I found a marriage that could match in Clemency, 28/08/1810, but I can’t access Family Search, it’s probably too busy. You could check yourself later.
I didn’t wait until later and was able to pull up the record she believed was the marriage of Peter SCHMIT and Margaretha WEICKER.
In 1810 on the 28th of August at 8 in the morning Pierre SCHMITT age 31 born in Bertrange the 3 April 1779, a domestic living in the commune of Fingig, the of age son of Pierre SCHMITT and Rose CLEMMENT, a married couple living in the commune of Bertrange…. and a young woman Anne Margaretha WEICKER age 25 born in Hagen the 7 September 1785, a servant living in the same commune of Fingig, the of age daughter of Nicolas WEICKER and Anne Margaretha HARTMANN, a married couple living in the commune of Hagen… all were present and consenting to the marriage for which banns had been read before the entrance of the Clemency civil office.
The paperwork of the bride and groom was presented according to the legal requirements of the time. The bride and groom were declared husband and wife after affirming this was their choice. Four witnesses were present and signed along with the civil officer, the mayor of Clemency. The bride and groom declared not being able to write. The fathers of the bride and groom signed first as seen above.
Five and a half months later, Peter and Margaretha became the parents of their first child Magdalena, my children’s 4th great-grandmother.
One Record Leads to the Next
The marriage record led to the 1785 baptismal record of Anna WEICKERS [sic, Margaretha was not included on this record], daughter of Nicolai WEICKERS and Anna Margaretha HARTMAN. Why didn’t I notice abt. 1795 could not have been her year of birth? She would have been only 16 when her first child was born.
With the names of the parents, I was able to add three generations to the WEICKER line. I had suspected Nicolas WEICKER and Anne Margarethe HARTMANN were the bride’s parents because….
The godmother of Peter SCHMIT and Margaretha WEICKER’s first child Magdalena was Magdalena KÜNSCH from Hohen (or Hagen) in the parish of Sterpenich. Anna Margaretha HARTMANN was the widow of Peter KÜNSCH when she married Nicolas WEICKER. Was Magdalena KÜNSCH an older half-sister of Margaretha WEICKER? Further research may tell.
With the names of three new couples in the family tree, I will be busy finding the records to document them and may even be able to add more ancestral names.
Special thanks to my friend Linda for taking the time to read my posts, give me advice, and for telling me where to find the marriage record of Peter SCHMIT and Anne Margaretha WEICKER. *Linda has helped me out several times already. A Latin Rule You May Not Have Known was the result of one of her tips.
Happy Family History Month to all. Wishing you lots of keys to open the doors in your brick walls.
Sources:  Luxembourg, Registres d’état civil, 1662-1941 (images), FamilySearch (original records at Luxembourg National Archives, Plateau du Saint-Esprit, Luxembourg), Clemency > Naissances, mariages, décès 1804-1805 Naissances 1805-1890 Mariages 1796-1885 > image 1034 of 1491. 1810 Marriage Record (bottom left, top right). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HY-XHPS-511?cc=1709358&wc=9RYD-SP8%3A129628001%2C129815201 : accessed 30 September 2017).  Belgique, Luxembourg, Registres paroissiaux, (images), FamilySearch (original records at België Nationaal Archief, Brussels / Belgium National Archives, Brussels), Paroisse de Sterpenich (Luxembourg) now part of Autelbas, Luxembourg, Belgium > Baptêmes, mariages, sepultures 1779-1793 > Film/DGS 1658890 > Film # 008126375 > Item 8 > image 1106 of 1430. 1785 Baptismal Record (left page, last entry > right page, first entry). (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSVK-Y8VF-9?i=1105&cat=203740 : accessed 1 October 2017).
I love it when I’m speculating about a relationship, searching for records to back it up, and end up finding the one document that brings it all together!
Remember doing jigsaw puzzles as a child? Did you try to connect the pieces even when they didn’t fit? The pieces of my puzzle were all spread out and I was sure they would come together into one picture.
Clara WELTER and Franz ZWANCK are another set of my children’s 5th great-grandparents in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. Clara and Franz lived in the town my husband often visited while growing up. Being the oldest grandchild of Suzanne PEFFER and Fritz KREMER he would spend his summer vacation with his grandparents, running around the little village, and playing with the children there. Little did he know, his friends were most likely distantly related to him as many families have deep roots in the little hamlet.
Moestroff is a village which is on one of our main bike routes when riding north of Echternach and we stopped there to take a few photos this week.
Franz ZWANCK (1750-1820)
Franciscus “Franz” ZWANCK was born about 1750 in Moestroff, commune of Bettendorf, district of Diekirch, Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. His estimated date of birth was calculated from the age at death seen in his death record. I believe he may have been born several years after 1750. He was the son of Pierre ZWANG (d. aft. 1789) and Anne Marie HUSCHET (d. bef. 1789) per Franz’s 1789 marriage record. He died on 3 June 1820 in Moestroff.
Clara WELTER (1766-1826)
Franciscus married Maria Clara WELTER, daughter of Johann WELTER and Anna Maria FELTES, on 26 October 1789 in Bettendorf. Clara, as she was known, was born on 4 July 1766 in Reisdorf, the fifth of seven children. She died on 25 January 1826 in Moestroff.
Franz and Clara’s children
Catherine ZWANK was born on 2 August 1790 and died on 29 March 1852. (more below)
Peter ZWANK § was born on 19 August 1793 in Moestroff and was baptized the same day in Bettendorf. He died at the age of 3 years on 8 September 1796 in Moestroff.
Jacques “Jacob” ZWANK was born on 17 May 1795 and died on 15 February 1858. (more below)
Johann ZWANCK was born on 26 April 1797. He died on 28 February 1832. (more below)
Margreta ZWANG § was born on 22 April 1799 in Moestroff. She lived only eight days dying on 29 April 1799.
Maria ZWANG § was born 26 May 1800 and died on 26 January 1815 at the age of 14 years in Moestroff.
Franciscus ZWANCK § was born on 28 April 1804  and died on 18 July 1804 at the age of nearly three months. Both events took place in Moestroff.
§ is the symbol I use for children who are the end of the line. The additions of Margreta and Maria were only made today. I had found the death record of Maria who died in 1815 and was searching for her birth record when I found Margreta’s birth record. So close in age, I thought they may have been the same person. I continued to search and found the birth record of Maria and the death record of Margaretha proving they were two.
