The Ancestors: Nicolas Frantz and Angélique Bartel of Semming, Rodemack, France

In the search for my ancestors, I have some brick walls that are high and wide with no door in sight. The parents of my 4th great-grandfather Paul FRANTZ (1763-1847) were one of these brick walls.

As all genealogists know, there aren’t really brick walls in our research or our family tree. Still, I call my blog Opening Doors in Brick Walls as there’s always a way around or through the “I’m stuck!” point in our family tree research.

When I began working on this post I had very little information about the parents of Paul FRANTZ. They were names extracted from a marriage record I had not been able to access. What I did not know was that I had two records that could have opened the door in this brick wall if only I had paid closer attention.

A Contrived Brick Wall: when we build our own brick walls

The parents of my fourth great-grandfather Paul FRANTZ were named in his 1794 marriage record.

I knew the marriage record existed by searching the Tables des mariages 1700-1798 (index organisée par l’époux/l’épouse).1 The Luxembourg Association of Genealogy and Heraldry (ALGH) founded in 1984 launched a huge project when the association was still young. A team of volunteers extracted all marriage information from the 156 old parish registers from before 1800 onto index cards. The project took years to finish. FamilySearch microfilmed the marriage index cards in 1995 and included them in the church records collection for Luxembourg when they were digitized in 2012 and finally went online in 2015. The cards included the name of the parish, the register, and the page number the marriage entry was found.

1794 Marriage Index Card. Image courtesy of FamilySearch.

The marriage of Paul FRANTZ and Susanne KEIFFER was recorded in Volume 1 of the Mamer parish records. This volume was not part of the collection filmed by FamilySearch.

I knew who the parents of Paul FRANTZ were from the information on the index card. I did not know if they were from the residence given for Paul or from the town he was born in or from a different place. Since their location was unknown, it was impossible to search for them.

The digital version of the register in the archives of the Catholic church archives is now available on MatriculaOnline.

The handwriting on the marriage record on Matricula is legible but in Latin.2 I was able to translate most of the words in the record. However, not being a Latin scholar, I had problems with the meaning of some phrases in the record.

1794 Marriage Record of “Paulus Franz” and “Susanna Küffer” with the names of his parents “Nicolai Franz” and “Angelica Bartel” of Semmingen. Image courtesy of MatriculaOnline.

I posted to the Luxembourg Genealogy group on Facebook asking for help. Was only his father deceased as indicated on the index card or both of his parents? What did “ratione decennis commorationis in Bergem, parochianum de Schifflingen” mean? Who was it referring to? The parents or to the groom?

Kevin, the moderator in the group, told me to pay attention to the parentheticals. By removing the part about Paul being the son of the late Nicolas and Angela, I was left with: Paul FRANZ, linen weaver, by reason of a ten years’ residence in Bergem, a parishioner of Schifflingen… Accordingly, Paul had been living in Bergem since about 1784.

Linda has helped me several times with Latin translations. I’d tagged her in the Facebook query in the group. She sent me a short email pointing out an error I made reading the marriage record. Paul’s parents were from Semmingen and not Senningen as I had thought.

I had read Senningen as the place of birth for Paul FRANTZ on the 1843 census.3 Linda removed my blinders and I was able to get past this brick wall.

1843 Luxembourg Census sheet for the household of two families: Paul FRANTZ and his step-grandson Pierre REDLINGER’s family with Paul’s birthplace: “Semingen.” Image courtesy of FamilySearch.

Even more embarrassing is that Paul’s death record included his town of birth as well as the country!4

1847 Death Record No. 28 for Paul FRANTZ with his place of birth: Semmingen in Frankreich (France). Image courtesy of FamilySearch.

Paul FRANTZ was born in Semming now part of the municipality of Rodemack in the Moselle department of France. Ancient forms of the village name Semming: Suningen (750), Sunungen (768), Sumungen (907), Sommange (14th century), Sinningen (1572), Simmingen (1685), Zinimgen (17th century), Sinumingen (1749), Simingen (1756), Simming (1793), Seming (1801).5

Over the years I had looked for the parents of Paul FRANTZ in all the wrong places: in Senningen and the parish of Schuttrange and in Bergem and the parish of Schifflange, both in Luxembourg.

A Visit to Rodemack

My husband and I visited Rodemack in October 2014, not knowing that my FRANTZ ancestors hailed from the area.

After the Emancipation Charter of 1236, the village residents of Rodemack erected the city walls to protect themselves. Today, 700 meters of walls and various towers remain.

