Retraction of Allegations Made Against Maisy Vesque (1913-1969)

Since first hearing this family tradition I’ve thought there was a murder mystery in my maternal family tree. And I’ve wanted to get to the bottom of it for the longest time. Records are not publicly available for the recent time period the supposed crime was committed. This post is meant to clear the name of my first cousin twice removed Maisy VESQUE.

Over three years ago I wrote about my great-great-grandparents Jean FRANTZ (1837-1929) and Marie MAJERUS (1850-1931) in 52 Ancestors: #25 The Old Homestead: From Weaving Linen to Farming in Mamer.

Jean and Marie were the parents of ten children, two of whom died as babies. Their sixth child, daughter Paulina FRANTZ (1880-1966) married Johann Peter François VESQUE in 1910. They had only one known child, a daughter named Maisy who was born about 1913.

I have not been able to locate a birth record for her. Mamer where her mother was from, Contern where her father was from, and Rumelange where her father was living in 1910 when they married were searched to no avail. [Any help would be appreciated!]

UPDATE (26 September 2018): My friend Linda K. who has helped me out several times with finding records in Luxembourg, found Maisy’s birth record. She was born on 7 August 1912 in Rumelange. Her birth name was Maria Margaretha.1 Why I missed this record will be shared in my next post.

Maisy VESQUE (1913-1969) (left) and her first cousin Margot HILBERT (1915-2007) (right) ~ photo taken on 29 December 1921.

A family tradition told by my grandmother was that Maisy served time in prison for killing a man.

I believed the story must be true since it was told by my grandmother who was her first cousin and four years older than Maisy. However each time I searched the newspapers on eluxemburgensia, the Luxembourg National Library’s portal for their project to digitize Luxembourg periodicals, I came up empty. I had no idea when this event took place. I assumed Maisy would have to be an adult to serve time, i.e. between 1931-1969: from the age of 18 to the time of her death.

Recently I found a DNA match on MyHeritage whose most recent common ancestors (MRCA) to with my brother whose test I manage are Jean Baptiste MAJERUS and Catharina CORNELY, the grandparents of Marie MAJERUS, Maisy’s maternal grandmother.

In my first message to the match, I included the link to my article on the CORNELY-MAJERUS couple. Maisy’s story, although only a one-liner in another post, attracted the match’s attention since she has a family tradition that her great-grandfather may have been murdered while on a trip to Luxembourg. Neither of us had further information.

Maisy and the match’s great-grandfather’s wife were first cousins twice removed but Maisy was born after the husband’s death. The timeline doesn’t match up. Still, my curiosity was piqued. Once again I searched for any mention of Maisy VESQUE in the Luxembourg newspapers. An article, in a newspaper which was only recently added to the eluxemburgensia collection, was found about an incident which likely started the embellished family tradition.2

L’indépendance luxembourgeoise (30 Dec 1933)

Translation of the French text:

Publication: L’indépendance luxembourgeoise
Published: 30 December 1933
Title: Chronique Locale
Towards the health home. – Yesterday, around 16 hours, a young person, named Maisy Vesque, 21, of Oetrange, came to the home of Mr. Robert Leesch, dentist, in Liberty Avenue. Without saying a word, she shot twice at the dentist’s assistant who opened the door. However, he was not hit. The municipal police were immediately requested, and the strange visitor took two more shots, which also failed. Since she was obviously a madwoman, the police immediately directed her to the health center in Ettelbruck.

Maisy was about twenty years old at the time. Whatever led her to take a gun to the dentist’s home and fire four shots is not mentioned in the article. I was relieved to learn she did not harm or kill anyone. The health center she was taken to in Ettelbruck was the neuro-psychiatric hospital. How long she remained there as an inmate or if she stood trial for her acts is not known.

Maisy VESQUE (1913-1969)

Maisy never married and had no children. At the time of her death, she was a resident of Oetrange where her parents had made their home since their marriage and where she had been living at the time of the event. Her mother had been deceased a little over two years and her father five years when she passed away.