The children who survived to adulthood
Catherine ZWANK was born and baptized on 2 August 1790 in Moestroff. Catherine married Matthias ABENS, son of Théodore ABENS and Susanne HASTERT, on 29 May 1811 in Bettendorf. Matthias was born on 2 January 1785 in Ralingen, Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany. He died on 3 August 1819 in Moestroff. Catherine and Matthias had two children: Christophe (1816-1880) who remained in Moestroff and Anna Maria (1819-aft. 1889) who moved to the Province of Luxembourg in Belgium.
Catherine also married Nicolas WEYLAND, son of Hubert WEYLAND and Marguerite ÖRNTZEN (I believe this name may have later been ERNZEN), on 22 January 1828 in Bettendorf. Nicolas was born on 29 January 1779 in Örntzheim (Nommern). He died on 25 June 1859 in Moestroff. Catherine and Nicolas also had two children: Catharina (1830-1900) who went to live in Paris, France, with her husband and family and Jacques Hubert (1833-aft. 1909) who went to live in the Province of Luxembourg in Belgium with his family.
Catherine died on 29 March 1852 in Moestroff.
UPDATE: My friend Linda, a researcher in Luxembourg, confirmed: Örntzheim (Nommern) is in fact Ernzen, part of Larochette (also called Feels or in Latin Rupe, all meaning -Little-Rock). Larochette was in the parish of Nommern before the French Revolution.
Jacques “Jacob” ZWANK was born on 17 May 1795 in Moestroff and baptized the same day in Bettendorf. Jacques married Maria DAHM, daughter of Pierre “Peter” DAHM and Anne Cathérine KIMMES, on 22 October 1823 in Bettendorf. Maria was born on 10 July 1797 in Moestroff and christened the same day in Bettendorf. Jacob died on 15 February 1858 in Moestroff and Maria died on 28 November 1859 in Moestroff. Their story was told in 52 Ancestors: #39 The ZWANK-DAHM Family of Moestroff. Jacob and Maria’s children remained in Moestroff.
Johann ZWANCK was born on 26 April 1797 in Moestroff. He died on 28 February 1832 in Vianden. Johann married Cathérine HIERTZ, daughter of Jean HIERTZ and Barbe WEYRICH, on 17 January 1826 in Vianden. Cathérine was born on 2 October 1804 in Vianden Her death record has not been located. Johann and Cathérine had four children: Johann (1826-aft. 1886), Jacob (1828-1898), Wilhelm (1828-1832), Agathe (1831-?).
Getting back to the jigsaw puzzle
What I do when I have a genealogy puzzle is to add assumed children with TEMPORARILY ATTACHED typed in at the top of their notes to a set of parents in my database. These parents may already have proven children whose timelines are helpful in determining if I am on the right track. I work through each “child” adding information as it is found. If they end up not being connected I can easily detach the child leaving all of the information in my database. I don’t delete the information because, even if it is not useful to me, it may help someone else with their research.
The puzzle the ZWANG family presented was partly solved in this way. As you can see in the genealogical information above, the family name was seen with several different spellings: ZWANG, ZWANK, and ZWANCK. I had to be careful that all of these spellings were variations of the same name and not another family name.
Before I found the one document that brings it all together! this was what I knew. Pierre ZWANG and Anne Marie HUSCHET may have had at least 4 children. This was speculation on my part. Records were found for a possible son Ludovicus (1748-1776), a possible daughter Irmina Catharina (b. 1750), and sons Franz (b. abt. 1750) and Nicolas (b. 1764). The baptismal records of the first two children DID NOT have the maiden name of the mother – HUSCHET. For Franz, the subject of this post, no baptismal record was found however his marriage record gave the maiden name of his mother as HUSCHET. Nicolas’ baptismal record only had Anne Marie as his mother’s name.
It must be mentioned here that early parish records for Moestroff were found in Reisdorf and later parish records were found in Bettendorf. Unfortunately, there is a period between the two where records are missing. Notably for Bettendorf before 1763.
Further speculation on my part was that Irmina Catharina went by Catharina and married Johann KELSCH on 9 March 1777 in Bettendorf. The marriage record does not list parents. Johann KELSCH was the godfather of Franz’s son Johann in 1797. As no age was listed, this Johann KELSCH could have been either the husband of Catharina ZWANG or her son. I found two researchers who list a date of death for Catharina’s husband. The date was 6 March 1798.
While searching for the death record of Johann KELSCH (I still have not found it!) I found a death record I had not expected to find.
The early civil records for Luxembourg begin in 1796. This is the period in which the Republican Calendar was being used. The date I was searching for, 6 March 1798, would have been 16 Ventôse in the year VI. I found records dated the 3rd and the 20th of the month of Ventôse in the year VI but none in between.
One of the death records for the 3rd included the name KELSCH but it was the name of one of the informants and not the person who had died. The civil servant who was likely not very well educated in French made many spellings errors. They were errors he repeated in other entries and therefore likely how he thought they were written.
The handwriting and the spelling made it difficult to decipher the document, a death record for Pierre ZWANG, the father of Franz ZWANG. The record clearly states Franz was the son of Pierre but the relationship of Johann KELSCH who was the second informant is not given. However, his age was given as 21 which could only mean he was the son of Catharian ZWANG and Johann KELSCH.
From this record, I now know Pierre ZWANG was born about 1728 as his age was 70 years at the time of death on 21 February 1798.
The family name ZWANG is a German word which means force. In the end, I did not need to use force to piece the puzzle together. The pieces fell into place although it did take hours of looking through the Luxembourg records, adding the records to my database, and citing the sources.
Do you have a similar way of solving the problems you run into in your genealogy research? I hope you’ve enjoyed this visit to Moestroff with the ZWANCK-WELTER family.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
Following the conference, Mr. Trigalet took us into the area not normally open to the public.
He proudly showed us the oldest document in the archives, a 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.
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.
Earlier this week I wrote Lëtz Play! Can You Top This? A Marriage Record With 15 Events in which I shared the marriage record of my children’s sixth great-grandfather Jean Baptiste SCHAEFFER (1752-1819). It was a second marriage for both the bride and groom. Jean Baptiste was first married to Catherine SCHAACK (1752-1801). Nicolas SCHAEFFER was their first known child. I doubt he was their first born as they were married 9 February 1777 in Heiderscheid while Nicolas was not born until 14 July 1783 in Merscheid. I’ve found four of his siblings, all born later and in Merscheid, but the search for older siblings is still underway.
