The Ancestors: Where the Genealogy Research is Going in the New Year

With last week’s post The Ancestors: Pierre Fournelle of Rodange, Luxembourg, and Jeanne Neu of Athus, Belgium, I finished writing about half of my maternal fifth great-grandparents. This week, I’d like to talk to you about my change in plans.

I had planned on researching and writing about the other half of my maternal fifth great-grandparents, these being from locations in present-day Germany, then a part of a greater Luxembourg.

The Ancestors: My mother’s paternal fourth great-grandparents

(448 & 449) Michel WILTINGER and Margaretha DIESBURG
(450 & 451) Michael WELTER and Katharian KLEIN
(452 & 453) Matthias SCHRAMEN and Anna Barbara LEIBRICH (BURG)
(454 & 455) Sebastian SCHMITT and Maria LORANG
(456 & 457) Nikolaus WEYMAN and Maria Katharina HUSS
(458 & 459) Gerard MALAMBRÉ and Barbara BIESDORF
(460 & 461) Johann Bernard WELTER and Maria BRIMERS
(462 & 463) Johann HENNES and Magdalena MÜLLER
(464 & 465) Peter BUBELREITER and Gertrud LAMBERTI or BOSEN
(466 & 467) Johann BOMMES and Anna Maria Luzia THIELEN
(468 & 469) Peter MERTSCHERT and Susanna “Anna”SCHNEIDER
(470 & 471) Theodor MERGEN and Gertrud THELEN
(472 & 473) Johann Nicolaus WAGNER and Anna Maria KLEIWER
(474 & 475) Johann HARTERT and Elisabeth HEINZ
(476 & 477) Peter KERSCHT and Eva SCHMIDS
(478 & 479) Gerhard EWEN and Barbara THEILEN

I have marriage records for the couples marked in red as they married in the parish of Echternach, Luxembourg. Dates of marriage are known for the couples in blue but records are not accessible online (some possibly only due to my European residence). For the remaining couples, I have no dates of marriage. Their marriages are assumed to have occurred before the birth/baptism of legitimate children.

Missing or non-accessible documentation

My mother’s paternal ancestors lived in villages that became a part of Germany at the time of the Second Partition of Luxembourg in 1815. I have access to the family books of the German villages the 16 sets of 5th great-grandparents lived in. These finding aids are reliable but not error-free. They include dates and places of birth, baptism, marriage, death, and burial. Some have the register, page, and entry number to aid in finding the record.

I’ve used the information in family books to grow my family tree adding the documents to support the dates and places of events when accessible. For this group of ancestors, the records I’ve been able to obtain have been those that were recorded in catholic church registers that remained in Luxembourg mainly in the parish of Echternach. However, many of the events were recorded in the church registers archived in the Bistumsarchiv Trier and the civil registers archived in the Kreisarchiv Bitburg.

Although the church records were filmed by FamilySearch, access in Europe is limited to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Some of these are available stateside to the public but I don’t plan to request help from family or friends to do lookups for me.

Bistumarchiv and Kreisarchiv

The church records can be consulted at the Diocese Archive (Bistumarchiv) in Trier, Germany, and the civil records at the District Archive Bitburg-Prüm (Kreisarchiv) in Bitburg, Germany. These are less than an hour’s drive from my residence but impractical due to Covid restrictions.

Records found in these archives were used by the compilers of the family books of the German towns. Although primary sources were used, the publications are secondary sources. I’ve used them as sources in earlier posts but I don’t think they will be of benefit for the stories of this generation.

Our family schedule doesn’t leave much time for trips to either archive at this time. The past two years have not been easy for any of us. As with many of my other genealogy friends in my age group, we are caring for the older and the younger generations in our family. Keeping them safe during this pandemic.

Moving on to US research

I long to get back to US research as many records have been added to FamilySearch‘s online collections. I’ve stolen minutes here and there, working on finding my American ancestors in the personal property tax lists, land tax lists, court records, land deeds, etc. This is a time-consuming project as the records are not indexed and have to be browsed, cited, and evaluated. With each record, events are added to the ancestor’s timeline, adding detail to the yet unwritten story.

Another reason for fixing my focus on US research is the coming release of the 1950 US census in April 2022.

December will be quiet here at Opening Doors in Brick Walls as I take a break from writing.

My warmest thoughts for a wonderful holiday and a happy New Year. May peace, love, and prosperity follow you always. May the world become a safer place for all.

© 2021, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

The Ancestors: Johann Consbrück (1749-1796) of Echternach and Barbara Schmidt (1747-1829) of Koedange

My 5th great-grandparents Johann CONSBRÜCK (1749-1796) of Echternach and Barbara SCHMIDT (1747-1829) of Koedange celebrated their marriage in the hometown of the groom.1

One of several roads leading into Echternach.

In this direct line from myself to Johann’s parents, only two of the nine couples did not marry in Echternach. My great-grandparents married in Mamer in 1900 and my 3rd great-grandparents married in Metz, France, in 1835. My husband and I were married in Echternach in 1978, my parents in 1957, my grandparents in 1935, my 2nd great-grandparents in 1867, 4th in 1805,  5th in 1773, and 6th in 1735. My 7th great-grandparents likely married in Echternach or Mersch about 1705. After the death of my 7th great-grandfather, his widow, my 7th great-grandmother married again, in Echternach.

1773 Marriage Record

1773 Marriage Record

On Monday, 22 February 1773, in the presence of Johann HINCKES and Martin HERCKES, citizens of Echternach, Father LUCIUS solemnized the marriage between the respectable young Johann, the legitimate son of Johann Wilhelm CONSBRÜCK of Echternach, and Barbara, the legitimate daughter of Peter SCHMIDT of Koedingen, after prior review of the dismissal by the priest of the parish of Waldbillig.2

Barbara Schmidt’s hometown Koedange – Kéidéng in Luxembourgish.
A view of the few houses in Koedange.

The parish priest provided a dimissionis, a dismissal or nuptial certificate for the party (bride or groom) marrying in a different parish. In this document, the parish priest certified to his colleague who was to celebrate the marriage that the person in question was single (or widower/widower) and that the prescribed bans (public announcement of the marriage) had been correctly made.


Barbara’s nuptial certificate came from Waldbillig as the hamlet of Koedingen (Kéidéng in Luxembourgish) was at the time attached to the parish of Waldbillig.

Riding our bikes through the ancestral villages in Luxembourg.

The CONSBRÜCK Children

Johann CONSBRÜCK (1749-1796) and Barbara SCHMIDT (1747-1829) made their home in Echternach. They were the parents of three known children born between 1775 and 1782.

Henri CONSBRÜCK was born on 5 April 1775 in Echternach.3 He died at the age of 75 years on 22 May 1850 in Echternach.4 He married Eva LANSER, daughter of Sébastian LANSER and Maria Catharina HASTERT, on 10 February 1805 in Echternach.5 Henri and Eva were my 4th great-grandparents. They were the parents of eight children, four of whom died between the ages of one and seven months. Three of the four surviving daughters never married but lived long lives working as seamstresses. Only one daughter, Anna Maria (1810-1897), my 3rd great-grandmother, married and continued this line.

Anna Maria CONSBRÜCK was born on 29 October 1779 in Echternach.6 She died on 10 September 1788 in Echternach at the age of 8.7

Matthias CONSBRÜCK was born on 3 June 1782 in Echternach.8 He died at the age of 54 years on 30 October 1836 in Trier, Germany.9 He was married twice. He married Katharina BASTIAN (1797-1831) on 9 January 1810 in St. Laurentius Church in Trier.10 They had four known children. After her death, he married Elisabetha RAMMES (1791-1861) on 8 June 1832 in Trier.11 Their marriage lasted only four years, ending with Matthias’ death. They had no children.

