About Cathy Meder-Dempsey (my about page last updated 16 January 2021. I’m flattered by the number of people who are interested in the person being Opening Doors in Brick Walls)
All-Time Stats – Top 10 Countries
The United States (226,317) leads at the top of the list followed by Luxembourg (9,909), Germany (8,831), Canada (7,974), the United Kingdom (6,572), Australia (4,473), Brazil (3,308), France (2,735), Belgium (1,523), and Ireland (1,276).
One Story at a Time…
During my eight years of blogging and following other genealogy bloggers, I learned more about genealogy research and writing. During my first year, I was only interested in getting the story written. I linked to many online documents and, over the years, I’ve come to see the error in my ways.
I’ve been revisiting my 52 Ancestors posts from 2014, adding footnotes, fixing the format, and watermarking photos. One week at a time, I’m sharing the REVISED posts on my Facebook page, Twitter, and Instagram. A featured image, something that was missing when I first started blogging, is also being added to each post.
Due to this project, I may have less time to research and write about The Ancestors this year. However, I’m finding bits and pieces that were missed or not mentioned the first time around. These will be used to write some interesting posts in the future. Best of all, one story at a time, I’m cleaning up my GEDCOM file. This will make researching and writing easier and faster.
Happy 8th Blogiversary
Thanks to everyone who follows me. The support of my genealogy friends and bloggers has been and continues to be awesome. Thank you, too, for your wonderful comments over the years. Let’s celebrate!
From the number of posts I’ve written on my paternal grandmother Myrtle Hazel ROOP (1906-1997) and her ancestors, my readers know that the ROOP family is one of my favorites to research.
I created a page, The ROOP Book, on this blog dedicated to these posts set up as a table of content with links. The name lacks creativity but, if I ever write the book as my second cousin Robert suggested years ago, it can always be changed.
While researching the parents of Elizabeth CARROLL, wife of James ROOP, for a future post, I reviewed the information I had on Elizabeth. On my to-do list for Elizabeth and James, I saw that I was still missing a document for their 1830 marriage.
My fourth great-grandparents James ROOP and Elizabeth CARROLL married on 23 July 1830 per Louise Akers1 whose work is found in many online trees.
Louise who did all her research at the courthouse told me that she had not been able to locate a marriage bond for James ROOP and Elizabeth CARROLL. The date of marriage she gave in her book was taken from a list of marriages by Richard Buckingham. I had no idea who he was or where this information might be found.
The same date was found in this abstract of a marriage record on Ancestry.2
The database is for indexed information and no images are available. The groom’s last name was indexed as RUPE and the bride’s maiden name as EARL. The names of the bride’s and groom’s parents were not included in the abstract.
RUPE and ROOP were used interchangeably on many records found for this period. What concerned me was the spelling of the bride’s maiden name. Was this abstract for my ancestors, James ROOP and Elizabeth CARROLL?
As no results were found on Ancestry for marriage collections with images, I checked the FamilySearch catalog for marriages in Virginia and more specifically, in Montgomery County. I found this record by browsing.3
I do hereby certify that I celebrated the rites of matrimony between James Roop and Elizabeth Carrol of Montgomery Cty on the 8th day of June 1830 by virtue of a publication Given under my hand this 23rd day of July 1830. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Richd Buckingham
Richard Buckingham published the notice on 23 July 1830, the date seen for the marriage of the couple. The minister’s return was copied into the Montgomery register by the county clerk and not by Rev. Richard Buckingham, a Methodist minister. The entry may have been copied into the register at a much later date possibly from loose papers as most of the entries are in the same handwriting.
They Married Six and a Half Weeks Earlier!
James ROOP and Elizabeth CARROLL were married on 8 June 1830 in Montgomery County, Virginia, by a Methodist minister six and a half weeks earlier than seen in research by others.
I learned that Richard Buckingham was a minister from his 1860 census listing. His occupation was listed as Methodist Minister. He was living next door to John ROOP, a brother of James ROOP who was married by the reverend.4
One record at a time, I’m correcting or proving data in my family tree thanks to the collections now available on FamilySearch. Hopefully, other misinformation in my database will be corrected sooner than the 21 years it took me to fix this error.
Louise Roop Anderson Akers, comp., The Family Rub, Rup, Rupe, Roop, Roope (2001 Printed by Jamont Communications, 339 Luck Ave., Roanoke, VA 24016). Note: I bought a copy of Louise’s book 2000. For Christmas 2001, she gifted me a hardcover copy with some new information and photos. I in turn gifted my original copy to my sister without noting differences in the two versions. In my copy, an image of a page of the Buckingham marriage entries is included but it is not for 1830. I suspect that Louise may not have included all images from the first book in my hardcover version. ↩
“Virginia, Marriages 1740-1850,” (index-only), Ancestry, citing Dodd, Jordan R., et al., Early American Marriages: Virginia to 1850, Precision Indexing Publishers, Bountiful, Utah. James Rupe, male, spouse Elizabeth Earl (sic), female, marriage date 23 Jul 1830 in Montgomery County, Virginia. (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 6 April 2016). ↩
“Virginia, County Marriage Records, 1771-1989,” database with images, FamilySearch, Marriage records, 1785-1861 > Digital Folder Number: 007740792 > Items 1 – 3 > A list of marriage licenses issued by the clerk, 1850-1861 — A list of marriages, 1785-1803 — Marriage record, 1812-1841 > image 101 of 854 > right page, 7th entry. 1830 Marriage Record for Elizabeth Carrol and James Roop, 8 Jun 1830; citing Circuit court clerk offices, Virginia. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-C91C-TPS4?cc=2134304 : accessed 23 December 2021). ↩
1860 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, citing Eighth Census of the United States, 1860 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication M653, 1,438 rolls, Roll: M653_1373; Family History Library Film: 805373; Virginia, Pulaski, Western District, page 769, HH #529-530, line 10. (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 9 April 2016). ↩
Stats for the year 2021 show I haven’t been as productive as the pre-COVID years, 2019 and 2018, but staying on par with 2020 by writing 35 posts compared to 33 in 2020. Views were much lower at a bit over 34,000 compared to the past three years when they were 40,000+. The number of visitors in 2021 was lower but my followers grew to 577.
By the end of November, I finished writing about half of my maternal fifth great-grandparents. This avenue will not be followed up on any time soon. This was decided at the end of November when I wrote…
I took a break from writing in December hoping to come into the New Year with more energy and enthusiasm. Our lives, however, are often influenced by things we cannot control.
Mom’s husband died unexpectedly early in December. The month was spent helping her get through the first weeks of once again being on her own. I was suddenly made aware of the fact that I need to prepare for my own or my spouse’s death.
Focusing on the American families
Still, with all the behind-the-scenes goings-on in our lives, I hope to do more research and write blog posts on my paternal lines that have been in America for 250 years and longer.
There are no goals, no promises, or any kind of schedule for my blog posts in 2022. With less than usual time for genealogy, I’ve become more conscientious about keeping a log via entries in the Research Manager of Ancestral Quest and noting results that might make interesting reading on my blog.
Amy Johnson Crow started my blogging journey in 2014 with her very first edition of the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge. I did three years of #52Ancestors (not consecutively). Yesterday, just to get some fresh ideas, I signed up for the 2022 edition and was delighted to read that she is changing things up a bit this year. I may try her new spin on the challenge…
Wishing you beautiful moments, treasured memories, and all the happiness a heart can know. Happy New Year 2022!
I had planned on researching and writing about the other half of my maternal fifth great-grandparents, these being from locations in present-day Germany, then a part of a greater Luxembourg.
