The Besse's 

(see page 178 of the family chronicle)

The Besse Family, of reformed confession, originates from Sainte-Croix in the Swiss canton of Vaud. Here we find our ancestor Henri Paillard  (later to be named Besse) mentioned for the first time in an act proclaiming him governor of the city in the year 1502. He is mentioned again in the years 1506 and 1507, where we find him once again spoken of as governor in 1506, and then later referred to as "syndic", or administrator, in 1507. It is also around this time, that we find that our ancestor changes his surname from "Paillard " to "Besse".

Probably, the name Besse derives from the French word bèsa, which in the French language means "twin". In the year 1525 Henri Paillard is co-founder of the hamlet of "Vers-chez-la-Besse", which today is located in the parish "Granges". Also in this year, we find mention of his son Guillaume Besse, who was a property owner in the same place. From here the family chronicle continues, with the mention of Guillaume's sons Martin, Pierre, Louis and Henri, who e-merge in the census of the years 1562 to 1570. In 1563 and 1564, Louis Besse is mentioned as a "Stradtratsmitglied", or Conseiller, in Sainte-Croix. In 1568, Pierre Besse is named as governor and Conseiller in this same city. No further mention is made at this time of Martin, or Henri, although it is believed that Henri was perhaps a notary, as future generations of his became. At this point, the family remains in Sainte-Croix for four generations. 

In the year 1682 or 1684, Isaac Besse, great-great grandson of Henri, son of Guillaume, emigrates to Germany. He settles in the Rhineland-Palatinate, where first he, then his son Otto Frederick and grandson Johann Heinrich, all held the office of Village Mayor of Hornbach (see here his last will and testament). His uncle Francois Besse (1669-1753), named Francis Best in England, was Lieutneant Governor of hies Majesty's Island Jersey and possessed 11.000 pounds at different banks in London/England (see here his last will and testament and see page 67-70 of the family chronicle).

Since the year 1770, their sons have re-mained in different functions in the government and administration at the court of the Duke of Zweibrücken. 

In 1799, Karl Frederick Besse, named Charles Bessé, was forester of the national forests. In Tholey he married Catherine Rausch, and is the ancestor of our family, and of all families named "Besse" who are living in the Saarland today.

Karl Frederick had a cousin named Heinrich Ludwig (born in Zweibrücken 28/10/1767, died 13/10/1846) who was active as a forester and a notary in Annweiler. He married Catherine Scharlotte Dentzer and had a family of ten children: Charlotte Juliane, Luise Friederike, Friedrich Ludwig Daniel, Ludwig Daniel, Friedrich August, Charlotte Luise (the widow Geissler), Friederike Louise, Friedrich Philipp Gustav, Heinrich Ludwig Friedrich, Henriette Fried-erike, and Sophie. 

Friedrich Ludwig Daniel, of whom nothing has been heard of since the Franco-Prussian War, was at one time a druggist in the province of Alsace. Phil-lip Frederick was treasurer in Kusel and Steinwenden (Rhineland-Palatinate) the greater part of his life. He had two sons who emigrated to America, although nothing is known of where these sons lived at this time.

In 1848 Henry Ludwig Besse, great-grandson of Otto Frederick, emigrates to America. First he came to New York, from there he went to Milwaukee Wisconsin, then he moved to Butternut, Wisconsin, and became postmaster. To this family branch belongs Linda Senne, whose grandmother was a born Besse. Her great-uncle John is owner of a large lumber business called Besse Forest Products Group. There are many Besse's in America (friendly comment of Linda Senne, America).

After the French revolution Ludwig Wilhelm Besse (born 1778 in Zweibrücken) was active as city treasurer in Passau . Last century, people of this family branch also emigrated to America and Australia (friendly comment of Mrs Gertrud Bessé, Schifferstadt).

To the ethymologie see the "Glossaire des Patois de la Suisse Romande", volume II, page 353: bèsa = twin.

The family possesses a coat of arms: Divided into blue and silver; at the top a growing green plant with three silver flowers, on both sides there are two silver stars with 5 radials; below a blue rafter, accompanied at the top by two red balls and below by a red heart (Galbreath, page 46)

More information in English:

Francis Best's last will and testament

Otto Fredrik Besse's last will and testament

(Translated by Nathalie Besse )

©Besse (13.10.2003)