Guest Posts

Guest Post - Researching a French Ancestor of Berlin

Sad lady

We have received a wonderful guest post from Loyal FGB Reader, Monsieur C, detailing his research of French ancestors in Berlin and Mainz.


My success story for today: I have an ancestor Peter Franz Nicolas Bello (1743-1821), who lived in Berlin, married twice, had eight children, and died, all in Berlin.  But, his origins were not known.  No baptism could be found for him in Berlin.  His marriage records did not mention his parents’ names.   A few of his records, including his burial, used French forms of his names, Pierre or Francois, so I suspected he might have been French. 

Another cousin and I have been working on this problem for nearly 50 years.  We both hired separate researchers in Berlin, but no one could find anything.  Most of the French in Germany at that time seem to be Huguenots, but most of them arrived closer to 1685, so his baptism should be in Germany, right?  What to think or do?

I don’t usually subscribe to at the International level, as for so long they were so limited for the extra money.  But, every few years I get tempted to try again, to see if anything new turns up which is of value in my research.  

Subscribing anew, I saw that Ancestry now has a lot of pertinent Berlin records to this case, so I thought I would try to find them all and look them over for any possible clues which might point to new research.  

After successfully finding the records for his two marriages, baptisms for his eight children and his burial, one thing among them drew my attention: in the 1802 baptism for his eighth child, there was a witness, Catherine Mathee, born Bello.  Aha!  Perhaps an aunt or a sister.  Another witness was Joseph Mathee of Mainz.  Perhaps her husband or son?  Perhaps researching Catherine might reveal new information. 

1802 baptism

Searching for Catherine Mathee in Mainz, I was pleasantly surprised to find an 1806 Mainz death record for Catherine Matheo.  Better, it was linked to the actual record.  Better yet, the record was in French (Napoleon’s France controlled Mainz from 1795-1814, which they called Mayence), so I could mostly read it. 

1806 death

It said she was 65 (so born about 1740/41, so probably Pierre’s sister), she was born in Metz, Dept. of Moselle, and that her parents were Francois Bello and Catherine ___. 

Finally, I had a new place to look for Pierre’s baptism, records were available on-line, and possible parents’ names.  OK, maybe they weren’t Huguenots, but they were French.

Metz had 15 parishes, and it took me more than a week of paging through 1740-1743 records, looking for Pierre and Catherine, and I finally found Pierre’s baptism in the 14th parish, Saint Simplice (his mother’s name was not Catherine, though it turns out that was his paternal grandmother’s name).   

It is so pleasing to finally know his name as baptized was Pierre Nicolas François Bello, to know his birthplace of Metz, his birthdate of Dec. 8, 1743, and his parents’ names: Nicolas François Bello and Elisabeth Evrard. 

1743 baptism

After a concerted effort, I also found sister Catherine Bello’s baptism in 1741, born Jan. 7, even though it had eluded me and a later-discovered previously-published work on because the extracted “margin” name was wrong (Catherine Francois instead of Catherine Bello).  It would have saved me a many hours if I had had this reference before.  I also found via that there were also two later children not mentioned, Joseph and Pierre, who were baptized some distance from Metz. 

1741 Baptism

This case also included an interesting scenario where Pierre’s father Nicolas Francois also had a 13-years younger brother with the same name, Nicolas Francois. I have found that usually when another child in a family is given a name previously used, it is because the earlier child died. But, this is my second case where an elder child was given the responsibility of being the godparent, so the new infant received the same name.  Luckily, his younger brother had a different profession, and married three times with the record always giving either his age or his previous wife’s name, so I could distinguish them. 

I also found that Pierre’s father, Nicolas Francois Bello the elder, referenced in Catherine Bello’s death record above, also died in Mainz in 1801.  I am still working on what happened to his mother Elisabeth Evrard.  Maybe the entire family left France, perhaps during the French Revolution, I don’t know.

I used both and, especially the former with mostly original registers and it being a little easier for me to navigate.  Lovely that they have color images of originals, and not scanned poor b/w microfilm images.  Image resolution on is limited but quality is still usually OK. 

I have since spent many more hours paging through some of the Metz registers and the 2 Protestant registers, with occasional help from indexes, I have managed to build his tree back another 4 to 6 generations, with more work that can be done. 

Once again, patience and persistence paid off.  Fifty years of. 

This break-through in this story is another example of why I like to see actual records myself, to see if maybe someone else misread or ignored something which might turn out to be important.

 Other: without any good indexes yet (filae has an extremely limited number for Metz from CG Moselle), the register scanning process (which I have done in about 12 French cities now), usually seems to involve some degree of looking at the same register pages repeatedly as one learns of more family names to keep track of, it becoming necessary to repeat the review process to find the records which were not noted during the first pass.  Many times, I have been tempted to try to make some sort index of all names in order to greatly facilitate locating any of them again, though I haven’t thought of an efficient method which might turn out to be worth the effort.  Thoughts welcome! :-)

I have also thought of trying to organize the various parish registers in a city (and nearby) by years, maybe in a spreadsheet or table, with links, but again, I see no clear elegant path, especially as some registers are B only, some are BM, some are BMS, some are MS, some are S only.  As it is, I gradually compile pages of cheat sheets as to what vue (image) number each year begins for each parish or the rare yearly index, which often turn out to be very handy in saving time later, here and there.


Monsieur C has shared with us a good example of cluster research, (what Elizabeth Shown Mills calls the FAN club principle) here and we are most indebted. Read the comments below to see that we are not alone in saying :Merci!

©2018 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy

Guest Post - Success With Signatures

Signatures 1

Over the years, we have had recourse to signatures as supporting evidence for French genealogy proofs rather often. There have been some most interesting cases in which a French immigrant left precious few genealogical details, but he or she may have signed a single document, such as a will or land purchase before leaving this vale of tears. France being a land that treasures documentation, if that immigrant were to have reached adulthood before leaving, he or she may well have signed something in France, such as a civil registration or a notarial act.

We do not use handwriting analysis to compare these signatures, for we are not attempting a charlatan's glimpse into the personality of the signer. Instead, we follow the guidelines on signature comparison of criminologists who specialise in forged signatures. (And anyway, their examples are much more fun to read than those of the handwriting analysts.)

Before we could write a post on this subject, we received a message from Monsieur C. on his research into a related topic. With his kind permission, we give it here, as a guest post.

Recently, I found for the first time the signature of my earliest known ancestor, Pierre Chastain. This was exciting enough, but then I noticed something curious at the end. At first I thought it was just a fancy way to terminate the signature, then I realized it looked rather like the number '98'. 

This signature (above) is for a marriage contract in which Pierre was a witness. It took place in Schwabendorf, Germany in 1695. Being a Huguenot, Pierre had fled to Germany from his hometown of Vesc, France in 1685. 

In trying to discover Pierre's parents and family group back in France, I've been combing through the notarial records for Vesc in the Drôme Departmental Archives. Vesc had quite a few Chastains and Chastans at this time, and I noticed that their signatures all have that same '98' that Pierre uses in his. Here are three Chastain signatures from Vesc circa 1680.

