Week 35 (August 27 – September 2) – School Days: Many kids have returned to school by this time. What do you know about your ancestors’ school days? Do you have any yearbooks? Have you found him or her in a local school census? (Certainly nobody knows about any senior pranks they pulled )
A School Teacher for the MERKES Children
On 1 September 1863 Jean THOMES, the mayor of Bastendorf, placed an advertisement in the Der Wächter an der Sauer for a teaching job in Bastendorf, Luxembourg. Adam (14) and Mathias (12), the youngest sons of Peter and Anna Catharina MERKES-HASTERT, may still have been going to school at this time.
am 2. September nächsthin, Vormittags halb neun Uhr im Schulgebäude zu Diekirch, für die Lehrerstelle der Knabenschule zu Bastendorf, mit welcher:
a) Ein jährlicher fixer Gehalt von Fr. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 600
b) Die Schulgebühren der nicht schulpflichtigen Kinder von circa Fr. . .50
c) Eine freie geräumige Wohnung und
d) Das Holzrecht
Bastendorf, am 21 August 1863.
Der Bürgermeister: Jean Thomes.
On September 2 next, in the morning half past eight clock in the school building in Diekirch, for the teaching job of the boys’ school to Bastendorf which includes:
a) An annual fixed salary of Fr. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .600
b) The school fees of (non-compulsory) children of approximately Fr. . . . 50
c) A free and spacious dwelling
d) The right to collect firewood
Bastendorf, on 21 August 1863rd
The Mayor: Jean Thomes.
In the three-quarters of a century before World War II only three teachers taught school in the village due to the good conditions offered them. The teacher hired in 1863 very likely was the first of the three. Mr. Hermes, who was the school teacher in 1949, had been teaching in Bastendorf since 1916. During the time he held school in Bastendorf the town was hard-hit by the Germans – twice, during both world wars.
The Rundstedt or Ardennes Offensive ended on 19 January 1945 for the people of Bastendorf leaving their town in ruins. The Bastendorfers’ once beautiful “village Cathedral” as they thought of their church was disfigured, leaving only the church tower standing. The school building which hardly differed from a stable was in ruins. It took nearly five years to rebuild the damaged buildings. A new church and school building were inaugurated on Sunday, 28 August 1949. The new school building was a modern promise to the children of the town.
Pierre “Peter” MERKES 1805-1867
Pierre “Peter” MERKES was born at one o’clock in the afternoon of Tuesday, 10 September 1805 in Bettendorf to Nicolas MERKES (b. 1763) and Magdalena WAGENER (b. abt. 1773). His father was 40 years old at the time, a farmer, and was able to sign his name on the birth record. Peter was the 6th of a dozen children.
Anna Catharina HASTERT 1810-1888
Anna Catharina HASTERT was born at three o’clock in the morning of Saturday, 15 December 1810 in Niederglabach, commune of Nommern, to Christophe HASTER(T) (1778-1852) and Barbara “Barbe” SCHMIT (1784-1861). Her father was 35 years old, a day laborer, and was able to sign his name on the birth record. I have not researched Anna Catharina’s siblings.
Peter and Anna Catharina Marry in Nommern
On Tuesday 28 February 1832 in Nommern a marriage took place between Peter MERKES and Anna Catharina HASTERT. Peter was 27 years old, a tailor (Schneider) and lived in Bettendorf. Anna Catharina was 22 years old, a day laborer (Taglöhnerin) and lived in Niederglabach. The parents of the bride and groom were present and consenting to the marriage. Banns had been proclaimed on Sunday the 12th and 19th of February in Bettendorf and Nommern. Four witnesses from Schrondweiler and Nommern were present. Their relationship to the bridal couple was not given. The groom and his father signed their names to the marriage record. The bride, mother of the bride and the mother of the groom declared not being able to write and did not sign.
The inability of the ladies present to sign their names to the marriage record in 1832 makes me wonder when girls were allowed and/or required to attend school. The 1863 advertisement seen above was for a boys’ school and children who were not required to attend school had to pay for their attendance.
