Week 9 (Feb 26-Mar 4) – Close to Home. Which ancestor is the closest to where you live? Who has a story that hits “close to home”?
The WILDINGER- PÖPPELREITER Family (1874-1984)
The WILDINGER-PÖPPELREITER family couldn’t get any closer to home. They lived in Echternach, Luxembourg, my hometown, the place I’ve lived for the past 40 years.
My great-grandfather Johann WILDINGER was born on 25 February 1874 in Ernzen, Eifel, Rheinland, Preußen (Germany) to Bernard WILDINGER (1838-1896) and Maria WEIMANN (1839-1915). Johann’s godparents were his maternal uncle Johann WEIMANN and his paternal aunt Elisabeth WILDINGER.
My great-grandmother Catherine PÖPPELREITER was born on 16 September 1874 in Mettendorf, Eifel, Rheinland, Preußen (Germany) to Mathias PÖPPELREITER (1843- aft. 1891) and Magdalena WAGENER (1842-1884).
Johann WILDINGER and Catherine PÖPPELREITER were married in Ernzen on 4 June 1901. Nine months later their first child, a daughter Marie, was born on 21 March 1902 in Ernzen were the bridal couple lived after their marriage. Almost a year later, on 16 March 1903 Marie’s brother Jean-Pierre was born, also in Ernzen.
When Nicolas was 8 years old times were getting harder and harder for his father Johann, a mason. In July 1914 the family moved to Echternach, Luxembourg. Johann found a job in Wasserbillig and worked as a mason for ten years in Luxembourg until his death in 1924.
Johann WILDINGER died on 11 January 1924 in Echternach in their house in the Neigass. He was only 49 years old. Two of his neighbors were the informants on his death. His children at the time were 21, 20, and 17 — old enough to support their mother who was also 49.
After Johann’s death, life went on and in the 1930s his sons married. Jean-Pierre married Suzanne WAGNER before 1933 and went to live and work in Esch-sur-Alzette and then Schifflange. Nicolas married Marie Marcelle FOURNELLE on 26 July 1935 and lived next door to his mother and sister Marie.
Jean-Pierre and Suzanne had a daughter F. in 1933. Nicolas and Marcelle had a daughter J. in 1936. These are the only grandchildren born to this family.
Wartime came to Europe and Luxembourg in 1939. In 1940 the Germans occupied Luxembourg.
And while life was getting more and more difficult, Catherine PÖPPELREITER, the mother of this family, watched her youngest son get weaker and weaker from tuberculosis. Nicolas WILINDINGER died on 25 October 1941 in the hospital in Echternach leaving his widow Marcelle, their daughter J., his mother Catherine, his sister Marie, his brother Jean-Pierre, his sister-in-law Suzanne, and his only niece F.
During World War II Catherine’s oldest child Marie was seriously thinking about renouncing her German citizenship and becoming a Luxembourg citizen. She wrote to family in Germany asking for information on the genealogy of the family and received a reply in July 1942 from her mother’s half-sister Regina. There is one word in the letter that I am not quite sure about and have marked it with question marks in the transcription.
Mettendorf den 17.7.42
Euern lb. Brief haben wir dankend und mit Freuden erhalten. Wir hätten Ihnen schon länger geschrieben wir wußten die Adresse nicht richtig. Uns geht es noch sehr gut was wir ja auch von Euch hoffen und auch bestens wünschen. Jetzt will ich Ihnen schnell das schreiben was Sie wissen wollen, von Vater seinen Eltern und Großeltern haben wir gestern noch von ?Steuerbuch? bekommen.
Geburturkunde Standesamt Körperich
Mathias Pöppelreiter ist am 22 Juni 1843
in Mettendorf geboren.
Vater: Theodor Pöppelreiter, Taglöhner
Mutter: Maria Katharina Groelinger.
Geburturkunde Standesamt Körperich
Magdalena Wagener ist am 21 März 1842
geboren in Mettendorf.
Vater: Johann Wagener, Schäfer
Mutter: Anna Maria Kaerscht
Sonst kann ich Ihnen ja nicht viel schreiben. Hoffentlich ist der Krieg bald zu Ende.