Signatures 2

I noticed that other families also have numbers next to their signatures, though they are occasionally lost in the ornamental nature of the handwriting. 

Signatures 3

They all look like '98' to me. [Monsieur C wondered:] Could this be in reference to 1598 when the Edict of Nantes was signed by King Henry IV giving Huguenots freedom? Perhaps everyone that does this is identifying themselves as a Protestant? 

[Later,] I was able to discover the meaning of the symbol in the signatures. They are not the number 98. They are specimens of a practice known as ruches. These were the most basic form—three interlocking loops—which simply stand for "the undersigned". In English, ruches translates literally to "hives", which isn't that helpful. But the word "ruches" itself, like many French words, made its way into the English language. In the Oxford English Dictionary, ruches is defined as "a frill or pleat of fabric as decoration on a garment or soft furnishing." This makes sense once you see more elaborate examples since they can look quite decorative.

Ruches first appeared in France in the 7th century as the use of signet rings gave way to manual signatures for the authentication of documents. They could be personalized however the signer deemed fit and were also a way of demonstrating skill with a feather pen. This practice, which vanished by the 19th century, would have been most prominent among those whose work required the signing of documents on a regular basis, solicitors and notaries being two obvious examples.

Manuel de Diplomatique by Arthur Giry is the authoritative work on this subject. A digital copy is available at Gallica, the digital library run by the National Library of France

Here are some more elaborate examples that go well beyond the basic three interlocking loops that I originally sent you. Let me know if you get the images below. I didn't attach them but embedded them directly in the email. Even these are fairly simple compared to a few others I've seen! Anyway, I was excited to discover the answer and thought I'd share with you.

Signatures 4


Signatures 5



Many thank, Monsieur C, for this fine small study!

©2016 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy 



FGB Free Clinic - Case no. 8 follow-up - Uniformologie - Success!

Band Practice

After our Case Study on Uniformologie, in which we reported an expert's view that the uniform in question was no French Army uniform and his speculations on what it could be (all wrong, by the way, but we are still grateful to him for his expertise) Monsieur R had no intention of giving up on the quest. Indeed no, he continued with heroic amounts of energy and determination and solved the riddle. With his kind permission, we give his account of the research below and hope that you may be inspired, even find new courage and ideas, to carry on your own research.

First, I would like to thank you, and tell you how much my wife (Madame R) and I enjoyed your "Uniformologie" Article, and your interest following our "needle in the haystack" search for the uniform identification and the ultimate confirmation of the identity of the man in the photo.

We were hoping to fulfill a dying wish of my wife's mother to learn about and tell her anything we could learn regarding her biological father. You see, due to the reasons unknown, my wife's mother, born in 1924, in Germany, was not told who her biological father was until well after she and her family had migrated to America in the 1930s. In fact, her mother was much older when her own mother (Madame R's grandmother) finally revealed who her biological father was. It was the handsome French man in uniform, in the old photo. The photo in question was always in my wife's grandmother's box of photos that she brought with her to America. They left their family village, located near the French Border, in search of work and a new life. We believe my wife's grandmother had met this man while across the border in France in search of work(?) Growing up in the Midwest, my wife had always been told by her grandmother that the man in the photo was a special friend. Eventually, my wife was told that the man in the photo was named Jules Martin, and that her grandmother had met him while in Sarrebourg, France.

So, in the last months of my wife's mother's life we began a search in earnest to confirm the identity of Jules Martin and perhaps of his life back in France. Unfortunately, to blur our endeavor, the name "Jules Martin" is about like Robert Smith in the USA. I always believed that the path to confirm the identity of Mr. Martin was along the route of first identifying the uniform, especially since it bore officer stripes. As you explained in your "Uniformologie" our search for the uniform identification was nearly in vain, even after exhaustive internet research. As a part of the search, my goal was to get this photo out on as many sites as possible, and to get the photo showing up in Google image pages as often and as early as possible-hoping someone may see it and know the man. We knew the photo was taken in Sarrebourg, France, by the photographer's imprint on the image. We also knew that the photo had to be taken in the early 1920s. We assumed the man, Jules Martin, to be about 20-25 years in age. We also searched under the assumption he was from that Alsace-Lorraine Region. At this time we were never able to confirm his existence through any mandatory military registration records, even though we reviewed many from Classes 1918-1924, in several "Departments." Nor, could any of the historical military forums I posted in, identify the uniform or insignia. Therefore, I began launching strategic darts, by way of emails containing the photo along with an explanation to civic officials in Sarrebourg and other Alsace-Lorraine Region Communes.

Finally, I received an email from a helpful director of tourism in Sarrebourg, whom I had contacted. She had distributed it to some folks in the Community, including the President of the Organization, "les Amis du Vieux Sarrebourg", translated as the “Friends of Old Sarrebourg.” And, thus, the needle was found! Through this Group, they identified the uniform as the "band uniform" of one of the local civic associations, known as the "Bengeles." (I suspect, that perhaps the uniform was from military surplus, because I had recently found that his uniform was remarkably similar to the Saint Maixent Military Academy uniform in the early 1900s.) One of the men of the "Friends of Old Sarrebourg" showed the photo to another friend in Sarrebourg, and this man identified the man in the photo, as indeed Jules Martin (aka Julius Martin)-his grandfather! He initially offered some sketchy information that his grandfather was born in 1899, and that he was a farmer, grocer and musician. Interestingly enough, the grandson has the exact same photo that was in my wife's old family box of photos.

With much pleasure, I shared this discovery with my wife and she listened with great emotion. Sadly, her mother had passed away earlier in the summer. Before we could tell her what we had finally learned of her biological father, Jules. My wife, Madame R, gave much consideration, thought, and prayer on how to take the next step. The dilemma of making contact with the living grandson, in France; considering the possible delicate situation arising from the relationship of my wife's grandmother and Jules Martin, long ago, in France, resulting in the birth of my wife's mother. Recently, my wife did send the email with an attached letter to Jules’s grandson. A letter she spent much time composing trying to be sensitive to the reader. After many rewrites, she finally had a friend, who could write and speak in fluent French, write a translation. We have now received a reply from the grandson still living in Sarrebourg, France. Though he was quite surprised, he offered more information regarding their common biological grandfather, Jules Martin. At this time, my wife does not know where this new relationship is headed. However, should they become friends, she hopes to visit Sarrebourg and so they may better share their stories of life and family.

A Happy Ending!

Note also how generous with their time and how interested in and willing to help with French genealogy puzzles the local official and history/genealogy buffs were. We have found this to be the case very, very often. There may be the odd over-worked official fed up with genealogy requests who will send a letter of rebuff to you, but most are keen to be of help and to connect with distant cousins in far-off lands. This post tells how you may find more about each department's local history associations. This website can be used to find the address of every town hall (mairie) in France, should you wish to emulate Monsieur R and write to one.

