The Extinction of the PREISEN Family Name †

We’ gruss stinn haut ons Fraen, Mäner, de’ vill em d’Hemecht mat gemacht — de’ grad we’ an de grusse Länner, hirt Léwen vir si agesât.

As the story of the Thomas PREISER and Anna Maria SCHRANTZ family of Diekirch was coming together, I attended a conference in Walferdange on the subject of Luxembourgish Family Names.

logo_klengThe lecture was organized by my local genealogy association Prof. Dr. Peter GILLES explained in his lecture the procedure and results of several years of research. The project was supported by the Luxembourg National Research Fund (FNR) from 2009-2012 at the University of Luxembourg. The 2600 most frequent family names were published in Luxemburger Familiennamenbuch by Cristian Kollmann, Peter Gilles and Claire Muller in 2016. I have a copy of the book and mentioned it in my post How a Surname Had Me Spiraling Down a Rabbit Hole.

The PREISEN surname is unusual and, with the evolution of surnames on my mind, I wanted to add an unexpected end to this family’s story.

When Thomas, the father of this family, was baptized in 1753 his surname was spelled PREISER. When he married in 1779, the record showed the spelling PREUSEN. When his children were born between 1779 and 1799, PREISEN and PREUSEN were seen on the baptismal records. When Thomas died in 1801, PREUSEN was the spelling used by all of his children. By 1880, the descendants had gone back to using the PREISEN spelling.

The three sons of Thomas and Anna Maria who married, each had 8 to 9 children but only one son each. Peter and Joseph’s sons both lived to the age of 80 but never married.

Anton’s son had a son who had a son who had a son…

Anton was the only son of Thomas and Anna Maria who continued the male line, the line which kept the surname alive. Anton had a son:

  • Philippe (1822-1883) who had a son
  • Michel (1852-1945) who had a son
  • Michel Philippe (1889-1975) who had a son
  • Jean Pierre Christophe (1915-1944), known as Jempy to the family and friends.

There were no other male descendants other than Anton’s son, grandson, great-grandson, and great-great-grandson. Jempy was the last male PREISEN in the line.

Luxemburger Wort. 16 September 1944. page 4, colum 2. online|issue:789672|article:DTL304|query:preisen thillen

Jempy died at the age of 28 years as the result of an accident. What terrible “accident” took his life?

Tageblatt. 18 September 1944. page 4, column 1. online|issue:725642|article:DTL52|query:preisen jempy

Diekirch – Jempy  Preisen † . The city of Diekirch has endured four years the Nazi tyranny and oppression with a strong heart and unflinching will. No wonder the day of our deliverance, September 11th, was a day of joy, enthusiasm, and rejoicing. Unfortunately, the victorious goddess demanded a sacrificial prize in the person of the 28-year-old Jempy PREISEN from Diekirch. This member of the Luxemburgish Freedom Organization was shot by a cowardly national traitor during the cleansing of our city. Jempy was always a noble friend to us all, animated by an ardent patriotism; it was rightly said of him: How tall stand today the women and men who did so much for our homeland — who like those from other large countries, put their lives on the line. The general interest of the town and the surrounding region of Diekirch may be a quiet consolation for the respectable PREISEN-THILLEN family, who have now sacrificed their only son and heir for the homeland. Jempy Preisen has entered into the long series of heroes who have sacrificed their lives for the liberty of Luxembourg; his memory will always be honored.

The underlined part is the translation of the quote used at the beginning of this post.

In 1880 the Luxembourg census had 9 persons enumerated with the surname PREISEN, a name no longer found in the telephone book in 2009. The last living male person to carry the surname PREISEN, Jempy’s father, died in 1975, nearly 200 hundred years after Thomas and Anna Maria started their family.

The Story is Not All Sadness

For those of you who have read the first part of this story, Thomas and Anna Maria’s story is not all sadness. Marie’s children lived short lives and Elizabeth had two stillborn daughters, but the other five children each had between seven and a dozen children. There were some who did not live to adulthood and others who chose to not marry, but the rest married and continued their lines although not with the PREISEN name.

One of these was my children’s 4th great-grandmother Margaretha PREISEN.


Her line went full circle when her granddaughter Elise FABER married François MEDER (half 3rd cousins) and had eleven children. In yesterday’s post I mentioned this unusual discovery which may have been a bit hard to follow. Amy Cohen of Brotman: A Family Journey suggested doing a chart (above, click to enlarge) to help “decipher your sentence about the sixth great-grandparents…” Does this make it easier?


© 2017, 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.

