A Visit to the Westwall Museum in Irrel, Germany

Last Friday my genealogy society luxracines took a trip to Germany to visit the District Archive of Bitburg-Prüm or Kreisarchiv Bitburg-Prüm in the city of Bitburg.

Following our visit to the district archive, lunch at the Restaurant Zagreb in the Bitburg Fußgängerzone (pedestrian zone), and a bit of sightseeing we met up at our bus. On the way back to Luxembourg we stopped in Irrel to see the Katzenkopf bunker (Panzerwerk Katzenkopf) which houses the Westwallmuseum.

The Westwallmuseum sign includes a plan of the bunker complex. Below the sign, a view of the town of Irrel in the valley.

The Katzenkopf bunker is the second largest of its kind and the northernmost along the former Siegfried Line which can still be visited.

The Westwall statistics: length, depth, cost, materials used, transportation of material, and manpower.

Germany began planning the construction of the Westwall, better known as the Siegfried Line by the Allies, along its western border in 1936. The line stretched from Kleve on the border to the Netherlands to Weil am Rhein on the border to Switzerland. More than 22,000 forts, bunkers, and pillboxes were planned along the 630 km (390 miles) line. From 1937 to 1939 two bunkers were built in Irrel: the Katzenkopf and the Nimsberg. Constructed on hills opposite each other with Irrel lying in the valley below, they guarded the main road from Cologne to the city of Luxembourg.

Following World War II, during the French occupation, the above-ground section of the bunker was blown up and the remains were bulldozed into a heap. In 1976 the volunteer fire department of Irrel began excavation of the site and restoration and preservation of the bunker. To date, the members of the fire department have worked 75,000 hours voluntarily on the site. Work is still being done inside the bunker during the winter months when the museum is closed to visitors.

Opened to visitors in 1979 the fortification is a B-Werke, the only accessible in Germany, with exterior walls of 2-meter thick reinforced concrete (B neu). Originally it had been planned with a B construction thickness of 1.5 meters. Three levels are accessible to visitors on Sundays and public holidays from April until the beginning of October.

Our guided tour began on the outside where our guide Mr. Geisen explained the strategic location of the Katzenkopf and the Nimsberg bunkersOn the upright concrete slab which remains of the former roof is a memorial for the 4,000 dead and missing soldiers of the 39th Fusilier-Regiment of Dusseldorf.

Our guide stressed that the bunker and museum are not meant to glorify the Nazi cause. The motto of the site is:

Once an instrument of war, today a reminder for peace.
Panzerwerk Katzenkopf. Einst Werkzeug des Krieges, heute Mahnung zum Frieden.

The artillery and infantry watch-turrets which can be seen on top of the bunker were used for the all-round observation. The bunker itself and its immediate area could be defended by several firing positions.

After showing us the watch-turrets on the outside our guide took us inside the bunker. Our tour had been arranged by appointment, the ticket office at the entrance was not manned, and our guide was the only responsible person at the location. Therefore as a precaution, he locked us in. This was more of a safety measure for persons using the hiking paths which pass by the bunker. An unlocked door might invite unwanted guests who would inadvertently be locked in at the end of our tour. Following this explanation, Mr. Geisen began telling us about the workings of the complex which housed a crew of 84 men on 4 floors.

Troop quarters with folding table and chairs as well as bunk beds which could be folded up against the wall for space.

The two upper floors were originally divided into 45 rooms of various sizes. They included troop quarters, lavatories, ammunition and gunnery rooms, canteen, kitchen, cold storage chamber, telephone control and radio station, guard rooms, and a first-aid station which was outfitted to perform any type of operation needed.

Kitchen sink with the original Villeroy & Boch tiles.

Electricity was produced by two diesel-engine generators for heating and lighting. Electric motors were also used for the ventilation system.

On the fourth floor, the lowest level, are two large galleries totaling 138 meters in length. Photographs and weapons of the period line the walls of these tunnels. One leads a room with a water pump installed over a 180-meter deep well and the other to the remote gun-turret.

A wartime scene is displayed where the tunnel work was discontinued.

At the end of the tunnel which leads to the room with the water pump, one can see where work had been interrupted. Due to the early outbreak of World War II, the construction of a tunnel between the two bunkers in Irrel as well as an elevator shaft between the tunnel and a railroad tunnel below was not finished. The elevator shaft would have been used to transport provisions into the bunkers and soldiers in and out of them without being seen.

The atmosphere in the bunker was a cool 10° C (50° F) and very damp.  Coming back up the four flights of stairs from the lowest level to the entrance, we were relieved to be back on the outside. We’d been in the bunker less than two hours. We’d felt the dampness and were able to imagine the cramped quarters as our group of 18 gathered in a room outfitted for 18 men. With the bed frames down there was standing room only. We saw photos of the streets of Irrel where nearly every house had been seriously damaged or destroyed. We can only hope to never have to live under similar conditions. The members of the Freiwillige Feuerwehr Irrel have succeeded in turning an instrument of war into a reminder for peace.

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

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A Visit to the Kreisarchiv Bitburg-Prüm in Bitburg, Germany

On Friday I took another one of those wonderful excursions with my genealogy society luxracines. I’d been looking forward to this trip for a long time.

In the morning we visited the District Archive of Bitburg-Prüm or Kreisarchiv Bitburg-Prüm in the city of Bitburg where we were greeted by Tabea SKUBSKI, the district archivist.

