The Ancestors: Jacques Philippart (1749-1824) of Rodange and Catherine Singer (1743-1835) of Bettange-sur-Messe

My fifth great-grandparents Jacques PHILIPPART (1749-1824) and Catherine SINGER aka KETTER (1743-1835) made their home in Rodange (Luxembourg) following their marriage in 1777. Their records were found in three European countries.

A quick geography lesson

Rodange is in a tri-border area – the geographical point at which the boundaries of three countries meet – Belgium, France, and Luxembourg. The tripoint is located between the localities of Athus (municipality of Aubange, province of Luxembourg, Belgium), Mont-Saint-Martin (department of Meurthe-et-Moselle, France) and Rodange (municipality of Pétange, canton of Esch-sur-Alzette, Grand Duchy of Luxembourg).

Where are the records located?

Although the geographical location is important, to find the records we also need to be aware of the repository of the different records.

The three partitions of Luxembourg reduced Luxembourg’s area substantially, to the advantage of the three surrounding countries. Media file courtesy of Spanish_Inquisition, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Consequently, records for this family were found in three countries in Europe even though they lived in the same village the entire time.

The 1777 marriage record was found in Belgium

The marriage entry for my fifth great-grandparents’ marriage was recorded in the Roman Catholic parish registers of Aubange, Belgium. The entry includes the reason the marriage was performed in the village of Lamadelaine, Luxembourg.1

1777 Marriage Record of Jacques Philippart and Catherine Singer (bottom of page 28)

After the banns were read three times, no impediment was found, and consent was given by their relatives for Jacques PHILIPPART to marry Catherine SINGER. Jacques, son of Jacques PHILIPPART and Elisabeth BURQUELLE of Rodange and Catherine, daughter of Jean SINGER and Barbara KETTER of Bettange-sur-Messe, were joined in marriage on 8 January 1777. The nuptial benediction was given by the priest of the parish of Lamadelaine as the parents of the bride had been living there for several years. The marriage took place in the presence of the undersigned.

1777 Marriage Record of Jacques Philippart and Catherine Singer (top of page 29)

Unfortunately, only Father Kerschen, the priest in Lamadelaine signed the marriage record on the top of page 29 in the register. No signatures or marks of the bride, groom, or their parents were included.

The children of Jacques and Catherine

Jacques and Catherine were the parents of four known children. In 1777, 1780, 1784, and 1789 when the children were baptized their mother Catherine was identified with the surname KETTER(S), her mother’s maiden name.

Michel PHILIPPART (1777-1849)

Their firstborn was my fourth great-grandfather. Michel was born and baptized on 16 October 1777 in Rodange. His godfather was his father’s brother Michel PHILIPPART of Rodange. His godmother was a maternal relative Nannette KETTER of Bettange.2 The identity of Nannette may one day help to take the SINGER-KETTER line back further than Catherine SINGER’s parents.

Michel married Catherine MEUNIER (1775-1851),  daughter of Henri MUNIER and Margaretha KILBORN, on 30 July 1817 in Pétange in a civil ceremony.3 They were likely married by the church about 1800 but no record survives. They were the parents of 8 children; 4 lived to adulthood, married, and continued the line.

Jean PHILIPPART (1780-?)

Their second child, a son named Jean was born and baptized on 10 November 1780. His godparents were Jean FOURNELLE and Elisabeth FELTEN, both of Rodange.4 The godfather’s signature was compared to signatures on other records signed by Jean FOURNELLE (1746-1818) to confirm he was my 4th great-granduncle, the son Pierre FOURNELLE and Jeanne NEU.

No marriage or death record has been found for Jean.

Philippe PHILIPPART (1784-1874)

Their third son, Philippe was born and baptized on 25 January 1784. His godparents were Philippe FOURNELLE of Rodange and Marie Catherine DIXQUES of Pétange.5 The godfather was another son of my FOURNELLE-NEU ancestors.

Philippe at the age of 31 married Anne COLLINET (1775-1848) on 9 January 1816 in Saulnes, France. She was a 40-year-old widow with six children.6 They had only one son who died at the age of two and a half years.

