In Search of Nicolas Ory

Les Voyageurs, Vol. XXII, No. 1, March 2001, pp. 39 - 46

Submitted by:       Horace A. Ory

There are several points of confusion concerning the identity and origins of Nicolas Ory, the progenitor of the Ory family in Louisiana.  Francois Ory (age 56) and Nicolas Ory (age 26)  were among the passengers who arrived in Philadelphia aboard the ship Princess Augusta and signed Oaths of Allegiance September 16, 1736 [1].  Francois had a son named Nicolas who was born January 12, 1711 in Nazeville, Vosges, France, and baptized January 14, 1711 in Schirmeck, Vosges, France [2].  This son would thus have been just a few months short of the age stated for Nicolas Ory upon arrival in America.  One could easily conclude that the immigrant Nicolas Ory was the son of Francois Ory.

However, a 1775 will attributed to Nicolas Ory named his parents as Nicolas Ory and Jeanne Boye´ [3].  It also identified his first wife as Anne Straspa (Strasbach), daughter of Nicolas and Catherine Strasbach.  (The will stated that Nicolas had forgotten Catherine’s maiden name.)  It also stated that both families were natives of Brumely, in Lorraine.  It is noteworthy that Anne Strasbach was also a passenger on the Princess Augusta with her parents and siblings.

By around 1740, Nicolas and Anne settled on a farm in what was then Lancaster County, later York County, and is now Adams County, Pennsylvania.  Plat maps show that their farm was in close proximity to other Princess Augusta families (Christian, Delon, Noel, and Strasbach) and two other Strasbach sons-in-law (Heidler and Shupe) [4].  When Nicolas Ory moved to Frederick County, Maryland and bought land there in November, 1754, Nicolas Strasbach, Jr. also moved there, but returned to Pennsylvania after his father’s death.  The Maryland land, part of the First  Resurvey of Diggs Lot, was about 5 miles Southeast of Emmitsburg, Maryland [5, 6].

Nicolas Ory moved to Louisiana in 1769.  The passenger list of the Bretana gives his age as 66 years at that time [7].  This implies a birth date several years earlier than the age given for the Princess Augusta passenger.

Conrad described, in an article on German settlers from Maryland, the arrangements, activities, and misadventures through which the Nicolas Ory family, along with several other families (including Francois Ory’s daughter, Christine), moved to Louisiana [8].  He also quoted Spanish sources that seemed to imply that Nicolas Ory died in 1772:

 “Barely six months later, on March 20, 1772, Dutisne reported that Madame Ory had left
  her farm following her husband’s death and had gone to live on the German Coast.”

If this were correct, it would cast doubt upon a 1775 will, within which there were references to the year 1775.  However, it may have been that Madame Ory’s move was occasioned by Nicolas Ory’s serious illness, rather than his death.  It is also possible that the Spanish documents carried an incorrect date.  Some such documents have been observed to have notations concerning uncertainty of the dates.

We seek here to provide evidence that reconciles these matters, and clarifies the identity and origins of Nicolas Ory, by focusing on two questions:

  Was the Princess Augusta passenger the same person as the Louisiana settler?

  Who were the parents of Nicolas Ory?

 The Same Nicolas Ory

                     (a)                                     (b)                                               (c)

 (a) From the list of Princess Augusta passengers who signed the Oath of Allegiance Sept 16, 1736 [1]
 (b) From the record of the marriage of Mathias Ory and Agnes Weber October 11, 1774 [9]
 (c) From the 1775 will of Nicolas Ory [10]

Figure 1:

