Nicolas FOURNEL (1683-abt.1748) and Barbe AGARANT (abt.1678-1758)

To add more depth to the lives of our ancestors and their families it’s helpful to collect all documents created during their lifetimes. For the French/Luxembourgish families I’m presently working on, the research was made easier by consulting the family books of the towns they lived in. These books are compiled by researchers using church and civil records for birth/baptism, marriage, and death/burial for all families who lived in the town of interest. Some compilers go beyond the simple dates and place information found in BMD records.

Aimé Tarnus, who compiled Histoires des Familles, Hussigny-Godbrange de 1550 à 1900, the family book on the town Nicolas FOURNEL lived in during his adult life, wrote a very interesting introduction explaining the records he used for the book during more than 13 years of research.

As mentioned in one of my previous posts, Hussigny is lacking church records for the years between 1716-1765 with only 1753-1756 and 1758 being available. To get around the lack of records for the town, Aimé Tarnus consulted records of the Archives Départementales de Moselle, the Archives Départementales de Meurthe-et-Moselle, the National Library in Paris, and the Luxembourg National Archives. A good part of the work in the departmental archives, other than the church and civil records, was done using the judicial archives and the notary deeds.

Nicolas FOURNEL (1783-~1748), my 6th great-granduncle, was the oldest known son of my 7th great-grandparents Jean FOURNEL (1655-1721) and Catherine SETON (1657-1702).

1683 Baptismal Record. Image courtesy of Archives départementales de Meurthe-et-Moselle (54), 5 Mi 259/R 1 vue 28 de 529

His sister Françoise was five years old when Nicolas was born and baptized in Saulnes on 30 September 1683. His godparents were Nicolas BOUILLON and Margueritte EVRARD, wife Bernard COURTOIS.1 The baptismal record was missing information and this had to be deducted from the known factors. Jean and Catherine’s naming their first son Nicolas could be a clue to his paternal grandfather’s identity, assumed to be the Nicolas FOURNELLE who died abt. 1675/6 in Saulnes.2

Nicolas and his older sister Françoise had seven or eight more siblings: Jean, Henri, Jeanne, Sébastienne, Marie, Jacques, and possibly Marie Catherine. At this time, I have not been able to prove or disprove Marie and Marie Catherine were one and the same person.

Nicolas lost his mother at the age of 18 when Catherine SETON died on 21 September 1702 in Saulnes.3

At the age of 24, he was chosen to be the godfather of Marie, daughter of Jean DROUET and Jeanne REMY, when she was baptized on 3 October 1707 in Saulnes.4

Nicolas’ older sister Françoise (1678-1729) married Jean COURTOIS (1684-1745) on 23 January 1708.5

Two years later Nicolas married Barbe AGARANT (1678-1758) in Réhon on 29 June 1710. Nicolas was 26 years old and Barbe was about 32 years old. He was described as un jeune garçon de Sosne, paroissien de Herserange or young boy of Saulnes, a parishioner of Herserange. His surname was spelled FOURNIER. Barbe was the widow of Jean BERNARDIN. The entry in the Réhon parish record does not name Nicolas’ parents however we can assume they were Jean FOURNEL and Catherine SETON as they were the only couple in Saulnes of this surname and with children of marrying age.6

Barbe was not only a widow but also the mother of three children ages 2, 5, and nearly 7. She was about two months pregnant when Nicolas witnessed, along with his father Jean, the marriage of his brother Jean on 22 January 1713 in Rodange (Luxembourg).7 Jean married Jeanne BERKIN (1683-1759) – the couple were my 6th great-grandparents.

1713 Baptismal Record of Julien “FURNIER.” Image courtesy of FamilySearch

On 31 August 1713, at the age of 35, Barbe gave birth to a son in Hussigny. Julien FOURNEL’s baptism took place on the same day and was recorded in the parish records of Obercorn. His godparents were Julien MERGEN and Maria GERARD, both of Hussigny.8 The baptismal record was found in Obercorn as Hussigny belonged to the parish of Obercorn (Luxembourg) up until 15 February 1714.9 If any other children were born and/or died after 1714 they are lost as there are no records in Hussigny.

In 1720 Nicolas’ sisters Jeanne and Sébastienne married and started families.

The following year, Nicolas of Hussigny and his brother Jean of Rodange witnessed the death record of their father Jean FOURNEL on 3 September 1721 in Saulnes.10

Nicolas’ youngest brother Jacques FOURNELLE married after the death of their father and before 1724.

Nicolas’ occupation was a laborer in several of the records Aimé Tarnus found in the archives. On 18 May 1728, he was listed as the mayor of Hussigny.11

Nicolas and Barbe’s only known child, Julien FOURNEL married Catherine BERNARDIN (1705-1775) after 4 February 1733. Her relationship to her mother-in-law Barbe’s first husband Jean BERNARDIN and the children from that marriage has not been determined.

No marriage record was found for Julien who had at least three children with his wife Catherine between about 1737-1747. Estimated years of birth have been calculated using their death records.

An interesting document was discovered by Aimé Tarnus concerning Catherine’s first pregnancy used to calculate when the marriage took place. On 4 February 1733 Catherine BERNARDIN made a declaration de grossesse or declaration of pregnancy naming Julien FOURNEL as the father.

Declaration of pregnancy

What is a declaration of pregnancy? Why were these documents created? What was included in them? Where are they found?

To fight against abortions, clandestine childbirths, abandonment, and prevent infanticides, an edict was proclaimed under Henry II in February 1556. The edict of 25 February 1708 under Louis XIV reaffirmed the edict of 1556 against the concealment of pregnancy and childbirth. Unmarried girls and widows were forced to declare their pregnancy free of charge before a notary or a lieutenant of justice.12

The declaration included the circumstances in which the woman had become pregnant and the identity of the father of the child. The statement that was given by the young lady usually had the names of her parents, where she was from, and her age. If the name of the father wasn’t given, sometimes during childbirth at the instigation of the priest or the magistrate, they tried to obtain a confession. Information on the circumstances may have been recorded in the baptismal register during the baptism of the child.

Every three months during the sermon in the parish church the congregation was reminded of their duty to report pregnancies.

During the Revolution in 1789, declarations of pregnancies had fallen more or less into disuse depending on the region.

Declarations of pregnancy are filed in the judicial archives in series B in the departmental archives.

The declaration of pregnancy made by Catherine BERNARDIN may have included information that Julien FOURNEL abused her as a very short extract by Mr. Tarnus indicates.13 However, the judicial archives’ Series B would need to be consulted to confirm the circumstances of the pregnancy.

As the baptismal records for 1733 are not available, there is no record of birth for a child born to Catherine and Julien.

Volume 1 of 3 of the family book “Histoires des Familles Hussigny-Godbrange de 1550 à 1900” by Aimé Tarnus accessed in the Luxracines archives.

Other events were taking place in the Nicolas FOURNEL family during these times.

On 17 February 1734 two transactions were found in which Nicolas and his wife Barbe were selling real estate. They sold land to Pierre DIDION14 and part of a house in Hussigny to Nicolas GILLARDIN and Elisabeth BERNARDIN. Elisabeth was Barbe’s oldest child from her first marriage.15

On 19 March 1737 Nicolas and his wife sold land to Nicolas SPELTZ.16

Catherine FOURNEL, a daughter of Julien and Catherine, was born about 1738. Anne FOURNEL was born about 1746 and Michel FOURNEL was born about 1747.

By 29 October 1748, Nicolas FOURNEL was deceased. His widow owned money to an unknown person (record damaged).17

On 7 April 1749 Barbe declared that she was no longer able to provide for her food and maintenance, selling land to her daughter Elisabeth BERNARDIN and her husband Nicolas GILLARDIN.18

This was exactly one year after the affairs of her son Julien FOURNEL, deceased, were being taken care of by his uncles Jacques and Henry FOURNEL.19 Julien FOURNEL died shortly before 8 April 1748. Was his father deceased by this time and is this the reason his uncles were taking care of the inventory?

Barbe lived another decade, dying on 7 March 1758 in Hussigny at the age of 80.20 She did not live to see her three FOURNEL grandchildren marry.

Catherine FOURNELLE married Jacques LAFONTAINE (1721-1796) on 30 April 1765 in Crusnes (Meurthe-et-Moselle). The groom was an invalid soldier and 16 years older than the bride. Henry FOURNEL (son of the above mentioned Henry FOURNEL d. 1753), the bride’s first cousin once removed,  witnessed the marriage as her curator.21

Anne FOURNEL married François FRANÇOIS on 4 August 1767 in Hussigny. Henry FOURNEL also witnessed this marriage.22 This couple had a daughter in 1767 and a son in 1769.

Michel FOURNEL married Suzanne HUMBERT on 7 January 1772 in Baslieux (Meurthe-et-Moselle).23 Of the nine children born to them between 1772 and  1792 only two grew to adulthood and married.

1775 Death Record of Catherine BERNARDIN. Image courtesy of Archives départementales de Meurthe-et-Moselle (54), 5 Mi 48/R 2 vue 369 de 607

Catherine BERNARDIN, the widow of Julien and mother of the three children, died 3 January 1775 at the age of 75. Her son Michel FOURNEL and her son-in-law François FRANÇOIS were witnesses to the death record.24 There is, however, an error in the death record. Catherine is named as the widow of Michel FOURNEL instead of Julien. The witnesses’ relationship with her was mentioned therefore we can assume the husband’s name was a clerical error.

Two of the three grandchildren of Nicolas FOURNEL and Barbe AGARANT remained in the area. Michel died 31 October 1799 at the age of 5225 and Anne FOURNEL died 16 June 1808 at the age of 6226, both in Baslieux.

The oldest granddaughter, Catherine had three children in Crusnes in 1765, 1767, and 1769 before moving to Chalon-sur-Saône (Bourgogne) where she gave birth to a daughter in 1775. The family moved to Salins-les-Bains (Jura) in eastern France by 1779 where Catherine had two more children with her invalid soldier husband. She died in Salins-les-Bains on 9 February 1818 at the age of 80.27

Next week, the third child of Jean FOURNEL and Catherine SETON, will be discussed – my 6th great-grandfather Jean FOURNEL (1686-1749).

Going Back to the Earliest Fournelle Ancestor (Part 1)

Going Back to the Earliest Fournelle Ancestor (Part 2)

Going Back to the Earliest Fournelle Ancestor (Part 3)

Françoise FOURNEL (1678-1729) and Jean COURTOIS (1684-1745)

© 2020, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.


  1. Archives départementales de Meurthe-et-Moselle (54), browsable images of microfilm collection of parish and civil records (online http://www.archives.cg54.fr/), Herserange > 1668-1773 > Herserange B. (1668-1688, 1694-1742, 1745-1746), M. (1684-1686, 1688-1692, 1694-1742, 1745-1746), S. (1676-1679, 1681-1689, 1694-1742, 1745-1773) > 5 Mi 259/R 1 > image 28 of 529. New terms of use: En application du règlement sur la réutilisation des données publiques adopté par le conseil départemental de Meurthe-et-Moselle (délibération de sa commission permanente n°17, en date du 16 janvier 2017), je m’engage à mentionner la source du document téléchargé (Arch. dép. de Meurthe-et-Moselle, [suivi de la cote complète]), en cas de réutilisation. 1683 [illegible] Baptismal Record (right page, 5th entry). This document is in poor condition. (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea3e74c/54b538075f780 : accessed 2 July 2020). 
  2. Ibid., Herserange > 1668- 1773 > 5 Mi 259/R 1 > image 21 of 529. Abt. 1675/6 Death Record (left page, 6th entry). (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea3e74c/54b538075bfd4 : accessed 2 July 2020). 
  3. Ibid., Herserange > 1668-1773 > 5 Mi 259/R 1 > image 333 of 529. 1702 Death Record (right page, last entry). (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea3e74c/54b538082e2f7 : accessed 7 July 2020). 
  4. Ibid., Herserange > 1668-1773 > 5 Mi 259/R 1> image 311 of 529. 1707 Baptismal Record of Marie Drouet, godfather Nicolas Fourny. (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea3e74c/54b538081d08c : accessed 8 July 2020). 
  5. Ibid., Herserange > 1668-1773 > 5 Mi 259/R 1 > image 300 of 529. 1708 Marriage Record of Jean Courtois and Françoise Fournel (right page, last entry). (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea3e74c/54b5380814b5d : accessed 7 July 2020). 
  6. Ibid., Réhon 1710-1792 > 5 Mi 450/R 2 > image 373 of 767. 1710 Marriage Record (right page, 2nd entry). (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10eca1233/54b0f2e7a367b : accessed 7 August 2020). 
  7. Ibid., Herserange 1668-1773 > 5 Mi 259/R 1 > image 266 of 529. 1713 Marriage Record of Jean Fournel and Jeanne Berkin (right page, top). (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea3e74c/54b53807ed8f7 : accessed 2 July 2020). 
  8. Luxembourg, registres paroissiaux, 1601-1948 (images), FamilySearch (original records at Luxembourg National Archives, Plateau du Saint-Esprit, Luxembourg), Obercorn > Baptêmes 1704-1727, 1746, 1794-1797, 1800-1805, mariages 1795-1797, 1800-1807, sépultures 1794-1797, 1802-1807 > image 51 of 296. 1713 Baptismal Record (left page, last entry). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L9WS-9S4G?cc=2037955&wc=STHZ-N3T%3A1500974001%2C1500974302 : accessed 11 August 2020). 
  9. Aimé Tarnus, Histoires des Familles, Hussigny-Godbrange de 1550 à 1900, Introduction in the front matter of the book. 
  10. Archives Meurthe-et-Moselle (54), Herserange > 1668-1773 > 5 Mi 259/R 1 > image 183 of 529. 1721 Death Record (left page, first entry). (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea3e74c/54b53807b3cf3 : accessed 7 July 2020). 
  11. Aimé Tarnus, Histoires des Familles, Hussigny-Godbrange de 1550 à 1900, page 537, family  2033. “Mos. B 8696 : le 18/5/1728, Nicolas est maire de H.” 
  12. GénéaFrance, a practical guide to French research. http://www.geneafrance.org/rubrique.php?page=grossesse and http://www.geneafrance.org/rubrique.php?page=naturel 
  13. Aimé Tarnus, Histoires des Familles, Hussigny-Godbrange de 1550 à 1900, page 536, family  2031. “Mos. B 8715 : le 4/2/1733, declaration de grossesse de Catherine BERNARDIN, fa. De + Julien c\ le dénommé Julien FOURNELLE qui a abuse ets… (copies)” 
  14. Aimé Tarnus, Histoires des Familles, Hussigny-Godbrange de 1550 à 1900, page 537, family  2033. “M. et M. 23 E 91 : Le même jour [17/02/1734], ils vendent à Pierre DIDION, meunier à H., 3 verges de terre etc…” 
  15. Aimé Tarnus, Histoires des Familles, Hussigny-Godbrange de 1550 à 1900, page 537, family  2033. “M. et M. 23 E 91 : le 17/02/1734, Nicolas FOURNIER, Lab. à H. et Barbe AGARAND, sa fe., vendent à Nicolas GILLARDIN, man. à H., et Elis. BERNARDIN, sa fe., une partie d’une maison à H. etc…” 
  16. Aimé Tarnus, Histoires des Familles, Hussigny-Godbrange de 1550 à 1900, page 537, family  2033. “M. et M. 23 E 148 : le 19/03/1737, Nicolas FOURNIER (FOURNEL dans l’acte), lab. à H., et Barbe AGARANT sa fe., vendent à Nicolas SPELTZ, marchand àG. un jour de terre à la Mère Colle etc… pour 54 livres” 
  17. Aimé Tarnus, Histoires des Familles, Hussigny-Godbrange de 1550 à 1900, page 537, family  2033. “M. et M. 23 E 158 : le 29/10/1748, Barbe AGARANT, Vve. de Nicolas FOURNEL, dmt. à H. doit une somme d’argent à ? (abimé)” 
  18. Aimé Tarnus, Histoires des Familles, Hussigny-Godbrange de 1550 à 1900, page 537, family  2033. “M. et M. 23 E 100 : le 7/4/1749, Barbe AGARANT, Vve. de Nicolas FOURNEL, dmt. à H., déclare ne plus être en état de subvenir à sa nouriture et à son entretien, elle vend à Nicolas GILLARDIN et Elis. BERNARDIN, sa fe., 5 verges 1/2 à H. etc…” 
  19. Aimé Tarnus, Histoires des Familles, Hussigny-Godbrange de 1550 à 1900, page 536, family  2031. “Mos. B 8647 : le 8/4/1748, inv. ap. + de Julien FOURNELLE ; Ts. Jacques FOURNELLE, Henry FOURNELLE, Nicolas PETIT et François BALTUS, tous de Hussigny.” 
  20. Archives Meurthe-et-Moselle (54), Hussigny-Godbrange 1714-1809 > 5 Mi 268/R 1 > image 35 of 677. 1758 Death Record (right page, 2nd entry). (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea53d8a/54b0105319c69 : accessed 24 August 2020). 
  21. Ibid., Crusnes 1648-1794 > 5 Mi 148/R 1 > image 551 of 767. 1765 Marriage Record (left page). (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10e965042/54aecd1d0c6e6 : accessed 28 August 2020). 
  22. Ibid., Hussigny-Godbrange 1714-1809 > 5 Mi 268/R 1 > image 57 of 677. 1767 Marriage Record (right page, top). (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea53d8a/54b0105324541 : accessed 28 August 2020). 
  23. Ibid., Baslieux 1728 17925 Mi 48/R 2 image 338 of 607. 1772 Marriage Record (right page). (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10e858cf3/54ad67298249f : accessed 28 August 2020). 
  24. Ibid., Baslieux 1728-1792 > 5 Mi 48/R 2 > image 369 of 607. 1775 Death Record (right page, first entry). (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10e858cf3/54ad672995ac0 : accessed 24 August 2020). 
  25. Ibid., Baslieux > 1793-1872 > 5 Mi 48/R 4 > image 318+319 of 633. 1799 Death Record (part 1)(http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10e85a63d/54aeac6e57e1e : accessed 7 August 2020) and 1799 Death Record (part 2)(http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10e85a63d/54aeac6e589fd : accessed 7 August 2020). 
  26. Ibid., Baslieux 1793-1872 > 5 Mi 48/R 4 > image 411 of 633. 1808 Death Record (right page, 1st entry).
    (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10e85a63d/54aeac6eb3669 : accessed 28 August 2020). 
  27. Archives départementales du Jura (39), browsable images of microfilm collection of parish and civil records (online http://archives39.fr/), Salins-les-Bains, commune > 3E/6899 > image 130 of 244. La réutilisation des données publiques: Par délibération du 11 décembre 2018 complétée par celle du 23 avril 2018, le Département du Jura a adopté le principe de la réutilisation libre et gracieuse sous licence Etalab version 2.0 pour tous les documents et données conservés aux Archives du Jura pouvant relever du cadre de la réutilisation, à l’exception donc des documents et données où s’exerce le droit d’auteur. Le réutilisateur est tenu d’indiquer la source des documents et données sous la forme suivante : Archives départementales du Jura (forme abrégée Arch. dép. Jura ou AD 39), la cote du document ou donnée, la date (ou date de la dernière mise à jour), son analyse ou sa description synthétique. 1818 Death Record No. 25. (http://archives39.fr/ark:/36595/a011423563654bsRFPP/27d46d830b : accessed 24 August 2020). 