The Ancestors: My mother’s paternal fourth great-grandparents
(448 & 449) Michel WILTINGER and Margaretha DIESBURG (450 & 451) Michael WELTER and Katharian KLEIN (452 & 453) Matthias SCHRAMEN and Anna Barbara LEIBRICH (BURG) (454 & 455) Sebastian SCHMITT and Maria LORANG
(456 & 457) Nikolaus WEYMAN and Maria Katharina HUSS
(458 & 459) Gerard MALAMBRÉ and Barbara BIESDORF
(460 & 461) Johann Bernard WELTER and Maria BRIMERS (462 & 463) Johann HENNES and Magdalena MÜLLER
(464 & 465) Peter BUBELREITER and Gertrud LAMBERTI or BOSEN
(466 & 467) Johann BOMMES and Anna Maria Luzia THIELEN (468 & 469) Peter MERTSCHERT and Susanna “Anna”SCHNEIDER (470 & 471) Theodor MERGEN and Gertrud THELEN (472 & 473) Johann Nicolaus WAGNER and Anna Maria KLEIWER (474 & 475) Johann HARTERT and Elisabeth HEINZ
(476 & 477) Peter KERSCHT and Eva SCHMIDS (478 & 479) Gerhard EWEN and Barbara THEILEN
I have marriage records for the couples marked in red as they married in the parish of Echternach, Luxembourg. Dates of marriage are known for the couples in blue but records are not accessible online (some possibly only due to my European residence). For the remaining couples, I have no dates of marriage. Their marriages are assumed to have occurred before the birth/baptism of legitimate children.
Missing or non-accessible documentation
My mother’s paternal ancestors lived in villages that became a part of Germany at the time of the Second Partition of Luxembourg in 1815. I have access to the family books of the German villages the 16 sets of 5th great-grandparents lived in. These finding aids are reliable but not error-free. They include dates and places of birth, baptism, marriage, death, and burial. Some have the register, page, and entry number to aid in finding the record.
I’ve used the information in family books to grow my family tree adding the documents to support the dates and places of events when accessible. For this group of ancestors, the records I’ve been able to obtain have been those that were recorded in catholic church registers that remained in Luxembourg mainly in the parish of Echternach. However, many of the events were recorded in the church registers archived in the Bistumsarchiv Trier and the civil registers archived in the Kreisarchiv Bitburg.
Although the church records were filmed by FamilySearch, access in Europe is limited to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Some of these are available stateside to the public but I don’t plan to request help from family or friends to do lookups for me.
Records found in these archives were used by the compilers of the family books of the German towns. Although primary sources were used, the publications are secondary sources. I’ve used them as sources in earlier posts but I don’t think they will be of benefit for the stories of this generation.
Our family schedule doesn’t leave much time for trips to either archive at this time. The past two years have not been easy for any of us. As with many of my other genealogy friends in my age group, we are caring for the older and the younger generations in our family. Keeping them safe during this pandemic.
Moving on to US research
I long to get back to US research as many records have been added to FamilySearch‘s online collections. I’ve stolen minutes here and there, working on finding my American ancestors in the personal property tax lists, land tax lists, court records, land deeds, etc. This is a time-consuming project as the records are not indexed and have to be browsed, cited, and evaluated. With each record, events are added to the ancestor’s timeline, adding detail to the yet unwritten story.
Another reason for fixing my focus on US research is the coming release of the 1950 US census in April 2022.
December will be quiet here at Opening Doors in Brick Walls as I take a break from writing.
My warmest thoughts for a wonderful holiday and a happy New Year. May peace, love, and prosperity follow you always. May the world become a safer place for all.
On 14 February 1743 my sixth great-grandfather Henri NEU died in Athus, today a part of the Province of Luxembourg in Belgium. He left a widow, my sixth great-grandmother, Madeleine (Magdelaine) BACLESSE and six known daughters. Three of the daughters were already married and the other three would marry by the next decade.
One marriage documented in four countries
Eleven days later, on 25 February 1743, in Herserange, today a part of the départment Meurthe-et-Moselle in France, lettres de mariage or permission of marriage was given to Pierre FOURNEL (later seen as FOURNELLE), son of Jean FOURNEL, a farmer domiciled in Rodange, and Jeanne BERQUIN, to be married in Aubange to Jeanne NEU, daughter of Henri NEU of Athus and Magdelaine BACLESSE.1:
In the church register of Aubange, the parish to which Athus was attached, we find the death/burial entry for Henri NEU.2, 3 Here is a rough translation of the French record:
The year 1743 on the fourteenth of February died in Athus Henry Neu aged around sixty he was married to Magdalaine Baclesse His body was buried in the cemetery of the place with the ordinary ceremonies. D. Lambinet, parish priest
The marriage entry for Henri’s daughter Jeanne to Pierre FURNEL (a variation of FOURNEL and FOURNELLE) is recorded below the death entry.
The year 1743 the twenty-fifth of February Pierre Furnel son of Jean Furnel and Jeanne Berquin his father and mother of Rodange parish of Herserange and Jeanne Neu daughter of defunct Henry Neu and Magdalaine Baclesse of Athus after the publication of a bann made in the church of Herserange and that of Aubange at the time that they were obtained in the court of Trier, the exemption from the three banns on the date of February 23 before me, not finding any impediment, given the letter of intent of the governor of the said Herserange was solemnized in public in front of the church in the presence of the witnesses who signed or marked with the spouses.
Pierre Fournelle, the groom, signed his name Jeanne Neu, the bride, left her mark Jean Fournelle, the father of the groom, left his mark Nicolas Berquin, the maternal uncle of the groom, left his mark Henri Reuter, the brother-in-law of the bride, signed his name Jean Henrion, the brother-in-law of the bride, signed his name Philippe Seylen signed his name D. Lambinet, curé or parish priest, signed his name
Usually, banns were read on three Sundays in the parish churches of the bride and groom before the marriage. When Pierre and Jeanne married an exception was made and the banns were read only once, two days before the marriage. This dispense was granted by the diocese of Trier. The records for this marriage are located in places in four different countries: Trier, Germany; Rodange, Luxembourg; Herserange, France; and Aubange, Belgium.
Why the special treatment?
What might be the reason for the accelerated procedure for the marriage of Pierre FOURNELLE and Jeanne NEU? Could it be the death of Jeanne’s father? Pierre’s father Jean FOURNEL was an elder synodal or member of the church council (ancien sinodal). Did he use his position to hasten the marriage procedure? The bride and groom were likely already well known to each other as Rodange and Athus are today separated only by the border between Luxembourg and Belgium and are a few kilometers from each other. The marriage may have been rushed due to pregnancy but this doesn’t seem too likely as a child was born eleven months into the marriage.
The FOURNELLE family in Rodange
Pierre and Jeanne made their home in Rodange where they earned their livings by farming. They had seven sons and a daughter born between 1744 and 1763, all in Rodange, Luxembourg. The children were baptized in the parish of Herserange, today in France.
After reading the history of the church of Rodange, I believe it’s likely that the children were baptized in the chapel of Rodange by the chaplain of Saulnes who was responsible for both branch villages in the parish of Herserange. The chapel of Rodange was built in 1677, had a consecrated altar in 1714, and was in good condition in 1737. Rodange received their own chaplain by decree in 1766.4
Jacques FOURNELLE (1744-1817)
The first child of Pierre and Jeanne was a son they named Jacques. He was born and baptized on 26 January 1744. His godparents were his paternal uncle Jacques FOURNELLE of Rodange and his maternal aunt Barbe NEU of Athus.5 Jacques married Marguerite SCHMIT (bef. 1747-1797) on 20 February 1770 in Rodange.6 They were the parents of eleven children. Eight of these died as infants between the ages of 0-6 years. Two more may have also died at a young age as no marriage or death records have been found. Only one child, their son Jacques, married and continued the line. Jacques died on 29 January 1817 in an unknown place. He was buried in Rodange the following day.7 He had been a widower for 20 years.
Jean FOURNELLE (1746-1818)
The second child of Pierre and Jeanne was born on 6 January 1746. The child was baptized on 8 January 1746 and named Jean. His godparents were Jean TOQUES and his maternal aunt Catherine NEU, both of Athus.8 At the age of 40, Jean married Agnès ALZIN (abt. 1758-1836) on 5 October 1786 in Rodange.9 They were the parents of 10 children. Five died in infancy, three have not been traced, and two continued the line. Jean died at the age of 72 years in Rodange on 12 April 1818.10 His wife outlived him by 18 years.
