52 Ancestors: #21 The MERTES-RUCKERT Family of Strassen

Week 21 (May 21-27) – Military: This week, the United States will be observing Memorial Day. Do you have any military ancestors? Were any ancestors affected by the military or by war?

Luxembourg was considered a neutral country during the time period the MERTES-RUCKERT  family lived. They did not have a father, mother, sister, brother, son, or daughter who died while serving the country.

The Luxembourg Crisis, a diplomatic dispute and confrontation over the political status of Luxembourg between the French Empire and Prussia almost led to war between the two parties, but was peacefully resolved by the Treaty of London signed on 11 May 1867. The immediate effect of the treaty was the reaffirmation of the neutrality of Luxembourg and the union between the Netherlands and Luxembourg under the House of Orange-Nassau.

To ensure Luxembourg’s neutrality, the fortifications of Luxembourg City, known as the Gibraltar of the North, were to be demolished and never to be rebuilt. Dismantling the fortifications required the destruction of underground defences, casemates, batteries, barracks, etc. Fortunately some remains of the fortress survived and can be visited today.

casematesLet’s Begin With A Ridddle

My husband’s great-grandmother Maria MERTES, a first born child, was the seventh child of Michel MERTES and the second daughter of Margaretha RUCKERT. She was the oldest of seven children? How many siblings did she have?

Michel MERTES, Maria’s father

Michel MERTES was born on 6 October 1837 in Strassen.[1] His birth was registered in the commune of Bertrange in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. His father François MERTES, a 31 years old day laborer, did not sign the birth record as he was unable to write. Michel’s mother’s name was given as Marguerite ERPELDING, no age was listed.

Michel married Catharina HEIN on 10 January 1861 in Strassen[2]. By this time the town of Strassen was a commune and no longer a part of the Bertrange commune. Catharina gave Michel six children before she died on 14 February 1874[3]. At the time of her death five children were living, their first born child had died at the age of six days.

  1. Maria MERTES born 1 February 1862[4] and died 6 February 1862[5]
  2. Margaretha MERTES born 11 April 1863[6]
  3. Johann MERTES born 16 November 1865[7] and died 26 February 1875[8]
  4. Maria MERTES born 11 October 1867[9] and died 24 June 1877[10]
  5. Barbara MERTES born 5 January 1870[11] and died 12 March 1900[12]
  6. Jacob MERTES born 24 April 1872[13]

All of the above children were born in Strassen.

Margaretha RUCKERT, Maria’s mother

Margaretha RUCKERT was born 4 May 1847 in Bertrange.[14] Her father Jacob RUCKERT was 59 years old and her mother Magdalena SCHMIT was 37 years old. On the birth record her mother’s maiden name was spelled with two T’s. Her father was literate and signed the birth record.

Margaretha, at the age of 23, married Jacob ANTON on 22 September 1870 in Bertrange.[15] Anton was a 49 years old widower – over twice her age. The father of the bride, the parents of the groom, and the first wife of the groom were deceased at the time.

Margaretha was married a little over six months when her husband Jacob died on 2 April 1871 in Bertrange.[16] At the time Margaretha was carrying his child. On 28 July 1871 she gave birth to their daughter Susanna ANTON.[17] As the father of the child was deceased, the midwife Susanna TIMMESCH (sic, THIMMESCH), who delivered Susanna, declared the birth.

Susanna ANTON has only been traced until 1890 when she was unmarried and working as a servant possibly in Belgium.

The Widower Michel MERTES Marries the Widow of Jacob ANTON

Michel had only been widowed two months when he married Margaretha RUCKERT, the widow of Jacob ANTON, on 22 April 1874 in Bertrange.[18] The parents of both the bride and the groom were deceased. The dates of death of six persons were listed on the marriage record: 4 parents and 2 deceased spouses. None of the witnesses were related the the bridal couple. Michel and Margaretha were both able to write and signed their names to the marriage record.

signaturesThe Children of Michel and Margaretha

Michel’s and Margaretha’s first child Maria was born on 14 February 1875 in Strassen[19] exactly one year after the death of Michel’s first wife Catharina HEIN.

Less than two weeks after the birth of their first child Maria, Michel’s son Johann from his first marriage died at the age of ten years.[20]

Their second child, a son Franz, was born 9 March 1877.[21] Three months later, another of Michel’s children from his first marriage, Maria, died on 24 June 1877. As with her brother Johann in 1875 Maria also died at the age of ten years.[22]

Five more children were born to Michel and Margaretha:

  • Catharina born 3 January 1880[23] and died unknown (after 1895)
  • Maria “Margaretha” born 10 March 1882[24] and died unknown (after 1895)
  • Jacob born 24 October 1885[25] and died 9 June 1886[26]
  • Barbara born 23 December 1887[27] died 3 January 1888[28]
  • Susanna born 4 January 1889[29] and died unknown (after 1895)

In 1890 the Michel MERTES household was made up of Michel, his wife Margaretha, and their children Franz, Catharina, Margaretha, and Susanna. Three children were listed on the back of the census as working away from home. Michel’s son Jacob MERTES was  in Belgium learning the carpentry trade. Michel and Margaretha’s daughter Maria MERTES and Margaretha’s daughter Susanna ANTON were working as servants at an illegible location.

