Part V: A Horrific Crime in the Fortress City of Luxembourg

My 5th great-grandfather Remacle TRAUSCH was widowed on 16 February 1798.1 He was not yet 37 years old and had six children at home in Colmar in a house called Laplume, la maison de Laplume. The children were between the ages of 10 years and 1 week. It was not surprising he married again six months after the death of his wife Theresia BRAUN.

Remacle remarries

On the 9th day of the month Fructidor in the year VI (26 August 1798), Remacle married Anne Marie WIROTH, a 32-year-old woman from Vianden.2 She was the daughter of François WIROTH and Anne Marie PETRY. Remacle and Anne Marie were married in the commune of Berg in the canton of Mersch. Colmar, where the groom lived, was part of the commune of Berg. Today the commune is known as Colmar-Berg.

Remacle was a resident of Colmar and worked as a carpenter. Anne Marie was a day laborer and lived with her parents in Vianden on the Our River, in Luxembourg’s Ardennes region.

The children of the second marriage

Their first child was born less than a year later at three in the morning on 21 July 1799 in Colmar, a daughter named Peternelle.3

Vianden – from our collection of ten framed prints of castles in Luxembourg

Less than two years later the family was living in Vianden. No records have been found which would prove Remacle and his second wife were raising his children from his first marriage. I think Remacle, Anne Marie, and their daughter Peternelle resided in Vianden without his children from the previous marriage. It must be remembered that Remacle was his parents’ youngest child. His deceased wife Theresia’s older sister Catharina BRAUN lived with her husband Franz BIVER in the BRAUN family home. Franz BIVER, by marrying into the BRAUN family, had taken over as the head of the family and likely was responsible for Remacle’s children. I will get back to this further on in this post.

“Bernadus” TRAUSCH was seen as the father of Jacob TRAUSCH born on 12 April 1801 at six in the morning to the mother Anne Marie WIROTH in Vianden. The name of the father on the record is obviously an error.4 Remacle TRAUSCH was able to sign his name and the signature on this record, as well as on all birth records of his other children, were the same.

On 17 March 1803 at one in the morning a son Pierre was born to Remacle TRAUSCH and his wife Anne Marie WIROTH in Vianden.5 Once again he signed with his signature.

Remacle dies in Luxembourg City

The TRAUSCH family’s sojourn in Vianden did not last long. By 21 August 1804, the family was living in Luxembourg City. On this day François WIROTH (spelled VIROTTE on the record) went to the authorities to declare the death of his brother-in-law Remacle TRAUSCH at the age of 43 years.6

Nearly two years later, Remacle’s widow Anne Marie WIROTH was still living in Luxembourg City when, on 19 July 1806, Jacob TRAUSCH, her and Remacle’s five-year-old son, died in house number 26 on the Marché aux Poissons in Luxembourg City.7

The family council gives consent for Catharina’s marriage

A few months later on 29 November 1806, Remacle’s oldest daughter from his first marriage, Catharina was married. She was only 16 years and 6 months old. The family council appeared before the justice of the peace to give consent to the marriage of the underage and orphaned daughter of Remacle TRAUSCH and Theresia BRAUN on the 27th of the month. She married Pierre OLINGER, a 27-year-old man whose parents were also both deceased. Two of the witnesses to the marriage were François (Franz) BIVER, the bride’s maternal uncle (husband of her maternal aunt and godmother Catharina BRAUN), and Nicolas COLLIN, the bride’s maternal uncle (half brother of Theresia and Catharina BRAUN).8 These men were likely part of the “family council” which gave their consent to the marriage.

The reference to the family council at the time of Catharina’s marriage leads me to suspect Remacle’s children from his first marriage were being cared for by their maternal aunt Catharina BRAUN and her husband Franz BIVER (spelled BIWER in earlier records) in the years following his death and perhaps from the time of Theresia’s death.

Remacle’s widow has another child

On 19 September 1809 the widow DESGRANGE, a midwife, reported the birth of Pierre-Louis VIROTTE, the son of Remacle’s widow Anne Marie WIROTH (seen as VIROTTE on the record), at house number 2 in the rue St. Esprit in Luxembourg City. A father’s name was not given.9

Remacle’s oldest son marries

On 29 December 1813, Remacle and Theresia’s oldest son François “Franz” TRAUSCH married Eva MERTZ in Ettelbrück. Franz was living in Schieren which lies between Colmar-Berg and Ettelbrück. Eva was also a resident of Schieren which was part of the commune of Ettelbrück before 1850. None of the witnesses to this marriage were relatives of Franz TRAUSCH.10

Before Remacle and Theresia’s next two sons would marry, a horrific crime took place in Luxembourg City.

View of the church St. Jean in the Grund (lower part of Luxembourg City) from the guard walk of the Porte de Trèves

Death and burial records hint at a crime

As I searched for records of the children of Remacle’s second marriage I was surprised to find records of four deaths which took place in the night between 6 and 7 April 1816. Anne Marie WIROTH, Peternelle (now seen as Petronilla) TRAUSCH, Pierre TRAUSCH, and Pierre-Louis WIROTH were found dead in their home in house number 23 in the rue de Trèves in Grund, the lower part of Luxembourg City. Their deaths were reported by Michel GENERÉ, appariteur or bailiff. Anne Marie’s occupation was listed as cabarêtière (owner of a cabaret or tavern) in the city. 11

Porte de Trèves with the fortress wall in Luxembourg City

No information on the cause of death was found in the death records. As church records are now available on Matricula Online, I checked for the burial records of the family of four. I found only one sad entry.12

Imagine courtesy of Matricula Online. Creative Commons License CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Die Septima Aprilis 1816 Anna Virotte anno aetutis quadragesimo quinto cum filia Petronillae Trausch 20 annos nata et dubbus (dubus) filiis Petro Trausch decimo quarto et Ludovico Virotte Septimo aetatis anno nocte ante Dominicam palmaram horrendo atque hucusque inaudito modo in lectibus trucidati ad supraedati postridie una sepulti fucre.

