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On 18 Dec 1819, Jules Pinson de Valpinçon, the 1st cousin and namesake of my great-grandfather Jules de Launay, married Adrienne Biennais at Église Saint Roch in Paris. Adrienne’s father, Martin Guillaume Biennais, created the 1804 crown jewels for Napoleon Bonaparte which are now on display at the Louvre.

Both of these Jules were 2nd cousins of the father of the French Impressionist artist, Gustave Caillebotte. In 1860, Gustave’s father, Martial Caillebotte, purchased property at Yerres for 134,000 francs plus about 9,000 in fees, from the Biennais Estate. This property is where Gustave did many of his paintings. So it was quite literally a sale between cousins.

Adrienne Adelaide Biennais – Madame Jules Valpincon. Grave is locate near the Caillebotte tomb in Pere Lachaise cemetery.

Source: http://www.MyFamilyJules.com.


Written on my iPhone. Please forgive any errors.

We arrived in Paris from Nice, France after a 10-Hour drive to spend Thursday night with Valpinçon descendants. Departing Friday morning at 10am we stopped by Notre Dame to pick up copies of Valpinçon and Caillebotte family records which I had arranged to have ready and waiting for us.

Afterwards, we stopped by another church in the 1st Arrondissement where I had previously discovered Caillebotte and Féron baptism records. It was nearly noon on the day before Bastille Day, and the church was about to close, but I was able to find a very busy Veronique, the church secretary who had helped me before, who remembered me from my visit this past May, and was quite happy to help me again.

With Baptism dates in hand, we found finally found evidence of Veronique PINSON de VALPINÇON, the sister of Gabriel, Jacques, Anne (grandmother of Alfred Caillebotte), Victor, Augustin René (grandfather of Paul de Valpinçon who was the friend of Degas), Marie (my 2nd great-grandmother), Adelaide, and Jean Baptiste.

In a few hours the current owners of the Chateau Menil-Hubert will give us a private tour of the family chateau where Edgar Degas kept a studio. This chateau first purchased by Augustin Renè PINSON DE VALPINÇON on 31 Dec 1822 from Dame Marguerite Charlotte Fanny de LA PALLU for 315,560 francs. The current value is estimated around €10 million.


It’s funny what you come across, when you aren’t even looking.  Yesterday, while visiting the Throne Room in the Palace of Prince Albert II, the reigning Sovereign Prince of Monaco (Albert Alexandre Louis Pierre Grimaldi), I happened to notice a painting of of his great-grandfather, Prince Albert I, hanging to the left of the throne.

1894 painting of Prince Albert I, by Léon Bonnat, shown to the left of the Palace throne.

The 1894 painting of Prince Albert I is by Léon Bonnat.  Bonnat was not only a teacher of my grandfather, Paul de Launay (a Valpinçon descendant through his paternal grandmother, Marie de Valpinçon)  while he was at the Luxembourg, but was a teacher of his cousin Gustave Caillebotte as well.  Paul de Valpinçon was a cousin of both Caillebotte and de Launay.  Paul de Valpinçon’s lifelong friend, Edgar Degas, was also a student of Bonnat.  Paul de Valpinçon and Gustave Caillebotte died in 1894, the same year as this painting.


Gustave Caillebotte as a child. (L) 1849, (R) 1853.

Gustave Caillebotte as a child.
(L) 1849, (R) 1853.

Although this is, and always will be, the primary site for original content distributed by My Family Jules, we are expanding to also include a micro-blogging page (short snippets) on Tumblr.com

, because of the large number of Caillebotte fans that are blogging and re-blogging posts about our cousin, Gustave Caillebotte.  By doing so, we hope to reach more fans, to share with them the not-so-public and private information about the life and family connections of Gustave that made him such a unique figure in French art history.

Follow our Tumblr blog at http://www.CaillebotteFamily.com .

Also please take a moment to LIKE a new page on Facebook, the Friends of Caillebotte, a new group that has hopes of helping to fund the restoration of former properties owned or occupied by Gustave Caillebotte that have fallen on hard times and are beginning to show major problems, such at the property in Yerres.  You can find the Friends of Caillebotte at http://www.facebook.com/CaillebotteSociety.


1848 – 1894, LA VALLÉE DE L’YERRES, Signed “G. Caillebotte”, and dated 77 (lowerᅠ right).  Pastel on paperᅠlaid down on board 22 7/8 by 28 1/2 in. 58.1 by 72.4 cm Executed in 1877.