Some signatures were found for Nicolas Ory that can be compared to establish whether they are from the same person.  These are shown in Figure 1.  The 1774 signature is crudely formed, with poorly controlled strokes, compared with the 1736 signature.  The partial signature on the 1775 will is even more crudely formed, and includes only the first name.  All the signatures are written in lower case, as was the custom at that time.  The ‘n’ is similarly formed in each, and the direct stroke from the bottom of the ‘n’ to the top of the ‘i’, in all the signatures, is unusual enough to be characteristic.  The 1736 signature shows a connecting stroke from the ‘i’ to the ‘c’; otherwise, the ‘c’ is similar in each case.  All the signatures show a stand-alone ‘o’.  The ‘las’ is generally similar.  Although the last name is not included in the 1775 signature, it begins with a stand-alone ‘o’ in the two earlier signatures.  The nonvisual (no hump) form of the ‘r’ is the same, and the detailed form of the ‘y’ is characteristically similar in the 1736 and 1774 signatures.  Despite the cruder formation of the two later signatures, there are similar features of the signatures, sometimes characteristic, that support a reasonable conclusion that the same person made all three of them.

 The increasing crudity of the signatures in the later years might be taken as evidence that Nicolas was debilitated, perhaps to some extent because of age and probably more so because of illness.  The partial signature on the 1775 will, which includes only a first name, suggests a serious degree of infirmity, consistent with preparation of a will.

 These signatures indicate that the Nicolas Ory from the ship Princess Augusta was the same person who moved to Louisiana, and that he was still alive at least until November 1775.  He probably died soon thereafter.  Conrad notes that the census of Iberville of 1777 showed that Madame Ory was living with her son, Louis [8].

Parents of Nicolas Ory and Anne Strasbach

 No record of the birth of Nicolas Ory has yet been found.  However, church records exist  that provide documentation that supports the information given in his 1775 will.  The death record of Jeanne Boye´ is included in the Parish Registers of Saulsure, Salm (now Saulxures, Bas-Rhin, France) [11].  There she is identified as the wife of Nicolas Ory (pere, so denoted here for clarity).  She died May 3, 1710, and was interred in the Cemetery of Ceans.  A copy of the record is shown in Figure 2.  Note that ‘Ory’ is spelled as ‘Hory,’ which occurs also in a few other instances, although in most occurrences the ‘Ory’ spelling is used.  Also, the name Boye´ appears to be written as a correction over something that is illegible in the original.

   Figure 2:  Death record of Jeanne Boye´

Boye´ families were found mostly in the church records for the villages of Neuviller-les-Badonviller and Neufmaisons [12, 13].  A few baptismal records were found for a Jeanne Boye´.   Only one, who was born March 10, 1684 and baptized March 11, 1684, daughter of Claude Boye´ and Claud/Claudine Blondot/Blondeau, in the church records of Neuviller-les-Badonviller, a village near Bremenil, was of a suitable age and not accounted for otherwise [12].  No other

Figure 3:  Record of the second marriage of Nicolas Ory pere, to Catherine Beniot

records consistent with the possibility of marriage to Nicolas Ory pere were found, so this is almost certainly the same Jeanne Boye´ who married Nicolas Ory pere.  Therefore, her parents as noted herein are almost certainly Nicolas Ory’s maternal grandparents.

The second marriage of Nicolas Ory pere, to Catherine Benoit, daughter of Nicolas Benoit and Catherine Valentin, occurred November 11, 1710.  A copy of the record found in the Saulsure registers is shown in Figure 3 [11].  Within the record, Nicolas Ory pere  is identified as the widower of Jeanne Boye´.  Again, ‘Ory’ is spelled as ‘Hory’ within the record; however, it is spelled as ‘Ory’ in the signature of Nicolas Ory pere.  Except for the ‘ni’, the signature shows similarities to that of his son as described earlier.  Nicolas Ory pere and Catherine Benoit had several children, with baptisms noted in the Saulsure records, half-siblings of the Nicolas Ory who immigrated to America.

Nicolas Ory pere died February 17, 1741.  His death record, also from the Saulsure  registers [11], is shown in Figure 4.  Catherine Benoit died March 11, 1756, age about 80 years, and was also buried in the Cemetery of Saulsure [11].

Figure 4:  Death record of Nicolas Ory pere

The Saulsure registers also contain the December 19, 1719, baptismal record of Anne Strasbach, Nicolas Ory’s first wife, as shown in Figure 5 [11].  Her parents were Nicolas Strasbach and Catherine Gerard.  Although this particular record shows a spelling of ‘Girard’, most other marriage and baptismal records render it as ‘Gerard’. (The marriage record and most of the

Figure 5:  Baptismal record of Anne Strasbach

baptismal records of the children of Nicolas Strasbach and Catherine Gerard were first found by Theodore von Mechow and Wayne Strasbaugh, descendants of Nicolas Strasbach.  That discovery stimulated this further search which developed other records, including those related to Nicolas Ory pere.)  This document confirms the information in Nicolas Ory’s 1775 will, and adds the maiden name of Anne’s mother, which Nicolas Ory, in his will, said he had forgotten.

The 29 January, 1718 marriage record of Nicolas Strasbach and Catherine Gerard, from the Saulsure registers, is shown in Figure 6 [11].  Although the year was obscured by the tight binding of the register, it was determined by comparison with preceding and succeeding entries.  Note that the name of Nicolas Strasbach was initially written as ‘Jean’, then crossed out with ‘Nicolas’ written above.  Baptismal records of nine children of this marriage were in the Saulsure registers; six of these were aboard the Princess Augusta, or seven, depending on whether Anne, at 16 years of age, was counted as a child or as an adult.  Four other children were born in America.

  Figure 6:  Marriage record of Nicolas Strasbach and Catherine Gerard

The record of the April 24, 1730 marriage of Leopold Ory and Catherine Viry, from the registers of Plaine, Bas-Rhin, France, is shown in Figure 7 [14].  This document is of interest and it may provide better knowledge of the relationship between the Princess Augusta passengers, Francois Ory and Nicolas Ory.  The witnesses to this marriage include Nicolas Ory pere and Francois Ory, which implies a close relationship between them.  The signatures of Nicolas Ory pere shown in the document and, for example, the record of his second marriage shown in Figure 4, as well as various baptismal and marriage documents not shown here, appear to be of the same person.  Also, the signature of Francois Ory shown in this document resembles very closely that shown in Figure 1(a), as well as many others such as in the baptismal records of his children, which can be viewed at James T. Ory’s web site [2].  None of Francois Ory’s children was named Leopold.  Leopold Ory was of an age that he could be a son of Nicolas Ory pere, and a brother of Nicolas Ory.  Nicolas Ory pere and Francois Ory were of similar ages and could have been brothers.  That is, of the Princess Augusta passengers, Francois Ory could well have been the uncle of Nicolas Ory.  The evidence is too meager to draw more than a tentative conclusion, but a generally close relationship is clearly evident and it does appear to deserve further search for confirmation.  If the inferred relationship is correct, then the known parents of Francois Ory are also the parents of Nicolas Ory pere and they are the paternal grandparents of Nicolas Ory.  They are known to be Dominique Ory and Anna Gourneau [2].

 Figure 7:  Marriage record of Leopold Ory and Catherine Viry

A further record from the Saulsure registers is of interest.  The marriage record of Dominique Ory (not the same person as the father of Francois and possibly Nicolas Ory pere) and Madelain Caquelin of Colroy is shown in Figure 8.  Nicolas Ory pere signed as a witness (with a somewhat uncharacteristic signature), and later was a godfather (signing with a more normal signature) to one of their children named Nicolas, twin of Marguerite.  It seems possible that Dominique Ory was also a son of Nicolas Ory pere, and brother of Nicolas Ory.  He was godfather to Jean, son of Nicolas Strasbach and Catherine Gerard, and other children of Benoit and Gerard families, and was witness to the marriage of Toussaint Strasbach and Jeanne Benoit, as well as other marriages that involved Gerards.  Dominique Ory died March 25, 1734 and was interred in Saulsure.  It is an interesting question whether Dominique might also have been among the passengers of the Princess Augusta, except for his early death, especially considering that the Princess Augusta passenger list included three Caquelins.