Catherine PHILIPPART (1789-1856)

Their fourth child and only daughter Catherine was born and baptized on 23 April 1789. Pierre ALZIN and Catherine MUNIER, both of Rodange, were the godparents.7 The godmother was described as a young girl. She was likely the father’s second cousin and daughter of Simon MUNIER and Marie Jeanne BURKEL.

Catherine married Jacques FOURNELLE (1797-1870), son of Pierre FOURNELLE and Marianne SCHMIT (my 4th great-grandparents), on 9 December 1822 in Pétange.8 They were the parents of two sons.

Jacques PHILIPPART’s occupation

The baptismal records of Jean, Philippe, and Catherine listed Jacques PHLIPPART’s occupation as charpentier or carpenter.

The deaths of Jacques and Catherine

Jacques died on 23 March 1824 in Rodange at the age of 75. His death was reported by Jacques FOURNELLE. The informant, his son-in-law, was mistakenly listed as his son.9 Jacques’s wife Catherine SINGER died at the age of 91 on 9 February 1835 in Rodange. Her death was reported by her oldest son Michel.10

Research Manager

Was there a connection between the PHILIPPART and FOURNELLE families? In later years the families would be joined in marriage. In 1823, Jacques’ granddaughter Marie Catherine PHILIPPART would marry André FOURNELLE, grandson of Pierre FOURNELLE and Jeanne NEU. But the families had a bond as early as 1744 and 1749.

Jacques PHILIPPART’s father Jacques (1714-1783) was widowed in 1744 when he was living in Doncourt-lès-Longuyon, Meurthe-et-Moselle, France. His wife likely died in childbirth or soon after. He married Elisabeth BURKEL two months after the birth. One of the witnesses to the marriage was Jean FOURNEL (1686-1749), father of Pierre FOURNELLE (1713-1765). Jacques PHILIPPART (1714-1783), Elisabeth BURKEL (1720-bef 1782), and Jean FOURNEL (1686-1749) were my 6th great-grandparents.

When Jacques PHILIPPART was baptized on 18 March 1749, his godmother was Jeanne NEU (1723-1783), wife of Pierre FOURNELLE whose father had been a witness to Jacques’s parents’ marriage.


Most of the DNA matches on my maternal side are very small segments indicating distant connections. Mom and I have one match with the PHILIPPART surname. The match has no tree and has not replied to a message I sent two years ago. The match is on two segments totaling 34 cMs with the largest segment being 24.4 cMs. As I was checking these details I realized that I might NOW be able to work out the match’s tree with only his name, country of residence, and approximate age.

Why now? The National Library of Luxembourg has recently added the daily newspaper Luxemburger Wort for the years 1951-1980 to their subsite eLuxembourgensia.

With the details I knew about the match, I searched the obituaries (avis mortuaires) and found the 1973 and 1978 death notices of the match’s paternal grandparents in the Luxemburger Wort. From there I was able to connect the match to my family tree by researching only one generation. Over the years I’ve done a lot of descendant research and it is now paying off. The match and I are related in at least six different ways through ancestors from the Rodange area:

5C Michel PHILIPPART and Catherine MEUNIER
6C1R Jacques PHILIPPART and Elisabeth BURKEL
6C Pierre FOURNELLE and Jeanne NEU
6C1R Pierre FOURNELLE and Jeanne NEU
8C1R Pierre LADURELLE and Jeanne SALIN

With so many common ancestors, figuring out which of the above couples might have passed their DNA down to both the match and myself (or my Mom) will be difficult.

In the next two posts, I will be writing about the last of my mother’s maternal 4th great-grandparents. The first couple will be Jean SCHMIT and Eve DUCKER and the second, Pierre FOURNELLE and Jeanne NEU.