I took the Latin text apart, translating sections at a time. I then sent the image of the record, my Latin transcript (which included a few incorrect and missing words), and my English translation to my friend Linda who has helped me several times with Latin records. She confirmed my translation (below) was spot on, sent me a corrected Latin transcript (above), and the link to a magazine article which discussed this horrific crime.

On the seventh day of April 1816 Anna Virotte forty-fifth year of age and daughter Petronilla Trausch 20 years old and the victim’s sons Petro Trausch fourteen and Louis Virotte seven years of age the night before Palm Sunday in a horrible and hitherto unheard-of way were slaughtered in their beds and  buried the day following the above mentioned date.

A brief overview of the crime

Michel Engels - 17 Les portes de Trèves et de Mansfeld
Les portes de Trèves et de Mansfeld by Michel Engels [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons. The scene of the crime being the building on the left below the gate.
On the night before Palm Sunday, at midnight a guard at the Porte de Trèves heard a woman’s weeping scream. Between one and two o’clock in the morning, one of the guards who were taking turns saw three men pass by. When he shouted, “Who goes there?” they replied with the password “Bourgeois!” which allowed them to pass through the gate.

At six o’clock in the morning, the milkwoman came to deliver milk to the widow TRAUSCH who lived only a few meters from the gate. The house was quiet and the front door open. As she often did, she poured the milk into a stone jar in the kitchen and went on her way.

The widow TRAUSCH was known as the Kränzercher lady. She sold Veianer Kränzercher (pastries in the form of wreaths) at the market. She also had a bad reputation as she sold drink and sexual services in the house known as “A Kränzerches” where she lived. Acquaintances knew she had plans to buy a house as she had proudly shown them the coins she’d saved from her business dealings.

At 11 o’clock the churchgoers were coming home from mass at St. Jean de Grund church. The house where widow TRAUSCH lived with her family was still quiet. This was unusual and neighbors began to gather at her door. The crowd grew. Four men entered the house and soon came out, horrified by what they had found. The widow and her three children were dead, their throats cut through.

By Monday five suspects had been taken into custody. Two were quickly released. The three who were held over for trial were Jews. News of the murders made the rounds and angry crowds insulted and threatened Jews who lived in the city. The intervention of the mayor and law enforcement prevented people from further insulting the Jews.

The trial in early September 1816 lasted several days and about one hundred witnesses were called.  Testimonies soon showed Schwartz, one of the accused, had an alibi. The Hauser brothers, the other two accused, were placed at the scene of the crime by witnesses and fresh blood had been found on the clothing of one of them. An important representative of the Jewish community testified the morality of the Hauser brothers seemed suspicious as one never visited the synagogue and the other rarely. The anti-Semitic sentiment which prevailed in the city was not mentioned in the court records of the case.

In the end, the court came to the conclusion that Hirsch and Emmanuel Hauser were guilty and were sentenced to death by decapitation. Their appeal to the Cassation Court in Liège was denied. They were executed on a public square of the fortress city on 18 October 1816.

The article in the magazine Ons Stad is in German and gives a bit more detail.13 The court records are available to the public at the National Archives of Luxembourg.14 I have not visited the archives to view this collection of records.

Tony JUNGBLUT, author and publisher, had an interest in the judicial system and gained notoriety as a judicial chronicler. He wrote the short story “Das Verbrechen der Gebrüder Hauser,” a narrative of the Trausch murders case using testimonies found in the court records. The short story was included in his 1938 book Luxemburger Pitaval, a series of criminal cases that marked the history of Luxembourg.

By searching the National Library of Luxembourg’s eluxemburgensia site, I found the story was published earlier in the weekly magazine, A-Z : Luxemburger illustrierte in four parts in August of 1934. It is an amazing story and worth the read if you are fluent in German.15

Life continues for Remacle’s children from his first marriage

Five months after the trial, Michel TRAUSCH, my fourth great-grandfather and the son of Remacle and his first wife Theresia, married Catharina HAMES on 17 February 1817 in Mamer. Catharina was the daughter of Agnes BOUR alias HEITZ and Johannes HAMES of Mamer and my fourth great-grandmother.16 They made their home in Mamer.

Nearly two years later, Nicolas TRAUSCH who would later be more commonly referred to as Jean Nicolas married Maria Margaritha TONTLING in Tuntange on 21 January 1819.17 They lived in Hollenfels.

I continue to seek any information on the remaining two children of Remacle TRAUSCH and Theresia BRAUN. No marriage or death records have been found for the daughters Susanna born in 1796 and Maria born in 1798.

I was a bit uneasy about writing this story of murder, prostitution, and anti-Semitic sentiment. The fortress city of Luxembourg during this time was a multi-cultural place. People of different nationalities came to the city to trade.  The Jewish settlement had only become possible since the French Revolution in 1795. Following Napoleon’s defeat in 1815 Luxembourg became a Grand Duchy and was under the rule of the King of Netherlands and became a member of the German Federation. The Prussia soldiers encamped in the barracks were for the most part Lutherans in a country which was predominantly Catholic.

Next week I will be tying up some of the loose ends, among others,  concerning Theresia BRAUN’s father Martin in my final post in this series.

Posts in this series:

Part I: Remacle Trausch (1761-1804) and Theresia Braun (1766-1798) of Colmar

Part II: Why was Theresia BRAUN also seen as Theresia COLLING?

Part III: “Maison dite” Leads to Parents and Grandparents of Magdalena SCHMIDT (1743-1782)

Part IV: The Parents and Siblings of Remacle TRAUSCH (1761-1804)

Part V: A Horrific Crime in the Fortress City of Luxembourg

Part VI: Tying up the loose ends

© 2019, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.