Pierre FOURNELLE (1748-1816)
Pierre and Jeanne’s third child was my 4th great-grandfather Pierre. He was born on 12 December 1748 and baptized the following day. His godparents were Pierre FRANCQ and his maternal aunt Elisabeth NEU, both of Athus.11 Pierre was 34 years old when he married Marianne SCHMIT (1760-1824) on 1 April 1783 in Rodange.12 She was a dozen years younger than Pierre. They were the parents of 10 children. Their firstborn died at the age of 16 months. One son has not been traced after his birth. Eight children married and seven continued the line. Pierre died suddenly in Soleuvre about a dozen kilometers from his home in Rodange on 17 October 1816 at the age of 67.13 He was buried on the 19th.14 His wife was the informant on his civil death record. Marianne died nearly eight years later.
The fourth child of Pierre and Jeanne was born on 10 September 1751. He was baptized the following day and named Henri. His godparents were his maternal uncle by marriage, Henri DE CHEVE of Rodange and Jeanne BOULANGER, wife of Joseph KEMP, of Sonne.15 Henri married Catherine GLOUTIN (1757-1923) on 25 November 1779 in Rodange.16 They were the parents of eleven children. No information has been found on three of the children after their baptism. Three children died young. The remaining five children married and four of them continued the line. Henri had been a widower for fourteen years when he died on 8 November 1837 in Rodange.17
Philippe FOURNELLE (1754-1827)
Philippe, the 5th son of Pierre and Jeanne, was born in Rodange and baptized on 22 July 1754. His godparents were his maternal uncle by marriage, Philippe MICHEL, husband of Barbe NEU, and Catherine GRANRY, wife of Dominique FELTEN.18 Philippe married Marie Julienne MATHIEU on 27 December 1787 in Halanzy, Province de Luxembourg, Belgium.19 They were the parents of nine children. Four of these married and continued the line. A son died at the age of one month. Four daughters have not been traced after their baptisms and may have also died young. Philippe died at the age of 73 years on 24 December 1827 in Rodange.20 His widow was still living four years later when their youngest child married.21
Marie Jeanne FOURNELLE (1757-1813)
The sixth child and only daughter of Pierre and Jeanne was Marie Jeanne baptized on 7 March 1757. Her godfather was Pierre FONTAINE of Rodange; her godmother was Jeanne LADURELLE of Rodange.22 Marie Jeanne married Laurent THIRION (1752-1817) in Rodange on 10 February 1782.23 Their first child was born in Rodange and died two and a half months later.24 They lived in Laurent’s birthplace, Mont-Saint-Martin, Meurthe-et-Moselle, France, from before 1792 until their deaths in 1813 and 1817. Three children born between 1792 and 1799 were found. Gaps between the births of all known children suggest several still need to be found. Marie Jeanne died on 15 April 1813 in Mont-Saint-Martin.25
Michel FOURNELLE (1760-aft. 1788)
Michel the second to last child of Pierre and Jeanne was baptized on 13 October 1760. His godparents were Michel GERVAIS and Marie DOMANGE.26 Michel was the godfather of three of his siblings’ children. On 9 October 1788, a few days before his 28th birthday, Michel signed his name to the baptismal record of Marie, the daughter of his brother Jean.27 No marriage or death record has been found for him after this date.
Philippe Christophe FOURNELLE (1763-aft. 1792)
The youngest child of Pierre and Jeanne was their son Philippe Christophe born and baptized on 21 October 1763. His godfather was a priest named Philippe Christophe SCHMIT and his godmother was Susanne SCHMIT, wife of Nicolas ETTINGER.28 Philippe Christophe was the godfather of two of his siblings’ children. On 20 February 1792 became the godfather of a PHILIPPART child.29 He was 28 years old. No marriage or death record has been found for him after this date.
The death of Pierre Fournelle
Pierre FOURNELLE died less than two years after the birth of his youngest child. Pierre was 45 years old when he died on 23 July 1765. This is not consistent with the age calculated from his 1713 baptismal record. Pierre was nearly 52 years old, 7 years older than stated in his death/burial entry in the church register. A farmer, he died in Rodange and was buried the next day in the Rodange cemetery.30
Jeanne was left with eight children between the ages of 19 months and 21 years. For the next five years, her older sons likely helped her with the farm.
A farmer for Baron d’HUART
In the records of the census of hearths found in dwellings in the Duchy of Luxembourg for taxation purposes, Jeanne NEU, the widow of Pierre FOURNELLE, was enumerated as a farmer in Rodange in 1770.31 The family lived in a house on the farm and cultivated nearly five and a half acres of land.
Our ancestors did not use the same weights and measures as we do today. The measurement on the cadastre for land was 160 verges de 16 pieds de Saint-Lambert or 1 jour. Information on old surface measurements was found online.32 I used them to calculate the amount of land Jeanne farmed in acres.
1 Jour = 160 Verges de 16 pieds de Saint-Lambert (measurement of reference on the cadastre) 1 Verge carrée de 16 pieds de Saint-Lambert=21,80 m² 160 Verges = 3,488 m² 6.25 jour = 21,800 m² = 5.39 acres
Jeanne cultivated 5 and a half jour = 19.184 m² = 4.74 acres of arable land planting in three cycles. The first season she planted rye, the second oats, and the third the field lay fallow to allow it to become more fertile. She tended a garden of half a jour = 1,744 m² = 0.43 acres. A meadow of a quarter jour = 872 m² = 0.22 acres produced 750 bales of hay. She also had the use of a communal pasture.
The death of Jeanne NEU
Jeanne died on 9 March 1783 less than a month before her son Pierre married. She was buried the following day in the cemetery of Rodange in the presence of witnesses including her son Henri FOURNELLE and her son-in-law Laurent THIRION who signed her burial record. Per this record, she was 60 years old. This cannot be confirmed as her baptismal record has not been found. The record included interesting information about her occupation. Jeanne was a fermière (farmer) for the Baron d’HUART.33
Baron Jean-François-Henri-Gérard d’HUART, known as Baron Henri d’HUART, died 1 January 1781 two years before Jeanne.34 His son Charles-Elisabeth-François, known as Charles, inherited the forges of Lasauvage and Herserange and was likely the owner of the land in Rodange that was farmed by Jeanne NEU at the time of her death.
My 5th great-grandmother Jeanne NEU worked the land for eighteen years following the death of her husband Pierre FOURNELLE, raising her family of eight to become fine members of the community.
In 1795 at the beginning of the French rule in Luxembourg, the church of Rodange was desecrated and closed. An upright man stood up to save what could be saved. Jeanne’s oldest son, Jacques FOURNELLE, bought the church furniture for 6 francs in a public auction on 23 January 1800. He later gave back the altar, communion bench, and pews to the church.35
This article completes the series on the FOURNELLE family from the 1600s to 2005 when my maternal grandmother Marie Marcelle FOURNELLE died. The complete list of FOURNELLE articles can be found in The FOURNELLE Book.
Name: Pierre FOURNELLE Parents:Jean FOURNEL and Jeanne BERKIN Spouse: Jeanne NEU Parents of spouse: Henri NEU and Madeleine BACLESSE Whereabouts: Rodange and Athus Relationship to Cathy Meder-Dempsey: 5th great-grandparents
Belgique, Luxembourg, Registres paroissiaux, 1618-1868, (images), FamilySearch (original records at België Nationaal Archief, Brussels / Belgium National Archives, Brussels), Paroisse d’Aubange (Luxembourg) > Film #619924 DGS #007944121 > Baptêmes 1729-1783 Mariages 1729-1776 Sépultures 1729-1776 > Image 342 of 605. 1743 Death Record – age about 60 years (right, middle). (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSZV-FS5T-F?i=341&cat=74664 : accessed 26 November 2017). ↩
Luxembourg, Registres d’état civil, 1662-1941 (images), FamilySearch (original records at Luxembourg National Archives, Plateau du Saint-Esprit, Luxembourg), Pétange > Naissances 1878-1886 Mariages 1796-1890 Décès 1796-1858 > image 1199 of 1497. 1818 Death Record No. 67. Note: His wife was the informant but her name and age were omitted. She did not sign and a remark was included about her not being able to write. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-266-12304-174226-37?cc=1709358&wc=M9QN-BMX:n289380544 : accessed 22 August 2013). ↩
Dénombrements des feux, aides et subsides 1473-1806, FamilySearch (Digitial copy of the microfilm of originals in Archives de l’Etat, Luxembourg. Censuses of hearths found in dwellings in the Duchy of Luxembourg for taxation purposes), Regime A, section 14: cadastre de Marie-Thérèse 1767, Film 2271568, DGS 8014687, liasse 60 (Rodange, La Madeleine), images 273 and 274 of 689. No. 17 Janne Neye veuve de Pierre Fournelle laboureuse demeurante à Rodange.(https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSX4-K96W-9?i=273&cat=1152016 : accessed 25 February 2019). ↩
On 6 November 1756 Joannes SCHMIT of Oberkerschen (also known as Hautcharage) married Eva DUCKER of Differdingen (also known as Differdange).1 No other information was given in the three short lines written in the Obercorn parish register. Differdange at the time belonged to the Obercorn parish.