Monsieur and Madame R, thank you so much for sharing this research journey with us. (Suggestions for how to prepare are given here.) We look forward to a report on the discovery of Sarrebourg and family there.

©2016 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy

Genealogical Research in Luxembourg - A Guest Post


Bryna O’Sullivan, the author of this post, is a US based professional genealogist and translator of French to English, specialising in U.S.-Canada, Luxembourg-American, and Connecticut genealogy, and in the translation of historic French documents. You can reach her online at For a brief period, what is now Luxembourg was a part of the French First Empire. Should you ancestors have been there, the following suggestions from Ms. O'Sullivan may help you in your research.


5 Ways Your Experience Researching French Ancestors Can Help You Find Your Family in Luxembourg

  1. France and Luxembourg used the same system for recording births, deaths, and marriages: France invaded Luxembourg in 1795 and made it part of the Department des Forets1. As a result, it fell under the Decree of 20 September 1792 and was required to keep civil registration (birth, death and marriage records).2 The system for keeping records in Luxembourg came directly from France. And even better, Luxembourg’s records have been digitized on FamilySearch at
  2. Early Luxembourg records also used the Republican Calendar. Record keeping was established under the Republican Calendar, so that calendar was used until the calendar was ended in 1805.3 Use the calendar information on to calculate the date in the modern Gregorian Calendar (
  3. The census plays the same role in Luxembourg research as it does in the French: In the U.S., we tell people to start with the census. Because it’s usually searchable, you can trace your family member over time and figure out when and perhaps where he or she was born, married, had children, and died. While Luxembourg’s census can still help you find out more about your family, it isn’t an easy starting point – because it is hasn’t been completely (or even partially) indexed. To search the census, you have to know exactly where your family was living and when. It’s sorted by location and then by year on FamilySearch at The first census enumeration is in 1843, and enumerations occur about every three years after. If you can find your family, you will get helpful hints on their family structure, occupation, marital status, and possibly date of birth.
  4. Notarial records are incredibly important: The notary doesn’t even exist in American research. The closest equivalent would be combining a recorder or clerk’s office with a probate court. The notary’s work includes everything from guardianship papers to land sales.4 Luxembourg and France both have incredible collections of notarial records. You can access Luxembourg records from 1621 to 1821, the originals of which are at the National Archives of Luxembourg, on FamilySearch at
  5. The language is (sometimes) the same: Although Luxembourg was granted independence by the Congress of Vienna in 1815 and eventually ended up in a German principality, local clerks continued to use French in record keeping. The 1843 census of Niederanven was recorded in French.


Many thanks, Ms. O’Sullivan!


Anne Morddel

French Genealogy



[1] Richard Brookes, The General Gazetter. N.p.: J. Johnson, Clarks: 1809. Now on Google Books at

[2] “What was the Decree of 20 September 1792, and why do I care?” Researching Luxembourg Genealogy ( 25 May 2016.)

[3] “The Republican Calendar,” ( accessed 25 May 2016.)

[4] “Array of Notarial Records,” The French Genealogy Blog ( accessed 25 May 2016.)

The Departmental Archives of Haute-Savoie - A Guest Post


Our good friend based in Geneva, the genealogist, Isabelle Haemmerle, who wrote here about the Archives d'Etat de Genève, the State Archives of Geneva, and about the International Museum of the Reformation, has sent us so kindly this on the Departmental Archives of Haute-Savoie:


How beautiful are our sun-bathed mountains surrounding Geneva on a lovely spring day. We have the feeling that a short 40 km drive through France to the Departmental Archives of Haute-Savoie in Annecy would be very pleasant for us and helpful to you, Dear Readers.


Bordered by Switzerland and Italy, Haute-Savoie (74) is one of the two departments with Savoie (73) which have been created after the attachment of the Savoie Duché to France in 1860 following the Turin treaty. Previously this territory was part of Maison de Savoie which ruled the Piemont-Sardaigne kingdom. King Victor Emmanuel II of Savoie gave it away to France in exchange of the support of the French emperor Napoleon III for the unification of Italy. The Savoie people were for the most in favor of the change seduced by the political and economical reforms of Napoleon III in France. From 1793 to 1814, the Savoie Duché had already been integrated with France following the Napoleanic wars and the first Empire in what is now called the first French period.

Due to this historical background, the Departmental Archives in Haute-Savoie are more recent than others in the rest of the country but offer various amazing resources such as their jewel : the Sardinian Maps (Mappes Sardes), a land register from 1728-1738.

The Archives facility is located at the entrance of the city not far from the Annecy-Nord highway exit in a very bright and modern building opened in 2000. Easy to find, and you can park for free in the private parking dedicated to visitors. For our dear friend Anne, it will be a 25 mn walk form the train station or the bus 4!

Orientated towards the magnificent Aravis mountains, the entrance gives way to the reception where you can have your visitor card issued in a few minutes with code bar. The clerk gives you a key for your locker and a little board with the same number for your seat at the tables. If you wish to take pictures, it will be proposed that you be placed closer to the high windows. Warning : before spending one day there, we would advise you to bring some snacks as the facility is not so close to shops. Drinks are for sale though.

When we first entered, we were impressed by the light and the space of the reading room. However it was very welcoming and we leisurely discovered the various displays. The Guide to the Archives of Haute-Savoie , R. Gabion, 1976 is a really useful tool and available on the spot. At the back of the room are a set of books with a focus on Genealogy in the region and on one shelf at the entrance a few guide booklets :

  • Do research in the Archives of Enregistrement
  • Do research in the land register (cadastre)
  • Do research in the Hypothèques
  • Do research on the web site
  • Visualize pictures from a code



To order a document -- three are permitted at one time (from 9am-12:15pm and 1:30pm-4:05pm) -- we found it quite simple once we had been instructed by the pleasant archivist. We used an available computer, placed our newly issued card under the bar code scanner and entered the code. After 10 to 15 minutes, a small red light lit on our table and we could pick up our order one by one at the main counter. Disappointing is the lack of WIFI access if you bring your laptop as we did. But internet access is possible on computers at our disposal.


The archives of Haute-Savoie present special series due to a few historical originalities (equally found in departments of Savoie and Alpes-Maritimes) :

  • Ancient archives : a significant amount of documents from the funds of the archives of Duché de Savoie were handed over in 1951 by the archives of State of Turin and formed the SA series (ecclesiastic funds, archives of Geneva comté (13th -14th) and Genevois apanage (15th-17th))
  • Modern archives : as the region was again part of the Piemont-Sardaigne kingdom between 1815 and 1860, the relevant archives are compiled in a special fund called the Sardinian fund (FS series)
  • Sardinian maps ( Mappes sardes) : jewel of the departmental Archives of Haute-Savoie, the famous maps represent one of the oldest cadastres of Europe as it goes back to the beginning of the 18th century when Sardinian cartography was much more advanced. Now on line -- a great job has been achieved -- it allows the searcher to find the properties of an owner in each village ( Cadastre > Utiliser le formulaire de recherche> Commune - make sure to choose the actual name and select the maps of the village you are searching), the status of the owner (bourgeois, communier, noble, forain, ecclesiastic etc.., ) which crop, etc... and you can visualize any plot on Google maps.
  • Tabellion : the tabellion of Ancien regime is on line but not the Sardinian one. Some tabellions such as St Julien en Genevois's one is at the AEG ( Archives of State of Geneva) as the records were done in Carouge which is now in canton de Genève. So you may need to go to visit Geneva !
  • On line : Etat Civil, Recensement, registres militaires, tabellion, cadastres, documents iconographiques


If you need some information about a native of Annecy in the 19th century, I would finally suggest that you have a look at the series 15 J which gathers a lot of resources about the Cotton Mill of Annecy, the main employer of the city at that time.

