52 Ancestors: #17 They Didn’t Take The Rags to Riches Journey?!

Week 17 (April 23-29) – Prosper. Which ancestor has a rags-to-riches story? Which ancestor prospered despite the odds?

When my husband’s great-grandmother Margaretha GORGES was 8 months old her parents Johann GORGES and Catharina SCHERFF planned to emigrate to North America with Marguerite and her older brother Johann. It was quite a surprise to me when I found this information in the work of Richard Schaffner who compiled the Family Book for the town of Fell in Germany where the GORGES side of the family came from. Schaffner wrote, “Familie mit den beiden Kindern laut Mergen, Kreis Trier, Seite 96 nach Nordamerika ausgewandert, Antrag vom 12.03.1869.” Translation: The family with both children according to Mergen, Kreis Trier (shortened form of the publication name by Mergen) p. 96 emigrated to North America, application from 12 March 1869.[1]

The labor market in America offered opportunities to earn money to feed the families, improve their positions in life, and maybe even to save for hard times. A promise of rags-to-riches.

A person’s native country is precious. Why would he want to emigrate with his family? How did they know what life would be like in the new country? Did they have relatives who preceded them?

Emigration at that time was a costly hardship. How could a single person who worked as a servant afford to pay for the passage which would amount to two years of earnings? How much would a family need?

The family’s intention to emigrate is documented in this entry from the office of Schweich (Landkreis Trier-Saarburg, Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany)

Entry 642: Der Tagelöhner Johann Gorges, geb. 14.2.1838 zu Fell, gegenwärtig in Born, Lux., mit s. Frau Katharina Scherff, geb. 12.10.1836 zu Born in Luxemburg, und den Kindern Johann 30.1.1862 und Margaretha 28.7.1868 nach N. A. “dass er dort einen besseren Arbeitsverdienst zu finden hoffe”. 12.3.1869.[2]

Translation: The day laborer Johann Gorges, born 14 February 1838 in Fell, currently in Born, Lux., with his wife Katharina Scherff, born 12 October 1836 in Born in Luxembourg, and the children Johann b. 30 January 1862 and Margaretha b. 28 July 1868 to North America that he hoped to find better earnings there”. 12 March 1869

Two entries above this is another GORGES couple seeking permission to emigrate to North America six months earlier. Mathias Gorges, born 20 June 1842 in Fell, currently in Mertert, Lux., with his wife Barbara Achten, to North America “that he expected better earnings in America”. 23 September 1868.

Entry 640: Mathias Gorges, geb. 20.6.1842 zu Fell, gegenwärtig in Mertert, Lux., mit s. Frau Barbara Achten, nach N.A. “dass er in Amerika einen besseren Artbeitsverdienst erwarte”. 23.9.1868.[2]

Mathias was Johann’s younger brother according to Schaffner. How do I know these two men were brothers? Did they go to America? There is no mention in the Family Book of Fell that either of the GORGES brothers’ applications for emigration were withdrawn.

Did my husband’ great-grandmother travel to America when she was less than a year old? From my visit to the Red Star Line Museum in Antwerp, Belgium, I have a very good idea of what the emigrants went through to get to their port of departure where they were processed for their journey to their new homeland. What are the probabilities that either of the GORGES brothers went through these hardships to travel to North America?

Marguerite GORGES and her parents were living in Luxembourg when she married in 1891. When did they come back to Luxembourg? Did they ever leave? I followed both of the brothers and their families using the Luxembourg census and civil records and have come to the conclusion that they did not take the rags to riches journey.

The GORGES-SCHERFF Family

Town sign for Born in Luxembourg (24 April 2015). A special “thank you” to my husband who puts up with my asking him to stop to take photos while we are racing through the Luxembourg countryside on our bikes.

Catharina SCHERFF was born 25 October 1836 in Born, Mompach, Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. Yes, the name of the town where she was born is Born or Bur in Luxembourgish. Her parents were Michel SCHERFF (1792-1865) and his wife Elisabetha CLEMENS (1796-1870).[3]

On 30 January 1862 when Catharina was 25 years old she had a son Johann SCHERFF, born in Born. Michel SCHERFF, the child’s grandfather, was the informant and said the father was unknown.[4]

On 14 January 1868 Catharina SCHERFF, 30 years old and without an occupation, married Johann GORGES, a 29 years old servant (Knecht) in Mompach. Johann was a resident of Born, previously of Fell in Germany. Catharina’s father and Johann’s parents were deceased leaving only Catharina’s mother Elisabetha to give her consent to the marriage. Catharina’s illegitimate son Johann SCHERFF was given all the rights of a legitimate child through his mother’s marriage. Catharina’s only brothers Johann and Peter SCHERFF were witnesses to the marriage. All persons present, except for Elisabetha CLEMENS who could not write, signed the marriage record.[5]

Catharina’s husband Johann GORGES was born on 14 February 1838[1] and baptized on 15 February 1838[6] in Fell, Longuich, Trier, Preußen (Germany). His parents were Johann GORGES (1800-1860) and Anna Maria BOTZ (1808-1863).[1] He lived in Born and worked as a servant in 1864 and 1867 when the census was taken.

