Lëtz Research: The Hidden Villages of Luxembourg

Luxembourg genealogy research may seem daunting to new and even experienced researchers. With a country the size of Rhode Island, the smallest US state, one might assume Luxembourg research would/should be easier.

I learned a lot through trial and error when I first began searching for vital records for my Luxembourg ancestors. I browsed the records to figure out which communes the villages belonged to. When I got far enough back in time, I went through the same time-consuming trial and error system with the parish records.

Today, I use two online lists created by Jean THOMA to check for the commune and the parish a village belonged to at different points in time:

The Communes in Luxembourg during four centuries
(includes the year when a village changed commune)

The Parishes in Luxemburg about 1803

Still, even with these lists, there are records for some villages that are not easily found.

I received a query from Shirley who was searching for an 1813 marriage record for ancestors who married in Buschdorf.

  • She had the date that had been abstracted by a volunteer at Luxracines from the Tables Décennales (later referred to as TD in this post) or ten-year tables for births, marriages, and deaths.
  • She knew that Buschdorf was part of the commune of Boevange-sur-Attert.
  • The marriage record was not found in the collection of marriages for the years 1796-1890 where she thought it would be.

She wanted to know if records for Buschdorf might be found in a different commune.

Thoma’s list of communes indicates that Buschdorf was its own commune until 1823. This means that they kept their own TD, birth, marriage, and death records before 1823.

I went to the FamilySearch catalog and looked up Buschdorf. The catalog showed civil records for Buschdorf are in the Boevange-sur-Attert collection.

FamilySearch screenshot.

For more information, I clicked on the link (see arrow above) to open up the catalog entry for the collection.

FamilySearch screenshot.

This is the top of the page for the collection of records for the commune of Boevange-sur-Attert. There is a link that will take you directly to the civil records for all locations in Luxembourg. Stop. Don’t use this yet. Scroll down further on the page to view all films included in the collection for this commune.

FamilySearch screenshot.

If you aren’t familiar with entries in the catalog, there are a few things you need to know.

  1. The camera icon with a key indicates some kind of restriction. Before becoming discouraged, check to see if you are signed in to FamilySearch. Very often, as in this case, the key will disappear indicating the collection is not restricted.
  2. In the column with the film number, Item numbers may also be included. These will help you navigate an entire film with more than one item included. Images identifying the beginning of new items are easily found when scrolling through the collection.

In the above screenshot, the title of the collection/film Naissances 1841-1880 — BUSCHDORF: Naissances 1798-1822 — Mariages 1796-1890 indicates that part of this collection includes births for the years 1798-1822 for Buschdorf. As Buschdorf was keeping their own records up to 1823 there should also be marriage and death records for the town, not just births.

Going into the collection by clicking on the camera icon will take you to the film.

FamilySearch screenshot.

Although all information is included in this screenshot, I find it more useful to go to the Luxembourg Civil Registration, 1796-1941 collection…

FamilySearch screenshot.

…scroll down in the Information box at the bottom to the citation and copy/paste the link into your browser to go to the image below.

FamilySearch screenshot.

Here the name of the collection is Naissances 1841-1880, 1798-1822 Mariages 1796-1890 and doesn’t indicate the records for 1798-1822 are only for Buschdorf. The title Naissances 1841-1880 — BUSCHDORF: Naissances 1798-1822 — Mariages 1796-1890 in the catalog suggests that there are three items in this collection. When you look at the collection using thumbnails you can see where each item begins and ends. (see end of item 2 and beginning of item 3 in image above)

FamilySearch screenshot.

Births for 1841-1880 were filmed in two batches and are under Item 1 and Item 2. Item 3 is named Naissances (or births) 1798-1822.

FamilySearch screenshot.

Item 4 is Marriages for 1796-1890. This is where Shirley searched without results for the 1813 marriage.

Going back to Item 3, a closer look at the records shows that this part of the collection not only has births but also the TDs, marriage, and death records for Buschdorf for the period it was a commune. This is the entire collection of records for the now extinct commune of Buschdorf.

Other “Hidden Villages”

About a half-dozen years ago, I had the same problem with Osweiler, a village that is part of the commune of Rosport. Sometime after 2011 and before 2015 FamilySearch “reworked” the Luxembourg, Civil Registration, 1662-1941 collection. They have a link with the known issues in the collection that included this statement in 2015:

At the recent rework of this collection, the town/hamlet names were combined into the Commune/municipality level. The records are still there, but the search is different.

After much searching, I accidentally found that the Osweiler records to 1822 were included in Rosport in the collection titled “Naissances, mariages, décès 1800-1815.”  The title deceived me and I didn’t take the time to view the records more closely. If I had, I would have found the births and marriages for Osweiler for the years 1816-1822 in this misnamed collection. The FamilySearch catalog gives the correct year range for the Osweiler records:

Other examples are:

Alzingen, a commune until 1823, then part of Hesperange

Brandenburg, a commune until 1823, then part of Bastendorf

Berbourg, a commune until 1823, then part of Manternach

…and the list goes on.

