At 30, Laura discovered a real family secret later in life thanks to her grandfather’s sudden passion for genealogy. A search for her origins which made her discover a dark affair of disinheritance, but also the history of his family until the Middle Ages. “My grandfather’s father had a sister with Down’s syndrome, they were only two children. Pied-noir, he settled in the Tarn-et-Garonne on his return from Algeria. He then recovered his wife’s property with the land and they stayed there all their lives, ”says the young woman. She confides that this great-great-grandfather was “a prominent doctor with an oversized ego”.
As he got older, he demanded that his grandson come and live with him in his small village in Tarn-et-Garonne. “At the time, my great-grandfather, who was around 50, had gone to work in Bordeaux and he gave him an ultimatum. He said to her: ‘You are coming back to live with us to take care of us. Your children will be educated here on site’”.
This blackmail story was recently revealed by Laura’s grandfather, Pierre, who was looking for information about his family through genealogy. He entrusted this secret inheritance story to his granddaughter. “My great-grandfather refused at the time to return to Tarn-et-Garonne because he could not with his children educated in specialized establishments. This great-great-grandfather wanted to manage everything in the lives of his children and grandchildren. He said: ‘You will put your first daughter in the fields and the other in the accounting of the estate’. Except that his children were studying and they had other plans. So he refused and that was the tragedy. My great-grandfather was stripped of all property and when they died they bequeathed the estate to neighboring farmers and were buried on the property,” says Laura.
This property is also not very far from the family home that the young woman’s family owns today. “My great-grandfather, when he was disinherited, built a house in the same commune because the only thing his father had bequeathed to him was the house library, but on the only condition that he build a house in the same municipality. So he did it and it was this house that came back to our family,” says Laura.
A family conflict that could have remained unknown to everyone without the genealogical research of Laura’s grandfather. “However, it was many years later while doing genealogical research on our family that my grandfather discovered that his father had been disinherited. His father was so broken by it that he never talked about it, but he always saw his father and my grandfather saw his grandfather. He also has a rather terrified memory of this grandfather because he was a bit tyrannical. The grandchildren even went to this property from which they had been robbed,” notes Laura. A discovery that brought the whole family back to the region. “After discovering that, he went back there and we went to see the graves since my great-great-grandfather and great-great-grandmother are buried there in the park”, confides the young journalist to us.
Her grandfather’s genealogical research work took Laura back to the Middle Ages on the trail of her family’s lineage. “After this discovery, my grandfather traced the whole genealogy of our family back to the Middle Ages and we discovered that we had been established in this small village in Tarn-et-Garonne since the 1600s, in the 17th century. In the document that my grandfather sent to us, there is everything. He had researched deeds and visited area cemeteries to see death dates. It was there that he discovered that he had a family in the 17th century named after us where the family members all died within a day of each other. A baby died of illness and two days later his father died of sadness and one day later the mother followed them. There remained just one son who perpetuated the lineage. There were lots of little stories like that, estrangements, marriage stories”, reveals Laura.
The genealogy impressed him with its accuracy so many years after the fact. “It’s actually pretty crazy how much information you can get from genealogy. Today I think that we can obtain their trades, where the people were established, what were the relations between them thanks to the documents, but also to the transmission by reconnecting with distant branches of his family. This is what my aunt did in the continuity of her father’s work, my grandfather, by reconnecting with distant relatives. In particular, she learned that we would descend from Spain and Italy and that there was a lot of inbreeding in the family”.
Laura has also decided to go in search of the secrets of her family, but this time on the maternal side. “In fact it made me want to look myself up but on my mother’s side this time. I find it nice to discover its origins”, she concludes. Having become one of the favorite activities of the French, genealogy affects all generations and allows everyone to dive into the history of their ancestors. Sometimes seen as a pastime reserved for seniors, it is attracting more and more young people since, as Le Figar o reports, two-thirds of people under 35 have already undertaken genealogical research.