Thursday, August 23, 2012

~ Ancestry, French Castles & Chateaus, Château de Montaigne

Did you ever dream of living in a castle when you were very young?

I fell in love with books of fairy tales in grade school and couldn't wait to go to the library to search for more to read. So many of those tales talked about castles, and it sounded like a fantastic place to live looking through the eyes of a child. Although Cinderella didn't have too great of a time in the beginning of her story.

The first time I saw the Cinderella castle at Disney World, it was shortly after it first opened.
Along with every child both young and old who strolled down the walkway toward the castle, my mouth was probably wide open in amazement. The lights were twinkling in the trees lining the walk and still today, I remember being so thrilled by the sight.

My sis and I have been researching our family history for a little while now. Although I had signed up about 4 years ago, I did nothing with it. Either there was a lot less information on the web then, or I just never got into the rhythm of how to search. Whatever the reason, we started again just before the new ancestry show hit TV. When I saw the episode with Brooke Shields I was more than just a tiny bit awed by the homes and castles of her ancestors. And maybe a little bit jealous as well. For all I knew, my ancestors were Irish potato farmers on our mother's  side, and I had little knowledge of my dad's side. I was however quite proud of those potato farmers. They were hard working people. It was unlikely to find a castle anywhere in my bloodline.

So of course I was amused and thrilled to find "my" very own castle ..... along with a few million other descendants I'm sure. None the less, it is a beauty and in France.

So, welcome to my castle/chateau! It's just about everything I could have imagined, and I'm sure a whole lot more space and work than I would ever want.  Isn't the French architecture stunning? It now hosts tours. I think it would be fun to see it. Maybe one day I will.

The original castle burned and the only part that is still standing from it is the tower above. This is were Michel Eyquem, Lord of Montaigne (1533-1592) did his writing for which he is considered to have been  one of the most influential writers of the French Renaissance. The chateau was rebuilt exactly as it had been before the fire.

I even found a picture of one of his books that was written in the 1500's. Searching for clues becomes quite addictive, and totally frustrating. I'm not sure which gets to you more, when you keep getting a dead end with someone and can't find any information, or when you find one person after the other and you don't want to quit because you're not sure you can find your way back. My sister and I have both stayed up way past bed time chancing one more little clue. She is usually on the Irish side finding dead ends because the poor have left very little records, while I can often go on and on looking on the other side.

As most people know the ancestry site is owned and operated by the Mormon church. They do not own the original records but due to their religious beliefs they have spent years searching through records and documenting them to their site. It would be nearly impossible for most of us to find as  much information with using that site.

I have been asked how we were able to find the information so far back. We have the deluxe membership which will allow you to see documents from overseas.  It cost extra to access the information outside the U.S. - Europe, etc. You begin to find other ways of finding information as well. Google books has stored a lot of individual books written about families, states, counties and cities. Sometimes you get lucky searching names and locations in those files.

I wonder how many more people have begun searches since that TV show aired. The site  appeared to have a few growing problems when they first aired, but I haven't noticed it lately.  It has been an incredibly fun adventure in spite of the hours upon hours of hard work and what still seems like a very high price to pay for the year membership. One way to get your feet wet is to purchase the software Family Treemaker, and you will get a very short time that you can access the site. It gives you a chance to see if you want to pay more  or not.

So how about you? Any castles or kings in your family?

This is a little repost while things are busy around here.
I hope you enjoy it.

See Y'All Soon~

© The Decorated House
 Click on any of the pictures below to shop art from The Decorated House 


  1. Wonderful post, I so enjoyed seeing your family castle. Family History is so exciting! My family has a castle in Scotland and I'm a descendant of Vikings, but that is another story LOL.

  2. Your timing is kind of uncanny. My mom spends countless hours researching our family lines. She just found out that she is an 'heir' to a castle in France as well. She's currently trying to find info on the castle itself. It's willed to the heirs of the Tittle family, of which she a part. What she read said that they have not been able to verify any living blood relative, and they require a ton of paperwork proving that you are who you say you are, and that you are indeed a descendent. My mom and her siblings are the only direct descendents they can find, so you can bet she's working on that paperwork!:)

    Isn't that neat to find out you're a descendent/heir to such a fine home. I told mom I'd be packed overnight and ready to go if she finds out she has any claim to it!!

    That castle is also open for tours.

    Do you have plans to ever visit 'yours'? I'd love to visit "ours" - and stand at the door and tell people 'Welcome to MY home' - of course. :)

  3. When I went to France and toured Atoinette's ruined it for me...they lived a "dirty" and unbathed was not Cinderella like-

    But, I love to look at them.
    sandy toe

  4. That is a beauty! Yes, when I was little I had dreams of marrying a Prince and living in a castle in Ireland. Well part of that dream came true - I did marry a Prince just a different kind~smile.


  5. I think you should stake your claim!!

  6. Oh yes, I dreamed of castles when I was little. Still do, as a matter of fact. We often stay in castles in Scotland. There is absolutely nothing like them for setting one's imagination aglow!!

  7. Hi Donna...

    I love your castle now you're like jane Seymour !!!

    I have always wanted to research our family tree, Irish on Dad's side and Italian on Mum's..

    Where did you start ???

    Kathy :)

  8. (((Donna)))

    thinking of you...
    oh beautiful one.


  9. Love castles..always dreamed r Europe and the history and the castles. Loved touring them when I finally went over...I love the romance of them all. This was a joy to see and read today!


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