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 Priest Born in the 16th Century Leaves a Key to Open the Door in a Brick Wall

On Sunday I was checking my post, 52 Ancestors: #25 A Family on Two Continents, and doing miscellaneous searches for descendants of this family from Luxembourg when I made a fantastic discovery.

While searching the newspapers and periodicals on eluxemburgensia, part of the National Library of Luxembourg site, I got a surprising hit for Elisabetha HOBSCHEID and Michel GRASSER, my children’s 5th great-grandparents who I wrote about in the above article.

The hit brought up the book Manuel des fondations de bourses d’étude instituées en faveur des Luxembourgeois, published in 1858. Imagine my surprise. Michel died in 1821, Elisabetha in 1831, and this book was from 1858. A manual of scholarships available to Luxembourgers written by Jean-Pierre Koltz (1804-1880), a teacher.

Unlike the newspapers where you are taken directly to the page the name is found on, this search took me to a chapter in the book. It was not immediately obvious why I was getting a hit in the chapter titled Penninger Foundation. I leafed through until I found Elisabetha and Michel. Their names were on a list of genealogical information. I slowly went back through each generation to find myself at the beginning of the family tree of Pierre PENNINGER.

It took me a few days to get my thoughts together and figure out how to share this discovery. This morning we took a bike ride to Brandenbourg to take pictures which I’ve added throughout this post. I’d like to thank my husband for sharing my enthusiasm through his photography. I hope you enjoy and they don’t distract too much from the rest of the story.

Who was Pierre PENNINGER?

Pierre PENNINGER, a native of Diekirch, took his vows for the priesthood and was the pastor of Brandenbourg at the time of his death.

On 4 June 1632, he donated 2,500 écus to the Jesuit priests. On the 1st of December of the same year, the Conseil provincial (Provincial Council) approved the donation to be used for two scholarships for the seminary in honor of the Holy Trinity.

The road into Brandenbourg with the castle on top of the hill.

In his last will and testament dated 5 January 1636 Father Penninger added the sum of 700 écus for a total of 3,200 écus (7,680 francs in 1848) for the scholarship fund to benefit three students of the Jesuit seminary. Relatives of Pierre PENNINGER, the founder, were the first eligible for the scholarships. If no relatives applied then the scholarships would go to poor young men of the Brandenbourg parish or its environs.

Kapell Brandenbourg (Chapel)

The original capital of the Penninger Foundation was 2,500 écus. The revenue of the capital was enough to fund two students during their stay at the seminary. The wars of the times caused the value of the scholarships to be reduced by nearly half so that only one scholarship for offered.

Inside the Chapel of Brandenbourg

However, through the wise administration of the capital, the fund increased in value to 12,698 francs in 1848. By a royal decree in 1848 it was decided to increase the number of scholarships to two.

Cornerstone of the Chapel of Brandenbourg

As the terms of the will were that the scholarships should go to the priest’s relatives, a family tree, in the possession of the Société Archéologique du Grand-Duché, was kept for consultation by candidates for the scholarships.

Brandenbourg Castle

Why all the excitement?

In my last post about Michel GRASSER and Elisabetha HOSCHEID, I wrote:

Elisabetha’s family lived in Brandenbourg. This parish’s records are lacking and those which are included are out of order. I have not gone through them to find her parents’ family group.

I did not even try to go through the records. The genealogy information in the chapter about the Penninger Foundation in the book mentioned above turned out to be the key I needed to open the door, or maybe a window, in this brick wall.

Stained glass window in the chapel of Brandenbourg

The PENNINGER Family Tree from 1672 and 1705

What follows are extracts of the Penninger family tree pertaining to my children’s direct line from Pierre PENNINGER’s parents to Elisabeth and Michel.

  • All screenshots (below) are from Jean-Pierre Koltz’s Manuel des fondations de bourses d’étude instituées en faveur des Luxembourgeois. Link to the book (public domain) is found at the end of this article.

The genealogical information for the grandfather of Pierre PENNINGER was certified by the aldermen of the town of Diekirch on 7 April 1672 and 21 April 1705.

