A Key to Open the Door in a Brick Wall

Keys 005Today I found the key to the door of Jenny W.’s brick wall in Luxembourg!

Jenny contacted me last December through my Facebook page Opening Doors in Brick Walls. She had the dates of birth of her ancestors Heinrich HEINTZ b. 11 November 1817 and Susanna FISCHBACH b. 12 November 1827 and their daughter Catherine HEINTZ b. 8 December 1847, all in Ettelbrück, Luxembourg. She wanted to know how to find them in the Luxembourg records.

I checked the Luxembourg, Civil Registration, 1779-1923 database at FamilySearch.org for these births in Ettelbrück. The Luxembourg records have always been very well kept. Although the database is not indexed it is easy to browse. Similar to working with microfilm. None of the three births were found. This means that they had to have been born somewhere else.

Luxembourg is 998 sq. mi., a bit smaller than Rhode Island, the smallest U.S. state. You can drive from east to west in less than an hour. But without a location you cannot even begin to search for a record.

Unfortunately Jenny said someone had written a book on the FISCHBACH name and gave Ettelbrück as the town they were from. Jenny took it as the truth and kept running into her brick wall. There was nothing I could do to help her.


Last night Jenny tried again with a post to the Genealogy Tip of the Day–the Group Page searching for help. I didn’t recognize the names right away. This morning I checked my archived messages and found the thread concerning her line.

Without the correct place of birth for these ancestors I could not help her find the records that she needed to go backwards. She was still stuck on Ettelbrück. I told her that she might have to start working through all the towns around Ettelbrück.

On the odd chance that it might work, I searched for the surname FISCHBACH in the Luxembourg telephone book.

editusThe town of Lintgen came up as the top location for the name. There aren’t that many people named Fischbach living in Lintgen. The reason it was on top was because there is also a street named “route de Fischbach” in Lintgen. There is also a town in Luxembourg named Fischbach.

Sometimes you need a little luck. [Some genealogists believe that their ancestors want to be found!]

I gave it a try and searched for Catherine HEINTZ born in 1847 in Lintgen. BINGO!

luxrecordAccording to the birth record the parents lived in Lintgen. This is what Jenny needs to do to find the records for her ancestors:


Step 1: Check the Tables décennales. These are 10 years lists of births, marriages, and deaths. Only the names and dates are given. Search the 1842-1852 list of marriages for the HEINTZ-FISCHBACH marriage. The wife/mother was only 21 when she gave birth therefore the marriage would be in this time period.

Step 2: If the couple married in Lintgen (in this case they did) make a note of the date of marriage and search for the record in the database for the marriages of the appropriate time period. In this case Marriages 1833-1890.

Step 3: The marriage record will have information that will allow Jenny to find the birth records of the bride and groom. The parents names will be on the marriage record and if they were deceased their date and place of death will have been recorded. If they were living at the time their residence will be listed.

The key to opening the door in this brick wall was checking on the location of the surname in the country. I used the telephone book and got lucky. Another tool which maps surnames in Luxembourg and surrounding areas is brought to you by the University of Luxembourg and links to Rob Deltgen’s database.

© 2014, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

Author: Cathy Meder-Dempsey

When I’m not doing genealogy and blogging, I spend time riding my racing bike with my husband through the wonderful Luxembourg countryside.

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