UPDATE (26 September 2018): The birth record found by Linda K. included the date and place of death in the margin. Maisy died on 24 April 1969 in Ettelbruck.

Pauline and Franz had one daughter Maisy who served time in prison for killing a man and never married.

I wrote this line in June 2015 and it is now time to retract the statement. There is no evidence to date which shows Maisy served time or killed a man. She attempted to do harm to the dentist or his assistant and then the police for an unknown reason. She may have been an inmate of the psychiatric ward but there is no proof she was in prison.

As genealogists and family historians, we can pass on the family traditions but whenever possible they should be proven when records are available. In this case, my grandmother is no longer alive to give me more information. I should have questioned her when she casually told me Maisy had been locked up for killing a man. Maybe she hadn’t meant prison and I was the one who unknowingly touched up the story.

© 2018, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.


  1.  Luxembourg, Registres d’état civil, 1662-1941 (images), FamilySearch (original records at Luxembourg National Archives, Plateau du Saint-Esprit, Luxembourg), Rumelange > Naissances 1898-1912 > image 763 of 789. 1912 Birth Record No. 107 (includes annotation of 1969 death in margin). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-897V-956R?cc=1709358&wc=9RTB-ZNL%3A130319501%2C130499501 : accessed 26 September 2018). 
  2.  L’indépendance luxembourgeoise (1871-1934), (imprimeur- éditeur Joseph Beffort (1845-1923) et de ses successeurs), digitized by the Bibliothèque nationale de Luxembourg, http://www.eluxemburgensia.lu, Saturday 30 and Sunday 31 December 1933, No. 354 and 355, page 2, column 4, Chronique Locale (http://www.eluxemburgensia.lu/webclient/DeliveryManager?application=DIRECTLINK&custom_att_2=simple_viewer&pid=3345739&search_terms=vesque#panel:pp|issue:3345739|article:DTL48|query:vesque : accessed 21 September 2018). 
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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.

23 thoughts on “Retraction of Allegations Made Against Maisy Vesque (1913-1969)”

  1. Your story reminded me of the game Telephone—where one person starts a story, whispers it to another, who passes it along to another, and so. At the end the last person’s story never quite matches the first person’s story. Who knows what your grandmother herself heard and how she interpreted and then retold it. After all Maisy was “locked up” and almost killed a man. I am glad you were able to find the “real” story—though even newspapers aren’t always right!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. More excellent sleuthing on your part, Cathy. Although this time period is quite recent, since Maisy is gone and she has no descendants or close family living, it was right to update her story.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Fascinating read, Cathy. Such a good point, we really do need to try to find evidence that either supports or disproves family legends. But I will say this, if you hadn’t recorded what you did, you likely wouldn’t have found this part of Maisy’s story. I love the first photo of her as a child, the details of their clothing are lovely!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You hit the nail on the head, Amberly. We need to record everything even when we question it. One day a record or a cousin will show up with the answer as you very well know.

      I remember the day the photos in this post were labelled. My grandmother was at our house for Easter dinner. My computer corner (no laptop back then) was set up in the dining room and she could see the monitor screen from the table. I went through all the photos she’d let me borrow to scan and by the time we were finished, the tree was a bit fuller. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Cathy,
    Genealogy is so much more than just obtaining records and seeing how far back you go. As most of us do, you took a story at face value and when the time was right, you were able to set the record straight. Many times, these situations are hard to unravel and get at the truth. Bravo!
    Brian

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Accountability is the word that I thought of when I read your comment. Since I have began blogging about my ancestors I feel much more responsibility for getting everything right – facts, citations, etc. Thank you, Brian.

      Like

  5. This is an important story, especially your admission that it is POSSIBLE that you touched up the story yourself. We all do it as we interpret what we hear. A phrase such as “locked up” can mean different things to different people. Also the pairing of info can lead us to misinterpretation. The assumption would be that if she actually killed someone locked up would mean prison.

    Liked by 1 person

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