The Children of Peter and Anna Catharina
Peter and Anna Catharina’ s first child was born 10 months after their marriage. Barbara, also called Barbe, was born on 21 December 1832 in Niederglabach in the commune of Nommern. Sometime after her birth the family moved to Obereissenbach in the commune of Hosingen where their second child, Anna Maria (1835-1920) was born on 14 August 1835. The family of four then moved to Bastendorf were the rest of the children were born. The move must have taken place when Anna Catharina was expecting her third child as the 1851 census indicates the family had lived in Bastendorf for 12 years. Their third child, Nicolas MERKES was born on 17 November 1838 in Bastendorf and died there on 30 December 1838. Two more children were born before the 1843 census: Pierre on 27 October 1839 and Marie, also known as Margaretha, on 26 April 1842.
On 16 December 1843 Pierre, his wife “Catharine” and their children Barbe, Pierre, and Marie were enumerated on the census taken in Bastendorf. Their daughter Anna Maria who was 8 years old at the time was not listed with the family. Was this an omission or was Anna Maria visiting with her grandparents? I have not done census work on the parents of Pierre or Anna Catharina.
Mathias MERKES was born 18 July 1846 and was listed with his parents Pierre and “Catherine” on the 24 December 1846 census along with his siblings Pierre, “Anne Marie” and “Marguerite”. His sister Barbe was 12 years old and working as a servant for farmer Pierre Steichen and living with his family. It is not unusual to see the given names written in French on one census and in German the next time.
Little Mathias died at the age of 2 years on 11 November 1848 in Bastendorf. By the time the next census was taken on 3 December 1849 another son Adam had been born to Pierre and Anna Catharina on 5 July 1849. The MERKES-HASTERT household included father Pierre, mother “Cath.” and children Pierre, Adam, Barbe, and Marie. Their 14 years old daughter Anna Maria was not with the family and has not been located in another household.
On 7 October 1851 Pierre and Anna Catharina’s 8th and youngest child, a son, was born. They named him Mathias after their 6th child who died in 1848.
On 31 December 1851 the MERKES-HASTERT household included father Pierre, mother Anne Cathérine, and children Pierre, Adam, Mathias, Barbe, Anna Marie, and Marie. A peculiarity of the census, also seen in other years, was the listing of the sons in order of birth followed by the daughters in order of birth. A remark was added concerning Anna Marie – she was absent from home and working as a servant in Tandel, a neighboring village.
On 2 December 1852 when the census was taken Pierre and Anna Catherine had 5 of their 6 living children living at home: Pierre, Adam, Mathias, Barbe, and Marie. Anna Maria was not living at home and her location at the time is unknown.
In 1855 the MERKES-HASTERT family appears to have been missed when the census was taken on 3 December. Their oldest son Pierre was found in the Schroeder-Schütz household. He was 16 years old and working as a shepherd (berger).
The first grandchild was born on the last day of 1856 in Bastendorf. The oldest daughter Barbe who was 23 years old gave birth to an illegitimate son she named Johann. The grandfather Pierre did not wait for the New Year to have the birth registered. The child was born at 6 o’clock in the evening and Pierre met with the Johann Thomes, the mayor, an hour later.
By 3 December 1858 the oldest son Pierre had “disappeared” from the MERKES-HASTERT household and from Bastendorf. His brothers Adam and Mathias were still at home with their parents who were also keeping Barbe’s young son “Jean” while his mother was in the Fonck-Bourg household in a house called Mühlen and working as a servant.
Pierre and Anna Catharina’s second daughter was also missing from the 1858 census but she did not disappear like her brother Pierre. On 1 September 1859 Anna Maria MERKES married Anton KREMER (1836-1918) in Bettendorf. Anna Maria could not sign her name on her marriage record. Could this mean she did not attend school?
Barbe and her son “Jean” were living with her parents on 3 December 1861 in the MERKES-HASTERT household along with her brothers Adam and Mathias. The household remained the same on 3 December 1864 with the exception of Adam who was living with the Kremer-Zenner widow and working as a house servant (domestique).
Peter and Anna Catharina’s third daughter Marie “Margaretha” MERKES had also been missing from MERKES-HASTERT household since being enumerated with them in 1852. She was once again found when she married Dominique “Dominik” HEUARDT (1836- ) on 3 May 1865 in Bastendorf. As was the case for her sister Anna Maria, Marie could not sign her name on her marriage record.
