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)