Nicolas SCHAEFFER was twenty-six years old when he married the twenty-nine years old Theresia GREISCH on 19 February 1810 in Esch. The bride and the groom were working as day laborers at the time of their marriage. Nicolas was living in Merscheid and Theresia in Eschdorf. The groom and his father and the bride and her mother left their mark on the marriage record.
The marriage took place in Esch, today known as Esch-sur-Sûre in the northwestern part of Luxembourg. It is not to be confused with Esch-sur-Alzette in the southwestern part of the county. Nicolas and Theresia are one of the many sets of fifth great-grandparents in my children’s family tree.
Theresia GREISCH was the first child of Nicolas GREISCH (1759-1803) and Susanne ROLLINGER (abt. 1757-1819). She was born on 24 May 1781 in Eschdorf, ten months after her parents married on 11 July 1780 in Wahl.
Theresia’s place of birth is, as yet, undocumented. She had at least six siblings, five born in Eschdorf, and one in Brattert. Baptismal records have been found for these children. At the time of her marriage, Theresia’s place of birth was given as Eschdorf. When she died the informant gave Wahl as her place of birth. Three census listings were found, each has a different place of birth: Eschdorf, Wahl, and Dellen. For the time being, I will list the date and place of birth found in the 1810 marriage record but will continue to search for a baptismal record to confirm or refute the date and place.
UPDATE (13 June 2017): Linda, a Luxembourg researcher who has helped me out several times during this year’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks series of posts, located the missing baptismal record for Theresia GREISCH in Wahl. She was baptized on 17 April 1781 and was born the previous day.
At the time of their marriage, both Nicolas and Theresia had lost one parent. Catherine SCHAACK, Nicolas’ mother, died on 28 November 1801 in Merscheid while Nicolas GREISCH, Theresia’s father, had died on 21 January 1803 in Eschdorf.
Brothers marry Sisters
Three months after Nicolas and Theresia’s marriage, his brother Jean Pierre married her sister Catharina on 22 May 1810. Catharina was in a family way when the marriage took place as five months later, on 10 October 1810, a son was born. Wouldn’t it be interesting to learn how they met and who knew whom first?
The SCHAEFFER-GREISCH Children
From the different records found I believe the SCHAEFFER-GREISCH couple remained in Eschdorf during their entire married life. All of their children were born in this small town.
Ch 1: Bernard (1811-?) was born on 8 August 1811.
Ch 2: Marguerite (1813-1815) was born on 15 September 1813. She lived less than a year and a half, dying on 16 March 1815. Her mother was pregnant with her third child at the time of Marguerite’s death.
Ch 3: Catherina (1815-1898) was born 14 April 1815. She was my children’s fourth great-grandmother.
Ch 4: Susanne (1818-1863) was born on 31 March 1818. She was a twin.
Ch 5: Marguerithe (1818-1818) was born on 31 March 1818. She was Susanne’s twin and lived only nine days, dying on 9 April 1818.
In 1819 the children Bernard, Catherina and Susanne lost the only grandparents they ever knew. Their maternal grandmother Susanne ROLLINGER died on 15 May 1819 in Eschdorf and their paternal grandfather Jean Baptiste SCHAEFFER died on 22 November 1819 in Bourglinster.
Ch 6: Elisabetha (1821-1882) was born on 4 November 1821.
Ch 7: Catherina (1823-?) was born 7 December 1823.
No trace of the oldest child and only son, Bernard, or the youngest daughter, Catherina, has been found. Of the seven children born to Theresia and Nicolas, only three are known to have survived to adulthood.
Susanne SCHAEFFER, the next oldest daughter, was the next to marry. She married Jean BERTHOLET (1812-1864) on 17 May 1841 in Mecher, Wiltz, Luxembourg.
The youngest of the three living daughters, Elisabetha SCHAEFFER married Thomas JUSTE (1816-1883) on 28 Jan 1843 in Heiderscheid, Wiltz, Luxembourg. 
I had to do a lot of browsing to learn more about Susanne and Elisabetha. With only their marriage records, I wondered where I would be able to find them after the events.
I looked into Elisabetha first. Her husband was from Nothomb, a small village in the commune of Attert, in the Province of Luxembourg in Belgium. At the time of their marriage, he was living in Heiderscheid (Luxembourg). Not finding any immediate trace of them there, I took a chance with the FamilySearch records for the Province of Luxembourg in Belgium. I located birth records for eight children born between 1848-1867 in Parette, a village in the commune of Attert, as well as death records for four children who died in the 1850s. But I still had a large gap between 1843 when they married and 1848 when their first child was born in Belgium.
I then checked for Susanne whose husband was born in Holtz in the commune of Perlé in western Luxembourg near the Belgium border. Jean BERTHOLET was living and working in Béiwen (Bavigne) when they married. Béiwen was in the commune of Mecher in Luxembourg where I found their sad story. Susanne gave birth to at least five daughters. Sadly, the first died before the birth of the second, the second before the third, and the third before the fourth. Then the fifth also died after only three months. Only the fourth daughter, Anna born in 1854 lived. However, the question remains, how long? Susanne died in 1863 and her husband in 1864 leaving Anna an orphan. She may have lived with her uncle Johann MERSCH (who had married her father’s sister) immediately after her father’s death but this is not definite as the child seen on the 1864 census in his household was named Susanne, an 11-year-old servant girl. By 1867 a very young Anna BERTHOLET, 14 years and 2 months, was working as a servant for an unmarried female farmer, Anna Catherine PROBST in Béiwen. No trace has been found of her after 1867.
Once I knew more of each of the daughters I came back to Nicolas and Theresia to see how their lives continued after their daughters married.
On 14 December 1843, a peculiar census was found for Nicolas SCHAEFFER. He was living in Eschdorf which was expected. By this time, his daughter Catherina was well established in Hoscheid with her husband Frederich GRISIUS and their three young sons. Elisabetha had been married less than a year and as mentioned above, missing during this time period. Daughter Susanne, her husband Jean BETHOLET, and their daughter Elisabetha were living in Nicolas’ household. The daughter’s birth record has not been found but her presence was not unexpected as I had found her 1845 death record in the commune of Mecher. Also on the census sheet was Theresia GREISCH, Nicolas’ wife and mother of Susanne, but her name was crossed out. Was she away from home, perhaps visiting with Elisabetha who has not been located?
On 6 December 1846 and on 31 December 1847 Nicolas and Theresia were the only persons in his household in Eschdorf.
