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Outstanding Personages

Juan Francisco de Miguel, Baron of Santa Gema and Marquis of Ustou-Montauban, is related with Montclar because he is an ancestor of the present owners of the castle.

He was born on the 5th of January of 1767 in the castle of Bagen (Comminges, France). The Comminges is the French neighbouring region of the Valley of Arán where this branch of the De Miguel family settled coming from the lower Ampurdán. From 1640, the members of this family lived indistinctly in both sides of the border, being mayors for life of Viella and Vilac.

Talking about Juan Francisco De Miguel, after proving his nobleness, he became an official of the Regiment of Las Ardenas on the 19th of June of 1785. After the French revolution broke out, he emigrated to Germany in 1970 to become a member of the Guardias de Corps (an elite corps of personal guards conformed by 50 persons) of the Count of Artois, the future King of France, Charles X. After that he became a member of the Regiment Saxe-Hussards and was badly wounded in a bellicose action where he particularly distinguished himself.

The events took him to Santo Domingo where his courage and military talents impress the General in charged of that colony. He commissioned him to be the commanding officer of the cavalry squadron.

After the French evacuation of Santo Domingo, the Commander Miguel moved to Louisiana. There he was commissioned to be Major, second commander of the Volunteer Corps of New Orleans. He was a brilliant partner of the General Jackson (future president of the United States) when, on December of 1814, the English tried to  recover the city of New Orleans, in a desperate attack that lasted until the beginnings of 1815 when they were finally repelled.

Juan Francisco was badly wounded again, but was publicly congratulated by the Chief General. Today, his memory still lives in New Orleans, where he is considered to be one of the most intrepid defenders of the city. In the University of History of New Orleans, there exists a "fondo Santa Gema" (Santa Gema´s fund) where there are studies about the several documents donated by Juan Francisco to that university. He settled in the French district with his family, after marrying the Lefroy De Dreux widow, a French lady.

He moved back to France in 1818 and died on the 20th of February of 1842 in the Castle of Bagen, where he was born. During the last 20 years of his life, he devoted himself to improve every aspect of the life of the region, taking an especially active part in the affairs of the municipality. The King of France recompensed him nominating him Knight of the Royal Order of Saint Louis.

His memory lives in both sides of the Atlantic.