Six months after the marriage Catharina and Johann’s daughter Margaretha was born on 27 July 1868 in Born.[7]

As seen above Johann GORGES applied to emigrate on 12 March 1869. At the time the family of four was living in Born in Luxembourg. A little over a year later on 4 June 1870, Catharina gave birth to her second daughter Maria in Born.[8] Was this enough time for Johann and Catharina to make preparations for their departure, a journey to North America and then come back to Europe? I have my doubts.

A third daughter Elisabeth was born on 11 October 1871 in Born.[9] The family of six was seen for the first time on a census on 1 December 1871.[10], [11], [12]

Johann and Catharina’s next son, Peter, born on 16 October 1874 in Born lived only one hour.[13], [14] In 1875 when the census was taken Johann GORGES’ household was made up of 5 persons. The 13 years old son Johann was not with his parents [15], [16], [17] and was not seen with them again on the census listings from 1875-1900. As was often the case, he may have been learning a trade while living with another family.

When the census was taken in 1875 Catharina was 8 months pregnant with daughter Helena born 5 January 1876 in Born.[18] Two years later she gave birth to a son they named Peter on 16 April 1878 in Born.[19] Another son, Mathias, was born on 9 March 1880 in Born.[20]

When the census was taken in 1880 Johann GORGES was working as a quarryman on his own account to support his family which included his wife Catharina, and his children, Margaretha, Maria, Elisabeth, Helena, Peter and Mathias.[21], [22], [23]

On 24 June 1883, at the age of 46 years, Catharina gave birth to a son Johann in Born.[24] Their family was now complete – 21 years after the birth of her first son Johann.

What happened to the first son named Johann? He did not live with his parents from the age of 13 but he did visit them. Unfortunately, it was during one of these visits that a document was drawn up which tells a bit of his story. On 13 November 1885, Johann GORGES declared the death of his 7 months old grandson Mathias GORGES, son of Johann GORGES and his wife Barbara BECHTHOLD. The child died at the home of his grandfather. He was born in Ernz (Ernst), Germany, where his parents still resided.[25] This record shows that Catharina’s firstborn had married before 1885 and lived in Germany.

In 1887 when the census was taken Johann and Catharina had their children ages 3 to 18 living at home. Margaretha 18 and Maria 16 were working as day laborers; Elizabeth 15 did not work; Helena 10, Peter 8, and Mathias 7 were going to school leaving the youngest, 3 years old Jean (also seen as Johann), at home with his mother.[26], [27], [28]

1890
Back sheet of the 1890 Luxembourg census for the Gorges-Scherff family listing persons who were not living at home when the census was taken.[31]
The census taken on 1 December 1890 was very important in terms of the timeline of my husband’s great-grandmother Margaretha as it was the year before she married. The GORGES-SCHERFF household shows their three sons living at home and their four daughters working as maids (Dienstmädchen) and living in other places. Margaretha is in Osweiler where she met and married her husband Johann SCHWARTZ in 1891. Marie is in Herborn, Elisabeth is in Echternach, and Helena is in Mertert. I have not checked these towns to see which families they lived with.[29], [30], [31]

Before the time came for the 1895 census, Johann GORGES’ neighbor Heinrich THIEL went to Mompach to declare a death in the GORGES-SCHERFF family. The daughter Elisabeth died on 6 September 1894 at home in Born at the age of 23.[32]

I had some problems with the 1895 census. I nearly did not find it due to an issue I discovered on FamilySearch for the collection “Luxembourg, Volkszählungen 1843-1900.” This collection is browse-only. While searching for the section of the census taken in Mompach for the town of Born, I saw names of towns not found in the area. Then I realized that the batch for Mompach and for Mondercange had been mixed up. FamilySearch was immediately contacted by email. I have not received a reply but my experience with the support team is very good. I am sure that they are looking into the matter and will give me feedback – they may be able to fix it now or will list it under issues for the collection that will be fixed at a later date.