On 19 December 1846 Elisabetha and Susanne, both married, were found with their husbands in the BERTHOLET-LINDEN household, Susanne’s parents-in-law, in Bavigne. Each had a daughter.
Theresia GREISCH died on 26 May 1848 in Eschdorf. Her husband Nicolas was not found on the 1851 or 1852 census. He died 10 April 1855 in Eschdorf.
Seven months after her father died, Catherina who was widowed in 1852, remarried. The 40 years old bride married Nicolas WIRTZ, a 22 years old young man, on 30 November 1855 in Hoscheid.
Susanne SCHAEFFER who had been living in Béiwen (Bavigne) died on 25 June 1863. She left a husband and daughter.
Elisabetha SCHAEFFER died on 19 November 1882 in Aubange. She appears to have been visiting with her son, a butcher, who declared the death. It was recorded in the Aubange register as well as the Attert register as this was her normal residence. She left a husband Thomas JUSTE who died the following year on Christmas Day. The four sons who may have continued the JUSTE line have not been researched.
Catherina SCHAEFFER, my children’s ancestress, died on 16 January 1898 in Hoscheiderdickt. at the age of 82 years. She outlived her young second husband who died in 1882 after nearly 27 years of marriage.
I’m glad I took the time to research this family further. Although it was sad to find so many small children’s deaths, it was satisfying to be able to learn more of Catharina’s parents Nicolas and Theresia and her sisters Susanne and Elisabetha.
And now before you leave, I’d like to share a milestone.
Yesterday morning Opening Doors in Brick Walls had a visit from Poland. I don’t know who it was or what they were viewing. The person who visited made my view counter click over from 99,999 to 100,000 views since I started blogging in January 2014. I’d like to thank all my readers, followers, and visitors for making me feel special and helping me to stay motivated to continue writing about my genealogy research. It’s much appreciated.
Mathias GRISIUS married Magdalena SCHAETTER on the 23rd day of the month Pluviôse in the 6th year of the French Republic in Alscheid in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. This date from the French Republican calendar converts to 11 February 1798 on the Gregorian calendar. An easy to use converter can be found on the Pas-de-Calais Archives website.
The French Republican Calendar Months
The Republican calendar begins with the autumn months, the first being Vendémiaire (starting around 22 September) with the name coming from the French word vendange or grape harvest. The next two fall months were Brumaire (brume or mist) and Frimaire (frimas or frost). The winter months were Nivôse (Latin nivosus or snowy), Pluviôse (pluvieux or rainy), and Ventôse (venteux or windy). The spring months were Germinal (germination), Floréal (fleur or flower) and Prairial (prairie or meadow). The summer months were Messidor (Latin messis or harvest), Thermidor (Greek thermon or summer heat), and Fructidor (Latin fructus or fruit).
This little French Republican calendar diversion was not meant to distract attention from my children’s fifth great-grandparents, Mathias and Magdalena.
Mathias, the son of Leonard GRITIUS (1743-1813) and Marie NEIEN (d. bef. 11 February 1798), was born on 10 May 1776 in Ouren, Province de Liege, Belgium. His birth record has not been found. [I’m looking for tips on how to research church records for this period in Belgium.] When he married the marriage record included his date of birth and indicated he was born in the canton of Wiltz. When he died his death record listed Ouren in Luxembourg. Today, if you look on a map, Ouren is located in Belgium at the border triangle of Belgium-Germany-Luxembourg. All of the borders are tangent in the middle of the Our River.
His parents’ names came from his marriage record. At this time, his siblings are unknown.
Magdalena, the daughter of Jean SCHETTERT and Anna Catharina SCHAACK, was born on 26 April 1775 in Grümelscheid, also called Grummelscheid in French and Grëmmelescht in Luxembourgish. The town is today part of the Winseler commune in the canton of Wiltz. Her birth record was found in the Oberwampach church records.
When Things Don’t Want to Fall in Place
While searching for more information on the parents and siblings of Magdalena SCHAETTER, I found a table of baptisms for Oberwampach for 1716 to 1797. It helped to find many baptisms for children with these surname variations: Schutter, Schoettert, Shetter, Schettert and Schaettert. The church records for the entire period for the Oberwampach area will have to be carefully viewed and followed up on as there is some confusion as to the name of Jean SCHETTERT’s wife as seen in several online GEDCOM files. I will have to check the birth, marriage, and death/burial of each person found in the GEDCOM files to determine where and if there is an error.
I became so frustrated with the research on this family that I laid it aside for several weeks, taking a break from research and blogging.
Life After the Wedding
When they married in Alscheid, Mathias was living in Merkholtz, less than 2 km away, and Magdalena and her parents were from the Eschweiler area, about a dozen kilometers from Alscheid.
They spent their married life moving around the northern tip of Luxembourg (the tip of the shoe). On 15 November 1799, they were in Bavigne (Böwen in German and Béiwen in Luxembourgish) when their first child, a son named Wilhelm was born. I have not found this birth record, the information came from his 1824 marriage record.
By the time the next child, a daughter named Elisabeth, joined the family on 11 February 1802 they were living in Goesdorf. As you can see below, the handwriting on this birth record was a challenge. The surname was spelled GREISCH instead of GRISIUS and the record was in German.
They returned to the area of Alscheid for the births of the next three children. Frederich, my children’s 4th great-grandfather, was born on 9 March 1805 and his brother Jean was born on 16 November 1807. Baby Jean died at nearly six months of age on 1 May 1808. Another son, Pierre was born on 5 January 1810. All three of these birth records were written completely by hand and in French. This example of Pierre’s birth was the first in the register for the year 1810.
The family was residing in Schlindermanderscheid when the last three children were born. Margaretha was born on 22 September 1811. Mathias’ father, Leonard GRITIUS, may have been living in Schlindermanderscheid before Mathias and Magdalena brought their family there as this is where his death took place on 30 December 1813. Less than three weeks later another daughter, Catherine was born on 17 January 1814. Anne Marie, the baby of the family, was born on 7 April 1816.
Of the eight children Magdalena gave birth to, seven were living in 1816. Six-year-old Pierre died on 30 September 1816 and Anne Marie died on 21 January 1817 at the age of nine months. This left two sons and three daughters between the ages of three and eighteen.
The oldest son Wilhelm GRISIUS, who was living in Bavigne, married Catherine SCHNEIDER on 28 April 1824 in Mecher. Mathias and Magdalena were living in Heffingen at the time (if I deciphered the place name correctly on the marriage record).
