Like the ripples created by a stone dropped into a pond, this story spreads ever-outward . An Infinite History begins with the marriage contract of Estienne Allemand M.A., the son of Marc Allemand dit Lavigerie, a tailor, and Françoise Ferrand, the daughter of Marie Aymard and Louis Ferrand. The contract was signed by eighty-three witnesses in the parish of Notre Dame de la Peine, Angoulême, in southwestern France, on December 9, 1764.

In their investigation of the Allemand–Ferrand family, researchers under Rothschild’s direction coded all the surviving parish records for the town of Angoulême in 1764, and—using the genealogical tools of the internet—traced the births, marriages, and other biographical details of four generations of Marie Aymard’s descendants—her six children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren—down to the beginning of the twentieth century.

Notre Dame de la Peine was a small church, now demolished, located directly to the east of the still-standing St....

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