Twenty-three years of marriage

Johann CONSBRÜCK died on 21 July 1796 in Echternach at the age of 47.12 His wife of 23 years outlived him by 33 years. Barbara SCHMIDT died in Echternach in the rue de Luxembourg on 10 May 1829 at the age of 81 years.13

Research Manager

In May 2018, a photo was posted in a Facebook group taken during WWI. The text included two of my surnames associated with the CONSBRÜCK-SCHMIDT line. I commented on the post and received a private message from the lady who posted the photo. During our conversation, I learned she is my third cousin once removed, a descendant of Henri CONSBRÜCK’s daughter Anna Maria, the only child to marry and have children.

In 1894 Anna Maria CONSBRÜCK at the age of 84 years divided six pieces of land she owned between her two living daughters and their husbands by selling the land to them. The daughters were Odile Lucie SCHLOESSER, my 2nd great-grandmother, and Maria SCHLOESSER, my newfound cousin’s great-grandmother. My cousin had the original notary record of the sale and sent photos of the four pages. The plots were likely once owned by Anna Maria’s father Henri CONSBRÜCK and his parents before him.

On my to-do list is the transcription and analysis of the 1894 deed of sale for land owned by Anna Maria CONSBRÜCK, granddaughter of the CONSBRÜCK-SCHMIDT couple. It may help to determine the present-day address of the home of Johann CONSBRÜCK and Barbara SCHMIDT.

Genealogy Sketch

Name: Johann CONSBRÜCK
Parents: Johann Wilhelm CONSBRÜCK and Maria Magdalene KLEIN
Spouse: Barbara SCHMIDT
Parents of spouse: Peter SCHMIDT sive CASPARS and Catharina CASPARS
Whereabouts: Echternach and Koedange
Relationship to Cathy Meder-Dempsey: 5th great-grandparents

1. Johann CONSBRÜCK and Barbara SCHMIDT
3. Anna Maria “Maria” CONSBRÜCK and Jean Joseph SCHLOESSER
4. Odile Lucie SCHLOESSER and André FOURNELLE
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. Luxembourg, registres paroissiaux, 1601-1948 (images), FamilySearch (original records at Luxembourg National Archives, Plateau du Saint-Esprit, Luxembourg), Echternach > Tables des mariages 1706-1797 A-Lahr (index organisée par l’époux) > image 407 of 1598. 1773 Marriage Card. ( : accessed 19 November 2015). 
  2. Ibid., Echternach > Mariages, décès 1706-1778 > image 165 of 293. 1773 Religious Marriage Record (left page, 2nd entry).( : accessed 19 November 2015). 
  3. Ibid., Echternach > Baptêmes 1761-1797 > image 73 of 131. 1775 Baptismal Record, bottom left page. ( : accessed 19 November 2015). 
  4. Luxembourg, Registres d’état civil, 1662-1941 (images), FamilySearch (original records at Luxembourg National Archives, Plateau du Saint-Esprit, Luxembourg), Echternach > Mariages 1887-1890 Décès 1796-1853 > image 1347 of 1463. 1850 Death Record No. 39. ( : accessed 18 November 2015). 
  5. Ibid., Echternach > Tables décennales 1823-1892 Registres paroissiaux 1779-1797 Naissances 1796-1808 > image 1343 & 1344 of 1446. 1805 (21 pluviose an 13) Marriage Record No. 100 (part 1). ( : accessed 19 November 2015) and 1805 (21 pluviose an 13) Marriage Record No. 100 (part 2). ( : accessed 19 November 2015). 
  6. Ibid., Echternach > Tables décennales 1823-1892 Registres paroissiaux 1779-1797 Naissances 1796-1808 > image 421 of 1446. 1779 Baptismal Record. ( : accessed 8 October 2015). 
  7. Ibid., Echternach > Tables décennales 1823-1892 Registres paroissiaux 1779-1797 Naissances 1796-1808 > image 730 of 1446. 1788 Death Record. ( : accessed 8 October 2015). 
  8. Ibid., Echternach > Tables décennales 1823-1892 Registres paroissiaux 1779-1797 Naissances 1796-1808 > image 510 of 1446. 1782 Baptismal Record (right page, last entry). ( : accessed 27 May 2021. 
  9.   “Trier, Germany, Deaths, 1798-1950,” (index and images),, citing “Zivil- und Personenstandsregister Sterberegister”, Stadtverwaltung Trier, Stadtarchiv, Trier, Germany. 1836 Death Record No. 540. ( : accessed 28 May 2021). 
  10. “Trier, Germany, Baptisms, Marriages, and Burials, 1600-1798,” (index and images),, citing Genealogische dokumentation des Dechanten Heinrich Wurringent anhand der Trierer Kirchenbücher vor 1798, Bestand 60. Stadtverwaltung Trier, Trier, Deutschland. 1810 Marriage Record. ( : accessed 27 May 2021). 
  11. Ibid., 1832 Marriage Record. ( : accessed 27 May 2021). 
  12. Luxembourg Civil Records, Echternach > Tables décennales 1823-1892 Registres paroissiaux 1779-1797 Naissances 1796-1808 > image 946 of 1446. 1796 Death Record (left, 5th entry). ( : accessed 21 November 2015). 
  13. Ibid., Echternach > Mariages 1887-1890 Décès 1796-1853 > image 770 of 1463. 1829 Death Record No. 39. ( : accessed 8 October 2015). 

We Are Safe after Severe Flooding in Western Europe

Our family and friends have been sending messages, emails, and calling to find out how we are doing. Looking back, we can say that we were very lucky this time around.

No fatalities were reported in Luxembourg but the devastation is terrible.

We’ve been through flooding before and have learned to take steps to be somewhat prepared. In 1993 we were flooded twice, again in 1995, and in 2003. After the 2003 flooding, when we had 167 cm of water in our basement, we had an electrician come in and move all the light switches and sockets up above the water level.

The flood levels recorded during those years are still in the top 5 recorded for the Sauer River in the town of Bollendorf, 7 km upriver from Echternach. The flooding this summer surpassed the 2003 record and was 635 cm.

13 Jan 1993: 579 cm
21 Dec 1993: 608 cm
23 Jan 1995: 570 cm
03 Jan 2003: 615 cm
15 Jul 2021: 635 cm at 16:30

If you have not experienced something similar to the images you’ve been seeing in the news, you cannot imagine what it is like when your home is filling with water with no end in sight.

In previous years our part of town was the first to be flooded. People still come to check our street whenever it looks like it the Sauer River may flood. About 15 or so years ago they set up a pump station across the street from our house. It pumps the floodwater from the Osweiler Bach, a stream coming down from the nearby village of Osweiler, under the main road that serves as a natural dike between the pump station and the Sauer River.

Osweiler Bach (stream) looking down toward the bridge in our street.

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Our daughter called to check up on us in the late afternoon. When she heard how serious things were getting, she said they would come right away. It took longer than expected for them to get here as several routes they tried were closed due to flooding or trees and debris blocking the roads.

Our son also called and said he would come with the cargo cart that we needed to move the heavy appliances. He and our son-in-law moved our freezer, refrigerator, washer, and dryer out of our basement and onto our back porch where we were able to keep the freezer and refrigerator running. We put our bikes upstairs in the front hallway and parked the car on a higher street. Around midnight water started filling the basement.

