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. 

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.

I Hit the Jackpot with Four Births and a Death!

or How to use the (online) Municipal Archives in Metz, France

Things have been a lot busier than normal for me since the New Year. I haven’t had the time to go to my WordPress Reader and read the blogs I usually follow. Luckily most of my favorite bloggers use Facebook, Google, and Twitter and I see them as I go through my feeds. A few days ago I had a bit of time and began reading the most recent (unread) posts on my Reader.

I follow Laura Aanenson’s where2look4ancestors. In her post Catherine Brun; My 6th Great-Grandmother she mentioned her favorite French website to go to and wrote:

Then a funny thing happened.

The Moselle Departmental web site was completely revamped!

This is a site I’ve used and it’s bookmarked on my Firefox toolbar as 57, the number the department is known by. Less than two months ago I consulted the site when working on  52 Ancestors: #47 The SCHLOESSER-CONSBRÜCK Family. I wrote:

It wasn’t very sporting of my 3rd great-grandfather Johann Joseph SCHLOESSER to spend the last years of his life in Metz, France. It’s not fair he chose to work, live, marry, have children, and die in Metz. You ask why?

While most French departmental archives I’ve consulted have civil records online, at this time, the Archives départementales de la Moselle doesn’t. They have the Tables décennales from 1792 to 1952 (10 years lists of births, marriages, deaths) and the pre-1792 parish records online but no vital records.

There may be a light at the end of the tunnel as an article I found online suggests they were to go online before 2015. On the Archives de la Moselle homepage there is a message which translates: Gradually, the microfilms of vital records will be unavailable from 17 November 2015. Users are advised to inquire before planning a trip to the archives. None online and may not be available in the archives? Hopefully this means they are pulling the microfilms to make digital copies for the internet. I’ve subscribed to their newsletter so I won’t miss the big announcement when they go online. I promise to be a good sport until they do!

So far I haven’t received any newsletters but thanks to Laura’s post I went to the site for a quick look around. I clicked on: Recherches > Archives en Ligne > Registres Parroissiaux > Concernant Metz et ses nombreuses paroisses. I was surprised to find a notice about the municipal and departmental archives being complementary and only the images of the departmental archives were on the 57 site.

For the municipal archives of the city of Metz I followed their link which took me to the Ville de Metz – Archives Municipals. I had to jump through more than a few hoops before I got to the page which took me to the records I was interested in. The site is entirely in French (I did not find a Translate button) so I’d like to share with you how I found my way to the records.

How to get from A to B on the City of Metz’s Archives Municipals Site

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Click 1
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Click 2
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Click 3
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Click 4
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Click 5 to open parish & civil records and ten years lists.
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Click 6 to open the registers of the civil records.
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Click 7 to choose the civil records for Metz.
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Click 8: scroll down to correct year and click Etat-civil 1840-1842.
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Click 9 until….

This is where it starts getting interesting. Metz was divided into 5 sections so there are 5 batches of birth, marriage and death records for each year. I was searching for Jean Joseph SCHLOESSER’s death record. I knew from the 10 years lists (Tables Décennale) that he died on 24 November 1841 in Metz but not which part of Metz. We can leave out a few clicks here (I checked section 1, then section 2 and would have continued through 5).

Note: If at this point you realize you are not in the right time period and you use your back button or their Page précédente button to go back to the Plan de classement des Registres you will have to repeat clicks 5 through 8 as the list collapses when you go back.

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Click 10 to see the death register for section 2 of Metz for the year 1841.
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Click 11 and 12

Click 11: Most registers have an index at the end. The site is not slow but it’s faster to click on 1 (see image above) and choose the last or second to last image to get to the end of the book. Click 12: After choosing the image number you have to click on 2 (see image), an “eye” to view the image.

metz12smThis is a screenshot of the the 2nd to last page (zoomed and pixelated*) in the register of deaths for 1841. The index shows my 3rd great-grandfather’s death record is number 194. Since he died the end of November I chose a page I thought would be in the area and then went forward/backwards until I found record number 194. This is similar to using images on FamilySearch (before their new feature was added) where you had to “play the numbers” to get to the page you were looking for.

*Due to the terms and conditions of the archives a license (free) must be obtained for non-commercial online use of images. I have pixelated parts of the index page to be on the safe side since I have not applied for a license.

After finding my 3rd great-grandfather’s death record I went on to search for the birth records of his four daughters who were born in section 2 of Metz in 1836, 1838, 1840, and 1841.

Now the work begins. I’ve picked out the most important items in the records (to be sure they are for the correct individuals) but a full transcriptions of each might turn up some little known clue. On item I found very interesting was the name of the street the family lived on was mentioned in each record. I’ve already taken a virtual visit of the street, rue Saulnerie in Metz, courtesy of a French blogger, Marc de Metz.

Un grand merci à Laura Aanenson for mentioning her favorite French website where I found the information about the Municipal Archives of Metz!