Time for a little Latin lesson
The word Octobris (or October) was marked out and corrected with 9bris in the marriage entry above. Nine does not designate the number of the month, but rather the name of the month in Latin when September, October, November, and December were the 7th, 8th, 9th, and 10th months. Nine was novem in Latin, making 9bris the month November, and not September the 9th month as we know it today. The suffix -bris or -ber indicates the number is to be spoken and pronounced as the standard names.
While searching for records, if you are using dates abstracted by someone who unknowingly assumed the number referred to the month as we number them today, this is likely what may be tripping you up. If you cannot find a record abstracted as July, it may be dated 7ber or September.
The children of Jean and Eva
Jean and Eva, my 5th great-grandparents, made their home in Niedercorn, a village in the parish of Obercorn. Their seven known children were born in Niedercorn and baptized in Obercorn.
Nicolaus SCHMIT (1756-?)
Jean and Eva cut it close when they married. Their first child, a son, was born less than a month after their marriage. Nicolaus was born and baptized on 1 December 1756. His godparents were Rdus (Reverendus or reverend) Dominicus SCHMIT of Oberkerschen and Catherine DÜCKER of Rodange, formerly of Differdange.2 No further record was found for this child.
Franciscus SCHMIT (1758-1814)
The second child of Jean and Eva was baptized on 27 September 1758. His godparents were Franciscus SCHMIT and Maria SCHMIT, both of Niedercorn.3 Franciscus was married twice. He married(1) Elisabeth KETTENMEYERS on 8 January 1788.4 Elisabeth gave birth to two children5,6 before dying on New Year’s Eve in 1792.7 Franciscus married(2) Magdalena NOEL on 20 November 1793.8 They had at least two sons, one born in 17959 and a second in 1804.10 Franciscus died on 7 April 1814 at the age of 55.11 Magdalena died on 8 November 1820 at the age of 63.12
Marianne SCHMIT (1760-1824)
The first daughter and third child of Jean and Eva was my 4th great-grandmother Marianne SCHMIT. She was born and baptized on 21 December 1760. Her godparents were Frederico SCHAUS of Niederkorn and Maria DECKEN (a variation of DUCKER) of Differdange. Her baptismal name was Maria.13 Later, when she married, had children, and died her name was seen as Marianne. She married Pierre FOURNELLE (1748-1816) on 1 April 1783.14 Marianne was 22 and Pierre was 34. They were the parents of ten children. Their oldest lived only a little more than a year. Eight of the nine children married. One son has not been traced after his baptism in 1791. Marianne’s husband Pierre died on 17 October 1816 at the age of 67.15 Marianne died on 14 Jun 1824 at the age of 63.16 More about this family can be read here: 52 Ancestors: #40 The Fournelle-Schmit Family of Rodange.
Jean SCHMIT (1762-aft. 1821)
The fourth child of Jean and Eva, Jean was born and baptized on 19 Sep 1762. His godparents were Jean REDING from Reding and Margaritha THILTGES from Niedercorn.17 He married Françoise MARTIN on 6 February 1792 in Rodange.18 Jean was 29 and Françoise, a widow, was 50. Witnesses to the marriage were the bride Françoise’s father Jean TONNELIER (he was her step-father) and her son Pierre VAUDOIS, and the groom Jean’s brother François SCHMIT, and his brother-in-law Pierre FOURNELLE. Jean TONNELIER had married Françoise’s mother Angélique MUSQUIN following the death of his wife Catherine DUCKER. Catherine was the sister of Jean’s mother Eva. Therefore Jean TONNELIER was Jean’s uncle by marriage and became his step-father-in-law. Jean and Françoise likely didn’t have children due to her age at the time of the marriage. Françoise was 79 years old when she died in Thil, Meurthe-et-Moselle, France, on 29 October 1821 at the home of her husband Jean SCHMIT.19 A death record after 29 October 1821 was not found in Thil for Jean.
Marie SCHMIT (1765-aft. 29 Nov 1803)
Jean and Eva’s 2nd daughter and 5th child, Marie was born and baptized on 30 March 1765. Her godparents were Peter LIPPERT and Maria SAMPSON, both of Niedercorn.20 Marie married Antoine MAUER on 10 February 1789 in Obercorn.21 They were the parents of five children born between 1789-1803. No trace of this couple or their children was found after the birth of their last known child and only daughter Maria on 29 November 1803.22
Magdalena SCHMIT (1766-1785)
The third daughter and 6th child, Magdalena was born and baptized on 14 October 1766. Her godparents were Michael LORANG and Magdalena DECKES (a variation of DUCKER), both of Niedercorn.23 Magdalena never married. She died on 17 May 1785 at the age of 18 while visiting or living with her sister Marianne in Rodange. Her brother-in-law Pierre FOURNELLE was present at her funeral and signed the burial notice.24
Susanne SCHMIT (1769-1819)
Jean and Eva’s youngest child was a daughter Susanne born and baptized on 5 March 1769. Her godparents were Michael GRUND and Susanna BASSENDORF.25 Susanne was likely the mother of a natural child born and baptized on 22 October 1789 in Rodange. The child was named Angelique SCHMIT. Her godparents were her uncle Pierre FOURNELLE and Angélique MUSQUIN, wife of Jean TONNELIER (her mother Eva’s brother-in-law).26 By elimination, only Susanne could have been the mother. Angelique died at the age of two months on 2 January 1790. The entry in the parish records for her death and burial does not name her parents. The death was witnessed by her godfather/uncle.27 Five years later, Susanne married Joseph PHILIPPART on 23 January 1795 in Rodange.28 Joseph was the brother of my 5th great-grandfather Jacques PHILIPPART. Susanne and Joseph were 25 and 30 when they married. They were the parents of six children born between 1796-1809. Susanne died on 17 September 1819 at the age of 50.29 Her husband Joseph died at the age of 63 on 19 January 1828.30
Death on Wedding Anniversary
The marriage of Jean SCHMIT and Eva DUCKER lasted exactly 21 years. Jean died on their anniversary, 6 November 1777 in Niedercorn. He was buried the following day in the cemetery of Obercorn.31 He was a sexagenarian at the time of his death, i.e. born before 1717.
Eva, 50 years old, was left with two sons and four daughters aged between 9 and 19 years.
Eva died fourteen years later on 18 March 1792 in Niedercorn. She was buried the following day in the cemetery of Niedercorn. Her oldest son Franciscus was a witness who signed the death/burial record. Her funeral was said by J. B. NEUERS of the parish of Obercorn, the same priest who had celebrated her husband’s funeral.32 Eva had lived to see four of her children marry. Two children predeceased her.
Jean SCHMIT and Eva DUCKER’s names were found in the 1783 marriage record of my 4th great-grandparents Marianne SCHMIT and Pierre FOURNELLE. When I wrote about Marianne and Pierre in December 2017, I mentioned the family book for the village of Obercorn.33
Eva’s parents were Peter DUCKER, formerly of Mamer, and Maria SCHMIT of Niedercorn, They raised their family of eight children in Differdange. While Eva’s parents and siblings were found and documented with the help of information found in the family book of Obercorn, a few questions remain.