Also seid hiermit recht herzlich gegrüßt von uns allen besonders von Regina.
In the letter, Regina, who was 45 at the time, greets her relatives saying how happy she and the family were to hear from them. She would have written sooner if she had had an address to write to. She says that they are doing very well (which surprised me) and wishes and hopes the same for her relatives in Luxembourg. She gives information on her father and his first wife (Regina was from his marriage to his second wife). She goes on to say that she doesn’t have much to talk about but hopefully the war will soon end. She sends heartfelt greetings from all, especially from Regina. Imagine! Regina wrote to her sister Catherine’s family living in German-occupied Luxembourg and this letter survived the war and was saved by Marie all these years.
Johann WILDINGER’s widow Catherine Pöppelreiter died in Echternach in house number 24 in the rue André Duchscher on 4 September 1950 at 6 in the evening after a short and painful illness. She was 76 years old.
The funeral service was held Thursday the 7th at 9:30 a.m. She was survived by her daughter Marie, her son Jean-Pierre and his wife and daughter, and her widowed daughter-in-law Marcelle Fournelle and daughter. Catherine’s deceased husband’s name is seen as Jean instead of Johann as French names were more commonly used following World War II.
On 17 October 1950, the family placed an announcement in the Luxemburger Wort thanking everyone for the prayers, flowers, and cards of condolence received following her death.
After the death of her mother, Marie continued to take steps to become a naturalized Luxembourg citizen. By the law of 18 December 1950, naturalization was granted to Miss Marie WILDINGER, born on 21 March 1902 in Ernzen, Germany, and a resident of Echternach. The naturalization was accepted on 23 December 1950, as noted in a report drawn up the same day by the mayor of the town Echternach. This became effective three days after publication on 6 January 1951.
In 1962 Marie’s brother Jean-Pierre WILDINGER who was living and working in Schifflange was also naturalized.
In 1957 when my mother married my father Fred Roosevelt DEMPSEY she was the first of the grandchildren of Johann and Catherine WILDINGER-PÖPPELREITER to marry. Her cousin F., the older of the two granddaughters, married the following year in 1958 to Jean-Joseph “Ernest” HOFFMANN (1932-2002).
Everyone in the family was now married except Marie, the oldest child and only daughter of Johann and Catherine. Marie or Tata, as we called her, was never married. She was the person in this family who was closest to my heart and close to home as she lived on the same street we lived.
Tata, my mother’s aunt and my grandaunt, became a seamstress and made her living by making, mending, and altering clothes, sheets, tablecloths, napkins, anything made of fabric. She was skilled enough to make coats, suits, and dresses for women from her own patterns. When times were hard she would take apart old pieces of clothing and make a new outfit out of the scraps for clients who needed new clothes but did not have the money to buy new fabric. She had a young woman apprentice, Margarete, who worked for her from a very young age until 1984.
She turned the living room of her house into her atelier where she sewed for and fitted her clients. It was a long, narrow room with only one window (on the left of Marie in the photo above) which looked out on the street. Two Singer sewing machines with treadle power were set up by the window, facing each other. Near the door that opened into the front hallway was a coal stove that was used to heat the room. Different sized irons used to iron open seams, more fragile fabrics, and press suits and coats were heated up on the top of the stove. Along the opposite wall was a long table that she used as an ironing board as well as a workspace to lay out, pin the patterns, and cut out the material. Against the back wall was a small bench usually filled with bolts of material. In the back corner of the room, she had a little closet to hang the clothes that were being worked on or were finished and waiting to be picked up by their owners.
During the many years that Marie worked as a seamstress, there were plenty of people who were happy to pay for her services. Enough for her to support herself and her mother even though her sister-in-law Marcelle, who lived next door, also worked as a seamstress.