  1. Luxembourg, Registres d’état civil, 1662-1941 (images), FamilySearch (original records at Luxembourg National Archives, Plateau du Saint-Esprit, Luxembourg), Berg > Décès 1796-1830 > image 4+5 of 167. 1798 Death Record (bottom left page and all of right page). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-62YQ-KYG?cc=1709358&wc=9RYQ-C6X%3A129623401%2C129623402 : accessed 14 January 2018) and 1798 Death Record (top left page). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-62YQ-645?cc=1709358&wc=9RYQ-C6X%3A129623401%2C129623402 : accessed 14 January 2018). 
  2. Ibid., Berg > Mariages 1796-1858 > image 9-11 of 270. 1798 Marriage Record on four pages. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-62YQ-XCY?cc=1709358&wc=9RYQ-C6J%3A129623401%2C129709001 : accessed 14 January 2018). 
  3. Ibid., Berg > Naissances 1796-1814 > image 29 of 140. 1799 Birth Record (3 thermidor an VII). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-6L2S-5FN?cc=1709358&wc=9RYQ-K68%3A129623401%2C129773501 : accessed 16 January 2018). 
  4. Ibid., Vianden > Naissances 1793-1828 > image 61 of 484. 1801 Birth Record (22 germinal an IX), right page, bottom. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-XCWC-DG?cc=1709358&wc=9RYW-SPD%3A130504801%2C130707001 : accessed 10 July 2019). 
  5. Ibd., Vianden > Naissances 1793-1828 > image 74 of 484. 1803 Birth Record (left page, top). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-XCWH-88?cc=1709358&wc=9RYW-SPD%3A130504801%2C130707001 : accessed 10 July 2019). 
  6. Ibid., Luxembourg > Mariages 1888-1890 Décès 1796-1806 > image 1070 of 1420. 1804 (3 Fructidor XII) Death Record (right, bottom). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HY-69H9-W6S?cc=1709358&wc=9RYH-DP8%3A130045801%2C131708201 : accessed 14 January 2018). 
  7. Ibid., Luxembourg > Mariages 1888-1890 Décès 1796-1806 > image 1368 of 1420. 1806 Death Record (right page, bottom). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HY-69H9-8XD?cc=1709358&wc=9RYH-DP8%3A130045801%2C131708201 : accessed 10 July 2019). 
  8. Ibid., Berg > Mariages 1796-1858 > image 28+29 of 270. 1806 Marriage Record (2 pages). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-62YQ-L1X?cc=1709358&wc=9RYQ-C6J%3A129623401%2C129709001 : accessed 16 January 2018). 
  9. Ibid., Luxembourg > Naissances 1800 > image 910 of 1432. 1809 Birth Record. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-XCMF-NJ?cc=1709358&wc=9RY7-RM9%3A130045801%2C132054501 : accessed 10 July 2019). 
  10. Ibid., Ettelbruck > Naissances 1885-1890 Mariages 1796-1844 > image 627 of 1505. 1813 Marriage Record No. 15. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HY-6X2S-MB5?cc=1709358&wc=9RYC-FM9%3A129625001%2C130529102 : accessed 16 January 2018). 
  11. Ibid., Luxembourg > Décès 1814 > image 274+275 of 1396. 1816 Death Records of Anne Marie WIROTH, Peternelle TRAUSCH, Pierre TRAUSCH, and Pierre-Louis WIROTH (2 pages). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HY-6XK9-7R8?cc=91709358&wc=9RYC-DP8%3A130045801%2C130226501 : accessed 9 July 2019). 
  12. Diözesanarchiv Luxemburg / Archives diocésaines Luxembourg (images), Matricula Online, http://data.matricula-online.eu/de/LU/luxemburg/, Creative Commons License CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 (original records in the Luxembourg Diocesan Archives, Luxembourg City), Microfilm/-fiche GV.MF 356-627, Luxembourg-Stadtgrund, KB-02-10, Heiraten – Sterbefälle – Taufen – 1808 – 1817, image 155 of 157, stamped page 26, entry in middle of right page. 1816 Death Record. (http://data.matricula-online.eu/de/LU/luxemburg/luxemburg-stadtgrund/KB-02-10/?pg=155 : accessed 10 July 2019). 
  13. Renée Wagener, “Mordfall in der Festung Luxemburg ‘Ein entsetzliches Verbrechen?'”, Ons Stad 116/2017 p. 10-12,  Ville de Luxembourg, Service Communications et relations publiques. (https://onsstad.vdl.lu/fileadmin/uploads/media/ons_stad_116-2017_10-12.pdf : accessed 11 July 2019) 
  14. Archives Nationales de Luxembourg, CT-01-02-0090 Hauser Hirsch, Hauser Emmanuel, Schwartz Abraham-Jacques – Accusés de meurtre, 1816 (Dossier). (http://query.an.etat.lu/Query/detail.aspx?ID=390601 : accessed 19 August 2019) 
  15. Tony Jungblut, “Das Verbrechen der Gebrüder Hauser”, published in four parts in A-Z : Luxemburger illustrierte, 5 August 1934 No. 33 p. 4-7, 12 August 1934 No. 34 p. 18-20, 19 August 1934 No. 35 p. 18-19, and 26 August 1934 No. 36 p. 18-19. (https://luxemburgensia.bnl.lu/cgi/luxonline1_2.pl?action=yr&sid=azillust&year=1934 : accessed 21 August 2019). 
  16. Luxembourg Civil Records, Mamer > Naissances 1834-1890 Mariages 1796-1837 > image 1283 of 1504. 1817 Marriage Record No. 3. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-266-12585-51831-91?cc=1709358&wc=9RY7-FM9:130065401,130365601 : accessed 22 August 2011). 
  17. Ibid., Tuntange > Naissances 1858-1890 Mariages 1796-1890 Décès 1796-1872 > image 467 of 1488. 1819 Marriage Record No. 3. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HY-68K3-PXQ?cc=1709358&wc=9RYH-168%3A130493401%2C130649501 : accessed 10 July 2019). 