Françoise FOURNEL (1678-1729) and Jean COURTOIS (1684-1745)

During the next few weeks, I will analyze and write about the seven children of Jean FOURNEL (1655-1721) and Catherine SETON (1657-1702) who married and had children.

In this post, I will go into the life of their oldest known child, Françoise FOURNEL (1678-1729).

1678 Baptismal Record of Françoise FOURNELLE. Image courtesy of Archives départementales de Meurthe-et-Moselle (54), 5 Mi 259/R 1 vue 19 de 529.

Françoise, my 6th great-grandaunt, was born on 18 March 1678 in Saulnes and baptized the same day. Her godparents were Guillaume DASSIS and a lady by the first name of Françoise.1 Her parents, Jean FOURNEL and Catherine SETON had likely married the previous year. As mentioned in previous posts on her parents, the spelling of the surname FOURNEL varied and was seen as FOURNELLE in this record.

Françoise was five years old when her brother Nicolas was born on 30 September 1683 in Saulnes.2 Other siblings were born when she was 8, 10, 12, 13, 18, and 20 years old. Her mother Catherine died on 21 September 1702 in Saulnes when Françoise was 24 years old.3

As a young single woman, Françoise became the godmother of two children born in her village. Etienne DELVA and Françoise LOUIS chose her to be their son Jean’s godmother on 26 September 1697 when she was 19 years old.4 Jean DROUET and Jeanne REMY requested her to be the godmother of their son François on 27 September 1705 when she was 26 years old.5

1708 Marriage Record of Jean COURTOIS and Françoise FOURNEL. Image courtesy of Archives départementales de Meurthe-et-Moselle (54), 5 Mi 259/R 1 vue 300 de 529.

At the age of 29, Françoise became the wife of Jean COURTOIS. They were married on 23 January 1708 in Saulnes. Jean was 23 years old and the son of Jean COURTOIS and Barbe FRANÇOIS. Witnesses to the marriage were Jean’s step-father Henry STRAUT and his older brother Bernard COURTOIS as well as Françoise’s father Jean FOURNEL and her good friend Laurent BOULANGER.6

The groom, Jean COURTOIS lost his father at the young age of four months. His father died in Verdun while traveling in February of 1685.7 This was mentioned in the Herserange church records. I searched through the church records of Verdun but was unable to find a mention of the death. Verdun was a large city at the time with more than a half dozen parishes. Jean’s mother must have remarried as a step-father is named in her son’s marriage record. Further research is necessary to confirm the spelling of the step-father’s name.

Françoise and Jean’s first child was born ten months after their marriage on 14 October 1708. Their son Jean was baptized two days later on 16 October. His godparents were Jean BOULANGER and his maternal aunt Jeanne FOURNEL (seen as FOURNY on the record).8

When Françoise was eight months pregnant with her second child, her brother Nicolas married in Réhon to Barbe AGARANT on 29 June 1710.9

A daughter, Sébastienne COURTOIS was born on 26 July 1710 and was baptized the following day. The second child of Françoise and Jean had as godparents Jean DROUET and her maternal aunt Sébastienne FOURNEL (seen as FOURNY on the record).10

The third child of the couple was named Jean, born on 20 February 1712 and baptized the following day. His godparents were a young boy named Jean SMELER and a young girl named Catherine DASSIS.11 It is not unusual for more than one living child of a couple to be named the same. No death record nor other record has been found for the first son named Jean born in 1708. It’s possible the first son did not survive.

Françoise was pregnant with her fourth child when the next of her siblings married. Her brother Jean FOURNEL married on 22 January 1713 a young lady named Jeanne BERKIN in Rodange (present-day Luxembourg).12 Jean and Jeanne are my direct ancestors, my 6th great-grandparents.

A little over three months later, a daughter named Françoise was born on 2 May 1713 and baptized on 3 May 1713. Jean CHOLOT and Françoise HUGREL were named as her godparents.13 Per records found, all children of Françoise and Jean COURTOIS were born in Saulnes except for Françoise. Her birth/baptismal record was recorded in Larimont, a farm located northeast of Mexy, a village that was burnt down by the Swedes during the Thirty Years War. Herserange, the parish these villages belonged to, lies between Saulnes and Mexy.

The fifth child of this couple was born on 19 June 1715 and baptized the following day. The baby girl was named Barbe after her godmother Barbe DROUET. Her godfather was her maternal uncle Henri FOURNEL (seen as Henry FOURNY on the record).14

On 3 February 1717 Françoise gave birth to her last child, a son named Jacques. He was baptized the following day in the presence of his maternal aunt and uncle, Jeanne FOURNEL and Jacques FOURNEL.15

When Françoise was 42 years old, two of her sisters married. Jeanne FOURNEL married Jérôme PETRISOT in Obercorn, Luxembourg on 28 July 1720.16 Sébastienne FOURNEL married Jean FRANÇOIS on 24 November 1720 in Saulnes.17

A year after her sisters’ marriages, Françoise and her siblings lost their father, Jean FOURNEL who died 3 September 1721 in Saulnes.18

Françoise’s baby brother Jacques FOURNEL married Anne LAUNOIS before 1724. This was likely the last of her siblings she would see married as she died on 13 October 1729 at the age of 51 years. Her husband, who reported the death, gave her age as 45.19

Jean COURTOIS remarried less than two months later on 2 December 1729.20 He chose as his bride Catherine DASSIS, likely the young girl who served as the godmother of his son Jean in 1712. They would have four children during their first decade of marriage. Jean COURTOIS died 30 May 1745 at the age of 60.21

Of the six children of Françoise FOURNEL and Jean COURTOIS, only one has been found to have married and continued the line.

Sébastienne COURTOIS (1710-1766) married Dominique LUX (1706-1766) about 1735. This is a rough guestimate. They had five known children. Baptismal records for three of the five (born in 1745, 1750, and 1752) and marriages and death records for all five were found. The years of birth for the two children with missing baptismal records have been estimated from their age at death. They were born about 1736 and about 1741, i.e. the estimated marriage in 1735.

The two youngest children, Nicolas LUX and Michel LUX married their second cousins Catherine PETRISOT and Marie Jeanne FOURNELLE, both great-grandchildren of Jean FOURNEL and Catherine SETON, taking the family full circle.

1766 Death Record of Anne Sébastienne COURTOIS. Image courtesy of Archives départementales de Meurthe-et-Moselle (54), 5 Mi 259/R 1 vue 412 de 529.

Sébastienne, in later years, was known as Anne Sébastienne, the name on her death record. She died on 20 February 1766 at the age of 55.22 The record names her as the daughter of the deceased Jean COURTOIS “dit la fleur” and wife of Dominique LUX. The only other record I found that refers to Jean COURTOIS as “La Fleur” was the death record of his second wife, Catherine DASSIS the following year.23

Anne Sébastienne’s husband Dominique died a week later on 27 February 1766 at the age of 60.24

Françoise FOURNEL and her husband Jean COURTOIS raised their family in Saulnes where her parents had raised her and her siblings. In my next post, we will see her brother Nicolas FOURNEL marry in a nearby village and raise his family in yet another village.

Going Back to the Earliest Fournelle Ancestor (Part 1)

Going Back to the Earliest Fournelle Ancestor (Part 2)

Going Back to the Earliest Fournelle Ancestor (Part 3)

© 2020, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.


  1. Archives départementales de Meurthe-et-Moselle (54), browsable images of microfilm collection of parish and civil records (online http://www.archives.cg54.fr/), Herserange 1668-1773 > 5 Mi 259/R 1 > image 19 of 529. New terms of use: En application du règlement sur la réutilisation des données publiques adopté par le conseil départemental de Meurthe-et-Moselle (délibération de sa commission permanente n°17, en date du 16 janvier 2017), je m’engage à mentionner la source du document téléchargé (Arch. dép. de Meurthe-et-Moselle, [suivi de la cote complète]), en cas de réutilisation. 1678 Fournel, Françoise baptismal record (middle of right page under Sosne).(http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea3e74c/54b538075b0db : accessed 7 July 2020). 
  2. Ibid., Herserange 1668-1773 > 5 Mi 259/R 1 > image 28 of 529. 1683 Baptismal Record (right page, 5th entry). This document is in poor condition. (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea3e74c/54b538075f780 : accessed 2 July 2020). 
  3. Ibid., Herserange  1668-1773 > 5 Mi 259/R 1 > image 333 of 529. 1702 Death Record (right page, last entry). (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea3e74c/54b538082e2f7 : accessed 7 July 2020). 
  4. Ibid., Herserange 1668-1773 > 5 Mi 259/R 1 > image 370 of 529. 1697 Baptismal Record of Jean Delva, son of Etienne Delva and Françoise Louis (right page, 3rd entry).(http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea3e74c/54b538084ad28 : accessed 7 July 2020). 
  5. Ibid., Herserange 1668-1773 > 5 Mi 259/R 1 > images 347+348 of 529. 1705 Baptismal Record of François Drouet, son of Jean Drouet and Jeanne Remy (right page, bottom and left page, top). (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea3e74c/54b5380838767 : accessed 7 August 2020 and http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea3e74c/54b5380839331 : accessed 7 August 2020). 
  6. Ibid., Herserange 1668-1773 > 5 Mi 259/R 1 > image 300 of 529. 1708 Marriage Record of Jean Courtois and Françoise Fournel (right page, last entry). (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea3e74c/54b5380814b5d : accessed 7 July 2020). 
  7. Ibid., Herserange 1668-1773 > 5 Mi 259/R 1 > image 39 of 529.  1685 Death Record (left page, 6th entry). “Sonne…. février 1685 est mort Jean Courtois … de Verdun étant en voyage, est inhumé dans le cimetière de La Haye du dit Verdun.” (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea3e74c/54b5380764a6b : accessed 21 August 2020). 
  8. Ibid., Herserange 1668-1773 > 5 Mi 259/R 1 > image 303 of 529. 1708 Baptismal Record (right page, 2nd to last entry). (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea3e74c/54b5380816b4f : accessed 8 August 2020). 
  9. Ibid., Réhon 1710-1792 > 5 Mi 450/R 2 > image 373 of 767. 710 Marriage Record (right page, 2nd entry). (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10eca1233/54b0f2e7a367b : accessed 7 August 2020). 
  10. Ibid., Herserange 1668-1773 > 5 Mi 259/R 1 > image 284 of 529. 1710 Baptismal Record (left page, bottom entry). (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea3e74c/54b5380807750 : accessed 8 August 2020). 
  11. Ibid., Herserange 1668-1773 > 5 Mi 259/R 1 > image 276 of 529. 1712 Baptismal Record (left page, first entry). (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea3e74c/54b5380801422 : accessed 15 August 2020). 
  12. Ibid., Herserange 1668-1773 > 5 Mi 259/R 1 >  image 266 of 529. 1713 Marriage Record of Jean Fournel and Jeanne Berkin (right page, top). (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea3e74c/54b53807ed8f7 : accessed 2 July 2020). 
  13. Ibid., Herserange 1668-1773 > 5 Mi 259/R 1 > image 270 of 529. 1713 Baptismal Record (left page, last entry). (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea3e74c/54b53807f0933 : accessed 16 August 2020). 
  14. Ibid., Herserange 1668-1773 > 5 Mi 259/R 1 > image 253 of 529. 1715 Baptismal Record (right page, 1st entry). (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea3e74c/54b53807dfa71 : accessed 16 August 2020). 
  15. Ibid., Herserange 1668-1773 > 5 Mi 259/R 1 > image 234 of 529. 1717 Baptismal Record (left page, 1st entry). (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea3e74c/54b53807d29ad : accessed 8 August 2020). 
  16. Luxembourg, registres paroissiaux, 1601-1948 (images), FamilySearch (original records at Luxembourg National Archives, Plateau du Saint-Esprit, Luxembourg), Obercorn > Baptêmes 1704-1727, 1746, 1794-1797, 1800-1805, mariages 1795-1797, 1800-1807, sépultures 1794-1797, 1802-1807 > image 6 of 296. 1720 Marriage Record (left page, 4th entry from bottom). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-89WS-9SK3?cc=2037955&wc=STHZ-N3T%3A1500974001%2C1500974302 : accessed 12 July 2020). 
  17. Archives Meurthe-et-Moselle (54), Herserange > 1668-1773 > 5 Mi 259/R 1 > image 178 of 529. 1720 Marriage Record of Jean François and Sébastienne Fournel (left page, 2nd entry).(http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea3e74c/54b53807b09bb : accessed 8 July 2020). 
  18. Ibid., Herserange > 1668-1773 > 5 Mi 259/R 1 > image 183 of 529. 1721 Death Record (left page, first entry). (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea3e74c/54b53807b3cf3 : accessed 7 July 2020). 
  19. Ibid., Herserange 1668-1773 > 5 Mi 259/R 1 > image 114 of 529. 1729 Death Record (left page, 3rd entry). (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea3e74c/54b5380788d8e : accessed 7 July 2020). 
  20. Ibid., Herserange 1668-1773 > 5 Mi 259/R 1> image 129 of 529. 1729 Marriage Record of Jean Courtois and Catherine Dassis. (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea3e74c/54b538079078d : accessed 8 July 2020). 
  21. Ibid., Herserange 1668-1773 > 5 Mi 259/R 1 > image 503 of 529. 1745 Death Record (left page, first entry). (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea3e74c/54b53808bfaf1 : accessed 8 July 2020). 
  22. Ibid., Herserange 1668- 1773 > 5 Mi 259/R 1 > image 412 of 529. 1766 Death Record (left page, 3rd entry). (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea3e74c/54b538086dcc5 : accessed 8 August 2020). 
  23. Ibid., Herserange 1668-1773 > 5 Mi 259/R 1 > image 410 of 529. 1767 Death Record (left page, first entry). (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea3e74c/54b538086c273 : accessed 21 August 2020). 
  24. Ibid., Herserange 1668-1773) > 5 Mi 259/R 1 > image 412 of 529. 1766 Death Record (bottom left and top right). (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea3e74c/54b538086dcc5 : accessed 18 August 2020). 

Going Back to the Earliest Fournelle Ancestor (Part 3)

This is the third post in a series on my earliest FOURNELLE ancestors. In Going Back to the Earliest Fournelle Ancestor (Part 1), I set up the stage for the series with a discussion of surname variations for FOURNELLE, a short history of the village of Saulnes (France), and an explanation of the availability of the records. In Going Back to the Earliest Fournelle Ancestor (Part 2), I added the main characters as I proved the children of my 7th great-grandparents Jean FOURNEL and Catherine SETON of Saulnes in the parish of Herserange, Meurthe-et-Moselle, France.

Now it’s time to introduce some of the supporting cast.

In my last post, I brought the reader’s attention to the mark Jean FOURNEL used to sign his wife’s 1702 death/burial record1, the 1708 marriage record of his daughter Françoise to Jean COURTOIS2, and the 1713 marriage record of his son Jean to Jeanne BERKIN.3

In all of these records, he used what looks like a capital A for his mark. In 1696, Jean HAIS used the same mark to sign the baptismal record of Jean FOURNEL and Catherine SETON’s daughter Marie.4:

Who was Jean HAIS? Was the mark used by him and Jean FOURNEL a family symbol or a symbol of an occupation? If it was a mark used by the family, how was Jean HAIS related to Jean FOURNEL?

During the years 1678-1700 when Jean and Catherine were having children, there were no other records in Saulnes for persons with the surnames FOURNELLE (or other variations) and SETON.

The surname SETON was only found for one person in Saulnes – for my 7th great-grandmother, Catherine SETON (1657-1702). In records of some of her children, the name was spelled SATON. Other possible spellings, i.e. CYTON, SATIN, SETIN, and SAITEONE, were found in the index of the FamilySearch collection, France, Births and Baptisms, 1546-1896 in the department of the Meurthe-et-Moselle in the towns of Ansauville, Lunéville, Pont-à-Mousson, and Toule for the period 1600-1700. Although Catherine didn’t appear to have relatives in Saulnes with the surname, she could have had maternal relatives in the area. Another possibility is that Jean FOURNEL brought his bride to Saulnes from who knows where.

The records of Herserange, the parish Saulnes was part of, began ten years before Jean and Catherine’s first child was born in 1678. In these ten years, I found several records for persons using the FOURNELLE, FOURNEL, FOURNY spelling of the surname of interest.

Nicolas FOURNELLE…

…named as a godfather in a baptismal record
1672 Baptismal Record of Nicolas HENRION with godfather Nicolas FOURNELLE. Image courtesy of Archives départementales de Meurthe-et-Moselle (54), 5 Mi 259/R 1 vue 13 de 529

As can be seen in the image above, the earliest records of Herserange are not in the best condition. In the entry above, on 16 April 1672, a Nicolas FOURNELLE is named as the godfather (parrain, spelled parin in these early records) of a child named Nicolas, son of Arnould HENRION. The godmother’s name was likely in the missing section on the left. She was either the wife or daughter of Grégoire DIEUDONNÉ.5

…named in a death/burial record
A page from the church register. Image courtesy of Archives départementales de Meurthe-et-Moselle (54), 5 Mi 259/R 1 vue 21 de 529

A large part in the middle area of the left side of the page of the church register is missing including where the entry of interest was made. Here is a transcription of the record with the missing parts in brackets.

Sosne
[date] est mort Nicolas FOURNELLE muni
[de foi des sacrements et] inhumé au cimetière de Herserange.

1675/6 Death/Burial Record of Nicolas FOURNELLE. Image courtesy of Archives départementales de Meurthe-et-Moselle (54), 5 Mi 259/R 1 vue 21 de 529 (cropped)

About 1675/6 Nicolas FOURNELLE died in Saulnes provided with the sacraments and buried in the cemetery of Herserange.6 The estimated year of death has been assumed from the entries that include dates. No age at the time of death is seen in the incomplete death/burial entry.

There were no further entries for a Nicolas FOURNELLE. It’s a good possibility that the records are for one person.

Anne FOURNELLE, wife of Jean HAIS

Four baptismal records were found for children whose father was named Jean HAIS (with alternate spellings being HEIS, HAYS, and HAISSE).

1668 Baptismal Record of Margueritte HAIS. Image courtesy of Archives départementales de Meurthe-et-Moselle (54), 5 Mi 259/R 1 vue 9 de 529 (cropped)

On 30 December 1668, Margueritte, daughter of Jean HAIS, was baptized in Saulnes. The godfather was François BOURMON and the godmother was Margueritte DOLHAY, both of Hussigny.7 The mother’s name was not given.

The first letter of the godfather’s name is missing on the record. In the Familles de Saulnes de 1668 à 1920, the compiler read the name as BOURMON.8 I originally thought the name was FOURNIER and was a bit disappointed when I checked the family book for Saulnes.

