Proving the True Identity of Jean Baptiste BREGER 1738-1805

The steeple of the Saint Michael’s Church in Luxembourg City is in the upper right quadrant of the featured image.

There is a reason why we look at the entire family group including grandparents and grandchildren when trying to solve a genealogy problem.

Adding new ancestors to the family tree

My fifth great-grandmother, Margretha BREGER’s baptismal record1 was found the day before I wrote 52 Ancestors: #46 Jean Baptiste Majerus and Catharina Cornely of Strassen, a post about my fourth great-grandparents. Jean MAJERUS and Margretha BREGER were the parents of Jean Baptiste MAJERUS and my fifth great-grandparents.

The status of this branch of the family tree in January 2018.

With this find, I was able to add the names of her parents to my family tree. The next step was finding a marriage record for Jean Baptiste and Susanne, my 6th great-grandparents.

1758 Marriage Index Card for Brigert-Mertens couple

The marriage index card for the 1758 marriage of Jean Baptiste BRIGERT and Susanna MERTENS gave the parents of the bride and groom.2 The information was verified in the actual entry for the marriage in the church records of St. Jean-du-Grund.3

1758 marriage entry in church records for Jean Baptiste Brigert (parents: Michaelis Brigert p.m. et Maria Joanna Hackenberger) and Susanne Mertens (parents: Theodori Mertens et Joanna Bevinger p.m.). Note: p.m. means deceased.

The bride’s parents, Theodore MERTENS and Jeanne BEVING,  and maternal grandparents, Nicolas BEVING and Anne Marie KURTZ, were proven by accessing records found using A Hidden Index for Luxembourg City’s Parishes and Garrison. The groom’s line was a bit more complicated.

The BRIGERT-HACKENBERGER family group

I used different spellings of the surnames of Michel BRIGERT and Maria Joanna HACKENBERGER to search for a marriage record in the Marriage Index Database for Luxembourg for the years 1610-1797 but without any success.

I utilized the index I’d found for the parishes in Luxembourg City to find baptisms of children with the surname BREGERDT, BROEGER, BRIGERT, BRETER, BRECKER, BREDER, and BREGER.

For the period 1725 to 1736, I found three baptismal records for children born to a couple with the same surnames as the parents of Johann Baptiste. However, the first name of the father of the children was Caspar or Gaspar and not Michel.

1725 Baptismal Record of Jean Adam BREYER

On 15 May 1725, an illegitimate male child was baptized Joannes Adamus (Jean Adam). His parents were Caspar BREYER, a soldier, and Joanna HACKENBERG. His godparents were Jean Adam WEBER and Elisabetha RECKIN. The entry was followed by an annotation made at a later date. It stated the child was legitimized with the subsequent marriage of Gaspar BREYER and Joanna HACKENBERGER.4

1733 Baptismal Record of Elisabeth BRYER (sic)

On 1 May 1733, Elisabetha the legitimate daughter of Gaspar BREYER and Johannata HACKENBERG was baptized. Her godparents were Elisabetha BISSDORFF and Jean Georges HACKENBERG.5

1736 Baptismal Record of Maria BRIGER

On 12 August 1736, Maria the legitimate daughter of Gaspar BRIGER and Maria Joanna HACKENBERGER was baptized. Her godparents were Maria CHRISTOFF and Jean WEBER.6

These baptismal records show Maria Joanna HACKENBERGER was the wife of Caspar aka Gaspar BREYER (later seen as BRIGER) and not of Michel BRIGERT as noted on the marriage index card above for Johann Baptiste BRIGERT. A marriage record for the BREYER-HACKENBERGER couple was not found although the first baptismal record indicates they were married after the birth of Jean Adam. A baptismal record for a son named Jean Baptiste was not found.

Jean Adam BREYER

I researched the three children above. When I ran the son Jean Adam BREYER (b. 1725) through the marriage database for 1610-1797 there were no hits. However in the database for 1797-1923 there was a hit in 1801. Could he have married at the age of 76 years?

