I’d planned on writing about my 5th great-grandparents Jean MAJERUS (1766-1852) and Margretha BREGER (1767-1851) and their four known children.
When I wrote about their son Jean Baptiste MAJERUS (1797-1868) and his wife Catharina CORNELY (1794-1871) in January 2018 I had dropped rough citations in the notes of his children and grandchildren for miscellaneous records I’d found. I’ve spent hours adding these to the correct individuals while making notes in the Research Manager of Ancestral Quest, my genealogy software, to check for more records.
I got carried away down in a rabbit hole as I tried to round up Jean Baptiste’s siblings’ children’s marriage records in order to learn when his three siblings died. Normally I would use the Tables Décennales (ten-year lists of births, marriages, and deaths) to quickly search for a name and date. However, the MAJERUS families in Strassen used the same first names for their children (over and over) and I was looking up multiple records before I found what I was looking for.
As I viewed each I ended up copying the citation and adding the event to the correct individual. I’m glad I took the time to go through the motions of inputting, citing, and formulating items to be added to the research manager. I now have a clearer picture of several generations of descendants of Jean MAJERUS and Margretha BREGER.
Still, I realized I’m not ready for the planned post. I want to have everything in place before I begin to write about Jean and Margretha. Instead of the planned post, I’m sharing these wonderful photos my husband took last week.
When he arrived at the farm he asked some men working there if any of them were the owner. They pointed to a car pulling up and said the driver was the owner. My husband explained to him that I had recently learned some of my ancestors lived on the farm in the 1700s. He asked permission to take some pictures of the farm and the owner kindly agreed.
I hoped you’ve enjoyed visiting the farm my 7th great-grandparents Jean MAJERUS and Elisabeth AMBROSI (aka DITGES) and my 6th great-grandfather Jean MAJERUS lived and worked on during the 18th century.
Finding an index to the church records for Luxembourg City helped add several generations to my 5th great-grandmother Margretha BREGER‘s branch of the family tree. I was so excited and motivated that I began looking for a way to find more information on her husband Jean MAJERUS whose parentage is was unknown.
Who were the parents of Jean MAJERUS born between 1765 and 1773 in Luxembourg or France? When and where was he actually born?
Keys: Known Facts
The following records were found for Jean MAJERUS and included some information which may help with the research questions.
• Birth records of four children born in 17971, 17992, 18013, and 18064 included the father’s signature showing he was literate and could write. His occupation was listed as drapier or clothier on the first and as fileur de laine or wool weaver on the last three. His age was only found on one birth record, in 1806 age 33 years.
• Census records from 18435, 18466, 18477, 18498, and 18519 included the place of birth for Jean. In 1843 he was 80 years old and born in Luxembourg. In 1846 he was 82 years old and born in Boulé. In 1847 he was 85 years old and born in Bouvigne, France. In 1849 he was 86 years old and born in Boulé, France. In 1851 he was 86 years and 6 months old and born in Felz (Fels or Larochette). In all of these, he was without an occupation which is not surprising considering his age.
• Death record from 185210 shows he was 87 years old (born about 1765) and born in Felz (Fels or Larochette). He was the widower of Margaretha BRECKER. The information was given by a grandson who would have only known his grandfather’s birthplace by word of mouth.
Keys: Place of Birth
From the above records, Jean’s place of birth was seen as being either Boulé in France or Larochette (Felz or Fels) in Luxembourg. Boulé is not a place name in France. However, Boulay which is pronounced the same lies in the Moselle department in northeastern France. His age fell in the time range 1765-1773.
A Door: A Possible Match
Last year when I gathered the above records, I located a baptismal record for a child named Jean MAJERUS born in 1769 in Felz in the parish of Nommern.11
On 21 April 1769 Joannes was baptized, the son of Jean MAJERUS, blacksmith, and his wife Anna Catharina, a couple living in Feltz. The godfather was Joannes HANSEN from Feltz and the godmother was Catharina GILLEN, the wife of Nicolai GILLEN of Scharftenhoft (sic, Scherfenhof). [rough translation]
This record fell within the date range. No marriage was found for this couple in Luxembourg. I consulted the family book of Nommern12 and found they were included in the book with only this child; no marriage date and no parents. This would suggest they may have only been living in the Feltz (as seen in the record, today Fels in German and Larochette in French) and the Nommern area at the time the child was born.
The residence of the godmother and her husband was spelled Scherferhof in the book which is in pdf form and easily searchable. I checked for other entries for the GILLEN couple and found the wife was listed as Maria Catherina MAJERUS when she was named godmother of a child in 1783 (page 283, family #896, child #5). There was no entry for them as a couple, only entries in which one or the other was a godparent.