What Happened to this Family after 1890?

On 19 February 1894 Maria MERTES, oldest daughter of Michel and Margaretha, married Nicolas PEFFER.[30] Her parents were living in Strassen at the time.

In 1895 Michel and Margaretha were in Strassen with three daughters: Catharina, Margaretha and Susanna. None of these young ladies were old enough to be married. Michel’s son Jacob from his first marriage had been working in Belgium for four years per this census. Michel and Margaretha’s son Franz was not at home and had been in Dudelange for 8 days.[31] Michel’s daughter Barbara, wife of Jean Pierre PARRAGE, was also living in Strassen with her husband and their son Jean Pierre who was born in Belgium in 1891.[32]

In 1891 Michel’s daughter from his first marriage, Barbara age 21 married Jean Pierre PARRAGE[33] a 47 years old widower who had lost his wife while living in Dippach. Barbara died 12 March 1900 in Hautcharage[34] and it was only due to her death being registered in Strassen[35] that I was able to trace her to Hautcharage. Her widower was found in the 1900 census[36] in Hautcharage with his older children from a previous marriage, their son Jean Pierre born in 1891 in Messancy (Belgium) and their son Nicolas born in 1897[37] in Steinfort.

This census information lead to the birth records of Nicolas and a daughter Anna Maria born in Steinfort in 1899.[38] She was not with her father in 1900 and no record of death was found in the communes of Steinfort or Bascharage where they were known to have been living. Was this young child with her MERTES grandparents in 1900?

Michel and Margaretha have not been located in the 1900 census in Strassen. Control lists give only the names of the head of household. If the MERTES family was living with another family each page of the census needs to be viewed to find them. No MERTES marriages were found in Strassen between 1895-1923. No death records were found for this family in Strassen between 1895-1923. The family appears to have disappeared from Strassen after the 1895 census, but where did they go?

Answer to the Riddle

Maria had 13 siblings: 6 half-siblings through her father, a half-sister through her mother, and 6 full siblings.

Sources:
[1] Luxembourg, Registres d’état civil, 1793-1923 (images), FamilySearch (original records at Luxembourg National Archives, Plateau du Saint-Esprit, Luxembourg), Bertrange > Naissances 1796-1890 Mariages 1796-1827 > image 520 of 1480. 1837 Birth Record No. 48. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-267-12703-102810-32?cc=1709358&wc=M9M6-2DX:1319414221 : accessed 04 Apr 2013).
[2] Ibid, Strassen > Naissances, mariages 1796-1823, 1850-1890 > image 1221 of 1464. 1861 Marriage Record No. 1. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-266-12588-59528-4?cc=1709358&wc=M9M6-LNP:1592332876 : accessed 03 Apr 2013).
[3] Ibid, Strassen > Décès 1850-1890 > image 251 of 446. 1874 Death Record No. 4. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-267-11741-487-59?cc=1709358&wc=9RYH-6T5:130458601,129625702 : accessed 17 May 2015).
[4] Ibid, Strassen > Naissances, mariages 1796-1823, 1850-1890 > image 450 of 1464. 1862 Birth Record No. 5. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-266-12588-61420-66?cc=1709358&wc=9RY7-N38:130458601,130573201 : accessed 20 May 2015).
[5] Ibid, Strassen > Décès 1850-1890 > image 120 of 446. 1862 Death Record No. 4. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-267-11740-160448-65?cc=1709358&wc=9RYH-6T5:130458601,129625702 : accessed 21 May 2015).
[6] Ibid, Strassen > Naissances, mariages 1796-1823, 1850-1890 > image 466 of 1464. 1863 Birth Record No. 19. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-266-12588-57722-32?cc=1709358&wc=9RY7-N38:130458601,130573201 : accessed 2 April 2010).
[7] Ibid, Strassen > Naissances, mariages 1796-1823, 1850-1890 > image 504 of 1464. 1865 Birth Record No. 39. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-266-12588-57972-12?cc=1709358&wc=9RY7-N38:130458601,130573201 : accessed 2 April 2010).
[8] Ibid, Strassen > Décès 1850-1890 > image 272 of 446. 1875 Death Record No. 10. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-267-11741-3569-1?cc=1709358&wc=9RYH-6T5:130458601,129625702 : accessed 21 May 2015).
[9] Ibid, Strassen > Naissances, mariages 1796-1823, 1850-1890 > image 528 of 1464. 1867 Birth Record No. 39. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-266-12588-61010-8?cc=1709358&wc=9RY7-N38:130458601,130573201 : accessed 2 April 2010).
[10] Ibid, Strassen > Décès 1850-1890 > image 308 of 446. 1877 Death Record No. 19. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-267-11741-3865-96?cc=1709358&wc=9RYH-6T5:130458601,129625702 : accessed 21 May 2015).
[11] Ibid, Strassen > Naissances, mariages 1796-1823, 1850-1890 > image 563 of 1464. 1870 Birth Record No. 1. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-266-12588-60560-57?cc=1709358&wc=9RY7-N38:130458601,130573201 : accessed 2 April 2010).  Note: mother is listed as Margaretha Hein instead of Catharina Hein.
[12] Ibid, Tuntange > Décès 1895-1912 > image 53 of 263. 1900 Death Record No. 12. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1951-32044-16629-65?cc=1709358&wc=9RTB-J4W:130493401,129657201 : accessed 21 May 2015). Note: When this was cited there was an issue with the death records of Strassen. Tuntange > Décès 1895-1912 are really Strassen > Deces 1895-1923. being mislabelled Tuntange.
[13] Ibid, Strassen > Naissances, mariages 1796-1823, 1850-1890 > image 594 of 1464. 1872 Birth Record No. 22. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-266-12588-61213-69?cc=1709358&wc=9RY7-N38:130458601,130573201 : accessed 2 April 2010),.
[14] Ibid, Bertrange > Naissances 1796-1890 Mariages 1796-1827 > image 770 of 1480. 1847 Birth Record No. 25. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-267-12703-104061-29?cc=1709358&wc=M9M6-2DX:1319414221 : accessed 04 Apr 2013).
[15] Ibid, Bertrange > Mariages 1828-1890 Décès 1796-1890 > image 372 of 1416. 1870 Marriage Record No. 7. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-267-12131-56851-48?cc=1709358&wc=9RYC-829:129622901,129640401 : accessed 20 May 2015).
[16] Ibid, Bertrange > Mariages 1828-1890 Décès 1796-1890 > image 1223 of 1416. 1871 Death Record No. 16. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-267-12131-56358-72?cc=1709358&wc=9RYC-829:129622901,129640401 : accessed 25 May 2015).
[17] Ibid, Bertrange > Naissances 1796-1890 Mariages 1796-1827 > image 1091 of 1480. 1871 Birth Record No. 17. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-267-12703-103996-63?cc=1709358&wc=9RY8-YWL:129622901,129854201 : accessed 20 May 2015).
[18] Ibid, Strassen > Naissances, mariages 1796-1823, 1850-1890 > image 1336 of 1464. 1874 Marriage Record No. 5. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-266-12588-60372-57?cc=1709358&wc=M9M6-LNP:1592332876 : accessed 03 Apr 2013).
[19] Ibid, Strassen > Naissances, mariages 1796-1823, 1850-1890 > image 645 of 1464. 1875 Birth Record No. 11. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-266-12588-58599-17?cc=1709358&wc=M9M6-LNP:1592332876 : accessed 01 Apr 2010).
[20] Ibid, Strassen > Décès 1850-1890 > image 272 of 446. 1875 Death Record No. 10. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-267-11741-3569-1?cc=1709358&wc=9RYH-6T5:130458601,129625702 : accessed 21 May 2015).
[21] Ibid, Strassen > Naissances, mariages 1796-1823, 1850-1890 > image 684 of 1464. 1877 Birth Record No. 10. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-266-12588-58094-97?cc=1709358&wc=9RY7-N38:130458601,130573201 : accessed 1 April 2010).