The commune or municipal system was adopted in Luxembourg in 1795 during the French occupation to mirror the systems employed in the rest of the French Republic. Many villages kept their own records until they became part of a larger commune in 1823 when the system was overhauled. These smaller villages that were municipalities or communes until 1823 are easily found on Thoma’s list of communes by searching for the year 1823.

The moral of the story is…

Shirley was happy to learn where she could find the record. She wrote, “I have so many “missing” records.  Not always sure if they’re truly missing from FamilySearch, or if I’m just not looking in the right place.” Hopefully, this post will help her and others find their “missing” records.

If you are having problems finding your ancestors’ records, check Jean THOMA’s list of Luxembourg communes as well as the FamilySearch catalog for the location you are researching.

© 2021, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

Lëtz Play! Can You Top This? A Marriage Record With 15 Events

Each week, as I write about another set of my children’s Luxembourgish 5th great-grandparents, I review the information I have. If I haven’t worked on the family in a while, I search for baptismal and/or birth records, marriage banns, marriage records, death and/or burial records, census records on FamilySearch in the collections for Luxembourg or Lëtzebuerg.

Flag-map of Luxembourg
By Stasyan117 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
This week I looked into the SCHAEFFER-GREISCH family. I’ll be sharing the post on Friday. However, I couldn’t wait to play this little game with you.

Lëtz Play! Can You Top This?

Have you found a record in your genealogy research which reveals as many events as the one I discovered?

When I re-read the 1810 marriage record of the SCHAEFFER-GREISCH couple who married in Esch-sur-Sûre in north-western Luxembourg, I found the widowed father of the groom was living in Bourglinster, a town in the commune of Junglinster in central Luxembourg. I found his 1819 death record in Junglinster and learned he had remarried. When and where did this marriage take place?

I located the 1809 marriage record in Junglinster and it is filled with genealogical information. Imagine finding the dates for fifteen (15) events in one record!

Luxembourg, Registres d’état civil, 1662-1941 (images), FamilySearch (original records at Luxembourg National Archives, Plateau du Saint-Esprit, Luxembourg), Junglinster > Naissances 1859-1890 Mariages 1797-1876 > image 790 of 1488. 1809 Marriage Record No. 8 (part 1). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-6RQ2-HB?cc=1709358&wc=9RY7-7M9%3A129919601%2C130104101 : accessed 3 June 2017).
Luxembourg, Registres d’état civil, 1662-1941 (images), FamilySearch (original records at Luxembourg National Archives, Plateau du Saint-Esprit, Luxembourg), Junglinster > Naissances 1859-1890 Mariages 1797-1876 > image 791 of 1488. 1809 Marriage Record No. 8 (part 2). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-6RQN-6Y?cc=1709358&wc=9RY7-7M9%3A129919601%2C130104101 : accessed 3 June 2017).
  • 21 April 1809 – Date of marriage for Johann Baptiste SCHAFFER and Catherine WEINTZ
  • 22 June 1752 – Date of birth of the groom, Johann Baptiste SCHAFFER
  • 7 Frimaire year X – Date of death of the groom’s first wife Catherine JACQUES (aka SCHAACK)
  • 16 January 1795 – Date of death of Jean SCHAFFER, father of the groom
  • 21 February 1771 – Date of death of Marie BRAACK, mother of the groom
  • 15 March 1760 – Date of death of Jean SCHAFFER, grandfather of the groom
  • 25 March 1760 – Date of death of Susanne SCHAFFER, grandmother of the groom
  • 3 Nov 1765 – Date of birth of the bride, Catherine WEINTZ
  • 9 Pluviose year XII – Date of death of the bride’s first husband, Matthias REIDELER
  • 21 February 1773 – Date of death of Michel WEINTZ, father of the bride
  • 3 Frimaire 1797 – Date of death of Marie BRAUN, mother of the bride
  • 12 April 1749 – Date of death of Theodore WEINTZ, grandfather of the bride
  • 19 April 1767 – Date of death of Marguerite WEINTZ, grandmother of the bride
  • 26 March 1809 – First proclamation of the marriage banns
  • 2 April 1809 – Second proclamation of the marriage banns

It’s normal to find dates of death of the first spouse and deceased parents of the bride and/or groom in Luxembourgish marriage records. I have also seen the fact that the grandparents were deceased when the party was an orphan. But this was the first record I’ve seen with names and dates for the grandparents of the bride and groom.

Have you found a record with this many events mentioned? I’d love to hear about it. Please leave a comment or link to a post you’ve written about your extraordinary find.

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

Luxracines on Tour – A Visit to Bastogne, Belgium

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

luxracinesgroupbastogne2016
Courtesy of Rob Deltgen

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

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

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

bestwishescathy1

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

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

metz1sm
Click 1
metz2sm
Click 2
metz3sm
Click 3
metz4sm
Click 4
metz5sm
Click 5 to open parish & civil records and ten years lists.
metz6sm
Click 6 to open the registers of the civil records.
metz7sm
Click 7 to choose the civil records for Metz.
metz8sm
Click 8: scroll down to correct year and click Etat-civil 1840-1842.
metz9
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.

metz9a
Click 10 to see the death register for section 2 of Metz for the year 1841.
metz11sm
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