By 1895 Margaretha was married and Elisabeth was deceased. Only five children remained to be enumerated with their parents Johann and Catharina. Marie was once again living at home and was not working. Her younger brothers Peter, Mathias, and Jean were at home and still too young to work. Her sister Helena had been working in an unknown place for the past three years.[33], [34], [35]

Johann GORGES declared the birth in Born of a granddaughter named Catharina on 1 May 1898. His 28 years old daughter Maria was the mother of the child and no father was listed. In the margin, a note was made that the child was legitimized when her mother married Mathias LEMMER on 30 December 1906 in Mompach.[36] The marriage record confirms this.[37]

Little Catharina was living with her mother Maria in the household of her grandparents Johann and Catharina GORGES-SCHERFF when the census was enumerated on 1 December 1900. Also at home was Maria’s 22 years old brother Peter who was working as a quarryman. Helena, a cook, and Mathias, a waiter, had been working in Rheims (also spelled Reims), France, halfway between Luxembourg and Paris, for the past 3 years.[38], [39], [40] The youngest son of this family, 17 years old Jean, was in the Jean HELFIN household in Born and working as a stable hand (Stallknecht).[41], [42], [43]

More censuses were taken after 1900 but this is the last presently found online at FamilySearch. Civil records help to tell the rest of the story. On 25 May 1906 son Peter GORGES died in Born at the age of 27. His 36 years old cousin Johann SCHERFF, an innkeeper (Gastwirt) was the informant.[44] Peter like his father had been a quarryman. Who was left to help Johann as he was not getting any younger?

Seven months later daughter Maria, as mentioned earlier, married Mathias LEMMER on 30 December 1906 in Mompach. Mathias was 8 years younger than Maria and both of his parents were deceased. Maria’s parents Johann and Catharina were present and gave their consent to the marriage. Catharina GORGES, Maria’s daughter, was legitimized and given the name Catharina LEMMER at the time of the marriage.[37] Did Mathias take the place of Maria’s brother Peter helping Johann GORGES in his quarry work?

The mother of this family, Catharina SCHERFF, died on 2 November 1908 in Born at the age of 72 years. Her son-in-law Mathias LEMMER, a quarryman, was the informant. Her husband survived her.[45]

Mathias LEMMER went to Mompach on 2 May 1913 to report the death of his father-in-law Johann GORGES the previous day in Born. Johann was 75 years old at the time of his death.[46]

This was not the last time that Mathias LEMMER had to report a death in the family he married into. On 30 Jun 1921, his wife Maria GORGES died at the age of 50 in Born.[47]

The longest living person of this family may have been my husband’s great-grandmother Margaretha SCHWARTZ-GORGES. She died 23 October 1938 in Osweiler where she lived her entire married life. Her obituary mentions the Gorges family but no names of living relatives are giving. Is it possible that her siblings Johann, Helena, Mathias, and Jean, who have not been traced, were still living?

A final note concerning Johann GORGES’ brother Mathias mentioned at the beginning. How do I know these two men were brothers? I have both of their marriage records which list their parents as Johann GORGES and Anna Maria BOTZ as well as their respective wives as named in the emigration records.

If Mathias and Barbara made the trip to North America they would have had to return in time for their first child’s birth and Barbara would have been pregnant on both trips. Mathias’ family was found in the civil records in Mertert, Luxembourg, from the time he married Barbara ACHTEN on 30 June 1868[48], through the births of 8 children between 1869-1885, until his death in 1899 and her death 1921.

Imagine the repercussions of one tiny decision. If my husband’s great-grandmother Margaretha GORGES had gone to America with her parents and never returned, she would not have met her husband and had the child who would be my husband’s grandmother. In turn there would not have been a grandson who would be my husband’s father or a great-grandson who would be the father of my children. An entire branch of a family tree changed forever.