Mathias and Magdalena Settle in Hoscheid
By around 1830 the commune of Hoscheid had become the family’s residence. At first they were living in Hoscheid in the cowherd’s or Kühhirt‘s house where Mathias’ wife Magdalena SCHAETTER died on 1 December 1831. She left Mathias with three daughters and son Frederich still at home. The oldest daughter Elisabetha was two months short of 30 years and still single. She most likely shared household duties with her younger sisters Margaretha (20) and Catherine (17).
At some point, after Magdalena died, the family went to live in der Dickt or in Houschterdéckt, also known in German as Hoscheiderdickt. This was likely between 1833 and 1836 when Mathias’ occupation changed from being a cowherd to working as a day laborer. By 1836 he was 60 years old and probably too old to be working as a cowherd.
The four remaining children were seen marrying in the commune of Hoscheid from 1833 to 1845.
Cathérine Grisius married Michel MILLANG (1811-1875) on 7 September 1836 in Hoscheid. She and her father were living in der Dickt.
Elisabetha Grisius married Adam KLEESEN (1799-1858) on 18 January 1843 in Hoscheid. She and her father were living in der Dickt.
Margaretha Grisius married Jean PEIFFER (1818-1880) on 12 June 1845 in Heffingen. She and her father were living in der Dickt.
Almost six months after the last of the GRISIUS children married they lost their oldest brother Wilhelm who died on 7 December 1845 in Bavigne.
Eleven months later Mathias GRISIUS died at eight in the evening of 27 October 1846 in Hoscheiderdickt at the age of 70. His son-in-law Adam KLEESEN, who had been living in the GRISIUS household in 1843, reported his death.
Elisabetha, the oldest daughter, had only been married four years when she died on 17 March 1847 in Hoscheiderdickt at the age of 45. Like her father, she died in a house called Theis.
Five years later, Frederich GRISIUS, 47 years old and the oldest living child, died on 16 December 1852 in Hoscheiderdickt. He left a wife, seven children, and two sisters, Margaretha and Catherine.
Margaretha died on 11 November 1875 in Heffingen. By this time Catherine was living in Belgium, where her husband died three months earlier on 16 August 1875 in Seraing. Catherine remained in Belgium and died in Flémalle (Wallonie) on 21 September 1887 at the age of 73.
It’s good to be back to researching and blogging but I am even more happy to finally get this family put to bed. Some are not as easy as others. The GRISIUS-SCHAETTER family who lived in the tip of the Luxembourg shoe was one of these.
The JNGH 2016, an international meeting of friends of genealogy and local history in Leudelange, Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, was on my calendar last Sunday.
The day began quite early for me since it’s a 45 minutes drive to Leudelange. I had to be there at 8:30 a.m. to set up my table representing my blog. My husband took the time to drop me off and pick me up in the evening. I was a bit nervous and driving myself would have had me out of my comfort zone.
After hooking up my laptop and second monitor and hanging up my sign and family tree, I had time for Luxracines business. As treasurer of the association, I made the rounds with Christiane, our secretary, to welcome the participants and hand out free breakfast coupons. The coupons for a cup of coffee with a croissant went over well last year and the tradition was continued by Luxracines this year.
Preparations for JNGH 2016
I attended the JNGH 2014 as a visitor and to the JNGH 2015 as a member of Luxracines helping out at their booth. I wrote about this last year in my post Working a Genealogy Stand at JNGH 2015, A First for Me! This year was completely new to me as I had a table all to myself, representing the only genealogy blog written in Luxembourg. If there are others “Made in Luxembourg” I would like to know about them.
During the summer I designed a logo for my blog and used it on visiting cards I printed up on linen paper. I placed a QR code with a link to my blog on the back of the cards. Genealogy is my hobby, not a business. I didn’t see the necessity of paying for having a logo designed and cards printed up.
I prepared my first slide presentation using LibreOffice Impress, part of the free office suite program. I rarely use MS Word or Excel and haven’t seen the necessity of updating MS Office 2003. A simple presentation on how to start a genealogy blog was all I needed. I included French and German text annotations to the screenshots for creating a blog on WordPress.com. One slide showed how the dashboard looks in English, French, and German using side by side images. Simple explanations of posts, pages, comments, tools, appearance, media, and the menu were given in English. As I said, this was my first slide presentation and there are definitely things which can be improved on it.
Not having any kind of printed material or posters, I transferred my logo to canvas (at right) using a distressed technique I learned about on Delia Creates. I’ve made a few of these since reading her posts in 2010 and have given them away as gifts. Delia posted an updated tutorial for distressed canvas in May 2011.
I had library duty last Wednesday and our president offered to print up a poster-sized family tree for my booth on the library’s plotter. My genealogy program does fan charts – full, half and quarter circles but not those nice family trees everyone envies. A few years ago I made one using Inkscape and Family Tree Art Tutorial by Jessica of Cutesy Crafts. Luckily I hadn’t deleted the file when cleaning up my laptop.
I like the way it turned out since, at the time, I put a lot of hours into placing all the names on the tree. But if I’d have known it was going to be of used I would have gone in and added a few of the recently found ancestors and framed it with a nice border.
How was my day?
Most visitors were from Luxembourg and the surrounding area. Beginners were seeking help on how to get started with their genealogy research. People who were more advanced in their research visited the stands with family and history books which could be looked through or even bought on the spot.
Christine K. from the National Library of Luxembourg’s stand came over to talk to me. She reads my blog and especially likes my Old Photographs Saved From Trash Can posts. Thank you very much! She found my blog by googling an ancestor’s name.
Julie Ann Jochum comes every year from Iowa to Luxembourg to represent Building Bridges with René Daubenfeld. She speaks only English and while things were a bit quiet she stopped by to talk to me. She had a question about Luxembourg research which probably would have even a more advanced genealogist stumped. Where can I find the birth record of an ancestor born in Spanish Luxembourg with the surname Spaniol? Without the name of a town this would mean searching through church records of all towns in Luxembourg. But where were the borders of Luxembourg when the Spanish had possession of the county? If anyone knows the answer please get in touch. Julie would love to be able to say she has an ancestor from Luxembourg.
Several friends also dropped by but there were no visitors interested in blogging. On the way home my husband and I talked about what could be done about this.
People who do not know me may think I speak only English since my blog is in English. We agreed that it might be a good idea to make three slide presentations in English, French, and German. Translating each post on the blog into French and/or German is not doable. To work around this I added translation buttons on the right widget of my blog last year. My husband suggested putting up a sign next year and adding a notice to my blog that I speak Luxembourgish, German, and French.
