52 Ancestors: #12 A German Family Influenced by the French

My children’s 5th great-grandparents Johann Adam GORGES and Eva Clara RODENS were both born in the 1760s in the small town of Fell. Eva Clara was 14 months older than Johann Adam. Living in such a small town, they must have known each other from a young age. Fell is today part of the municipality of Schweich an der Römischen Weinstraße (Schweich on the Roman wine road) in the district of Trier-Saar in the west of the Rhineland-Palatinate in Germany.

Eva Clara

The first child of the newlyweds Nikolaus RODENS (1744-1795) and Anna SCHUE (d. 1805), Eva Clara was born on 28 November 1764 in Fell. She was baptized the following day in the Catholic church Sankt Martinus in the town of Fell. The parish church is no longer standing today. In it’s place is a church built from 1865 to 1868. The new church was built crosswise on the same spot as the old church.

Eva Clara was the first of ten children. Her siblings were Barbara 1767, Nikolaus 1770, Nikolaus 1774, Philipp 1775, Matthias d. 1776, two stillborn children in 1778 and 1779, Anna 1781, and Maria Margaretha d. 1784.

By the time Eva Clara was 24 years old and ready to marry she had only two siblings still living, her 13 years old brother Philipp and her 7 years old sister Anna.

Johann Adam

Johann Peter GORGES (1718-1784) and Anna Maria HORSCH had four children before their son Johann Adam was born and baptized on 28 January 1766 in Fell. Like all of his siblings, he was baptized in the Sankt Martinus church in Fell.

His older siblings were Anna Maria 1758, Elisabeth 1760, Maria Angela 1762, and Barbara 1763. His younger siblings were Maximin 1767, Johann Peter 1769, and Maria Angela 1771. Johann Adam also had four older half-siblings as his father was previously married and widowed. They were Anna Maria 1752, Johann 1753, Johann Joseph 1755, and Katharina 1757.

Johann Adam was 14 years old when his mother Anna Maria HORSCH died on 17 October 1780. He was 18 when his father Johann Peter GORGES died on 31 January 1784.

Couplehood and Parenthood

Johann Adam GORGES was 23 years old when he married Eva Clara RODENS on 11 February 1789 in Fell. They would make their home in Oberfell (Upper Fell).

Prise de la Bastille
Prise de la Bastille, 14 July 1789 (Jean-Pierre Houël [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)
The young couple was married five months when the French Revolution erupted on 14 July 1789 with the storming of the Bastille in Paris. Three years later when French troops invaded Germany they were at first pushed back. But the German imperial army was defeated in late 1792 in Valmy. In August 1794, French Republican troops took Trier. All German territories on the left bank of the Rhine River were ceded to France in 1797 at the peace treaties of Basel and Campo Formio making Trier a French city. Control of the Rhineland was secured by France who would occupy the area for twenty years.

During the years France was in control of the Rhineland Johann Adam and Eva Clara raised their family of ten children. The first children born were Nikolaus on 15 March 1790, Barbara on 25 March 1792 and Anton on 12 April 1794.

Only these first three children would know their maternal grandfather Nikolaus RODENS who died two days after the youngest son Anton celebrated his first birthday. Nikolaus was buried on 15 April 1795, a day after his death.

The next two children, Matthias born 26 April 1796 and Ann born 3 July 1798 both died in 1799 within a month of each other. Matthias died on 18 February and Anna on 18 March. There was, however, a more joyful event during the year with the marriage of Eva Clara’s only brother Philipp RODENS to Gertrud HOFFRANZEN.

The French Revolution ended with the coup of 18/19 Brumaire in the Year VIII of the Republican Calendar. This was the 9th to 10th of November 1799 when Napoleon Bonaparte’s dictatorship began.

Unbeknownst to Johann Adam and Eva Clara over a decade of constant warfare was on the horizon but they continued to grow their family with the births of Johann on 21 January 1800, Katharina on 11 September 1801, and Anna on 17 May 1803.

The Napoleonic Wars began 18 May 1803, the day after their 8th child was born. The following year Eva Clara’s only sister Anna married Johann Adam SPIELES.

The family continued to increase with the birth of another son, Matthias on 8 July 1805.

The Battle of Austerlitz, 2 December 1805 (François Gérard [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)
The children lost their only living grandmother, Anna SCHUE, on 1 December 1805, the day before the Battle of Austerlitz. This historical event brought about the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire and the creation of the Confederation of the Rhine. A year and a half later the last child of Johann Adam and Eva Clara was born on 2 May 1807. He would live only nine months, dying on 21 February 1807.

Did not return!

Seven of the ten children born to Johann Adam and Eva Clara were living when they bade farewell to their oldest brother Nikolaus when he went off to serve in the French army. Little did they know their son Nikolaus would not return. As with many German families who received news of their sons who were fighting in foreign parts, they learned of his death. According to the Extrait Mortuaire (death notice) recorded in the Fell death register for 1812, he died on 27 November 1811 in Dax, France. He was a soldier and a chasseur. This designation is given to certain regiments of French light infantry or light cavalry to denote troops trained for rapid action.