22 thoughts on “The Extinction of the PREISEN Family Name †”

  1. Sorry it’s taken me so long to read this—we are in FL, meaning I am getting away from the computer! The chart definitely helps—I think I get it now. Quite remarkable!! It must have made your head spin a bit when you figured this out. And that is so sad about Jempy. How awful to die just as the war had ended and there was so much to look forward to as such a young man. Just awful. Thanks also for mentioning my blog!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No problem. Took me just as long to get to your comment. Glad the chart helped. I’m seeing the same names all the time while researching these families in Diekirch. I’ve been noting some of them to look at for the next generation back. I wouldn’t be surprised if it happens again. Luxembourg is so small. You’re welcome and thank you.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. So far I haven’t found 1st or 2nd cousin marriage in Luxembourg. Under the early law of the Catholic Church, couples were forbidden to marry if they were within four degrees of consanguinity. This was later changed to seven degrees. You count the generations from yourself to the common ancestor and back down to the other person. I’ve seen church records which include the statement that the bride and groom are not related by a certain degree. I need to see if I can find an example. The consanguinity rule varies greatly by religious group and culture.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Certainly in my own family I’ve seen numerous second and even first cousin marriages. But I think Jews had little choice—they lived in small communities where there were limited families and were not permitted to marry outside the Jewish community. Today, of course, in the US that would not happen at all with first cousins and rarely with second cousins.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for sharing your experience with the surname lecture. What an interesting add-on to the story of Thomas and Anna Maria. Often we family genealogists dismiss written changes in surnames as mistakes on census’s and documents. Your blog post following the surname through time causes me to think about doing the same for my Brochman(n) family from Diekirch. I know of several spellings and one purposeful spelling change in America from a particular branch (and made note of it). The Luxembourg records in French, German, and Lux languages made me think they are just variations due to languages but it seems further investigation could be warranted. So sad about Jempy, but how heartfelt to be able to pass on his legacy to your family’s generation and keep remembering him.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The problem with the Luxembourg records being in French, German, and Latin and the spoken language being Luxembourgish has had me change the way I input the names several times. Should I use the Latin name from the baptismal record, the French or German name found in the civil record depending on the time period, or even the name used by the family, like Jempy in this example? Thank you for reading, Kathy.


    1. Thank you, Linda. I’ve never really paid attention to this phenomenon. But I knew I hadn’t heard of anyone with the PREISEN surname in Luxembourg today and had to look into it. I’d be happy if someone reading this post would let me know the youngest son Nicolas, for whom I have no information, went to other parts and had a huge family of boys who let the name continue.


  3. This is a great story, thanks for sharing! It’s sad tracing a line like that which just disappears – I have followed up on few like that (mainly for Y-DNA tests).

    Plenty of cousin marriages in my tree too, I was surprised to find out I’m my own cousin 😀

    Liked by 1 person

      1. My ancestors are Bulgarian – while the Orthodox church forbids marrying close relatives, they all lived in remote villages within 20 miles radius. Large families, marrying in neighbour villages… often unknowingly 4th and more distant cousins married. My tree is not a tree, it’s a lattice 🙂 And I don’t just research my own line, I research thr whole region and wait and see where those other trees will link to mine – as they all eventually do! 🙂

        It’s great fun!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Most researchers here (in Luxembourg) do town genealogies and they are really helpful for finding records.
        When I first did my American lines, I researched all descendants the oldest known ancestor. As I did this for each ancestor in the same area the branches of the tree intertwined – like your lattice.
        As you say, it’s great fun but sooo time consuming. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  4. My mom was just commenting to me recently that her maiden surname died out and it makes her sad. I have never really looked at it that way because I feel like I inherited wonderful things from all of my ancestors (well, you know what I mean – some weren’t so great but most were) not just those who share my maiden surname. It was really interesting to consider the loss she feels with her surname dying in her line. I love your chart! Did you make that yourself? I have a several double (and a few triple, which sounds impossible, it’s not) relationships in my tree that are super complicated to map out. I have one chicken scratch chart I did on a scrap of paper somewhere that took me a good 2 hours to make and I still have to read through the whole thing and look at my pedigree and a few records to remind myself of all the connections. It’s very confusing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I generated the chart using my genealogy software, Ancestral Quest 15. I did a screenshot and annotated (arrows and extra text) it using Evernote. I need to use the chart feature more often. I’ve been using AQ15 (and previous versions) for over a dozen years. I still don’t use it to the max! Thanks, Amberly, for stopping by.

      Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Konzen Genealogy

Tracing the Konzen family line

Laura J. Hanson

City writer with a country view

Look into my eye

Mijn ervaring met Acanthamoeba Keratitis, meer dan alleen een ernstige oogaandoening

Secrets et ancêtres

Généalogie familiale

B&F: Jewish Genealogy and More

Navigating Jewish Genealogy

Through The Byzantine Gate

The Serrapede and Muro Families-From Agropoli to America

Blackthorn Genealogy

tales of ancestral adventure, genealogical pursuit, and greater belonging

Many Branches, One Tree

...Understanding our roots helps us grow

Roots Revealed

Viewing African American History Through a Genealogical Lens

Decluttering the Stuff

Our Journey in Decluttering the Stuff so we can Live a Decluttered Life

Genealogy Bites

Little bites of genealogy.

Past Presence

A site for genealogists and family historians

Finding Progenitors

Ask Questions........Share Stories

Caroline's Chronicles

My family & other oddities


incorporating DNA in genealogy research

This Is Us

The Browns & The Moores, A Few Gauffreaus & Gustins


As my life goes by, the past gets closer and the future further away.

%d bloggers like this: