town
butcher in Bonfeld, Germany." [3]

So, WHO started this "strong family tradition" about Lady Clothilde? One name that
keeps surfacing as a likely candidate for this dubious honor is Frank McBeth Zeller of Philadelphia.  Zeller was born in 1864, had a high school education, was "a mining engineer and lumber
businessman" by his own account, and furnished the Zeller entry that appears in Virkus' Compendium of American
Genealogy. [4]

   An entry in Armorial Families of America states that "investigations by Frank M. Zeller of Philadelphia, who must be given full
credit for the determination of the first generation, as well as the armorial bearings, lead him to the belief that Lady Clothilde was a descendant of
Charles, Comte de Valois, a son of King Phillippe le Hardi of France...." [5]
   In an undated letter to a Perle Holcomb, Frank Zeller wrote the Zeller crest "was
designed by the Herald's Expert of Wannamakers [a well-known department store
in Philadelphia] and it was made up of the Zeller family arms along the Rhine
near Zurich and the arms of the cadet branch of the house of Valois, of which
Clothilde was a member...." 

   Since Frank Zeller was furnishing his information to two important publications of his day, one
may assume that he also gave the information to Wannamakers and the Zeller
crest was the result.  He also mentioned that another coat of arms belonging to the "Zellers of Zurich" and
described them as "our immediate kin."  At that time, he was awaiting publication of 

     "...the final supplementary addition to Riestap's Armorial Général and indicated that in the book would be "all the coats of arms
of various branches of our family and we can determine more accurately the character of the arms that rightfully belong to us.

     "V. & H. V. Rolland's Illustrations to the Armorial Général by J.-B. Riestap was published 1903-1926 and was reprinted in
1967.  It included nine de Valois crests, none of which resemble Wannamaker's creation. 
It also included 10 Zeller crests, none of which resemble it either, and none of them of Zurich.  There is no de
Cella family at all. The "Zeller arms" apparently have no historical validity whatever." [6]

   Another candidate for propagating the tale of Lady Clothilde is William H. Worrilow Esq., then
president in 1947 of the Lebanon [PA] Steel Foundry. In an address given at the Zeller Family Reunion that year, Worrilow made clear in his opening remarks
that, while not a Zeller family member, his purpose was to recognize the Zeller family "as being one of the most distinguished families of our Lebanon Valley, your ancestors being among the first to have settled here."  Since he acknowledged that he was not a
Zeller, the "facts" for his speech must have been provided by someone in the Zeller family.

   So, how far can the information supplied by Frank Zeller and William Worrilow be trusted? There is
no reference to Lady Clothilde on the ship lists from Holland; only male heads
of families were named.  There is no reference to her in the London church records. 
Neither man cites a reference for the birth and marriage dates given.  Both dates for the birth of
Johann Heinrich/Henrich, presumed [to be] her son, pose problems (1685 Zeller, 1693 Worrilow).  

 Unfortunately, for Clothilde's adherents, the answer is: Not very far.

 Clothilde de Valois Zeller appears to be just a legend, created either unwittingly or perhaps
wishfully by Frank M. Zeller and further spread by William Worrilow and the proliferation of incorrect information across the internet.

  "Such is the stuff dreams are made of."

Information on the Zeller family "story" is taken from a chapter in the book entitled Notable Women of Pennsylvania, edited by Gertrude Biddle and Sarah Lowrie (Philadelphia, 1942) and is from a short biography of a French woman named Clothilde de Valois.
1. Stoudt, Margaret, Genealogy of the Zeller family, Stouchsburg, PA., 1949, pp. 3.
2. Valletine, John F., "Zeller Family Revision," The Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine
27 (1971): 92-93.
3. Bottorf, Jane, "Lady Clothilde de Valois Zeller: The Little Lady Who Wasn't There,"
The Palatine Immigrant, Vol. VII, No. 1, Summer 1981, p. 23.
4. Virkus, Donald, Compendium of American Genealogy (1930-42), Vol. III, p. 641.
5. Spofford, Armorial Families in America (1929), p. 329. The book is listed in American & British Genealogy and
Heraldry (1975), by F. Wiliam Philby, with the note "Use with Caution."
6. Bottorf, ibid., p. 25.

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