Tabea SKUBSKI, Kreisarchivarin

She presented the archive to us with great enthusiasm. Inaugurated on 19 April 2007 it is run full-time by Tabea SKUBSKI and her colleague Gaby THOMASER.

It is a joint archive for the Eifelkreis Bitburg-Prüm, the five Verbandsgemeinden (Arzfeld, Bitburger Land, Prüm, Speicher, and Südeifel), as well as the city of Bitburg. Eifelkreis Bitburg-Prüm is the district in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany. A Verbandsgemeinde is a low-level administrative unit typically composed of a small group of villages or towns.

Previously found in Koblenz, the original records of the municipalities of this district were returned to the district archive and are in very good condition. For an annual fee of 15 euros, permission is granted to take photographs of the records without flash. It is advised to use gloves and/or sanitize hands before and after handling records. Gloves and a hand sanitizer are found in the reading room where beverages and food are not allowed. The only writing utensils allowed are pencils. First-time users are required to fill out an application form for the use of the archive and another permission form for photography.

Mrs. SKUBSKI explained the archival content, the geographical boundaries, opening hours, and use and handling of the records before taking us behind the scenes into the actual archival storage area where specific climatic conditions are regulated to best suit the preservation of the records.

Enough time remained after the presentation to browse through the registers, reference material provided, and even to do some serious record searches.

Many Luxembourgers have family roots in the Eifel as it was once part of Luxembourg. In 1815 as a compensation for damages suffered by the French this area became part of Germany (darker green area in the map below).

By Spanish_Inquisition (LuxembourgPartitionsMap_english.jpg) [GFDL or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons
My main interest is the civil registers of the towns in this region. They are of great importance to my family history research as my maternal grandfather came from Ernzen, Germany. The registers available to the public are available from about 1798 for births, marriages, and deaths. Due to privacy laws, the BMD records are accessible only up to a certain year: for births older than 110 years, marriages older than 80 years and deaths older than 30 years.

After filling out the required forms I asked for the last Bollendorf birth register which would include the year 1906 when my maternal grandfather Nicolas WILDINGER was born in Ernzen. The village of Ernzen had their own records only until 1854 and then it was included in the registers of Bollendorf. Unfortunately, this register had already been requested by someone else in our group. However, on a closer perusal of the list of BMD registers for the Standesämter (civil registration offices) showed that Bollendorf births are only available at the archive up to 1900. Several years before the 110 years cutoff for births have not yet been deposited with the archive as they are included in a register which ends after the cutoff.

I’d come well prepared and had a list of more records I wanted to access. I decided to go to the bottom of the list and check on the earliest birth record. I requested the Ernzen birth register (1799-1825) and photographed the entries for two 3rd-great-grandmothers: Elisabeth WELTER 1807 and Catarine SCHRAMEN 1812. I was a bit stumped when I couldn’t find Hubert WEIMANN’s 1805 birth in Ernzen. Either I was too excited and missed it or I have the year and/or place of birth wrong.

Then I asked the archivist to pull the next Ernzen birth register (1826-1854) which is huge. Seeing my surprise she said it is one of the largest books in the archive. In it, I found my great-great-grandparents Bernard WILDINGER 1838 and Maria WEIMANN 1839.

My last request was for the Mettendorf birth register which would include the years 1842-1843 and was given the 1834-1850 book (below). In it, I found the 1843 birth record of Mathias PÖPPELREUTER (as spelled in the record, later spelled PÖPPELREITER) and the 1842 birth record of his wife Magdalena WAGNER.

Geburtsregister Burgermeisterei Mettendorf 1834-1850

Time flew and it was time to take a short walk to the restaurant we had reserved. After a leisurely lunch in the heart of Bitburg, we gathered for an official group photograph.

luxracines members who participated in this field trip.

Following a short walk through the beautiful pedestrian zone, we continued our trip to Irrel to visit a World War II bunker.

Photos by Rob Deltgen used with permission.

To be continued…

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

Luxracines on Tour in Belgium and France

Luxracines, my genealogy society in Luxembourg, organized a field trip to the State Archives in Arlon, Belgium, and the archives of the Cercle Généalogique du Pays de Longwy in Mont-Saint-Martin, France, yesterday.

We departed from Luxembourg by bus for the Archives de l’État in Arlon in the Province of Luxembourg, Belgium. Greeted by the director of the archives, Mr. Michel TRIGALET, we were served coffee and cookies while he gave us an overview.

Luxracines members having coffee while Mr. Michel TRIGALET explains the workings of the archives of Arlon

He explained how the archives were busy preparing to move the 18 kilometers of documents found in the present building as well as more kept in storage in different locations for a move into the new annex they are building. They have a small team of five persons and part-time personnel will be coming in to help. After completion of the new building, all collections will be moved there. They will have about 32 kilometers of archives in one place. The present home of the archives will be renovated to allow for better storage and preservation of the archives.

Conference by Mr. TRIGALET was held in the reading room.

Following our short coffee break, Mr. TRIGALET took us to the reading room where he held a conference on the separation of the two Luxembourg(s). Instead of a slide presentation, Mr. TRIGALET had pulled records from the archives, laid them out on the two large tables, using them to supplement his presentation while explaining the intricacies of the historical period and showing us documents and maps relating to the subject.