1801 Publication of marriage for Jean Adam BREYER and Catherine GASPAR

The publication of the marriage of Jean Adam BREYER included the following information: Jean Adam BREYER, 76 years old, maçon or builder, widower of Susanne MERTENS, son of Gaspar BREYER and Jeanne HACKENBERG, marrying Catherine GASPAR, 46 years old and widow of Jean DUNCKHOLTZ.7

We have Jean Adam the son of Gaspar and Jeanne which matches the child born in 1725. If he was the widower of Susanne MERTENS his name should have been Jean Baptiste and not Jean Adam.

1801 Marriage Record of Jean Adam BREYER and Catherine GASPAR

The actual marriage record has more information.8

  • The upper third part of the record has the groom and bride’s information.
  • The lower third part has the names, occupations, residence, and age of the four witnesses as well as their signatures.
  • The middle third of the record is completely handwritten and explains which records were consulted.

The groom and bride had to furnish pièces à l’appui or documents supporting the information they gave.  The birth record of Jean Adam BREYER came from a register of Luxembourg City. This can only be the church register as civil records were not kept prior to 1796. The date listed on the marriage record is the date seen on the baptismal record found above, i.e. 15 May 1725.

The bride was the widow of Jean DUNCKHOLS and daughter of Jean GASPAR and Petronille SPECK.

Following the bride’s information, the deceased wife of the groom, Susanne MERTENS, and deceased husband of the bride, Jean DUNCKHOLS, are mentioned with their dates and places of death.

Death record of the first wife

Susanne MERTENS died on 16 Fructidor of the year 7 (2 September 1799) in Luxembourg City per the marriage record of her widower. The death record confirms she was the wife of Jean Baptiste BREGER.9

1799 Death Record of Susanne MERTENS

Were Jean Adam and Jean Baptiste the same person?

1805 Death Record of Jean Baptiste BREGER

On 24 October 1805, Jean Baptiste BREGER died in house number 22 in the rue de Thionville in Luxembourg City. He is listed as the husband of Catherine GASPAR.10

I was convinced the two men were the same and my 6th great-grandfather was born in 1725 as Jean Adam but for some reason later called himself Jean Baptiste and made himself younger.

Until I continued research on the HACKENBERGER branch…

Baptisms in St. Michel from 1649 to 1786

Fernand G. EMMEL, during his years working for the municipal archives, compiled a list of 12,210 baptisms which took place in the church of St. Michel from 1649 to 1786. This compilation was published by Luxracines and includes the names of the parents as well as godparents and their residence when mentioned.11

I searched my digital copy of this book for Jean Georges HACKENBERG(ER) who had been the godfather of one of Gaspar BREYER and Maria Joanna HACKENBERGER’s daughters. He was found to be the son of Nicolas HACKENBERG (also seen as HACKENBERGER and HACKENBURGER) and Agatha CHINY (also seen as SCHINY, CHINAY, SEINECKEN, SCHYNE). HACKENBERG(ER) is not a common name in Luxembourg.

I added all information from the baptismal entries for Nicolas and Agatha’s children to an unattached branch in my family tree. There were eight children but no daughter named Maria or Joanna. I then searched for each baptismal record to confirm the dates as well as the names of the children, parents, and godparents.

A son Jean listed in Mr. EMMEL’s compilation turned out to be Jeannatta, a daughter, born on 4 February 1700.12 I had found the parents of my 7th great-grandmother.

As she had been listed incorrectly in the compilation, I searched again for all HACKENBERG(ER) individuals in the book paying close attention to women’s names, either as mothers or as godmothers.

Jean Baptiste YGEL (sic, a possible error)

There was an entry for a child named Jean Baptiste YGEL baptized on 13 October 1738, son of Gaspard YGEL and Jeanette HACKENBERG. The baptismal record13 confirmed the names in the compilation…

1738 Baptismal Record of a child named Jean Baptiste

…however, I believe the priest made a mistake when he wrote the father’s surname. It should be BREYER or BREGER and not IGEL or YGEL.

I didn’t come to this conclusion without first checking baptismal records for all IGEL children, a marriage between an IGEL and a HACKENBERG(ER), or any possible mention of these names in relation to each other. The only couple found having children at this time was Guillaume IGEL and Marguerite KRICK (KREITZ).

A last piece of evidence

To pull this all together I needed one more record to prove Jean Baptiste BREGER and not Jean Adam BREYER had married Catherine GASPAR.