Genealogy Sketch

Name: Jacques PHILIPPART (1749-1824)
Parents: Jacques PHILIPPART and Elisabeth BURKEL
Spouse: Catherine SINGER aka KETTER (1743-1835)
Parents of spouse: Jean SINGER and Barbara KETTER
Whereabouts: Rodange, Luxembourg
Relationship to Cathy Meder-Dempsey: 5th great-grandparents

1. Jacques PHILIPPART and Catherine SINGER aka KETTER
2. Michel PHILIPPART and Catherine MEUNIER
3. Marie Catherine PHILIPPART and André FOURNELLE
4. André FOURNELLE and Odile Lucie SCHLOESSER
5. Jean Joseph FOURNELLE and Catharina FRANTZ
6. Marie Marcelle FOURNELLE and Nicolas WILDINGER
7. Living WILDINGER and Fred Roosevelt DEMPSEY
8. Catherine Ann “Cathy” DEMPSEY and Living MEDER
9. Our children

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

  1. Belgique, Luxembourg, Registres paroissiaux, 1618-1868, (images), FamilySearch (original records at België Nationaal Archief, Brussels / Belgium National Archives, Brussels), Paroisse d’Aubange (Luxembourg) > Film 619924 DGS 7944121 > Baptêmes 1729-1783 Mariages 1729-1776 Sépultures 1729-1776 > image 15 of 605. 1777 Marriage Record on page 18 of register, 3rd entry with the signature of the priest on top of page 19. ( : accessed 5 December 2017). 
  2. Ibid., Rodange > Baptêmes 1767-1777, 1779-1796, confirmations 1791, mariages 1767-1777, 1779-1795, sépultures 1767-1777, 1779-1797 > image 21 of 102. 1777 Baptismal Record. ( : accessed 15 November 2015). 
  3. Luxembourg, Registres d’état civil, 1662-1941 (images), FamilySearch (original records at Luxembourg National Archives, Plateau du Saint-Esprit, Luxembourg), Pétange > Naissances 1878-1886 Mariages 1796-1890 Décès 1796-1858 > image 475 of 1497. 1817 Marriage Record. ( : accessed 17 November 2015). 
  4. Luxembourg Church Records, Rodange > Baptêmes, mariages, sépultures 1779-1793 > image 14 of 108. 1780 Baptismal Record. ( : accessed 5 December 2017). 
  5. Ibid., Rodange > Baptêmes, mariages, sépultures 1779-1793 > image 46 of 108. 1784 Baptismal Record. ( : accessed 5 December 2017). 
  6. Archives départementales de Meurthe-et-Moselle (54), browsable images of microfilm collection of parish and civil records (online, Saulnes B., M., S. (1782-1792), N., M., D. (1793-1822) image 303 of 376. 1816 Marriage Record. ( : accessed 5 December 2017). 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. 
  7. Luxembourg Church Records, Rodange > Baptêmes, mariages, sépultures 1779-1793 > image 77 of 108. 1789 Baptismal Record (right, middle).( : 5 December 2017). 
  8. Luxembourg Civil Records, Pétange > Naissances 1878-1886 Mariages 1796-1890 Décès 1796-1858 > image 508 of 1497. 1822 Marriage Record. ( : accessed 29 March 2010). 
  9. Ibid., Pétange > Naissances 1878-1886 Mariages 1796-1890 Décès 1796-1858 > image 1244 of 1497. 1824 Death Record No. 8. ( : accessed 1 Jul 2011). 
  10. Ibid., Pétange > Naissances 1878-1886 Mariages 1796-1890 Décès 1796-1858 > image 1325 of 1497. 1835 Death Record No. 3. ( : accessed 1 July 2011). 

A Visit to the Bibliothèque nationale de Luxembourg

logo_klengLast Saturday I participated in an interesting visit of the Bibliothèque nationale de Luxembourg (National Library of Luxembourg) with my genealogy society Luxracines.

A Brief History

The origins of the Bibliothèque nationale de Luxembourg (BnL) date back to 1798, a time when French troops occupied the former duchy. In 1802 part of it’s most ancient collections, the manuscripts from the Benedictine Abbey of Echternach, were moved to the National Library of France. The library went from being a central library of the Département des Forêts (during French occupation) to ownership by the city of Luxembourg after 1815. The Luxembourg state, after gaining independence through the Treaty of London in 1839, reclaimed ownership in 1848 when the name was changed to Bibliothèque de Luxembourg. In 1899 following a rise in national sentiment among the Luxembourgish population, the name was changed to the present form, Bibliothèque nationale de Luxembourg. It’s role as an encyclopaedic library to the education system prevailed during the early years. Today BnL is also a heritage library.

