The lecture was organized by my local genealogy association luxracines.lu. Prof. Dr. Peter GILLES explained in his lecture the procedure and results of several years of research. The project was supported by the Luxembourg National Research Fund (FNR) from 2009-2012 at the University of Luxembourg. The 2600 most frequent family names were published in Luxemburger Familiennamenbuch by Cristian Kollmann, Peter Gilles and Claire Muller in 2016. I have a copy of the book and mentioned it in my post How a Surname Had Me Spiraling Down a Rabbit Hole.
The PREISEN surname is unusual and, with the evolution of surnames on my mind, I wanted to add an unexpected end to this family’s story.
When Thomas, the father of this family, was baptized in 1753 his surname was spelled PREISER. When he married in 1779, the record showed the spelling PREUSEN. When his children were born between 1779 and 1799, PREISEN and PREUSEN were seen on the baptismal records. When Thomas died in 1801, PREUSEN was the spelling used by all of his children. By 1880, the descendants had gone back to using the PREISEN spelling.
The three sons of Thomas and Anna Maria who married, each had 8 to 9 children but only one son each. Peter and Joseph’s sons both lived to the age of 80 but never married.
Anton’s son had a son who had a son who had a son…
Anton was the only son of Thomas and Anna Maria who continued the male line, the line which kept the surname alive. Anton had a son:
Philippe (1822-1883) who had a son
Michel (1852-1945) who had a son
Michel Philippe (1889-1975) who had a son
Jean Pierre Christophe (1915-1944), known as Jempy to the family and friends.
There were no other male descendants other than Anton’s son, grandson, great-grandson, and great-great-grandson. Jempy was the last male PREISEN in the line.
Jempy died at the age of 28 years as the result of an accident. What terrible “accident” took his life?
Diekirch – Jempy Preisen † . The city of Diekirch has endured four years the Nazi tyranny and oppression with a strong heart and unflinching will. No wonder the day of our deliverance, September 11th, was a day of joy, enthusiasm, and rejoicing. Unfortunately, the victorious goddess demanded a sacrificial prize in the person of the 28-year-old Jempy PREISEN from Diekirch. This member of the Luxemburgish Freedom Organization was shot by a cowardly national traitor during the cleansing of our city. Jempy was always a noble friend to us all, animated by an ardent patriotism; it was rightly said of him: How tall stand today the women and men who did so much for our homeland — who like those from other large countries, put their lives on the line. The general interest of the town and the surrounding region of Diekirch may be a quiet consolation for the respectable PREISEN-THILLEN family, who have now sacrificed their only son and heir for the homeland. Jempy Preisen has entered into the long series of heroes who have sacrificed their lives for the liberty of Luxembourg; his memory will always be honored.
The underlined part is the translation of the quote used at the beginning of this post.
In 1880 the Luxembourg census had 9 persons enumerated with the surname PREISEN, a name no longer found in the telephone book in 2009. The last living male person to carry the surname PREISEN, Jempy’s father, died in 1975, nearly 200 hundred years after Thomas and Anna Maria started their family.
The Story is Not All Sadness
For those of you who have read the first part of this story, Thomas and Anna Maria’s story is not all sadness. Marie’s children lived short lives and Elizabeth had two stillborn daughters, but the other five children each had between seven and a dozen children. There were some who did not live to adulthood and others who chose to not marry, but the rest married and continued their lines although not with the PREISEN name.
One of these was my children’s 4th great-grandmother Margaretha PREISEN.
Her line went full circle when her granddaughter Elise FABER married François MEDER (half 3rd cousins) and had eleven children. In yesterday’s post I mentioned this unusual discovery which may have been a bit hard to follow. Amy Cohen of Brotman: A Family Journey suggested doing a chart (above, click to enlarge) to help “decipher your sentence about the sixth great-grandparents…” Does this make it easier?
I made an unusual discover while researching this family group. To weave it into their story, and hopefully make reading the post a bit easier, I wrote this differently.