Sources:
[1] Richard Schaffner, Einwohnerbuch der Orte Fell u. Fastrau mit Fellerhof, Fellerburg und den verschiedenen Mühlen im Gemeindebereich, 2008/2009, p. 106-107 family 502 and p. 109 family 510. Citing Kirchenbücher der Bistumsarchivs Trier (church records of the Diocese of Trier archive).
[2] Josef Mergen, Die Amerika-Auswanderung aus dem Landkreis Trier (1855-1910), 1952, p. 96 entry 640 and 642
[3] Luxembourg, Registres d’état civil, 1793-1923 (images), FamilySearch (original records at Luxembourg National Archives, Plateau du Saint-Esprit, Luxembourg), Mompach > Naissances 1834-1890 Mariages 1797-1814, 1796-1809, 1799-1830 > image 33 of 1393. 1836 Birth Record No. 26. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-267-12131-131830-98?cc=1709358&wc=9RYC-C68:130097801,130406101 : accessed 21 Nov 2014).
[4] Ibid, Mompach > Naissances 1834-1890 Mariages 1797-1814, 1796-1809, 1799-1830 > image 274 of 1393. 1862 Birth Record No. 5. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-267-12131-133581-48?cc=1709358&wc=9RYC-C68:130097801,130406101 : accessed 5 April 2010).
[5] Ibid, Mompach > Mariages 1831-1890 Décès 1796-1814, 1799-1830, 1799-1880 > image 567 of 1480. 1868 Marriage Record No. 1. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-266-12874-12362-9?cc=1709358&wc=M9M6-L4B:1262051718 : accessed 02 Apr 2013).
[6] Deutschland, Geburten und Taufen 1558-1898 (Germany, Births and Baptisms, 1558-1898), index, FamilySearch, GS Film number: 463564, Indexing Project (Batch) Number: C98369-2. “Name: Joannes Gorges; Gender: Male; Christening Date: 15 Feb 1838; Christening Place: Sankt Martinus Katholisch, Fell, Rheinland, Prussia; Father’s Name: Joannis Gorges; Mother’s Name: Annae Mariae Botz.” (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/NPC7-BQW : accessed 05 Apr 2013).
[7] Luxembourg, Registres d’état civil, 1793-1923 (images), FamilySearch (original records at Luxembourg National Archives, Plateau du Saint-Esprit, Luxembourg), Mompach > Naissances 1834-1890 Mariages 1797-1814, 1796-1809, 1799-1830 > image 337 of 1393. 1868 Birth Record No. 14. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-267-12131-132414-2?cc=1709358&wc=M9M6-LHS:2047330937 : accessed 01 Apr 2013).
[8] Ibid, Mompach > Naissances 1834-1890 Mariages 1797-1814, 1796-1809, 1799-1830 > image 352 of 1393. 1870 Birth Record No. 13. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-267-12131-131283-9?cc=1709358&wc=9RYC-C68:130097801,130406101 : accessed 5 April 2010).
[9] Ibid, Mompach > Naissances 1834-1890 Mariages 1797-1814, 1796-1809, 1799-1830 > image 363 of 1393. 1871 Birth Record No. 21. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-267-12131-130403-13?cc=1709358&wc=9RYC-C68:130097801,130406101 : accessed 5 April 2010).
[10] Luxembourg, Volkszählungen 1843-1900 (images), FamilySearch (original records at Luxembourg National Archives, Plateau du Saint-Esprit, Luxembourg), Mompach > 1871 > image 119 of 377. Gorges-Scherff household no. 25. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1951-32378-30865-48?cc=2037957&wc=M5GM-K61:345859501,345869501 : accessed 22 April 2015).
[11] Ibid, Mompach > 1871 > image 120 of 377. Gorges-Scherff household no. 25. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1951-32378-30862-51?cc=2037957&wc=M5GM-K61:345859501,345869501 : accessed 22 April 2015).
[12] Ibid, Mompach > 1871 > image 121 of 377. Gorges-Scherff household no. 25. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1971-32378-29212-24?cc=2037957&wc=M5GM-K61:345859501,345869501 : accessed 22 April 2015).
[13] Luxembourg, Registres d’état civil, 1793-1923 (images), FamilySearch (original records at Luxembourg National Archives, Plateau du Saint-Esprit, Luxembourg), Mompach > Naissances 1834-1890 Mariages 1797-1814, 1796-1809, 1799-1830 > image 392 of 1393. 1874 Birth Record No. 30. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-267-12131-135359-12?cc=1709358&wc=9RYC-C68:130097801,130406101 : accessed 5 April 2010).
[14] Ibid, Mompach > Mariages 1831-1890 Décès 1796-1814, 1799-1830, 1799-1880 > image 1428 of 1480. 1874 Death Record No. 12. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-266-12874-12384-95?cc=1709358&wc=9RYW-MNL:130097801,130138901 : accessed 22 April 2015).
[15] Luxembourg, Volkszählungen 1843-1900 (images), FamilySearch (original records at Luxembourg National Archives, Plateau du Saint-Esprit, Luxembourg), Mompach > 1875 > image 58 of 368. Gorges-Scherff household no. 26. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1961-32382-9049-78?cc=2037957&wc=M5G3-N3V:345859501,345870501 : accessed 22 April 2015).