By Spanish_Inquisition (LuxembourgPartitionsMap_english.jpg), via Wikimedia Commons

Over time the borders of the Luxembourg went through various changes as seen in the above map. Although familiar with the events of the times, I did not know the effect it had on the countries involved or the people and the records they produced. Have you wondered why records are found in a specific archive and not where you would assume them to be?

The archives have records which pertain to Luxembourg but are kept in Arlon as they are included in collections which could not be separated. The history of Luxembourg explains the reason for this.

The Duchy of Luxembourg was annexed to France as a part of the département of Forêts (Forest Department) in 1795 during the French Revolution.

Luxembourg was liberated from French rule under the Treaty of Paris in 1814, following the defeat of Napoleon. The dark green area on the map (above), a part of the Duchy of Luxembourg, went to Prussia. At the Congress of Vienna in 1815 the Duchy became a Grand Duchy. The House of Orange received all of the Low Countries: Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg. The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg was made up of the dark pink and the blue area on the map and came under the rule of Guillaume I (William I) of the Kingdom of Netherlands.

Following the Belgian Revolution of September 1830, most of the area was administered by the Belgian authorities while the capital, Luxembourg City, remained under Dutch control. A large part of the area around today’s western border of Luxembourg was administered by the two governments during the period 1831-1839. In 1833 a convention was concluded which simplified the lives of the people under the double rule.

Following the Treaty of London in 1839 which recognized the independence of the Kingdom of Belgium and Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, the partition between the two countries was established using mainly two criteria: linguistics and military reasons. All French-speaking territories went to Belgium. The Arlon region although German-speaking was given to neutral Belgium to remove the Athus-Arlon road which joined the road leading to Brussels from Arlon from the influence of the German Confederation.

Ledger with the entries for the border markers

The boundaries were vague and more precise limitations were set in 1843. Landmarks were set and the inventory of these can be found in the archives in Arlon.

Entry for marker No. 168 which mentions the road to Arlon

These historical events led to inventories being made of the archives of Luxembourg and Belgium in preparation for moving them to the country of origin. The archivists worked on the inventories from 1840 to 1847 with the Luxembourg side taking more time as 1. the main archives of the times had been kept in Luxembourg and in Maastricht and 2. the number of archivists had decreased with the partition of the two countries.

The repatriation of archives was made more difficult by the fact that the collections of some institutions could not be separated as entries had been made in chronological order instead of by place (for ex. military and mortgage). This is one of the reasons Luxembourg researchers should consult the State Archives in Arlon when searching for information on their ancestors who were in the military or owned land during the time period before this final partition of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.

Register of men who served in the military
Register with entries of land owned by Jean Limpach, a farmer from Bascharage, and Jean-Pierre Michel, a mason from Pétange

Repatriation continues even today as archivists are finding documents in their vast collections and return them to their country of origin. One example is this book of atlases for the Canton of Arlon from 1808. It was in such a bad condition that it had to be completely taken apart and restored. The double-sided cadastre plans now fill a box instead of being in book form (see box on the back table in the group photo below).

Members of Luxracines examining the material used during the conference

Following the conference, Mr. Trigalet took us into the area not normally open to the public.

The area of the archives which is normally off limits to the public. Packing boxes and containers are being filled in preparation for the move to the new premises.

He proudly showed us the oldest document in the archives, a charter of the Orval Abbey from 1163.

Opening up the charter of the Orval Abbey from 1163.
Charter of the Orval Abbey from 1163.

After a wonderful lunch at De Bouches à Oreilles Restaurant, we were back on the bus for a very short ride to the archives of the Cercle Généalogique du Pays de Longwy in Mont-Saint-Martin, France. We were received by their president Bernard BARTHELEMY and vice-president Aimé TARNUS, as well as, a few members eager to serve us. They have published an amazing amount of family books for the towns in the Longwy district which Luxracines has acquired for its library in Walferdange.

Members of Luxracines who participated in the field trip with several members of the Cercle Généalogique du Pays de Longwy including their president Bernard BARTHELEMY and vice-president Aimé TARNUS.

Our little trip which took us through three European countries was very enjoyable. It was a fascinating day with other genealogists, persons interested in the two Luxembourg(s) as it concerns their family and/or town histories.

I would like to thank Rob Deltgen, president of Luxracines, for sharing his photos and allowing me to use them.

© 2017, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

A Family Book for Echternach

Rob DELTGEN, president of luxracines a.s.b.l. has announced the publication of the family book of ECHTERNACH by Thomas WEBERS (in German). Period 1796-1923, 5,862 families, 31,120 births, 751 pages.

Finally, researchers will have a family book for the commune of Echternach. For the longest time Echternach was the second largest town in Luxembourg. Even in the 1960s it had more hotel beds than Luxembourg City. No town in Luxembourg has a richer history.

1964-09-036-echternach
1964 – The Denzelt in Echternach during the visit of Charlotte, Grand Duchess of Luxembourg and King Olav V of Norway. Photo credit: Fred R. Dempsey (1936-1974).

Thomas WEBERS, an experienced author of numerous Luxembourgish and German family books, has embarked on this very extensive work and has mastered it with diligence and endurance.

Without the participation and support of the municipality of Echternach, this publication would not have been possible.

Please find below, the announcement made in German by Rob DELTGEN.