  Figure 8:  Marriage record of Dominique Ory and Madelain Caquelin


 Generally, the information presented above appears to confirm that the same Nicolas Ory from the Princess Augusta was also the Louisiana settler, and to clarify his parentage, the identity of his first wife, Anne Strasbach, and her parentage.  It essentially confirms the validity of information presented in his 1775 will [3], and refutes other indications that he might have died in 1772.  A few other points call for comment.

What of Brumely?  Nicolas’ will stated that his family and Anne Strasbach’s family were from Brumely in Lorraine.  Dominique Ory (the grandfather) and Francois Ory have been connected to the village of Bremenil, near Saulsure, Plaine, and Neuviller-les-Badonviller where related records have been found.  ‘Brumely’ might be simply a corruption of ‘Bremenil’.  It is noteworthy that in records from Neuviller-les-Badonviller [12] and Senones [15], Bremenil is sometimes spelled ‘Brumenil’ and rarely ‘Bromenil’.  Also, a correspondent in France reported that in a 1745 map of the ‘Kingdom of France and the States of Lorraine’ the name is spelled Brumenil.  Both Bremenil and Neuviller-les-Badonviller lie on the river Breme.   It even seems possible that Nicolas might have described his place of origin as ‘Breme lieu’ or ‘Brume lieu’, and this was written into his will as Brumely.

 Following his listing of most of the Princess Augusta passengers, the ship’s Master, Captain Marchant listed in more detail several families, those of Jean Francois Chretien, Pierre Delon, Nicolas Gerard, Eneas Noel, Joseph Noel, Francois and Nicolas Ory, and Nicolas Strasbach.  The reason for this distinctive treatment has not yet been determined.  The European origins of the Noel families have not yet been found.  The origins of all the others have been found in Saulsure and nearby communities of the small state of Salm, and many Noels were in the general area.

Salm developed from the establishment of a monastery near Senones about the year 640.  It flourished for several centuries under control of the Bishopric of Metz.  This area was part of a contended buffer zone between France and the Holy Roman Empire.  The Bishop called upon the Lords of Salm to defend the abbey, and they received rights to portions of the taxes.  This led to strife between the Counts of Salm and the Abbots of Senones, with the Counts eventually attaining temporal control by the end of the 16th century.  (Much history is ignored here for brevity.)  Around 1600, part of Salm, a Principality, was controlled by a Count who was allied with German kingdoms and the rest, a County, was allied by marriage with the Duchy of Lorraine, with both parts under the influence of Lorraine.  Eventually, in 1793, under pressures resulting from the French Revolution, all the area was joined to France.

Nicolas Gerard settled in Philadelphia.  The other families settled in what was then Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.  Francois Ory settled somewhat apart from the others, and his family followed a separate course, some remaining in Pennsylvania and some migrating into the Midwest.  The Jean Francois Chretien, Eneas Noel, Joseph Noel, Nicolas Ory, and Nicolas Strasbach families, as well as families of Strasbach sons-in-law John Heidler and Jacob Shupe, settled close together in an area that extended across the border of what are now York and Adams Counties.  There was extensive intermarriage among these families for several generations both in Salm and in America, and they interacted as godparents and marriage witnesses.  These factors suggest that the families acted in concert in their immigration and settlement, but details of their earlier history and the bonds among them are still being investigated [16].


Thanks to Martine Hory (Ory), of Ludres, France, I have further information since the Les Voyageurs article.  The information is from the Departmental Archives in Nancy, France.  It largely confirms the relationships surmised in the article.

1.      The marriage of Nicolas Ory pere and Jeanne Boye, 25 Nov 1704 in Neuviller-les Badonviller, is included in an index, although the marriage document has not yet been found.

2.      The succession of Jeanne Boye lists the children from her marriage with Nicolas Ory pere, presumably in birth order, as Dominique (evidently named for his grandfather), Nicolas (evidently named for his father), and Leopold.