[16] Ibid, Mompach > 1875 > image 59 of 368. Gorges-Scherff household no. 26. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1961-32382-9185-71?cc=2037957&wc=M5G3-N3V:345859501,345870501 : accessed 22 April 2015).
[17] Ibid, Mompach > 1875 > image 60 of 368. Gorges-Scherff household no. 26. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1942-32382-8969-73?cc=2037957&wc=M5G3-N3V:345859501,345870501 : accessed 22 April 2015).
[18] Luxembourg, Registres d’état civil, 1793-1923 (images), FamilySearch (original records at Luxembourg National Archives, Plateau du Saint-Esprit, Luxembourg), Mompach > Naissances 1834-1890 Mariages 1797-1814, 1796-1809, 1799-1830 > image 410 of 1393. 1876 Birth Record No. 2. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-267-12131-135504-55?cc=1709358&wc=9RYC-C68:130097801,130406101 : accessed 5 April 2010).
[19] Ibid, Mompach > Naissances 1834-1890 Mariages 1797-1814, 1796-1809, 1799-1830 > image 430 of 1393. 1878 Birth Record No. 13. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-267-12131-130877-9?cc=1709358&wc=9RYC-C68:130097801,130406101 : accessed 5 April 2010).
[20] Ibid, Mompach > Naissances 1834-1890 Mariages 1797-1814, 1796-1809, 1799-1830 > image 447 of 1393. 1880 Birth Record No. 5. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-267-12131-133418-98?cc=1709358&wc=9RYC-C68:130097801,130406101 : accessed 21 Nov 2014).
[21] Luxembourg, Volkszählungen 1843-1900 (images), FamilySearch (original records at Luxembourg National Archives, Plateau du Saint-Esprit, Luxembourg), Mompach > 1880 > image 92 of 390. Gorges-Scherff household no. 43. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1942-32391-17167-63?cc=2037957&wc=M5G3-DP5:345859501,345872201 : accessed 22 April 2015).
[22] Ibid, Mompach > 1880 > image 93 of 390. Gorges-Scherff household no. 43. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1971-32391-17202-76?cc=2037957&wc=M5G3-DP5:345859501,345872201 : accessed 22 April 2015).
[23] Ibid, Mompach > 1880 > image 94 of 390. Gorges-Scherff household no. 43. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1951-32391-17489-45?cc=2037957&wc=M5G3-DP5:345859501,345872201 : accessed 22 April 2015).
[24] Luxembourg, Registres d’état civil, 1793-1923 (images), FamilySearch (original records at Luxembourg National Archives, Plateau du Saint-Esprit, Luxembourg), Mompach > Naissances 1834-1890 Mariages 1797-1814, 1796-1809, 1799-1830 > image 490 of 1393. 1883 Birth Record No. 18. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-267-12131-131523-2?cc=1709358&wc=9RYC-C68:130097801,130406101 : accessed 5 April 2010).
[25] Ibid, Mompach > Décès 1880-1891 > image 48 of 90. 1885 Deth Record No. 27. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-267-11668-127283-50?cc=1709358&wc=9RY4-DPF:130097801,130097802 : accessed 22 April 2015).
[26] Luxembourg, Volkszählungen 1843-1900 (images), FamilySearch (original records at Luxembourg National Archives, Plateau du Saint-Esprit, Luxembourg), Mompach > 1887 > image 115 of 380. Gorges-Scherff household no. 28. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1951-32391-4373-99?cc=2037957&wc=M5GH-4WL:345859501,345875201 : accessed 22 April 2015).
[27] Ibid, Mompach > 1887 > image 116 of 380. Gorges-Scherff household no. 28. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1971-32391-4083-94?cc=2037957&wc=M5GH-4WL:345859501,345875201 : accessed 22 April 2015).
[28] Ibid, Mompach > 1887 > image 117 of 380. Gorges-Scherff household no. 28. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1942-32391-4205-43?cc=2037957&wc=M5GH-4WL:345859501,345875201 : accessed 22 April 2015).
[29] Ibid, Mompach > 1890 > image 120 of 393. Gorges-Scherff household no. 28. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1951-32391-14244-86?cc=2037957&wc=M5G4-FMK:345859501,345876401 : accessed 22 April 2015).
[30] Ibid, Mompach > 1890 > image 121 of 393. Gorges-Scherff household no. 28. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1971-32391-13812-80?cc=2037957&wc=M5G4-FMK:345859501,345876401 : accessed 22 April 2015).
[31] Ibid, Mompach > 1890 > image 122 of 393. Gorges-Scherff household no. 28. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1971-32391-14042-66?cc=2037957&wc=M5G4-FMK:345859501,345876401 : accessed 22 April 2015).
[32] Luxembourg, Registres d’état civil, 1793-1923 (images), FamilySearch (original records at Luxembourg National Archives, Plateau du Saint-Esprit, Luxembourg), Mompach > Naissances, mariages, décès 1891-1894 > image 108 of 111. 1894 Death Record No. 28. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-267-12165-229666-84?cc=1709358&wc=9RYM-N31:130097801,129717601 : accessed 22 April 2015).