I’ve been thinking about putting together a few “books” with the content of my blog in pdf form. Perhaps they could be printed and placed on exhibit for people to leaf through. What else could be done to draw more attention to genealogy blogs in Luxembourg?
2016, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.
The JNGH 2016, an international meeting for genealogy and local history in Leudelange, Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, was on my calendar yesterday. JNGH is the abbreviation for the French version of the event name:
Journée Nationale de Généalogie et histoire locale
Internet Genealogy (recherches en Belgique et France)
Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Saarländische Familienkunde
GENPLUS_win (BERWE Gisbert)
Verein für Landeskunde im Saarland e. V.
Vereinigung für die Heimatkunde im Landkreis Saarlouis e.V.
Westdeutsche Gesellschaft für Familienkunde e.V. – Trier
Gruppen Familien-und Wappenkunde
Ass. généalogique de Hambach-Sarreguemines
Cercle Généalogique du Pays de la Nied
Cercle Généalogique Yutz 3 Frontières
Cercle Généalogique de Longwy
Archives Nationales de Luxembourg
Bibliothèque Nationale de Luxembourg
Building Bridges (René Daubenfeld and Julie Ann Jochum)
Cercle Culturel et Historique de Leudelange
Commune de Leudelange
Rob Deltgen (deltgen.com)
Tun Jacoby (carnifex.lu)
Kayser – Vanolst
Cathy Meder-Dempsey (Opening Doors in Brick Walls)
Books (Luxemburgensia and Postcards)
Members of the Jugendhaus Leudelingen cartered to the exhibitors and guests during the day.
Gisbert BERWE: Das Genealogie-Programm Gen-Plus (The Genealogy Program Gen-Plus)
John FELLER: Unsere Vor-, Haus- und Familiennamen – Ihre Herkunft und Bedeutung (Origins and Meanings of First, House, and Family Names)
Paul ZIMMER: Latein in den Kirchenbüchern korrekt lesen (Reading Latin Correctly in Church Records)
René DAUBENFELD: Auswanderung nach Amerika (Emigration to America)
The event, free and open to the public, began at 10 a.m. and lasted until 5 p.m. when the Éierewäin was offered to the participants by the commune of Leudelange. Éierewäin, Ehrenwein in German, is honorary wine in English.
Our president Rob Deltgen giving his speech at the Éierewäin
Yours truly listening to Rob’s speech.
The caterers, members of the Jugendhaus Leudelingen
Christiane and Cathy at their tables
Next year the event may need a new name as “international” better describes the participation.
Twenty members of Luxracines, my genealogy association in Luxembourg, had a very enjoyable although cold and windy day visiting the town of Bastogne, Belgium, this past Saturday.
Bastogne, Baaschtnech in Luxembourgish, lies a stone’s throw from the Luxembourg border. In 1964 my first visit to Bastogne, at the age of 6, was to see the Mardasson Memorial, a monument honoring the memory of American soldiers wounded or killed during World War II’s Battle of the Bulge.
People visit Bastogne for the military as well as the cultural history of the area. While there are several military sites and museums, there are other sites worth visiting which have been around since earlier times such as the Church of Saint-Pierre (as early as 12th century) and the Gate of Trier (14th century).
As Luxracines members are genealogists and interested in all historical aspects, our visit to Bastogne took us to the Piconrue Museum housed in an old abbey. The museum invites visitors “on a journey to the heart of the Ardennes to explore the region’s culture through its rich tangible and intangible heritage.”
The primary objective of the Piconrue Museum is the protection and conservation of objects and documents threatened by theft and neglect as well as oral legacy of memories, prayers, gestures, songs and legends of the region.
Theme of the exhibition, The Ages of Life – Birth, Life and Death in the Ardennes Region, takes the visitor back in time to the 1850 to 1950 period. The rites of passage of society from “the cradle to the grave” in the rural area of the Ardennes and Luxembourg were deeply marked by the Catholic faith as seen throughout the collection of items showcased.
The museum director Sebastien PIERRE walked us through the exhibit giving interesting insight into the times and the stages in the lives of the inhabitants: Baptism, school days, Communion, military service, marriage, home life, work, social activities, to the inevitable – Death. Throughout the exhibit the visitor is reminded of the past and the many changes which have come during the postwar period. The people and culture of the Ardennes region have entered a modern time but their memories of days gone by live on.
The exhibit begins with an introduction to the theme. A mural with photographs from today and yesterday of young to old resembles a family tree.The years at school and…
…at play were and are an important part of the development of our children.
The Catholic Church played an significant role in the children’s lives. From Baptism to Communion to Confirmation.
Adolescence was a time of growing, learning trades, and discovering the opposite sex….
….in preparation for marriage or, in the case of some children, priesthood or convent life.
For those who married life continued with raising a family, work inside and outside the home, and social activities. And in the end came old age and death.
The exhibit allows the visitor to pause and reflect on the good and the bad of the times as compared to today. For example, girls and boys were often separated in school and guided in their future rolls by the toys they were given or activities they were allowed to participate in. The roll of women and men was greatly influenced by society and the church and this has changed a great deal in the last decades.
We were not rushed through the tour of the museum and the impression it left on me has me planning to return as there was a deeper layer to it – the memories of the people and the heirlooms they shared make this collection all the more meaningful.
Our planned visit of the Church of Saint-Pierre had to be cancelled. Early in the morning a children’s musical group was practicing in the church and, after our visit to the museum, a funeral mass was being held. We therefore continued on to the Restaurant Wagon Léo where we had a wonderful lunch before returning home to Luxembourg.
In 1946 following World War II a Bastogne farmer Léopold BERTHOLET and his wife bought a tram wagon and transformed it into a diner with a dozen places. Léo served pommes frites made from Bintje potatoes, the only good potato for french fries. The family enterprise has become a true institution in Bastogne. In 1950 he added a wooden annex to increase the number of seats to 42. For the last 70 years and three generations the Restaurant LEO has continued to expand for the comfort of its clients and now seats 250 and includes a bistro and hotel.
More impressions of our visit were shared here by our President Rob Deltgen
Name:Mathias GRISIUS Parents: Léonard GRASGES and Marie GROTIUS or NEIEN Spouse:Magdalena SCHAETTER Parents of Spouse: Johann SCHETTERT and Anne SCHAACK Children: Wilhelm, Elisabetha, Frederich, Margaretha, Cathérine, Anne Marie Whereabouts: Hoscheid-Dickt, Grand Duchy of Luxembourg Relationship to Cathy Meder-Dempsey: husband’s 4th great-grandfather
In order to get a clear picture of the entire family I often do more research into the parents and siblings of the subjects of the post. Rob Deltgen’s database (Deltgen) is a convenient aid even though it does not include full source citations. This is good because it makes me look for the records to confirm his information.