The auction is to be held on May 2, 2012 at 7:00 pm in New York, and is estimated at $1 – 1.5 million.

Visit listing on Sotheby’s.

Chance Encounters.


Gaston de Launay (ca. 1904-1906), when he was a Canadian Husser

My grandfather, Paul de Launay, who was born in Paris on 19 Oct 1878, married his first wife, Florence Grace Hensley (born 12 Nov 1866), 12 years his elder in Williamsburg, Virginia.  Paul was 24 years old.  His new bride was 36, a “cougar” by modern standards.

One night last year, as I was boarding a flight to Paris, I met a woman with the same uncommon last name as the one I was researching – “Hensley”, that of my step-grandmother, and then sat on a plane next to a Frenchman who gave me info on how to research my grand uncle Gaston de Launay’s French military record, even volunteering to check on the existence of the records himself.

So, as I checked in at the gate that night, I happened to notice that the agent’s last name was “Hensley”, which was coincidental since I was presently researching that same name, so it happened to be very fresh on my mind.

Married to my grandfather, Paul de Launay, on 20 June 1903 at the Bruton Episcopal Church in Williamsburg, Virginia,  Florence Grace Hensley died suddenly on 3 Jan 1907 due to breast cancer.  My grandfather, for some reason, kept this marriage to her a secret as best he could, and would always refer to her, as “My dear Aunt Flo”.

My grandmother, born Mabel Ray Beasley, was Paul’s third wife, and never learn of Paul’s marriage to Flo until after Paul’s death in 1951.  It became her obsession, and later mine, to learn as much about her as possible, and why Paul grieved for Flo for so long.  Though we’ve found many answers, we still have not found a photo of her.  It doesn’t look good, but I will continue to hold out hope that one day we’ll get to see the face that Paul loved so many years ago.

Steam Ship Haverford

SS Haverford

On the 1901 English Census in the Saint Lawrence Parish of Jersey Channel Island, I had found Florence Grace Hensley living with her brother Philip.  On 19 Nov 1902, Florence boarded the SS (for Steam Ship) Haverford, then an American Line in Liverpool, with her 49 year old sister, Emily Marianne Hensley, their 10-year old nephew Charles E. Bishop, and another unknown boy, Lionel W. Roberts.  Emily answered ‘yes’ to having been in the United States before.  Florence’s answer is unreadable regarding this.  All four stated there destination was to their sister and brother-in-law, Alice Mary (Hensley) and husband Charles Edward Bishop in Sandybrook, Williamsburg, Virginia.  The Haverford arrived in Philadelphia on 1 December 1902.

Finding this and other definitive clues, we connected with the descendants of Flo’s sisters, and other English cousins in the U.K., so there’s a slight feeling of connection to her.  Paul de Launay painted a nude, red-haired woman facing away from the artist.  Although there is no proof, as yet, we think this may have been Paul’s Flo.  There are other unnamed female Hensley faces in a photo album that Paul kept until his death.  It’s possible that her’s in among them.

During my conversation with the gate agent, I had asked her if she knew if she had any English relatives several generations back.  She indicated she did, and that they had settled in the Virginia area.  This was the same area I was looking for other Hensley’s.  She told me that the name was rather uncommon here in the States.  So I took her email with a promise to follow up, and I’ll do the same on this story, as new information is discovered.

Until then, I will continue to look for the face of Florence Grace (nee Hensley) de Launay, my Late step-grandmother.


For those of you that remember that today is Pearl Harbor Day, I’ll give you another reason to remember something else that happened on this day in history.

Today, December 7th, in 1813, our ancestor, Professor Jules Gabriel Gaston Zoé de Launay was born to his parents, Jacques de Launay and Marie PINSON de Valpinçon. They resided at what is now No. 8, rue des Francs-Boureois, Paris, along a street that divides the 3rd and 4th Arondissements. Jacques parents lived just around the corner on rue du Foin, and this is were Jules’ uncle Jean de Launay died on 23 Dec 1816. I have begun to create a map on Google that will show you all of the family related places in Paris.

These three locations are the first. You can find the map here: http://g.co/maps/fkwr4, this way, if anyone ever goes to Paris and wants to do the family tour, you will have it all mapped out for you.

Eventually I’ll create a legend that will go with each location that will give more details than the limited space I’m given on Google maps. The map will take many months to create, as I do a little of it in between other research. I’ll add also photos that I’ve taken as I go along, in addition to the ones you may find on Google.

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