(Copied frami m.anunoript of Mrs* Gill)
: "'. ":. "..- : "- ;..*
IBENi3 C MUM AND SCHOOL 71 RESEARCH
Plans are now being consummated for the exhibition
of the famous Mercy-Argenteau-Avaray Collections of those famous
families of Freney royalty, together with art treasures from
Mrs* Madeline B. Gill of Clearwater, Florida, who
has exhibited these world-renowned historical relics since the
death of the last owner, Countess lercy-Argnteau has moved to
DeLand and will lend these treasures to the John B. Stetson Uni-
versity* The University will have the rare privilege of in-
vestigating the authenticity of the collection.
A large building is being secured where the library
of Louis XVIII of France and his secretary and cousin, Count
d'Avaray, will be used for research work in the French History
This group of priceless treasures was willed to
Count d'Avaray by Louis XVIII, in reward for his service in
assisting in the escape of the Dauphin and the royal family dur-
ing the French Revolution* Original documents and private his-
tory authenticitate this claim. The original will, bearing the
seal and signature of Louis XVIII will be exhibited. Priceless
furniture, rare books, original documents, old paintings by
accepted masters, tapestries and other relies will be in this .
library, where original inventories and history will be trans-
lated from the French*
In another department, relics of the famous Mercy-
Argenteau family of Liege, Belgium, will be shown.
Count Mercy was the guardian of Marie Antoinette
and secret Ambassodor from the Courts of Austria to France. On
his death in 1794, he willed his possessions to his two nephews,
Count Charles Meroy-Argenteau, who later became Archbishop de Tyre,
and Count Joseph Mercy-Argenteau, Chamberlain of the King of
Belgium, and later secret ambassador to France and Holland under
Napoleon lste This Mercer-Argenteau family was closely allied to
these countries owing to their decendenoy from Louis XI, Count
de Flanders, Count do Looz, Prince de Pear, Prince de Montglion-
ancient houses of Rome and Liege.
The Archbishop of Tyre, who was the last to be
canonized,w as the famous Charles Argenteau d'Ochain, Chamberlain
of Napoleon let.
*. -2-. ,ij,-*.. 1
Before the beginning of the Napoleonic ,period, -'
the Bishops of Liege lost rulership, and the archbishop en-
listed in the service of Napoleon; this brother remained in
the service of the King of Belgium, his cousin Carlotta married
This group consists of Jewelled prayerbooks,
crosses, prayer rugs, decorations, etc.
So much for. history.
Duchess d'Avaray brought the relics from the Bishops
of Liege to American in 1905. The. Duchess, a descendant of Count
Joseph d'Argenteau, was the daughter of the famous beauty and
court musician, Princess Louise-Caraman-Chimay, who married
Count Eugene de Mercy-tgenteau. Her grandmother was the famous
Madame Tallien, who ended the French Revolution by ordering the
execution of Robespierre* She and Josephine occupied cells to-
gather, awaiting execution, but were saved by Judge Tallieu
She was the last of the Argenteau family. Her full
title was Princess de Montglion-Duchess d'Avaray-Countess Meroy-
Argenteau, and she spent her last years peacefully and quietly
in the very heart of Florida, passing away in Tampa in 1925.
The Princess came to the United States on a secret
diplomatic mission in 1905, and remained in Washington in con-
sultation with President Theodore Roosevelt for two weeks,
following clues to Canada, North and South.Caroline, and finally
settling near Bartow, where she wrote her memoirs*
Same time before her death, she engaged Mrse
Madeline B. Gill, research historian of royal lines, to
.assist her in her work.
Fitz James Henry Werner, was guardian of the prin-
Qess, and manager of the Archives of Louis XVIII, was a relative
or the Princess. He was an author, using the nom de plume
"James Henry Wernew, and sometimes in secret service known as
"Casey* On the death of the Princess, her guardian was her
Mrs. Gill was named as manager of a Museum that
the Princess had planned as a memorial to her son, who was
killed in Paris in 1921. As the last owner of the collection,
Fitz James Henry Werner, became ill, he sold the collection to
Mrs. Gill, who cared for him until his death.
Since that time Mrs. Gill has had records carefully
traced and was advised by the late Ambassador Myron T. Herrick,
who was deeply interested in the collection and aided Mrs. Gill
to use the greatest secrecy in drking on these valuable docu-
ments, as they contained the secret of the disappearance of the
DAUPHIN OF FRANCE! Honorable Mr. Herrick offered his valuable
assistance, and was deeply interested in establishing a\Museum
in Washington in honor of the late young Marquis d'Avaray, son
of the Princess who served in the World War as companion and
-guard of Prince de Serbia. The untimely death of the Embassador
tnrminated that assistance, .
'... MIrs Gill has traveled with portions of the ex- .
hibit sinqe 1925, and put on truly'wonderful programs from New
The Dutch Consul in Tampa, Jean Van Blinok, en-
tered suit against Mrs. Gill in 1931, to secure possession of
this famous collection. He claimed to represent the "Bourbons
of Holland", claimants.to the throne of France. At a hearing
in the courts of Tampa, Mrs. Gill produced her legal bill of
sale, recorded in Tampa Court House, together with books and
records proving that the late Princess was the last of her
line and had no heirs.
Investigators from Washington gave Mrs. Gill papers
of Exemption of interitance tax, which the Dutch Consul and his
"secret investigators", Barend Beek, a document dealer from Mia4,
claimed Mrs. Gill had evaded.
Several minor claims have cropped up in the meantime,
but Mrs. Gill has won every claim against the collection, which
she now plans to use for researchwork,
The history department of Stetson University will
have access to the entire collection for study and lectures.
The Deland Chamber of Commerce will advertise the unique
collection of treasures as a tourist attraction, to be open to
the public on certain days each week. These plans are now be-
Mr. Lee, Secretary of the Clearwater Chamber of
Commerce, where Mrs. Gill exhibited for a year in the Peace
Memorial Church, and Mr. Lehman, secretary of the Seminole
Chamber of Ccnmerce, of Sanford, where Mrs. Gill put on a pro- .
gram at the Mayfair Hotel for the State Convention of the C. of C. -
Secretaries, will cooperate with Mr. Gilliland of the DeLand
Chamber of Conmere. Mr. Gilliland is assisting Mrs. Gill to
become permanently established in DeLand, in a School for Re- .
search as well as securing this veritable Louvre in America
for DeLand. Such an.asset would do much toward making DeLand
'a Mecca for Florida tourists:
Mrs. Gill will announce her program for the Museum
in the very near future. At this time, she is occupying the
Stetson Mansion, where she is finishing her books, "Royalty in
Florida", "The Omega", and "Buohannans of America".
Mrs. Gill is an American, descended from Capte
John Buchannan of Georgetown, S. C., whose ancestor was the
first to survey choice lands in Virginia. He became private
physician to Marquis de LaFayette during his American stay and
returned to France with him. Captain Buchannan assisted La-
Fayette in the thrilling escape of the royal families during
the French Revolution, caring also for the young Dauphin.
Captain Buohannan's daughter married David Graham, whose mother,
Jane Armstrong, was the sister of the Minister to France.
His father, David Graham, Sr., was descended from the Duke of
Montrose, who was also in sympathy with the Royalists.
.* g 7 1.
Mary Jane Teaver, first white child in LaGrange,
Ga., inherited valuable documents from these ancestors, and
passed them on to her granddaughter, Mrs.,M. B. Gill, who is .
now compiling these records in book form.
Mrs. Gill will be a valuable asset to this
community, where educational advantages are appreciated.