Ankündigung:

Familienbuch der Gemeinde Echternach

Echternach
Neuerscheinung Anfang März lieferbar

Familienbuch der Gemeinde ECHTERNACH
(1796–1923)

Autor: Thomas WEBERS

Herausgeber:
Gemeinde Echternach und luxracines asbl
5.862 Familien, 31.120 Geburten, 15.265 Todesfälle
751 Seiten
Vorverkauf 59 Euro (bis 28. Februar)
Ladenpreis ab 1. März: 69 Euro
Versand: Porto 15 € Inland, 25 € Ausland
Bitte angeben ob Versand oder SelbstabholerÜberweisung auf unser Bankkonto
luxracines.lu asbl
IBAN: LU97 1111 2992 8237 0000
BIC CCPLLULL

Abholbar bei der Buchpräsentation in Echternach (Termin wird mitgeteilt)
oder in unserem Lokal in Walferdingen während der Öffnungszeiten

Liebe Familienforscher,

Endlich liegt uns das Ortsfamilienbuch der Gemeinde ECHTERNACH vor. Diese Ortschaft war lange die zweitgrößte Ortschaft des Landes und noch in den sechziger Jahren besaß Echternach mehr Hotelbetten als die Hauptstadt Luxemburg. Es gibt keine Ortschaft in Luxemburg, die reicher an Geschichte ist. Funde aus der Stein- und Römerzeit belegen dies.

Thomas WEBERS, routinierter Autor zahlreicher Luxemburger und Deutscher Familienbücher, hat sich an diese doch sehr umfangreiche Arbeit herangewagt und sie mit Fleiß und Ausdauer bewältigt. Nicht immer war es für Thomas einfach, die Namen der Orte korrekt wiederzugeben. Wie schwer ist es für einen deutschen Forscher zu wissen, dass z.B. die in der Urkunde bezeichnete Ortschaft Siebenbrunnen identisch ist mit Septfontaines. Wir haben versucht die Orte-Datei soweit wie möglich zu berichtigen. Mein Dank geht hier auch an unsere fleißige Sekretärin Christiane OTH-DIEDERICH, welche mit großer Kompetenz vieles korrigiert hat.

Ohne die Beteiligung und Unterstützung der Gemeinde Echternach wäre diese Publikation nicht möglich gewesen. Dieses Buch ermöglicht nicht nur der Gemeinde die Originaldokumente zu schonen, denn jede Fotokopie schädigt die Tinte, sondern darüber hinaus ermöglicht dies den Unerfahrenen im Lesen der Akten, welche ja größtenteils in der alten deutschen Schreibweise, Spitzschrift genannt, verfasst sind, an exakte Daten zu kommen.

Wir danken der Gemeindeführung für die Zusammenarbeit.

Rob DELTGEN
Präsident von luxracines a.s.b.l.

bestwishescathy1© 2017, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

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A 303-Year-Old Marriage Record Found for My 7th Great-Grandparents

Last week I became curious about my “German” ancestors actually being Luxembourgers. I had finally found a map which helped me with the historical boundaries of the country I live in.

My maternal grandfather was born in 1906 in Mettendorf, Germany, and came to live in Luxembourg in July 1914, the month the First World War began. I have avoided seriously researching his line for nearly a quarter of a century. Last year I began writing about his parents, paternal grandparents, maternal grandparents, and 4 sets of great-grandparents.

Now that I have access to the family books of the towns his ancestors lived in at the library of my genealogy society, I am revisiting what I have and what I need to locate. I knew that the towns were just across the border of Luxembourg to Germany but was not aware of exactly when this area belonged to the Duchy of Luxembourg. Surprisingly, this week, I learned the records I have been avoiding researching are actually at my fingertips.

The Church Records for Echternach

While inputting data from the family books I noticed that the compiler of the Ernzen book included annotations concerning the marriage records of certain couples being found in the church records of Echternach. These records are online at FamilySearch.

I spent hours adding birth, marriage, and death records to this German branch of the family. I have not even scratched the surface. I will be busy for weeks, maybe months.

I want to have all information inputted before I do any more in-depth posts on my 4th great-grandparents and each generation back. But I couldn’t wait to share this wonderful discovery!

A 303-Year-Old Marriage Record Found for My 7th Great-Grandparents

Marriage records in Luxembourg have always been my favorite source for information. They were the first and sometimes the only records I obtained for ancestors in this country. Some habits cannot be broken. The first thing I did when I realized the records for the towns of Ernzen and Ferschweiler were located in Echternach for religious events which took place before the end of the French Revolution (1789-1799) was to check for marriages.

echternachchurchcover
Title page of the Echternach church records of marriage from 1706
1713marriagerecordernzen
1713 Marriage Entry in Church Records of Echternach

Dabam Dimissoriales honesti Joannis Adami
Mayers ex Ernzen relicto legitimo filio
Joanni in ordine ad matrimonium contra=
hendu in honesti Adami Dietzen ex
Esseling relicta legitima filia Elisabetha

I gave the certificate to the honorable Johann Adam
Meyers from Ernzen’s surviving legitimate son
Johann in order to contract marriage
to the honorable Adam Dietzen from
Eßlingen’s surviving legitimate daughter Elisabetha

These five lines written in Latin give interesting information. The fathers of the bride and groom were both deceased in 1713. The bride Elisabetha DIETZEN’s father was from Eßlingen while the groom Johann MEYERS’ father was from Ernzen.