The Sierck Gate, formerly called The Franchise Gate, was built in the XIVth century. The gate was defended by two round towers. In 1944 the Americans destroyed the upper part of the gate consisting of a covered way and loopholes to make passage for their tanks when Rodemack was liberated. It was rebuilt in 1989 to its original state.

The Medieval Garden is made up of seasoning and medical plants, fruit, vegetables, and flowers. The garden met the daily requirements of the people of the village: to feed, cure, and entertain themselves.

Lavoir, a public place set aside for the washing of clothes. These communal wash-houses were common in Europe until people were introduced to domestic washing machines. I remember going to the local lavoir with my mother when we lived in Aulnois-sur-Seille, only 80 kilometers south of Rodemack, from 1962 to 1966.

As early as 1745 there were several mills in use in Rodemack for grinding wheat, walnut oil, and bark. Oak and birch bark was ground to obtain tanning bark. The mills functioned up until 1920.

Listed among the most beautiful villages in France, Rodemack showcases a typical medieval atmosphere. It was difficult to choose only a few of the 238 photos we took while walking around and through the village.

A Visit to Rodemack photos courtesy of Egon Meder ©2014.

Nicolas FRANTZ and Angélique BARTEL of Semming, an annexe of Rodemack

Nicolas FRANTZ and Angélique BARTEL were shepherds or bergers in Semming. They were the parents of three known children. Marie was baptized 26 February 1762, Paul was baptized 11 August 1765, and Marie Marguerite died 9 April 1766.6

Records for Semming for the years that children would have been born to Nicolas and Angélique were not found online. On the Archives Départementales de la Moselle site, Semming is listed – à numériser, voir RODEMACK- indicating not all records have been digitized and those available are under Rodemack. The records for Semming are labeled as being available for the years 1682-an X. I found that they are missing from mid-1745 to 1802 (an X).

Marie first married Jean ERNST on 5 January 1779 in Semming. They had several children before Jean died in 1795.7

Paul went to live and work as a linen weaver in Bergem in the parish of Schifflange in Luxembourg about 1784. After living there for about a decade, he married Susanne KIEFFER in Mamer on 7 January 1794. At the time of the marriage, Paul and Marie’s father Nicolas FRANTZ was deceased.

On 20 November 1796, Marie FRANTZ married Michel BARTHEL in a religious marriage ceremony in Semming. Two and a half months later their only known son, Michel was born.

Tables Decénnales Semming. Image courtesy of Archives départementales de la Moselle (57).

Marie and Paul’s mother, Angélique BARTHEL died on 30 Brumaire an XI or 21 November 1802. The death record is not available online and was only referenced in the Tables Décennales of Semming.8

In 1816 Marie FRANTZ and Michel BARTHEL’s son Michel was planning to marry. As the records needed for the marriage were gathered, the civil servants did not find a civil birth record for Michel nor a civil marriage record for his parents. Their religious union that took place during the French Revolutionary period was considered invalid by the state. His parents were not legally married. This was not unusual for the times. Many couples dealt with the problem by marrying in a civil ceremony many years later when absent civil records were needed.

Marie, 62 years old, and Michel, 48 years old, were married in a civil ceremony on 30 January 1816 in Rodemack.9

1816 Marriage Record No. 8 (partial clipping). Image courtesy of Archives départementales de la Moselle (57).

Dame Marie Frantz agée de soixante deux ans native de Beyren, domiciliée au dit Simmingen, veuve de defunt Jean Ernst, laboureur au dit lieu, fille legitime des defuns Nicolas Frantz et d’Angelique Bartel, vivans bergers au dit Simming y décédés

Dame Marie Frantz aged sixty-two, a native of Beyren, domiciled in said Simmingen, widow of the deceased Jean Ernst, plowman at the said place, legitimate daughter of the deceased Nicolas Frantz and Angelique Bartel, shepherds in said Simming before their death.

The marriage record proved Marie was the daughter of Nicolas FRANTZ and Angélique BARTEL, both of Semming and deceased at the time of the  1816 marriage.

