Susanne KIEFFER was born on 25 March 1754 in Mamer to Nicolaus KEIFFER (1734-1796) and Susanna SCHILTZ (1737-1807). Earlier variations of the KEIFFER surname were KIEFER and KÜFFER. Susanne was the oldest of eight known children. The only reference available online is an alphabetical family group register of births/baptisms and marriages for the town of Mamer. Actual parish records for baptisms, marriages, and burials in Mamer are only available on FamilySearch for the years 1779-1793.
Susanne was my fourth great-grandmother. She married Michel KOLBACH on 17 February 1783. Michel was born about 1748 in Kehlen to Francisci KOLBACH and Maria KAYSER. His parents were deceased at the time of his marriage. Michel and his parents were not my ancestors.
Susanne and Michel were the parents of five children.
Margaretha born on 4 January 1784
Michel born on 31 March 1785
Catherine born on 29 November 1786
Peter born on 9 January 1789
Anna Maria born on 14 May 1791
These children are documented as they were born during the period in which actual parish records are available on FamilySearch for baptisms, marriages, and burials during the years 1779-1793.
Following the birth of Susanne and Michel’s fourth child, her sister Elisabeth married Nicolas CHRISTOPHORY (1743-1803) on 11 May 1789. Elisabeth was the only known sibling of Susanne to also marry.
When their youngest child had just turned two years old, Susanne was widowed when Michel KOLBACH died on 30 May 1793. He had been a linen weaver or linitextor and was about 45 years old.
A little over seven months later Susanne remarried. On 7 January 1794, she married Paulus FRANTZ. Paulus was the son of Nicolaus FRANTZ and Angela BARTEL of Senningen.
No marriage record has been found for Susanne and Paulus. Their marriage is recorded on a marriage index card. The information on the card points to Paulus being from Bergem in the parish of Schifflingen. Per the 1843 census, Paulus was born on 10 August 1763 in Senningen. On the 1846 census, the day and month were the same but the year was 1764. The place of birth on the 1846 census was blank. Although their names are known, his parents and siblings are at this time a brick wall.
Paulus was my fourth great-grandfather. When he married Susanne he took on a family of five children between the ages of 3 and 10 years. Like Susanne’s first husband Michel, Paulus was a linen weaver.
Susanne was soon expecting twins. Nicolas and Johannes were born on 21 November 1794. As no birth records are available for the twins it is not known who was the oldest. Nicolas or my third great-grandfather Johannes.
When the twins were seventeen months old their grandfather, Susanne’s father, Nicolaus KEIFFER died on 1 May 1796.
Susanne gave birth to another son on 10 January 1797. He was named Henri. Less than two months later Susanne’s youngest daughter from her first marriage, Anna Maria, died at the age of five years on 6 March 1797. The family may have been battling some kind of disease or the baby was not strong enough to survive as little Henri died on 6 June 1797 at the age of five months.
The children grew and by 1802 the Susanne’s oldest daughter was courting and the results were soon to be seen. Margaretha was 17 years old when she married Leonardus RÖELINGER on 18 November 1802. Three and a half months later, on 9 March 1803, she gave birth to a boy she named after her father Michel.
Susanne’s brother-in-law Nicolas CHRISTOPHORY died on 16 December 1803. His widow Elisabeth was 46 years old when she married Theodore HELLESCH on 7 May 1806. It was on this marriage record that the 1796 date of death for Nicolaus KIEFFER, the bride’s father, was found.
Susanne’s mother Susanna SCHILTZ died on 4 August 1807. Her son-in-law Paulus FRANTZ was the informant on her death record. A little over a year later, on 9 October 1808, he was once again at the city hall reporting a death. This time it was his wife Susanne KIEFFER who died at the age of 54 years. She left 4 KOLBACH children and the FRANTZ twins.
My 4th great-grandfather was now alone to care for his 13-year-old twin boys and three unmarried step-children who were in their twenties. Only his step-daughter Marguerite was married with two little boys but likely also living in the household as was her right as the oldest.
Five years after the death of Susanne her daughter Catherine KOLBACH married Jacques HENTGES in Mondercange on 29 December 1813. This marriage was only found in the last few days.
Her brothers Michel and Peter KOLBACH would add some very interesting branches to my family tree.
Michel KOLBACH married Susanne HAMES (1786-1855) on 11 January 1815 in Mamer. Susanne was the sister of my 4th great-grandmother Catherine HAMES (1789-1864), my direct matrilineal line.
Petrus KOLBACH married Susanna FRISCH on 14 January 1818 in Mamer. Susanna FRISCH, daughter of Jacob FRISCH and Regina HUBERTY. Jacob and Regina are also my fourth great-grandparents.
Confused? I hope this will help.
Less than three weeks later Nicolas FRANTZ, one of the twins, married Anna KÜNSCH (1795-1875) on 3 February 1818 in Mamer.