1672 Baptismal Record of Margueritte HAIS. Image courtesy of Archives départementales de Meurthe-et-Moselle (54), 5 Mi 259/R 1 vue 13 de 529 (cropped)

On 8 February 1672 in Saulnes, Margueritte, daughter of Jean HAIS, was baptized. The godfather was Nicolas BILLON and the godmother was Margueritte LOUIS.9 As in the previous record, the mother was not named.

1672 Baptismal Record of Anne MARTIN with godmother Anne FOURNELLE. Image courtesy of Archives départementales de Meurthe-et-Moselle (54), 5 Mi 259/R 1 vue 15 de 529 (cropped)

Eight months later, on 18 October 1672, Anne, daughter of Anthoine MARTIN, was baptized in Saulnes. The godfather was a man with the first name Jean; the godmother was Anne FOURNELLE. The record indicates she was the wife of Jean FOURNELLE.10

The priest made an error when he entered the name of the husband or, as has been seen in other records, the husband was also known by his wife’s surname. The compiler of Familles de Saulnes de 1668 à 1920 made the connection and listed the godmother Anne FOURNELLE as the wife of Jean HAIS.11

Anne FOURNELLE was the wife of Jean HAIS as we will see in the next entry.

1680 Baptismal Record of Catherine HAIS. Image courtesy of Archives départementales de Meurthe-et-Moselle (54), 5 Mi 259/R 1 vue 25 de 529 (cropped)

On 28 December 1680 Catherine, daughter of Jean HAIS and Anne FOURNELLE, was baptized in Saulnes. Her godfather was Pierre DASSIS and her godmother was a lady by the first name of Catherine.12

Could the missing the surname of the godmother be SETON? Baby Catherine was the first child of Jean HAIS and Anne FOURNELLE to be baptized after Jean FOURNELLE married Catherine SETON. Jean and Anne had no sons who would have had Jean FOURNELLE as a godfather.

A fourth child born in 1673 will be discussed in the next section.

No further children were born to the HAIS-FOURNELLE couple in the parish of Herserange.

There is a good possibility that they moved to the neighboring Hussigny as in 1696 one Jean HAIS was the godfather of Marie, daughter of Jean FOURNELLE and Catherine SETON.

1696 Baptismal Record of Marie FOURNEL with godfather Jean HAIS. Image courtesy of Archives départementales de Meurthe-et-Moselle (54), 5 Mi 259/R 1 vue 365 de 529 (cropped)

On 9 June 1696 in Saulnes, a child Marie was baptized in the presence of her godfather Jean HAIS (HEINS) of Hussigny and her godmother Marie LEJEUNE of Aix. Her parents’ names were listed as Jean FOURNY and Catherine SETON.13

Pierre FOURNY

1673 Baptismal Record of Maria HAIS with godfather Pierre FOURNY. Image courtesy of Archives départementales de Meurthe-et-Moselle (54), 5 Mi 259/R 1 vue 16 de 529 (cropped)

On 5 June 1673, a baby girl was baptized with the name Maria. Her godfather was Pierre FOURNY and her godmother was Maria HENRION. The child’s surname was HAIS but neither the name of her father nor her mother survived as part of the page is missing. 14

Analysis of the records

Was Nicolas FOURNELLE the father of these three persons living in the same town with the same, if differently spelled, surname?

  • Anne FOURNELLE, wife of Jean HAIS
  • Pierre FOURNY
  • Jean FOURNEL, husband of Catherine SETON

From the records found, I estimated their years of birth. Anne was born before 1646 if she married about 1667 at the age of 21 and was the mother of all daughters of Jean HAIS (Heis, Hays, Haisse). Pierre was born before 1652 assuming he was a young man in 1673 when he became a godfather. Pierre was likely older than Jean who was first seen in records in 1678. Jean was born about 1655 per his death record.15

The estimates for the birth years of Anne (bef. 1646), Pierre (bef. 1652), and Jean (abt. 1655) place them in the same generation. As Saulnes was a very small village in the years from 1646 to 1655, it is likely that they were siblings and possibly the children of the Nicolas FOURNELLE who died there in 1675/6.

Another event may point to Nicolas being the father. Jean FOURNEL and Catherine SETON became parents only after the death of Nicolas. Their firstborn son was named Nicolas. Did they choose a godfather with the first name Nicolas to follow a tradition of naming the firstborn children after the paternal and maternal grandparents, the first male child being named after the paternal grandfather?

At this point, I believe Nicolas FOURNELLE who died in Saulnes in 1675/6 was most likely the earliest FOURNELLE ancestor.

It would appear that I am now at an impasse with the supporting cast I’ve found. The descent of Anne FOURNELLE and Jean HAIS through their daughters born 1668 to 1680 is made more difficult due to the variants seen for the HAIS surname. No leads have been found for Pierre FOURNY.

This leaves Jean FOURNEL and Catherine SETON’s children and their descendants. Of their children, seven married and will each be discussed in separate posts in the coming weeks.

© 2020, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.


  1. Archives départementales de Meurthe-et-Moselle (54), browsable images of microfilm collection of parish and civil records (online http://www.archives.cg54.fr/), Herserange > 1668-1773 > 5 Mi 259/R 1 > Herserange B. (1668-1688, 1694-1742, 1745-1746), M. (1684-1686, 1688-1692, 1694-1742, 1745-1746), S. (1676-1679, 1681-1689, 1694-1742, 1745-1773) image 333 of 529. New terms of use: En application du règlement sur la réutilisation des données publiques adopté par le conseil départemental de Meurthe-et-Moselle (délibération de sa commission permanente n°17, en date du 16 janvier 2017), je m’engage à mentionner la source du document téléchargé (Arch. dép. de Meurthe-et-Moselle, [suivi de la cote complète]), en cas de réutilisation. 1702 Catherine Seton death record, age at death about 45 yrs (right page, last entry). (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea3e74c/54b538082e2f7 : accessed 7 July 2020). 
  2. Ibid., Herserange > 1668-1773 > 5 Mi 259/R 1 > image 300 of 529 . 1708 Marriage Record of Jean Courtois and Françoise Fournel (right page, last entry). (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea3e74c/54b5380814b5d : accessed 7 July 2020). 
  3. Ibid., Herserange > 1668-1773 > 5 Mi 259/R 1 > image 266 of 529 . 1713 Marriage Record of Jean Fournel and Jeanne Berkin (right page, top). (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea3e74c/54b53807ed8f7 : accessed 2 July 2020). 
  4. Ibid., Herserange > 1668- 1773 > 5 Mi 259/R 1 > image 365 of 529. 1696 Marie Fournel baptismal record (right page, 2nd entry). (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea3e74c/54b5380847004 : accessed 7 July 2020). 
  5. Ibid., Herserange > 1668-1773 > 5 Mi 259/R 1 > image 13 of 529. 1672 Baptismal Record (right page, 2nd entry). (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea3e74c/54b5380759111 : accessed 7 July 2020). 
  6. Ibid., Herserange > 1668- 1773 > 5 Mi 259/R 1 > image 21 of 529. 1675/6 Death Record (left page, 6th entry). (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea3e74c/54b538075bfd4 : accessed 2 July 2020). 
  7. Ibid., Herserange > 1668-1773 > 5 Mi 259/R 1 > image 9 of 529. 1668 Baptismal Record (right page, 2nd entry). (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea3e74c/54b5380757038 : accessed 15 July 2020). 
  8. Catherine Goncalves, Bernard Batrthélémy, René Bréden, Aimé Tarnus, Familles de Saulnes de 1668 à 1920, three volumes published by the Cercle Généalogique du Pays de Longwy, p. 1305-1306 family 3362. 
  9. Archives Meurthe-et-Moselle, Herserange > 1668-1773 > 5 Mi 259/R 1 > image 13 of 529. 1672 Baptismal Record (left page, first entry). (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea3e74c/54b5380758a4c : accessed 14 July 2020). 
  10. Ibid., Herserange > 1668-1773 > 5 Mi 259/R 1 > image 15 of 529. 1672 Baptismal Record (left page, 2nd entry). (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea3e74c/54b53807597ad : accessed 8 July 2020). 
  11. Familles de Saulnes de 1668 à 1920, p. 1937-1938, family 4969, Anthoine Martin and his wife Françoise. 
  12. Archives Meurthe-et-Moselle, Herserange > 1668- 1773 > 5 Mi 259/R 1 > image 25 of 529. 1680 Baptismal Record (left page, 5th entry). (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea3e74c/54b538075dfa2 : accessed 29 July 2020). 
  13. Ibid., Herserange > 1668- 1773 > 5 Mi 259/R 1 > image 365 of 529. 1696 Marie Fournel baptismal record (right page, 2nd entry). (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea3e74c/54b5380847004 : accessed 7 July 2020). 
  14. Ibid., Herserange > 1668- 1773 > 5 Mi 259/R 1 > image 16 of 529. 1673 Baptismal Record (right page, 2nd entry). (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea3e74c/54b5380759dd3 : accessed 4 July 2020). 
  15. Ibid., Herserange > 1668-1773 > 5 Mi 259/R 1 > image 183 of 529 . 1721 Death Record (left page, first entry). (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea3e74c/54b53807b3cf3 : accessed 7 July 2020). 

Going Back to the Earliest Fournelle Ancestor (Part 2)

Last week, in part 1 of this series, I discussed the surname variations for FOURNELLE, gave a short history of the village of Saulnes (France), and explained where the records for the family of interest were found.

Jean FOURNEL (1655-1721) and Catherine SETON (1657-1702) of Saulnes in the Meurthe-et-Moselle department of France were my 7th great-grandparents. They are presently the most distant ancestral couple for the FOURNEL/FOURNELLE branch of my family tree.

As noted in the short history of Saulnes, the village was uninhabited in 1646. In 1698, fifty years after the end of The Thirty Years’ War, 8 farmers, 13 skilled workers, and 4 widows lived in Saulnes’ 25 houses and 11 hovels.1 The information came from a report of the general condition of the provost of Longwy made in the year 1698 for Saulnes (état générale de la prévôté de Longwy fait en 1698). This list includes the names of the farmers: Drouet, Arnoult, Thomas, Magnier, Istase, André, and La Fontaine (2). Jean Henrion was the only skilled worker named.2 It would appear that the FOURNEL family was not farming in the late 1600s and Jean FOURNEL may have been a skilled worker.

The population of Saulnes during the period Jean and Catherine lived there plays an important part in the research concerning their children. They were the only couple having children with the FOURNEL surname in Saulnes during the years from 1678 to 1702.

Proving the children of Jean FOURNEL (1655-1721) and Catherine SETON (1657-1702)

To be recognized as a legally married couple on their children’s baptismal records, Jean and Catherine had to have been married before the birth of their first known child. This would place their marriage at about 1677 when Jean was 22 and Catherine 20. Their ages have been estimated from the age given at the time of their deaths. Marriage records for this period are lacking in Herserange. The records of the children, mentioning their parents as a couple will have to suffice as evidence that they were married.

The Herserange collection of records used to document this family group covered the years from 1668 to 1773. The circa 10 years before the marriage of Jean and Catherine were reviewed several times in hopes of finding other records mentioning them separately and/or as a couple. Miscellaneous records for other persons with the FOURNELLE surname or associated with the surname were found and will be discussed in Part 3. No records were found for any other person with the surname SETON.

When the pages of church register for Hesperange were digitized they were fragile and not in very good condition. Many of the old pages were missing parts along the edges. This resulted in incomplete records.

These are the children I found for Jean FOURNEL and Catherine SETON:

          1. Françoise baptized 18 March 1678
          2. Nicolas baptized 30 September  1683
          3. Jean baptized 9 May 1686
          4. Henri baptized 2 June 1688
          5. Jeanne born before 1691
          6. Sébastienne born about 1692
          7. Marie baptized 9 June 1696
          8. Jacques born about 1699

Five of the eight children’s baptismal records were found in the church records of Herserange from 1678 to 1688. Baptismal records are missing for the years from 1689 to 1693, a period when two of the children were born. Although records are available from 1694 to the time the youngest child is believed to have been born, no baptismal record was found.

The Eight FOURNEL Children

Françoise baptized 18 March 1678
Image courtesy of Archives départementales de Meurthe-et-Moselle (54), 5 Mi 259/R 1 vue 19 de 529

Jean FOURNELLE and Catherine SETON’s first known child was Françoise baptized on 18 March 1678 in Saulnes, Meurthe-et-Moselle, France. They are clearly named as her parents in this record. Her godfather was Guillaume DASSIS. Her godmother was a lady named Françoise – her surname was cut off on the right side as the edges of the page have deteriorated.3

Françoise married Jean COURTOIS (1684-1745) on 23 January 1708 in Saulnes. The marriage record includes the names of her parents.4

Françoise died on 13 October 1729 in Saulnes. Her husband gave her age as 45 years although she was actually six years older.5

Nicolas baptized 30 September 1683
Image courtesy of Archives départementales de Meurthe-et-Moselle (54), 5 Mi 259/R 1 vue 28 de 529

The baptismal record of the second child of Jean and Catherine is missing information.

On the last day of September 1683 in Saulnes, a child [name is missing] was born to [first name missing] FOURNELLE and Catherine SETON and baptized. The verb baptizé is masculine and confirms the child was male. The godfather was [first name missing] BOUILLON and the godmother was Margueritte [illegible maiden name] [one or more missing words] COURTOIS.6

As the husband of Catherine SETON is known to have been Jean FOURNEL it can be assumed that the father’s missing name was Jean. The godmother Margueritte was most likely the wife of Bernard COURTOIS, the only Courtois with a wife named Margueritte at this time. Her maiden name was EVRARD per their 1740 death records.7,8

As the baptismal record is for a male child, he would have the same name as his godfather. Other records have been found that indicate Nicolas FOURNEL was the oldest known son of Jean and Catherine. A Nicolas BOUILLON was in Saulnes at this time. He witnessed the death entry of his wife Jeanne PIERON on 11 January 1694 in Saulnes.9 As no other baptismal record was found for a son named Nicolas, I find it very likely that Nicolas was the name of the child baptized on 30 September 1683.

Nicolas was the godfather Marie, daughter of Jean DROUET and Jeanne REMY, baptized on 3 October 1707 in Saulnes.10 He was described as un jeune garçon or a young boy or man meaning he was not yet married. His surname was spelled FOURNY.

Nicolas married Barbe AGARANT (1680-1758) on 29 June 1710 in Réhon, Meurthe-et-Moselle, France. As in the baptismal record mentioned above, he was described as un jeune garçon de Sosne, paroissien de Herserange or young boy of Saulnes, a parishioner of Herserange. His surname was spelled FOURNIER. Barbe was the widow of Jean BERNARDIN.11 The entry in the Réhon parish record does not name Nicolas’ parents however we can assume they were Jean FOURNEL and Catherine SETON as they were the only couple in Saulnes of this surname and with children of marrying age.

Nicolas and his family lived in Hussigny, a town whose records are lacking for the period he would have been having children up until the death of his wife in 1758.

Several more records were found that connect Nicolas to the Jean FOURNEL and Catherine SETON family. They will be discussed later in this post.

Jean baptized 9 May 1686
Image courtesy of Archives départementales de Meurthe-et-Moselle (54), 5 Mi 259/R 1 vue 42 de 529

Jean was baptized on 9 May 1686 in Saulnes. His godparents were Jean QUERIN and Marie Madeleine [illegible]. His parents’ names were Jean FOURNIER and Catherine. Space was left on the record for the maiden name of his mother but never filled in.12

Jean married Jeanne BERKIN (1683-1759) on 22 January 1713 in Rodange, Luxembourg. His father Jean FOURNEL was present at the marriage. His older brother Nicolas was a witness at the marriage.13

Jean FOURNEL and Jeanne BERKIN were my 6th great-grandparents.

Henri baptized 2 June 1688
Image courtesy of Archives départementales de Meurthe-et-Moselle (54), 5 Mi 259/R 1 vue 55 de 529

Henri was baptized on 2 June 1688 in Saulnes. His godparents were Henry LOUIS and Barbe DROUET. His parents were listed as Jean FOURNIER and his wife. As with Jean’s baptismal record, space was left for the mother’s name but not filled in.14

Henri FOURNEL married Anne LAUNOIS. A marriage record has not been located. She was named as his wife in his death record when he died on 6 August 1753 in Saulnes. The record was witnessed by his son Henri and his brother Jacques.15

Several marriage records of sons of Henri and Anne were found. They name them as a couple and parents of the children. They will be cited in the section on Henri’s brother Jacques.

Jeanne born before 1691

A baptismal record was not found for Jeanne who was born before 1691.

Jeanne FOURNEL was the godmother of Jean COURTOIS, son of Françoise FOURNEL and Jean COURTOIS, who was baptized on 14 October 1708.16

Image courtesy of Archives départementales de Meurthe-et-Moselle (54), 5 Mi 259/R 1 vue 234 de 529

She was also the godmother of his brother Jacques baptized on 4 February 1717.17 In this record, Jeanne was clearly named as the aunt of the child proving she was the sister of Françoise, i.e. the oldest daughter of Jean and Catherine.

Jeanne FOURNEL married Jérôme PETRISOT ( -1734) on 28 July 1720 in Obercorn, Luxembourg. She was a young lady from Saulnes and the names of her parents are not mentioned.18 Their first child was born on 20 August 1721. She was named Maria Catharina for her godmother Marie Catherine FOURNEL.19

Jeanne was still living on 6 September 1734 when she and her husband acquired property (a hovel, a garden, etc.) from Jean FOURNIER, Nicolas FOURNIER, Jean COURTOIS (representing the children of the deceased Françoise FOURNIER), and Jacques FOURNIER. The notarial records for this transaction have not been viewed.20

Sébastienne born about 1692

Sébastienne was born about 1692. No baptismal record was found due to missing records.

Image courtesy of Archives départementales de Meurthe-et-Moselle (54), 5 Mi 259/R 1 vue 178 de 529

On 24 November 1720, she married the widower Jean FRANÇOIS (1692-1741) in Saulnes. Witnesses to the marriage were Jean FOURNEL and Jacques FOURNEL, both referred to as her brothers. She is described as a young lady from Saulnes and her parents are not named.21 As she was the sister of Jean and Jacques (younger brother seen below) we can assume she was the daughter of Jean FOURNEL and Catherine SETON.

Sébastienne FOURNELLE died on 29 December 1752 in Saulnes at the age of about 60 years. This record was used to calculate her year of birth.22

Marie baptized 9 June 1696
Image courtesy of Archives départementales de Meurthe-et-Moselle (54), 5 Mi 259/R 1 vue 365 de 529

On 9 June 1696 in Saulnes, a child Marie was baptized in the presence of her godfather Jean HEINS of Hussigny and her godmother Marie LEJEUNE of Aix. Her parents’ names were Jean FOURNY and Catherine SETON.23

Marie FOURNEL was the godmother of her sister Sébastienne’s illegitimate son Jean CHOLOT who was baptized on 9 December 1713 in Saulnes.24

Jacques born about 1699

Jacques, the youngest known child of Jean FOURNEL and Catherine SETON, was born about 1699. His estimated year of birth has been calculated from his age at death. This places his birth before the death of Catherine SETON who died in 1702.