012 fixedThe BnL has been housed in the former Athénée grand-ducal (Athenaeum), located next to the Cathédrale de Luxembourg, since 1973. To give you an idea of the age of the building, the Athenaeum was originally founded in 1603 by the Jesuit Order. Steel beams have been added in the old building to support the weight of the collections housed there.

Luxembourg’s national library is a small institution compared to other national libraries. It is the largest repository in Luxembourg with 1.5 million physical documents and a growing number of digital publications. The library is bursting at it’s seams and at the moment documents are located at several different sites.

Introduction by Mr. Pascal Nicolay

Before taking us on a tour of the premises, Mr. Pascal Nicolay, librarian and documentalist, explained the mission and collections of the library.

An important role of the library is the collection of cultural heritage of Luxembourg. Materials printed on different media (books, periodicals, video, CD, DVD) and produced nationally are preserved for the future generations. Because several languages are spoken in Luxembourg publications are usually simultaneously produced in Luxembourgish, French, German and English. This means that the number of copies kept is greater than in a country with only one language.

Through legal deposit BnL collects and makes all Luxembourgish publications accessable in their comprehensive collection. This is a legal requirement to submit a certain number of copies of a publication to a repository, usually the national library of a country.

Léa Linster signing books Nov 8, 2011 in Bitburg. Photo credit: Egon Meder, used with permission.

They also collect works published in other countries which deal with Luxembourg in some way. If a book published in another country includes a biography of a well known personality from Luxembourg, the library takes steps to acquire the required number of copies of the publication. For example, a German publication on restaurants in Europe may include a section on the Luxembourgish chef Léa Linster, gold medal winner of the 1989 Bocuse d’Or, the first and to date only woman to accomplish this.

More importantly, for the genealogist, the library collects publications that may mention the not so well known people. Top of the list are newspapers followed by town bulletins; political parties paraphernalia; local fire department anniversary brochures which often discuss early members of the corps, history of the “house names” and town; yearbooks. Imagine the stories that can be told about an ancestor mentioned in any of these.

The Tour

We began the tour by visiting some of the rooms accessible to the public. The periodical room where, for example, patrons can read the daily newspapers or recent publications that may be harder to find on the local newspaper stand. The tiny microfilm room where newspapers can be viewed and prints made. Very old newspapers, from 1850 and earlier, can be found and searched on BnL’s eluxemburgensia site. The general reference (dictionaries, encyclopias, etc.) and more specific reference (agriculture, science, etc.) material also has a place in the library.

The best part was when Mr. Nicolay took us “behind the scenes” into the areas not normally accessible to the public. We saw books stored in electrically powered shelving systems and hand crank shelving systems.






Shelves filled with old, old books!





We climbed up a spiral staircase to the attic where old wooden beams held together by wooden dowels could be seen along the full length of the building.


Banana boxes filled with books are stacked in the spaces between shelving.

Fire extinguishers are everywhere. The fire department can be on site in five minutes. However there is no modern sprinkling system in the building.

Back in the public area we saw the multi-media room where material can be viewed or loaned out for a week.

Finally, in the projection room, Mr. Nicolay explained how their collections can be searched from the library’s homepage using the new joint search interface of Luxembourg’s libraries’ network

With a free library card patrons can order material online that they are interested in borrowing or viewing at the library. Orders can be picked up at the library a half hour later.

Unlike other national libraries, the Bibliothèque nationale de Luxembourg is a loaning library and allows patrons to “check out” books, periodicals, multimedia, etc. with a valid library card.

As mentioned in the begining the library has outgrown its location. Last month a ground breaking ceremony took place for Luxembourg’s new National Library. The construction is is estimated to take four years to complete.

This was the first time I’d set foot in a library since I was in college in 1977. One of my favorite pastimes while going to school was the hour once a week when we went to the library. Beelining to the biography section or fiction for the newest Nancy Drew, learning how to use the card catalogue and how to research. I didn’t know at the time that those skills would help me later with my genealogy research.

Next time I go to Luxembourg City I’m going to apply for a library card. I want to learn how to use the National Library before they move into their new premises, hopefully, in 2018!

© 2014 Cathy Meder-Dempsey