It would be another nine years before the other twin, my fourth great-grandfather, would marry Elisabeta FRISCH (1800-1880), daughter of the above mentioned Jacob FRISCH and Regina HUBERTY. They were married on 18 January 1827 in Holzem.
All of Paulus FRANTZ’s children, biological and step, were now married. I believe Paulus was living in the home he had shared with his wife Susanne with her oldest daughter Margaretha and her family. This is supported by the census taken in 1843 and 1846. But before the census was enumerated there were several deaths in the family.
Petrus KOLBACH, a father of three sons, died on 23 April 1837 in Mamer at the age of 48. His widow Susan FRISCH would live to the age of 93 dying on 20 October 1885.
The oldest of the bunch, Margaretha KOLBACH had given birth to ten children. She died on 16 December 1838 in Mamer. She left a widower and six children. During the years the family had changed the spelling of RÖELINGER to RELINGER and finally REDLINGER, the version seen when Margaretha’s widower Leonardus die on 20 March 1843.
In 1843 when the census was taken, Paulus FRANTZ was the head of a household in Mamer. Living with him was his step-grandson Peter REDLINGER, his wife Susana WAGNER and their four children. Both of Peter’s parents were deceased and he was likely the oldest of the REDLINGER children. The family home may have been passed on to him. In 1846 Peter REDLINGER was the head of household and Paulus FRANTZ, as well as three of Peter’s single brothers, was living with the family.
Paulus died at 8 in the morning on 27 July 1847 in Mamer at the age of 83. His death was reported by his step-grandson Peter REDLINGER.
Michel KOLBACH died on 18 April 1855 in Mamer at the age of 70. He had fathered six children, two of whom died at a young age. His widow Susanna HAMES died exactly a month later on 18 May 1855 at the age of 68.
The only living KOLBACH child, Catherine died on 30 October 1869 in Bergem. Until a few days ago I thought she may have died as a child. However, after finding her marriage record, I learned she was the mother of at least six children. Her husband Jacques died on the oldest son’s 15th birthday in 1830 leaving her widowed with children between the ages of 2 and 15.
Susanne KIEFFER’s KOLBACH children were now all deceased. Her twins, the sons she bore Paulus FRANTZ, lived into their eighties. Nicolas FRANTZ, father of seven children (at least two died young), died on 8 August 1879 at the age of 84 and my fourth great-grandfather Johannes FRANTZ, father of five children (one died young) died on 24 January 1880 at the age of 85.
One final note of interest and the reason for the peculiar title for this article. My 4th great-grandparents Paulus FRANTZ and Susanne KIEFFER were the 2nd great-grandparents of the famous Nicolas “Nic” FRANTZ, winner of the 1927 and 1928 Tour de France. He was not the first Luxembourger to win the Tour but he was the only one to win it twice and twice in a row.
P.S. Things are always busy this time of the year and I have not had the time to include the sources at the end of my last few articles. I relied on being able to point my readers to my online GEDCOM file, however, Rootsweb is currently unavailable and it is not known how long the downtime will last. Three more sets of 4th great-grandparents to go and then I will come back and add the sources later in January 2018.
Johann DONNEN of Ellingen (Canton Remich) married Barbe CHRISTOPHORY of Bertrange about 1772 or earlier. No marriage record has been found for the couple who were having legitimate children from 1772. Johann was born about 1747, per the age found on his death record, and his wife Barbe was born in 1743. They were the parents of four known children all born in Bertrange. A daughter Barbara was born in 1772, twins Nicolas Johann and Catharina in 1775, and Maria Catharina in 1783.
The Mertes-Biver Family
During the same time period, another couple was also raising a family in Bertrange. Peter MERTES and Marguerite BIVER were married on 3 December 1771 in Bertrange. They were the parents of Margaretha born in 1772, Willibrod 1774, Anna Marguerite est. 1775, Anna 1776, Barbara 1779, Nicolas 1781, Magdalena 1783, and Anna 1786. [Update: Baptismal record of Anna b. 1786 was found on 17 Sep 2017.]
The MERTES-DONNEN Family
The daughter of the DONNEN-CHRISTOPHORY couple, Maria Catharina DONNEN, married the son of the MERTES-BIVER couple, Nicolas MERTES, on 21 February 1803 in Bertrange. Nicolas’ occupation was given on the marriage record as Akersmann or plowman. During the years that followed he was always seen as a day laborer: when his children were born, when they married, and when the census was taken.
Two weeks after the marriage the newlyweds were attending the funeral of Johann DONNEN, the bride’s father, who died 9 March 1803. Nicolas, only six days short of his twenty-second birthday, was one of the informants on the death record.
After the torments of the French Revolution (1789-1799), poverty and misery did not disappear. Many left Bertrange for southern Hungary and Transylvania in the years 1723-1726 and for North America from 1853 onward. This was not the case for the MERTES-DONNEN family.