Departmental archives of Haute-Savoie

37bis, avenue de la Plaine

74 000 ANNECY email :

tel : 04 50 33 20 80

fax : 04 50 66 70 49


Thank you, Isabelle!

Those who wish to contact Isabelle to know more about genealogy in Haute-Savoie and Geneva may do so by writing to her at: genhaemm (AT) gmail (DOT) com. She also is an expert on the history of the Cotton Mill at Annecy and on researching its employees.

©2015 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy


Guest Post - One FGB Reader's Huguenot Research


Protestant town door



We received the following from one of our Dear Readers, Monsieur C, which describes his research on a Protestant ancestor:

First, I wanted to thank you for your lovely site! I just discovered it the other day. I've been going back and reading every single post. Even if they have nothing to do with my research, they are still a joy to read. I especially love the little flavor you add with Le Roy's descriptions of the months used during the French Republic.

Second, I wanted to thank you for helping me with a big discovery, which I'll get to momentarily. Here's a little background first. 

Last summer, I started researching my family history. My grandfather had died the previous fall, and I had been thinking frequently about him and where the Chastains had come from. His name was Peter Alexander Chastain IV. His father, grandfather, and great-grandfather were Peter Alexander Chastain the III, II, and I, respectively. Now they're all buried next to each other in the ancient dirt of the Appalachian Plateau.

Peter I was the first of my Chastain line to come to America. He traveled here in 1860 with his family. He was born in Schwabendorf, Germany in 1820. His father's name was Christian Chastain. This was all the information we had. So, knowing this much, I started doing some digging online. I soon discovered that Schwabendorf was a colony formed by Huguenot refugees from France in 1687 after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes. (Now I knew why a family with a French last name had come from Germany.)

After doing a little more research, I found the Schwabendorf site. It looked like some sort of historical society. Surely they'd be able to help me or at least point me in the right direction. I emailed them. The next day I received a reply. They could trace my family back to a Pierre Chastain, a doctor, who moved to Schwabendorf in 1717 from another Huguenot colony, Louisendorf, Germany. Well, that was easy. In just one day I had extended my family's knowledge of its origins by over a hundred years.

I purchased one of the family books that the historical society offers. It contains details of every family that lived in Schwabendorf from 1687 to 1925 (taken from church records). The book also lists where each family came from in France. Everyone had a town listed except for two families. Of course mine was one of them. Chastain - unknown. This has been a source of frustration for a while now. However, it did at least mention the province of France where the Chastain family came from—the Dauphiné. Armed with this new knowledge, I began researching Louisdendorf, Germany as well as the Dauphiné Province in France.

My research then hit a wall for a while. I realized how lucky I had been to strike gold so early in my efforts. Not knowing what else to do, I began reading every book about Huguenots I could get my greedy little hands on. I found one book titled "A History of the Huguenots of the Dispersion at the Recall of the Edict of Nantes" by Reginald Lane Poole. In it, there was a chapter about Huguenot refugees who had settled in the Hesse Province of Germany. This is where both Schwabendorf and Louisendorf reside. He mentioned that most of the families that settled in this area of Germany had passed through Switzerland first and had come from the Dauphiné Province in France, with most of these coming from the town of Die. Well, I thought. Every bit of new information should help.

Soon, I learned about the existence of the Swiss charity registers which recorded assistance given to the refugees while in Switzerland. I did some searching, but was unable to find them. In the meantime, I found a book that was extremely helpful—"Hugenotten und Waldenser in Hessen-Kassel". It's in German, but has an index of names. Chastain had several entries. From this book, I learned that Pierre Chastain was recorded as arriving in the Hesse Province of Germany in July of 1687. Now I had pushed back even further, from 1717 to 1687. But again, it only mentioned that he came from the Dauphiné Province, no specific town, and I was coming up empty researching from the other end in France.

Now I can finally get to how your blog helped me. One of your recent posts on the International Museum of the Reformation linked to a database that holds those Swiss charity registers that I've been looking for for so long. Excitedly, I navigated to the site and searched for Chastain. Nine results popped up. Three of them were for a Pierre Chastain. The province listed as his place of origin? Dauphiné. His occupation? Doctor. This all matched so far. Now to the dates. On 11/22/1686 he applied for assistance in Neuchâtel, Switerland. Two days later he applied for assistance in nearby Neuveville, Switzerland. Then in February of 1687, a few months before he was known to be in Hesse, Germany, he applied for assistance in Schaffhausen, Switzerland, right next to the German border. Each time he was closer to Germany, and the dates match with what I had already known. If you are familiar with the Huguenot trail from France to Germany, these towns in Switzerland are all on it.

I'm 99% certain that this is the very same Pierre Chastain who is currently my earliest known ancestor. And the big discovery? The assistance registers also list the home town of those applying for help. Pierre was from Vesc, France. I was beyond excited to discover this, and it's all because of your blog. I now know the exact town where my family came from in France. Thank you.

I'm now hoping to use this information to see if I can find out more and dig back further. I know that Vesc resides in the Department of Drôme so I've started doing a bit of research already.

Sorry this was so long-winded. I knew I would get carried away. I love researching and discussing my family history as I'm sure you understand. So here is my final thank you for your lovely blog and specifically for the post that led me to this wonderful discovery.


Merci ! We are very pleased that the FGB is of help and we know that Isabelle will be pleased that it was her post that guided someone to new discoveries. You can read more about Monsieur C's research on his blog.


©2015 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy


Guest Post - Research in France on a Carignan Soldier, Part 2



New! -Radio Canada has a presentation on this subject.

Gail Moreau-DesHarnais concludes her explanation of her methods in researching a Carignan soldier:


The third source I checked was Michel Langlois in both the Carignan Soldier book and his Dictionnaire. He stated that Jean Magnan was from Veyde, archbishopric of Bourges in Berry [7]. There is no such place.

I finally went to Tanguay, not a source I normally consult because of many inaccuracies. However, Tanguay was one source that remained true to what was stated in the marriage act. Jean Magnan was from Hedin, bishopric of Bourges in Berry [8]. There is no town or parish of Hedin in Cher. There is a town of Hêdin or Hesdin in the department of Pas-de-Calais. I also attempted to search those available records but again found no Magnans or Amiots. I did look at the available records for St-Amand-Montrond which did have early records. Again no Magnans or Amiots.