As Eva’s mother and husband shared the SCHMIT surname, were they related? Who were the parents of Jean SCHMIT from Oberkerschen or Hautcharage?
SCHMIT is the number one most common family name in Luxembourg. Without any finding aids, it’s nearly impossible to research a person named Jean SCHMIT or John SMITH.
Baptismal records for Hautcharage are available from 1713-1793 on FamilySearch and Matricula. Marriages and burials are not available until 1779. Marriages before 1779 can be inferred from the baptismal records of the children of married couples.
Jean SCHMIT died in 1777 and was a sexagenarian, i.e. born before 1717. There were two SCHMITT men in Hautcharage having children with their wives around the time Jean SCHMIT was born: Henricus and Jacobus. A third man Joannes who used the surnames MERCIENIUS, SCHMITT, and MORITZ at the time of three daughters’ baptisms is also a candidate.34 More records than the baptismal entries of the children of these three SCHMITT men will be needed to prove if any of them were the father of Jean SCHMIT of Oberkerschen.
This research will be saved for another day. The subjects of my next post will be Marianne SCHMIT’s parents-in-law Pierre FOURNELLE and Jeanne NEU.
Name: Jean SCHMIT of Hautcharage Parents: Unknown at this time Spouse: Eva DUCKER of Differdange Parents of spouse: Peter DUCKER and Marie SCHMIT Whereabouts: Niedercorn, Luxembourg Relationship to Cathy Meder-Dempsey: 5th great-grandparents
Armand Logelin-Simon, Livre de famille de Obercorn, Tables familiales manuscrites de la localité de Obercorn d’après les registres paroissiaux. Période: 1637-1804 – Pages: 278 – Langue: Français/Latin (Digitized by Luxracines asbl), page 201, family 81. ↩
Robert Wagner, Dépouillement de Hautcharage, Dépouillement des naissances, mariages et décès à partir des registres de la paroisse de Hautcharage. Inclut la filiale de Linger. Période: 1713-1797 – Pages: 48 – Langue: Français (Digitized by Luxracines asbl). ↩
My fifth great-grandparents Jacques PHILIPPART (1749-1824) and Catherine SINGER aka KETTER (1743-1835) made their home in Rodange (Luxembourg) following their marriage in 1777. Their records were found in three European countries.
A quick geography lesson
Rodange is in a tri-border area – the geographical point at which the boundaries of three countries meet – Belgium, France, and Luxembourg. The tripoint is located between the localities of Athus (municipality of Aubange, province of Luxembourg, Belgium), Mont-Saint-Martin (department of Meurthe-et-Moselle, France) and Rodange (municipality of Pétange, canton of Esch-sur-Alzette, Grand Duchy of Luxembourg).
Where are the records located?
Although the geographical location is important, to find the records we also need to be aware of the repository of the different records.
For the Catholic church records, Rodange was attached to the parish of Herserange in the department of Meurthe-et-Moselle in France up to the year 1766. These records are available online at the Archives départementales de Meurthe-et-Moselle.
More recent parish records are online at Matricula.
Civil records begin in 1796 when Luxembourg was under French control as part of the Departement des Forêts. Civil records for Rodange and Lamadelaine, the neighboring town east of Rodange, are found in the commune of Pétange. Civil records are available on FamilySearch for the years 1796-1923.
Consequently, records for this family were found in three countries in Europe even though they lived in the same village the entire time.
The 1777 marriage record was found in Belgium
The marriage entry for my fifth great-grandparents’ marriage was recorded in the Roman Catholic parish registers of Aubange, Belgium. The entry includes the reason the marriage was performed in the village of Lamadelaine, Luxembourg.1
After the banns were read three times, no impediment was found, and consent was given by their relatives for Jacques PHILIPPART to marry Catherine SINGER. Jacques, son of Jacques PHILIPPART and Elisabeth BURQUELLE of Rodange and Catherine, daughter of Jean SINGER and Barbara KETTER of Bettange-sur-Messe, were joined in marriage on 8 January 1777. The nuptial benediction was given by the priest of the parish of Lamadelaine as the parents of the bride had been living there for several years. The marriage took place in the presence of the undersigned.
Unfortunately, only Father Kerschen, the priest in Lamadelaine signed the marriage record on the top of page 29 in the register. No signatures or marks of the bride, groom, or their parents were included.
The children of Jacques and Catherine
Jacques and Catherine were the parents of four known children. In 1777, 1780, 1784, and 1789 when the children were baptized their mother Catherine was identified with the surname KETTER(S), her mother’s maiden name.
Michel PHILIPPART (1777-1849)
Their firstborn was my fourth great-grandfather. Michel was born and baptized on 16 October 1777 in Rodange. His godfather was his father’s brother Michel PHILIPPART of Rodange. His godmother was a maternal relative Nannette KETTER of Bettange.2 The identity of Nannette may one day help to take the SINGER-KETTER line back further than Catherine SINGER’s parents.
Michel married Catherine MEUNIER (1775-1851), daughter of Henri MUNIER and Margaretha KILBORN, on 30 July 1817 in Pétange in a civil ceremony.3 They were likely married by the church about 1800 but no record survives. They were the parents of 8 children; 4 lived to adulthood, married, and continued the line.
Jean PHILIPPART (1780-?)
Their second child, a son named Jean was born and baptized on 10 November 1780. His godparents were Jean FOURNELLE and Elisabeth FELTEN, both of Rodange.4 The godfather’s signature was compared to signatures on other records signed by Jean FOURNELLE (1746-1818) to confirm he was my 4th great-granduncle, the son Pierre FOURNELLE and Jeanne NEU.
No marriage or death record has been found for Jean.
Philippe PHILIPPART (1784-1874)
Their third son, Philippe was born and baptized on 25 January 1784. His godparents were Philippe FOURNELLE of Rodange and Marie Catherine DIXQUES of Pétange.5 The godfather was another son of my FOURNELLE-NEU ancestors.
Philippe at the age of 31 married Anne COLLINET (1775-1848) on 9 January 1816 in Saulnes, France. She was a 40-year-old widow with six children.6 They had only one son who died at the age of two and a half years.
Catherine PHILIPPART (1789-1856)
Their fourth child and only daughter Catherine was born and baptized on 23 April 1789. Pierre ALZIN and Catherine MUNIER, both of Rodange, were the godparents.7 The godmother was described as a young girl. She was likely the father’s second cousin and daughter of Simon MUNIER and Marie Jeanne BURKEL.
Catherine married Jacques FOURNELLE (1797-1870), son of Pierre FOURNELLE and Marianne SCHMIT (my 4th great-grandparents), on 9 December 1822 in Pétange.8 They were the parents of two sons.
Jacques PHILIPPART’s occupation
The baptismal records of Jean, Philippe, and Catherine listed Jacques PHLIPPART’s occupation as charpentier or carpenter.
The deaths of Jacques and Catherine
Jacques died on 23 March 1824 in Rodange at the age of 75. His death was reported by Jacques FOURNELLE. The informant, his son-in-law, was mistakenly listed as his son.9 Jacques’s wife Catherine SINGER died at the age of 91 on 9 February 1835 in Rodange. Her death was reported by her oldest son Michel.10
Was there a connection between the PHILIPPART and FOURNELLE families? In later years the families would be joined in marriage. In 1823, Jacques’ granddaughter Marie Catherine PHILIPPART would marry André FOURNELLE, grandson of Pierre FOURNELLE and Jeanne NEU. But the families had a bond as early as 1744 and 1749.
Jacques PHILIPPART’s father Jacques (1714-1783) was widowed in 1744 when he was living in Doncourt-lès-Longuyon, Meurthe-et-Moselle, France. His wife likely died in childbirth or soon after. He married Elisabeth BURKEL two months after the birth. One of the witnesses to the marriage was Jean FOURNEL (1686-1749), father of Pierre FOURNELLE (1713-1765). Jacques PHILIPPART (1714-1783), Elisabeth BURKEL (1720-bef 1782), and Jean FOURNEL (1686-1749) were my 6th great-grandparents.
