52 Ancestors: #2 The Brewery Worker and the Midwife

Week 2, King – January 8 is Elvis’ birthday. January 15 is the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. Do either of these “Kings” remind you of an ancestor? Or, taken another way, do you have a connection to royalty? Did you ancestor flee from an oppressive king?

Since I hadn’t planned on using the themes I was surprised that once again this one works for my chosen ancestral couple. Mr. and Mrs. MEDER-SCHWARTZ married, worked, and raised their children in Diekirch, a city in north-eastern Luxembourg. According to old sources the town received its name when Charlemagne, King of the Franks, converted the pagan Saxons to Christianity in the late 8th century. A church was built and the settlement was given the name “Diet-Kirch” (people’s church).

The MEDER-SCHWARTZ Family (1888-1974)

MRIN00003 1923-06-15 Jean-Pierre Meder and Catherine Schwartz wedding

1923 Wedding Portrait of Jean-Pierre MEDER and Catherine SCHWARTZ

Jean-Pierre MEDER was born on 20 November 1888 in Diekirch, Luxembourg. He was the youngest of twelve children. His father Franz MEDER was 42 years old and his mother Elisabetha FABER was 43 years old at the time of his birth.

Screenshot with annotations of the birth record (upper right). [Source: “Luxembourg, Registres d’état civil, 1793-1923,” images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-267-11618-105421-23?cc=1709358&wc=M9M6-2N2:1627336735 : accessed 01 Apr 2013), Luxembourg, Civil Registration, 1793-1923 > Luxembourg, Civil Registration, 1793-1923 > Diekirch > Naissances 1879-1890 Mariages 1796-1842 > image 297 of 1492.]
Jean-Pierre MEDER was seen on the census (Volkszählungen) of Luxembourg in 1890, 1895, and 1900 with his parents and unmarried siblings. These census listings will be discussed in the Week #5 post for his parents.

Luxembourg, Census Records, 1843-1900
The Luxembourg census which was taken approximately every three to five years for the years 1843 to 1900. The records include all household members, places, names, ages (sometimes a full birth date), professions, genders, and marital statuses. Sometimes they also show nationalities, religions, places of birth, family positions, and information on persons who normally lived in the household but were living outside of Luxembourg.

Screenshot with annotations of the birth record (upper right). [Source: “Luxembourg, Registres d’état civil, 1793-1923,” images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-267-12165-230679-90?cc=1709358&wc=M9M6-L6R:n2017357688 : accessed 01 Apr 2013), Luxembourg, Civil Registration, 1793-1923 > Luxembourg, Civil Registration, 1793-1923 > Rosport > Naissances, mariages, décès 1891-1894 > image 19 of 176.]
Catharina (also known as Catherine) SCHWARTZ was born on 2 February 1892 in Osweiler, a village belonging to the commune of Rosport, in the canton of Echternach in Luxembourg. She was the oldest of twelve children. Her father Johann SCHWARTZ was 26 years old and her mother Margaritha GORGES was 25 years old at the time of her birth.

Catherine, as her name was spelled on census, was with her parents, younger siblings, and her SCHWARTZ grandparents in 1895 and 1900.  These census listings will be discussed in the Week #6 post for her parents.

I have no idea how Catherine came to be living in Diekirch before her marriage. Echternach would have been a much closer town for her to work. Catherine, age 31, and Jean-Pierre, age 34, most likely met in Diekirch where they both lived and worked, Catherine as a midwife and Jean-Pierre as a brewery worker.

On the 7th and the 20th of May 1923 banns were read for their marriage which took place on the 15th of June 1923. The importance of the dates that the banns were read will be seen shortly.

1923 Marriage Record No. 9 [Source: “Luxembourg, Registres d’état civil, 1793-1923,” images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1971-32037-28712-77?cc=1709358&wc=M9M6-2NF:21518491 : accessed 01 Apr 2013), Luxembourg, Civil Registration, 1793-1923 > Luxembourg, Civil Registration, 1793-1923 > Diekirch > Mariages 1895-1923 Décès 1895-1902 > image 461 of 661.]
Marriage records in Luxembourg are a treasure of information. The age, occupation, date and place of birth, and residence of the bride and the groom are listed. The names of the parents of the bride and groom are seen along with their occupation, place of residence, age if they are still living, and date and place of death if they are deceased. Four additional witnesses are also named with their age, occupation, residence, and sometimes even the relationship to the bride and groom.

When Catherine and Jean-Pierre married her mother and his father were present and agreeable to the marriage. Catherine’s father and Jean-Pierre’s mother were deceased. Also present were Jean-Pierre’s brother Joseph, Catherine’s brother Johann, and two innkeepers or publicans (Wirt). Joseph GORGES, one of the innkeepers, may have been Catherine’s cousin. This needs to be researched. All persons present signed the marriage record.

Catherine and Jean-Pierre were presented with their personal Family Book. They signed their names in it as “J.P. Meder” and “Ketty Schwartz” and took the book with them the next day when they were married in a religious ceremony in the church.

livret   livret

livretKetty and Jean-Pierre were the parents of two boys, François Jean born 21 February 1924 and Marcel Mathias born 26 September 1926, as seen in their Family Book on the page following the marriage information (left).

As I mentioned last week, I had pointed out to my father-in-law that his brother, who was known to us as “Fritz,” was born 8 months following the marriage. He was born on 21 February 1924 which would mean that he was conceived between 27 May – 4 June 1923. Now for the part that would have interested my father-in-law. The marriage banns were read on the 7th and 20th of May so this was NOT a shotgun wedding arranged due to an unplanned pregnancy. Ketty, being a midwife, most likely knew how to prevent a pregnancy. I believe they truly desired to marry and as they were already 34 and 31 years old did not care to wait to start their family.

Brauerei Diekirch ca. 1916 (Archives de la Ville de Diekirch) [Source: The History of Industry of Luxembourg]
Jean-Pierre MEDER worked for the Diekirch Brewery (above ca. 1916). This drawing was found on The History of Industry of Luxembourg website. For persons researching their families in Luxembourg this is a wonderful resource. Historical timelines of the industries are included as well as many old photographs of places and products.

MRIN00003 1952 Meder-Schwartz mergedJean-Pierre and Ketty’s older son Fritz married Anne GREGORIUS on 8 December 1950. Their younger son Marcel married Maisy KREMER on 6 June 1952. On the 7th of June after the religious ceremony as the bride and groom, their parents and guests left the church each couple was photographed on the steps of the church. Jean-Pierre left the church with the mother of the bride and Ketty left the church with the father of the bride. The photographer remained in the same place and I was able to make a composite photograph (at right) of Marcel’s parents Jean-Pierre and Ketty MEDER-SCHWARTZ. Below is another photograph of them together in 1953 working in their garden.

MRIN00003 1953 Jean-Pierre Meder and Ketty Schwartz in their gardenAs is seen in their Family Book, Jean-Pierre MEDER died on 23 February 1954, two days after his oldest son Fritz turned 30. Fritz’s wife Anne was expecting her first child and Jean-Pierre was never called Bop or Bopa by grandchildren.

Since Catherine was also known as Ketty, I wonder if Jean-Pierre was nicknamed “Jemp” as many men in Luxembourg with this name have that nickname.

After her children were grown, Ketty was referred to by her son Marcel and his family as “Ged” a shortened form of Gedel or godmother in Luxembourgish. Ketty was the godmother of Marcel’s son. Below they are visiting the Château de Colpach located near Ell in western Luxembourg. The castle dates from the beginning of the 14th century when it was a stronghold.

MRIN00003 1958 ca. Ketty Schwartz with Marcel and his family
Ketty with her grandson and daughter-in-law Maisy and with her son Marcel in the insert ca. 1957.

Ketty lived another twenty years and was the grandmother of three grandchildren. In her later years she lived in the rest home in Vianden and died in Ettelbrück on 1 February 1974.

© 2015 Cathy Meder-Dempsey

52ancestors-2015This 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.

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.

12 thoughts on “52 Ancestors: #2 The Brewery Worker and the Midwife”

    1. Thank you Jeanne. The Family Book is a legal document and must be presented to the civil records office when a child is born and at the time of death of one of the spouses or a child.Catholics in the country also present it to their priest at the time of marriage and baptism of children. There is even room for the children’s first vaccination.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I so enjoyed the history presented here with the documents and their details. So much information for a researcher to glean. The wedding photo is beautiful and such a family treasure. They were and elegant couple…love they way he held her hand. The Family Record Book is fantastic…much like many Family Bible’s but with more space for details and official documentation. You have done an admirable job in writing their history. Well done!
    Sue at Tracks Of My Georgia Ancestors

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So glad you noticed the details of the wedding portrait. I wondered if, since they married so late, this might have been a second marriage for either of them. However the records are so detailed that a previous marriage would have been mentioned in their marriage record. I’ll have a few of those that I plan on sharing during the year. Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment Sue.


  2. Oh Cathy, i enjoyed this very interesting story, excellent records, and especially the gorgeous photographs! I look forward to following the stories of this family. One thing, isn’t it possible that Fritz was simply born premature? Due to eclampsia, all three of my grandchildren were 6 to 8 weeks early. My husband was a month early himself due to his own Mom’s high blood pressure. Just wondering.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Helen. Yes it could be that he was premature. I joked with my father-in-law about seven months babies coming two months early which would mean that it would be fine if a babe was born 5 months after the marriage. I just found it very strange that my father-in-law wanted to find some kind of error in the date of marriage and birth instead of considering a premature birth.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I love that Catherine and Jean-Pierre were presented with their personal Family Book. I love recording facts and notes and keeping lists, and books and journals and stuff. Also, did you note Fritz’ birth weight? He may have just come a little early. 🙂


    1. Thank you Miss Donna for dropping by. I doubt very much if anyone has Fritz’s birth weight. I don’t think they bothered to weight the babies who were born at home. It could very well be that he was a little early. The point was that they had already had their wedding banns read and the call was close. 🙂


  4. It brought tears of joy to my eyes to see the illustration of the Diekirch Brewery! My ancestor Jean Baptiste Brochmann (1787-1849) owned & operated the brewery beginning about 1827 when he signed a business contract with his partner Gabriel Frohlig. Jean Baptiste Brochmann had married the Diekirch Brewery’s owner’s daughter years earlier (married 1809; Ann Marie Demander 1784-1824) (previous owner Servais Demander). Essentially he bought the brewery from his father-in-law. It was also interesting to read about your ancestor, Jean Pierre Meder who worked at the same brewery years later because as I plug the name Meder into my tree, up pops Agnes Elizabeth Meder (1762-1844) who married Jaques Brochman on 23 May 1796 in Diekirch. It is always fascinating to see the small town connections and how everybody knows everybody. Perhaps your Jean Pierre Meder came to Diekirch because he had a family connection with a possible job at the big brewery when he was a young man just setting out in the world?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kathy, Jean-Pierre was my husband’s grandfather. The Meder family had lived in Diekirch from 1794 when his 4th great-grandfather came from Ettelbrück when he married. Jean-Pierre was the first in this direct line to work for the brewery. His first son also worked there his entire life. My husband comes through the second son who was a mailman and moved to Echternach. I’m happy to hear you are enjoying my posts, Kathy. Thank you for commenting.


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