[33] Luxembourg, Volkszählungen 1843-1900 (images), FamilySearch (original records at Luxembourg National Archives, Plateau du Saint-Esprit, Luxembourg), Mondercange > 1895 > image 76 of 423. Gorges-Scherff household No. 34. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1961-32396-1348-67?cc=2037957&wc=M5GX-JWR:345859101,345878001 : accessed 22 April 2015). Note: The browse path is correct for this record however the collection is mislabelled. It should be Mompach instead of Mondercange. The issue was reported to FamilySearch support on 22 Apr 2015.
[34] Ibid, Mondercange > 1895 > image 77 of 423. Gorges-Scherff household No. 34. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1961-32396-1270-92?cc=2037957&wc=M5GX-JWR:345859101,345878001 : accessed 22 April 2015). Note: see [29]
[35] Ibid, Mondercange > 1895 > image 78 of 423. Gorges-Scherff household No. 34. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1971-32396-1286-55?cc=2037957&wc=M5GX-JWR:345859101,345878001 : accessed 22 April 2015). Note: see [29]
[36] Luxembourg, Registres d’état civil, 1793-1923 (images), FamilySearch (original records at Luxembourg National Archives, Plateau du Saint-Esprit, Luxembourg), Mompach > Naissances 1895-1923 > image 32 of 289. 1898 Birth Record No. 7. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1971-32063-13727-85?cc=1709358&wc=9RT1-W3L:130097801,129648901 : accessed 22 April 2015).
[37] Ibid, Mompach > Mariages 1895-1923 > image 69 of 168. 1906 Marriage No. 10. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1971-32063-12915-87?cc=1709358&wc=9RT1-W32:130097801,129649201 : accessed 22 April 2015).
[38] Luxembourg, Volkszählungen 1843-1900 (images), FamilySearch (original records at Luxembourg National Archives, Plateau du Saint-Esprit, Luxembourg), Mompach > 1900 > image 81 of 420. Gorges household No. 27. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1951-32396-11618-33?cc=2037957&wc=M5GX-2J9:345859501,345873901 : accessed 22 April 2015).
[39] Ibid, Mompach > 1900 > image 82 of 420. Gorges household No. 27. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1942-32396-12061-71?cc=2037957&wc=M5GX-2J9:345859501,345873901 : accessed 22 April 2015).
[40] Ibid, Mompach > 1900 > image 83 of 420. Gorges household No. 27. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1951-32396-11588-54?cc=2037957&wc=M5GX-2J9:345859501,345873901 : accessed 22 April 2015).
[41] Ibid, Mompach > 1900 > image 49 of 420. Jean Helfin household no. 11. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1951-32396-11560-86?cc=2037957&wc=M5GX-2J9:345859501,345873901 : accessed 25 April 2015).
[42] Ibid, Mompach > 1900 > image 50 of 420. Jean Helfin household no. 11. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1971-32396-11624-41?cc=2037957&wc=M5GX-2J9:345859501,345873901 : accessed 25 April 2015).
[43] Ibid, Mompach > 1900 > image 51 of 420. Jean Helfin household no. 11. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1971-32396-11605-42?cc=2037957&wc=M5GX-2J9:345859501,345873901 : accessed 25 April 2015).
[44] Luxembourg, Registres d’état civil, 1793-1923 (images), FamilySearch (original records at Luxembourg National Archives, Plateau du Saint-Esprit, Luxembourg), Mompach > Décès 1895-1912 > image 93 of 143. 1906 Death Record No. 15. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1951-32063-14862-73?cc=1709358&wc=9RT1-4WT:130097801,129657201 : accessed 22 April 2015).
[45] Ibid, Mompach > Décès 1895-1912 > image 111 of 143. 1908 Death Record No. 24. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1961-32063-14001-78?cc=1709358&wc=9RT1-4WT:130097801,129657201 : accessed 27 Sep 2014).
[46] Ibid, Mompach > Décès 1913-1923 > image 5 of 80. 1913 Death Record No. 15.  (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1971-32045-3913-24?cc=1709358&wc=9RTB-G53:130097801,129622902 : accessed 27 Sep 2014).
[47] Ibid, Mompach > Décès 1913-1923 > image 57 of 80. 1921 Death Record No. 4. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1961-32045-3602-65?cc=1709358&wc=9RTB-G53:130097801,129622902 : accessed 22 April 2015).
[48] Ibid, Mertert > Naissances 1852-1890 Mariages 1813-1890 Décès 1813-1859 > image 958 of 1491. 1868 Marriage Record No. 7. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-266-12125-161445-39?cc=1709358&wc=9RY3-N38:130080101,130192001 : accessed 25 April 2015).