The next marriage in the family was on 7 January 1867 in Bastendorf. The oldest daughter Barbe MERKES married Nicolas KELLER (1837-1878). Her son Jean MERKES was not mentioned on their marriage record and his surname remained MERKES. As was the case for her sisters Anna Maria and Marie, Barbe could not sign her name on her marriage record. Did the girls in this family not attend school because their parents could not afford to pay the school fees?
Not long after Barbe married, her father Pierre “Peter” MERKES died on 22 February 1867 in Bastendorf. He left his wife, three married daughters, two unmarried sons, and a son whose whereabouts are unknown.
Whereabouts of the Family After the Father’s Death
On the 3 December 1867 census the mother of this family was seen as Anna Maria HASTERT and had in her household son Adam and oldest daughter Barbe, son-in-law Nicolas KELLER, grandchildren Johann MERKES and Margaretha KELLER. Her son Mathias was living in Tandel in the Nicolas KELLEN household and working as a servant (Knecht).
On 1 December 1871 Anna Catharina HASTERT was alone on the census in Bastendorf. Her son Adam and Mathias were listed on the back page as working in Rumelange. This remark came in very handy during further research as Anna Catharina was seen by herself on 1 December 1875.
Very early in my research I called the civil records office in Bastendorf for more information on the MERKES-HASTERT couple. The person on the phone was very helpful but was not able to find the death record in Bastendorf for Anna Catharina HASTERT. At the time all I knew was her daughter Anna Maria was living with her husband Anton KREMER and their children in Bettendorf. I did not know about her other children and had no idea where to search futher.
Nearly twenty years later while preparing to write this post I searched for the all of the birth, marriage, death, and census records. The information on the location of the two youngest sons in 1871 was the breakthrough I needed.
From Rob Deltgen’s site I knew Adam MERKES married Anne Marie KUNNERT on 22 December 1873 in Consthum in the canton of Clervaux. I found their marriage record as well as that of his brother Mathias MERKES who married Susanne KAUFMAN on 11 August 1875 in Bastendorf. Adam and Mathias were both able to sign their names on their marriage records.
Mathias was living in Bastendorf in 1880 however his mother, his sister Barbe, and his brother Adam were missing.
The notation on the 1871 census about Adam and Mathias MERKES working in Rumelange brought all the pieces together. It’s a good thing that I checked the Tables Décennales for Rumelange before jumping into the birth and death records. At the very front of the book was this remark:
It pays to be able to read more than one language. Before 1891 Rumelange was part of the commune of Kayl. In the Kayl records I found Adam MERKES living in Rumelange in 1880, 1885, and 1887 per the census. His mother Anna Catharina HASTERT was in his household. His sister Barbe was living in Rumelange at the same time and has, so far, only been found in the 1885 census. His brother Mathias also moved to Rumelange by 1885. His sister Marie “Margaretha” MERKES died on 30 December 1884 in Rumelange in the commune of Kayl.
The birth records of the children of Adam MERKES show his re-location from Bastendorf to Rumelange very likely took place following his marriage in 1873. Children were born in Rumelange between 1874-1891.
Adam’s sister Barbe went to Rumelange before 1871. She had three children born between 1871 and 1876 in Rumelange and her husband Nicolas KELLER died there on 27 October 1878.
Anna Catharina HASTERT died in Rumelange on 9 May 1888. She had been living with her son Adam; her daughter Barbe and son Mathias were living in the same town. Only my husband’s 2nd great-grandmother Anna Maria MERKES, who was the first to marry in 1859, remained in Bettendorf, her husband Anton KREMER’s hometown. But this didn’t mean her ties to her family were broken. Three of her sons went to Rumelange to work in the mines, most likely along side their uncles Adam and Mathias.
And the Search Continues….
The census records for the children of Anna Catharina HASTERT and Peter “Pierre” MERKES who lived in Rumelange still need to be found for the period 1890-1900. Adam died in 1924; the deaths of Barbe and Mathias are unknown. Another question which remains to be answered is: what happened to son Peter after 1855?
© 2015 Cathy Meder-Dempsey
This is my weekly entry for Amy Johnson Crow’s challenge:
52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – 2015 Edition. It was so successful in 2014 that genealogists wanted to continue or join in on the fun in 2015. Be sure to check out the other great posts by visiting Amy’s blog No Story Too Small where she’ll be posting the weekly recap on Thurdays and allowing all participants to leave a link to their post(s) in the comments.