© 2016 Cathy Meder-Dempsey

A Visit to the Landeshauptarchiv in Koblenz

logo_klengLast Thursday I participated in another interesting visit organized by my genealogy society Luxracines. This time we went to Koblenz, Germany, and visited the Rhineland Archives (Landeshauptarchivs).

signOur group of 23 genealogists was divided into two groups for a guided tour of the premises. Currently the Landeshauptarchivs preserves 56 kilometers of documents. The tour began in an area normally not accessible to non-authorized persons.

Archives

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The new addition to the archives, at right, allows very little daylight to enter the area where the archives are kept.
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Entrance to the CO2 storeroom.

Our group was first shown the storeroom with the most precious books and documents. It is climate controlled and equipped with a CO2 extinguishing system. Old documents and books have several enemies. As light accelerates the aging of parchment, vellum, and paper, the building in which the archives reside has only very small windows. The storeroom is kept at a constant temperature as changing temperatures and humidity can also cause damage. The precious treasures in the storeroom are preserved in archival safe boxes or bindings. Anyone who has ever experienced flooding or fire knows water and books do not mix.  If a fire should break out, the storeroom is flooded with CO2 which, by displacing oxygen, smothers the fire.

To protect document surfaces from marks made by oily or sweaty hands our guide used thin cotton gloves while showing us several objects.

She removed a vellum document from the 12th century from its protective sleeve, unfolded it and allowed us to examine the seal hanging from it on a ribbon and make a guess about the purpose of the document and who may have had it drawn up. Usually seals are made of wax – this one was made of lead. It was a lead papal bull on a document drawn up by a pope.

She also showed us the Codex Balduini Trevirensis, a book made in 1341 telling of Henry VII’s expedition to Italy from 1310 to 1313 to obtain a papal imperial coronation. The Codex is best known for the illustrations once found in the front of the book and removed due to their historical importance. Blank pages were added in place of the illustrations which were on exhibition in the Landesarchiv in 2000.

Document Restoration and Bookbinding Department

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Dry sponges and soft brush

I found this part of the tour the most interesting. It began with the first steps in cleaning up paper material. Dry sponges are used like erasers to remove dirt and grime, a soft brush is used to remove dislodged materials before the object is placed in a dusting unit where air is circulated and dust is removed by a suction system.

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Damaged (upper) and restored (lower) documents

Once a document has been cleaned the damage caused over the years needs to be brought to a halt. In the background of the above photo is a document with ragged edges. In the foreground is document that has been filled in where areas where missing. On the damaged document at the top, what looks like dark smears (see arrow on right), are scraps of very lightweight Japanese papers.  They are made from long, strong, flexible fibers that produce a lasting repair. Japanese paper does not discolor or become brittle and is translucent making it suitable to repair text areas in documents.

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Miniature screen

The technique used to repair missing areas on paper documents is similar to paper making. The damaged paper is placed on a screen (miniature at left used for explanation) and lowered into a water bath of the leaf casting machine. Paper or fiber scraps of similar color to the item being repaired are mixed in a blender with water and pumped over the screen. The suction is turned on and the water level recedes and the holes are filled with pulp. The sheet is then slid off of the screen onto a draining area. Covered with a blotter sheet the paper is flipped and covered with another blotter sheet and dried under pressure in a paper press. Blotter sheets are replaced on a daily basis until the document is completely dry. To stiffen and protect the paper it is then treated with a glutenous paste which is applied with a wide short-bristled brush similar to those use when wallpapering.

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Draining area with sheets in process of restoration covered with blotter

Seals attached to documents with ribbons are also restored in this department. After cleaning, they fill the cracked areas with same colored wax, molding it to blend in but without reproducing the missing design. It sounds very simple but from the looks of the work space it is a slow process. Colors need to be matched and seals are hung to dry during each step before continuing the miniscule work.

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Manual bookbinding equipment
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Sample of a bound book with wooden cover

A short demonstration on how books are bound was given. I had recently watched a video on the subject but seeing it in person is even more fascinating, especially for a book lover.

Reading Room

Our next stop was the reading room where patrons are allowed to view the material they are interested in. Everything you bring into the building has to be locked up in a locker near the reception area. Laptops are allowed in the reading room as well as pencil and paper for taking notes. Images of documents can be saved to a flash drive purchased in the reading room.

The documents in the archives are open to persons with a legitimate interest in, for example, academic research of the past or for genealogical and private research. However you cannot drop in and request to see records. If you plan to do research in Koblenz please check out the Rheinland Archives’ very informative website which is unfortunately only in German.  Any document collection you want to view needs to be requested per email at least two weeks in advance. 

Lunch and Afternoon Activities

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Historiensäule

Following our visit to the archives we took a short walk to the Josef-Görres Square (Josef-Görres Platz) which is noted for its 13 meter high history column, Historiensäule, that tells the history of Koblenz.

DSCN2402We had lunch at a restaurant on the square before once again dividing up into two groups. The largest group went on a sightseeing tour of the city fortifications. I joined the group of five who went back to the archives to do research.

