Valley City Times-Record

Dakota Datebook By Christina Sunwall

May 26, 2023 — Antoine Amedee Marie Vincent Amat Manca de Vallombrosa, better known as simply the Marquis de Mores, along his wife Medora, are familiar characters in the history of North Dakota. Less familiar are their children. The oldest, Athenais, was just a few months old when she was first brought out to the family’s new home on the prairie in 1883. Louis was born in New York two years later, but like his sister, traveled to Dakota Territory as an infant. The family’s time in the Dakota Badlands was short-lived. In 1886, they returned to New York. Athenais was three years old; Louis, about one and a half.

Following the death of the Marquis in 1896, Madame de Mores continued to maintain the family’s land holdings in North Dakota and even came back for a short visit in 1906, accompanied by Athenais and Louis. Following Medora’s death in 1921, the land passed to her two sons, Louis and Paul

Manca de Vallombrosa. Paul, who had been born after the family returned to France, visited North Dakota only once in 1913 when he spent a week taking photos of the Vallombrosa family property. Paul relinquished his holdings, leaving Louis the sole owner of the De Mores property in North Dakota, but not before the two brothers donated the church constructed by their family to the Medora Catholic Association and the De Mores Park, complete with a statue of the Marquis, was presented to the town of Medora.

Louis however was reluctant to give up the chateau. “…I know that my mother’s thoughts constantly turned to the days she lived in Dakota and which she termed the happiest she had known.” “My own childhood,” he recalled, “two years of which were spent there, was filled with recollections of the West…”

In 1936, at the prompting of Russell Reid of the State Historical Society, Louis donated the De Mores chateau and the site of his father’s packing plant to the state of North Dakota with the stipulation that the sites be preserved for park and museum purposes.

In “recognition of his generous contributions to the preservation of pioneer history in North Dakota” as well as his professional accomplishments in the fields of finance and international relations, the North Dakota Agricultural College at Fargo conferred an honorary degree, Doctor of Laws, on Louis Manca, Duke de Vallombrosa on this day in 1958.

In his acceptance speech, the son of the

Marquis and Madame de Mores told the audience, “I welcome the opportunity for proclaiming my loyalty to my home state of North Dakota and expressing my gratitude for what is being done here for me and the memory of my parents…”

“Dakota Datebook” is a radio series from Prairie Public in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota and with funding from Humanities North Dakota. See all the Dakota Datebooks at, subscribe





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