At this point, I started to “google” for anything that might be relevant. I found the following site: Pictures, maps, and, most important of all, the names of all the existing towns in the modern department of Cher. I looked at the list and no town even ressembling Hedin could be found. I used my imagination. I looked at all the churches listed for Bourges and found a Saint-Ursin. I tried that and again no Magnans or Amiots.

Another site that has sometimes helped in locating a department for a surname is I did put in the name of Magnan and found two towns in Cher that had families with the surname between 1891 and 1915: Oizon and Mehun-sur-Yèvre. I also put in Amiot and found many towns for that surname between 1819-1915, including Bourges, Saint-Amant-Montrond, Vesdun and Dun-sur-Arun. (This site is free.)

A second site that has been some help in past research is, a site for which you have to pay. By putting in the name of Magnan, the years 1600-1665, and l’état civil, it was indicated that there were some Magnans in the following towns: Argent-sur-Sauldre, Clémont, Genouilly and Massny. For the name of Amiot, the following towns appeared: St-Amand-Montrond, Beddes, Graçay, Aubigny-sur-Nère, Herry, Sidiailles, Brinon-sur-Sauldre, Barlieu, Thauvenay, Bourges (St –Pierre-le-Marché), and Arcomps. St-Amand-Montrond, Sidiailles and Bourges were also on the list from geopatronyme for 1891-1915.

Last of all, I checked the marriage contract by notaire Bénigne Basset dit Deslauriers, dated 9 March 1672.  This contract contained the information that Jean Magnan was the son of the deceased Pierre Magnan, a laborer, and Denise Amiot from the parish of Veyde diocese of Bourges en Berry (see the insert below) [9]. 


To date, I have found, based on sources that are somewhat reliable, four possible places for the birth/baptism of Jean Magnan dit Lespérance:

  1. Hedin – church marriage record, PRDH marriage record, and Tanguay;
  2. Dun-sur-Arun – Jetté;
  3. Vesdun – PRDH;
  4. Veyde – Langlois and marriage contract.

Based on the sounding out of the name, it is very likely that Vesdun could be the place of origin. There is no proof for this statement.

I also thought it might be good to check who else was in the Company of La Varenne to see if this would help in better identifying the place of origin for Jean Magnan dit Lespérance. The list below is from Langlois Carignan, p. 183 [10]. I have added the “places of origin” and the sources. Based on the material below, it is evident that in one way or another the men were, for the most part, from the departments of Cher and Allier. See the map at the end for a more concrete concept of the places of origin claimed by the soldiers in La Varenne Company.

Captain: Roger Bonneau de la Varenne – baptized 11 January 1636 in Cérilly in Bourbonnais, (department of Allier) [Langlois Carignan, p. 237].

Lieuntenant: Robert Des Granges [Langlois Carignan, p. 297].

Antoine Barrois,* surgeon –

  1. circa 1641, St-Nicolas-du-Château, city and archbisophric of Bourges, Berry (arrondissement, Bourges, Cher) [PRDH Individual #7518 (based on marriage act)];
  2. circa 1640, St. Vincent, Chantelle in Allier [Fichierorigine #430033, researched by Jean Marie Germe, accessed 27 October 2014 (Other siblings were baptized there between 1632 and 1643.)].

Detroit and Kaskaskia Connection: (1) son Philippe Barrois was buried 19 February 1722 in Kaskaskia [Jetté, p. 53]; (2) Wife Anne Leber married Jean Baptiste Lotman dit Albrin circa 1689 in Nouvelle-Hollande. Their son Jean Baptiste Lootman married Marie Madeleine Cardinal, daughter of Jacques Cardinal and Louise Arrivé, 30 March 1717, in Montréal, and François Lootman married Marie Anne Sauvage, daughter of Jacques Sauvage and Marie Catherine Jean dite Vien, 31 May 1717, in Montréal [Jetté, p. 744]. The family of Jean Baptiste Lootman moved to Kaskaskia and was known by the surname of Barrois [Marthe Faribault- Beauregard, La population des forts français d’Amérique (XVIIIe siècle) Tome II (Montréal:Éditions Bergeron, 1984).  The family of François Lootman moved to Détroit and were known by the surname of Lotteman (sic) dit Barrois and finally just Barois/Barrois.  Royal Notary Robert Navarre married Marie Barrois 10 February 1734; Pierre Chesne dit Labutte married Louise Barois 2 January 1736; Jean Baptiste Cuillerier dit Beaubien married Marie Anne Barrois 20 January 1742; Pierre Laurent St. Cosme married Catherine Barrois 25 January 1747; François Barois married Catherine Cécire 9 January 1758; Jean Baptiste Réaume married Agathe Barois 11 December 1763 [Sharon Kelley, ed., Marriage Records Ste. Anne Church Detroit 1701-1850 (Detroit:Detroit Society for Genealogical Research, Inc., 2001)].

Jean Beaune dit Lafranchise* –

  1. St-Claude de Bellenaves diocese of Bourges [marriage act 1667];
  2. St-Claude de Bellenaves, archbishopric of Bourges, Bourbonnais (arrondissement of Montluçon, Allier) [PRDH Individual #6959]. [I did search online in the department of Allier in the town of Bellenaves and found no Beaunes or any variation of that name.]

Connection to Detroit: Son Albert Bosne (Beaune) Lafranchise was hired 28 July 1704 to go to Détroit. Étienne Bosne (probably son Antoine François) was hired at the same time. Daughter Marie Anne Beaune was hired 18 April 1707 as a servant to the Cadillacs; she married Martin Cirier dit Argenteuil 12 June 1710 in Détroit [Jetté, pp. 257, 744].

Charles de Boussiny Montéro – Bourges [Langlois Carignan, p. 242].


Antoine Chaudillon* [11] – started out in the Company of LaVarenne and then was put in the Company of Saurel.

  1. parish of St-Martin, Ygrande, archbishopric of Bourges, Bourbonnais (arrondissement of Moulins, Allier) [PRDH Individual #13259];
  2. Baptism 16 July 1641, St-Martin, Ygrande, Allier [Fichierorigine #430013, researched by Marie Gagné, accessed 27 October 2014, numerisé].

Detroit Connection: daughter Marie Louise Chaudillon married Jean Baptiste Gouriou dit Guignolet, a sergeant in the Company of Blainville, 2 June 1701, Lachine. The couple was in Détroit by 26 April 1708 when their son Antoine was baptized in the church of Fort Pontchartrain [Jetté, p. 521]. Daughter Charlotte Chaudillon married Jean Barthe dit Belleville et Larivière, a soldier, 8 July 1707, Varennes. The family was in Détroit by 24 October 1709 when their daughter Marie Charlotte was baptized in the church of Fort Pontchartrain [Jetté, p. 53].

Jacques Demoulin*

Charles DesMaignoux, sieur de Laleu – bishopric of Bourges en Berry [Langlois Carignan, p. 298].

Jean Duceau dit Baron* – Cenneville en Bourbonnais [Langlois Carignan, p. 306]. No town with this name can be found.