The barrier in the Osweiler Bach before it was raised.

The pump system is set up to raise a barrier into the stream and pump the flood water through a 2-meter diameter pipe when the river is at a certain flood level. This time the stream flooded faster than the river, the barrier wasn’t closed, and water wasn’t pumped. We got about 20 centimeters of water in the basement. They were able to manually close the barrier. The pump had to be re-started time and time again during the night. This emptied out our basement and we remained dry afterward.

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Our street to the right of our house
Our street where the Osweiler Bach runs under the bridge. One row of sandbags in our driveway. Another was added later.

Our son called us at 8 o’clock to see how things were. We had been up several hours in the early morning after the pump started working and had not yet gotten up. When we looked out the window, we saw the street was flooding up onto the sidewalk. Water was gushing up from the canal lids, the pavement of the street raised up about 5-10 cm, water was bubbling up between the street and the bricks bordering the parking spots and the sidewalk. It looked like the street drains couldn’t handle all of the water and, without the pumping system that was emptying them, flooding in the street would get worse. We got sandbags to keep the water from running down our driveway into the basement which is also our garage.

The bridge between Echternach, Luxembourg, and Echternacherbruck, Germany that crosses the Sauer River.

In the meantime, the flood level in Bollendorf climbed above the record high bringing the water level to a critical point. The river kept rising and several campers along the banks were pulled in. They floated down river and got stuck under the bridge in Wasserbillig about 20 kilometers further down the river from us. A special crane had to be brought in from France to get them out as they were completely blocking the flow and backing up the river. The floodwall on the other side of Echternach where the train station used to be was threatening to overflow.

The stream at the other end of our street with its floodwalls.

At one point it looked like the river might rise enough to flood the main road that runs between our house and the river. The overflow would have quickly filled up the area we live in. We decided to clear everything out of our basement before the expected flooding.

View from the main road that runs between our house and Sauer River

The fire department was ready for the worst and told us to pack a bag and be ready to evacuate as there were plans to run off excess water from the reservoir in northern Luxembourg to keep it from overflowing. Fortunately, they were able to hold it back long enough while the bridge was cleared in Wasserbillig. In the meantime, the flood walls in town overflowed flooding the other end of town and into the center. People had to be evacuated as they didn’t have electricity and/or water.

Although the river was still rising, it hadn’t rained all day. We went to our son’s house around 4 in the afternoon with plans to spend the night there. Our granddaughter was ready for her afternoon nap, so our son and I took her out in the stroller for a walk while my husband rested at the house. We enjoyed the time with our granddaughter, son, and daughter-in-law but were only able to relax a bit. After supper, my husband talked to one of our neighbors who had stayed in his house. The campers had been removed and the level of the river had gone down below the critical point. We decided to go back home instead of staying the night at our son’s.

When we got to our house, no change could be seen. But there were a lot of gawkers!

Friday, July 16, 2021

When we got up on Friday, the water in the street had begun to recede. There wasn’t any in front of our house but it was still bubbling up through the canal lids. Next door, the house closest to the stream, the street was still flooded. The pavement had nearly lowered back to normal. There is a crack from one side of the street to the other by the bridge. The person who came to look at it didn’t think it would affect the concrete bridge’s stability. We’ll have to wait and see. We don’t have to drive across it to get out of our street.

On the positive side, even though we had only a small amount of water, we got an opportunity to deep clean the basement. After the flooding in 2003, we had the walls tiled which made it easier to wipe everything down. We cleaned up the pantry floor and got all of the foodstuff and wine back on the shelves. We were too tired to clean up the rest of the basement/garage floor.

Saturday, July 17, 2021

We made plans with our daughter to have pancakes for breakfast before she would help us with the rest of the cleanup and putting everything back in place. Slowly my dining room and living room were cleared. Our son-in-law came after work to help put the appliances back. Then all we had were the bikes and a few odds and ends to put away. Our son was helping out at his wife’s grandmother’s house. She also lives in Echternach, in one of the streets that had the worst flooding.

Sunday, July 18, 2021

We spent the day with our daughter and son-in-law at their house. We were still tired but glad that the pump station did its job and kept our basement empty of floodwaters. Without the pumping station, we would have had about 185 cm of water in our garage/basement – very close to the ceiling.

Monday, July 19, 2021

We thought we would begin the new week without any more issues. We’d planned on having our son and daughter-in-law over for lunch and then some playtime with our granddaughter. An ant invasion changed those plans. It was winter the other times we were flooded and didn’t have this problem. We set a new date with the kids. We ended up running the vacuum cleaner on and off all morning, sprinkled baking powder and baking soda all along the ants’ pathway. A day later, we still had a few strays.

My husband took the photos you see here on Thursday morning before things became critical. He only went as far as the end of our road. We’ve only seen photos of the rest of Echternach and haven’t visited in person. We believe the only reason people should be visiting the damaged areas is to offer their help. The others times we experienced the terrible flooding, nosy people walked down our driveway nearly into our basement to get a good look while we were cleaning up. I would not wish this on anyone!

We were very lucky this time around. Compared to others in our town we had only minor issues.

© 2021, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

A Visit to Verdun – Nearly 100 Years After the End of World War I

Saturday my husband and I joined other members of my genealogy society luxracines on a trip to Verdun, France.

This year marks the centennial of the end of World War I. The deadliest conflict in the history of man. The human loss was great. Casualties for military personnel numbered at about eight million disabled and about ten million deaths, an average of 6,000 deaths per day. France had the greatest loss. The number of wounded, missing, and killed made up 30% of the active male population (18-65 years), for the most part, men between the ages of 17 and 45 who would never have children.

Battle of Verdun

The longest battle of the Great War, as World War I was known before World War II, was fought on the hills north of Verdun-sur-Meuse in north-eastern France from  21 February to 18 December 1916 and is known as the Battle of Verdun. Today the scars of the millions of shells fired and lethal fragments of shrapnel that marked the area during the Battle of 300 Days and Nights are hidden by the forested land. Nature has been allowed to cover the destruction of man in an area of 20,000 hectares (nearly 50,000 acres). After signing the armistice on 11 November 1918, France decided no one would be allowed to live in the devastated area and declared it a “Zone Rouge”.

The forest has become a sanctuary. Buried in the earth are the remains of 80,000 soldiers, a world heritage dating from the days of the Great War.

Ivan PARIS, professor of history and geography, was our guide for the day, explaining historical importance of each of the sites we visited.

Tranchée des Baïonettes

A la mémoire des soldats Français
qui dorment debout, le fusil à la main, dans cette tranchée.
Leurs frères d’Amériques.

Entrance of the Bayonet Trench Monument

In memory of French soldiers
who sleep standing, rifle in hand, in this trench.
Their American brothers.

The walkway to the gigantic cross on the wall.
A massive concrete slab supported by concrete pillars…
…protects the trench with its white wooden crosses.

Fort de Douaumont

We continued our visit to the Fort de Douaumont in the red zone.

Our guide on the machine gun turret of Fort Douaumont surrounded by Luxracines members
The German, European Union, and French flags flying over the Fort de Douaumont
Outside walls of the Fort Douaumont
The side entrance of Fort Douaumont
A passageway in the Fort Douaumont
Archway to the stairs to the lower level
Stairs to the lower level of the fort
Sketch of the machine gun turret on top of the fort and mechanisms in the lower level.
Corroded mechanism to lift the turret inside the fort

Ossuaire de DOUAUMONT

The Douaumont Ossuary contains the skeletal remains of at least 130,000 unidentified German and French soldiers on the lower level. They can be viewed through low windows on the outside of the building.