3.      When Jeanne Boye's father, Claude Boye, died, his widow, Claudine Blondot, and son, Joseph Boye, sold his house and fields to Dominique Ory (the husband of Anna Gourneau).  Later, Nicolas Ory pere bought the house.  This strongly supports the conclusion that Dominique Ory and Anna Gourneau were the parents of Nicolas Ory pere, and they are known to be the parents of Francois Ory of the Princess Augusta.  Thus, the Princess Augusta passengers were uncle and nephew.

4.      Jeanne Boye's father, Claude Boye, was the son of Claude Boye.  Her mother, Claudine Blondot, was the daughter of Francois Blondot.  Jeanne's grandmothers are not named.  This is from the marriage record of Claude Boye'/Boyer and Claudine Blondot.


1. R. B. Strasburger and W. J. Hinke, Pennsylvania German Pioneers,
   Genealogical Publishing Company, Baltimore, 1934, reprinted 1966 and 1975.

2. James T. Ory, a descendant of Francois Ory, presented on his web page at:

3. Judy Riffel, “1775 Will of Nicolas Ory,” Le Raconteur, Vol. XIII,
    Nos. 3,4, December 1993, pp. 143 – 146.

4. Don Osborn, “Early Settlers at Pigeon Hills Who Came on the Ship Princess Augusta,” manuscript.

5. Frederick County, Maryland, Land Records, 1752 – 1756, Liber E,
    pp. 608 – 609, Microfilm MSA GR 37,501.

6. Michael Hillman, whose farm now borders what was Diggs Lot,
    kindly provided a map showing Nicolas Ory’s land.

7. Lawrence Kinnaird, Spain in the Mississippi Valley, Vol. 2, Part 1, pp. 135 – 142.

8. Glenn R. Conrad, “Some Maryland Germans Who Settled in Louisiana,” Les Voyageurs,
    Vol. III, No. 4, December 1982,  pp. 85 – 88.  For further details, see also Judy Riffel,
    “Nicolas Ory and the Germans of Iberville Parish,” La Raconteur, Vol. XX,
    Nos. 3,4, December, 2000, pp. 170 – 174, and Elton J. Oubre,
   “The Malbrough/Ory Connections and     Puzzles,”  Terrebonne Life Lines,
   Vol. 19, No. 1, Spring 2000, pp. 2 – 22.

9. Marriage record of Mathias Ory and Agnes Weber, October 11, 1774,
    St. John the Baptist Church, Edgard,   Louisiana, Register Number M-1, Folio 4.
    Elton Oubre’s comment that he thought he recalled an abstract that listed Nicolas Ory
    as a witness to this marriage led to the discovery of this marriage record signature,
    with its significant  implications.

10. Nicolas Ory Will, Clerk of Court Documents, Iberville Parish, Plaquemine,
      Louisiana, Box 567, pp. 86 – 88, Microfilm Reel IV, 3.1 from Louisiana State Archives,
      Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  Kevin D. Ory, a Nicolas Ory descendant,
      kindly provided a copy from the microfilm of the original manuscript.

11. Parish Registers of Saulsure, Salm/Saulxures, Bas-Rhin, France, 1706 – 1792,
      Family History Library (FHL) Film No. 0796883.

12. Parish Registers of Neuviller-les-Badonviller, Meurthe-et-Moselle,
      France, 1682 – 1792, FHL  Film No. 1118407.

13. Parish Registers of Neufmaisons, Meurthe-et-Moselle, France,
      1687 – 1741, 1743 – 1789, FHL Film No. 1118403; 1694 – 1697,
      1704 – 1716, 1750 – 1792, FHL Film No. 1118404.

14. Parish Registers of Plaine, Bas-Rhin, France, 1673 – 1788, FHL Film No. 0770598.

15. Parish Registers of Senones, Salm/Vosges, France 1641 – 1759, FHL Film No. 1117943.

16. Dominic Noel’s web site serves as a nexus for research collaboration and data compliation