The grandfather of the founder, Pierre PENNINGER, had two sons. One of the sons was the father of a son and a daughter: Pierre PENNINGER, a lawyer in Diekirch, who was already deceased at the time his cousin, the pastor of Brandenbourg, made his will on 5 January 1636 and Elisabeth PENNINGER who married Regnard HERMAN.

The other son of the grandfather had three children. 1. Pierre, the pastor of Brandenbourg and founder of the scholarship foundation in his name. 2. Hélène, referred to as Hildegarde in her brother’s will, married Pierre FUNCK of Brandenbourg. 3. Marguerite married Jean KLEIN of Bockoltz who the founder referred to as Mercatoris (merchant) in his will.

The descendency of the two sisters of pastor Penninger of Brandenbourg.

My children’s line goes through the second sister Marguerite PENNINGER who married Jean KLEIN and had the following children:

  1. Jean KLEIN
  2. Dominique KLEIN, who was mentioned in Pierre PENNINGER’s will
  3. Jean KLEIN married Eve FLORENTZ
  4. Nicolas KLEIN married Odile BERNARD of Wiltz

The descendency of the KLEIN-PENNINGER couple was certified on 11 August 1768 by the mayors and aldermen of the high justice of Wiltz. The information was later complemented by information found in the civil records.

Jean KLEIN and Eve FLORENTZ had a daughter Hélène KLEIN who married Nicolas BOCK.

Nicolas BOCK and Hélène KLEIN had the following children:

  1. Ludovine BOCK married Jean-Michel REULAND
  2. Marguerite BOCK married Jean KETTELS of Niederwiltz
  3. Jean-Grégoire BOCK married Marie LEMMAER of Brandenbourg
  4. Jean-Nicolas BOCK, a notary from Merzig-sur-la-Sarre, was a Penninger scholar

Jean-Michel REULAND and Ludovine BOCK had the following children:

  1. Marie-Marguerite REULAND married Guillaume FISCHBACH (conflicting information – this daughter is also seen in the line down from the founder’s sister Hélène)
  2. Anne-Marguerite REULAND married N. Fischbach
  3. Jean-Philippe REULAND
  4. Jean-Nicolas REULAND
  5. Marie-Catherine REULAND married Léonard HOSCHEID of Brandenbourg

Léonard HOBSCHEID (sic, HOSCHEID) and Marie-Catherine REULAND of Brandenbourg had the following children:

  1. Marie-Catherine HOBSCHEID (sic) married(1) Philippe FISCHBACH and married(2) Michel LIMES of Brandenbourg
  2. Michel HOBSCHEID (sic) of Brandenbourg married an unknown lady
  3. Elisabeth HOBSCHEID (sic) married Michel GRASSER of Moestroff

Children #1 and #2 continue with another generation while my children’s 5th great-grandparents Elisabeth HOSCHEID and Michael GRASSER of Moestroff do not have children listed.

Have you counted through the generations found for this family? I had the names of Elisabeth HOSCHEID’s parents and, with the above, I have been able to add four more generations back to my children’s 10th great-grandmother Marguerite PENNINGER, sister of Pierre PENNINGER, the pastor who set up the scholarship fund for his relatives or needy young men of the parish of Brandenbourg and environs.

The church of Brandenbourg with the cemetery on the sides and back.

Although the Brandenbourg parish records aren’t complete, I have been able to find baptismal, marriage, and death/burial records for several of the person’s named above as well as for children who were not included in the list. The genealogical information lacks dates and can only be used as a guide until records are found to confirm the line back to the PENNINGER grandfather of Pierre, Hélène, and Marguerite and their cousins Pierre and Elisabeth.

As I began to look for records to support the information found in the published family tree, I learned I was not the first to make this discovery. It kind of burst my bubble but I still feel really good about this since I came across it on my own – even if it was a bit by chance.


Auguste Neÿen, Biographie luxembourgeoise: histoire des hommes distingues …, Volume 2, Luxembourg 1861; pg. 40 and 105; online

Koltz, Jean-Pierre, Manuel des fondations de bourses d’étude instituées en faveur des Luxembourgeois; V. Bück , Luxembourg, 1858; online|issue:2828373|article:DTL3386|page:107|query:Elisabeth Hobscheid