Inside, the stained glass windows cast a reddish glow in the 137 meters (449 feet) long cloister. The walls are covered with the names of French soldiers who died during the Battle of Verdun. Photography is not allowed in this sanctuary.

After a short visit to the chapel, we descended to the lower level to view a 20 minutes film about the ossuary.

View of the cemetery of identified soldiers from the front side of the Douaumont Ossuary

Unidentified bones are still being found in the area and added to the remains in the ossuary. Of the 300,000 who died during the Battle of Verdun, it is believed that about 80,000 are still buried in the fields and forest where the battle took place. Our guide explained the medical examiner of Verdun has to test all remains found to determine they are from the time period of the battle. He also shared the following anecdote.

In May 2015 three nearly perfectly preserved skeletons were found during the construction work on the new museum but with only one set of dog tags. Which of the three soldiers did the tags belong too? This is where GENEALOGY came into play as a direct descendant of the soldier named on the tags and a woman believed to be related to him were found. DNA samples yielded matches between the soldier, his grandson, and the woman. Read the entire story here: French WWI soldier identified by DNA and laid to rest. 

Following a nice lunch in the Restaurant La Brasserie du Parc in Verdun, we continued our afternoon sightseeing at the museum, Mémorial de Verdun.

Mémorial de Verdun

Part of the “Sacred Way” exhibit

Visitors are invited to enter the exhibit and walk in the footprints of the soldiers and cross the wooden boards which feel as if they are sinking in the mud.

Communicating At All Costs

Fernand Marche (1888-1916) was a runner in the 130th infantry regiment. On 1 August 1916, he volunteered to carry a message to his colonel near Fort Thiaumont but he was killed on the way. The next runner found his body, with his arm in the air and his fingers grasping the message. The messenger took the note and reached the colonel. A memorial to Private Marche was erected in 1925 in Bully-les-Mines, in front of the mining company in which he had worked before the war. ~ Text from the plaque

View of the Douaumont Ossuary from the upper platform of the Memorial de Verdun.

The City of Verdun

Following our visit to the museum, we were back in Verdun for a short walk through the streets and to have a drink on one of the many terraces on the banks of the Meuse River.

Mémoire Vive (left), a sculpture by the students of CAP Métallerie du Lycée Freyssinet in collaboration with the Lorraine artist Jean-No, and Porte Chaussee (right)
Monument to the Victory at Verdun
View from the top of the Monument to the Victory at Verdun
Mess des Officiers – Officer’s Mess in Verdun

Verdun is also well known for its sugared almonds known as dragées de Verdun. The almond, a symbol of fertility, was originally coated with honey. When medieval crusaders brought sugar to Europe in the 13th century it replaced the honey coating. White sugar coated dragées are gifted to guests at weddings (favors) as are blue or pink dragées at baptisms and to thank friends for baby gifts.

And finally, before boarding our bus to return to Luxembourg, we had our traditional group picture taken by our driver.

The day was well organized by our president Rob DELTGEN. Everyone had a wonderful time. I for one learned more about World War I and the Battle of Verdun from our very capable guide, Monsieur Ivan PARIS. We, my husband and I, plan to go back for a longer visit as there is so much more to learn and see in the beautiful city of Verdun and the surrounding area.

logo_klengMany thanks to Erich Singer who did a great job filming, cutting and editing.
Click here to watch the video.

© 2018, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

A Visit to Verdun - Nearly 100 Years After the End of World War I

A Visit to the Westwall Museum in Irrel, Germany

Last Friday my genealogy society luxracines took a trip to Germany to visit the District Archive of Bitburg-Prüm or Kreisarchiv Bitburg-Prüm in the city of Bitburg.

Following our visit to the district archive, lunch at the Restaurant Zagreb in the Bitburg Fußgängerzone (pedestrian zone), and a bit of sightseeing we met up at our bus. On the way back to Luxembourg we stopped in Irrel to see the Katzenkopf bunker (Panzerwerk Katzenkopf) which houses the Westwallmuseum.

The Westwallmuseum sign includes a plan of the bunker complex. Below the sign, a view of the town of Irrel in the valley.

The Katzenkopf bunker is the second largest of its kind and the northernmost along the former Siegfried Line which can still be visited.

The Westwall statistics: length, depth, cost, materials used, transportation of material, and manpower.

Germany began planning the construction of the Westwall, better known as the Siegfried Line by the Allies, along its western border in 1936. The line stretched from Kleve on the border to the Netherlands to Weil am Rhein on the border to Switzerland. More than 22,000 forts, bunkers, and pillboxes were planned along the 630 km (390 miles) line. From 1937 to 1939 two bunkers were built in Irrel: the Katzenkopf and the Nimsberg. Constructed on hills opposite each other with Irrel lying in the valley below, they guarded the main road from Cologne to the city of Luxembourg.

Following World War II, during the French occupation, the above-ground section of the bunker was blown up and the remains were bulldozed into a heap. In 1976 the volunteer fire department of Irrel began excavation of the site and restoration and preservation of the bunker. To date, the members of the fire department have worked 75,000 hours voluntarily on the site. Work is still being done inside the bunker during the winter months when the museum is closed to visitors.

Opened to visitors in 1979 the fortification is a B-Werke, the only accessible in Germany, with exterior walls of 2-meter thick reinforced concrete (B neu). Originally it had been planned with a B construction thickness of 1.5 meters. Three levels are accessible to visitors on Sundays and public holidays from April until the beginning of October.

Our guided tour began on the outside where our guide Mr. Geisen explained the strategic location of the Katzenkopf and the Nimsberg bunkersOn the upright concrete slab which remains of the former roof is a memorial for the 4,000 dead and missing soldiers of the 39th Fusilier-Regiment of Dusseldorf.

Our guide stressed that the bunker and museum are not meant to glorify the Nazi cause. The motto of the site is:

Once an instrument of war, today a reminder for peace.
Panzerwerk Katzenkopf. Einst Werkzeug des Krieges, heute Mahnung zum Frieden.

The artillery and infantry watch-turrets which can be seen on top of the bunker were used for the all-round observation. The bunker itself and its immediate area could be defended by several firing positions.

After showing us the watch-turrets on the outside our guide took us inside the bunker. Our tour had been arranged by appointment, the ticket office at the entrance was not manned, and our guide was the only responsible person at the location. Therefore as a precaution, he locked us in. This was more of a safety measure for persons using the hiking paths which pass by the bunker. An unlocked door might invite unwanted guests who would inadvertently be locked in at the end of our tour. Following this explanation, Mr. Geisen began telling us about the workings of the complex which housed a crew of 84 men on 4 floors.

Troop quarters with folding table and chairs as well as bunk beds which could be folded up against the wall for space.

The two upper floors were originally divided into 45 rooms of various sizes. They included troop quarters, lavatories, ammunition and gunnery rooms, canteen, kitchen, cold storage chamber, telephone control and radio station, guard rooms, and a first-aid station which was outfitted to perform any type of operation needed.

Kitchen sink with the original Villeroy & Boch tiles.

Electricity was produced by two diesel-engine generators for heating and lighting. Electric motors were also used for the ventilation system.