Thomas PREISER was born and baptized on 23 September 1753 in Diekirch. His godparents were Thomas PREISER, likely his paternal grandfather, and Apolonia HOCHDÖRFFERS, a single person, of Diekirch. Thomas was the son of Joannis PREISER and Anna Maria FETH. He was their first child and only son.
Three and a half years later his sister Margaretha was born. She, however, was not his only sister. His mother Anna Maria had been previously married to Nicolai SCHEID (SCHOOD) with whom she had four daughters. I will write about them when I get to the next generation.
Thomas PREISER married Anna Maria SCHRANTZ, daughter of Petrus SCHRANTZ and Anne Marie HAMEN, on 15 February 1779 in Diekirch. Both the bride and groom signed their names on the marriage record.
Anna Maria was born and baptized on 3 January 1754 in Diekirch. Her godparents were Nicolaus SCHRANTZ and Anna Maria PROMMENSCHENCKEL.
Thomas, a farmer, and Anna Maria were the parents of ten children. Their first child, a son, as was the tradition of the time, had his paternal grandfather Thomas as his godfather and his maternal grandmother Anna Maria as his godmother.
The family grew over the years and in 1790, after 11 years of marriage, they had six children, two sons and four daughters, all living. But 1790, which brought the birth of their second son Anton, also saw the death of their youngest daughter Magdalena who was not quite four years old.
A daughter and a son were born in 1792 and 1794 bringing the total number of living children to seven. Then in 1795 their oldest child Joannes died at the age of 15. Two more sons were born to the couple in 1797 and 1799.
By the turn of the century Thomas and Anna Maria had 8 living children, 4 sons and 4 daughters. A year later, on 4 January 1801, Thomas died leaving Anna Maria with children aged between less than 2 and 19.
Life without Thomas meant his widow would not be sharing the milestones in the lives of their children with him. Anna Maria’s three oldest children married during the 1810s leaving her with four sons and a daughter still at home. In the 1820s daughter Maria gave birth to five children. She died in 1818 and the children all died between 1817-1819. There were, however, also good times in the 1820s with three of Anna Maria’s sons marrying.
By 1830 only daughter Elisabetha and youngest son Nicolas were still single. No record of death or marriage was found in Diekirch for Nicolas. He may have left the town to work or marry in an as yet unknown location.
In 1830 Elisabetha was working as a clothes presser (repasseuse) and gave birth to a stillborn daughter. No father was listed on the death record of the child and the stillbirth was reported by the midwife.
On 13 January 1832 Elisabetha’s brother Anton had the sad duty of being the informant on the death of their mother Anna Maria SCHRANTZ.
Almost a year later Elisabetha married Pierre LEY who was 17 years younger than she was. On the second anniversary of her mother’s death Elisabetha, who was nearly 42, gave birth to another stillborn daughter. Elisabetha and her merchant husband did not have any other children. The marriage may not have been a happy one. In 1856, when Elisabetha and Pierre had been married 23 years they owned in the Diekirch area a house with stable on the Place d’Armes, a barn with stable in the Watresgasse, several pieces of farmland and gardens, and a newly built house at Bleesbruck on the Heerstrasse from Diekirch to Vianden and Echternach.
All of the property was put up for auction on 20 July 1856. Three months later on October 16 Elisabetha filed an application for the separation of property.
Seven months later her husband was dead and she died three months later. Her brother Peter was the informant for her death on 14 August 1857. Their siblings Margaretha (the younger, my children’s 4th great-grandmother), Anton, and Margaretha (the elder) had already died leaving only Peter and his younger brother Joseph. Three years later in 1860 Peter once again acted as the informant for the death of his brother Joseph. Peter, the last living child of Thomas and Anna Maria, died two years later in 1862.
The Children of Thomas and Anna Maria
Thomas and Anna Maria had the following children with surnames as found on their baptismal/birth record.