Jacques most likely married in Hussigny where he lived his adult life. As mentioned earlier in this post, Hussigny is lacking records for the years between 1716-1765 with only 1753-1756 and 1758 being available. Even without the Hussigny records, the youngest son of Jean and Catherine produced more records than any of his siblings that show his connection to them and therefore to their parents.

Jacques FOURNEL was the godfather of his nephew Jacques COURTOIS, son of Jean COURTOIS and Françoise FOURNEL, baptized on 4 February 1717 in Saulnes. He and his sister Jeanne were the godparents and referred to as the uncle and aunt.[See footnote #17 and image 5 Mi 259/R 1 vue 234 de 529]

When Sébastienne married Jean FRANCOIS in 1720, Jacques and Jean FOURNEL were witnesses and referred to as brothers of the bride.[See footnote #21 and image 5 Mi 259/R 1 vue 178 de 529]

Jacques married Marie JACOB most likely in Hussigny before 1724. The 1758 death record of Marie JACOB names Jacques as her husband.25

On 18 January 1743 Jacques FOURNEL of Hussigny was a witness to the marriage of his niece Jeanne FOURNEL to Henry DE CHAIVE. Jeanne was the daughter of Jean FOURNEL and Jeanne BERKIN. Jacques was referred to as the uncle of the bride.26

Jacques was a witness at the marriages of two of his nephews, sons of Henri FOURNEL and his wife Anne LAUNOIS. On 26 February 1756 their son Henri married Marie Claire BOULANGER in the presence of Jacques FOURNEL uncle of the groom and others.27

On 8 February 1763 their son Dominique married Marie COMES in the presence of witnesses that included Jacques FOURNEL of Hussigny.28

Image courtesy of Archives départementales de Meurthe-et-Moselle (54), 5 Mi 259/R 3 vue 60 de 328

Dominique was widowed and married again on 28 December 1765 to Barbe SCHMIT. Jacques, his uncle from Hussigny, was a witness.29

Jacques died at the age of 75 years on 9 December 1774 in Hussigny and was buried the following day in the presence of parishioners including his nephew Henri FOURNEL (son of Henri and Anne) and his grandson Charles LIBERT (son of his daughter Marguerite).30

A ninth child for Jean and Catherine?

Two baptismal records were found that name Marie Catherine FOURNEL as a godmother in 1721. On 20 August 1721 Maria Catharina PETRISOT, daughter of Jérôme PETRISOT and Jeanne FOURNEL, was baptized in Obercorn. Her godmother was Maria Catharina FURNIER of Saulnes. The child’s mother’s maiden name was also spelled FURNIER.31

Image courtesy of Archives départementales de Meurthe-et-Moselle (54), 5 Mi 259/R 1 vue 184 de 529

Two months later, Marie Catherine FRANÇOIS, daughter of Jean FRANÇOIS and Sébastienne FOURNEL was baptized in Saulnes. Her godmother was Marie Catherine FOURNEL described as her aunt.32

Was Marie Catherine the same person as Marie born in 1696?

No records have been found for the marriage or death of Marie FOURNEL or Marie Catherine FOURNEL. No baptismal record was found for a child named Marie Catherine FOURNEL. As I reviewed the records while writing about the children, I wondered if those found are for two separate persons. Should I enter Marie Catherine as a ninth child of my 7th great-grandparents? Could she have been born after Jacques and before the death of the children’s mother?

The Deaths of Jean FOURNEL and his wife Catherine SETON

Catherine SETON the wife of Jean FOURNEL died on 21 September 1702 in Saulnes of an unknown illness at the age of about 45 years. Was this following childbirth? Her husband Jean arranged the funeral and solemn services for three consecutive days for her soul to rest. He signed her death and burial entry in the parish record with his mark.33

Image courtesy of Archives départementales de Meurthe-et-Moselle (54), 5 Mi 259/R 1 vue 333 de 529

When my 6th great-grandparents Jean FOURNEL and Jeanne BERKIN married in 1713, the elder Jean FOURNEL was present at the marriage and signed the parish register with the same mark as in 1702 when his wife died.[See footnote #13]

Image courtesy of Archives départementales de Meurthe-et-Moselle (54), 5 Mi 259/R 1 vue 266 de 529

Jean also signed with his mark on the 1708 marriage record of his oldest child Françoise.[See footnote #4]

Image courtesy of Archives départementales de Meurthe-et-Moselle (54), 5 Mi 259/R 1 vue 300 de 529

Jean FOURNEL outlived his wife Catherine by a few days less than 19 years. He died on 3 September 1721 in Saulnes. His two oldest sons Nicolas and Jean arranged for the funeral and solemn services for three consecutive days so that his soul would rest in peace.34

Did Jean FOURNEL’s mark have a special significance to him, his family, his occupation? Did anyone else in Saulnes or in the area use the same sign? These questions will be brought up again in part 3 of this series.

© 2020, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.


  1. Histoire de Saulnes, online https://www.saulnes.fr/saulnes-historique/histoire-de-saulnes/ : accessed 10 July 2020. 
  2. Catherine Goncalves, Bernard Batrthélémy, René Bréden, Aimé Tarnus, Familles de Saulnes de 1668 à 1920 (three volumes) published by the Cercle Généalogique du Pays de Longwy, p. 9. 
  3. Archives départementales de Meurthe-et-Moselle (54), browsable images of microfilm collection of parish and civil records (online http://www.archives.cg54.fr/), Herserange > 1668-1773 > 5 Mi 259/R 1 > Herserange B. (1668-1688, 1694-1742, 1745-1746), M. (1684-1686, 1688-1692, 1694-1742, 1745-1746), S. (1676-1679, 1681-1689, 1694-1742, 1745-1773) image 19 of 529 . New terms of use: En application du règlement sur la réutilisation des données publiques adopté par le conseil départemental de Meurthe-et-Moselle (délibération de sa commission permanente n°17, en date du 16 janvier 2017), je m’engage à mentionner la source du document téléchargé (Arch. dép. de Meurthe-et-Moselle, [suivi de la cote complète]), en cas de réutilisation. 1678 Fournel, Françoise baptismal record (middle of right page under Sosne).(http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea3e74c/54b538075b0db : accessed 7 July 2020). 
  4. Ibid., Herserange > 5 Mi 259/R 1 image 300 of 529 . 1708 Courtois, Jean and Fournel, Françoise marriage record (right page, last entry). (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea3e74c/54b5380814b5d : accessed 7 July 2020). 
  5. Ibid., Herserange > 5 Mi 259/R 1 image 114 of 529 . 1729 Françoise Fournel death record (age about 45 years) (left page, 3rd entry). (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea3e74c/54b5380788d8e : accessed 7 July 2020). 
  6. Ibid., Herserange > 5 Mi 259/R 1 image 28 of 529. 1683 Baptismal Record (right page, 5th entry). This document is in very bad condition. (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea3e74c/54b538075f780 : accessed 2 July 2020). 
  7. Ibid., Herserange > 5 Mi 259/R 1 image 79 of 529. 1740 Death Record (left page, first entry).(http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea3e74c/54b538077740c : accessed 8 August 2020). 
  8. Ibid., Herserange > 5 Mi 259/R 1 image 79 of 529. 1740 Death Record (right page, first entry).(http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea3e74c/54b538077740c : accessed 8 August 2020). 
  9. Ibid., Herserange > 5 Mi 259/R 1 image 28 of 529. 1683 Baptismal Record (right page, 5th entry). This document is in very bad condition. (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea3e74c/54b538075f780 : accessed 2 July 2020). 
  10. Ibid., Herserange > 5 Mi 259/R 1 image 311 of 529. 1707 Baptismal Record of Marie Drouet, godfather Nicolas Fourny. (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea3e74c/54b538081d08c : accessed 8 July 2020). 
  11. Ibid., Réhon B., M. (1710, 1714-1715, 1733-1792), S. (1714-1715, 1733-1791) 1710-1792 > 5 Mi 450/R 2 image 373 of 767. 1710 Marriage Record (right page, 2nd entry). (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10eca1233/54b0f2e7a367b : accessed 7 Augut 2020). 
  12. Ibid., Herserange > 5 Mi 259/R 1 image 42 of 529. 1686 Baptismal Record (right page, last entry). (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea3e74c/54b5380766086 : accessed 10 July 2020). 
  13. Ibid., Herserange > 5 Mi 259/R 1 image 266 of 529 . 1713 Jean Fournel and Jeanne Berkin marriage record (right page, top). (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea3e74c/54b53807ed8f7 : accessed 2 July 2020). 
  14. Ibid., Herserange > 5 Mi 259/R 1 image 55 of 529. 1688 Henri Fournel baptismal record (right page, last entry). (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea3e74c/54b538076c2be : accessed 2 July 2020). 
  15. Ibid., Herserange > 5 Mi 259/R 1 image 455 of 529. 1753 Death Record (right page, 1st entry). (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea3e74c/54b53808948e4 : accessed 8 July 2020). 
  16. Ibid., Herserange > 5 Mi 259/R 1 image 303 of 529. 1708 Baptismal Record (right page, 2nd to last entry). (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea3e74c/54b5380816b4f : accessed 8 August 2020). 
  17. Ibid., Herserange > 5 Mi 259/R 1 image 234 of 529. 1717 Baptismal Record (left page, 1st entry). (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea3e74c/54b53807d29ad : accessed 8 August 2020). 
  18. Luxembourg, registres paroissiaux, 1601-1948 (images), FamilySearch (original records at Luxembourg National Archives, Plateau du Saint-Esprit, Luxembourg), Obercorn > Baptêmes 1704-1727, 1746, 1794-1797, 1800-1805, mariages 1795-1797, 1800-1807, sépultures 1794-1797, 1802-1807 > image 6 of 296. 1720 Marriage Record (left page, 4th entry from bottom). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-89WS-9SK3?cc=2037955&wc=STHZ-N3T%3A1500974001%2C1500974302 : accessed 12 July 2020). 
  19. Ibid., Obercorn > Baptêmes 1704-1727, 1746, 1794-1797, 1800-1805, mariages 1795-1797, 1800-1807, sépultures 1794-1797, 1802-1807 > image 78 of 296. 1721 Baptismal Record (right page, 2nd entry).(https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L9WS-9SCK?cc=2037955&wc=STHZ-N3T%3A1500974001%2C1500974302 : accessed 12 July 2020). 
  20. Aimé Tarnus, Histoires des Familles, Hussigny-Godbrange de 1550 à 1900; Tome 2 (2002-Fortier à 4096-Mohy); page 535, family 2029, notary records Meurthe-et-Moselle 23 E 147 Étude Guyot, transférée à Villerupt (1719-1882). 
  21. Archives Meurthe-et-Moselle (54), Herserange > 5 Mi 259/R 1 image 178 of 529. 1720 François, Jean and Fournel, Sébastienne marriage record. (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea3e74c/54b53807b09bb : accessed 8 July 2020). 
  22. Ibid., Herserange > 5 Mi 259/R 1 image 459 of 529. 1752 Death Record (left page, last entry). (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea3e74c/54b5380898021 : accessed 8 August 2020). 
  23. Ibid., Herserange > 5 Mi 259/R 1 image 365 of 529. 1696 Marie Fournel baptismal record (right page, 2nd entry). (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea3e74c/54b5380847004 : accessed 7 July 2020). 
  24.   Ibid., Herserange > 5 Mi 259/R 1 image 274 of 529. 1713 Baptismal Record (left page, first entry). (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea3e74c/54b53807f3dc5 : accessed 8 August 2020). 
  25. Ibid., Hussigny-Godbrange > 5 Mi 268/R 1 image 38 of 677. 1758 Death Record (right page, last entry). (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea53d8a/54b010531aec1 : accessed 2 August 2020). 
  26. Ibid., Herserange > 5 Mi 259/R 3 images 197 and 198 of 328. 1743 Marriage Record (part 1)(http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea3ebca/54b536f06e6ad : accessed 9 July 2020) and 1743 Marriage Record (part 2) (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea3ebca/54b536f06f031 : accessed 9 July 2020) 
  27. Ibid., Herserange > 5 Mi 259/R 3 image 123 of 328. 1756 Marriage Record (right page, top entry). (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea3ebca/54b536f040929 : accessed 8 August 2020). 
  28. Ibid., Herserange > 5 Mi 259/R 3 image 69 of 328. 1763 Marriage Record (right page, last entry). (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea3ebca/54b536f0253fe : accessed 8 August 2020). 
  29. Ibid., Herserange > 5 Mi 259/R 3 image 60 of 328. 1765 Marriage Record (left page, last entry). (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea3ebca/54b536f021335 : accessed 8 August 2020). 
  30. Ibid., Hussigny > 5 Mi 268/R 1 image 83 of 677. 1774 Death Record (right page). (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea53d8a/54b010532f877 : accessed 2 August 2020). 
  31. Luxembourg Parish Records, Obercorn > Baptêmes 1704-1727, 1746, 1794-1797, 1800-1805, mariages 1795-1797, 1800-1807, sépultures 1794-1797, 1802-1807 > image 78 of 296. 1721 Baptismal Record (right page, 2nd entry).(https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L9WS-9SCK?cc=2037955&wc=STHZ-N3T%3A1500974001%2C1500974302 : accessed 12 July 2020). 
  32. Archives Meurthe-et-Moselle (54), Herserange > 5 Mi 259/R 1 image 184 of 529. 1721 Baptismal Record (left page, 2nd entry). (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea3e74c/54b53807b4610 : accessed 8 August 2020). 
  33. Ibid., Herserange > 5 Mi 259/R 1 image 333 of 529. 1702 Catherine Seton death record, age at death about 45 yrs (right page, last entry). (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea3e74c/54b538082e2f7 : accessed 7 July 2020). 
  34. Ibid., Herserange > 5 Mi 259/R 1 image 183 of 529. 1721 Death Record (left page, first entry). (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea3e74c/54b53807b3cf3 : accessed 7 July 2020). 

Going Back to the Earliest Fournelle Ancestor (Part 1)

The FOURNELLE family has always been one of my favorites to research.

In 2013 I spent nearly a year working exclusively on finding the records for descendants of my 7th great-grandparents Jean FOURNEL (ca. 1655-1721) and Catherine SETON (ca. 1657-1702) of Saulnes, Meurthe-et-Moselle, France.

The FOURNELLE line is my maternal grandmother’s paternal line. She carried the name as did her father, his father, their grandfathers, all the way back to…

Variations of the Surname

In the earliest records found, Jean FOURNEL was seen as Jean FOURNELLE in 1678 and 1683 (baptismal records of daughter Françoise and son Nicolas), as Jean FOURNIER in 1686 and 1688 (baptismal records of sons Jean and Henri), and as Jean FOURNY in 1696 (baptismal record of daughter Marie) and 1708 (marriage record of daughter Françoise). At the time of his wife Catherine’s death in 1702 and his own death in 1721, the name was spelled FOURNEL. In the next generations, the name FOURNEL was more frequently seen as FOURNELLE.

Several records dated before 1678 were found for persons in Saulnes with the FOURNELLE, FOURNEL, and FOURNY spelling. Persons who appear to have been related to Jean FOURNEL. Will they take the line back another generation?

The Origin of the Surname

Forneri, Forneris, or Fornero are trade names frequently encountered in the Alpes-Maritimes and the Riviera area. They are of Italian origin, not surprising as, historically, the Comté de Nice (County of Nice) was for a long time Italian rather than French. In short, forni-, forno-, forne- and all their variants originate “in the bakery” as they have a relationship with a “forn” or an oven. This is usually a bread oven but the root word is also seen in Fornès or Fornies, names associated with persons who cared for the lime kilns used to melt metals.

In eastern France, we find Forny and Forney or Fornier working on or having brick ovens. In the Vosges and Ardennes, the Fournaises worked with furnaces or larger ovens. It goes without saying that all “For-” are also found in the form “Four-” as in Fournès, Fourny, Fournier, and in Fournel, Fournelles, Fourniol, for the stove or smaller oven.

Fournillier, Fourniaud, or Fourniaux, depending on the region, include one who comes from the site where there are many furnaces. This would mean that the person may not have directly worked on or with an oven but simply lived in the community.1

A Brief History of Saulnes

The earliest records found for Jean FOURNEL and his wife Catherine SETON show they lived in Saulnes, in today’s Meurthe-et-Moselle department in France. Jean and Catherine, per the age given at the time of their deaths, both were born in the decade following the end of the Thirty Years’ War. This fact, as well as the history of Saulnes, had to be considered in my research.

Saulnes had 29 hearths in 1443, 9 in 1473, 4 in 1495 and 1531, and 12 in 1585. During this early period, households, for the most part, had only one hearth and the numbers likely reflect the number of families living in the village. In 1646 the village of Saulnes was not inhabited. The Thirty Years’ War fought primarily in Central Europe between 1618 and 1648 resulted in the deaths of over 8 million people.

In 1687, several decades following the war, Saulnes was once again inhabited by 20 people. In 1698, 8 farmers, 13 skilled workers, and 4 widows lived in Saulnes’ 25 houses and 11 hovels. There were 20 households in the village in 1716 and 26 in 1739.

Saulnes, until the last century, was only a modest village of a few houses with no more than 400 inhabitants; the main resources were provided by cultivation, breeding, a few vineyards, and working iron.2

A forge existed in Saulnes in the second half of the 14th century. No records exist to date its erection. However, the forge was enumerated in a census in 1474 with a small blast furnace. It was abandoned in the middle of the 16th century. Did my ancestors live in the area during this period? Did they work the forge and is this how they came to be named FOURNELLE?

Location of the Records

During the years the family of Jean FOURNEL and Catherine SETON lived in Saulnes, the village was identified as Sosnes or Sonne in the church records, and, as seen above, grew from having 20 persons to 26 households.

Nearly all records for this family group were found in the 1668-1773 collection for the commune of Herserange in the Archives of the department of Meurthe-et-Moselle in France. This collection of parish records includes the villages of Herserange, Saulnes, Rodange (today a part of Luxembourg), Mexy, and Longlaville.

The priests who kept the records noted the name of the village the record was created above each entry. This was extremely helpful when skimming through the records. However, I found that due to the newness of the records seven years ago, I missed things that turned up while I was reviewing the records in the last few weeks.

Availability of the Records

In 2013 images from the French archives’ sites were not allowed to be used on the internet or for commercial purposes without written permission. At the time this was not a problem for me as I was using them for my personal research only. I did not know that the following year I would begin blogging and wouldn’t be able to use the images in blog posts.

The visionneuse, or image viewer, didn’t have an option to save a permalink of the image seven years ago. I wrote source citations that included the waypoints (path) to easily locate the record if necessary. This must have been foresight.