Elisabetha and Johann were married on Monday, 27 November 1713. One has to go back to the previous page to see that the marriage took place in November and leaf back to page 22 of the register to see that the year the marriage took place was 1713.

This is, so far, the oldest marriage record I’ve found for the “German” branch of my family tree. A branch which I have disregarded for too long.

Three hundred and three years ago this month my 7th great-grandparents married and their nuptials were recorded in the church records of the very same town my husband and I married in and live today.

Source:
Luxembourg, registres paroissiaux, 1601-1948 (images), FamilySearch (original records at Luxembourg National Archives, Plateau du Saint-Esprit, Luxembourg), Echternach > Mariages, décès 1706-1778 > image 17 of 293. 1713 Marriage Dimissoriale, left page, first entry. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1951-32399-12662-32?cc=2037955 : accessed 12 November 2016).

bestwishescathy1

© 2016, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

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7 Top Suggestions from my Readers

logo_klengThe JNGH 2016, an international meeting of friends of genealogy and local history took place in Leudelange, Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, on Sunday, the 16th of October 2016. I represented the only genealogy blog in Luxembourg with Opening Doors in Brick Walls.

odibwlogo2016I wrote in Preparations and Afterthoughts on JNGH 2016 that neither my presence nor the interest in blogs and blogging drew the attention I had hoped. I asked my readers what I could do better next time. They were very forthcoming with their compliments and recommendations, mainly due to their own experience.

7 Top Suggestions from my Readers

1. If you don’t have extras, borrow two more laptops and screens. Run the presentation in German on one and in French on the other.

2. Explain the value of reading and of creating a blog.

3. Show how blogging has helped you in your research, i.e. having your information organized in one place, making connections with others of the same interest, etc.

4. Print out a sample post, maybe an introduction, in all your languages.

5. Include the languages you speak on the calling cards the next time you have them printed.

6. Draw the visitors’ attention to your table, i.e. balloons, flowers, candy.

7. Don’t be shy.

I’m taking these to heart and will implement them the next time I participate in this kind of exhibition. My inexperience and not having attended other genealogy events of this kind did not help. I believe shyness on my part may have also been a factor as noted in #7.

Here are the comments made by my readers (here and on Facebook) who kindly let me know I did a good job and coached me on how to make a better presentation at an international genealogy event.

Seems as though you did an excellent job of putting together your “booth”.  Suggestion: (not necessary, but just an idea) next time, borrow two more laptop and screens. Put one in German and one in French. (Of course, you would still have the one in English) Love your tree. ~ Luella, 3C1R, genealogist (Facebook)

Are you trying to encourage people to do more ancestry research or blogging, or both. Maybe you can put something together showing how blogging has helped you in your research, i.e. having your information organized in one place, making connections with others of the same interest, etc. I love all of your articles. ~ Ute (Facebook)

Cathy, I enjoyed your post, and it was quite interesting to learn that there are no bloggers in Luxembourg [there are no other genealogy bloggers], hard to believe. But, you are the first! Maybe next year, you could print out a sample post, maybe an introduction, in all your languages. Oh, I adore your calling card, I hope people picked them up, also next time you get them printed, put the languages on. Sorry about my suggestions. I hope you noticed an increase of hits on your blog. ~ Barbara Poole of Life From The Roots

1. I hope your presentation went well. As for suggestions, are there any Luxembourg FB groups? I know you are active on FB, so you’ve no doubt explored this avenue. Do you get any views from people in Luxembourg? Do you think it’s a language issue or just that people aren’t aware of blogging in general?
2. Well, until I started my own blog, I had NO idea what a blog really was or that there were so many genealogy blogs out there. So hang in there! Once people read your blog, they will see the value in reading and creating a blog. ~ Amy Cohen of Brotmanblog: A Family Journey

Maybe something like flowers or balloons on your table, something eye-catching next time would help draw attention to your table. Oh, and candy! I think you did great for the first time. Good luck with your next presentation! ~ Laura Mattingly of The Old Trunk in the Attic

Don’t be shy, Cathy! Your preparations were VERY professional although you don’t intend to make money out of your hobby! I very much love the design of your blogname, calling card and the tree. Until next year you will have worked on all the suggestions from your commentators and you’ll see, the visitors will come. To point out your language skills is a great idea! ~ Karen Feldbusch of Vorfahrensucher

I enjoyed reading this post, and seeing some of the links too, to see the venue photographs. Every place has its first genealogy blogger. You set the bar high for people to follow in your footsteps! ~Janice Webster Brown of Cow Hampshire

It looks and reads like you had a polished set up (nicely done on the logo, by the way). Perhaps your biggest asset is that you’re willing to ask and meditate on how you can better attract others to genealogy blogging. Good luck! ~ Michael Dyer of Family Sleuther

If you are interested in seeing what the other exhibitors presented, please visit Luxracines’ album titled Leudelange Journée Nationale de Généalogie 2016 with photos taken by Patrick Koster.

A special thank you to everyone who helped me out.

bestwishescathy1

2016, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

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Preparations and Afterthoughts on JNGH 2016

logo_klengThe JNGH 2016, an international meeting of friends of genealogy and local history in Leudelange, Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, was on my calendar last Sunday.