1816 Marriage Record No. 8 (partial clipping). Image courtesy of Archives départementales de la Moselle (57).

…Michel Bartel et dame Marie Frantz sont unis par the mariage et aussitot les dits époux ont declaré qu’il y a vingt ans qu’ils se sont marié de bonne foi devant un pretre et qui’il est né d’eux un enfant mâl qui ne se trouve pas inscrit sur les Registre de l’État Civil, né le cinq fevrier l’an mil sept cent quatre vingt dix sept, tenu sur les fons de baptieme par le Sr. Michel Ernst, laboureur à Faulbach, qui lui donne le nom de Michel, le quel ils reconnaissent pour leur fils…

As soon as they were united in marriage, Marie and Michel declared that twenty years earlier they had married in good faith before a priest and that a male child had been born to them and was not recorded in the civil register. The child born on 5 February 1797 was baptized Michel as witnessed by his godfather Michel ERNST, a farmer from Faulbach, who was present at the 1816 marriage. This act legitimized their son Michel’s birth.

Following his parents’ marriage, the younger Michel’s banns were read on the 11th and 18th of February. He married Elisabeth DREES on 22 February 1816 in Rodemack.10

Marie FRANTZ died on 16 August 1821 in Semming at the age of 66 years. Her husband was the main informant on the death record.11  Her age at death places her birth at about 1755.

At the time of her marriage in 1816, Marie was 62 years old or born about 1754. Marie’s place of birth was noted as Beyren on the 1816 marriage record. Is it possible that Marie is not the same child of Nicolas and Angélique who was baptized on 26 February 1762? Could this mean the FRANTZ-BARTEL family lived in Beyren prior to coming to Semming? Beyren-les-Sierck is part of Gandren and there are no records at the departmental archives (pas d’actes aux archives départementales).

Michel BARTHEL died on 2 April 1837 in Faulbach, the neighboring village of Semming. He was described as the widower of the deceased Marie FRANTZ.12

As well as his sister Marie and her husband, Paul FRANTZ outlived his wife Susanne KIEFFER (1754-1808) who died on 9 October 1808 in Mamer.13 He died on 27 July 1847 in Mamer at the age of 81 years or 83 years per his step-grandson who reported the death. He left twin sons Nicolas and Johann, two stepchildren, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

I hope you’ve enjoyed visiting Rodemack and reading about how I finally was able to open the door in my FRANTZ-BARTEL brick wall.