Joannes PREISEN was born/baptized on 1 December 1779 in Diekirch. His godparents were Joannes PREISEN, married, and Anna Maria SCHRANTZ, married, both of Diekirch. He died on 6 June 1795 in Diekirch.
Margaretha PREISEN was born/baptized on 2 November 1781 in Diekirch. Her godparents were Josephus SCHRANTZ, single, and Margaretha PREISEN, single, both of Diekirch. She married Philippe BERINGER (1778-1849) on 26 May 1803 in Diekirch. She died on 10 January 1854 in Diekirch.
Maria PREUSEN was born/baptized on 7 Nov 1783 in Diekirch. Her godparents were Jacobus MERTEN and Maria BIAS, both of Diekirch. She married François MOLITOR (1784-1863) on 9 May 1808 in Diekirch. She died on 26 Mar 1818 in Diekirch.
Margaretha PREISEN was born/baptized on 13 July 1785 in Diekirch. Her godparents were Baptista FETH and Margaretha KESSELER, both of Diekirch. She married Mathias LORENTZ (1775-1822) on 28 November 1809 in Diekirch. She died on 17 November 1843 in Diekirch.
Maria Margaretha “Magdalena” PREISEN was born/baptized on 22 July 1787 in Diekirch. Her godparents were Michael GRASER and Maria Margaretha SCHRANTZ, both of Diekirch. She died on 28 November 1790 in Diekirch. Her name on her death record was Magdalena. Her baptismal record was recorded as Magdalena, then crossed out, and corrected to read Maria Margaretha, the name of her godmother.
Antoine “Anton” PREUSEN was born/baptized on 5 January 1790 in Diekirch. His godparents were Michael Schrantz who substituted for Antonius SCHRANTZ and Barbara JUTTEL, both of Diekirch. He married Marguerite CARMES (1790-1870) on 9 January 1821 in Diekirch. He died on 1 June 1847 in Diekirch. Antoine and his wife had 8 children, only one son lived to marry and carry on the surname.
Elisabetha PREISEN was born/baptized on 25 August 1792 in Diekirch. Her godparents were Maximinus HAMEN and Elisabetha SCHRANTZ, both of Diekirch. She married Pierre LEY (1809-1857) on 10 January 1833 in Diekirch. She died on 14 August 1857 in Diekirch.
Peter PREUSEN was born/baptized on 4 December 1794 in Diekirch. HIS godparents were Peter BUNGERT and Margaretha SCHRANTZ. He married Cathérine LORANG (1797-1866) on 5 March 1823 in Diekirch. He died on 6 July 1862 in Diekirch. Peter and his wife had 9 children, only one son who never married and died at the age of 80.
Joseph PREUSEN was born/baptized on 20 February 1797 in Diekirch. His godparents were Josepho SCHRANZ and Josepha BIAS. He married Susanne KLEIN (1798-1852) on 23 May 1827 in Diekirch. He died on 17 June 1860 in Diekirch. Joseph and his wife had 8 children, only one son who never married and died at the age of 80.
Nicolaus PREUSEN was born on 25 Mar 1799 in Diekirch. It is not known when he died.
As this story was coming together, I attended a lecture on Luxembourgish surnames. The surname of this family is unusual and, with the evolution of surnames on my mind, I wrote an unexpected end to this family’s story. To be continued tomorrow….
Name:Gangolf “Gangolphe” WILMES Parents: Michaelis WILMES and Barbara JACQUEMIN Spouse:Anne Marguerite SCHOOD Parents of spouse: Nicolai SCHEID (SCHOOD) and Anna Maria FETT Whereabouts: Diekirch, Grand Duchy of Luxembourg Relationship to Cathy Meder-Dempsey: 4th great-grandfather of husband
All records for this family were found in the church and civil records of the town of Diekirch. Births, baptisms, marriages, and deaths mentioned below occurred in Diekirch unless otherwise stated.
