Week 1, Fresh start – Seems appropriate for the beginning of the year. What ancestor had a fresh start? What ancestor has been so confusing to research that you’d like to have a fresh start?
I had all my families picked and scheduled for the entire year before the themes were announced for the first five weeks. The proposed theme for Week #1 is Start fresh. That definitely works for me. I’m starting fresh with my husband’s parents. I got out an old box of photos and notebooks that haven’t been looked through since I packed them away and went digital. This is going to help me get a fresh start on scanning the things that have been neglected.
The MEDER-KREMER Family (1926-1996)
Marcel MEDER was born on 26 September 1926 in Diekirch, the son of Jean-Pierre MEDER and Catherine SCHWARTZ. He had one older brother. He was baptized on 10 October 1926 in Diekirch. At left is a photo of him from his First Communion. I have no record of when this took place however this sacrament is typically received between the ages of seven and nine. He was confirmed about 1938 in Diekirch. Children are confirmed around the age of 12 years in Luxembourg. The date of confirmation is not listed on the baptismal certificate obtained for his religious marriage but it was noted that he was confirmed.
Marie Françoise KREMER, also known as Maisy, was born on 29 August 1931 in Rumelange, the daughter of Franz KREMER and Susanne PEFFER. She had one younger brother. Maisy was baptized on 13 September 1931 in Rumelange. At left is a photo of her from her First Communion, most likely ca. 1940. She was confirmed on 29 August 1943 in Diekirch. Maisy claimed that she was a twin and that her brother died at birth. I spoke with the records office in Rumelange and they could not find any record of a birth, stillbirth, or death of a child born at the time that Maisy was born. It is very unlikely that Maisy’s mother gave birth in two places.
During World War II when the German army occupied Luxembourg Marcel was still going to school and wanted to become a teacher. The young people who were not yet of age to join the army were required to join the Hitlerjugend (Hitler Youth). At first this was voluntary but later it was forced. Those who did not join were not allowed to continue in school or start an apprenticeship. Marcel refused to join, was kicked out of school, and forced to work for a German farmer. He kept all the correspondence that went on between him and the German authorities and his Wehrpass (service book). These will be featured in a later blogpost.
By the time that World War II was over Marcel was too old or no longer wanted to go back to school. He worked for a while for a farmer in Bettendorf (above) before joining the Luxembourgish army. At right he is the middle soldier in the front row.
While Marcel was working in Bettendorf he met and fell in love with Maisy who lived in the neighboring village. While he was doing his military service they saw each other only on Sundays. To make the time between their meetings shorter they would send each other cards and short notes. January 16th is St. Marcel’s day and in 1950 Maisy sent Marcel a card wishing him a Happy Name Day.
After finishing his military service Marcel began working for the post office. In the meantime Marcel and Maisy continued to see each other until they set a date for their marriage.
The civil marriage ceremony was performed on Friday, 6 June 1952 by Pierre Straus, mayor of the commune of Bettendorf, in the canton of Diekirch, in the district of Diekirch, in the Grand Duché of Luxembourg. A commune is the basic administrative division in Luxembourg. Within the hierarchy of administrative subdivisions, communes come directly below cantons, which are in turn directly below districts. Similar to town, county, state in the United States.
Following the ceremony the couple was presented with a Family Book which they were required to present to the records office when a child was born or when either of the spouses died. Ten children could be entered in the book that Maisy and Marcel received.
The book number (7) is also the number of the record in the marriage register of the town. This register is so large that I was not able to scan the photocopy they made for me at the records office with my printer/scanner. I will have to work on “knitting” two scans together or may have to try getting a good photograph of the sheet. Marriage records for Luxembourg are online at FamilySearch however the cut off year is presently 1923 for Bettendorf.
The religious marriage ceremony was performed Saturday, 7 June 1952 in the church of Moestroff, part of the commune of Bettendorf.
The Wedding Portrait
Marcel was a resident of Diekirch from the time of his birth until his marriage in 1952, except for the time that he was forced to work for the Germans and lived on a farm in Germany. Maisy who had been born in Rumelange when her father was working there, lived most of her life in Moestroff. From 7 June 1952 until 16 October 1953 Marcel and Maisy lived in Moestroff in the home of the bride’s parents.
At left Maisy is seen in the upstairs bedroom window of her parents’ home. The home was very small and living conditions were a bit difficult for the young married couple.
On 14 October 1953 Marcel and Maisy moved from her parents’ home in Moestroff to Echternach where Marcel worked for the post office (Employé des postes et télécommunications) first as a telephone operator (front left) and then as a mailman (below). He rode a motorcycle on his route through the neighboring villages of Osweiler, Dickweiler, Girst and the farms in between until, for health reasons, he put in a request for a car.
Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds. ~ inscription found on the General Post Office in New York City at 8th Avenue and 33rd Street.
Marcel and Maisy lived in an apartment for a short time before renting a house. They rented out a spare bedroom during the tourist season, a common practice during those days. The tourist season in Echternach begins when tourists and pilgrims come to watch or participate in the dancing procession on the Tuesday after Pentecost. This hopping procession of Echternach was inscribed on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2010.
Marcel and Maisy’s first child, a son, was born in 1956. Nine years later, when they had nearly given up hope of having another child, a daughter was born. Both births are recorded in the Family Book that they received when they married. Also recorded were the baptisms and first vaccinations of the children.
Finally in 1970 Marcel and Maisy were able to buy a home, two doors away from the place they had rented and kept fixed up for a decade and a half believing that the owner would sell to them.
Marcel enjoyed working in the garden and fixing things around the house. He loved to play ninepin bowling with his colleagues from work who nicknamed him Max. Maisy worked part time at the local supermarket and delighted in cooking Luxembourgish specialities on holidays for guests. When at home she would always wear an apron, a dress-length sleeveless smock buttoned down the front with pockets. She canned the produce from their garden, put up sauerkraut, made jams and jellies storing them in the basement along the potatoes from their garden which were kept in a special bin.
In 1977 Maisy was especially proud of having lost a lot of weight over a year’s time and it wasn’t hard to get her to pose for a picture on their Silver Wedding Anniversary.
Maisy was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1984 while I was expecting her first grandchild. A loving grandmother to her grandson, she was given a clean bill of health early in the year of 1986. Later in the year when I was expecting her second grandchild she began having back pain. Her house doctor prescribed this and that but did not consider her medical history. Finally after being rushed by ambulance to the hospital for a second time, the family was told that the cancer had spread to her liver and there was no hope for recovery. She died on 31 August 1986 in Luxembourg City. Marcel once again took out the Family Book that they had received when they married and had her death recorded on the second page (left).
Marcel did not take her death very well. He had been retired only a short time. They had hopes of travelling, something they had never had time or money to do. Marcel had to learn to do all the things that his wife had taken care of all the years that he worked. Washing, ironing, cleaning, and cooking. He even learned to make the liver pâté that his wife had always made. He had often helped Maisy grind the bacon, meat and liver, cut the shallots, and chop parsley but no written recipe was left, so he tweaked it until it tasted like hers.
In the beginning I would visit him everyday with the children until we established a ritual of his coming by with the daily newspaper. He would stay about a half hour, talking and playing with the grandchildren. As they became older they would run next door to visit with their Bopa or he would watch them playing in front of the house from his living room window.
When I began researching our family history in 1995 my father-in-law Marcel was the one who helped me read the old handwriting in the documents that I obtained from the records offices I visited in different towns in Luxembourg. He liked seeing the old handwriting since it reminded him of the days when he would deliver letters that had been written by an older person in the old handwriting. Marcel had his parents’ Family Book and showed it to me one day. The genealogist in me noticed that the first child was born when the couple was married only eight months. The first thing he said was that must be a mistake. So I asked him when his brother’s birthday was and we saw that it was correct in the book. He shrugged his shoulders and went on to another subject.
Nearly ten years after the death of his wife, Marcel was diagnosed with cancer of the stomach in May 1996. He had his stomach removed and learned to consume small portions of the foods that he was allowed to eat. He appeared well and was positive about the treatment he had just started. One Sunday morning 4 August 1996 his shutters remained closed longer than usual and his son found him dead in his bed of heart failure.
Although I knew Maisy ten years and Marcel twenty years I don’t have the memories of them that their children do. The pictures and the records should make up for what I don’t know but there were no photo albums with memories of the years before I met them, only a box of miscellaneous photos that weren’t dated or labelled.
 Extractume Libro Baptizatorum, Ecclesia Parochialis Diekirch, Diocesis Luxemburgensis; Certificate of baptism with addendum concerning the sacrament of confirmation; the date of confirmation was not listed on this certificate obtained for the religious marriage.
 Extractum e Libro Baptizatorum, Ecclesia Parochialis Rümelingen, Diocesis Luxemburgensis; Certificate of baptism with addendum concerning confirmation, (baptismal records of the church of Rumelange)
 Commune de Bettendorf Nr. 7/1952, Meder-Kremer Family Book, This is an official document given to the bride and groom at the time of their civil marriage. It is used to record births, christenings, and deaths of children as well as death of one or the other spouse.
© 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.