The French archives sites have evolved since 2013 and many are now including permalinks. I have over 500 citations for records found in the Meurthe-et-Moselle area that will eventually need to be fixed. In the past few weeks, I’ve been accessing the records, copying the permalinks, and downloading images in JPG format for the FOURNEL-SETON family group. It is slow going as I pay special attention to the other records recorded for the little village of Saulnes – searching for connections missed the first time around. [I’ve acquired new genealogy research skills since 2013 and am still learning.]

Another change on the French archives sites is their terms of use. Before you access the records, you are required to confirm the following:

En application du règlement sur la réutilisation des données publiques adopté par le conseil départemental de Meurthe-et-Moselle (délibération de sa commission permanente n°17, en date du 16 janvier 2017), je m’engage à mentionner la source du document téléchargé (Arch. dép. de Meurthe-et-Moselle, [suivi de la cote complète]), en cas de réutilisation.

In application of the regulation on the re-use of public data adopted by the departmental council of Meurthe-et-Moselle (deliberation of its permanent commission n ° 17, dated January 16, 2017), I undertake to mention the source of the downloaded document (Arch. Dep. De Meurthe-et-Moselle, [followed by the full path]), in the event of re-use.
[Google Translate]

I can now screenshot a record and use it in a blog post as long as I include the full path to the Archives Départementales de Meurthe-et-Moselle. I believe this will be a good learning tool for my readers and a wonderful advertisement for the French archives sites that are more rarely used by non-Europeans.

Genealogy Sketch

Name: Jean FOURNEL
Parents: TO BE PROVEN: Nicolas FOURNELLE
Siblings: TO BE PROVEN: Anne and Pierre
Spouse: Catherine SETON
Children: Françoise, Nicolas, Jean, Henri, Jeanne, Sébastienne, Marie Catherine, and Jacques
Whereabouts: Saulnes (Sonne, Sosne), Meurthe-et-Moselle, France
Relationship to Cathy Meder-Dempsey: 7th great-grandfather

1. Jean FOURNEL and Catherine SETON
2. Jean FOURNEL and Jeanne BERKIN
3. Pierre FOURNELLE and Jeanne NEU
4. Pierre FOURNELLE and Marguerite SCHMIT
5. André FOURNELLE and Marie Catherine PHILIPPART
6. André FOURNELLE and Odile Lucie SCHLOESSER
7. Jean Joseph FOURNELLE and Catharina FRANTZ
8. Marie Marcelle FOURNELLE and Nicolas WILDINGER
9. Living WILDINGER and Fred Roosevelt DEMPSEY
10. Catherine Ann DEMPSEY and Living MEDER

Now that I’ve covered the surname variations, a short history of Saulnes, and where the records were found, I’ll leave you until next week when I’ll begin to share the story of Jean FOURNEL and Catherine SETON’s family.

© 2020, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.


  1. Étymologique, Le Mot du Jour posted 20 October 2012; online http://www.etymo-logique.com/le-mot-du-jour/personnalites/forneri-pascal/ : accessed 11 Sep 2013. 
  2. Histoire de Saulnes, online https://www.saulnes.fr/saulnes-historique/histoire-de-saulnes/ : accessed 10 July 2020. 

85 Years Ago Today: My Maternal Grandparents Were Married

At 7 o’clock on the evening of 26 July 1935, Mathias SCHAFFNER, mayor of Echternach (Luxembourg), married Nicolas WILDINGER and Marie Marcelle FOURNELLE. The groom was 28 years old and a plumber; the bride was 26 years old and without an occupation.

Nicolas’ mother, Catharina PÖPPELREITER, and Marcelle’s father, Johann Joseph FOURNELLE, were present and agreeable to the marriage.

Johann WILDINGER, the father of the groom,  and Catharina FRANTZ, the mother of the bride, were both deceased at the time of the marriage.

The religious marriage ceremony took place the following day in St. Willibrod Basilica in Echternach in the strictest privacy per an announcement sent out by the parents of the bridal couple. Their only child, my mother, was born ten months later and cannot have been the reason for the church ceremony being performed in privacy.

The marriage lasted only six years. It ended on 24 October 1941 when Nicolas died of tuberculosis. Although Marcelle had at least one suitor who offered marriage, she never remarried. She died in 2005 in her 96th year.

I previously wrote about Nicolas and Marcelle in 2015: 52 Ancestors: #4 The Plumber/Tinsmith and the Seamstress.

© 2020, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

Part VI: Tying up the loose ends

I’ve written about my fifth great-grandparents Remacle Trausch (1761-1804) and Theresia Braun (1766-1798) of Colmar  and solved the question of why Theresia BRAUN was also seen as Theresia COLLING? I also wrote about Theresia’s parents and maternal grandparents (yellow in the screenshot below) in “Maison dite” Leads to Parents and Grandparents of Magdalena SCHMIDT (1743-1782). This was followed up with (blue and green below)  The Parents and Siblings of Remacle TRAUSCH (1761-1804).

One branch of the family tree has been neglected due to lack of records. Theresia BRAUN’s paternal side seen in pink below.

Screenshot of the pedigree of Michel TRAUSCH generated by AncestralQuest

An aside concerning Martin BRAUN (1695-1766)

Maria Magdalena SCHMIDT (SCHNEIDISCH)’s husband Martin BRAUN was found to be the son of Jean Frédérique BRAUN and Marie KAUFFMAN. His parents were married 16 November 1692 in Bissen, Luxembourg1; Martin was born 4 February 1695 in Colmar.2 He was the oldest of six children born to Jean Frédérique and Marie.

Like Martin, his siblings were all born in Colmar. Johannes was baptized 10 March 16973, Elisabetha Catharina 28 April 16984, Johannes 4 March 17015, Nicolas 20 February 17036, and Johannes Franciscus 10 April 1708.7

A death record was found for a youth named Johannes BRAUNS who died on the same day the first Johannes was baptized.8 The entry doesn’t indicate his age or who his parents were. Elisabetha Catharina died 9 September 1701 in her fourth year.9 No trace of the three youngest brothers was found after their baptisms.

Due to the plague and the wars during the middle ages, the population of Colmar, Berg, and Welsdorf was sparse. There were 17 families in 1540 and 5 in 1641. The inhabitants, with the exception of the nobles, were serfs and exploited the lands belonging to the nobles.

The total number of inhabitants increased from the end of the 17th century when iron forges were installed at Colmar. The first people of this trade came from today’s region of Wallonia in Belgium. The workforce came from the surrounding areas of Colmar.10

Due to the small population in the area, Martin’s three younger brothers may have gone to other parts to find work and to marry. If they produced records in the Bissen parish during the years from 1721 to 1749 these are lost.

In 1761 when Martin married Magdalena SCHNEIDISCH he was a widower and 66 years old.11 No previous marriage record or baptismal records of children born to Martin and his first wife were found in Bissen likely due to the missing records for the years 1721 to 1749.

Other than Martin’s parents, Martin, his widow, and his two daughters there were no other BRAUNS or BRAUN marriages in Bissen from 1610-1797 (with the exception of possible missing records from the years 1721 to 1749).

It seems strange there were no other BRAUN individuals in the area other than Theresia, my 5th great-grandmother, and her older sister Elisabetha. I suspect, if Martin was married a first time, the marriage may have remained childless. Which makes it even harder to believe Martin married a second time at the age of 66 and had two daughters with Magdalena.

As the oldest child of the BRAUN-KAUFFMAN marriage, Martin would have been the child to whom the family home was passed on to. After his death, his widow married Michel COLLING. In later years, Martin’s oldest daughter Elisabetha, as well as her COLLING half-siblings, would be found living in a house called Braumes, the home Martin probably grew up in.

Den BRONGEN von Colmar

While reading old newsletters of the commune of Colmar-Berg, I found an interesting tidbit about Martin BRAUN. An article on the Wilmesvogtei (Welsdorf) included a transcript of the entry for Jean KEYSER of Welsdorf alias WILMES on the 1766 Cadastre of Marie-Thérèse. It mentions the land and buildings he “owned” and worked and the goods and taxes he had to pay.

To Martin BRAUN of Colmar, dem (den) BRONGEN von Colmar, he had to give four sesters or forty-eight bushels of wheat yearly (one sester is equal to 12 bushels). This confirms Martin was also known by the name BRONGEN which is Luxembourgish for brown. A brief mention of my ancestor in an article about a completely different family led to my finding the cadastre sheet with his alternate name.12

1766 Cadastre of Marie-Thérèse for Jean KEYSER of Welsdorf alias Wilmes mentioning Martin BRAUN or dem Brongen von Colmar.

The spectacular fourfold murder case of 1816

In my last post A Horrific Crime in the Fortress City of Luxembourg I gave only a brief overview of the crime. I’d found the narrative written by Tony JUNGBLUT after the post was ready to publish.13

The four-part narrative of the criminal case includes the following statement in the introduction (English translation of the German text):

All the details were drawn from the official records*, so we have here not only a captivating criminal case, but also a documentary picture of Luxembourg’s time as a fortress city.

*National Archives of Luxembourg, ANLUX, CT-01-02-0090.

From the witnesses’ testimonies, the court chronicler was able to tell the who, what, when, where, why of the goings-on before, during, and after the trial. Between 80 and 100 witnesses were heard which seems amazing for the time period and for the short five months between the murders and the trial. I hope the men they accused and found guilty were the perpetrators.

Considering Jungblut’s reputation as a court reporter and journalist, I believe he was impartial. Did he include everything in his narrative? Did he omit repetitive testimonials made by persons whose names would be recognized as distant family members by this researcher as he considered them not important to the story? The case file holds the answer.

I look forward to visiting the National Archives of Luxembourg (ANLUX) and viewing the actual documents. This would be my first visit to ANLUX. Will I be allowed to photograph or scan them so I can transcribe them from home? I trust the narrative Jungblut wrote but as a family historian and genealogist, I want to be able to work with the primary documentation.

From JUNGBLUT’s narrative, I learned more of my fifth great-grandfather Remacle TRAUSCH’s widow.

Anne Marie WIROTH’s tavern was frequented by the military, hunters, Jews, and foreigners. As a result of the diversity of visitors and the constant tension between the citizens and the German military, there were often night-time quarrels. Widow Trausch had regular customers who would come in to drink wine and chat with the daughter of the house. The older woman was known to drink more than her guests and look the other way when her daughter granted favors to clients for a few coins. Instead of being ruinous to her business, the rumors and talk caused more people to visit the establishment.

The mother felt some remorse for taking advantage of her daughter and knew this wasn’t good for the young girl’s reputation. When she failed to convince a young man to marry her daughter, she began to make other plans to save her daughter’s reputation and still fill her purse.

She had previously lived in a house in the Grund which was for sale. She figured she could make good money renting out rooms which were in great demand in the city. On Thursday she negotiated a price in francs with the owner. The same day she approached her deceased husband’s friend for a loan of the amount she was lacking. The next day she asked her cleaning lady if she would come to work for her at her new place. Things were looking up for her. She sent her daughter to the owner of the house to let him know she would have her thalers converted to francs by Palm Sunday. She would then pay him in 5-franc pieces and visit the notary to certify the purchase. By Palm Sunday the entire family was dead.

Was my fifth great-grandfather Remacle TRAUSCH’s choice of Anne Marie WIROTH for his second wife a mistake? From what we’ve learned of her after his death, she was not the ideal person. However, I wonder if I can pass judgment on her not knowing if my ancestor may have left her with nothing more than mouths to feed.

Posts in this series:

Part I: Remacle Trausch (1761-1804) and Theresia Braun (1766-1798) of Colmar

Part II: Why was Theresia BRAUN also seen as Theresia COLLING?

Part III: “Maison dite” Leads to Parents and Grandparents of Magdalena SCHMIDT (1743-1782)

Part IV: The Parents and Siblings of Remacle TRAUSCH (1761-1804)

Part V: A Horrific Crime in the Fortress City of Luxembourg

Part VI: Tying up the loose ends

© 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), Bissen > Baptêmes 1685-1722, 1734-1756, confirmations 1691-1704, mariages 1692-1720, sépultures 1692-1702, 1709-1721 > image 151 of 162. 1692 Marriage Record (right page, last entry). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-89WS-QQHT?cc=2037955&wc=STHD-DPF%3A1500938201%2C1501084258 : accessed 14 July 2019). 
  2. Ibid., Bissen > Baptêmes 1685-1722, 1734-1756, confirmations 1691-1704, mariages 1692-1720, sépultures 1692-1702, 1709-1721 > image 10 of 162. 1695 Baptismal Record. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QSQ-G9WS-QQ5R?cc=2037955&wc=STHD-DPF%3A1500938201%2C1501084258 : accessed 14 July 2019). 
  3.   Ibid., Bissen > Baptêmes 1685-1722, 1734-1756, confirmations 1691-1704, mariages 1692-1720, sépultures 1692-1702, 1709-1721 > image 16 of 162. 1697 Baptismal Record (left page, 2nd entry from bottom). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-99WS-QQY4?cc=2037955&wc=STHD-DPF%3A1500938201%2C1501084258 : accessed 14 July 2019). 
  4. Ibid., Bissen > Baptêmes 1685-1722, 1734-1756, confirmations 1691-1704, mariages 1692-1720, sépultures 1692-1702, 1709-1721 > image 19 of 162. 1698 Baptismal Record (left page, 2nd entry). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-89WS-QQGV?cc=2037955&wc=STHD-DPF%3A1500938201%2C1501084258 : accessed 14 July 2019). 
  5. Ibid., Bissen > Baptêmes 1685-1722, 1734-1756, confirmations 1691-1704, mariages 1692-1720, sépultures 1692-1702, 1709-1721 > image 23 of 162. 1701 Baptismal Record (left page, 4th entry). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-89WS-QQTX?cc=2037955&wc=STHD-DPF%3A1500938201%2C1501084258 : accessed 14 July 2019). 
  6. Ibid., Bissen > Baptêmes 1685-1722, 1734-1756, confirmations 1691-1704, mariages 1692-1720, sépultures 1692-1702, 1709-1721 > image 26 of 162. 1703 Baptismal Record (right page, 2nd entry from bottom). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QSQ-G9WS-Q7DN?cc=2037955&wc=STHD-DPF%3A1500938201%2C1501084258 : accessed 14 July 2019). 
  7. Ibid., Bissen > Baptêmes 1685-1722, 1734-1756, confirmations 1691-1704, mariages 1692-1720, sépultures 1692-1702, 1709-1721 > image 35 of 162. 1708 Baptismal Record (right page, 1st entry). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-89WS-Q79L?cc=2037955&wc=STHD-DPF%3A1500938201%2C1501084258 : accessed 14 July 2019). 
  8. Ibid., Bissen > Baptêmes 1685-1722, 1734-1756, confirmations 1691-1704, mariages 1692-1720, sépultures 1692-1702, 1709-1721 > image 138 of 162. 1697 Death Record (right page, 4th entry).(https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L9WS-QQSV?cc=2037955&wc=STHD-DPF%3A1500938201%2C1501084258 : accessed 24 August 2019). 
  9. Ibid., Bissen > Baptêmes 1685-1722, 1734-1756, confirmations 1691-1704, mariages 1692-1720, sépultures 1692-1702, 1709-1721 > image 140 of 162. 1701 Deth Record (right page, 3rd entry from bottom).(https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-99WS-QQ7Y?cc=2037955&wc=STHD-DPF%3A1500938201%2C1501084258 : accessed 14 July 2019). 
  10. “Histoire de la Commune,” Administration communale de Colmar-Berg, (https://www.colmar-berg.lu/fr/Pages/Chiffres-et-Hitoire-de-la-commune.aspx : accessed 21 August 2019) 
  11. Luxembourg Church Records, Bissen > Mariages 1750-1757, 1760-1778, sépultures 1751-1754, 1760-1778 > image 13 of 34. 1761 Marriage Record (left, middle). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L9WS-QQ7D?cc=2037955&wc=STHD-DPX%3A1500938201%2C1501112182 : accessed 15 January 2018). 
  12. Cadastre de Marie-Thérèse (1752-1772), Dénombrements des feux, aides et subsides 1473-1806, FamilySearch, Film # 008014724, Regime A, section 14: cadastre de Marie-Thérèse 1767, liasse 175 (Berg, Colmar), image 301 of 676, Sheet No. 46, Jean Keyser von Welsdorf alias Wilmes. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSX4-B3T4-3?i=300&cat=1152016 : accessed 30 August 2019). 
  13. Tony Jungblut, “Das Verbrechen der Gebrüder Hauser”, published in four parts in A-Z : Luxemburger illustrierte, 5 August 1934 No. 33 p. 4-7, 12 August 1934 No. 34 p. 18-20, 19 August 1934 No. 35 p. 18-19, and 26 August 1934 No. 36 p. 18-19. (https://luxemburgensia.bnl.lu/cgi/luxonline1_2.pl?action=yr&sid=azillust&year=1934 : accessed 21 August 2019). 

Part IV: The Parents and Siblings of Remacle TRAUSCH (1761-1804)

Since I’ve spent so much time on Remacle TRAUSCH’s wife Theresia BRAUN, her parents, and her maternal grandparents, I thought it only fair to write about Remacle and his parents.

Remacle was the youngest child of Pierre TRAUSCH (ca. 1714-1784) and his second wife Maria Elisabetha WANTZ (1728-1786) of Mersch in Luxembourg.

Luxembourg’s Signature – “Let’s make it happen”

Part IV: Remacle TRAUSCH, the youngest son of the oldest child

Pierre TRAUSCH (ca. 1714-1784)

Pierre TRAUSCH, my 6th great-grandfather, was born about 1714 in Mersch. Baptismal records are not available for Mersch for the years 1696 to 1716. Pierre was the oldest known child of Martin TRAUSCH (abt. 1682-1762) and Susanna SEYWERT sive JOSTEN domo PETERS (1693-1780). [The Latin descriptives mean Susanna SEYWERT was also known as Susanna JOSTEN and came from a house called PETERS.] Baptismal records were found for seven of Pierre’s siblings born between 1718 and 1736.

1739 Marriage entry in the church register of Mersch, Luxembourg

Pierre was the first of Martin and Susanna’s children to marry in 1739. The entry in the church record for the marriage includes the names of his parents. As no baptismal record is available for Pierre, this is the first record which confirms his parents were Martin and Susanna.

Pierre married Anna Maria ADAM, the daughter of the deceased Carolus ADAM of Ansembourg, on 9 August 1739.1 The married couple would live in a house called Peters in Mersch. As I’ve determined Pierre was the oldest child of Martin and Susanna, he would inherit the family home after his parents’ death and therefore his living in the home with his parents is logical.

Pierre and Anna Maria had three children born in 17402, 17443, and 17514. No marriages or death records have been found for these children in Luxembourg. Sadly, I suspected they may have died young. Their mother Anna Maria died on 19 February 1751, three weeks after giving birth to her third child.5

Pierre was now widowed and had Jean Pierre (11), Anna Maria (7), and Jean (newborn) to care for.

Very little information has been found for these three children. I suspected they may have died young however quick online searches when this post was nearly ready to publish turned up a few interesting facts which need to be looked into.