Part II: Why was Theresia BRAUN also seen as Theresia COLLING?

As seen in my previous post, my fifth great-grandparents Remacle TRAUSCH (1761-1804) and Theresia BRAUN (1766-1798) were married in the church of Bissen in Luxembourg on 4 July 1787. They had six children before Theresia died in 1798 at the age of 31 years. The youngest of the six motherless children was only 8 days old and the oldest 10 years old.

When Remacle and Theresia married, Theresia’s parents were seen as Martin BRAUNERS and Magdalena SCHMIDT, both deceased and from Colmar.

When her children were baptized her name was listed as Theresia COLLING (or variations of this name) on four of the church records. One child’s record had BRONGERS, a variation of BRAUNERS, and another had BRAUN. At the time of death, her name was given as Theresia BRAUN.

Part II: Why was Theresia BRAUN also known as Theresia COLLING?

To answer this question I paid close attention to all names mentioned in birth, marriage, and death records of persons associated with Theresia and her family. For easier reading, I’ve used the COLLING spelling throughout this post except for one instance in which it was spelled COLLIN.

A thread woven through the records

A guardian, Franz BIWER, had signed the 1787 marriage record of Remacle and Theresia as discussed in the previous post. Franz was the godfather of Theresia and Remacle’s first child François TRAUSCH.  Franz was also described as her brother-in-law when her death was reported by him, her husband Remacle, and a neighbor in 1798.

Who was Franz BIWER?

1786 Marriage Index Card with parish register number and pages the record can be found.

A marriage was found for Franz BIWER and Catharina BRAUN, daughter of Martin BRAUN and Magdalena SCHMIDT.1 They were married on 11 December 1786 in Bissen about seven months before Remacle and Theresia were married. Philippe SCHMIT a married man from Colmar was the guardian of Catharina BRAUN and gave his consent to the marriage. Witnesses to the marriage were Clemens TRAUSCH and Peter COLLING, both married. Clemens TRAUSCH, the brother of Remacle, was married to Catharina SCHMIT of Colmar. Philippe SCHMIT was likely a relative of the deceased mother of the bride. This will be discussed further in my next post.

Catharina and Theresia were sisters as Franz BIWER had been named as the brother-in-law of Theresia BRAUN when she died and the names of the parents of both girls on their marriage records were the same.

The parents of Catharina and Theresia

A marriage record was found for the widower Martin BRAUN of Berg and Magdalena SCHNEIDISCH of Colmar. They married 19 April 1761 in the Berg chapel in the parish of Bissen. Witnesses were Nicolas SCHNEIDISCH of Colmar and Joannes CONRATH of Berg.2 The possibility of Nicolas SCHNEIDISCH being the father of the bride will be discussed in a later post.

1761 Marriage Index Card with parish register number and pages the record can be found.

Baptismal records of the parish of Bissen were searched. Only two children were found to have a father named Martin BRAUN after the marriage date in 1761. Catharina was born 11 April 17653 and Theresia was born 3 August 17664, both in Colmar. The mother on both records was listed as Magdalena SCHMIDT (spelled SCHMIT on the records).

As no other children were found, the death entries were searched. Martin BRAUN of Colmar died 17 February 1766.5 This was six months before the birth of Theresia.

Magdalena SCHMIDT, the widow remarries

A death record for Magdalena SCHMIDT of Colmar, a married woman about 40 years old, was found. She died on 22 January 1782 and was buried the following day.6 If this lady was the widow of Martin BRAUN, she must have married again.

No marriage was found for Magdalena SCHMIDT or Magdalena SCHNEIDERS in the marriage records of Bissen between 1766 and 1782.

1766 Marriage Index Card with parish register number and pages the record can be found.

A marriage was found on 19 March 1766, only a month after the death of Martin BRAUN, for Magdalena BRAUN and Michel COLLIN(G).  Witnesses to the marriage were Philippe SCHMIDT of Colmar and Franz FRISCH of Leydenbach.7 Could the witness Philippe SCHMIDT likely be the same person as the guardian seen at the time of Catharina’s marriage?

The children from the second marriage

Baptismal records were found for four children born to Michel COLLING and Magdalena SCHMIDT – not Magdalena BRAUN. A son Michel was born 15 February 17688, a son Nicolas on 5 November 17699, a daughter Catharina on 18 June 177210, and a daughter Elisabetha on 20 January 1775.11 The mother’s surname was spelled SCHMIT, SCHMITT, and SCHMIDT on these records.

Michel COLLING died on 8 October 1782 in Colmar.12 This was nine months after Magdalena SCHMIDT. He was in his fifties. Baptismal records are missing in Bissen for the years 1721 to 1733. His parents are at this time unknown.

Records were found for three of the four children of Michel COLLING and Magdalena SCHMIDT after their baptisms. Michel their first child died at the age of 23 years in 1792. His parents were listed as Michel COLLING and Magdalena SCHMIDT.13

Their second son Nicolas was living in the Franz BIWER home on 25 February 1807 when Franz and Catharina’s youngest child was born. Nicolas witnessed her birth record. His age was given as 33 years although he would have been 37 at the time.14 A few months earlier he had been named as a 37 years old witness and the uncle of the bride when Catharina TRAUSCH married on 29 November 1806.15 The bride was the daughter of Theresia BRAUN and Remacle TRAUSCH. No further record has been found for Nicolas.

Their daughter Catharina who was born in 1772 produced a few more records. She had an illegitimate daughter named Maria in 1797. Maria’s birth took place in the family home and was reported by the midwife as well as Franz BIWER and a neighbor. Catharina, the mother of the child, was described as being the daughter of Michel COLLING and Magdalena SCHMIDT of Colmar, a deceased married couple who had resided in a house called Braumes.16

Five years later Catharina married. There are discrepancies in the marriage record. Marie Catherine COLLING, daughter of Michel COLLING and Catherine SCHMITT, born on 18 June 1772 in Colmar married Nicolas DIDESCH, son of Philippe DIDESCH and Marie WEBER. The date of birth is a match for Catharina COLLING but this is the first time she was seen as Marie Catherine. Another error is her mother’s name which should have been Magdalena and not Catherine. Franz BIWER was one of the four witnesses on the marriage record.17 No known children were born to this marriage.