Claude Duparc, killed in 1666 by the Iroquois [Langlois Carignan, p. 316].

Jean Fagueret dit Petitbois* [Langlois Carignan, p. 325].

Mathieu Faye dit Lafayette* – St-Jean-d’Aubrigoux, arrondissement of LePuy, bishopric of Clermont, Auvergne, department of Haute-Loire [Jetté, p. 415].

Detroit connection: daughter Élisabeth Faye married Pierre Cosme/Côme dit Saint-Cosme [and dit Lajeunesse] 22 November 1717 in Laprairie [Jetté, p. 272]. Pierre Come dit Lajeunesse bought a house on rue St. Joachim in Fort Pontchartrain from Jean Ferland dit Deloriers on 22 March 1709. Their son Pierre Laurent St. Cosme married Catherine Barrois 25 January 1747 in Détroit [see above under Antoine Barrois].

Jean Fouché – Jemausac en Saintonge [Langlois Carignan, p. 338].

Gabriel Fournier dit Laverdure* [Langlois Carignan, p. 339].

Claude Galoppe, surgeon [Langlois Carignan, p. 342].

Gilbert Genin dit Lamontagne* – diocese of Bourges en Berry [Langlois Carignan, p. 349]. [ ( a paid site) – act of birth, Sancoins, Cher, 8 January 1643, Gilbert Genin, son of Philippe Genin and Catherine Despilliers. Act #106700046796113178, from the Cercle Généalogique du Haut-Berry. The parish registers are not available online from the departmental archives of Cher to verify this act.]

Antoine Juchereau dit Sallebrune* – parish of St-Etienne, Bourges en Berry (Cher) [Langlois Carignan, p. 370].

Lafontaine [Langlois Carignan, p. 373].

Laforest [Langlois Carignan, p. 374].

Levau, killed in 1666 by the Iroquois [Langlois Carignan, p. 386].

Antoine Legros dit Laviolette* –

  1. St-François-de-Bourbon-les-Bains, bishopric of Bourges en Berry [Langlois Carignan, p. 390];
  2. parish of St-François, city of Bourbon-les-Bains, archbishopric of Bourges [marriage act in Québec 9 September 1670];
  3. St-François-de-Bourbonne-les-Bains, arrondissement and bishopric of Langres, Champagne, department of Haute-Marne [Jetté, p. 531];
  4. St-François, city of Bourbon (today Bourbon-l’Archambault), bishopric of Bourges, Bourbonnais (arrondissement of Moulins, Allier) [PRDH Individual #32261]. Neither Bourbon-l’Archambault nor Bourbonne-les-Bains has a parish of St-François. On searching the parish of Bourbon-l’Archambault, Allier, online for the years 1639-1640 no Gros/Legros families were found. The parish records for Bourbonne-les-Bains, Haute-Marne, do not go back as far as 1640. Thus, to date, it is not possible to determine the orgin of Antoine Gros/Legros dit Laviolette.

Detroit Connection: Son Nicolas Gros/Legros was hired to go to Détroit 5 May 1705 [Jetté, p. 531]; On 6 September 1708, son Jean Baptiste Gros/Legros dit Laviolette was hired by Barbe Loisel, wife of Louis Le Gantier, sieur de LaVallée et de Rané, to go to Fort Pontchartrain [Antoine Adhémar, FHL microfilm #1613461, image #00595].

Jean Magnan dit Lespérance* the subject of this paper.

Detroit Connection: On 9 October 1700, his widow Marie Moitié married Pierre Chesne dit Saint- Onge who received land in Détroit in 1707. His daughter Louise Magnan married Jean Baptiste Giguière who was hired to go to Détroit on 27 June 1701 [Jetté, p. 496]. Son Jean Antoine Magnan dit Lespérance was hired 26 September 1702 to go to Détroit [Jetté, p. 751]. He married Louise Lecomte 19 March 1718 in Montréal. Their daughter Marie Anne Magnan married François Marie Picoté de Belestre, 29 January 1753, in Montréal [PRDH Union #12798]. François Marie Picoté de Belestre was the last French commandant of Détroit. [12]

Louis Marie dit Sainte-Marie* – St-Symphorien, city and archbishopric of Tours, Touraine, department of Indre-et-Loire [Langlois Carignan, p. 404, Jetté, p. 770; PRDH Individual #53939].

Detroit connection: Son François Marie dit Sainte-Marie was hired 30 May 1705 to go to Détroit [Jetté, p. 770].

Jean Morieau dit Jolicoeur* [Langlois Carignan, p. 418].

Antoine Pigean [Langlois Carignan, p. 436].

François Poisson – Neuvy en Nievernois [Langlois Carignan, p. 439].

Guillaume Richard dit Lafleur* – St-Léger, bishopric of Saintes en Saintonge, department of Charente- Maritime [Langlois Carignan, p. 452; PRDH Individual #65561]. [The parish registers begin mid- 1642.]

Detroit Connection: Son Pierre Richard was hired to go to Détroit in the first convoy that arrived 24 July 1701. Son Guillaume Richard was hired to go to Détroit on 16 July 1702 [Jetté, p. 982]. Son Jean Richard was in Détroit by 10 March 1707 when he received a site of land within Fort Pontchartain. On 9 April 1707 son Claude Richard was given permission to go to Fort Pontchrain to transport merchandise to Étienne Veniard de Bourgmont and to also help his brother Jean Richard who had been wounded there [Antoine Adhémar, FHL microfilm #1613460, image #02234].

Pierre Rivière dit Larivière* – Les Sables-d’Olonne, bishopric of Luçon in Poitou, department of Vendée [Langlois Carignan, p. 453; PRDH Individual #68052].

Gilbert Roux, cadet [Langlois Carignan, p. 457].

Saint-Denis de Besne [Langlois Carignan, p. 460].

François Saluer de Montlieu [Langlois Carignan, p. 465].

Charles Taillandier, sieur de La Brosse – Varigny en Nivernais [Langlois Carignan, p. 477].


Map 1



Map 2

Source: Click on Carte du department de l’Allier.


Map 3

Source: Vesdun is slightly to the right and down from Culan, bottom of map.


Map 4


Thank you so very much, Gail! This is both a guide and an inspiration.

©2015 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy




[7] Langlois Carignan, 401; Langlois Dictionnaire, 336.

[8] Tanguay, 402.

[9] Family History Library, notary Bénigne Basset, microfilm #1419845.

[10] PRDH List of immigrants #402524 for the members of the Company of Varenne, Regiment of Carignan.  Not all of the names, as indicated in Langlois Carignan, 183, are enumerated on this list.  The only individual identified with a surname, not a dit name, is Barrois.  An asterisk after the names above and on the next page indicates they were also on the PRDH list.

[11] Also, enumerated on the Saurel list, PRDH List of Immigrants #402526.

[12] Article by Pierre Tousignan and Madeleine Dionne Tousignant, accessed 2 November 2014.