The baptismal record of Joannes MAJERUS with godmother Maria Catherina MAJERUS, wife of Nicolas GILLEN, cannot be proven to be a record for my Jean MAJERUS as there is not enough information.
A Key: Was Boulé meant to be Boulay?
When the census was taken in 1846 and 1849, Jean MAJERUS and his wife were the only persons in the household. One of them must have given information about their ages and places of birth. It was on these two census sheets that Boulé was given as Jean’s birthplace. In 1849 it specified Boulé was in France. Searching for this town did not turn up any exact hits. I tried other spellings as é sounds the same as ait, ais, and ay and found Boulay-Moselle in the Moselle department in northeastern France, not far from Luxembourg.
A Door: Geneanet
I did a broad search for MAJERUS in Boulay on Geneanet, a genealogy site used mainly by European users to share their GEDCOM files. Four trees and a marriage record abstract were found.
There is no farm called Schressenhoff in the parish of Medernach. Could this be Scherfenhof? All fours trees had this couple, Jean MAJERUS and Catherine ALBERT who married on 17 August 1767 in Boulay. Three of the trees included children, two sons, Jean born 2 June 1766 and Barthélémy born and died in 1772.
A Door: Archives Moselle
The above-abstracted information for the 1767 marriage of the MAJERUS-ALBERT couple would have to be confirmed by consulting the parish records of Boulay on the Archives Moselle site.
These are the general conditions for reuse of images of public information held by the Departmental Archives of the Moselle: The departmental council of the Moselle has not deliberated on the establishment of licenses in case of reuse of public information it publishes on the site http://www.archives57.com. As a result, the reuse of the digitized archival images disseminated by this site is free (sections L. 321-1 and L. 323-1 of the Code of relations between the public and the administration).
After reviewing the conditions for use of the images I did searches for the birth record of the child Jean and for the marriage record of the MAJERUS-ALBERT couple.
A Key: 1766 Birth/Baptismal Record
Jean was born on 2 June 1766 as the natural son of Catherine ALBERT. The record did not give the name of the father.13 In the margin of the church register, children were listed with their baptismal name and their father’s surname or in the case of illegitimate children, with their given name and the phrase a natural child of followed by the mother’s name.
Could this illegitimate child be my 5th great-grandfather Jean MAJERUS? The time period and place of birth fit.
A Key: 1767 Marriage Record
Was Catherine ALBERT, the mother of little Jean, the same woman who married Jean MAJERUS on 17 August 1767 in Boulay as seen in the trees?
Three banns were read in Boulay and one in Medernach
Groom: Jean MAJERUS, the underaged son of the deceased Jean MAJERUS and (his widow) Elisabeth AMBROS, farmers at Schrefsen Hof in the parish of Medernach
Bride: Anne Catherine ALBERT, the of age daughter of Jean ALBERT, cordonnier (shoemaker), and Louise BECK of the parish of Boulay
The dispense for the two banns in Medernach was allowed by Jean Philippe the Archbishop of Trier
Consent of Nicolas GILLEN, a farmer at Schreffenhoff and guardian of Jean MAJERUS
After the bride and groom were joined in marriage they declared having had Jean, the natural son of Catherine ALBERT, born 2 June 1766 and baptized the 3rd of the same month, before their marriage. The son was declared a legitimate child of the couple through this marriage.
Four witnesses were present, all relatives of the bride and from Boulay. Her father, a brother-in-law, and two maternal uncles. None of the groom’s family were present.
The bride declared she could not write and signed with her mark. The groom, witnesses, and priest signed.
The information found in the marriage record confirmed Jean, the natural son of Catherine ALBERT, was the son of Jean MAJERUS and Anne Catherine ALBERT and was legitimized with their marriage.
The years between 1766 and 1784
Following the birth of young Jean in 1766 and the marriage of Jean MAJERUS and Anne Catherine ALBERT in 1767, the couple appears to have moved to Larochette in Luxembourg before 1769. In Larochette (Feltz) they had a son Joannes in 1769 whose godmother was Catharina GILLEN, wife of Nicolas GILLEN, a farmer on Scherfenhof. This same Nicolas GILLEN had been the guardian of the father of the child in 1767 when he married. This would suggest a close family relationship between Jean MAJERUS and Catharina MAJERUS, wife of Nicolas GILLEN.
By 1772 Jean and Anne Catherine were back in her hometown as she gave birth to son Barthélémy on 25 February 1772. He died on 5 March 1772. His parents were living in Boulay at the time. His surname was spelled MACHERIUS.15
On 2 January 1784, Anne Catherine ALBERT died in Boulay. She was the widow of Jean MACHERI (sic, a variation of MAJERUS).16 This would mean her husband died between 1772 and 1784. I checked the death index for 1780-1790; he was not listed. For the years 1772-1780, there is no index and all records would need to be searched to find his death record – if he died in Boulay.