Franz BIWER, the husband of Catharina BRAUN, died in 1808 in Colmar in his residence, a house called Braumes.18 This confirms the family home was passed on to Catharina BRAUN, the oldest child of Martin BRAUN and Magdalena SCHMIDT.

Catharina COLLING’s illegitimate daughter Maria died at the age of 19 on 14 June 1817 in Colmar. The informant for her death was Nicolas DIDESCH, described as the father of the deceased. The deceased’s name was listed only as Maria, without a surname. Infant naturel (child born out of wedlock) was written just above her name.19

Nicolas DIDESCH died in 1844 and was identified as the husband of Catharina COLLING.20 Catharina died in 1853. Her death was reported by Mathias BIWER, the youngest son of FRANZ BIWER and Catharina BRAUN.21

Reviewing the findings

The noticeable reoccurrence of Franz BIWER‘s name, a thread woven through the records, led me to a hypothesis of why Theresia BRAUN was also known as Theresia COLLING.

  • Magdalena SCHMIDT (also known as SCHNEIDISCH) was a young girl, barely 18 years old when she married the older widowed Martin BRAUN in 1761.
  • She gave him a daughter Catharina in 1765 and was pregnant with Theresia when he died in 1766.
  • She then married Michel COLLING a month later. Catharina was only 11 months old and Theresia was born five months after her mother remarried. Michel was their step-father and only father they knew.
  • Magdalena had four children with Michel between 1768 and 1775.
  • Both Magdalena and Michel died in 1782 leaving these orphans: Catharina BRAUN (16), Theresa BRAUN (15), and their half-siblings Michel (13), Nicolas (12), and Catharina COLLING (9). No trace of the youngest half-sibling Elisabeth COLLING (7) has been found and it is possible she died before her parents.
  • The guardian of the orphans was likely Philippe SCHMIDT of Colmar who was seen as the tutor or guardian of Catharina BRAUN in 1786 when she married.
  • After Catharina married, her husband Franz BIWER became the head of the family and guardian of his wife’s sister and half-siblings.
  • As the oldest child of Magdalena SCHMIDT and Martin BRAUN, Catharina and her husband lived in the house known as Braumes.
  • Nicolas COLLING, the second son of Michel COLLING and Magdalena SCHMIDT, was named in the 1806 marriage record of Catharina TRAUSCH as her uncle, i.e. brother of her mother Theresia BRAUN.

At this point, I was convinced Theresia BRAUN was also known as Theresia COLLING as she was the step-daughter of Michel COLLING and raised by him and her mother from birth.

The pieces of the puzzle fit and Franz BIWER‘s presence in the records is the glue which holds it together. Missing is a record which would prove Magdalena SCHNEIDISCH who married Martin BRAUN is the same person as Magdalena BRAUN who married Michel COLLING. Or a record showing the BRAUN girls were raised by Michel COLLING.

Proof for the hypothesis

Michel and Magdalena chose the perfect time in the history of Luxembourg to marry. In 1766 Maria Theresa of Austria implemented the first modern cadastre and census in a large part of the territories under the rule of the House of Habsburg including Luxembourg, Belgium, and part of the Netherlands.

1766 Census of the Village of Colmar in the Parish of Bissen with the household of Michel Colling

Michel COLLING was found in the village of Colmar in the Parish of Bissen as the head of household #7. He was a farmer. A total of eight persons were in his household including his wife Magdalena seen here with his surname COLLING and two young girls named Catherine and Therese BRAUN.22 It must be noted that on this census the married women, for the most part, were enumerated with their husband’s surname.

This 1766 census listing and the records previously mentioned are proof the daughters Magdalena SCHMIDT (also seen as SCHNEIDISCH) had with Martin BRAUN were raised by her and Michel COLLING and could explain Theresia’s using both surnames: BRAUN and COLLING.

A final piece of evidence

1811 Marriage Record of Pierre Matter and Suzanne Biwer

Theresia’s sister Catharina BRAUN was also seen with the COLLING surname when several of her children were born. As I cast the net out further, I found the 1811 marriage record23 of Catharina’s second daughter Susanna (b. 1789) which includes this statement: “le nom de Collin ayant été changé et rectifié en celui de Braun par jugement du tribunal de premier instance de l’arrondisement de Luxembourg en date du 31 January 1809“.

( the name of Collin having been changed and rectified in that of Braun by judgment of the court of first instance of the district of Luxembourg on January 31, 1809 )

Either after the death of Catharina’s husband Franz BIWER in 1808 or when their oldest daughter Marie gathered supporting documentation for her marriage in March 1809, the discrepancy in the name of the mother was noticed and had to be rectified by court order. When Susanna married in 1811 this was mentioned in the marriage record (above).

Any more questions?

At this point, I’d like to answer a question I’m sure many of you had while reading this post. Why would a widow who was three months pregnant marry so soon after the death of her husband?

When a man with small children was widowed he would usually have a relative come into the home to help with the children. If there were no relatives available he would need to have a woman live in the home. As this would not be proper, a marriage took place soon after the man was widowed.

I have always thought women did not remarry in the first year of widowhood to avoid any paternity issues in case the widow was pregnant at the time of her husband’s death. In Magdalena’s case, I believe her first husband farmed leased land of the lord of Berg in the village of Colmar. To keep the family income she married Michel COLLING who took over this lease. Evidence of this was found in the 1766 Cadastre of Marie-Thérèse and will be discussed in a later post.