Guest Post - Research in France on a Carignan Soldier, Part 1




For quite a few years, now, we have regularly received interesting correspondence from one of our Dear Readers, the excellent genealogist and researcher, Gail Moreau-DesHarnais. She is an expert on the genealogy of the early French residents of Detroit and has kindly agreed to the posting here of her detailed presentation on the research of a specific Carignan soldier. We hope that the procedures she describes may provide ideas that will be of help to you.

After determining whether an individual is/was indeed a Carignan soldier or not [1], then check the following resources below in footnote no.2 for a possible location of birth/baptism in France [2]. I chose Jean Magnan dit Lespérance for two reasons:

  1. A connection to the beginning of Détroit 1701-1710;
  2. No one else has found anything about his birth/baptism in France.

Jean Magnan dit Lespérance arrived in Québec on 12 September 1665 on board the ship le Saint-Sébastien as a soldier in the Company of Captain La Varenne [3]. He married Marie Moitié on 9 March 1672 in Montréal. Their marriage act is below. It is indicated that Jean Magnan was the son of Pierre Magnan and Denise Amiot from the parish of Hedin bishopric of Bourges en Berry. I then went to Fichier Origine to see if any work had been done on Jean Magnan [4]. There were three men with the surname of Magnan but no connection and nothing on Jean Magnan dit Lespérance. I decided to see if Jetté had any more information. Jetté indicated that Jean Magnan was from Dun-sur-Auron, arrondissement (district) of St-Amand-Mont-Rond, archbishopric of Bourges, Berry. It is in the modern department of Cher [5].




The next step was to go online to This is the site of WikiGenWeb and Archives en ligne.

  • On the right, click on Archives du Cher en ligne.
  • Then click on “archives en ligne.”
  • Then under archives numérisées, click on registres paroissiaux et état civil. You will have to set up an account (free) by putting in your e-mail address and chosing a pass word.
  • Then under archives numérisées, click on registres paroissiaux et état civil.
  • The term commune will appear , then click on the symbol that represents a list of the communities. Put in Dun-sur-Auron, baptême, and the years 1635-1644. It will bring up the following:


Avant 1793, la commune de Dun-sur-Auron s'appelait Dun-le-Roi, nom qu'elle reprendra sous la Restauration. Par décret de 1880 elle prendra définitivement le nom de Dun-sur Auron. Par ordonnance du 4 décembre 1822, la commune de Cuzay-Sainte-Radegonde est supprimée et son territoire rattaché à la commune de Dun-sur-Auron.

Communes liées: 

  • Cuzay-Sainte-Radegonde  - Par ordonnance du 4 décembre 1822, la commune de Cuzay-Sainte-Radegonde est supprimée et son territoire rattaché à la commune de Dun-sur-Auron. Autre nom : Cuzay-Radegonde (Révolution)
  • Dun-le-Roi - Avant 1793, la commune de Dun-sur-Auron s'appelait Dun-le-Roi, nom qu'elle reprendra sous la Restauration. Par décret de 1880 elle prendra définitivement le nom de Dun-sur Auron.

I went through all the baptisms from 1635 to 1641 which should have covered the period Jean Magnan would have been born. The only age given for him is age 41 in the 1681 census. I found nothing. Also, of importance, I found no Amiots or Magnans.

I then went to PRDH to see what their interpretation of his place of birth/baptism was. Two pieces of information are given:

  1. The accurate recording of the place of origin of Hedin as stated in the marriage act;
  2. Jean Magnan dit Lespérance’s birth about 1640 in Vesdun, archbishopric of Bourges, Berry (arrondissement of St-Amand-montrond, Cher) [6]. I then went back to the Cher Archives online, going through the same steps as above, and went to the town of Vesdun. The earliest records online, unfortunately, are for 1676-1677, 1680-1681. I went through all the records for 1676, 1677, which included baptisms, marriages and burials. I found no Magnans but did find in July 1677 a Catherine Amyot, daughter of the deceased Mathieu Amyot and Anne Bagy from the near-by parish of Culan, marrying Pierre Orlaut (sic) from the parish of Vesdun. I then checked the parish register for Culan and did find some Amyots there but no Magnans.


(To Be Continued)


Read the comments to this post here.


[1] The best source for accuracy about the identity of Carignan soldiers is Michel Langlois, Carignan-Salières 1665-1668 (Drummondville: La Maison des Ancêtres, 2004), 336, 337. [Hereafter, Langlois Carignan.]

[2] (1)  René Jetté, Dictionnaire généalogique des familles du Québec des origines à 1730 (Montréal: Les Presses de l’Université de Montréal, 1983); (2) www.genealogie.umontré (PRDH) – a paid site; (3) Michel Langlois, Dictionnaire biographique des ancêtres québécois (1608-1700) Tome 3, lettres J à M (Sillery: La Maison des Ancêtres, 2000) [Hereafter, Langlois Dictionnaire.]; (4) L’Abbé Cyprien Tanguay, Dictionnaire généaloqique des familles canadiennes depuis la fondation de la colonie jusqu’à nos jours, Premier Volume depuis 1608 jusqu’à 1700 (Province de Québec: Eusèbe Sénécal, imprimeur-éditeur, MDCCCLXXI) – Facsimilie Reprint Edition 1996 by Quintin Publications.

[3] Langlois Carignan, 401.

[4]  This is a good site to determine the possible place of birth / baptism of an individual in France.  If a date and place are stated but no record is shown (numérisé), it is always wise to see if you can find that record and verify it.

[5] Jetté, 751.

[6] PRDH #47373, marriage, #52779, Individual, accessed 25 October 2014.

©2015 Anne Morddel 

French Genealogy

Archives d'Etat de Genève - A Guest Post


Our good friend, the genealogist, Isabelle Haemmerle, has been doing more work in Geneva and sends this on the Archives d'Etat de Genève, the State Archives of Geneva:

Remember, we met a few weeks ago in the old town of Geneva while visiting the International Museum of the Reformation on rue du Cloître. From this point, our steps take us today around the historical Cathedral Saint Pierre, a regional landmark, then past the Jet d'eau, and we follow rue de la Taconnerie and turn right entering rue de l'Hôtel de Ville. At the corner with rue du Puit Saint Pierre, we arrive at the ancient Arsenal where its five canons proudly stand in memory of Geneva's fortifications - and we enthusiastically climb the stairs to the Archives d'Etat de Geneve (AEG) where are to be found the Archives of the Republic and Canton of Geneva.


The access to the consultation room is easy : while we are supposed to leave our belongings outside in the corridor, there is no control and we are pleasantly welcomed by the archivist in a cosy room full of history and not only that in the archive documents. We fill a form with a few details about our search subject and title and here we are, ready to order the registers we need and guided by a helpful archivist.

Before starting a search, it is wise to check the file of all the family names - available online - studied in :

  • The seven volumes of Notices généalogiques sur les familles genevoises by J.A. GALIFFE
  • The three volumes dedicated to Geneva in Recueil généalogique suisse, les Généalogies genevoises by A. CHOISY
  • Les Filiations protestantes by E. BUNGENER.