As seen above when Jean Baptiste BREGER died in 1805 his surviving wife was listed as Catherine GASPAR. She died three years later. Her death record shows she was the widow of Jean DUNCKHOLS, a first marriage, and Jean Baptiste BREGER, a second marriage.14

1808 Death Record of Catherine GASPAR

This matches the information found in the 1801 marriage record of Jean Adam BREYER and Catherine GASPAR with the exception of the name of her second husband.

Conclusion

Jean Baptiste BREGER was seen as Jean Baptiste BREGER on his first marriage record in 1758, on the 176015 and 176716 baptismal records of his children, on the  1783 marriage record of his son Michel17, on the 1797 birth record of his grandson Jean Baptiste MAJERUS18, on the 1799 death record of his first wife Susanna MERTENS, on his 1805 death record, and on his second wife Catherine GASPAR’s 1808 death record.

The wrong name, Jean Adam BREYER, was found only on his marriage publication and marriage record in 1801. As civil records were required to make a marriage legal, Jean Baptiste had to present supporting documentation in the form of a baptismal record to identify his parents and a death record of his first wife to show he was free to marry. His baptismal record was not found as the priest had written the wrong surname for his father. The next best record was that of Jean Adam BREYER, Jean Baptiste’s older brother who was born ten years earlier.

Who would have known an error made on a baptismal record of a child born in 1735 would cause problems for a 66 years old groom when he married in 1801 and hours of research for this genealogist 274 years later?

© 2019, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.