The oldest son Jean Pierre was a priest from 26 February 1763 until 27 November 1813 (possibly his date of death). This was not sourced and needs to be researched.

The GEDCOM on Geneanet of a descendant of the second child Anna Maria TRAUSCH indicates Anna Maria married Louis ANCELON on 19 January 1769 in Habergy, today in the commune of Messancy in the province of Luxembourg in Belgium. An index to church records in Habergy includes an entry for Louis ANSLO and Anne Marie TRAUSCHT who married on the said day. The actual record, which would possibly include the names of her parents, is not online. 

Seven months after the death of his wife Anna Maria, Pierre TRAUSCH married again.

Maria Elisabetha WANTZ (c1723-1786), a bride with unknown parents

1751 Marriage Record of Pierre TRAUSCH married Maria Elisabetha WANTZ

On 28 September 1751, Pierre TRAUSCH married my 6th great-grandmother Maria Elisabetha WANTZ.6 The parents of the bride and groom are not named in the record. It’s in Latin and needs to be translated by someone fluent in the language. My interpretation may not be correct. It would appear the couple was given a dispensation to marry as they may have been closely related, possibly first cousins. I cannot confirm they were related as the parents of the bride are unknown.

I have seen conflicting information concerning who her parents may have been in GEDCOM files of members of Luxracines on GeneaLux.Net.

Michel WANTZ and Angélique WAGENER were having children in Ettelbrück from 1708 to 1728 with a daughter named Elisabeth born on 19 January 1723.7 I have not found a GEDCOM file which shows this young lady married.

Another couple from Reckange, Jean WANTZ and Marie Catherine MOLITOR alias ENTGES, were having children from 1724 to 1741 and had a daughter named Maria Elisabetha born 6 July 1728.8 This young lady has been seen in GEDCOM files as the wife of Pierre WEYDERT (married 29 February 1756 )9, Nicolas WELBES10, and my Pierre TRAUSCH. Pierre Weydert was probably her first husband and Nicolas Welbes her second husband however there is a conflict with the same lady also marrying Pierre Trausch. Maria Elisabetha WANTZ who married Pierre TRAUSCH in 1751 was having children (as will be seen below) from 1753 to 1761.

This is where my problem lies. I need to go through all the records of both of these WANTZ families to compare the names of godparents of the children’s children to see if any connection can be made to Pierre TRAUSCH and his wife Maria Elisabeth WANTZ.

As the marriage record indicates she was originally from Ettelbrück, I sway toward one set of parents being correct: Michel WANTZ and Angélique WAGENER. This research and write-up will be saved for another day.

Pierre and Maria Elisabetha’s children

Pierre TRAUSCH and Maria Elisabetha WANTZ had four sons all baptized in Mersch.

Their oldest son Nicolas was baptized on 27 December 175311, their second son Clemens on 16 July 175512, their third son Wilhelm on 27 March 175913, and their fourth and youngest son Remacle on 6 April 1761.14

Pierre and Maria Elisabeth also had a daughter Maria who died on 28 January 1758 at the age of one year.15 No baptismal record had been found for this child. She would have been their third born.

Interesting to note are the names of two of the godparents of the sons. Nicolas’ godfather was Nicolas WANS (sic, Nicolas’ mother’s name was spelled the same in the record) from Ettelbrück. Remacle’s godmother was Magdalena WANTZ of Reckange. Quick searches show Nicolas was the oldest son of the couple from Ettelbrück and Magdalena was the daughter of the couple from Reckange. This will be taken into consideration when the WANTZ research is done. At this time I can only speculate the two men, Jean WANTZ and Michel WANTZ, may have been closely related, possibly brothers, and one of them could have been Maria Elisabetha’s father.

Pierre TRAUSCH in the cadastre and the census

Section of the 1766 Cadastre sheet with information on the buildings of Pierre TRAUSCH

In 1766 when the cadastre and census were taken the TRAUSCH family was living in a house called Peters which included a small barn and a courtyard.16

1766 Census of the village of Mersch in the Parish of the same name with the Pierre TRAUSCH family in household 45.

Pierre TRAUSCH (about 52), a carpenter or menusier, was with his family in household number 45 in Mersch. His second wife Maria Elisabetha (in her 40s) and their sons Clemens (11), Wilhelm (7), and Remacle (5) were at home. Their son Nicolas (nearly 13) was either omitted or enumerated in another household, possibly in another village where he may have been working. The children of Pierre’s first marriage were not in the household. A manual laborer named Michel GEDERT likely was helping Pierre with the carpentry. Also in the household was Pierre’s widowed mother Susanna (73) and his youngest brother Philippe (30).17  Pierre’s father Martin had died on 22 June 1762.18 The six siblings who were born between Pierre and Philippe were not on this census. No marriages have been found for them. Their whereabouts remain a mystery.

The second son marries

Clemens was the first of Pierre and Maria Elisabetha’s sons to marry. He married Marie Catherine SCHMIT of Colmar on 1 March 1778.19 Her parents were not mentioned on the marriage record. However, as the SCHMIDT family of Colmar for this period has been researched, I was able to deduct who her parents were. Marie Catherine was the daughter of Nicolas SCHMIDT and Catharina SCHNEIDISCH. She was seen with her parents on the 1766 census20 however no baptismal record has been found for her.

Clemens and Marie Catherine’s first child, Pierre TRAUSCH was born on 26 April 1779 and baptized the following day. His godfather was his grandfather of the same name, Pierre TRAUSCH. His godmother was his maternal uncle Philipp SCHMIDT’s second wife Maria.21 Their second child, Maria Elisabetha was born on 25 October  1780 and baptized the following day. Her godmother was her grandmother Maria Elisabetha WANTZ and her godfather was her grandfather Nicolas SCHMIDT.22 Two more sons were born in 178223 and 1785.24

Pierre TRAUSCH and his mother die within four years of each other

Pierre TRAUSCH, the husband of Maria Elisabeth WANTZ, died on 26 March 1784. Per the entry in the death register, he was about seventy and several years.25 Four years earlier his mother Susanna, widow of Martin TRAUSCH, had died in Mersch on 5 December 1780 supposedly at the age of 92 years.26 She was in fact only 87 years old as she was born in the Castle of Mersch on 7 February 1693.27

Two marriages within a month

Nearly two years after Pierre’s death, two of his three unmarried sons were married within a month of each other. Wilhelm married Susanne RONES on 12 December 1785 in Tuntange28 and Nicolas married Anna Maria STOLTZ on 9 January 1786 in Mersch.29

Pierre’s widow dies

Pierre’s widow and the mother of the four TRAUSCH brothers, Maria Elisabeth WANTZ died several months later on 23 April 1786.30

The youngest son marries

Remacle’s brothers were all married and both of his parents deceased when he, the youngest son of the family, married on 24 July 1787 to Theresia BRAUN.31 Remacle and Theresia were my 5th great-grandparents and the main characters in this research project.

Two sons are widowed and remarry

Clemens’ wife Maria Catherine SCHMIT died on 17 March 1792. Her age was recorded in the death register as being 43 years old and therefore born about 1749.32 Clemens remarried a short three months later on 25 June 1792 to Magdalena WALSDORF, the widow of Guillaume MAY.33 It is not known if Clemens and Magdalena had children or when and where they died.

Wilhelm’s wife Susanne RONES died 4 November 1805 at the age of 46 years.34 The marriage was childless. On 14 April 1806, Wilhelm married a second time to Barbara WALSDORF in Tuntange.35 The relation to his brother Clemens’ wife Magdalena WALSDORF is at this time unknown. Wilhelm was 47 years old and Barbara was 32 years old when they married. She gave him fours sons from 1807-1813. Wilhelm died in Hollenfels on 21 January 183136 and Barbara died almost exactly 15 years later on 22 January 1846 in Bissen.37

It is not known if Nicolas, the oldest son of Pierre and Maria Elisabetha, and his wife Anna Maria STOLTZ had children or when and where they died. If anyone has followed this family, I would appreciate hearing about them.

As previously mentioned in Part I: Remacle Trausch (1761-1804) and Theresia Braun (1766-1798) of Colmar, Remacle was widowed on 16 February 1798.38 He was left with six motherless children: Franz (10), Catharina (7), Michel (5), Nicolas (3), Susanna (1), and Maria (1 week).

What would become of Remacle and his children? The answer will have to wait until next week.

Posts in this series:

Part I: Remacle Trausch (1761-1804) and Theresia Braun (1766-1798) of Colmar

Part II: Why was Theresia BRAUN also seen as Theresia COLLING?

Part III: “Maison dite” Leads to Parents and Grandparents of Magdalena SCHMIDT (1743-1782)

Part IV: The Parents and Siblings of Remacle TRAUSCH (1761-1804)

Part V: A Horrific Crime in the Fortress City of Luxembourg

Part VI: Tying up the loose ends

© 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), Mersch > Mariages 1717-1749 > image 36 of 58. 1739 Marriage Record (left page, 2nd entry). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L9WS-9SVW?cc=2037955&wc=STHZ-TQ9%3A1500963301%2C1501079882 : accessed 9 July 2019). 
  2. Ibid., Mersch > Baptêmes 1717-1772 > image 76 of 280. 1740 Baptismal Record No. 39. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QSQ-G9WS-9SDN?cc=2037955&wc=STHZ-T38%3A1500963301%2C1500963302 : accessed 9 July 2019). 
  3. Ibid., Mersch > Baptêmes 1717-1772 > image 88 of 280. 1744 Baptismal Record No. 48 (left page). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-99WS-9SKD?cc=2037955&wc=STHZ-T38%3A1500963301%2C1500963302 : accessed 9 July 2019). 
  4. Ibid., Mersch > Baptêmes 1717-1772 > image 114 of 280. 1751 Baptismal Record No. 43 (right page). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QSQ-G9WS-9SZM?cc=2037955&wc=STHZ-T38%3A1500963301%2C1500963302 : accessed 9 July 2019). 
  5. Ibid., Mersch > Sépultures 1749-1772 > image 7 of 100. 1751 Death Record (right page, 5th entry). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-99WS-93ML?cc=2037955&wc=STHZ-TQW%3A1500963301%2C1500982636 : accessed 9 July 2019). 
  6. Ibid., Mersch > Mariages 1749-1772 > image 8 of 88. 1751 Marriage Record (right, bottom). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QSQ-G9WS-934R?cc=2037955&wc=STH6-168%3A1500963301%2C1500969860 : accessed 14 January 2018). 
  7. Ibid., Ettelbruck > Baptêmes 1640-1724 > image 225 of 229. 1723 Baptismal Record (left page, 3rd entry). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L9WS-SS65?cc=2037955&wc=STH8-YWG%3A1500939401%2C1500972808 : accessed 6 August 2019). 
  8. Ibid., Mersch > Baptêmes 1717-1772 > image 41 of 280. 1728 Baptismal Record (right page, first entry).(https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-99WS-9SLF?cc=2037955&wc=STHZ-T38%3A1500963301%2C1500963302 : accessed 6 August 2019). 
  9. Ibid., Hostert > Baptêmes 1716-1778, mariages 1728-1763, 1771-1778, sépultures 1735-1760 > image 133 of 138. 1756 Marriage Record (right page, third entry). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L9WS-HCZY?cc=2037955&wc=STHD-T3G%3A1501211301%2C1501309062 : accessed 6 August 2019). 
  10. Maria Elisabetha WANTZ and Nicolas WELBES were married before 1768 during a period where marriages for Hostert are missing. Their first known child was on 25 February 1768.
    Ibid., Hostert > Baptêmes 1716-1778, mariages 1728-1763, 1771-1778, sépultures 1735-1760 > image 88 of 138. 1768 Baptismal Record (left page, first entry). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-99WS-HCGT?cc=2037955&wc=STHD-T3G%3A1501211301%2C1501309062 : accessed 6 August 2019). 
  11. Ibid., Mersch > Baptêmes 1717-1772 > image 134 of 280. 1753 Baptismal Record No. 320 (right page). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-99WS-9SDJ?cc=2037955&wc=STHZ-T38%3A1500963301%2C1500963302 : accessed 9 July 2019). 
  12. Ibid., Mersch > Baptêmes 1717-1772 > image 145 of 280. 1755 Baptismal Record No. 751. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L9WS-9SZ3?cc=2037955&wc=STHZ-T38%3A1500963301%2C1500963302 : accessed 9 July 2019). 
  13. Ibid., Mersch > Baptêmes 1717-1772 > image 175 of 280. 1759 Baptismal Record (left page, 5th entry). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QSQ-G9WS-93FQ?cc=2037955&wc=STHZ-T38%3A1500963301%2C1500963302 : accessed 9 July 2019). 
  14. Ibid., Mersch > Baptêmes 1717-1772 > image 195 of 280. 1761 Baptismal Record (left, bottom). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L9WS-93N1?cc=2037955&wc=STHZ-T38%3A1500963301%2C1500963302 : accessed 15 January 2018). 
  15. Ibid., Mersch > Baptêmes 1717-1772 > image 174 of 280. 1758 Death Record (right page, second to last entry). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L9WS-936G?cc=2037955&wc=STHZ-T38%3A1500963301%2C1500963302 : accessed 6 August 2019). 
  16. Cadastre de Marie-Thérèse (1752-1772), Dénombrements des feux, aides et subsides 1473-1806, FamilySearch, Film # 008014692, Regime A, section 14: cadastre de Marie-Thérèse 1767, liasse 75 (Mersch), image 417 of 637, No. 93, Pierre Trausch. “.” 1766 cadastre sheet of Pierre Trausch of the house called Peters. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSXW-1WJR-5?i=416&cat=1152016 : accessed 16 July 2019). 
  17. Luxembourg, 1766 Dénombrement (census), (images), FamilySearch (Digitial copy of the microfilm of originals in the Archives Générales du Royaume, Bruxelles, includes localities now in Luxembourg and Liège, Belgium), Film/DGS 1781981 > Film # 8182018 > Decanat de Mersch v. 2-3 > Mersch > Image 82 of 556. Pierre Trausch household. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CS21-FQ86-V?i=81&cat=1184675 : accessed 9 July 2019). 
  18. Luxembourg Church Records, Mersch > Sépultures 1749-1772 > image 49 of 100. 1762 Death Record (left page, 2nd entry). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-99WS-933R?cc=2037955&wc=STHZ-TQW%3A1500963301%2C1500982636 : accessed 9 July 2019). 
  19. Ibid., Mersch > Mariages 1773-1797 > image 19 of 133. 1778 Marriage Record (right page). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QSQ-G9WM-97VW?cc=2037955&wc=STHZ-WQW%3A1500963301%2C1501025684 : accessed 9 July 2019). 
  20. Luxembourg, 1766 Dénombrement, Film #008198978 > Decanat de Mersch > Colmar > Image 152 of 618, page 143, household no. 2. Nicolas Schmid household. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSLL-9932-S?i=151&cat=1184675 : accessed 20 July 2019). 
  21. Luxembourg Church Records, Mersch > Baptêmes 1773-1791 > image 42 of 274. 1779 Baptismal Record (right page, 3rd entry). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-89WM-9QH3?cc=2037955&wc=STHZ-W3J%3A1500963301%2C1500995236 : accessed 25 July 2019). 
  22. Ibid., Mersch > Baptêmes 1773-1791 > image 70 of 274. 1780 Baptismal Record (right page, bottom). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-99WM-9Q4F?cc=2037955&wc=STHZ-W3J%3A1500963301%2C1500995236 : accessed 25 July 2019). 
  23. Ibid., Mersch > Baptêmes 1773-1791 > image 97 of 274. 1782 Baptismal Record (right page, 2nd entry). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-89WM-9Q91?cc=2037955&wc=STHZ-W3J%3A1500963301%2C1500995236 : accessed 25 July 2019). 
  24. Ibid., Mersch > Baptêmes 1773-1791 > image 168 of 274. 1785 Baptismal Record (right page, 1st entry). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-89WM-9WS4?cc=2037955&wc=STHZ-W3J%3A1500963301%2C1500995236 : accessed 25 July 2019). 
  25. Ibid., Mersch > Sépultures 1773-1797 > image 80 of 183. 1784 Death Record (left page, 5th entry). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-89WM-9QBK?cc=2037955&wc=STHZ-WQS%3A1500963301%2C1501042450 : accessed 9 July 2019). 
  26. Ibid., Mersch > Sépultures 1773-1797 > image 45 of 183. 1780 Death Record (left page 4th entry). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-99WM-97S2?cc=2037955&wc=STHZ-WQS%3A1500963301%2C1501042450 : accessed 9 July 2019). 
  27. Ibid., Mersch > Baptêmes 1675-1795 > image 53 of 61. 1693 Baptismal Record (right page, 1st entry).(https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-99WS-9SBM?cc=2037955&wc=STHZ-TQS%3A1500963301%2C1501073940 : accessed 11 July 2019). 
  28. Ibid., Tuntange > Mariages 1783-1796, 1808-1817 > image 7 of 30. 1785 Marriage Record (right page, top entry). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-89WS-9WCN?cc=2037955&wc=STH8-3YZ%3A1501171879%2C1501338700 : accessed 9 July 2019). 
  29. Ibid., Mersch > Mariages 1773-1797 > image 69 of 133. 1786 Marriage Record (left page). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-89WM-97ZM?cc=2037955&wc=STHZ-WQW%3A1500963301%2C1501025684 : accessed 9 July 2019). 
  30. Ibid., Mersch > Sépultures 1773-1797 > image 101 of 183. 1786 Death Record (left page, 2nd entry). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L9WM-9QZ5?cc=2037955&wc=STHZ-WQS%3A1500963301%2C1501042450 : accessed 9 July 2019). 
  31. Ibid., Bissen > Baptêmes, mariages, sépultures 1785-1793 > image 52+53 of 186. 1789 Marriage Record part 1 (lower left and right). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L9WM-9WH2?cc=2037955&wc=STH6-FMS%3A1500938201%2C1500938228 : 9 January 2018) and 1789 Marriage Record part 2 (upper left). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-99WM-9W2D?cc=2037955&wc=STH6-FMS%3A1500938201%2C1500938228 : accessed 15 January 2018). 
  32. Ibid., Mersch > Sépultures 1773-1797 > image 140 of 183. 1792 Death Record (left page, last entry). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QSQ-G9WM-9Q2G?cc=2037955&wc=STHZ-WQS%3A1500963301%2C1501042450 : accessed 19 July 2019). 
  33. Ibid., Mersch > Baptêmes, mariages, sépultures 1789-1793 > image 196 of 245. 1792 Marriage Record (right page, 2nd entry). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QSQ-G9WM-S7C?cc=2037955&wc=STHZ-C6X%3A1500963301%2C1501002482 : accessed 19 July 2019). 
  34. Luxembourg, Registres d’état civil, 1662-1941 (images), FamilySearch (original records at Luxembourg National Archives, Plateau du Saint-Esprit, Luxembourg), Tuntange > Naissances 1858-1890 Mariages 1796-1890 Décès 1796-1872 > image 978 of 1488. 1805 Death Record (13 Brumaire an XIV). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HY-68K3-GDV?cc=1709358&wc=9RYH-168%3A130493401%2C130649501 : accessed 12 July 2019). 
  35. Ibid., Tuntange > Naissances 1858-1890 Mariages 1796-1890 Décès 1796-1872 > image 369+370 of 1488. 1806 Marriage Record part 1 (right page). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HY-68K3-GJB?cc=1709358&wc=9RYH-168%3A130493401%2C130649501 : accessed 9 July 2019) and 1806 Marriage Record part 2 (both pages). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HY-68K3-PMX?cc=1709358&wc=9RYH-168%3A130493401%2C130649501 : accessed 9 July 2019). 
  36. Ibid., Tuntange > Naissances 1858-1890 Mariages 1796-1890 Décès 1796-1872 > image 1152 of 1488. 1831 Death Record No. 4. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HY-68K3-GYS?cc=1709358&wc=9RYH-168%3A130493401%2C130649501 : accessed 11 July 2019). 
  37. Ibid., Bissen > Naissances 1883-1890 Mariages 1796-1890 Décès 1796-1879 > image 1078 of 1490. 1846 Death Record No. 1. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-DR4S-7BV?cc=1709358&wc=9RYM-VZ9%3A129623501%2C129770001 : accessed 12 July 2019). 
  38. Ibid., Berg > Décès 1796-1830 > image 4+5 of 167. 1798 Death Record part 1 (bottom left page and right page). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-62YQ-KYG?cc=1709358&wc=9RYQ-C6X%3A129623401%2C129623402 : accessed 14 January 2018) and 1798 Death Record part 2 (top left page). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-62YQ-645?cc=1709358&wc=9RYQ-C6X%3A129623401%2C129623402 : accessed 14 January 2018). 