Genealogy Sketch

Name: Johann GORGES
Parents: Johann GORGES an Anna Maria BOTZ
Spouse: Catharina SCHERFF
Parents of spouse: Michel SCHERFF and Elisabetha CLEMENS
Whereabouts: Fell, Germany, and Born, Luxembourg
Relationship to Cathy Meder-Dempsey: husband’s great-great-grandparents

  1. Johann GORGES and Catharina SCHERFF
  2. Margaretha GORGES
  3. Catharina “Ketty” SCHWARTZ
  4. Marcel Mathias MEDER
  5. Cathy Meder-Dempsey’s husband

© 2015 Cathy Meder-Dempsey

52ancestors-2015This is my weekly entry for Amy Johnson Crow’s challenge:
52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – 2015 Edition. It was so successful in 2014 that genealogists wanted to continue or join in on the fun in 2015. Be sure to check out the other great posts by visiting Amy’s blog No Story Too Small where she’ll be posting the weekly recap on Thurdays and allowing all participants to leave a link to their post(s) in the comments.

A Visit to the Red Star Line Museum in Antwerp

logo_klengAre you curious about what your immigrant ancestors had to endure to come to America? Last May 24th I got a glimpse of what it was like. I participated in a day trip with my genealogy society Luxracines to Antwerp (Belgium) with a visit of the Red Star Line Museum. As always the trip was well planned with enjoyable transportation. Everyone had a good time visiting the sights in the city of Antwerp before going on the guided tour scheduled at the museum.

group
The Luxracines group. © Romain Krier, used with permission.

We were divided up into three groups, two guides spoke French and the third English. Of course I chose to go with the English group. Our storyteller Lien Vloeberghs gave us a wonderfully informative tour of the museum. I mentioned to her that I wanted to write a blog post about the visit and she offered to send me the museum’s press kit and answer any questions I would have.

The Red Star Line Museum tells the story of millions of people and the quest for happiness. It is a story we can all relate to.
~
Red Star Line Museum press kit

The Red Star Line Museum on the Rijnkaai in Antwerp, Belgium, opened it’s doors to the public in September 2013. The museum is in the restored departure warehouses for third-class passengers. It is full of remarkable exhibits documenting the history of the shipping line and the more than two million passengers who left through this port between 1873 and 1934. Did one of your ancestors arrive in America on a ship whose name ended with land? Then the ship was most likely one of the Red Star Line fleet.

Between 1815 and 1940, about 60 million migrants left Europe in hope of a better life.

Visitors follow in the footsteps of emigrants and experience their enthusiasm and anxiety, their tension and uncertainty; they experience the farewells and obstacles as well as the adventure, the discoveries and the hope for a new life on the other side of the ocean.
~ Red Star Line Museum press kit

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Red Star Line Museum exhibit, photographed during visit 24 May 2014.

In the late 19th and early 20th century the Red Star Line provided direct passage across the Atlantic to New York, Philadelphia, and Boston to migrants. Their journey began in their country of origin, usually Germany and Eastern Europe. The emigrants frequently left their countries because of poverty.

Several of my relatives from Luxembourg immigrated to the United States on a Red Star Line ship. A cousin of my great-great-grandfather André FOURNELLE (1838-1908) took this big step with his family.

Nicolas FOURNELLE (1830-1913) made the trip across the Atlantic on the Friesland in 1890 at the age of 59 with his wife Margaret HUBERTY 49, their children J. Baptist 17, Anna Maria 10, and Pierre 5, as well as, their son-in-law Frederick BROEDER 32, his wife Marie FOURNELLE 28, and their children Joh. Herm. 4 and Josephine 2. The group of nine went to join up with Nicolas’ son Jean Pierre and daughter Marie Catherine who had made the same trip on the Belgenland in 1887.

Let us join the Fournelle family on their journey

The Departure

The FOURNELLE and BROEDER families of Rodange most likely bought their tickets from the Red Star Line travel agency Derulle-Wigreux und Sohn in Luxembourg City. The travel agency advertised in local newspapers for all classes of passengers.

Ad
Luxemburger Wort Nr. 245, 2 Sep 1885, page 4; digitized by Bibliothèque nationale de Luxembourg [online http://www.eluxemburgensia.lu : accessed 26 May 2014]
The Train Journey

station
Gare Centrale in Antwerp. Red Star Line Museum collection. Photo taken during visit.

The ocean crossing itself was only part of the voyage. Migrants first had to leave their country and take a long train trip to Antwerp arriving at the Gare Centrale which can be compared to Grand Central Station in New York.

For the families coming from Luxembourg the train trip was short compared to those travelling from Eastern Europe. These people may have had to make stops along the way to work and replenishing their money pouches. For some the trip lasted up to several years as they moved from one location to the next. The gaps between leaving the homeland and arriving in America should be taken into consideration when researching your families.