© 2021, 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), Mamer > Tables des mariages 1779-1804 (index organisée par l’époux) > image 41 of 238. 1794 Marriage Index Card. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L9WS-431Q?cc=2037955&wc=STHD-2NY%3A1500941501%2C1501133556 : accessed 20 December 2017). 
  2. Diözesanarchiv Luxemburg / Archives diocésaines Luxembourg (images), Matricula Online, http://data.matricula-online.eu/de/LU/luxemburg/, Creative Commons License CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 (citing original records in the Luxembourg Diocesan Archives, Luxembourg City), GV.MF 356-443, Mamer, KB-01, image 79 of 128, page 150 (stamped), first entry. 1794 Marriage Record. (https://data.matricula-online.eu/de/LU/luxemburg/mamer/KB-01/?pg=79 : accessed 28 April 2021). 
  3. Luxembourg, Volkszählungen 1843-1900 (images), FamilySearch (original records at Luxembourg National Archives, Plateau du Saint-Esprit, Luxembourg), Mamer > 1843 > image 73 of 291. Households of Paul Frantz and his step-grandson Pierre Redlinger. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-997B-2YDZ?cc=2037957&wc=M9MV-928 : accessed 3 May 2021). 
  4. Luxembourg, Registres d’état civil, 1662-1941 (images), FamilySearch (original records at Luxembourg National Archives, Plateau du Saint-Esprit, Luxembourg), Mamer > Mariages 1838-1890 Décès 1796-1880 > image 1002 of 1497. 1847 Death Record No. 28. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-266-12143-120450-0?cc=1709358 : accessed 24 March 2010). 
  5. Wikipedia, “Semmingen,” rev. 03:03, 12 juin 2020 (https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semming : accessed 5 May 2021). Contributor’s sources: Bouteiller – Dictionnaire topographique de l’ancien département de la Moselle, rédigé en 1868 and Memoires de L’Academie Imperiale de Metz XLV (1865) 
  6. Jean-Marie Neiers and Jacques Watrin, Les Familles de Rodemack et ses annexes Semming, Faulbach, Esing de 1682 à 1904 (Cercle Généalogique du Pays des Trois Frontières, 2004). Note: Not having access to this book, I emailed the author to confirm the dates. 
  7. Ibid. 
  8. Archives départementales de la Moselle (57), browsable images of microfilm collection of parish and civil records (online http://www.archivesnumerisees57.com/mdr/index.html), 9NUM/8E591/2 Semming – Tables décennales ( An XI-1812 ) Semming FRAD057_8E591_2_0002.jpg, image 2 of 6. 1802 Death Entry in Tables Décennales. (http://num.archives57.com/visualiseur/index.php/docnumViewer/calculHierarchieDocNum/699698/698861:703275:699698/900/1600 : accessed 9 May 2021). Images from this site are free to use by the public per conditions viewed on 26 May 2019. 
  9. Ibid., Registres paroissiaux et d’état civil : RODEMACK > 9NUM/1MIE591/2 Baptêmes, mariages (1764-1792), sépultures (1758-1792). Naissances, mariages, décès, tables (1792-1832) > images 1130-1131 of 1594. 1816 Marriage Record No. 7. (http://num.archives57.com/visualiseur/index.php/docnumViewer/calculHierarchieDocNum/876009/605804:771391:876009/900/1600 : accessed 5 May 2021). Images from this site are free to use by the public per conditions viewed on 26 May 2019. 
  10. Ibid., Rodemack > 9NUM/1MIE591/2 Baptêmes, mariages (1764-1792), sépultures (1758-1792). Naissances, mariages, décès, tables (1792-1832) > image 1134 of 1594. 1816 Marriage Record No. 15. (http://num.archives57.com/visualiseur/index.php/docnumViewer/calculHierarchieDocNum/876009/605804:771391:876009/900/1600 : accessed 5 May 2021). Images from this site are free to use by the public per conditions viewed on 26 May 2019. 
  11. Ibid., Rodemack > 9NUM/1MIE591/2 Baptêmes, mariages (1764-1792), sépultures (1758-1792). Naissances, mariages, décès, tables (1792-1832) > images 1266+1267 of 1594.  1821 Death Record No. 33. (http://num.archives57.com/visualiseur/index.php/docnumViewer/calculHierarchieDocNum/876009/605804:771391:876009/900/1600 : accessed 5 May 2021). 
  12. Ibid., Rodemack > 9NUM/1MIE591/3 Naissances, mariages, décès, tables (1833-1871) > image 182 of 1162. 1837 Death Record No. 39.(http://num.archives57.com/visualiseur/index.php/docnumViewer/calculHierarchieDocNum/876010/605804:771391:876010/900/1600 : accessed 6 May 2021). 
  13. Luxembourg Civil Records, Mamer > Mariages 1838-1890 Décès 1796-1880 > image 595 of 1497. 1808 Death Record No. 21. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-266-12143-119238-21?cc=1709358 : accessed 23 March 2010). 

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.

13 thoughts on “The Ancestors: Nicolas Frantz and Angélique Bartel of Semming, Rodemack, France”

  1. What a lovely town. Your photos really capture its charm.

    Semmingen and all its various spellings mean your mistake is entirely understandable!! But I am glad you found it and were able to get so much more information.

    I would take issue with one thing. Some brick walls are indeed impenetrable. If no records exist, there’s no way to get further back.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Ah, the metaphor does fail if the wall can’t be taken down. I hate dead ends and have far too many, especially on my maternal side. 😦

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thanks, but there is no chance that will ever happen! I am reconciled to it. I have found new maternal cousins, but no one has even gotten as far back as I have.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Cathy, I guess it’s all about perspective. Brick walls can definitely be tackled, either by just blasting through one or finding a way over or around one. Dead ends are another matter, which you clearly pointed out. Love your post and Rodemack, great pics!! Brian

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Like your other readers, I enjoyed learning how you surmounted this roadblock and made new discoveries. The photographs are a beautiful asset to the blog. Genealogy serendipity to learn that Rodemack is the ancestral village of your ancestors.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Cathy! Once again, the depth of your research both impresses and motivates me! At first I was thinking that this was yet another deep dive into one of our shared family lines, as I also have Frantz in my family tree, with their roots in WV. As you may or may not remember, we share ancestors in the Sims and I believe Huddleston families, and perhaps others, with connections to WV. But the dates didn’t seem to compute, as my Frantz line was in the colonies much earlier than yours appear to be. On further consideration it occurred to me that my Frantz line was connected to my maternal grandfather, while my connection to the Sims and Huddlestons, and to you, were through my maternal grandmother’s ancestry. In other words, entirely different Frantz families! So our sharing of the Frantz family name is entirely coincidental, rather than by blood! Regardless, this was a great blog post! Thanks so much for your willingness to share your research with the rest of us!

    Tim Hughes

    Like

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