When Jacques PHILIPPART was baptized on 18 March 1749, his godmother was Jeanne NEU (1723-1783), wife of Pierre FOURNELLE whose father had been a witness to Jacques’s parents’ marriage.
Most of the DNA matches on my maternal side are very small segments indicating distant connections. Mom and I have one match with the PHILIPPART surname. The match has no tree and has not replied to a message I sent two years ago. The match is on two segments totaling 34 cMs with the largest segment being 24.4 cMs. As I was checking these details I realized that I might NOW be able to work out the match’s tree with only his name, country of residence, and approximate age.
With the details I knew about the match, I searched the obituaries (avis mortuaires) and found the 1973 and 1978 death notices of the match’s paternal grandparents in the Luxemburger Wort. From there I was able to connect the match to my family tree by researching only one generation. Over the years I’ve done a lot of descendant research and it is now paying off. The match and I are related in at least six different ways through ancestors from the Rodange area:
5C Michel PHILIPPART and Catherine MEUNIER
6C1R Jacques PHILIPPART and Elisabeth BURKEL
6C Jean SCHMIT and Eve DUCKER
6C Pierre FOURNELLE and Jeanne NEU
6C1R Pierre FOURNELLE and Jeanne NEU
8C1R Pierre LADURELLE and Jeanne SALIN
With so many common ancestors, figuring out which of the above couples might have passed their DNA down to both the match and myself (or my Mom) will be difficult.
In the next two posts, I will be writing about the last of my mother’s maternal 4th great-grandparents. The first couple will be Jean SCHMIT and Eve DUCKER and the second, Pierre FOURNELLE and Jeanne NEU.
Name: Jacques PHILIPPART (1749-1824) Parents: Jacques PHILIPPART and Elisabeth BURKEL Spouse: Catherine SINGER aka KETTER (1743-1835) Parents of spouse: Jean SINGER and Barbara KETTER Whereabouts: Rodange, Luxembourg Relationship to Cathy Meder-Dempsey: 5th great-grandparents
Belgique, Luxembourg, Registres paroissiaux, 1618-1868, (images), FamilySearch (original records at België Nationaal Archief, Brussels / Belgium National Archives, Brussels), Paroisse d’Aubange (Luxembourg) > Film 619924 DGS 7944121 > Baptêmes 1729-1783 Mariages 1729-1776 Sépultures 1729-1776 > image 15 of 605. 1777 Marriage Record on page 18 of register, 3rd entry with the signature of the priest on top of page 19. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSZV-FSPR-C?i=14&cat=74664 : accessed 5 December 2017). ↩
Four years ago when I wrote about my 4th great-grandparents Catherine MEUNIER and Michel PHILIPPART several loose ends hadn’t been tied up. Their story was complicated by their marriage taking place when Luxembourg was under French rule.
In 1795 the Duchy of Luxembourg became the Département des Forêts following its surrender after a siege of over seven months by French Revolutionary troops. The anti-religious policy of the new government is one of the reasons a marriage record may not be found for a Luxembourg ancestor during this period.
The people rebelled against the new laws continuing to be married by their priest, even if it meant having the ceremony performed in the kitchen, and refusing to have a civil record of the marriage recorded. When the Napoleonic Code was introduced in 1804 all persons were required to be married in a civil ceremony. Couples who had only been wedded by a priest since the introduction of civil records around 1796 had to be married in a civil ceremony to legitimize their children’s births. The children’s names were listed on the civil marriage record following the line pronouncing the couple husband and wife. Often the list was so long that it had to be continued in the margin of the marriage record.
Civil marriage records
The civil marriage records of Luxembourg include the dates and places of birth of the bride and groom, names of parents of each and their residence, as well as, the date and place of death of any deceased parent.
I’ve estimated that the religious marriage of Catherine and Michel took place between 9 January 1800 and 8 November 1801. The first is the date of birth of Catherine’s first child, Marguerite. No mention is made of the father of the child, i.e. born to an unmarried mother.1 The second date is the date of birth of my 3rd great-grandmother Marie Catherine born to Catherine and Michel, a married couple.2 The marriage record, if it was recorded, may never turn up as religious marriage records are missing for Rodange for the years 1796-1807.
Since Catherine and Michel’s marriage wasn’t recorded in the civil registers, it had to be legalized in 1817 (see image above). It included the names of their four living children. Four other children died between 1810 and 1814. Two important dates were missing in the 1817 marriage record. For Catherine’s date of birth, only the year 1775 was noted and her father’s date of death was not included.3
When I began reviewing the information on Catherine’s parents for this post, her baptismal record had not been located.
1774 Marriage of the parents of Catherine MEUNIER
On 21 December 1774 in Esch-sur-Alzette (Luxembourg), Henri MUNIER (b. 1749), son of Dominic MUNIER (1718-1760s) and Catherine LADURELLE (1717-1771) of Rodange, both deceased, married Margaretha KILBORN (b. 1751), daughter of Jean KILBORN (abt. 1720-aft. 1793) and Margaretha STEFFEN (abt. 1723-1777), both living in Esch-sur-Alzette. Henri was 25 years old and Margaretha was 23 years old.4
Henri and Margaretha were my 5th great-grandparents. Margaretha was expecting at the time of their marriage as Catherine MEUNIER, my 4th great-grandmother, was born and baptized in July 1775 in Rodange.
Baptismal record of their only known child
Catherine’s baptismal record had been eluding me since I last searched in November 2015. I don’t know how many times I’ve gone through the church records searching for Catherine’s baptism. Two weeks into researching this post, I browsed through the records once again on the assumption that she may have been born before her parents’ marriage.
The search was made difficult by the fact that the records for the years 1767-1777 are not in chronological order. Records for a year are together but the years are not consecutive. The baptismal record of Catherine MEUNIER was finally found between a death record of a man who fell from a tree in the woods of Sonne-la-Haute dated 10 July 1775 and the baptismal record of a child born in Rodange on 28 July 1775.5
With no date other than the year 1775, the four lines of the record give the names of the parents and godparents. The places of residence of the parents and godparents were omitted by Jean Guilleaume, the priest who resided in Sonne or Saulnes as it is known today. He also failed to include the name of the legitimate female child. As children were named after the godparent of their gender, this record is for a daughter named Catherine.
Saulnes (France) and Rodange (Luxembourg) are neighboring towns separated by the border between the two countries. It can be assumed that Catherine was baptized between 10-28 July 1775 in Sonne or Rodange.
No further children have been found for Margaretha and Henri. Records of marriage in Luxembourg and records of death in the Rodange area of persons with the MUNIÉ, MUNIER, and MEUNIER surnames did not turn up any references of other children of Henri and Margaretha.
When did Henri MUNIER die?
The length of the MUNIER-KILBORN marriage is unknown as no record of death has been found for Henri. As with his daughter Catherine’s record of birth, his death record was not found by the civil servant who wrote up the 1817 record when Catherine’s marriage was legalized. The authorities noted only that Henri MUNIER died in Rodange.
Catherine was eight years of when her father Henri witnessed the marriage of his youngest sister Catherine MUNIER in Rodange on 29 August 1783.6 This was the second to last event that mentions Henri.
A decade later, on 17 December 1793, Margaretha KILBORN was described as the widow of Henri MUNIER when she married André DOMANGE in Rodange. Witnesses to the marriage included André’s father Nicolas DOMANGE, André’s maternal first cousin Pierre BERKIN, Margaretha’s brother-in-law Théodore LUCAS (husband of Margaretha MUNIER, sister of the bride’s deceased husband), and Margaretha’s father Jean KILBORN.7
When they married Margaretha was 42 years old and André was 31. the marriage lasted 27 years and was childless.
As an aside, André DOMANGE was my second cousin six times removed. We share Domange BERKIN and Anne WARCOLLIER (d. 1726) as ancestors.
Margaretha KILBORN died on 4 April 1821 in Rodange at the age of 69 years. Her husband André was the informant and gave her age as 80.8 He died 12 years later on 17 December 1833 at the age of 71.9 They were both buried in the cemetery of Rodange.