Staying in Antwerp

The migrants arrived in the dynamic city of Antwerp. Imagine these impoverished people walking to their lodgings and seeing the bustling shopping streets and luxurious buildings of the city. They often stayed in filthy hotels with swindlers waiting to cheat them out of their money or ticket. For most the stay in Antwerp was short but for others, who did not pass the controls or needed to earn more money for passage, their time in the city was longer than planned.

Entering the Museum (today)

Crossing the threshold of the “Shed” we entered the world of the European migrants who left their native countries in search of a better life. We were able to touch the walls that our immigrants touched while they endured the required procedures to allow them to travel to America.

building
The Red Star Museum in Antwerp.

Showers and Disinfection

Passengers handed over their luggage to Red Star Line employees. Men and women where separated and took off their clothes to shower. Their clothes were put in a bag and with the luggage were placed in the large chambers which were hermetically sealed to be disinfected under high pressure steam.

chambers
Red Star Line Museum exhibit, photographed during visit 24 May 2014.

While their clothes and belongings were chemically treated the passengers were cleaned of lice by taking an hour long shower with hot vinegar and benzene.

Passengers recall that their clothes were damp when returned to them. It is unknown what chemicals may have been used to disinfect the clothes and baggage as no records have been found about the procedure. The chambers used to disinfect the belonging are long gone however a photo of the room with the disinfection kettles survives.

The Doctor’s Visit

Following the shower the migrants climbed the stairs that led to the doctors’ area
and the final judgment.

The Red Star Line enforced the rules of the American authorities as anyone who was refused entry in the United States would be sent back at the expense of the shipping line. The hygienic procedures were insisted upon by the American authorities to avoid bringing infectious diseases such as cholera, typhoid fever and trachoma into the county. Migrants were put in quarantine if they came from an area known to have had an epidemic.

Doctors checked the passengers for lice running their hands through hair, lifting or pulling down eyelids to inspect for eye disease (trachoma), using instruments to press down the tongue to check for disease in the mouth. All examinations were done without the precautions that we are used to today.

Travelling Steerage

entry
Red Star Line Museum exhibit, photographed during visit 24 May 2014.

After the extensive checks in the building the migrants could finally embark and begin the ocean journey.

For the Fournelle family this meant that they would live together with other migrants in large dormitories for the circa ten day (to three week) trip.

Later, in the 20th century, crossing on ocean steamers was much more comfortable for passengers as companies began paying more attention to the comfort of third-class traveller.

In the museum’s exhibits the stark difference between the luxury of first class and the scarcity of third class can be seen.

Stories collected from former passengers tell of upper class passengers throwing food down to third class or of the migrants sneaking up to second class for scraps of food as there was no access to first class.

Frieslandsm
Passenger Ships and Images [Ancestry.com : accessed 26 May 2014]
What happened to the migrants during their journey? Who did they meet, what did they see and feel, why did they leave? The collection of stories allow visitors of the meusum to learn more about the people who crossed the Atlantic.

header
New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957 [Ancestry.com : accessed 26 May 2014]

Steerages
New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957 [Ancestry.com : accessed 26 May 2014]

Broder-Fournell
New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957 [Ancestry.com : accessed 26 May 2014]

Arriving in America

The Fournelle party arrived in New York on 12 March 1890. Tension was high as the crucial, last examination awaited third-class passengers. Crowd control barricades
lead them through the examination station.

Nicolas and his family finally passed through all controls and were able to continue their journey to Pawnee County, Nebraska, where they were reunited with 24 year old son John Peter FOURNELL (as he was now called) and 20 year old daughter Catherine. Not only were they reunited with these children but also with Nicolas’ sister Margaret (1833-1910) who immigrated about 1881 with her second husband Nicolas le jeune BOUCHÉ (aka Nicholas BOUCHE).

The Guided Tour Comes to an End

Our visit to the museum came to an end after climbing the observation tower which offers a 360° view of Antwerp. This showpiece, shaped like the bow of a steamer, was built on the new building between the corner building and the main building to replace a high chimney that was dismantled in 1936.

panoramasm
Panorama view from the observation tower of the Red Star Line Museum.

A heartfelt thank you to Lien Vloeberghs and the rest of the staff at the Red Star Line Museum for making this a memorial journey.

★★★★★★★

From the Red Star Line Museum press kit, two famous passengers:

Albert Einstein made two historic journeys with the Red Star Line: the first time the Belgenland brought him from the United States to Antwerp, where he announced that he would not return to Nazi Germany.
His second journey, on the Westernland, brought Einstein and his wife to America for good.

★ Israel Isidore Baline, later known as Irving Berlin, the composer of ‘White Christmas’, travelled on the SS Rhynland as a 5-year-old boy.

The Red Star Line Trailer – English Subtitles  

★★★★★★★

© 2014 Cathy Meder-Dempsey