In the next post, I will explain why Theresia’s mother Magdalena was also using two surnames, SCHNEIDISCH and SCHMIDT, and how this helped me to determine who her parents and grandparents were.

Posts in this series:

Part I: Remacle Trausch (1761-1804) and Theresia Braun (1766-1798) of Colmar

Part II: Why was Theresia BRAUN also seen as Theresia COLLING?

Part III: “Maison dite” Leads to Parents and Grandparents of Magdalena SCHMIDT (1743-1782)

Part IV: The Parents and Siblings of Remacle TRAUSCH (1761-1804)

Part V: A Horrific Crime in the Fortress City of Luxembourg

Part VI: Tying up the loose ends

© 2019, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.


  1. Luxembourg, registres paroissiaux, 1601-1948 (images), FamilySearch (original records at Luxembourg National Archives, Plateau du Saint-Esprit, Luxembourg), Bissen > Mariages 1779-1791, sépultures 1779-1791 > image 61 of 91. 1786 Marriage Record (bottom left and top right). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QSQ-G9WS-Q7SM?cc=2037955&wc=STHD-DPJ%3A1500938201%2C1501129408 : accessed 16 July 2019). 
  2. Ibid., Bissen > Mariages 1750-1757, 1760-1778, sépultures 1751-1754, 1760-1778 > image 13 of 34. 1761 Marriage Record (left, middle). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L9WS-QQ7D?cc=2037955&wc=STHD-DPX%3A1500938201%2C1501112182 : accessed 15 January 2018). 
  3. Ibid., Bissen > Baptêmes 1756-1778, confirmations 1767, 1789 > image 42 of 79. 1765 Baptismal Record (right, bottom). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-99WS-Q3K8?cc=2037955&wc=STHD-DP6%3A1500938201%2C1501120050 : accessed 15 January 2018). 
  4. Ibid., Bissen > Baptêmes 1756-1778, confirmations 1767, 1789 > image 44 of 79. 1766 Baptismal Record (right, 4th entry). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QSQ-G9WS-QQ3G?cc=2037955&wc=STHD-DP6%3A1500938201%2C1501120050 : accessed 15 January 2018). 
  5. Ibid., Bissen > Mariages 1750-1757, 1760-1778, sépultures 1751-1754, 1760-1778 > image 29 of 34. 1766 Death Record (right page, 7th entry). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L9WS-QQ4S?cc=2037955&wc=STHD-DPX%3A1500938201%2C1501112182 : accessed 14 July 2019). 
  6. Ibid., Bissen > Baptêmes 1779-1784, mariages 1779-1784, sépultures 1779-1784 > image 43 of 68. 1782 Death Record (right page, 3rd entry). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QSQ-G9WS-QQJ6?cc=2037955&wc=STHD-DPN%3A1500938201%2C1500938202 : 9 January 2015),. 
  7. Ibid., Bissen > Mariages 1750-1757, 1760-1778, sépultures 1751-1754, 1760-1778 > image 15 of 34. 1766 Marriage Record (right page, last entry). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-99WS-QQ9S?cc=2037955&wc=STHD-DPX%3A1500938201%2C1501112182 : accessed 14 July 2019). 
  8. Ibid., Bissen > Baptêmes 1756-1778, confirmations 1767, 1789 > image 48 of 79; paroisses, Luxembourg (parishes, Luxembourg).
    . 1768 Baptismal Record. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-89WS-QQ97?cc=2037955&wc=STHD-DP6%3A1500938201%2C1501120050 : accessed 14 July 2019). 
  9. Ibid., Bissen > Baptêmes 1756-1778, confirmations 1767, 1789 > image 51 of 79. 1769 Baptismal Record (left page, 5th entry). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QSQ-G9WS-Q323?cc=2037955&wc=STHD-DP6%3A1500938201%2C1501120050 : accessed 14 July 2019). 
  10. Ibid., Bissen > Baptêmes 1756-1778, confirmations 1767, 1789 > image 58 of 79. 1772 Baptismal Record. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-99WS-Q35S?cc=2037955&wc=STHD-DP6%3A1500938201%2C1501120050 : accessed 14 July 2019). 
  11. Ibid., Bissen > Baptêmes 1756-1778, confirmations 1767, 1789 > image 63 of 79. 1775 Baptismal Record. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QSQ-G9WS-Q3BH?cc=2037955&wc=STHD-DP6%3A1500938201%2C1501120050 : accessed 14 July 2019). 
  12. Ibid., Bissen > Baptêmes 1779-1784, mariages 1779-1784, sépultures 1779-1784 > image 44 of 68. 1782 Death Record (right page, 5th entry). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-89WS-Q79W?cc=2037955&wc=STHD-DPN%3A1500938201%2C1500938202 : 9 January 2015). 
  13. Ibid., Bissen > Baptêmes, mariages, sépultures 1785-1793 > image 159 of 186. 1792 Death Record (right page, 1st entry). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-89WM-9457?cc=2037955&wc=STH6-FMS%3A1500938201%2C1500938228 : accessed 20 July 2019). 
  14. Luxembourg, Registres d’état civil, 1662-1941 (images), FamilySearch (original records at Luxembourg National Archives, Plateau du Saint-Esprit, Luxembourg), Berg > Naissances 1796-1814 > image 92 of 140. 1807 Birth Record (lower left and upper right). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-6L2S-V5Y?cc=1709358&wc=9RYQ-K68%3A129623401%2C129773501 : accessed 26 July 2019). 
  15. Ibid., Berg > Mariages 1796-1858 > image 28 of 270. 1806 Marriage Record (lower right and next page upper left). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-62YQ-L1X?cc=1709358&wc=9RYQ-C6J%3A129623401%2C129709001 : accessed 16 January 2018). 
  16. Ibid., Berg > Naissances 1796-1814 > image 9+10 of 140. 1797 Birth Record (3 brumaire an VI). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-6L2S-JCQ?cc=1709358&wc=9RYQ-K68%3A129623401%2C129773501 : accessed 14 July 2019). 
  17. Ibid., Berg > Mariages 1796-1858 > image 20 of 270. 1803 (19 nivôse an XI) Marriage Record. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-62YQ-5L8?cc=1709358&wc=9RYQ-C6J%3A129623401%2C129709001 : accessed 14 July 2019). 
  18. Ibid., Berg > Décès 1796-1830 > image 54 of 167. 1808 Death Record No. 5. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-62YQ-XHD?cc=1709358&wc=9RYQ-C6X%3A129623401%2C129623402 : accessed 18 July 2019). 
  19. Ibid., Berg > Décès 1796-1830 > image 105 of 167. 1817 Death Record No. 5. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-62YQ-5J6?cc=1709358&wc=9RYQ-C6X%3A129623401%2C129623402 : accessed 14 July 2019). 
  20. Ibid., Berg > Décès 1831-1858 > image 73 of 160. 1844 Death Record No. 12. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-62YQ-X23?cc=1709358&wc=9RYQ-C6F%3A129623401%2C129651101 : accessed 18 July 2019). 
  21. Ibid., Berg > Décès 1831-1858 > image 112 of 160. 1851 Death Record No. 10. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-62YQ-XG8?cc=1709358&wc=9RYQ-C6F%3A129623401%2C129651101 : accessed 18 July 2019). 
  22. Luxembourg, 1766 Dénombrement (census), (images), FamilySearch (Digitial copy of the microfilm of originals in the Archives Générales du Royaume, Bruxelles, includes localities now in Luxembourg and Liège, Belgium), Film #008198978 > Decanat de Mersch > Colmar > Image 153 of 618, page 144, household no. 7. Michel Colling household. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSLL-993P-7?i=152&cat=1184675 : accessed 15 July 2019). 
  23. Luxembourg Civil Records, Bourscheid > Naissances 1872-1890 Mariages 1797-1890 > image 523 of 1447. 1811 Marriage Record No. 1 (part 1) and (part 2). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HY-DR89-YH7?cc=1709358&wc=9RYW-C68%3A129628601%2C129997101 and https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HY-DR8S-M5Y?cc=1709358&wc=9RYW-C68%3A129628601%2C129997101 : accessed 28 July 2019) 