On the fourth floor, the lowest level, are two large galleries totaling 138 meters in length. Photographs and weapons of the period line the walls of these tunnels. One leads a room with a water pump installed over a 180-meter deep well and the other to the remote gun-turret.

A wartime scene is displayed where the tunnel work was discontinued.

At the end of the tunnel which leads to the room with the water pump, one can see where work had been interrupted. Due to the early outbreak of World War II, the construction of a tunnel between the two bunkers in Irrel as well as an elevator shaft between the tunnel and a railroad tunnel below was not finished. The elevator shaft would have been used to transport provisions into the bunkers and soldiers in and out of them without being seen.

The atmosphere in the bunker was a cool 10° C (50° F) and very damp.  Coming back up the four flights of stairs from the lowest level to the entrance, we were relieved to be back on the outside. We’d been in the bunker less than two hours. We’d felt the dampness and were able to imagine the cramped quarters as our group of 18 gathered in a room outfitted for 18 men. With the bed frames down there was standing room only. We saw photos of the streets of Irrel where nearly every house had been seriously damaged or destroyed. We can only hope to never have to live under similar conditions. The members of the Freiwillige Feuerwehr Irrel have succeeded in turning an instrument of war into a reminder for peace.

© 2018, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

A Visit to the Kreisarchiv Bitburg-Prüm in Bitburg, Germany

On Friday I took another one of those wonderful excursions with my genealogy society luxracines. I’d been looking forward to this trip for a long time.

In the morning we visited the District Archive of Bitburg-Prüm or Kreisarchiv Bitburg-Prüm in the city of Bitburg where we were greeted by Tabea SKUBSKI, the district archivist.

Tabea SKUBSKI, Kreisarchivarin

She presented the archive to us with great enthusiasm. Inaugurated on 19 April 2007 it is run full-time by Tabea SKUBSKI and her colleague Gaby THOMASER.

It is a joint archive for the Eifelkreis Bitburg-Prüm, the five Verbandsgemeinden (Arzfeld, Bitburger Land, Prüm, Speicher, and Südeifel), as well as the city of Bitburg. Eifelkreis Bitburg-Prüm is the district in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany. A Verbandsgemeinde is a low-level administrative unit typically composed of a small group of villages or towns.

Previously found in Koblenz, the original records of the municipalities of this district were returned to the district archive and are in very good condition. For an annual fee of 15 euros, permission is granted to take photographs of the records without flash. It is advised to use gloves and/or sanitize hands before and after handling records. Gloves and a hand sanitizer are found in the reading room where beverages and food are not allowed. The only writing utensils allowed are pencils. First-time users are required to fill out an application form for the use of the archive and another permission form for photography.

Mrs. SKUBSKI explained the archival content, the geographical boundaries, opening hours, and use and handling of the records before taking us behind the scenes into the actual archival storage area where specific climatic conditions are regulated to best suit the preservation of the records.

Enough time remained after the presentation to browse through the registers, reference material provided, and even to do some serious record searches.

Many Luxembourgers have family roots in the Eifel as it was once part of Luxembourg. In 1815 as a compensation for damages suffered by the French this area became part of Germany (darker green area in the map below).

By Spanish_Inquisition (LuxembourgPartitionsMap_english.jpg) [GFDL or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons
My main interest is the civil registers of the towns in this region. They are of great importance to my family history research as my maternal grandfather came from Ernzen, Germany. The registers available to the public are available from about 1798 for births, marriages, and deaths. Due to privacy laws, the BMD records are accessible only up to a certain year: for births older than 110 years, marriages older than 80 years and deaths older than 30 years.

After filling out the required forms I asked for the last Bollendorf birth register which would include the year 1906 when my maternal grandfather Nicolas WILDINGER was born in Ernzen. The village of Ernzen had their own records only until 1854 and then it was included in the registers of Bollendorf. Unfortunately, this register had already been requested by someone else in our group. However, on a closer perusal of the list of BMD registers for the Standesämter (civil registration offices) showed that Bollendorf births are only available at the archive up to 1900. Several years before the 110 years cutoff for births have not yet been deposited with the archive as they are included in a register which ends after the cutoff.

I’d come well prepared and had a list of more records I wanted to access. I decided to go to the bottom of the list and check on the earliest birth record. I requested the Ernzen birth register (1799-1825) and photographed the entries for two 3rd-great-grandmothers: Elisabeth WELTER 1807 and Catarine SCHRAMEN 1812. I was a bit stumped when I couldn’t find Hubert WEIMANN’s 1805 birth in Ernzen. Either I was too excited and missed it or I have the year and/or place of birth wrong.

Then I asked the archivist to pull the next Ernzen birth register (1826-1854) which is huge. Seeing my surprise she said it is one of the largest books in the archive. In it, I found my great-great-grandparents Bernard WILDINGER 1838 and Maria WEIMANN 1839.

My last request was for the Mettendorf birth register which would include the years 1842-1843 and was given the 1834-1850 book (below). In it, I found the 1843 birth record of Mathias PÖPPELREUTER (as spelled in the record, later spelled PÖPPELREITER) and the 1842 birth record of his wife Magdalena WAGNER.

Geburtsregister Burgermeisterei Mettendorf 1834-1850

Time flew and it was time to take a short walk to the restaurant we had reserved. After a leisurely lunch in the heart of Bitburg, we gathered for an official group photograph.

luxracines members who participated in this field trip.

Following a short walk through the beautiful pedestrian zone, we continued our trip to Irrel to visit a World War II bunker.

Photos by Rob Deltgen used with permission.

To be continued…

© 2018, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

SOLVED – The Mystery of James C. Crouse Sr.’s Grave Marker

Nearly four years ago Ellen Claytor found James C. CROUSE Sr. (1920-1944) in my online GEDCOM at RootsWeb WorldConnect. Her son had bought a house and found a flat marble marker for James in his garage. Why was the marker in her son’s garage and what could they do to get it back where it belonged?

I wrote my first post on The Mystery of James C. Crouse Sr.’s Grave Marker on 4 May 2014 followed by Part 2 only a few days later.

The first post included a biography of James C. CROUSE Sr. who began his military service at Camp Blanding in Florida and then went to Europe where he served in England, France, Belgium, and Germany. He died serving his country. Four years later his body was returned to West Virginia and buried in Huse Memorial Cemetery in Fayetteville. His father S. J. Crouse applied for a flat marble marker for the unmarked grave.

The marker found in the garage by J. Claytor.

I found James’ granddaughter Marian Crouse Walraven on Facebook. She was shocked to learn her grandfather’s marker had been found in someone’s garage as she knew there was a marker on his grave.

Was the original marker delivered to the wrong cemetery? Was the family contacted? Did they request a new marker when the one they applied for didn’t show up at the cemetery of burial? Was the home the marker was found in previously owned by a member of the Crouse family?

The 424th Combat Infantry Regiment of the 106th Infantry Division landed in France on 5 December 1944. They crossed into Belgium on 10 December 1944 and were stationed at Winterspelt (Germany). On 16 December 1944, the German Army unleashed its Ardennes Counteroffensive (The Battle of the Bulge). After Action Reports show that the 424th was in Belgium on 18 December 1944. KIA or DOW, whichever is correct, one could place him in Belgium and the other in Germany. His military records may shed light on this question.

James’ story spans two continents; my part in the story also spans two continents. What are the chances a mother in Ohio would contact a genealogist in Luxembourg — one of the countries the Battle of the Bulge took place in?