[22] Ibid, Strassen > Décès 1850-1890 > image 308 of 446. 1877 Death Record No. 19. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-267-11741-3865-96?cc=1709358&wc=9RYH-6T5:130458601,129625702 : accessed 21 May 2015).
[23] Ibid, Strassen > Naissances, mariages 1796-1823, 1850-1890 > image 731 of 1464. 1880 Birth Record No. 2. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-266-12588-60407-65?cc=1709358&wc=9RY7-N38:130458601,130573201 : accessed 1 April 2010).
[24] Ibid, Strassen > Naissances, mariages 1796-1823, 1850-1890 > image 760 of 1464. 1882 Birth Record No. 10. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-266-12588-60698-90?cc=1709358&wc=9RY7-N38:130458601,130573201 : accessed 1 April 2010).
[25] Ibid, Strassen > Naissances, mariages 1796-1823, 1850-1890 > image 805 of 1464. 1885 Birth Record No. 36. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-266-12588-57425-38?cc=1709358&wc=9RY7-N38:130458601,130573201 : accessed 1 April 2010).
[26] Ibid, Strassen > Décès 1850-1890 > image 403 of 446. 1886 Death Record No. 10. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-267-11740-165545-91?cc=1709358&wc=9RYH-6T5:130458601,129625702 : accessed 27 Sep 2014).
[27] Ibid, Strassen > Naissances, mariages 1796-1823, 1850-1890 > image 834 of 1464. 1887 Birth Record No. 46. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-266-12588-57481-98?cc=1709358&wc=9RY7-N38:130458601,130573201 : accessed 1 April 2010).
[28] Ibid, Strassen > Décès 1850-1890 > image 419 of 446. 1888 Death Record No. 2. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-267-11740-164328-74?cc=1709358&wc=9RYH-6T5:130458601,129625702 : accessed 27 Sep 2014).
[29] Ibid, Strassen > Décès 1850-1890 > image 419 of 446. 1888 Death Record No. 2. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-267-11740-164328-74?cc=1709358&wc=9RYH-6T5:130458601,129625702 : accessed 27 Sep 2014).
[30] Ibid, Strassen > Naissances, mariages, décès 1891-1894 > image 65 of 117. 1894 Marriage Record No. 3. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-267-12396-19061-71?cc=1709358&wc=M9M6-LNR:27729865 : accessed 01 Apr 2013).
[31] Luxembourg, Volkszählungen 1843-1900 (images), FamilySearch (original records at Luxembourg National Archives, Plateau du Saint-Esprit, Luxembourg), Strassen > 1895 > image 335 of 648. Mertes household no. 145. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1961-32395-20646-31?cc=2037957&wc=M5GD-NQF:346409101,345878001 : accessed 24 May 2015). Note: For front and back matter see images 334 and 336
[32] Ibid, Strassen > 1895 > image 503 of 648. Parrage household no. 229. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1942-32395-19554-40?cc=2037957&wc=M5GD-NQF:346409101,345878001 : accessed 25 May 2015). Note: For front and back matter see images 502 and 504.
[33] Civil records, Strassen > Naissances, mariages, décès 1891-1894 > image 49 of 117. 1891 Marriage Record No. 3. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-267-12396-19882-88?cc=1709358&wc=9RYZ-N3D:130458601,129717601 : accessed 21 May 2015).
[34] Ibid, Bascharage > Décès 1895-1923 > image 52 of 300. 1900 Death Record No. 13. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1961-32025-16034-81?cc=1709358&wc=9RTY-N3X:129625601,129623802 : accessed 21 May 2015).
[35] Ibid, Tuntange > Décès 1895-1912 > image 53 of 263. 1900 Death Record No. 12. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1951-32044-16629-65?cc=1709358&wc=9RTB-J4W:130493401,129657201 : accessed 21 May 2015). Note: When this was cited there was an issue with the death records of Strassen. Tuntange > Décès 1895-1912 are really Strassen > Deces 1895-1923. being mislabelled Tuntange.
[36] Luxembourg census, Bascharage > 1900 > image 599 of 738. Parrage household no. 29. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1961-32395-18055-43?cc=2037957&wc=M5GD-2JW:346198501,345873901 : accessed 24 May 2015). Note: For front and back matter see images 598 and 600.
[37] Civil records, Steinfort > Naissances 1895-1923 > image 25 of 410. 1897 Birth Record No. 8. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1951-32046-11964-73?cc=1709358&wc=9RTB-RMQ:130395201,129648901 : accessed 24 May 2015).
[38] Ibid, Steinfort > Naissances 1895-1923 > image 60 of 410. 1899 Birth Record No. 37. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1971-32046-12405-17?cc=1709358&wc=9RTB-RMQ:130395201,129648901 : accessed 24 May 2015).

Genealogy Sketch

Name: Michel MERTES
Parents: François “Franz” MERTES and Margaretha ERPELDING
Spouse:  Catharina HEIN and (*) Margaretha RUCKERT
Parents of spouse(*): Jacob RUCKERT and Magdalena SCHMIT
Whereabouts: Strassen, Grand Duchy of Luxembourg
Relationship to Cathy Meder-Dempsey: husband’s 2nd great-grandparents

  1. Michel MERTES and Margaretha RUCKERT
  2. Maria MERTES
  3. Suzanne PEFFER
  4. Marie Françoise “Maisy” KREMER
  5. husband of Cathy Meder-Dempsey

© 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.

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Author: Cathy Meder-Dempsey

As a military brat I've lived in Georgia, France, Idaho, West Virginia, Spain, South Carolina, Texas, and Luxembourg. Married 39 years with two grown children. When I’m not doing genealogy, I spend time riding my racing bike with my husband through the wonderful countryside in Luxembourg and surrounding countries.

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