Part I: Remacle Trausch (1761-1804) and Theresia Braun (1766-1798) of Colmar

Remacle TRAUSCH (1761-1804) and Theresia BRAUN (1766-1798) were a challenge to research. When I wrote about their son Michel in 52 Ancestors: #47 Michel Trausch and Catharina Hames of Mamer, I didn’t know anything about Michel and Catharina’s parents other than the names found in their 1787 marriage record.

Remacle and Theresia, my fifth great-grandparents and my children’s sixth, were ancestors who lived in Luxembourg. As I reviewed the records I’d found prior to writing about their son, I thought this would be straightforward. However, inconsistencies were found in the story I was seeing in their records and timeline. This led to further research. With each new record, I found myself asking more questions.

I believe I am now at a point where I can tell their story – in several parts.

Part I: The marriage of Remacle TRAUSCH and Theresia BRAUN

On  23 July 1787 the banns were published in Colmar and Mersch for the marriage between Remacle TRAUSCH, son of Peter TRAUSCH and Elisabeth CARMES, both deceased and from Mersch, and Theresia BRAUNERS, daughter of Martin BRAUNERS and Magdalena SCHMIDT, both deceased and from Colmar.

1787 Marriage Publication and Record of Remacle TRAUSCH and Theresia BRAUNERS

The following day Remacle and Theresia were married in Bissen. Present as witnesses were Johann SCHILTZ and Remacle’s brother Nicolas TRAUSCH. The marriage record was signed by the groom, the two witnesses, and Franz BIWER tutor. The bride could not write and left her mark.1

I would like to make four points concerning the information found in this marriage record:

  1. The name of the mother of the groom was not correct. A record will be presented to prove this in part IV.
  2. The surname of the bride and her father was a variation of the name BRAUN.
  3. Franz BIWER was not mentioned in the record, however, he signed as a guardian. He was the brother-in-law of the bride, Theresia.
  4. The groom signed his name. This will be important in later years.

The children of Remacle and Theresia

Remacle was 26 years old when he married Theresia who was only 20. She was with child when they married. Less than six months later, on 3 January 1788 around noon, Theresia gave birth to their son Franz TRAUSCH. He was baptized the same day in the church of Bissen with Franz BIWER of Colmar and Susanna KLEIN of Hollenfels as his godparents. His mother’s name on the record was Theresia COLLING.2

On 29 May 1790 at ten in the evening, Catharina TRAUSCH was born in Colmar. She was baptized the following day in Bissen. Her godparents were Catharina SCHMIT, wife of Clemens TRAUSCH of Mersch, and Nicolas SCHMIT of Colmar. Once again the mother of the child was recorded as Theresia COLLING.3

My fourth great-grandfather Michel TRAUSCH was born on 9 May 1792 at ten in the evening in Colmar. He was baptized the following day in the church in Bissen with godparents being Michel WALZING of Hollenfels and Anna Maria STOLZ, wife of Nicolas TRAUSCH of Mersch. His mother’s name was written, Theresia COLLIN.4

In May 1794 Nicolas TRAUSCH was born to Remacle and Theresia in Colmar. He was baptized in Bissen. His godparents were Nicolas MORBUS and Catharina COLLIN, both single and from Colmar. The corners of the register may have been eaten by mice and parts of the entry for this child are missing.5 In 1813-1814 when Nicolas later served in Napoleon’s army6 and in 1819 when he married his date of birth would be seen as 11 May 1794.7 The mother’s name was seen as Theresa BRONGERS. Braun is German for brown and in Luxembourgish this is brong. As the surname BRAUN was also seen as BRAUNERS, BRONGERS is likely another variation of the name.