The follow-up a few days later was expected as I had a few people checking things out for me. Anita McClung and Sandra Humphries Raedel, research buddies and members of the Facebook group Fayette County West Virginia Genealogy, were the first to help confirm the burial location. Fayetteville Huse Memorial Park and Mausoleum has a Facebook page and at the time did photo requests of markers.

I sent a private message to the admin of the page requesting a photo of the marker of James CROUSE Sr., block 1, lot 38, grave 4 (the Notes section of their page had a list of burials with location). A few days later I received a message from Sonya of the Huse FB page, I have placed the picture of the marker along with monument and other markers associated with your request under ‘Various pics requested’. Hope it helps.

Sonya told me, Most of the time when a family changes a marker, then they will take the original marker home. Very few say throw it away.”

Markers found in garage (left) and at Huse Memorial Park (right)

After seeing both markers we speculated the marker found in the garage was most likely the one which had been on the grave of James C. CROUSE Sr. from 1949 until the burial of his son in 1997. But the question remained – how did the marker end up in the garage?

On February 8, 2018, I received a message on my Facebook page Opening Doors in Brick Walls from Bill Wise of Oak Hill, West Virginia. He wanted me to give him a call in regards to the marker of James CROUSE. Due to the time difference and my making our traditional Berliner and Verwurelter that day, Bill got back to me with a longer message instead of waiting for me to call.

Long story short. James Crouse [Jr., the son of James CROUSE Sr.] was married to my aunt Eugenia. Her sister Vickie Jane Wise/Wade is my mother. The garage that the marker was found in was their parents’ house. William Ralph and Lucy Lee Wise. The house was left of my mother upon their death. And upon my parents’ deaths…Vicki and Larry Wade…the house was left to me and I sold very soon after that. Believe it was 2013.

When my cousin Jim passed away in 1997 he wanted to be buried with his father James. There was a new stone with both of their names on it put in place of the original. My dad worked for the town of Fayetteville which dug the graves and maintained the cemetery. He brought the stone home. Where it sat in the garage all this time. When I sold the property I had to get out fairly quickly. To be honest with you I had not thought about that stone until I was researching my uncle last night and saw your story. In my haste to get out, I probably left more than just that on the property. So not really what you would call a mystery but it was an interesting read.

Marian, the granddaughter of James Crouse Sr., is Bill’s 1C1R and he wanted to know if he and I were also related. Marian and I are 6C1R – and that five times. Bill is not related to me through any of Marian’s and my common ancestors. I did a quick check of his Wise line and we do not appear to be related.

I’m glad Bill found my blog while researching his uncle James CROUSE. Even more, I am so excited he took the time to get in touch with me and tell me the story of why the marker was found in the garage of the new homeowner. I contacted both Marian and Jaymie to let them know the new development and they read the draft of this post before it was published.

James CROUSE’s body was returned to US soil four years after he was killed. It also took four years to learn why the marker from his grave was stored in a garage. Case SOLVED. Isn’t blogging the best?

© 2018, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

52 Ancestors: #39 The Last of the German Fourth Great-Grandparents

The last set of fourth great-grandparents who lived in what is now Germany were Mathias KERSCHT and Anna EWEN. Mathias’ surname was spelled differently in several family books (Familienbücher=FB). As KIRSTEN in the FB Meckel1; KIRST, KIERSCH, and KIERSTEN in the FB Messerich2; and as KERSCH and KIRSCH in the FB Mettendorf3. For Anna’s maiden name EWEN, no variations were found.

Genealogy Sketch

Name: Mathias KERSCHT
Parents: Peter KERSCHT and Eva SCHMIDS
Spouse:  Anna EWEN
Parents of Spouse: Gerhard EWEN and Barbara THIELEN
Whereabouts: Meckel, Messerich, Mettendorf (Germany)
Relationship to Cathy Meder-Dempsey: 4th great-grandfather

1. Mathias KERSCHT
2. Anna Maria KERSCHT
3. Magdalena WAGNER
4. Katharina “Catherine” PÖPPELREITER
5. Nicolas WILDINGER
7. Cathy Meder-Dempsey

Mathias KERSCHT, the son of Peter KERSCHT and Eva SCHMIDS, was born on 28 March 1759 in Meckel, Eifel, Rheinland, Germany, and baptized the same day. His godparents were Matthias BERENS and Anna Maria SCHUL, both of Meckel. His godfather was likely a brother or relative of his mother Eva. Matthias BERENS went by his wife’s maiden name and was known as Matthias SCHMITZ before his marriage. Mathias KERSCHT had only one known sister Luzia who was two years older. It is not known if she married and had descendants.

Mathias married Anna EWEN, daughter of Gerhard EWEN and Barbara THIELEN, on 26 November 1785 in Messerich. Anna was born on 6 June 1766 in Messerich. She was the fourth of ten children.

Mathias worked as a sheepherder (Schäfer) in Messerich until about 1795 and then moved to Mettendorf where he continued to work in the same occupation.

Mathias and Anna had the following children.

1. Margaretha was born on 9 September 1786 in Messerich. She was baptized the same day. Her godparents were Peter KIRST of Meckel and Margaretha BAUER of Messerich. Was the godfather also the child’s grandfather? The FB Meckel in which Mathias’ father was found as Peter KIRSTEN does not include a date of death.

2. Anna was born on 4 October 1788 in Messerich and was baptized the same day. Her godfather was Theodore EWEN, single, from Messerich, likely her maternal uncle who was 27 years old at the time. Her godmother was likely her paternal grandmother Eva. The entry in the FB Messerich shows Evan KIERSTEN of Meckel. The godmother’s first name may be a typo in the book and the child was not given the name Eva or Evan but Anna. She married Heinrich LUDEWIG on 23 January 1809 in Mettendorf. They were the parents of eleven children. Anna died on 8 January 1843 in Mettendorf.

3. An unnamed child was born on 19 December 1790 in Messerich and died the same day.

4. Catharina was born on 14 December 1791 in Messerich and was baptized the same day. Her godparents were Jakob WEILER, a sheepherder (Schäfer) and Katharina LOCH of Spangdahlem. Catharina married Joannes Friedericus LOCHEMES on 19 September 1811 in Mettendorf. Joannes Friedericus was born about 1784 in Dahlem. From the time of their second child’s birth, her husband was given as Theodore LOCHEMES on all births thereafter. They were the parents of seven children. Catharina died on 9 December 1851 in Mettendorf. Her husband died on 16 January 1864 in Mettendorf.

5. Matthias was born on 19 April 1794 in Messerich and was baptized the same day. His godparents were Mathias SCHMITZ, a pig herder (Sauhirt) of KIRCHWEILER and Luzia BICHELER of Messerich. Matthias married Angela ACHEN on 21 January 1818 in Mettendorf. Angela was born on 11 December 1793 in Mettendorf. She died on 21 December 1870 in Mettendorf and Matthias died on 16 November 1876 in Mettendorf. They were the parents of seven children, two of whom died young. Their three youngest children went to America in the 1850s and settled in Wright County, Minnesota. Two were sons and their descendants spelled the surname KIRSCHT.

The towns where this family lived. Cropped from a larger map from 1789. Courtesy of

6. Anna Maria, my third great-grandmother, was born between 1795-1798 in Mettendorf. She is not included in the FB Messerich listing for her parents which suggests she must have been born after her brother Mathias. His birth in Messerich and her birth in Mettendorf places the relocation of the family from Messerich to Mettendorf during this time period. Anna Maria married Johann WAGNER, son of Matthias WAGNER and Maria Katharina HARTERT, on 22 February 1830 in Mettendorf. Johann, my third great-grandfather, was born on 19 June 1804 in Fließem and was baptized the same day. Johann worked as a shepherd. He died on 15 June 1858 in Mettendorf and was buried two days later. Anna Maria died on 21 July 1876 in Mettendorf.