There are still items that need to be researched for this couple.
Death/burial entries in the church records of Rodange need to be checked (again) for the years 1783 to 1793 on the off chance that Henri MUNIER’s entry was missed.
The spelling of the surnames MUNIER and KILBORN needs to be considered when searching for records. Henri’s surname was spelled MUNIÉ on the 1774 marriage record. MUNIÉ is pronounced the same as MUNIER. Later, the name was also seen as MEUNIER. KILBORN has been difficult to research as so many different spellings have been found: Kubborn, Kilborn, Kibourg, Kilbourg, Kubourg, and Quilbourt. One example, in 1793, when Margaretha married for the second time and her father was still living, the priest who wrote the marriage entry spelled the surname Kuborne.
Research for this couple was slow going. Although Henri MUNIER and Margaretha KILBORN had only one known child, she gave them many descendants. The ancestry of the MUNIER-KILBORN couple goes back four generations on Henri’s side and two generations on Margaretha’s side, leaving much to be discovered.
As this is not the only branch in my family tree that lived in Rodange, more records and connections will likely be found while looking into the next three sets of 5th great-grandparents.
Name: Henri MUNIER b. 7 Jan 1749 Parents: Dominic MUNIER and Catherine LADURELLE Spouse: Margaretha KILBORN b. 25 Oct 1751 Occupation: day laborer Parents of spouse: Jean KILBORN and Margaretha STEFFEN Whereabouts: Esch-sur-Alzette and Rodange, Luxembourg Relationship to Cathy Meder-Dempsey: 5th great-grandparents
Father’s Day in Luxembourg and Four Catholic Priests
Research on the featured couple brought to light more than I expected. What I learned fits in nicely, I think, with the holiday we are celebrating in Luxembourg today: Father’s Day.
The Marriage Record
On Sunday, 3 February 1754, a Catholic priest named Nicolas KNEIP married my 5th great-grandparents in Ettelbrück. The 24-year-old groom was Joseph SCHLOESSER of Wiltz and his 23-year-old bride was Catherine ARENT of Warken. Joseph was the son of Nicolas SCHLOESSER and Johanna GASPERSCH (also seen as CASPER). Catherine was the daughter of Michel ARENT, deceased, and Anna Margaretha KNEIP.1
Before I tell you about the rabbit hole the priest took me down, here is a list of the children of this set of 5th great-grandparents.
The children of Catherine and Joseph
Catherine and Joseph made their home in Wiltz where their 10 known children were born and baptized. Unless noted otherwise all events took place in Wiltz or Wooltz as it is known in Luxembourgish.
Anna Margareta was baptized on 30 December 1754.2 She died on 25 December 1755, days before her first birthday.3
Laurent was baptized on 12 June 1756.4 He married(1) Marie-Elisabeth DUHR (1744-1789) on 28 December 1778.5 They had 4 children. He married(2) Anne-Marguerite SCHAUL (1774-1817) on 4 August 1794.6 They had 10 children. He died on 17 September 1823 at the age of 67.7
Maria Catharina was baptized on 31 May 1759.8 She married Jean-Baptiste Jean BARNICH (1756-1811) on 19 May 1791.9 They were the parents of 5 children. She died on 22 December 1821 at the age of 62.10
Nicolas was baptized on 29 December 1760.11 He married Marie SCHMAL (1752-aft. 1824) on 20 June 1779.12 They had 9 children. He died on 22 January 1805 at the age of 44.13
Valentin was baptized on 1 August 1762.14 He married(1) Elisabeth THIES (1765-1802) on 15 April 1787.15 They had 8 children. He married(2) Marie Elisabeth DECKER (1775-1837) on 17 August 1804.16 They had 9 children. He died on 27 March 1832 in Lutremange, Villers-la-Bonne-Eau, Province de Luxembourg, Belgium at the age of 69.17
Jean-Népomucène was baptized on 18 March 1764.18 He married(1) Margaretha TRAUDT (1766-1809) on 26 Apr 1790 in Vianden.19 They were the parents of a dozen children. He married(2) Elisabeth HAMELING (1779-1838) on 24 Dec 1810 in Vianden.20 They had two sons, one of whom died before the age of two months. He died on 29 July 1833 in Vianden at the age of 69.21Jean-Népomucène and his first wife Margaretha were my 4th great-grandparents.
Nicolas Joseph was baptized on 18 November 1766.22 He married(1) Elisabeth METZ (1766-1816) on 3 June 1787.23 They were the parents of 13 children. He married(2) the widow Marie-Catherine SCHNEIDER (1769-?) on 30 December 1818.24 He died on 29 January 1839 in Eschweiler at the age of 72.25
Elisabeth was baptized on 15 September 1770.26 She married André SPEDENER (1768-1828) on 6 May 1791.27 They had 7 children. She died on 11 July 1844 at the age of 73.28
Marie was baptized on 11 March 177329 and died two days later.30
Jean was baptized on 30 November 1775.31 He died a little over seven months later, on 16 July 1776.32
The deaths of Catherine and Joseph
Catherine ARENT did not live to see the 19th century but she saw the seven children who lived to adulthood marry. She died at the age of 65 years on 21 Apr 1796.33 Her husband Joseph SCHLOESSER died on 31 March 1800 at the age of 71 at the home of his daughter. His son Valentin and a neighbor reported the death. Which of his daughters it was, the oldest or the youngest was not mentioned.34
Catherine and Joseph had 79 grandchildren per research done by my 6th cousin once removed, Joseph SCHLOESSER, a descendant of my Joseph’s oldest brother Jean SCHLOESSER (1719-1789). I’ve documented 14 grandchildren by their son Jean-Népomucène who is my direct ancestor. The remaining 65 still need to be looked into.
DNA Match adds a couple of generations to the tree
Anna Margaretha KNEIP, my 6th great-grandmother and the mother of Catherine ARENT of this post, showed up in the tree of one of my mother’s DNA matches. That’s seven generations back in Mom’s tree. The match shares only 14 cMs on one segment with Mom. Seven of the match’s eight great-grandparents were born in Luxembourg making researching and finding the MRCA time-consuming. Ancestry, however, found Anna Margaretha KNEIP to be a common ancestor of the match and my Mom. ThruLines suggested the match came through a descendant of Anna Margaretha and her second husband. At the time I didn’t have a second marriage for Anna Margaretha. In fact, I didn’t even have other children.
Instead of working out the match’s line, I looked into Anna Margaretha KNEIP. Searching for the ARENT children, the death of her husband Michel ARENT, the second marriage to Bernard AUDRIT, and the AUDRIT children took me further back. These gave me the names of her parents and I was able to locate baptismal records for 14 KNEIP siblings of Anna Margaretha KNEIP, all born in Bissen. Although many children had been born to André KNEIP and his wife Catherine FABER vulgo GOEDERT, I found no marriages in that town. That’s where I left off the research.
Coming back to the marriage entry for Joseph SCHLOESSER and Catherine ARENT, I asked myself if the mother of the bride, Anna Margaretha KNEIP, and the priest Nicolas KNEIP might have been related. This sent me down a rabbit hole where I made several discoveries.
An online search for the reverend father Nicolas KNEIP who was a priest in Ettelbück turned up a hit for the genealogy research of Charles THIELEN last updated 18 December 2004.
Mr. Thielen is a descendant of the most distant known KNEIP ancestor through the daughter Susanne, sister of my André KNEIP. He lists 17 children for André KNEIP. I had missed one child in the baptismal records. Another child, a son, was included although only mentioned in a publication by a catholic priest.
Mr. Theilen’s work traced the ARENT and KNEIP lines a further generation than I had. He cited notary records he used to make the connections in the families.
The most amazing information in his database was the fact that six of the nine sons of André KNEIP and Catherine FABER vulgo GOEDERT studied theology and that four of them became Catholic priests. Nicolas KNEIP (1697-1768) of the parish of Ettelbrück was their oldest son and the priest who performed the marriage ceremony between his niece Catherine ARENT and Joseph SCHLOESSER.