Part III: “Maison dite” Leads to Parents and Grandparents of Magdalena SCHMIDT (1743-1782)

When my sixth great-grandmother Magdalena married Martin BRAUN on 19 April 1761 in the Capella of Berg in central Luxembourg she was seen as Magdalena SCHNEIDISCH. One of the two witnesses was Nicolas SCHNEIDISCH, likely her father.1 The ending of the surname was a red flag and suggested it may have been a maison dite or house name.

House Names and Surnames

What follows in this section is an extract from my blog post What’s the secret of “maison dite” or house names in Luxembourg records? published on 26 August 2017.

Until around 1500 the first name of a person was sufficient enough to identify ordinary people. When pleading someone’s case, it was done orally and normally in the presence of the person eliminating the confusion of identities.

The appearance of the first written documents however required additional distinction. Nicolas, therefore, became known as Nicolas de Steinfort (by his residence), Nicolas le Meunier (by his occupation, i.e. miller), or Nicolas le Petit (by a trait, i.e. small person).

When these extensions to the first names finally became family names transmitted from one generation to the next, they were not, for a long time, patronymic. In about half the cases, the children’s names came from the mother, as the rules of family succession in Luxembourg were based on primogeniture – the right of the oldest child inheriting the parental home without any distinction between males and females.

Luxembourg researchers are confronted with the phenomenon of maison dite or house names shared by all people living under one roof, regardless of their initial name received at birth.  At the time of the marriage, the spouse always acquired, whatever his sex, the name of the house into which he entered. Thus, each couple had only one and the same surname which was transmitted to all their children.

In the course of the eighteenth century when Luxembourg was under Austrian rule, the civil authorities imposed a contrary law, that each individual should keep his birth name – it could no longer be changed during the course of his life, notably at the time of marriage. Each legitimate child inherited his father’s surname.

During the long transition, the coexistence of the two rules and practices, totally opposite, constituted a complication which was the source of errors. The children of one and the same couple sometimes obtained different surnames. The second spouse of a widow or widower may have been known by the surname his spouse had previously taken from his first conjugal partner.

Priests were aware of the problem of the double and triple surnames of their parishioners. Some were careful to note more than one name. The different surnames of one and the same person were juxtaposed and linked together by Latin words: alias (otherwise called), vulgo (commonly called), modo (otherwise), sive and aut (or), dicta (said). Sometimes the correct connection with previous generations can be determined by useful references such as ex domo (from the house) or in domo (in the house). House names were also mentioned in the parish records using the term in aedibus (in house) followed by the name.

Our genealogical research may suffer from the rivalry of these two incompatible rules but I’m finding them very useful.

Part III: “Maison dite” Leads to Parents and Grandparents of Magdalena SCHMIDT (1743-1782)

When her daughters Catharina BRAUN and Therese BRAUN were born in 1765 and 1766 Magdalena SCHNEIDISCH (the surname seen on her marriage record) was seen as SCHMIDT on their baptismal records. After losing her first husband Martin BRAUN in 1766, she married Michel COLLING a month later. When she had children with Michel from 1768 to 1775 she was still seen as Magdalena SCHMIDT even though their marriage record had Magdalena BRAUN as her name. The records for these events were cited in my previous post.

My theory at this point was:

  • SCHNEIDISCH, used at the time of Magdalena’s first marriage, was a maison dite or house name
  • her father must have been a SCHMIDT as she used this name when having children
  • her mother was possibly a SCHNEIDERS and likely the oldest child of a couple who went by the name SCHNEIDERS or lived in a house known as Schneidisch or Schneidesch.

Searching for records to prove the theory

Colmar was a part of the parish of Bissen in Luxembourg. As Magdalena lived in Colmar, I checked for marriages in the parish of Bissen for SCHMIDT, SCHNEIDERS, and variations of these names. This was an easy task as I have access to Luxracines‘ database (members only) for marriages prior to 1800 in Luxembourg.

The database was populated using the  Tables des mariages 1700-1798 (index organisée par l’époux/l’épouse), a card index of marriages performed in parishes of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg before 1800. The microfilm images of these cards are available on FamilySearch in their catalog. I would have had to browse the images of the index cards for Bissen if I weren’t a member of Luxracines. If you are interested in why these marriage index cards were created and by whom, please check out this post: Using the Back Door at FamilySearch for Missing Records.

I did not find a marriage for a SCHMIDT groom and a SCHNEIDERS bride. I searched for marriages in Bissen without a surname which generated a complete list of all marriages in the parish. There are no marriage records for the period from 1721 to 1749. On FamilySearch, I found marriages and deaths for the years 1721-1749 are missing for Bissen as well as baptisms from 1723 to July 1738. It is important to know when records are missing and how to find substitutes for them.

Baptismal records were used as substitutes for a marriage record

Magdalena married Martin BRAUN in 1761 which would indicate she was born 1743 or earlier, assuming she was 18 years of age or older. As a substitute for the missing marriage record for a SCHMIDT groom and a SCHNEIDERS bride, I searched for any children born to a couple with the SCHMIDT and/or SCHNEIDERS surnames. Magdalena’s estimated year of birth was used as a starting point.

As I searched the baptismal records I found there were three couples using these surnames and having children around the time Magdalena may have been born. The couples found were:

  • Nicolas SCHNEIDERS and wife Catharina
  • Nicolas SCHMIDT and his wife Catharina
  • Nicolas SCHMIDT and Catharina SCHNEIDERS

Taken out of context this would look like three couples but I will show they were only one couple.

These are the baptismal records found:

25 January 1741: Joes son of Nicolas SCHNEIDERS and his wife Catharina2
4 September 1743: Maria Magdalena daughter of Nicolas SCHNEIDERS and his wife Catharina3
23 January 1746: Henricus son of Nicolas SCHMIDT and his wife Catharina4
25 July 1748: Martinus son of Nicolas SCHMIDT and Catharina SCHNEIDERS5

The children were born between 1741 and 1748. No children were found prior to 1741. As noted previously, baptismal records are only available from July 1738 for Bissen.

As seen in my previous post, Philippe SCHMIT a married man from Colmar was the guardian of Catharina BRAUN (daughter of Magdalena) and gave his consent to her marriage in 1786. As he was taking care of family business in 1786, I assumed he was the oldest son of the SCHMIDT-SCHNEIDERS couple I was interested in.

Proof: Philipp SCHMIDT was a son of Nicolas SCHMIDT

The 1766 census and cadastre de Marie-Thérèse confirmed my assumption. On the census, Nicolas SCHMIT, a farrier (maréchal), is seen with the following household.

1766 Luxembourg Census of Colmar in the parish of Bissen for the household of Nicolas Schmid or Schmit

In the column on the far right, there is a 2 indicating there were two married couples in the household. The couples were: Nicolas SCHMID and his wife Catherine as well as Philipp SCHMID and his wife Therese. The three young boys (all under 14 years of age) in the household were children of the second couple (baptismal records were found). Mathias WAGNER, Jean MARX, and Elisabeth FRABRITIUS were also in the household and possibly servants as the men were listed as domestics.6

One more person was in the household. Marie Catherine SCHMID, in the 14 years or older category, was born before 1752 (1766 age 14+). She was the daughter of Nicolas SCHMIT and Catharina SCHNEIDERS and would marry Clemens TRAUSCH in 1778. No baptismal record was found for her. The marriage record does not mention the names of her parents. However, baptismal records of her first two children will show the connection in my next post. (Marie Catherine was my 6th great-grandaunt and Clemens was my 5th great-granduncle.)

A section of the 1766 cadastre sheet found for Philipus Schmit mentions he was the son of his father Nicolas Schmit.

A second record was found connecting Philipp and Nicolas. Although the handwriting on the document (click on link to see the entire sheet) is hard to read, the cadastre of Marie-Thérèse dated 31 July 1766, includes the land worked by Philipp SCHMIT and mentions he lived in a building with his father Nicolas SCHMIT.7

I believe my 6th great-grandmother Magdalena was Maria Magdalena SCHNEIDERS born in 1743 to Nicolas SCHMIDT and his wife Catharina SCHNEIDERS. First, this daughter was born in 1743 making her  18 years old in 1861 when Magdalena married Martin BRAUN. Second, Philipp SCHMID(T) who was found to be the son of the same couple would later be named as the guardian of Magdalena’s daughter Catherine when she married in 1786. Thirdly, there were no other SCHMIDT or SCHNEIDERS families in the area during this time period.

Going back another generation

I also searched the marriage database for SCHNEIDERS’ marriages which would point to Magdalena’s maternal grandparents, parents of Catharina SCHNEIDERS. Five marriages for persons with the SCHNEIDERS surname were found in Bissen. A groom in 1695 (from Colmar) as well as four brides: 1699 (from Bövingen), 1704 (from Colmar), 1706 (from Wiltz), and 1717 (from Colmar). The groom and the two brides from Colmar looked promising.

I first looked into the 1695 marriage of Johann Adam SCHNEIDERS and Margarita EICHHORNS. They were the parents of two children: Catherine born 13 April 1697 and Johann born 29 November 1701. At first, I thought Catherine would be a good candidate for the wife of Nicolas SCHMIDT. However she would have been 51 years old by the time the last SCHMIDT child was born in 1748 which seemed very unlikely.

I then searched for children of the two SCHNEIDERS brides who married in 1704 and 1717.

Elisabeth SCHNEIDERS married Nicolas HANSEN on 9 November 1717; a son Johann HANSEN was baptized on 21 June 1719 in Berg, a neighboring village of Colmar. No other children were found as the baptismal records are missing from 1723 to July 1738. As the couple lived in Berg and not Colmar, I considered the possibility of the Elisabeth being related but likely not the mother of Catherine who married Nicolas SCHMIDT.

On 16 November 1704, Marie SCHNEIDERS married Philipp HIRTZ.8 Baptisms were found for two children. A daughter Catharina SCHNEIDERS was born on 24 March 17119 to Philipp SCHNEIDERS and his wife Maria. A son Johann Conrad HIRTZ was born on 27 April 171710 to Philipp HIRTZ and wife Maria both of Colmar. The godmother of this child was Elisabeth SCHNEIDERS of Colmar, likely the woman who would marry Nicolas HANSEN later in the same year.

In 1719 Philipp HIRTZ was a witness at a marriage in Bissen.11 His name was written Phil. HIRTZ sive SCHNEIDISCH – his surname was linked to his house name by the Latin term sive meaning or. This shows Philipp was known by both names and most likely the father of both Catharina SCHNEIDERS and Johann Conrad HIRTZ, i.e. their parents were Philipp and Maria with the surname SCHNEIDERS being used in 1711 and HIRTZ in 1717.

The son Johann Conrad married on 10 January 1741 in Belgium.12 His marriage record indicates his father Philipp HIRTZ was deceased at the time of the marriage. Philipp died before 1741. He may have been living when his daughter Catherine named her first known child Philipp. If a baptismal record had survived for this child, I would not be surprised to see Philipp HIRTZ listed as the godfather of Philipp SCHMIDT.

A final record confirms the HIRTZ-SCHNEIDERS connection

While writing this post and reviewing the records, I noticed I’d overlooked something when reading the baptismal record of Henricus, the child of Catherine and Nicolas SCHMIDT, who was born in 1746.

1746 Baptismal Record of Henricus a son of Nicolas Schmit and Catharine Hirtz, a legitimate married couple of Colmar.

When I first read the record above, I thought the mother’s first name was at the end of the second line and continued on the third line. The priest appears to have run out of ink while making this entry. What I didn’t notice was the name in the third line was HIRTZ and not the ending of Catharine (-rine with a squiggle).

I did not plan on proving the maternal grandparents of my fifth great-grandmother Theresia BRAUN (aka COLLING) when I began to write about her and her husband Remacle TRAUSCH. The research took on a life of its own as I went through the church records of Bissen – several times!

In the fourth post of this series, Remacle TRAUSCH’s parents and siblings will be discussed.

Posts in this series:

Part I: Remacle Trausch (1761-1804) and Theresia Braun (1766-1798) of Colmar

Part II: Why was Theresia BRAUN also seen as Theresia COLLING?

Part III: “Maison dite” Leads to Parents and Grandparents of Magdalena SCHMIDT (1743-1782)

Part IV: The Parents and Siblings of Remacle TRAUSCH (1761-1804)

Part V: A Horrific Crime in the Fortress City of Luxembourg

Part VI: Tying up the loose ends

© 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), Bissen > Mariages 1750-1757, 1760-1778, sépultures 1751-1754, 1760-1778 > image 13 of 34. 1761 Marriage Record (left, middle). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L9WS-QQ7D?cc=2037955&wc=STHD-DPX%3A1500938201%2C1501112182 : accessed 15 January 2018). 
  2. Ibid., Bissen > Baptêmes 1685-1722, 1734-1756, confirmations 1691-1704, mariages 1692-1720, sépultures 1692-1702, 1709-1721 > image 68 of 162. 1741 Baptismal Record. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-99WS-QQ52?cc=2037955&wc=STHD-DPF%3A1500938201%2C1501084258 : accessed 19 July 2019). 
  3. Ibid., Bissen > Baptêmes 1685-1722, 1734-1756, confirmations 1691-1704, mariages 1692-1720, sépultures 1692-1702, 1709-1721 > image 79 of 162. 1743 Baptismal Record (right page, 2nd enry). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L9WS-QQX7?cc=2037955&wc=STHD-DPF%3A1500938201%2C1501084258 : accessed 19 July 2019). 
  4. Ibid., Bissen > Baptêmes 1685-1722, 1734-1756, confirmations 1691-1704, mariages 1692-1720, sépultures 1692-1702, 1709-1721 > image 93 of 162. 1746 Baptismal Record (left page, 2nd entry). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-99WS-QQZX?cc=2037955&wc=STHD-DPF%3A1500938201%2C1501084258 : accessed 19 July 2019). 
  5. Ibid., Bissen > Baptêmes 1685-1722, 1734-1756, confirmations 1691-1704, mariages 1692-1720, sépultures 1692-1702, 1709-1721 > image 106 of 162. 1748 Baptismal Record (right page, 2nd entry).(https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QSQ-G9WS-QQCT?cc=2037955&wc=STHD-DPF%3A1500938201%2C1501084258 : 19 July 2019). 
  6. Luxembourg, 1766 Dénombrement (census), (images), FamilySearch (Digitial copy of the microfilm of originals in the Archives Générales du Royaume, Bruxelles, includes localities now in Luxembourg and Liège, Belgium), Film #008198978 > Decanat de Mersch > Colmar > Image 152 of 618, page 143, household no. 2. “.” Nicolas Schmid household. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSLL-9932-S?i=151&cat=1184675 : accessed 20 July 2019). 
  7. Cadastre de Marie-Thérèse (1752-1772), Dénombrements des feux, aides et subsides 1473-1806, FamilySearch, Film # 008014724, Regime A, section 14: cadastre de Marie-Thérèse 1767, liasse 175 (Berg, Colmar), 276 image of 676, Sheet No. 34, Philipus Schmit. 1766 cadastre sheet of Philipus Schmit with mention of father Nicolas Schmit.(https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSX4-B3T8-C?i=275&cat=1152016 : accessed 21 July 2019). 
  8. Luxembourg Church Records, Bissen > Baptêmes 1685-1722, 1734-1756, confirmations 1691-1704, mariages 1692-1720, sépultures 1692-1702, 1709-1721 > image 156 of 162. 1704 Marriage Record (right page, last entry).(https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L9WS-QQQ1?cc=2037955&wc=STHD-DPF%3A1500938201%2C1501084258 : accessed 23 July 2019). 
  9. Ibid., Bissen > Baptêmes 1685-1722, 1734-1756, confirmations 1691-1704, mariages 1692-1720, sépultures 1692-1702, 1709-1721 > image 40 of 162. 1711 Baptismal Record (right page, 2nd to last entry). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-99WS-QQXR?cc=2037955&wc=STHD-DPF%3A1500938201%2C1501084258 : accessed 23 July 2019). 
  10. Ibid., Bissen > Baptêmes 1685-1722, 1734-1756, confirmations 1691-1704, mariages 1692-1720, sépultures 1692-1702, 1709-1721 > image 54 of 162. 1717 Baptismal Record (left page, 2nd to last entry). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QSQ-G9WS-QQV2?cc=2037955&wc=STHD-DPF%3A1500938201%2C1501084258 : accessed 23 July 2019). 
  11. Luxembourg Church Records, Bissen > Baptêmes 1685-1722, 1734-1756, confirmations 1691-1704, mariages 1692-1720, sépultures 1692-1702, 1709-1721 > image 162 of 162. 1719 Marriage Record (left page, 4th entry).(https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QSQ-G9WS-QQ9L?cc=2037955&wc=STHD-DPF%3A1500938201%2C1501084258 : accessed 21 July 2019). 
  12. Paroisse de Selange, Province de Luxembourg, Belgique, Registres paroissiaux, 1665-1807 (images), FamilySearch (Microfilm produit de l’original dans Archives de l’Etat, Arlon.), Film #616783, DGS #8190977, image 273 of 396. 1741 Marriage Record (right page, 3rd entry). (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSL6-HSZZ-S?i=272&cat=93009 : accessed 21 July 2019). 

Part II: Why was Theresia BRAUN also seen as Theresia COLLING?