I checked the death records for Dax, Landes, France, and did not find a death record for Nicolas GORGES dying on 27 November 1811. However, on 30 December 1811 Joseph BERNARD and Fabian SIEULANNE, an employee of the military hospital established in Dax, informed civil authorities of the deaths of fifteen men, one of them being Georges NICOLAS of the 20e Régiment de Chasseurs à Chevals. (20th Regiment of Light Cavalry). He was admitted to the hospital at Dax on 15 September 1811 and died on 27 December 1811. Could this be Nikolaus, and his first and last names were switched? There is a discrepancy in the month of death compared to the entry in the Fell death register.

In 1814 Prussian troops took Trier ending the French rule. After Napoleon’s defeat, the Franco-German borders of 1792 were restored during the Paris peace treaties of 1814 and 1815. Trier was proclaimed part of the Kingdom of Prussia in 1815. With the new political situation and taxes on goods crossing the western border, Trier’s economy began to steadily decline.

The End of French Influence

Following the end of the Napoleonic Wars on 13 Sep 1815, the GORGES-RODENS family would soon lose their patriarch. Anton, the now oldest son, was the informant for the death of Johann Adam GORGES who died on 5 May 1816.

Eva Clara was now a widow with six children, the youngest being only nine years old. Over the next half a dozen years she saw four of them marry. Anton married Anna Maria LEHNEN (1799-1864) on 15 February 1817 in Longuich and the religious ceremony took place two days later in Fell. Barbara married Matthias SCHMITT (18200-1828) on 30 January 1823 in Longuich and the religious ceremony took place the same day in Fell. Johann married his first wife Anna Maria GRACH (1798-1832) on 26 February 1824 in Longuich. Anna married Johann ASEM (1801-1853) on 28 February 1824 in Ruwer where the religious ceremony took place the next day.

The oldest daughter Barbara was widowed when she had been married only 5 years. Three months later, on 5 April 1728, her brother Johann GORGES was the informant on her death. Who would raise the little two boys who were four and less than a year old?

The youngest son Matthias married Anna Maria FELTES (1798-1875) on 19 February 1830 in Longuich. And finally, the last of the children to marry was Katharina who married Johann DIER on 3 January 1832 in Trier. The religious ceremony took place two days later at St. Matthias, in Trier.

Johann GORGES first wife Anna Maria GRACH died on 7 November 1832 in Fell. Two months later he was marrying his second wife, Anna Maria BOTZ (1808-1863) on 10 January 1833 in Fell. Johann and Anna Maria were my children’s 4th great-grandparents.

On 22 January 1836 Anton GORGES, the oldest son, was the informant for the death of his mother Eva Clara RODENS. She left five children, all married, whose situations may have become better from 1840 due to the improving economic climate in the area.


Genealogy Sketch

Name: Johann Adam GORGES
Parents: Johann Peter GORGES and Anna Maria HORSCH
Spouse: Eva Clara RODENS
Parents of Spouse: Nikolaus RODENS and Anna SCHUE
Whereabouts: Fell, Longuich, Trier, Germany
Relationship to Cathy Meder-Dempsey: children’s 5th great-grandfather

1. Johann Adam GORGES and Eva Clara RODENS
2. Johann GORGES
3. Johann GORGES
4. Margaretha GORGES
5. Catharina “Catherine” “Ketty” “Ged” SCHWARTZ
6. Marcel Mathias MEDER
7. Cathy’s husband
8. Cathy’s children


  • Richard Schaffner, Einwohnerbuch der Orte Fell u. Fastrau mit Fellerhof, Fellerburg und den verschiedenen Mühlen im Gemeindebereich 1665-1905, 2008/09
  • Armin Giebel, Ortsfamilienbuch des StA Longuich bis Okt. 1931 (June 2013)
  • Armin Giebel, compiler, Familienbuch Standesamt Ruwer-Waldrach, (Stand: Sept. 2016)
  • Heribert Scholer, Familienbuch Farschweiler 1703-1899 A-Z, 1992
  • Thomas Schmitt and Richard Schaffner, Familienbuch der Pfarrei St. Klemens Ruwer mit den Orten, Ortsteilen. Höfen und Muhlen Mertesdorf (1083-1850), Eitelsback ab 1803, sowie Duisburgerhof, Grünhaus, Karthäuserhof, Koxmühle, Reisenmühle, Grünhäusermühle, Karlsmühle und Schippenmühle 1672-1905 (2007)
  • Germany Births and Baptisms, 1558-1898 / Deutschland Geburten und Taufen, 1558-1898, (index), FamilySearch
  • Germany Marriages, 1558-1929 / Deutschland, Heiraten, 1558-1929, (index), FamilySearch

© 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.

8 thoughts on “52 Ancestors: #12 A German Family Influenced by the French”

  1. My Rhine Valley families were also affected by the French takeover of part of the region. It was interesting to find some birth and death records in French (which were much easier for me to read than the ones in German). Great research, as always, Cathy!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Amy. I was a bit nervous about this one turning out. It’s no fun writing when there are only the family books and indexed records – not one single document. That is, other than the French death record I linked since the French archives are so strict about the use of their images.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. It is easy to forget how many lives were ended or, at the least, disrupted by the constant wars. Country borders changed often and the countries were fairly small anyway so it was quite impossible to escape the effects of war. My dad’s family in Slovakia experienced constant governmental changes. I’d be reading along in the church registers and, literally, overnight they changed from Latin to Hungarian or Russian. Great job with the research.

    Liked by 1 person

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