From 1962-1966 when my siblings and I were young and living in France we would visit Tata whenever we were in Luxembourg. While she sewed and visited with Mom, she would let us play with her collection of buttons on the floor in front of the oven. Wooden buttons, metal buttons, covered buttons, glass buttons, pearly buttons, sew through buttons, shank buttons, old buttons, plain buttons, pretty buttons, even ugly buttons – none were thrown away. To keep us busy she would also give us a large magnet. We would crawl around her work area picking up pins and needles that had fallen on the wooden floor and into the cracks.
In 1973 Jean-Pierre’s wife Suzanne WAGNER died and was buried in the cemetery of Echternach in the WILDINGER family plot where her parents-in-law and brother-in-law Nicolas were buried.
Tata did not like to have her picture taken. I think this was because she was always working, wearing her apron which was usually covered with pieces of thread, pins and threaded needles, or lint from running the sewing machine. Here she was all dressed up, even wearing a brooch, when she came by for coffee and the traditional Bûche de Noel, at Christmastime in 1978.
My grandaunt Marie WILDINGER died the day after her 82nd birthday. The funeral service was held at the basilica in Echternach on Saturday, 24 March 1984 at 4 in the afternoon. She was buried in the cemetery in Echternach. She was survived by a brother, two nieces, 3 grandnieces and 5 grandnephews.
The last surviving child of this couple, my granduncle Jean-Pierre WILDINGER died in October 1984. His funeral service was held in the church of Schifflange on Tuesday, 23 October 1984, at 4 in the afternoon. He was survived by his only daughter, his son-in-law, three grandchildren, a niece, 2 grandnieces and 3 grandnephews.
Although his name is on the plaque with the WILDINGER family, he is not buried in Echternach.
 Richard Schaffner from Kordel, compiler, Familienbuch 2 der Pfarrei St. Marcus Ernzen bei Irrel, Daten bis 1798 aus den Kirchenbüchern der Pfarrei Echternach (damals fur Ernzen zuständig); mit: Ernzen-Hof, Fölkenbach und teilweise auch Prümzurlay (Häuser der rechten Flußseite) 1680-1899 (compiled in 2000), page 245-246, family #867. Book viewed and pages photographed in Archiv Peter Daus (Wittlich) on 4 May 2013.
 “Deutschland, Geburten und Taufen, 1558-1898,” index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/NFD4-6LB : accessed 23 February 2015), Joh. Wildinger, 25 Feb 1874; FHL microfilm 462,714.
 Mémorial (Journal Officiel) du Grand-Duché de Luxembourg, A N° 1, Samedi, le 6 janvier 1951, online http://www.legilux.public.lu/leg/a/archives/1951/0001/a001.pdf
 Mémorial (Journal Officiel) du Grand-Duché de Luxembourg, A N° 40, 24 juillet 1962, pg. 617, online http://www.legilux.public.lu/leg/a/archives/1962/0040/a040.pdf
 Commune d’Echternach Nr. 13/1935, Wildinger-Fournelle 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. Scanned copy of the original, in possession of their daughter.
 1924 Death Record No. 12, photocopy of original page in the death register at the records office at the city hall in Echternach obtained 10 July 1996.
 1935 Marriage Record No. 13, photocopy of original page in the marriage book at the records office at the city hall in Echternach obtained 21 Jun 1996.
 1941 Death Record No. 49, photocopy of original page in the death register at the records office at the city hall in Echternach obtained 10 July 1996.
 1950 Death Record No., photocopy of original page in the death register at the records office at the city hall in Echternach obtained 10 July 1996.
 Luxembourger Wort, digitized by Bibliothèque nationale de Luxembourg; online http://www.eluxemburgensia.lu/webclient/DeliveryManager?application=DIRECTLINK&custom_att_2=simple_viewer&pid=833934&search_terms=catherine%20wildinger#panel:pp|issue:833934|article:DTL387|query:catherine wildinger
 Luxembourger Wort, digitized by Bibliothèque nationale de Luxembourg; online http://www.eluxemburgensia.lu/webclient/DeliveryManager?application=DIRECTLINK&custom_att_2=simple_viewer&pid=835266&search_terms=catherine%20wildinger#panel:pp|issue:835266|article:DTL332|query:catherine wildinger
© 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.