As seen in my previous post, my fifth great-grandparents Remacle TRAUSCH (1761-1804) and Theresia BRAUN (1766-1798) were married in the church of Bissen in Luxembourg on 4 July 1787. They had six children before Theresia died in 1798 at the age of 31 years. The youngest of the six motherless children was only 8 days old and the oldest 10 years old.

When Remacle and Theresia married, Theresia’s parents were seen as Martin BRAUNERS and Magdalena SCHMIDT, both deceased and from Colmar.

When her children were baptized her name was listed as Theresia COLLING (or variations of this name) on four of the church records. One child’s record had BRONGERS, a variation of BRAUNERS, and another had BRAUN. At the time of death, her name was given as Theresia BRAUN.

Part II: Why was Theresia BRAUN also known as Theresia COLLING?

To answer this question I paid close attention to all names mentioned in birth, marriage, and death records of persons associated with Theresia and her family. For easier reading, I’ve used the COLLING spelling throughout this post except for one instance in which it was spelled COLLIN.

A thread woven through the records

A guardian, Franz BIWER, had signed the 1787 marriage record of Remacle and Theresia as discussed in the previous post. Franz was the godfather of Theresia and Remacle’s first child François TRAUSCH.  Franz was also described as her brother-in-law when her death was reported by him, her husband Remacle, and a neighbor in 1798.

Who was Franz BIWER?

1786 Marriage Index Card with parish register number and pages the record can be found.

A marriage was found for Franz BIWER and Catharina BRAUN, daughter of Martin BRAUN and Magdalena SCHMIDT.1 They were married on 11 December 1786 in Bissen about seven months before Remacle and Theresia were married. Philippe SCHMIT a married man from Colmar was the guardian of Catharina BRAUN and gave his consent to the marriage. Witnesses to the marriage were Clemens TRAUSCH and Peter COLLING, both married. Clemens TRAUSCH, the brother of Remacle, was married to Catharina SCHMIT of Colmar. Philippe SCHMIT was likely a relative of the deceased mother of the bride. This will be discussed further in my next post.

Catharina and Theresia were sisters as Franz BIWER had been named as the brother-in-law of Theresia BRAUN when she died and the names of the parents of both girls on their marriage records were the same.

The parents of Catharina and Theresia

A marriage record was found for the widower Martin BRAUN of Berg and Magdalena SCHNEIDISCH of Colmar. They married 19 April 1761 in the Berg chapel in the parish of Bissen. Witnesses were Nicolas SCHNEIDISCH of Colmar and Joannes CONRATH of Berg.2 The possibility of Nicolas SCHNEIDISCH being the father of the bride will be discussed in a later post.

1761 Marriage Index Card with parish register number and pages the record can be found.

Baptismal records of the parish of Bissen were searched. Only two children were found to have a father named Martin BRAUN after the marriage date in 1761. Catharina was born 11 April 17653 and Theresia was born 3 August 17664, both in Colmar. The mother on both records was listed as Magdalena SCHMIDT (spelled SCHMIT on the records).

As no other children were found, the death entries were searched. Martin BRAUN of Colmar died 17 February 1766.5 This was six months before the birth of Theresia.

Magdalena SCHMIDT, the widow remarries

A death record for Magdalena SCHMIDT of Colmar, a married woman about 40 years old, was found. She died on 22 January 1782 and was buried the following day.6 If this lady was the widow of Martin BRAUN, she must have married again.

No marriage was found for Magdalena SCHMIDT or Magdalena SCHNEIDERS in the marriage records of Bissen between 1766 and 1782.

1766 Marriage Index Card with parish register number and pages the record can be found.

A marriage was found on 19 March 1766, only a month after the death of Martin BRAUN, for Magdalena BRAUN and Michel COLLIN(G).  Witnesses to the marriage were Philippe SCHMIDT of Colmar and Franz FRISCH of Leydenbach.7 Could the witness Philippe SCHMIDT likely be the same person as the guardian seen at the time of Catharina’s marriage?

The children from the second marriage

Baptismal records were found for four children born to Michel COLLING and Magdalena SCHMIDT – not Magdalena BRAUN. A son Michel was born 15 February 17688, a son Nicolas on 5 November 17699, a daughter Catharina on 18 June 177210, and a daughter Elisabetha on 20 January 1775.11 The mother’s surname was spelled SCHMIT, SCHMITT, and SCHMIDT on these records.

Michel COLLING died on 8 October 1782 in Colmar.12 This was nine months after Magdalena SCHMIDT. He was in his fifties. Baptismal records are missing in Bissen for the years 1721 to 1733. His parents are at this time unknown.

Records were found for three of the four children of Michel COLLING and Magdalena SCHMIDT after their baptisms. Michel their first child died at the age of 23 years in 1792. His parents were listed as Michel COLLING and Magdalena SCHMIDT.13

Their second son Nicolas was living in the Franz BIWER home on 25 February 1807 when Franz and Catharina’s youngest child was born. Nicolas witnessed her birth record. His age was given as 33 years although he would have been 37 at the time.14 A few months earlier he had been named as a 37 years old witness and the uncle of the bride when Catharina TRAUSCH married on 29 November 1806.15 The bride was the daughter of Theresia BRAUN and Remacle TRAUSCH. No further record has been found for Nicolas.

Their daughter Catharina who was born in 1772 produced a few more records. She had an illegitimate daughter named Maria in 1797. Maria’s birth took place in the family home and was reported by the midwife as well as Franz BIWER and a neighbor. Catharina, the mother of the child, was described as being the daughter of Michel COLLING and Magdalena SCHMIDT of Colmar, a deceased married couple who had resided in a house called Braumes.16

Five years later Catharina married. There are discrepancies in the marriage record. Marie Catherine COLLING, daughter of Michel COLLING and Catherine SCHMITT, born on 18 June 1772 in Colmar married Nicolas DIDESCH, son of Philippe DIDESCH and Marie WEBER. The date of birth is a match for Catharina COLLING but this is the first time she was seen as Marie Catherine. Another error is her mother’s name which should have been Magdalena and not Catherine. Franz BIWER was one of the four witnesses on the marriage record.17 No known children were born to this marriage.

Franz BIWER, the husband of Catharina BRAUN, died in 1808 in Colmar in his residence, a house called Braumes.18 This confirms the family home was passed on to Catharina BRAUN, the oldest child of Martin BRAUN and Magdalena SCHMIDT.

Catharina COLLING’s illegitimate daughter Maria died at the age of 19 on 14 June 1817 in Colmar. The informant for her death was Nicolas DIDESCH, described as the father of the deceased. The deceased’s name was listed only as Maria, without a surname. Infant naturel (child born out of wedlock) was written just above her name.19

Nicolas DIDESCH died in 1844 and was identified as the husband of Catharina COLLING.20 Catharina died in 1853. Her death was reported by Mathias BIWER, the youngest son of FRANZ BIWER and Catharina BRAUN.21

Reviewing the findings

The noticeable reoccurrence of Franz BIWER‘s name, a thread woven through the records, led me to a hypothesis of why Theresia BRAUN was also known as Theresia COLLING.

  • Magdalena SCHMIDT (also known as SCHNEIDISCH) was a young girl, barely 18 years old when she married the older widowed Martin BRAUN in 1761.
  • She gave him a daughter Catharina in 1765 and was pregnant with Theresia when he died in 1766.
  • She then married Michel COLLING a month later. Catharina was only 11 months old and Theresia was born five months after her mother remarried. Michel was their step-father and only father they knew.
  • Magdalena had four children with Michel between 1768 and 1775.
  • Both Magdalena and Michel died in 1782 leaving these orphans: Catharina BRAUN (16), Theresa BRAUN (15), and their half-siblings Michel (13), Nicolas (12), and Catharina COLLING (9). No trace of the youngest half-sibling Elisabeth COLLING (7) has been found and it is possible she died before her parents.
  • The guardian of the orphans was likely Philippe SCHMIDT of Colmar who was seen as the tutor or guardian of Catharina BRAUN in 1786 when she married.
  • After Catharina married, her husband Franz BIWER became the head of the family and guardian of his wife’s sister and half-siblings.
  • As the oldest child of Magdalena SCHMIDT and Martin BRAUN, Catharina and her husband lived in the house known as Braumes.
  • Nicolas COLLING, the second son of Michel COLLING and Magdalena SCHMIDT, was named in the 1806 marriage record of Catharina TRAUSCH as her uncle, i.e. brother of her mother Theresia BRAUN.

At this point, I was convinced Theresia BRAUN was also known as Theresia COLLING as she was the step-daughter of Michel COLLING and raised by him and her mother from birth.

The pieces of the puzzle fit and Franz BIWER‘s presence in the records is the glue which holds it together. Missing is a record which would prove Magdalena SCHNEIDISCH who married Martin BRAUN is the same person as Magdalena BRAUN who married Michel COLLING. Or a record showing the BRAUN girls were raised by Michel COLLING.

Proof for the hypothesis

Michel and Magdalena chose the perfect time in the history of Luxembourg to marry. In 1766 Maria Theresa of Austria implemented the first modern cadastre and census in a large part of the territories under the rule of the House of Habsburg including Luxembourg, Belgium, and part of the Netherlands.

1766 Census of the Village of Colmar in the Parish of Bissen with the household of Michel Colling

Michel COLLING was found in the village of Colmar in the Parish of Bissen as the head of household #7. He was a farmer. A total of eight persons were in his household including his wife Magdalena seen here with his surname COLLING and two young girls named Catherine and Therese BRAUN.22 It must be noted that on this census the married women, for the most part, were enumerated with their husband’s surname.

This 1766 census listing and the records previously mentioned are proof the daughters Magdalena SCHMIDT (also seen as SCHNEIDISCH) had with Martin BRAUN were raised by her and Michel COLLING and could explain Theresia’s using both surnames: BRAUN and COLLING.

A final piece of evidence

1811 Marriage Record of Pierre Matter and Suzanne Biwer

Theresia’s sister Catharina BRAUN was also seen with the COLLING surname when several of her children were born. As I cast the net out further, I found the 1811 marriage record23 of Catharina’s second daughter Susanna (b. 1789) which includes this statement: “le nom de Collin ayant été changé et rectifié en celui de Braun par jugement du tribunal de premier instance de l’arrondisement de Luxembourg en date du 31 January 1809“.

( the name of Collin having been changed and rectified in that of Braun by judgment of the court of first instance of the district of Luxembourg on January 31, 1809 )

Either after the death of Catharina’s husband Franz BIWER in 1808 or when their oldest daughter Marie gathered supporting documentation for her marriage in March 1809, the discrepancy in the name of the mother was noticed and had to be rectified by court order. When Susanna married in 1811 this was mentioned in the marriage record (above).

Any more questions?

At this point, I’d like to answer a question I’m sure many of you had while reading this post. Why would a widow who was three months pregnant marry so soon after the death of her husband?

When a man with small children was widowed he would usually have a relative come into the home to help with the children. If there were no relatives available he would need to have a woman live in the home. As this would not be proper, a marriage took place soon after the man was widowed.

I have always thought women did not remarry in the first year of widowhood to avoid any paternity issues in case the widow was pregnant at the time of her husband’s death. In Magdalena’s case, I believe her first husband farmed leased land of the lord of Berg in the village of Colmar. To keep the family income she married Michel COLLING who took over this lease. Evidence of this was found in the 1766 Cadastre of Marie-Thérèse and will be discussed in a later post.

In the next post, I will explain why Theresia’s mother Magdalena was also using two surnames, SCHNEIDISCH and SCHMIDT, and how this helped me to determine who her parents and grandparents were.

Posts in this series:

Part I: Remacle Trausch (1761-1804) and Theresia Braun (1766-1798) of Colmar

Part II: Why was Theresia BRAUN also seen as Theresia COLLING?

Part III: “Maison dite” Leads to Parents and Grandparents of Magdalena SCHMIDT (1743-1782)

Part IV: The Parents and Siblings of Remacle TRAUSCH (1761-1804)

Part V: A Horrific Crime in the Fortress City of Luxembourg

Part VI: Tying up the loose ends

© 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), Bissen > Mariages 1779-1791, sépultures 1779-1791 > image 61 of 91. 1786 Marriage Record (bottom left and top right). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QSQ-G9WS-Q7SM?cc=2037955&wc=STHD-DPJ%3A1500938201%2C1501129408 : accessed 16 July 2019). 
  2. Ibid., Bissen > Mariages 1750-1757, 1760-1778, sépultures 1751-1754, 1760-1778 > image 13 of 34. 1761 Marriage Record (left, middle). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L9WS-QQ7D?cc=2037955&wc=STHD-DPX%3A1500938201%2C1501112182 : accessed 15 January 2018). 
  3. Ibid., Bissen > Baptêmes 1756-1778, confirmations 1767, 1789 > image 42 of 79. 1765 Baptismal Record (right, bottom). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-99WS-Q3K8?cc=2037955&wc=STHD-DP6%3A1500938201%2C1501120050 : accessed 15 January 2018). 
  4. Ibid., Bissen > Baptêmes 1756-1778, confirmations 1767, 1789 > image 44 of 79. 1766 Baptismal Record (right, 4th entry). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QSQ-G9WS-QQ3G?cc=2037955&wc=STHD-DP6%3A1500938201%2C1501120050 : accessed 15 January 2018). 
  5. Ibid., Bissen > Mariages 1750-1757, 1760-1778, sépultures 1751-1754, 1760-1778 > image 29 of 34. 1766 Death Record (right page, 7th entry). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L9WS-QQ4S?cc=2037955&wc=STHD-DPX%3A1500938201%2C1501112182 : accessed 14 July 2019). 
  6. Ibid., Bissen > Baptêmes 1779-1784, mariages 1779-1784, sépultures 1779-1784 > image 43 of 68. 1782 Death Record (right page, 3rd entry). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QSQ-G9WS-QQJ6?cc=2037955&wc=STHD-DPN%3A1500938201%2C1500938202 : 9 January 2015),. 
  7. Ibid., Bissen > Mariages 1750-1757, 1760-1778, sépultures 1751-1754, 1760-1778 > image 15 of 34. 1766 Marriage Record (right page, last entry). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-99WS-QQ9S?cc=2037955&wc=STHD-DPX%3A1500938201%2C1501112182 : accessed 14 July 2019). 
  8. Ibid., Bissen > Baptêmes 1756-1778, confirmations 1767, 1789 > image 48 of 79; paroisses, Luxembourg (parishes, Luxembourg).
    . 1768 Baptismal Record. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-89WS-QQ97?cc=2037955&wc=STHD-DP6%3A1500938201%2C1501120050 : accessed 14 July 2019). 
  9. Ibid., Bissen > Baptêmes 1756-1778, confirmations 1767, 1789 > image 51 of 79. 1769 Baptismal Record (left page, 5th entry). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QSQ-G9WS-Q323?cc=2037955&wc=STHD-DP6%3A1500938201%2C1501120050 : accessed 14 July 2019). 
  10. Ibid., Bissen > Baptêmes 1756-1778, confirmations 1767, 1789 > image 58 of 79. 1772 Baptismal Record. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-99WS-Q35S?cc=2037955&wc=STHD-DP6%3A1500938201%2C1501120050 : accessed 14 July 2019). 
  11. Ibid., Bissen > Baptêmes 1756-1778, confirmations 1767, 1789 > image 63 of 79. 1775 Baptismal Record. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QSQ-G9WS-Q3BH?cc=2037955&wc=STHD-DP6%3A1500938201%2C1501120050 : accessed 14 July 2019). 
  12. Ibid., Bissen > Baptêmes 1779-1784, mariages 1779-1784, sépultures 1779-1784 > image 44 of 68. 1782 Death Record (right page, 5th entry). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-89WS-Q79W?cc=2037955&wc=STHD-DPN%3A1500938201%2C1500938202 : 9 January 2015). 
  13. Ibid., Bissen > Baptêmes, mariages, sépultures 1785-1793 > image 159 of 186. 1792 Death Record (right page, 1st entry). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-89WM-9457?cc=2037955&wc=STH6-FMS%3A1500938201%2C1500938228 : accessed 20 July 2019). 
  14. Luxembourg, Registres d’état civil, 1662-1941 (images), FamilySearch (original records at Luxembourg National Archives, Plateau du Saint-Esprit, Luxembourg), Berg > Naissances 1796-1814 > image 92 of 140. 1807 Birth Record (lower left and upper right). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-6L2S-V5Y?cc=1709358&wc=9RYQ-K68%3A129623401%2C129773501 : accessed 26 July 2019). 
  15. Ibid., Berg > Mariages 1796-1858 > image 28 of 270. 1806 Marriage Record (lower right and next page upper left). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-62YQ-L1X?cc=1709358&wc=9RYQ-C6J%3A129623401%2C129709001 : accessed 16 January 2018). 
  16. Ibid., Berg > Naissances 1796-1814 > image 9+10 of 140. 1797 Birth Record (3 brumaire an VI). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-6L2S-JCQ?cc=1709358&wc=9RYQ-K68%3A129623401%2C129773501 : accessed 14 July 2019). 
  17. Ibid., Berg > Mariages 1796-1858 > image 20 of 270. 1803 (19 nivôse an XI) Marriage Record. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-62YQ-5L8?cc=1709358&wc=9RYQ-C6J%3A129623401%2C129709001 : accessed 14 July 2019). 
  18. Ibid., Berg > Décès 1796-1830 > image 54 of 167. 1808 Death Record No. 5. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-62YQ-XHD?cc=1709358&wc=9RYQ-C6X%3A129623401%2C129623402 : accessed 18 July 2019). 
  19. Ibid., Berg > Décès 1796-1830 > image 105 of 167. 1817 Death Record No. 5. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-62YQ-5J6?cc=1709358&wc=9RYQ-C6X%3A129623401%2C129623402 : accessed 14 July 2019). 
  20. Ibid., Berg > Décès 1831-1858 > image 73 of 160. 1844 Death Record No. 12. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-62YQ-X23?cc=1709358&wc=9RYQ-C6F%3A129623401%2C129651101 : accessed 18 July 2019). 
  21. Ibid., Berg > Décès 1831-1858 > image 112 of 160. 1851 Death Record No. 10. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-62YQ-XG8?cc=1709358&wc=9RYQ-C6F%3A129623401%2C129651101 : accessed 18 July 2019). 
  22. Luxembourg, 1766 Dénombrement (census), (images), FamilySearch (Digitial copy of the microfilm of originals in the Archives Générales du Royaume, Bruxelles, includes localities now in Luxembourg and Liège, Belgium), Film #008198978 > Decanat de Mersch > Colmar > Image 153 of 618, page 144, household no. 7. Michel Colling household. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSLL-993P-7?i=152&cat=1184675 : accessed 15 July 2019). 
  23. Luxembourg Civil Records, Bourscheid > Naissances 1872-1890 Mariages 1797-1890 > image 523 of 1447. 1811 Marriage Record No. 1 (part 1) and (part 2). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HY-DR89-YH7?cc=1709358&wc=9RYW-C68%3A129628601%2C129997101 and https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HY-DR8S-M5Y?cc=1709358&wc=9RYW-C68%3A129628601%2C129997101 : accessed 28 July 2019)