Children’s births and grandparents’ deaths
Following their marriage, Nicolas and Maria Catharina had seven children, all born in Bertrange, during a period of seventeen years. Their first two children were sons, Michel born on 5 May 1804 at 9 in the morning and François, better known as Franz, on 5 April 1806 at 11 in the morning.
Maria Catharina’s mother Barbe CHRISTOPHORY died on 17 December 1807. Her son-in-law Nicolas, the informant, gave her place of death as his home. The occupation of her deceased husband Johann DONNEN was given as charron or wheelright.
The family increased with the birth of Anne on 24 August 1808 at 8 in the evening and Catherine on 3 March 1811 at 11 in the evening.
Nicolas’ father Peter MERTES died on 15 December 1811 around 8 in the evening at the home of his son-in-law Jean KETTENMEYER, husband of Anne, the only sibling of Nicolas to have married.
Following the death, the pattern of two births and a death continued in the family. Sons, Nicolas, born on 24 August 1814 at 11 in the evening, and Jean, born on 24 November 1817 at 4 in the morning, brought the number of children up to six.
Marguerite BIVER, the last living grandparent of the MERTES-DONNEN children, died on 20 December 1820 at 9 in the evening in house number 69 in the Oppertergasse. The informant was her son-in-law Jean KETTENMEYER.
Maria Catharina gave birth to her last child a month later on 28 January 1821. They named the child Nicolas although they already had a 6 and a half years old son with this name. Little did they know that three years later the elder son named Nicolas would die on 12 January 1824 at the age of 9 years and 8 months.
Marriages of the children
The next ten years are not documented. No children were born or died. The decade fell before the census of 1843 which is available online. The children grew and by 1834 the first marriage was being celebrated in the MERTES family.
Catherine MERTES married Johann Wilhelm FEDERSPIEL (1801-1865) on 18 April 1839. Catherine had given birth to a son the previous month and he was legitimized with the marriage.
No trace has been found of the oldest son Michel or the oldest daughter Anne following their births in 1804 and 1808. Their deaths were not recorded in Bertrange. Did they leave Bertrange to find work or marry?
In December of 1843, 1846, 1847, 1849, and 1851 Nicolas and Maria Catharina were enumerated on the census with their two youngest children, already grown men, Jean and Nicolas. In 1851, Jean (34) and Nicolas (31) were both still single.
Only two of Nicolas MERTES’ six siblings were known to be living at this time. Anne who married Jean KETTENMEYER died on 9 February 1852.
On the December 1852 census Nicolas and Maria Catharina had in their household son Jean but the youngest son Nicolas had disappeared. I have not made any effort to locate him as this was a time many were emigrating to North America. Hopefully, if he had descendants, one of them will read this and get in touch.
A little over a year later Nicolas was the informant on the death of his wife Maria Catharina DONNEN. She died on 24 January 1854.
Nicolas and his son Jean were now alone. At the age of 37, Jean married a woman three years his senior, Magdalena WAGENER (1816-1883), on 2 May 1855.
Had he seen his father’s health declining and decided it was time to marry? Or did the men need a woman to care for them? Five months after the marriage the father of the groom, Nicolas MERTES died. His son-in-law Johann Wilhelm FEDERSPIEL reported the death which took place on 19 October 1855. Peter CHRISTNACH, a shoemaker and Nicolas’ neighbor, also witnessed the death record.
As far as I know, Nicolas left three children, eight grandchildren, and a sister, Anne Marguerite who never married. Her death followed a little over six months later on 5 May 1856. It was reported by her nephew Dominique FERDERSPIEL and her niece Catherine MERTES’ husband Johann Wilhelm FEDERSPIEL. The record includes the names of her parents. Her baptismal record has not been found and the death record was the first mention I found for her.
Around 1850 Bertrange was a village of about 200 houses and exceeding 1,000 inhabitants. A poor commune with an economy based on agriculture and small crafts, it underwent economic restructuring in 1859 when the first railway was inaugurated. People took on work as miners and railway workers. Times were changing for the MERTES-DONNEN children who remained.
Nicolas and Maria Catharina’s living children
Franz, my children’s 4th great-grandfather, had spent his entire married life in the neighboring town of Strassen. He died at the age of 57 on 15 March 1864. Catherine and Jean both remained in Bertrange. Catherine died at the age of 69 on 11 March 1880 and Jean on 1 September 1888 at the age of 70.
It took me longer than usual to research this family. For some reason the subject of maison dite or house names kept coming up everywhere I turned. Maybe the ancestors were trying to tell me something. Or maybe it is time to discuss what I learned while researching this family – something I left out above.
I’ll be at Luxracines’ archives in Walferdange on Wednesday with Rob Deltgen and, hopefully, I’ll learn enough to fill in the spaces in the draft I’ve prepared for my upcoming post.