The day began quite early for me since it’s a 45 minutes drive to Leudelange. I had to be there at 8:30 a.m. to set up my table representing my blog. My husband took the time to drop me off and pick me up in the evening. I was a bit nervous and driving myself would have had me out of my comfort zone.

After hooking up my laptop and second monitor and hanging up my sign and family tree, I had time for Luxracines business. As treasurer of the association, I made the rounds with Christiane, our secretary, to welcome the participants and hand out free breakfast coupons. The coupons for a cup of coffee with a croissant went over well last year and the tradition was continued by Luxracines this year.

Preparations for JNGH 2016

I attended the JNGH 2014 as a visitor and to the JNGH 2015 as a member of Luxracines helping out at their booth. I wrote about this last year in my posodibwlogo2016t Working a Genealogy Stand at JNGH 2015, A First for Me! This year was completely new to me as I had a table all to myself, representing the only genealogy blog written in Luxembourg. If there are others “Made in Luxembourg” I would like to know about them.

visitingcardDuring the summer I designed a logo for my blog and used it on visiting cards I printed up on linen paper. I placed a QR code with a link to my blog on the back of the cards. Genealogy is my hobby, not a business. I didn’t see the necessity of paying for having a logo designed and cards printed up.

I prepared my first slide presentation using LibreOffice Impress, part of the free office suite program. I rarely use MS Word or Excel and haven’t seen the necessity of updating MS Office 2003. A simple presentation on how to start a genealogy blog was all I needed. I included French and German text annotations to the screenshots for creating a blog on WordPress.com. One slide showed how the dashboard looks in English, French, and German using side by side images. Simple explanations of posts, pages, comments, tools, appearance, media, and the menu were given in English. As I said, this was my first slide presentation and there are definitely things which can be improved on it.

distressedNot having any kind of printed material or posters, I transferred my logo to canvas (at right) using a distressed technique I learned about on Delia Creates. I’ve made a few of these since reading her posts in 2010 and have given them away as gifts. Delia posted an updated tutorial for distressed canvas in May 2011.

I had library duty last Wednesday and our president offered to print up a poster-sized family tree for my booth on the library’s plotter. My genealogy program does fan charts – full, half and quarter circles but not those nice family trees everyone envies. A few years ago I made one using Inkscape and Family Tree Art Tutorial by Jessica of Cutesy Crafts. Luckily I hadn’t deleted the file when cleaning up my laptop.

familytreeI like the way it turned out since, at the time, I put a lot of hours into placing all the names on the tree. But if I’d have known it was going to be of used I would have gone in and added a few of the recently found ancestors and framed it with a nice border.

How was my day?

Most visitors were from Luxembourg and the surrounding area. Beginners were seeking help on how to get started with their genealogy research. People who were more advanced in their research visited the stands with family and history books which could be looked through or even bought on the spot.

Christine K. from the National Library of Luxembourg’s stand came over to talk to me. She reads my blog and especially likes my Old Photographs Saved From Trash Can posts. Thank you very much! She found my blog by googling an ancestor’s name.

Julie Ann Jochum comes every year from Iowa to Luxembourg to represent Building Bridges with René Daubenfeld. She speaks only English and while things were a bit quiet she stopped by to talk to me. She had a question about Luxembourg research which probably would have even a more advanced genealogist stumped. Where can I find the birth record of an ancestor born in Spanish Luxembourg with the surname Spaniol? Without the name of a town this would mean searching through church records of all towns in Luxembourg. But where were the borders of Luxembourg when the Spanish had possession of the county? If anyone knows the answer please get in touch. Julie would love to be able to say she has an ancestor from Luxembourg.

leudelange1Several friends also dropped by but there were no visitors interested in blogging. On the way home my husband and I talked about what could be done about this.

People who do not know me may think I speak only English since my blog is in English. We agreed that it might be a good idea to make three slide presentations in English, French, and German. Translating each post on the blog into French and/or German is not doable. To work around this I added translation buttons on the right widget of my blog last year. My husband suggested putting up a sign next year and adding a notice to my blog that I speak Luxembourgish, German, and French.

I’ve been thinking about putting together a few “books” with the content of my blog in pdf form. Perhaps they could be printed and placed on exhibit for people to leaf through. What else could be done to draw more attention to genealogy blogs in Luxembourg?

bestwishescathy1

2016, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

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JNGH 2016 – An International Genealogy Meet

logo_klengThe JNGH 2016, an international meeting for genealogy and local history in Leudelange, Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, was on my calendar yesterday. JNGH is the abbreviation for the French version of the event name:

  • Journée Nationale de Généalogie et histoire locale
  • Nationaler Tag der Genealogie und Lokalgeschichte
  • National Day of Genealogy and Local History

JNGH 2016 was organized by my genealogy association, Luxracines, under the patronage of the Ministry of Culture and the commune of Leudelange with the participation of the National Archives of Luxembourg and the National Library of Luxembourg.