Gangolphus WILMES, the son of Michaelis WILMES (1700-1783) and Barbara JACQUEMIN (1705-1751), was born and baptized on 5 April 1739. His godparents were Gangolphus Walbrüll and Margaretha Juttels. The church record shows the surname spelled WILLEMS. He was the middle child of the nine documented children found for his parents.
His mother, Barbara, died on 25 October 1751. On 5 March 1753, a little over sixteen months later, his father married his second wife, Marie THOBES (1727-1792). They were the parents of four documented children.Further research (page by page viewing of the church records) needs to be performed to confirm the number of siblings and half-siblings Gangolf actually had.Anna Margaretha SCHOOD, daughter of Nicolai SCHEID (SCHOOD) and Anna Maria FETT, was born and baptized on 24 November 1741. Her godparents were Joannis Feth, Synodalis (a church counselor) and Anna Margaretha, frate olim (sibling of old) Feth.Anna Margaretha’s surname was seen as Schoodt, Schood, Schod, Schoed, and Schoedt in records found for her and her children. Different spellings of surnames was not unusual during this time period. To avoid confusion I have used the spelling found when her parents married: SCHOOD.When I started to look into the WILMES-SCHOOD couple I did not have Anna Margaretha’s parents, siblings, or her date of birth/baptism. I will share how I found the records in another post. For now, I would like to point out that FETT and FETH are very likely the same family name, only a different spelling. I will be able to confirm or refute this claim after I have done further research on Anna Margaretha’s mother’s FETT family.
Gangolphus and Anna Margaretha – The Marriage
My children’s 5th great-grandparents, Gangolphus WILMES and Anna Margaretha SCHOOD, were married on 29 October 1764. No further information was included in the entry for the marriage in the church record. No parents of the bride and groom, no age for the bride and groom, and no witnesses. Other entries made on the same page, in a different handwriting, have a bit more information on the parents of the bride or groom. It looks like two persons were keeping the records. My children’s ancestors’ marriage was recorded by the one who wrote short entries with little more than the names and date.
Gangolphus and Anna Margaretha – Become Parents
Gangolphus and Anna Margaretha’s first child was born less than two weeks before their first wedding anniversary. Susanna WILMES was born and baptized on 18 October 1765. Her godparents were Joannes Preusen and Susanna Schodt. The godmother was likely her 21 years old aunt Susanna, her mother’s sister.
Gangolphus and Anna Margaretha did not wait long for their second child who was born thirteen months later. Elisabetha was born and baptized on 23 November 1766. Her godparents were Christian Flick and Elisabetha Schoodt. The godmother Elisabetha was likely a sister of the mother of the child, however I cannot say if she was Elisabetha age 27 or Maria Elisabetha age 20. Births of these two ladies have been found but marriages and/or deaths records have not been searched for.The third child of this couple was of my children’s 4th great-grandmother Apolonia WILMES. She was born and baptized on 27 February 1769. Her godparents were Nicolas Theys and Apolonia Scholtes.Gangolphus and Anna Margaretha finally had a son when their fourth child was born. Nicolaus WILMES was born and baptized on 19 February 1772. His godparents were Nicolaus Unden and Maria Barbara Clemang.The fifth child was once again a girl. Anna Margaretha Wilmes was born and baptized on 5 July 1774. Her godparents were Michel Wilmes, a brother of the father, and Anna Margaretha Preuser.On 16 February 1777, two and a half years later, the sixth child Margaretha WILMES was born and baptized. Her godparents were Nicolas Wilmes, a brother of the father, and Margaretha Frison.Four years later another daughter joined the family and was given the same name as the last child. Margaretha WILMES was born and baptized on 7 January 1781. Her godparents were Joes (Joannes) Schumacher of Hollenfels and Margaretha Preuser of Diekirch.The baptismal record of this child is the first record showing a signature for the father “Gangolff Wilmes” as he signed above, on the right side near the bottom. It is 1781 and Gangolphus would soon turn 42.
An Aside Concerning Godparents
As seen above, godparents included both the mother’s and the father’s siblings. What of the other godparents? Preusen and Preuser, names seen for three godparents of the children mentioned above, are likely the same surname. Were they also relatives?