7. Christoph was born on 19 June 1799 in Mettendorf. He married Elisabetha MERTES on 23 February 1824 in Sülm, also in the Eifel. Elisabetha was born in 1804 in Röhl. Christoph died on 30 September 1871 in Mettendorf. They were the parents of seven children, two of whom died young.

8. Anna Catharina was born about 1806 in Mettendorf. She died on 22 May 1824 in Mettendorf at the age of about 18 years and was buried the following day.

9. Heinrich was born on 8 August 1809 in Mettendorf and was baptized the same day. His godparents were Heinrich LUDEWIG, a sheepherder (Schäfer) of Mettendorf, and Margaretha ROCK, a servant (Magd) of Hisel. The godfather was his brother-in-law, newlywed husband of his second oldest sister Anna. He died 10 days later on 18 August 1809 in Mettendorf and was buried the following day.

10. Johann was born on 18 February 1811 in Mettendorf and was baptized the same day. His godparents were Johann WEYERS and Margaretha THEISEN, both of Mettendorf. Johann married Elisabeth ROTH on 7 January 1841 in Nusbaum. The family lived in Sinspelt, part of the Mettendorf parish. They were the parents of two known children, one of whom died young. No entry for his death was given in the FB Mettendorf which may mean he died after 1899.

The mother of these children, Anna EWEN died on 15 November 1828 in Mettendorf and was buried on the same day. Her widower Mathias KERSCHT died on 9 February 1841 in Mettendorf. He was buried on 11 February 1841 in Mettendorf.

As mentioned at the beginning, this is the last of my fourth great-grandparents who lived in the Eifel area of Germany. Next up will be the eight sets of fourth great-grandparents who lived in Rodange, Wiltz, Vianden, Echternach, Mamer, Capellen, and Strassen in Luxembourg. With only five weeks to the end of the year, it looks like I may not be able to get them done on schedule.

© 2017, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

  1. Werner Naumann, compiler, Familienbuch der Pfarrei Meckel Dekanat Bitburg 1632-1900, (including Meckel, Eßlingen, Hof Badenborn, Kaschenbach) (1992). 
  2. Werner Naumann, compiler, Familienbuch der Pfarrei Messerich Dekanat Bitburg 1720-1900 (1992). 
  3. Werner Naumann, compiler, Familienbuch der Pfarrei Mettendorf Dekanat Neuerburg, Band 1 A-M Band 2 N-Z, (including Mettendorf, Bierendorf, Burg, Halsdorf, Hisel, Lahr, Hüttingen, Nasingen, Niederraden, Niehl, Ober- und Niedergeckler, Sinspelt) (1992). 

In Memory of Sgt. Warren Earl Zickafoose (1922-1945) of Fayette County, West Virginia

Warren Earl ZICKAFOOSE was born 24 February 1922 in Nallen, Fayette County, West Virginia, to Joseph Elmer ZICKAFOOSE and Eva Myrtle HEDRICK. He was the fourth of eight children.

Warren Earl ZICKAFOOSE; World War II Young American Patriots, 1941-1945; : accessed 28 April 2017

After graduating from Nuttall High School, Warren was an employee of Ford, Bacon, and Davis in Dunbar. On 7 March 1942, he married Pauline Alice RAMSEY, daughter of Jarrett Theodore RAMSEY and Louie Ann CAVENDISH, in Russell, Greenup County, Kentucky.

On 29 December 1942 he entered the U.S. Army and received his training at Camp Hood, Texas; Camp Carson, Colorado; Camp Gruber, Oklahoma; Camp Livingston, Louisiana; and had desert training in California.

Three weeks after he entered the U.S. Army his wife Pauline gave birth to a baby girl.

Sgt. ZICKAFOOSE was attached to Company C of the 811th Tank Destroyer Battalion and was sent to Europe in August 1944 arriving at Cherbourg, France, on 15 September 1944.

Damaged Sherman tank in the museum at The Mardasson Memorial in Bastogne, Belgium.

The battalion moved to Luxembourg in November and participated in the Battle of the Bulge in December. Sgt. ZICKAFOOSE received the Purple Heart Medal for wounds received in action in December 1944.

Into January 1945 the 811th was widely scattered as it was attached to many divisions. In February and March, they supported operations against the Siegfriedstellung (Siegfried Line).

In late March the 811th Tank Destroyer Battalion 811th Tank Destroyer Battalion advanced to the Rhine River crossing it on 30 March.

Every day of World War II, a 3 1/4 by 7-inch Morning Report was issued. These are the events recorded for the first few days of April 1945.

1 April 1945:
Station: WH 2384 Melgerhausen Germany
Organization: C 811th TD Bn (Battalion) FA (Field Artillery) TD (Tank Destroyer)
No change (in personnel)
Record of Events: Left WH Schwarzenborn, Germany enroute to Wh 2384 Melgerhause, Germany. Arrived destination.
4 officers were present for duty.
118 enlisted men were present for duty and 6 were absent.
Clem J. HUX WOJG USA (Warrant Office Junior Grade)

2 April 1945:
Station: WH 2290 Grexhagen, Germany (Guxhagen)
Organization: C 811th TD Bn FA TD
No change (in personnel)
Record of Events: Left WH 2384 Melgerhausen, Germany enroute to WH 2290 Grexhagen Guxhagen, Germany. Arrived destination.
4 officers were present for duty.
118 enlisted men were present for duty and 6 were absent.

3 April 1945:
Station: WH 2290 Guxhagen, Germany
Organization: C 811th TD Bn FA TD
Three men were absent from duty due to sickness: Tec 5 Howard C. Kerns (SN 35692008); Tec 4 Thomas J. Donnelly (SN 32288320), and Pfc Johnny P. Garcia (SN 39286737). All were transferred to Evac Hospital. The first two were non-battle casualties in the line of duty. The third was non-battle casualty, not in the line of duty [acute alcholism (sic)].
4 officers were present for duty.
115 enlisted men were present for duty and 6 were absent.

In early April the 811th Tank Destroyer Battalion supported the 80th Infantry Division when Kassel was captured. Sgt. Warren Earl ZICKAFOOSE was killed in action on 3 April 1945 only a day before Kassel was captured.

4 April 1945:
Station: WH 2699 Crumbach, Germany
Organization: C 811th TD Bn FA TD
Cpl Ernest A. Corrado (SN 35765502) was reduced to Pvt per Special CMO # 1 Headquarters 811th Tank Destroyer effective 31 March 1945.
Record of Events: Left WH 2290 Guxhagen, Germany enroute to WH 2699 Crumbach, Germany. Arrived destination. Distance traveled 6 miles.
4 officers were present for duty.
115 enlisted men were present for duty and 6 were absent.