Have the research questions been answered?
Who were the parents of Jean MAJERUS born between 1765 and 1773 in Luxembourg or France? When and where was he actually born?
It is not known if Jean born in 1766 and Joannes born in 1769 were both living at the time of their mother’s death in 1784. They would have been 18 and 15 years old. As my Jean MAJERUS or his wife gave his place of birth on the census as being in Boulé (sic, Boulay), France, I have come to the conclusion he would have been the son born in 1766 in Boulay.
Jean born 2 June 1766 to a single mother, Anne Catherine ALBERT, was legitimized when his parents Jean MAJERUS and Anne Catherine ALBERT married on 17 August 1767 when Jean became Jean MAJERUS. The grandparents of little Jean were named in his parents’ marriage record: Jean MAJERUS and Elisabeth AMBROS as well as Jean ALBERT and Louise BECK. The ALBERT and BECK lines now have placeholders for several generations with RED tags to indicate research needs to be done to prove these names.
Keys and doors made it happen but also a place called Scherfenhof
I am convinced finding Scherfenhof mentioned in the 1769 baptismal record in the Nommern parish and in the 1767 marriage record in Boulay, France, was not a coincidence. They must be connected.
Jean MAJERUS deceased before 1767 and Elisabeth AMBROS will not be as easy to research however their being a married couple from Scherfenhof is an important clue.
Scherfenhof, known as Schäerfenhaff in Luxembourgish, is today part of the commune of Heffingen and lies between Larochette (Fels) and Christnach off of C.R. 118. Location of Scherfenhof (see the middle of the map).
Thomas Webers who compiled the Nommern family book using the church and civil records for the period 1637-1923 appears to have recorded all families found in the registers during this period. He also compiled family books for Medernach, Larochette, and Heffingen – all towns in the immediate area of Scherfenhof. I searched all of them for Scherfenhof and for the family names MAJERUS and GILLEN.
I noted miscellaneous instances of Scherfenhof (with various spelling variations) being found in GEDCOM files of members of Luxracines.
Death and burial information were found for Nicholas GILLEN17 and Elisabeth AMBROSI (spelling as seen on the death entry).18 Both Nicholas and Elisabeth died on Scherfenhof in 1787.
By following the timeline of the entries found in the family books, the GEDCOMs, and miscellaneous records, a chronological history of Scherfenhof came to light and is in part supported by the 1766 census.19
A Peter MAJERUS was living on Scherfenhof as early as 1722. He was the father of Conrad MAJERUS who married twice in Echternach, in 174320 and 1745.21 Conrad’s not remaining on Scherfenhof could mean he was not the oldest child.
I believe Jean MAJERUS, husband of Elisabeth AMBROSI (also seen as DITGES in 1776) and father of the Jean MAJERUS who married in France, was likely the oldest child of Peter. As the oldest child he would have taken over the farm and homeplace and following his death, it would have gone to his oldest child. This would explain the presence of his widow and several children on the 1766 census listing above. Nicolas GILEN (sic, GILLEN) was the head of household in the 1766 listing for Scherfenhof. Also in the household were Peter MAJERUS, Elisabeth MAJERUS, Catherine GILEN, Angelique MAJERUS, Catherine SCHMITTEN, and Conrad FABER.
How are these people related? Anna Catharina MAJERUS was likely the oldest child of Jean MAJERUS and his wife Elisabeth AMBROSI (DITGES). She married Michel FABER before 1756 and they had a son Conrad FABER born about 1756. Between 1756 and 1766 Michel FABER died and his widow married Nicholas GILLEN. They would have a son Michel GILLEN but only after the 1766 census. The firstborn son of Anna Catharina, Conrad FABER would take over Scherfenhof after the death of Nicholas GILLEN in 1787.
The other children of Jean and Elisabeth were Conrad, Jean, Peter, and Angelique. Conrad, possibly named after his uncle, had married in Waldbillig in 1765. He was listed as the of age son of Jean MAJERUS of Scherfenhof.22 Son Jean was likely living in Boulay, France, as his son was born there in 1766. Peter was the son of Jean MAJERUS and Elisabeth DITGES per his 1776 marriage record.23 Angelique was very likely a daughter of the same couple. No marriage has been found for her.
This rounds up the individuals I found who likely made up the family group of the deceased Jean MAJERUS and his wife Elisabeth AMBROSI (DITGES). No baptismal records were found in the Nommern parish for these children but there was the fragile connection to Scherfenhof as seen in their marriage records, the 1766 census, and baptisms where Nicholas GILLEN, manager of Scherfenhof, was the godfather of several of the grandchildren.