Further research is planned as this is a name which is already in my children’s family tree. Thomas PREISEN (PREUSEN) and Anne Marie SCHRANTZ were the parents of their 4th great-grandmother Margaretha PREUSEN. It will be interesting to see if there is a connection.
The Children’s Mother Dies
Gangolphus’ wife Anna Margaretha died on 12 January 1781, five days after giving birth to Margaretha. Her age was given as 34 although she had turned 39 the previous November. Gangolphus was left with seven children to care for. The youngest was only 5 days old when her mother died and the oldest was 15 years old.The widower waited six weeks to remarry. He married Maria Catharina Colman, daughter of Andreas Colman and Catharina Wevers, on 24 February 1781. The fact that he was the widower of Anna Margaretha SCHOOD is included in the entry. His brother Damian WILMES was one of the witnesses. Once again we see the signature “Gangolff Wilmes” which would suggest that in day to day life he went by Gangolff while the church authorities concerned his name to be Gangolphus.
Further Deaths in the Family
Sadly, the death of Gangolphus’ wife and mother of his children was not the last during the year. His youngest, baby Margaretha died at the age of seven months on 14 August 1781. The death entry includes the name of her deceased mother.
She was followed two weeks later by her sister who was also baptized with the name Margaretha. The death record of the second child has the correct age at death but when she died on 31 August 1781 her name was given as Elisabetha. As with her baby sister, the name of her deceased mother was included in the entry.The five remaining WILMES children lost their paternal grandfather Michaelis WILMES on 21 November 1783 at the age of 80 years.Three years later Gangolphus buried his only son Nicolaus Wilmes who died on 19 April 1786 at the age of fourteen.
Four Remaining Daughters
Of the four remaining daughters, two have not been traced. The oldest Susanna and the youngest Anna Margaretha. It is not known if they married or even died young. They were not found in the index of marriages for Diekirch which could mean they died young, married in another town, or never married.
The first of Gangolphus and Anna Margaretha’s daughters to marry was Apolonia “Apolline” WILMES. She married Johann Nicolas “Jean Nicolas” MEDER (1766-1844) on 13 January 1794.
Apolonia’s older sister Elisabetha married André KOENIG (1769- ) on 20 June 1796.
Apolonia and Elisabetha gave Gangolphus ten grandchildren, three of whom predeceased him.
Gangolphus is Again Widowed
On 31 March 1811 “Gangolffe Wilmes,” a 77 years old day laborer was the informant for the death of his wife, Marguerithe THOLMANG who was 76 at the time of death.This name does not match the name seen for the woman he married in 1781. The marriage record shows her name as Maria Catharina Colman, daughter of Andreas Colman and Catharina Wevers. Was this the same lady he married in 1781 or was he married three times? Hopefully further research will solve this question.Gangolphus WILMES outlived his last wife by fifteen years, long enough to see two of his grandsons marry in 1821 and 1822.His daughter Apolonia, my children’s ancestor, died on 26 November 1824.
Gangolf “Gangolphe” WILMES died on 22 January 1825 at the age of 85, outliving his father by five years. His death was reported by his grandson, Jeangout KOENIG. Jeangout is the French version of the name Gangolf. Gangolphus’ name was given as Jeangout WILLMES and his age as 82 years. According to the death record, he was the widower of Marie TOLLMAN – similar to Marie Catherine Collman seen in 1781 but not a match. Could her maiden name on the marriage record have been transcribed incorrectly and did this influence my interpretation of the handwriting?
At the time of his death, the only known living child of the WILMES-SCHOOD couple was Elisabeth WILMES who died ten years later on 10 December 1835 at the age of 70.
Next week, I will continue with another set of my children’s 5th great-grandparents, the parents of Elisabetha CLOS. The parents of her husband, Théodore REIFFER are at this time unknown and I am not expecting to find the key to a door in his brick wall in the near future.