When I find rare errors Rob Deltgen is quick to respond to my corrections. The error I found this time was too complicated to correct with a simple link to a document.
At first glance everything appears to be correct. I was able to find most of the birth and death records for the 6 children of Mathias GRISIUS and Magdalena SCHAETTER. Please ignore the differences in the spelling of the names. Deltgen prefers to use the French spelling of names while I choose to use the names found in the records, usually in German with the German spelling.
Marriage records for children #1, #2, and #3 were found and confirm the names of the parents. Child #6 died young according to the above. I have not found the death record to confirm this. I have not been able to find the birth record of child #5.
Deltgen’s link for child #4 Marguerite GRISSIUS took me to:
The 22 Sep 1811 birth record was found with the name of the child being Margaretha GRISIUS and the parents of the child were a match. I then searched for the 1836 marriage record. I located supporting documentation the bride and groom provided for their marriage. It included a transcript of the bride’s birth record. In search of the marriage record I found the marriage banns – they were for Michel Millang and Catharina GROSSIUS. I could not locate the marriage record and therefore checked for the birth records of the two sons born in 1837 and 1839. These records showed the mother was Catharina GRISIUS – no mention of Margaretha.
The father of the bride, Mathias was living in 1843 when the census was taken. In his household was his daughter Margaretha, his daughter Elisabetha with her husband, and a 6 months old child named Elisabetha GRISIUS. I checked the Deltgen database for this child and found:
I located the 12 Jun 1845 marriage record of Margaretha GRISIUS and Jean PEIFFER. The date of birth of the bride was 22 Sep 1811 and the parents were Mathias GRISIUS and Magdalena SCHAETTER. The same lady who married Michel MILLANG? Did Michel, who died, according to Deltgen, in 1875 in Belgium, divorce Margaretha GRISIUS?
I checked on the death record of Margaretha and found the 11 Nov 1875 death date is correct. The record confirmed her husband Jean PEIFFER was still living. I found his 1880 death record in Ettelbrück and it confirmed he was the widower of Margaretha GRISIUS.
I tried to search the Belgium archives site in hopes of finding the 1875 death record of Michel MILLANG or Margaretha GRISIUS who Deltgen had listed as died 21 Sep 1887 in Flémalle, Belgium. I had no luck and was stuck.
Strange Things Happen
My friend True A. Lewis of NoTe’s To MySeLf… posted a link on Facebook (while I was struggling with this problem), tagged me and wrote “couldn’t help but think of YOU!” Second sight, sixth sense, clairvoyance? It was for a Luxembourgish site I have not used as most information can only be accessed with an annual fee and tokens. A link to Belgium records caught my eye. I clicked and landed on FamilySearch…..why didn’t I think to look there?
The Liège, Belgium Civil Records 1621-1914 are very similar to the Luxembourgish records and browse only. The death record I found for Michel MILLANG using the date and place Deltgen gave shows he was the husband of Cathérine GRISIUS.
I then searched for a GRISIUS lady who died on 21 Sep 1887 in Flémalle, Belgium, and found Cathérine:
She was born in Schlindermanderscheid in the Grand Duchy and was 76 years old at the time of her death. Informants were her son Nicolas (whose birth record was found) and a much younger son Grégoire b. abt. 1855.
To tie up all the loose ends I needed the MILLANG-GRISIUS marriage record. The documentation provided by the bride and groom at the time of their marriage is not normally included with the marriage records. The papers were not necessarily bound in the marriage book. They were loose leaf papers and very often not in any particular order. In this case someone had taken time to make a list of the records. Normally the marriage record would be found after the marriage publication (banns). This was not the case here.
Yesterday I went to the image of the banns (995) and worked my way backwards through pages and pages of supporting documentation for other marriages until I came to image 937:
The marriage record was for Michel MILLANG and Margaretha GRISIUS, born on 22 Sep 1811 in Schlindermanderscheid.
“You’d think they’d get that part right!” ~ Amy Johnson Crow
Information on the bride’s parents had been filled out in the groom’s section and had to be struck out. The correct information was added in the margin with a # and signed by the witnesses.
But there was another annotation in the lower left margin:
On 5 April 1879 a judgmentof the District Courtin Diekirch changed the name of the bride on the marriage record from “Marguerithe GRISSIUS” to “Cathérine GRITIUS”. A copy of the record was then sent (expédié) but where?
This took place after the death of Michel MILLANG in 1875 and before Cathérine’s death in 1887. Possibly following Michel’s death his widow and children had to produce evidence of the marriage for estate settlement, the error in the record was discovered and had to be rectified by the courts.
Forty-two years after Michel and Cathérine were married their marriage record was corrected. The date of birth of the bride, unfortunately, was not mentioned in the rectification. The children of Mathias GRISIUS and Magdalena SCHAETTER should include:
Child #4 Margaretha GRISIUS md. Jean PEIFFER
Child #5 Cathérine GRISIUS md. Michel MILLANG.
Only one question remains: Was the child Anne Cathérine born on 17 January 1814 the same child as Cathérine who married Michel?
I shared this post with Rob Delten before it was published and received his permission to use the screenshots. He has already made the necessary changes in his database and they will show up at the time of his next upload of the updated gedcom. Thank you Rob for your hard work, True for your six sense, and Amy for the prompt!!
Are you curious about what your immigrant ancestors had to endure to come to America? Last May 24th I got a glimpse of what it was like. I participated in a day trip with my genealogy society Luxracines to Antwerp (Belgium) with a visit of the Red Star Line Museum. As always the trip was well planned with enjoyable transportation. Everyone had a good time visiting the sights in the city of Antwerp before going on the guided tour scheduled at the museum.
We were divided up into three groups, two guides spoke French and the third English. Of course I chose to go with the English group. Our storyteller Lien Vloeberghs gave us a wonderfully informative tour of the museum. I mentioned to her that I wanted to write a blog post about the visit and she offered to send me the museum’s press kit and answer any questions I would have.