1794 Baptismal Record of Nicolas Trausch with partly missing text.

Susanna TRAUSCH was born on 13 April 1796 at six in the evening. She was baptized the following day in the church of Bissen. Her godparents were Susanna SINNER of Berg and Matthias SCHMIT of Colmar, both single. The mother’s name was seen as Theresia CHOLLINGE.8

On 8 February 1798 at one in the afternoon the last child of Remacle TRAUSCH and Theresia BRAUN was born in Colmar. Their daughter Maria was baptized in Bissen the following day. Her godparents were Maria NEU and Dominique MEDER were both from Ettelbrück. The mother’s name was seen as Theresia BRAUN.9

The death of Theresia BRAUN

On 16 February 1798, eight days after the birth of Maria, Theresia died at ten in the evening. Her husband Remacle TRAUSCH, her brother-in-law Franz BIWER, and a neighbor named Mathieu NICKELS reported the death of Theresia BRAUN. Remacle and Theresia were living in Colmar in a house called Laplume, la maison de Laplume, were she died. The civil servant went with the three witnesses to the home to confirm the death of the deceased. The witnesses and the civil servant signed the death record.10

On all of the above mentioned baptismal records, Remacle TRAUSCH signed his name. The same signature as seen on his marriage record and the death record of Theresia BRAUN, further evidence his wife Theresia was known as BRAUN as well as COLLING.

I will discuss the mystery of Remacle TRAUSCH’s wife Theresia’s use of the COLLING name in my next post.

Posts in this series:

Part I: Remacle Trausch (1761-1804) and Theresia Braun (1766-1798) of Colmar

Part II: Why was Theresia BRAUN also seen as Theresia COLLING?

Part III: “Maison dite” Leads to Parents and Grandparents of Magdalena SCHMIDT (1743-1782)

Part IV: The Parents and Siblings of Remacle TRAUSCH (1761-1804)

Part V: A Horrific Crime in the Fortress City of Luxembourg

Part VI: Tying up the loose ends

© 2019, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.


  1. Luxembourg, registres paroissiaux, 1601-1948 (images), FamilySearch (original records at Luxembourg National Archives, Plateau du Saint-Esprit, Luxembourg), Bissen > Mariages 1779-1791, sépultures 1779-1791 > image 65 of 91. 1787 Marriage Record (p.120+121). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-89WS-Q784?cc=2037955&wc=STHD-DPJ%3A1500938201%2C1501129408 : accessed 15 January 2018). 
  2. Ibid., Bissen > Baptêmes, mariages, sépultures 1785-1793 > image 60 of 186. 1788 Baptismal Record (right, 1st entry). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L9WM-9WZ9?cc=2037955&wc=STH6-FMS%3A1500938201%2C1500938228 : accessed 15 January 2018). 
  3. Ibid., Bissen > Baptêmes, mariages, sépultures 1785-1793 > image 105 of 186. 1790 Baptismal Record (left, 2nd entry). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L9WM-9W9Z?cc=2037955&wc=STH6-FMS%3A1500938201%2C1500938228 : accessed 15 January 2018). 
  4. Ibid., Bissen > Baptêmes, mariages, sépultures 1785-1793 > image 146 of 186. 1792 Baptismal Record part 1 (right, bottom). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L9WM-94K3?cc=2037955&wc=STH6-FMS%3A1500938201%2C1500938228 : accessed 15 January 2018). 
  5. Ibid., Bissen > Baptêmes, mariages, sépultures 1794-1805, confirmations 1803 > image 6 of 219. 1794 Baptismal Record (lower left and upper right). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-99WM-94PN?cc=2037955&wc=STH6-FMQ%3A1500938201%2C1500969294 : accessed 15 January 2018). 
  6. Matricules Napoléoniens 1802-1815 (index and images), Mémoire des hommes, Registres de matricules de l’armée Napoléonienne (garde impériale et de l’infanterie de ligne) pour la période 1802-1815. (Entry point for database https://fr.geneawiki.com/index.php/Matricules_Napol%C3%A9oniens_1802-1815/Mode_op%C3%A9ratoire), Number/Source: GR 21 YC 755, 103e regiment d’infanterie de ligne,28 juillet 1813-8 janvier 1814 (matricules 9594 à 11388), Page: 128, Matricule: 10341. (https://www.memoiredeshommes.sga.defense.gouv.fr/fr/ark:/40699/e0052ab334d79f0f/52ab334f4505b : accessed 2019). 
  7. Luxembourg, Registres d’état civil, 1662-1941 (images), FamilySearch (original records at Luxembourg National Archives, Plateau du Saint-Esprit, Luxembourg), Tuntange > Naissances 1858-1890 Mariages 1796-1890 Décès 1796-1872 > image 467 of 1488. 1819 Marriage Record No. 3. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HY-68K3-PXQ?cc=1709358&wc=9RYH-168%3A130493401%2C130649501 : accessed 10 July 2019). 
  8. Luxembourg Church Records, Bissen > Baptêmes, mariages, sépultures 1794-1805, confirmations 1803 > image 43 of 219. 1796 Baptismal Record (right bottom). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-89WM-94ZM?cc=2037955&wc=STH6-FMQ%3A1500938201%2C1500969294 : 15 January 2018). 
  9. Ibid., Bissen > Baptêmes, mariages, sépultures 1794-1805, confirmations 1803 > image 90 of 219. 1798 Baptismal Record (lower left and top right). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L9WM-9WRS?cc=2037955&wc=STH6-FMQ%3A1500938201%2C1500969294 : accessed 15 January 2018). 
  10. Luxembourg Civil Records, Berg > Décès 1796-1830 > image 4+5 of 167. 1798 Death Record part 1 (bottom left page and all of right page) and 1798 Death Record part 2 (top left page). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-62YQ-KYG?cc=1709358&wc=9RYQ-C6X%3A129623401%2C129623402 : accessed 14 January 2018).