Participants: (flyer)

International
Internet Genealogy (recherches en Belgique et France)

Germany
Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Saarländische Familienkunde
GENPLUS_win (BERWE Gisbert)
Verein für Landeskunde im Saarland e. V.
Vereinigung für die Heimatkunde im Landkreis Saarlouis e.V.
Westdeutsche Gesellschaft für Familienkunde e.V. – Trier
Gruppen Familien-und Wappenkunde

Belgium
GENIWAL Généalogie Informatique en Wallonie
Cercle Genealogique SCGD GELUX
SCGD-Namur (GENAM)
WALLONIA asbl Arlon Marche Florenville

France
Ass. généalogique de Hambach-Sarreguemines
Cercle Généalogique du Pays de la Nied
Cercle Généalogique Yutz 3 Frontières
Cercle Généalogique de Longwy

Luxembourg
Archives Nationales de Luxembourg
Bibliothèque Nationale de Luxembourg
Building Bridges (René Daubenfeld and Julie Ann Jochum)
Cercle Culturel et Historique de Leudelange
Comité Alstad
Commune de Leudelange
Claude Bettendroffer
Rob Deltgen (deltgen.com)
Hesper Geschichtsfrënn
Tun Jacoby (carnifex.lu)
Kayser – Vanolst
Luxracines.lu
Cathy Meder-Dempsey (Opening Doors in Brick Walls)
Christiane Oth-Diederich
Jean Thoma

Books (Luxemburgensia and Postcards)
Edouard Jegen
Jeanne Schoellen

Restaurant/Catering
Members of the Jugendhaus Leudelingen cartered to the exhibitors and guests during the day.

Presentations
Gisbert BERWE: Das Genealogie-Programm Gen-Plus (The Genealogy Program Gen-Plus)
John FELLER: Unsere Vor-, Haus- und Familiennamen – Ihre Herkunft und Bedeutung (Origins and Meanings of First, House, and Family Names)
Paul ZIMMER: Latein in den Kirchenbüchern korrekt lesen (Reading Latin Correctly in Church Records)
René DAUBENFELD: Auswanderung nach Amerika (Emigration to America)

The event, free and open to the public, began at 10 a.m. and lasted until 5 p.m. when the Éierewäin was offered to the participants by the commune of Leudelange. Éierewäin, Ehrenwein in German, is honorary wine in English.

ehrenwein1Our president Rob Deltgen giving his speech at the Éierewäin

ehrenwein2Yours truly listening to Rob’s speech.

cateringThe caterers, members of the Jugendhaus Leudelingen

christianeandcathyChristiane and Cathy at their tables

Next year the event may need a new name as “international” better describes the participation.

Tomorrow I’ll share how I prepared for the day.

bestwishescathy1

2016, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

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Behind the Scenes at Luxracines

Be still my impatient genealogy heart….

logo_klengMy new duties as treasurer and member of the board of Luxracines have kept me busy this summer.

Last year my genealogy association Luxracines bought a very large collection of German family books from Peter Daus of Wittlich, Germany. On 30 September 2015, we moved the library from Wittlich to a temporary storage area in Luxembourg.

Daus BiblioThe permanent location of Luxracines‘ new locale was not yet available. The Commune of Walferdange had agreed to provide a rent-free location which was to be repainted before we could furnish it and move in our new collection of books.

luxracinesfront
Luxracines Club House (Vereinslokal)

The day the keys to our new locale were given to our president Rob Deltgen finally came. We held our first committee meeting there on June 14. There were a few tables and chairs but the rooms were otherwise bare. Plans were made for obtaining estimates and buying equipment, etc.

By mid-July lockers, computers, and bookshelves had been purchased. Locks were put on the doors to the three rooms we are using. A work plan was drawn up for July 19, 22, 26 and 27 to assemble the lockers for the conference room, the bookshelves for the library, and to set up the computers and printer in the computer room.

The conference room (below) will be shared with the ladies who run the child care center located on the first floor. As it is open in the mornings, Luxracines is only allowed to use the locale in the afternoons or when the center is closed.

conferenceroomThe books were transported from temporary storage to the basement of our building. On July 27 over a dozen members, including some spouses, came in to help carry the heavy boxes filled with books from the basement to the 2nd floor. Due to lack of space, all of the books were placed in the bookshelves as they came out of the boxes.

luxracinesentryOn August 3 several members came in to remove black marks on the floor, clean up and get rid of empty boxes, and hang posters on the empty walls of the computer and conference rooms. We wanted to be ready for our first official visitor the next day. Sara Bamberg of the Luxemburger Wort, Luxembourg’s daily newspaper, was coming to do an interview for an article on Luxracines and our new library.

2016-08-09 Peter Daus visitOn August 9 Peter Daus visited (above) and brought along more books and genealogical material he no longer needed (on the table). This particular item (below) caught my eye.

FamilySearch CD-RomAs more donations of books are expected from other members we bought more bookshelves and set them up in the computer room on August 17 (below). This will likely contain mostly Luxemburgensia. This term is used for all books and media published in Luxembourg, written by Luxembourgish authors, and/or about Luxembourg.

computerroombookshelvesOn August 18 Sara Bamberg’s article “Genealogy per Mouse Click” was published in the Luxemburger Wort. It was good advertisement for our club as many new members subscribed in the days following the piece.

2016-08-04 articlePeter Daus visited again on August 20 and 31 bringing more books and two NAS drives for our computer set-up.