No wonder I couldn’t find marriages for the KNEIP children when six of the sons never married. Several of the children who did marry didn’t produce entries in the church marriage records. This seems unusual when four of the siblings were priests – persons responsible for keeping the church records. Mr. Theilen used the notary records to work around these missing records. I was able to locate some of the records he cited. I even found some that he didn’t cite including two marriage contracts. One proved a second marriage for Marie Josephine, a sister of the four priests. The religious marriage record did not include her widower’s name or her parents’ names.
Before finding these records, with the help of Mr. Thielen’s citation, I had only seen one notary record produced by an ancestor – again a record that had been referenced by another researcher. Now that I have figured out how to use these records and where to look for the notary’s index to the records, I will be checking the Luxembourg Notarial Records, 1621-1821 more often.
The handwriting from the 1700s is very hard to read and it will take some time to decipher the records. I am especially interested in the four-page record I found dated 7 February 1734, the day Anna Marguerite KNEIP married her second husband Bernard AUDRIT. Signed by several of her clergy brothers as well as a priest with the surname ARENT (her deceased husband’s surname), it appears to be a marriage contract between the two.
I still cannot believe that my 7th great-grandparents André and Catherine had so many sons who became priests but am pleased to see all the records this particular family left.
Name: Joseph SCHLOESSER Occupation: Labourer or farmer Parents: Nicolas SCHLOESSER and Johanna GASPERSCH Spouse: Catherine ARENT Parents of spouse: Michel ARENT and Anna Margaretha KNEIP Whereabouts: Wiltz, Luxembourg Relationship to Cathy Meder-Dempsey: 5th great-grandparents
Today would have been my father-in-law Marcel MEDER‘s 95th birthday. When I began researching our family history in 1995 my father-in-law was the one who helped me read the old handwriting in the documents I obtained from the records offices I visited in different towns in Luxembourg. He died too soon in 1996, less than two months before his 70th birthday.
In previous posts for the family groups in Luxembourg, I concentrated on the birth and marriage records of the children. For the MEDER-REIFFER family, I tried something different. I used pink and blue boxes for the children, adding footnote links for their birth, marriage, and death records to the very long source list at the end of the post. Instead of discussing the birth and/or marriage records, I chose to focus on the census records of the family.
The Luxembourg Census
The census in Luxembourg was taken every three or so years. At FamilySearch there are 1,115,931 census images available for these years: 1843, 1846, 1847, 1849, 1851, 1852, 1855, 1858, 1861, 1864, 1867, 1871, 1875, 1880, 1885, 1887, 1890, 1895 and 1900.
Théodore MEDER should have been found in every single year the census was taken except for 1900 as he lived from 1807 to 1898.
I went through the entire 1871 census collection for Diekirch and did not find Théodore, Susanna, and their youngest daughter Catherine. Their married sons were found. Their married daughters, however, still need to be looked into.
The missing 1871 census listing is not the focus of this post.
After the death of his wife in 18771 and the first census following her death in 18802, Théodore went missing in 1885, 1887. 1890, and 1895.
Théodore was a widower for 22 years and may have spent some time in the local hospital before his death. This was known as when he died at three o’clock in the morning on 29 July 1898 his death was reported by Dominik ZENNER, the 64 years old overseer in the hospital (Aufseher im Spital) in Diekirch. The overseer stated that the death occurred in the hospital.3
Notes to myself and how my sister uses them
I share my GEDCOM file on GeneaLux.Net, a sub-site reserved for members of my genealogy society Luxracines. Earlier this month my sister, who also does genealogy and is a member of Luxracines, ran across Théodore’s 1885 census listing by accident.
Recognizing the surname, she checked my tree as she knows I keep notes to myself about the records I’m searching for. With the information on where he was found in 1885, she went on to successfully find him in the same place in 1887, 1890, and 1895.
Where did she find Théodore? In Diekirch, in the hospital where he was known to have died, in all four census years.
The Hospital of Diekirch
Rob Deltgen, the compiler of the family book for Diekirch, wrote about the hospital of Diekirch: “Offiziel wurde 1882 mit dem Bau des Hospitals begonnen, vorher existierte jedoch auch ein Bürgerhospital.” The construction of the hospital officially began in 1882, but before that, there was also a community hospital.4
In the center of town, the area around the church and judicial building is called ob der Klouster by the older generations of Diekirch. Behind the church, in the rue de l’Hôpital, is the rest home run by the nuns of the Congregation of the Sisters of Saint Elisabeth.
Théodore MEDER in the census
In 1885 Théodore was in pflege or in care at the hospital run by Catholic nuns. He had no occupation and was living on support or von unterstützung lebend. He was listed a few lines below Dominique ZENNER, Krankenwärter (nurse) in the hospital.5
On 1 February 1887, in the Klosterstrasse, the Abbess Généviève BOVÉ, as in 1885, headed the list of nuns who cared for the patients. The patients’ names were listed on the census page and then crossed out. Dominique ZENNER was listed as a nurse, two lines above Théodore whose name was marked out.6
On 1 December 1890, the street name was hinter dem Kloster or behind the convent. Abbess BOVÉ was still head of the convent. Dominique ZENNER is listed on line 18 and Théodore on line 20. Dominique’s occupation was Krankenwärter (nurse) and Théodore was living from support.7
By 2 December 1895, the hospital had grown. Personnel and patients were enumerated on five pages. The information included the number of years each had been at the establishment. The persons living the longest at the hospital were Pauline SCHROELL (line 33), Théodore MEDER (line 62), and Dominique ZENNER (line 67). All three had been there for 12 years, likely since the hospital had been built. Dominique was still working as a nurse, likely overseeing the men’s ward.8
Dominik, a Papal Zouave
Dominique ZENNER, as noted earlier, was the informant on the civil death record of Théodore MEDER. His name was used to learn more about the hospital. Searches, however, brought up more interesting information about the life of Dominique or Dominik as he was known by those he worked with him in the hospital.
The Zuavi Pontifici or Papal Zouaves were an infantry battalion and later a regiment dedicated to defending the Papal States. Young unmarried Roman Catholic men volunteered to assist Pope Pius IX in his struggle against the Italian unificationist.
Dominik ZENNER (1834-1924) worked as a nurse during the cholera epidemic of 1866 in Luxembourg. At the age of 34, he crossed the Alps to fight for the freedom of the Papal States in the ranks of the Papal Zouaves. Soon after his arrival, he contracted cholera but after several months was cured and able to leave the hospital. In 1869 he visited his homeland but returned to his military duties. In 1870 he was taken prisoner at Porta Pia by the Garbaldians. He received the papal blessing from Pope Pius IX from the loggia of the Saint Peter’s Church along with 1200 of his fellow prisoners. In October 1870 he was released to his homeland where he devoted himself to nursing the sick in the Diekirch hospital until his death.9
On 4 May 1920, Zenner celebrated his military jubilee with his brothers-in-arms Wilhelm LEYDER from Eppeldorf and Peter KIEFFER from Wiltz in the monastery of Diekirch. Her Royal Highness, CHARLOTTE, Grand Duchess of Luxembourg presented the jubilarians with the Silver Medal of the Grand Ducal Order of the Crown of Oak. At the same time, they received from the Archbishop of Luxembourg, Mgr. Pierre NOMMESCH the Pontifical Order Pro Ecclesia and Pontifice awarded by Pope Benedikt XV. It was pinned on their chests beside the Pontifical Medal Bene Merenti they had already received from Pope Leo XIII.10, 11, 12
Thank you to my sister
I’d like to thank my sister for keeping an eye out for records I’ve been unable to find and for letting me know when she finds them. Also, for unknowingly helping me to learn more about the history of the people of Luxembourg. I knew little of the Zuavi Pontifici and found interesting articles in the Luxembourg newspapers about the men who served.
As for Théodore and his nurse Dominik, did a friendship develop between the two as one was cared for by the other? Did Théodore know of Dominik’s military service? Did Dominik share stories of his adventures fighting for the freedom of the Papal States? What was it like for Théodore, who had spent most of his life working as a day laborer and shepherd, to live in an establishment for the last 15 years of his life run by women?