The Red Star Line Museum tells the story of millions of people and the quest for happiness. It is a story we can all relate to. ~ Red Star Line Museum press kit
The Red Star Line Museum on the Rijnkaai in Antwerp, Belgium, opened it’s doors to the public in September 2013. The museum is in the restored departure warehouses for third-class passengers. It is full of remarkable exhibits documenting the history of the shipping line and the more than two million passengers who left through this port between 1873 and 1934. Did one of your ancestors arrive in America on a ship whose name ended with land? Then the ship was most likely one of the Red Star Line fleet.
Between 1815 and 1940, about 60 million migrants left Europe in hope of a better life.
Visitors follow in the footsteps of emigrants and experience their enthusiasm and anxiety, their tension and uncertainty; they experience the farewells and obstacles as well as the adventure, the discoveries and the hope for a new life on the other side of the ocean. ~ Red Star Line Museum press kit
In the late 19th and early 20th century the Red Star Line provided direct passage across the Atlantic to New York, Philadelphia, and Boston to migrants. Their journey began in their country of origin, usually Germany and Eastern Europe. The emigrants frequently left their countries because of poverty.
Several of my relatives from Luxembourg immigrated to the United States on a Red Star Line ship. A cousin of my great-great-grandfather André FOURNELLE (1838-1908) took this big step with his family.
Nicolas FOURNELLE (1830-1913) made the trip across the Atlantic on the Friesland in 1890 at the age of 59 with his wife Margaret HUBERTY 49, their children J. Baptist 17, Anna Maria 10, and Pierre 5, as well as, their son-in-law Frederick BROEDER 32, his wife Marie FOURNELLE 28, and their children Joh. Herm. 4 and Josephine 2. The group of nine went to join up with Nicolas’ son Jean Pierre and daughter Marie Catherine who had made the same trip on the Belgenland in 1887.
Let us join the Fournelle family on their journey
The FOURNELLE and BROEDER families of Rodange most likely bought their tickets from the Red Star Line travel agency Derulle-Wigreux und Sohn in Luxembourg City. The travel agency advertised in local newspapers for all classes of passengers.
The Train Journey
The ocean crossing itself was only part of the voyage. Migrants first had to leave their country and take a long train trip to Antwerp arriving at the Gare Centrale which can be compared to Grand Central Station in New York.
For the families coming from Luxembourg the train trip was short compared to those travelling from Eastern Europe. These people may have had to make stops along the way to work and replenishing their money pouches. For some the trip lasted up to several years as they moved from one location to the next. The gaps between leaving the homeland and arriving in America should be taken into consideration when researching your families.
Staying in Antwerp
The migrants arrived in the dynamic city of Antwerp. Imagine these impoverished people walking to their lodgings and seeing the bustling shopping streets and luxurious buildings of the city. They often stayed in filthy hotels with swindlers waiting to cheat them out of their money or ticket. For most the stay in Antwerp was short but for others, who did not pass the controls or needed to earn more money for passage, their time in the city was longer than planned.
Entering the Museum (today)
Crossing the threshold of the “Shed” we entered the world of the European migrants who left their native countries in search of a better life. We were able to touch the walls that our immigrants touched while they endured the required procedures to allow them to travel to America.
Showers and Disinfection
Passengers handed over their luggage to Red Star Line employees. Men and women where separated and took off their clothes to shower. Their clothes were put in a bag and with the luggage were placed in the large chambers which were hermetically sealed to be disinfected under high pressure steam.
While their clothes and belongings were chemically treated the passengers were cleaned of lice by taking an hour long shower with hot vinegar and benzene.
Passengers recall that their clothes were damp when returned to them. It is unknown what chemicals may have been used to disinfect the clothes and baggage as no records have been found about the procedure. The chambers used to disinfect the belonging are long gone however a photo of the room with the disinfection kettles survives.
The Doctor’s Visit
Following the shower the migrants climbed the stairs that led to the doctors’ area
and the final judgment.
The Red Star Line enforced the rules of the American authorities as anyone who was refused entry in the United States would be sent back at the expense of the shipping line. The hygienic procedures were insisted upon by the American authorities to avoid bringing infectious diseases such as cholera, typhoid fever and trachoma into the county. Migrants were put in quarantine if they came from an area known to have had an epidemic.
Doctors checked the passengers for lice running their hands through hair, lifting or pulling down eyelids to inspect for eye disease (trachoma), using instruments to press down the tongue to check for disease in the mouth. All examinations were done without the precautions that we are used to today.
After the extensive checks in the building the migrants could finally embark and begin the ocean journey.
For the Fournelle family this meant that they would live together with other migrants in large dormitories for the circa ten day (to three week) trip.
Later, in the 20th century, crossing on ocean steamers was much more comfortable for passengers as companies began paying more attention to the comfort of third-class traveller.
In the museum’s exhibits the stark difference between the luxury of first class and the scarcity of third class can be seen.
Stories collected from former passengers tell of upper class passengers throwing food down to third class or of the migrants sneaking up to second class for scraps of food as there was no access to first class.
What happened to the migrants during their journey? Who did they meet, what did they see and feel, why did they leave? The collection of stories allow visitors of the meusum to learn more about the people who crossed the Atlantic.
Arriving in America
The Fournelle party arrived in New York on 12 March 1890. Tension was high as the crucial, last examination awaited third-class passengers. Crowd control barricades
lead them through the examination station.
Nicolas and his family finally passed through all controls and were able to continue their journey to Pawnee County, Nebraska, where they were reunited with 24 year old son John Peter FOURNELL (as he was now called) and 20 year old daughter Catherine. Not only were they reunited with these children but also with Nicolas’ sister Margaret (1833-1910) who immigrated about 1881 with her second husband Nicolas le jeune BOUCHÉ (aka Nicholas BOUCHE).
The Guided Tour Comes to an End
Our visit to the museum came to an end after climbing the observation tower which offers a 360° view of Antwerp. This showpiece, shaped like the bow of a steamer, was built on the new building between the corner building and the main building to replace a high chimney that was dismantled in 1936.
A heartfelt thank you to Lien Vloeberghs and the rest of the staff at the Red Star Line Museum for making this a memorial journey.
From the Red Star Line Museum press kit, two famous passengers:
★ Albert Einstein made two historic journeys with the Red Star Line: the first time the Belgenland brought him from the United States to Antwerp, where he announced that he would not return to Nazi Germany.
His second journey, on the Westernland, brought Einstein and his wife to America for good.
★ Israel Isidore Baline, later known as Irving Berlin, the composer of ‘White Christmas’, travelled on the SS Rhynland as a 5-year-old boy.