2016-08-04 luxracines computer2016-08-27computer On August 27 we began sorting through the books and re-arranging them in the bookshelves.

beginningsortingAn afternoon’s work and we had A-C alphabetized, arranged in 1 1/2 bookshelves, and entered into an Excel document. It was similar to working one of those sliding tiles puzzles.

slidingtiles1On August 31 we continued our work. Two persons sorted out all the books by letters of the alphabetic, our secretary worked on the Excel document inputting the books from German towns beginning with D through H, while I alphabetized the books from D through P.

Things were busy that day as other workers were in the building including a firm that installed alarms, smoke detectors, and fire extinguishers.

luxracinesfireprotectionBy the end of the day, we had four bookshelves completely organized and inventoried and another four bookshelves sorted and ready for inventory.

2016-08-31AtoI2016-08-31JtoP 2016-08-31QtoZOn Saturday afternoon, September 3, we finished sorting of the German family books from R through Z and put some order in the remaining books. In the weeks to come, we will complete the inventory of the family books and begin to work out a system for the rest of the miscellaneous books.

slidingtiles3We will begin the printing unique call numbers for each book for easier access by our patrons as soon as the inventory is completed. And, the sliding tiles puzzle will finally be complete.

The driving force behind this project has been our president Rob Deltgen. Without his leadership, the committee, other members of the club and even spouses of some of the members would not have been as organized as we were to set up the library over the summer months when many people are usually off on vacation.

An official opening is in the planning. Luxracines Club House (Vereinslokal) will open its doors to members and the public on Saturdays from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. during the month of September.

bestwishescathy1

© 2016, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

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Luxracines on Tour – A Visit to Bastogne, Belgium

logo_klengTwenty members of Luxracines, my genealogy association in Luxembourg, had a very enjoyable although cold and windy day visiting the town of Bastogne, Belgium, this past Saturday.

1964-09-021 BastogneBastogne, Baaschtnech in Luxembourgish, lies a stone’s throw from the Luxembourg border. In 1964 my first visit to Bastogne, at the age of 6, was to see the Mardasson Memorial, a monument honoring the memory of American soldiers wounded or killed during World War II’s Battle of the Bulge.

People visit Bastogne for the military as well as the cultural history of the area. While there are several military sites and museums, there are other sites worth visiting which have been around since earlier times such as the Church of Saint-Pierre (as early as 12th century) and the Gate of Trier (14th century).

As Luxracines members are genealogists and interested in all historical aspects, our visit to Bastogne took us to the Piconrue Museum housed in an old abbey. The museum invites visitors “on a journey to the heart of the Ardennes to explore the region’s culture through its rich tangible and intangible heritage.

The primary objective of the Piconrue Museum is the protection and conservation of objects and documents threatened by theft and neglect as well as oral legacy of memories, prayers, gestures, songs and legends of the region.

expoTheme of the exhibition, The Ages of Life – Birth, Life and Death in the Ardennes Region, takes the visitor back in time to the 1850 to 1950 period. The rites of passage of society from “the cradle to the grave” in the rural area of the Ardennes and Luxembourg were deeply marked by the Catholic faith as seen throughout the collection of items showcased.

cradlegravetinyThe museum director Sebastien PIERRE walked us through the exhibit giving interesting insight into the times and the stages in the lives of the inhabitants: Baptism, school days, Communion, military service, marriage, home life, work, social activities, to the inevitable – Death. Throughout the exhibit the visitor is reminded of the past and the many changes which have come during the postwar period. The people and culture of the Ardennes region have entered a modern time but their memories of days gone by live on.

muralThe exhibit begins with an introduction to the theme. A mural with photographs from today and yesterday of young to old resembles a family tree.schooltinyThe years at school and…

playtiny…at play were and are an important part of the development of our children.

communiontinyThe Catholic Church played an significant role in the children’s lives. From Baptism to Communion to Confirmation.

tradetinyAdolescence was a time of growing, learning trades, and discovering the opposite sex….

marriagetiny….in preparation for marriage or, in the case of some children, priesthood or convent life.

socialtinyFor those who married life continued with raising a family, work inside and outside the home, and social activities. deathtinyAnd in the end came old age and death.

The exhibit allows the visitor to pause and reflect on the good and the bad of the times as compared to today. For example, girls and boys were often separated in school and guided in their future rolls by the toys they were given or activities they were allowed to participate in. The roll of women and men was greatly influenced by society and the church and this has changed a great deal in the last decades.

We were not rushed through the tour of the museum and the impression it left on me has me planning to return as there was a deeper layer to it – the memories of the people and the heirlooms they shared make this collection all the more meaningful.

luxracinesgroupbastogne2016
Courtesy of Rob Deltgen

Our planned visit of the Church of Saint-Pierre had to be cancelled. Early in the morning a children’s musical group was practicing in the church and, after our visit to the museum, a funeral mass was being held. We therefore continued on to the Restaurant Wagon Léo where we had a wonderful lunch before returning home to Luxembourg.

leoIn 1946 following World War II a Bastogne farmer Léopold BERTHOLET and his wife bought a tram wagon and transformed it into a diner with a dozen places. Léo served pommes frites made from Bintje potatoes, the only good potato for french fries. The family enterprise has become a true institution in Bastogne. In 1950 he added a wooden annex to increase the number of seats to 42. For the last 70 years and three generations the Restaurant LEO has continued to expand for the comfort of its clients and now seats 250 and includes a bistro and hotel.

More impressions of our visit were shared here by our President Rob Deltgen

bestwishescathy1

© 2016, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.