Manuscript genealogies – not always reliable! - are to be traced in the Fichier des Manuscrits historiques.

Very helpful also is to check the website of Swiss family names, which lists the families who held in 1962 citizenship of a Swiss commune (village, town or city). It gives for each family name the following information:

  • The commune of origin and if a member of the bourgeoisie
  • The date of bourgoisie acquisition
  • The previous place of origin ( France or other location, ex. NE for Neuchatel)

Place of origin is important in Switzerland. Even today, it is not unusual for every administrative form to ask for the person's origin, even for Swiss people. This focus on origin in documentation can help the genealogist.

A Swiss person is a bourgeois of a commune and canton (state) before being a Swiss citizen. (Read an explanation of the bourgeois status as it was applied in Paris here.) This right is transmitted by heritage and a Geneva inhabitant whose ancestors have been in Geneva for generations can still hold his origin from another commune (in Argovie or Apenzell, for example) even though his family has not been living there for a century. The Registre des Familles of this commune will indicate the birth of his children without the parent or children ever having touched its soil. Some families have more than one communes d'origine.

For Geneva genealogy, an interesting tool, the Registre unique de tous les citoyens, constitutes the basis of the citizenship rights for all families installed in Geneva (in both the city and the surrounding area) (Bourgeoisie A 15, available on line). The Genevian revolution of 1792 abolished all differences between citizens, bourgeois, natives, inhabitants of the city and subjects of the country and all categories were given full  citizenship in Geneva, provided that they were born of a Protestant father. Following the constitution of 1794, old and new citizens were to be registered in the Registre Unique which replaces the older livres de bourgeoisie and livres d'habitation.

Our discovery of AEG has only just started and you shall know more very soon about the resources available:

Birth or baptism, marriage, and death or burial records:

  • Registres des paroisses ( mid-sixteenth to eighteenth centuries) 
  • Registres d'état civil ( nineteenth and twentieth centuries) 

These registers have been digitized and are available up to the year 1885 on the AEG Adhemar database

  • Registre des familles 
  • Répertoires 
  • Communes Réunies

Further resources :

  • Notaires (contracts and other family legal documents)
  • Juridictions Civiles (civil judgements)
  • Consistoire, Compagnie de pasteurs (Protestant church records)
  • Titres et droits (Titles and the rights to use them)
  • Cadastre, registre foncier (Land records)
  • Recensements (Census records)
  • Passeports (Passport applications)
  • Etrangers (Records concerning the monitoring and registration of foreigners)
  • Bourgeoisie, Naturalisations (Citizenship rights records)
  • Militaire (Military conscription records)
  • Archives privées (Private archives)

Archives d'Etat de Genève

Rue de l'Hôtel-de-Ville 1

Case postale 3964

CH-1211 Genève 3

Tel. +41 22 327 93 20 - fax +41 22 3279321


Thank you again, Isabelle!

Those who wish to contact Isabelle to know more about genealogy in Geneva may do so by writing to her at: genhaemm (AT) gmail (DOT) com

©2014 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy

International Museum of the Reformation in Geneva - A Guest Post



Our good friend, the genealogist, Isabelle Haemmerle, sends this from Geneva:

The first Sunday of October, the last warm day enjoyable for strolling along Lake Leman. Taking the direction the old town – la Vieille Ville – while climbing the hill, we gradually walk back to the past though a maze of narrow, cobble-stoned streets in the heart of international Geneva, a city right in the center of old Europe.

Our steps take us to the Musée international de la Réforme (MIR) created in 2005 in the famous Villa Mallet built in the 18th century on the remains of the cloister where the city-republic of Geneva adopted the Reformation in 1536. The MIR is part of the Espace St Pierre which also includes the cathedral and the archaeological site. It presents the history of the Reformation up to nowadays and describes the role of Martin Luther, Jean Calvin and other Reformers through classic or high tech resources.

In the magnificent room number 4, the Salon, we comfortably watched a 15-minute multimedia show about the main aspects of the Reformation and then attended the "virtual banquet" -- where the question  of predestination was discussed -- in room number 8, the Dining Room, before enjoying some samples of Huguenot psalms in the Music Room.

During the period 1541-1590, a first wave of Protestant refugees who were persecuted in Catholic France found in Geneva a shelter and within ten years the population doubled to 5000 refugees. Among them came many talented craftsmen – printers, clock-makers goldsmiths and textile industrialists who introduced their skills, allowing the town to flourish and become a famed cultural and economic center. Some prominent French refugees were awarded the townsman's rights. By the end of the 16th century, the French Protestants were called the Huguenots in relation to the German word Eidgenosse, meaning Confederates as in "a citizen of one of the states of the Swiss Confederacy".

The second wave of mass exodus took place upon the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685 when the flow of refugees running away from France through Switzerland came to the incredible figure of about 140,000 between 1680 and 1770. Up to 350 people per day entered Geneva in the year 1687. Most of them were from the Dauphiné, Cévennes and Languedoc regions of southern France. But the City of Calvin, surrounded by the possessions of the King of France and the Duke de Savoie would not offer a safe haven for long. Louis XIV obliged Geneva to limit the number of refugees and few were given citizenship as the number of emigrants was huge.

So the Huguenots would move to host countries known as the countries of « Refuge » : other Swiss cantons, United Provinces (Holland), Denmark and Germany. Some (and this is where you, my dear readers, will see light after my tedious history class)  will go further away to the United States or South Africa. An organisation supported the refugees in Geneva and the Vaud region by gathering funds for assistance or aid. You will be pleased to learn that it is possible to consult the Registres d'assistance (Aid Register) for Geneva on the website of the Refuge Huguenot Database :

  • assistance in Geneva in 1684
  • assistance in Geneva in 1685
  • assistance in Geneva in 1686
  • assistance in Geneva in 1687-1688

Should you be able to visit Geneva and the MIR, you can add to your agenda with a walk in your Protestant refugee ancestors' footsteps : on October 11, the association  In the steps of the Huguenots  will inaugurate the 78 km second stage of the Sentier des Huguenots along the Jura, from Romainmôtier to Yverdon. The final route will take you from Geneva to Schaffhouse.

For further reading, we suggest:

  • La Suisse et le Refuge, accueil et passage. La Table Ronde, Marseille, 1985
  • Fatio, Olivier, editor. Genève au temps de la révocation de l’édit de Nantes (1680-1705). Champion, Paris, 1985
  • Ducommun,  Marie-Jeanne and Dominique Quadroni. Le refuge protestant dans le Pays de Vaud (Fin XVIIe - début XVIIIe). Aspects d'une migration.


Musée International de la Réforme (MIR)

4, rue du Cloître (cour Saint-Pierre), 

Open Tuesday to Sunday
   from 10am to 5pm

Tél. 022 310 24 31


Thank you, Isabelle!

Those who wish to contact Isabelle to know more about genealogy in Geneva may do so by writing to her at: genhaemm (AT) gmail (DOT) com