  1. Luxembourg, registres paroissiaux, 1601-1948 (images), FamilySearch (original records at Luxembourg National Archives, Plateau du Saint-Esprit, Luxembourg), Luxembourg, Saint Michel > Baptêmes 1764-1788 > image 27 of 360. 1767 Baptismal Record (right page, left column, 5th entry). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QSQ-G9WM-S47?cc=2037955&wc=STHZ-3Y3%3A1500891707%2C1500937102 : accessed 13 January 2018). 
  2. Ibid., Luxembourg, Saint Jean > Tables des mariages 1709-1789 (index organisée par l’époux) > image 52 of 445. 1758 Marriage Index Card. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L9WS-SRCM?cc=2037955&wc=STH8-PT5%3A1501286401%2C1501336258 : accessed 19 May 2019). 
  3. Ibid., Luxembourg, Saint-Jean à Grund > Mariages, décès 1708-1791 > image 181 of 208. 1758 Marriage Record (page 191 back, top). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-99WM-9HYT?cc=2037955&wc=STHZ-4WL%3A1500891703%2C1500978904 : accessed 5 June 2019). 
  4. Ibid., Luxembourg, Saint Michel > Baptêmes 1702-1763 > image 112 of 371. 1725 Baptismal Record. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L9WM-9VXF?cc=2037955&wc=STHZ-SPG%3A1500891707%2C1501006258 : accessed 5 June 2019). 
  5. Ibid., Luxembourg, Saint Michel > Baptêmes 1702-1763 > image 169 of 371. 1733 Baptismal Record (left page, left column, 3rd entry). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-89WM-9V4Y?cc=2037955&wc=STHZ-SPG%3A1500891707%2C1501006258 : accessed 5 June 2019). 
  6. Ibid., Luxembourg, Saint Michel > Baptêmes 1702-1763 > image 186 of 371. 1736 Baptismal Record (left page, 2nd entry). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-99WM-9VLL?cc=2037955&wc=STHZ-SPG%3A1500891707%2C1501006258 : accessed 5 June 2019). 
  7. Luxembourg, Registres d’état civil, 1662-1941 (images), FamilySearch (original records at Luxembourg National Archives, Plateau du Saint-Esprit, Luxembourg), Luxembourg > Mariages 1799 > image 169 of 1529. 1801 Marriage Publication (30 Brumaire an X). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-6M83-R3Y?cc=1709358&wc=9RY3-SP8%3A130045801%2C131341901 : accessed 7 June 2019). 
  8. Ibid., Luxembourg > Mariages 1799 > image 213 of 1529. 1801 Marriage Record (left page). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-6M83-GPL?cc=1709358&wc=9RY3-SP8%3A130045801%2C131341901 : accessed 23 June 2019). 
  9. Ibid., Luxembourg > Mariages 1888-1890 Décès 1796-1806 > image 523 of 1420. 1799 Death Record (16 Fructidor an 7) right page, bottom. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HY-69H9-D8B?cc=1709358&wc=9RYH-DP8%3A130045801%2C131708201 : accessed 23 June 2019). 
  10. Ibid., Luxembourg > Mariages 1888-1890 Décès 1796-1806 > image 1256 of 1420. 1805 Death Record (2 Brumaire year XIV). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HY-69H9-7LR?cc=1709358&wc=9RYH-DP8%3A130045801%2C131708201 : accessed 7 June 2019). 
  11. Fernand G. Emmel, Baptêmes Luxembourg Saint-Michel 1649-1786, (Recherches effectuées par Fernand G. Emmel), a publication of Luxracines a.s.b.l. 
  12. Luxembourg Church Records, Luxembourg, Saint Michel > Baptêmes 1649-1701, mariages 1706 > image 228 of 240. 1700 Baptismal Record (right page, right column). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-99WM-MX3D?cc=2037955&wc=STHC-YW5%3A1500891707%2C1500941762 : accessed 22 June 2019). 
  13. Ibid., Luxembourg, Saint Michel > Baptêmes 1702-1763 > image 197 of 371. 1738 Baptismal Record for Jean Baptiste Igel (sic, Breyer) (left page, right column, 2nd entry). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QSQ-G9WM-9KMW?cc=2037955&wc=STHZ-SPG%3A1500891707%2C1501006258 : accessed 22 June 2019). Error on the record concerning the surname of the father and child. 
  14. Luxembourg Civil Records, Luxembourg > Décès 1807-1814 > image 257 of 1511. 1808 Death Record (right, top). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HY-X96S-33H?cc=1709358&wc=9RY8-FM9%3A130045801%2C130045802 : accessed 25 June 2019). 
  15. Luxembourg Church Records, Luxembourg, Saint Michel > Baptêmes 1702-1763 > image 341 of 371. 1760 Baptismal Record (right page, right column, last entry). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L9WM-9K7D?cc=2037955&wc=STHZ-SPG%3A1500891707%2C1501006258 : accessed 20 May 2019). 
  16. Ibid., Luxembourg, Saint Michel > Baptêmes 1764-1788 > image 27 of 360. 1767 Baptismal Record (right page, left column, 5th entry). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QSQ-G9WM-S47?cc=2037955&wc=STHZ-3Y3%3A1500891707%2C1500937102 : accessed 13 January 2018). 
  17. Ibid., Luxembourg, Saint Michel > Mariages 1764-1796 > image 108 of 305. 1783 Marriage Record (lower left and upper right). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QSQ-G9WM-92QD?cc=2037955&wc=STHZ-3YZ%3A1500891707%2C1500962420 : accessed 19 May 2019). 
  18. Luxembourg Civil Records, Luxembourg > Tables décennales 1863-1872, 1863-1872, 1873-1892 Naissances 1796-1800 > image 905 of 1504. 1797 Birth Record (9 Germinal year V). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HY-X9L6-3D?cc=1709358&wc=9RY8-JWL%3A130045801%2C135486601 : accessed 13 January 2018). 

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.

15 thoughts on “Proving the True Identity of Jean Baptiste BREGER 1738-1805”

  1. Excellent detective work. We don’t often think of primary records, particularly baptisms and marriages, being wrong when they deal with the subjects at hand, but it happens, doesn’t it?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Kathy. Very tricky. If I’d stopped with his second marriage record I’d have recorded Jean Baptiste as also being known as Jean Adam and ten years older. I’m glad I didn’t give up and found the baptism of the so called Igel child – which by the way means porcupine as in prickly. 🙂

      Like

  2. Wow, that is crazy! So they used his brother’s name on the marriage record because they had a record for him but not their actual father? (I think I followed it all, but admit that at times I had trouble remembering which Jean was which!)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Once you are aware of the French, German, and Luxembourgish use of double names you learn to ignore the first name. I found this out when I researched my RUPP family of Northern Alsace. They came to America in 1752 with three sons named Johann: Johann Jacob, Johann Michel, and Johann Martin. Thank you, Amy.

      Liked by 1 person

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