We were taken to the back room of the reading room where the microfilm readers are located. All records requested were brought in on a cart and were soon spread out on the table. I had requested birth, marriage, and death records for the towns of Ernzen and Ferschweiler. For the period I was interested in there are no civil records and the church records are housed in Trier in the Catholic archives.

As I couldn’t do research I helped one of the others in my group. He had ordered marriage records from 1900 to 1910 for Welschbillig. It was fun to see his reaction when he found a record he was searching for. As he was not familiar with the handwriting I read the important facts from the documents: names, dates and places of birth, parents’ names and residences, date of marriage, while he inputted them into his computer. The more experienced researcher (in me) cringed at his entering the data without citing the source of each fact. He did note the number of the marriage document and I hope he takes time to add a full citation.

While I was busy helping my new friend, an archive employee reviewed the list of requested material and made a note of microfilm with ten-years lists of births, marriages, and deaths for Ernzen and Ferschweiler and other material that could be ordered in advance if and when I plan on going back.

Our time ran out too soon and we had to meet our bus for the return trip home. As always the trip was well organized and everyone enjoyed a wonderful day of sightseeing and/or research.

© 2015 Cathy Meder-Dempsey

 

A Visit to the Vereinigung für die Heimatkunde im Landkreis Saarlouis e.V.

logo_klengYesterday I participated in another interesting visit organized by my genealogy society Luxracines. This time we went to Saarlouis in Germany and visited the Vereinigung für die Heimatkunde im Landkreis Saarlouis e.V.

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Kreisarchiv im Landratsamt built in 1894-95

Vereinigung für die Heimatkunde im Landkreis Saarlouis e.V., an association formed in 1958, deals with genealogy and history in the district of Saarlouis and surrounding areas. They have several rooms at their disposal in the building of the Kreisarchiv im Landratsamt built in 1894-95.

With a little over 800 members, the association has been publishing a quarterly newsletter “Unsere Heimat” (Our Homeland) since 1976. Members work in groups on general history, archaeology, family history, and new medias with the largest group being that of the genealogists. They correspond and exchange publications with over 60 clubs, archives and libraries at home and abroad (including in France, Luxembourg and USA). Their rich family and local history library, a center for family research in Saarland and beyond, is open to the public during the work week (except Wednesdays) from 2 to 5 in the afternoons.

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Photo used courtesy of Rob Deltgen
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Photo used courtesy of Rob Deltgen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hans Peter KLAUCK and Helmut GREIM welcomed our group of genealogists, gave us an overview of the history of their association, and explanations of the club’s collections and publications.

More than 2500 family books of towns in Saarland and Rheinland-Pfalz, a huge selection of Ortfamilienbücher (family books) of the Banat, and numerous books on local history of the area and beyond are available in the library –  a collection of 15,000 publications. Everything that a genealogist needs for researching and writing about family history.

We were able to spent about an hour browsing through the library, pulling family books of interesting, taking notes or photographing entries of interest in this or that family book.

Our hour of research was quickly over and we were then taken on a guided tour of the city of Saarlouis by Hans Peter KLAUCK. Saarlouis was built as a fortress in 1680 by the French King Louis XIV.

Hans Peter KLAUCK was a fantastic guide with great knowledge and passion for the history of the fortress city constructed by Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban, France’s famous military engineer.

At noon we took a break from our guided tour for lunch in the restaurantKartoffelhaus” (Potato House“) where specialities of the region were found on the menu card.

After lunch we continued our tour of the city by first visiting the Städtischen Museum (local history museum) where Mr. KLAUCK explained the military importance and functions of the buildings in Vauban’s fortress using the 1726 model of Saarlouis (scaled at 1:625 and built in 1980).

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Model of the Saarlouis Fortress ca. 1726 (Scaled at 1:625) in the Städtischen Museum.

Following our museum visit we continued our tour of the city across the Great Market, passing the Saint Louis Church.

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The Ludwigskirche (Saint Louis Church) on the Great Market

It was a coincidence that Roland HENZ, Oberbürgermeister der Kreisstadt Saarlouis, was on the market place as Saarlouis’ volunteer fire department, one of the oldest in Germany, were having their yearly exercise in fire fighting. Mayor HENZ took a moment to greet our group and welcome us to Saarlouis.

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Roland HENZ, Oberbürgermeister der Kreisstadt Saarlouis (left) and our guide Hans Peter HAUCK (right)

We continued our walk through the Old Town, along the Casemates,

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Kasematten (The Casemates)
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Kasematten (The Casemates)

through the German Gate,

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Deutsches Tor (German Gate)

along the Saar River,

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Saar Schleusenbrücke (water gates)

passing the “Ravelin V” park that is currently under construction

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“Ravelin V” park (under construction) with the Protestant Church in the background.

before we were back to our point of departure.

The general concensus of the Luxracines participants regarding our visit with the Vereinigung für die Heimatkunde im Landkreis Saarlouis e.V. and tour of the City of Saarlouis was  ~~ Et war e flotten dag!” It was a great day!

Frenn vum Luxracines, et gif mech freen wan dir mir a klengen Kommentar geift hannerlossen. Merci.

© 2014 Cathy Meder-Dempsey