5 April 1945:
Station: WH 2699 Crumbach, Germany
Organization: C 811th TD Bn FA TD
Pfc Harold W. McNatt (SN 3941540) was promoted to Cpl effective 5 April 1945. Pvt Finis Craft (SN 35426452) was promoted to Tec 5 effective 5 April 1945. Pvt. Thomas J. Heitzman (SN 67134753) change in duty effective 5 April 1945. Pvt. Robert L. Sansbury (SN 35817099) change in duty effective 5 April 1945.
Pvt. Carl W. Rhoades (SN 35240303) and Tec 5 Robert L. Tidwell, both enlisted men, were lightly wounded in action, battle casualties in line of duty on 3 April 1945. The 305th Medical Battalion transferred him to Evac Hospital. He was dropped from assignment effective 27 March 1945.
Pvt. Alex M. Sandler (SN 39422544) was Lightly Injured in Action, battle casualty in line of duty on 3 April 1945. The 305th Med Bn transferred him to Evac Hospital. He was dropped from assignment effective 27 March 1945.
Sgt. Warren E. Zickafoose (SN 35645379) was Killed in Action, battle casualty in line of duty on 3 April 1945.
Record of Events: All casualties occurred in Germany.
4 officers were present for duty.
111 enlisted men were present for duty and 6 were absent.

Mrs. Pauline ZICKAFOOSE was informed by the war department of the death of her husband, Sgt. ZICKAFOOSE in May 1945. She remarried two years later.

Sunday Register (Raleigh Register, Beckley, West Virginia); May 13, 1945 (

Sgt. ZICKAFOOSE’s body was returned to American soil in 1948. He was buried in End of the Trail Cemetery in Clintonville on Sunday, 19 December 1948. The service was held by Rev. M. J. Painter and Rev. John Bragg. Military rites were conducted by the Ansted American Legion Post at the grave.

His father applied for a military marker in a month later, on 18 January 1949.

( : accessed 28 April 2017)
( : accessed 28 April 2017)

Sgt. Warren Earl ZICKAFOOSE’s name is engraved on the West Virginia Veterans Memorial. As well as the Purple Heart Medal, he received three Battle Stars, a Silver Star (posthumous), and the Presidential Unit Citation.

UPDATE (31 May 2017): More information from the MilitaryTimes Hall of Valor about the Silver Star Medal Sgt. Warren Earl ZICKAFOOSE received posthumously.

Silver Star medal

General Orders: Headquarters, 80th Infantry Division, General Orders No. 131 (May 20, 1945)
Action Date: April 4, 1945 (sic, April 3, 1945)
Battalion: 811th Tank Destroyer Battalion
Division: 80th Infantry Division

The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress July 9, 1918, takes pride in presenting the Silver Star (Posthumously) to Sergeant Warren E. Zickafoose (ASN: 35645379), United States Army, for gallantry in action while serving with the 811th Tank Destroyer Battalion, 80th Infantry Division in connection with military operations against an enemy of the United States on 4 April 1945 in Germany. On that date, while supporting infantry troops in holding Vollmarshausen, Germany, Sergeant Zickafoose, a gun commander of a tank destroyer, observed four enemy tanks approaching the town. Realizing that he was outnumbered he nevertheless elected to move into a firing position to prevent the enemy from overrunning the infantry. By taking up an advantageous position he repelled the attack, although his destroyer received a direct hit which mortally wounded him. The courage, aggressive leadership, and supreme devotion to duty as displayed by Sergeant Zickafoose was in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflects great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.

Warren Earl ZICKAFOOSE was my 4th cousin 2 times removed through our common ancestor, James SIMS (1754-1845) and my 5th cousin 1 time removed through our common ancestors, (the same) James SIMS and his first wife Phebe. His daughter, who is still living, is my aunt by marriage and her four sons are my first cousins.

© 2017, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

52 Ancestors: #14 SCHERFF-STEIMETZ Family of Born, Luxembourg

After five weeks of posts on five sets my children’s 5th great-grandparents who lived in what is now Germany, this week’s couple takes me back to research in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. [What can I say, I love Luxembourg research!]

However, before we go to Luxembourg, I’d like to share a little bit about the ancestry of the male actor in this week’s post. Joannes SCHERFF was born in Waldrach, Trier-Saarburg, Rhineland, Germany, abt. 1754 to Nicolaus and Helena SCHERFF. Period.

This was all I knew when I started this post. Now, having access to the German family books at my genealogy society’s library, I was able to add several generations to Joannes’ pedigree. His parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, and four of his great-great-grandparents were born, lived, and/or died in Waldrach. They have names. They have dates of birth, marriage, and death. They have descendants. Missing, however, are the records to back all of this up. For now, they are placeholders in the family tree, waiting to be researched.[1], [2]

Joannes SCHERFF of Waldrach in Germany

Joannes SCHERFF, the son of Nicolaus SCHERFF and Helena OTTO, was born on 20 September 1754 in Waldrach.[1], [2]

I learned from the family books that Joannes’ mother Helena first married in 1743, at the age of 33, to Nikolaus SCHUH who was only 25. She gave him two children. A son Matthias was born in 1744 and a daughter Margaretha was born in 1745, four months after Nikolaus SCHUH died. A year after her first husband’s death, Helena married Nicolaus SCHERFF. Helena was 36 and Nicolaus was 22. [Note to self: What was going on in the Kingdom of Prussia or in Waldrach that made it necessary for a woman to marry, both times, a man much younger than she was?]

Helena’s son Matthias from her first marriage may have died before age four as she and her second husband named their first child Matthias in 1748. It is unknown if Helena had any other children before Joannes was born six years later. Helena died in 1755 when her youngest son Joannes was only 14 months old. Her widower Nicolaus married again in 1757 to Katharina OTTO, Helena’s first cousin once removed.

Joannes’ father Nicolaus SCHERFF died between 1764 when his last known child was born and 1791 when his son Joannes married.

Anna Maria STEIMETZ of Born in Luxembourg

Anna Maria STEIMETZ, daughter of Dominique STEIMETZ (1737-1799) and Magdalena “Helena” KOCH (1739-aft.1799), was born and baptized on 25 May 1763 in the village of Born in the Duchy of Luxembourg. Her godparents were Anna Maria BERSCHENS and Petro WERNER. On her baptismal record, her name was given as Anna Maria. Later, in other records produced during her lifetime her name seen as Maria without Anna.[3]

1763 Baptismal Record of Anna Maria STEIMETZ [3]

The Connection Between Waldrach and Born

We have two people, a young man from Waldrach and a young woman from Born. How they came to meet is unknown. The straight distance between Waldrach, to the east of Trier, and Born which lies to the west of Trier is about 17 km. A short distance in today’s world.

If you zoom out enough on the above map to compare with the one below, you will see that Waldrach belonged to the area of Germany which was not part of Luxembourg during the time period.

By Spanish_Inquisition (LuxembourgPartitionsMap_english.jpg), via Wikimedia Commons

Joannes and Maria Marry in Born

1791 Marriage Record of Joannes SCHERFF and Maria STEIMETZ [4]
Joannes married Maria on Thursday, 5 May 1791 in Born. At the time of their marriage, Joannes’ parents were both deceased. Joannes and Maria signed with a +, Maria’s father Dominique signed with a D, and Joannes’ brother “Niclas SCHERFF” left an F as his mark on the marriage record. The witness Paulus SCHÖLER and the pastor signed the record as they were the only persons able to write. [4]

On the marriage index card an obvious transcription error was made, given her first name as Margaretha.[5]

1791 Marriage Index Card for the SCHERFF-STEIMETZ marriage [5]
Joannes and Maria had four children during their first eight years of marriage.

1792 Baptismal Record for Michel SCHERFF [6]
Michel SCHERFF was born on 2 July 1792 in Born at two in the morning and was baptized seven hours later. His godparents were Michael BRAUN of Givenich and Catharina STEIMETZ, his maternal aunt from Born. Michel was my children’s 4th great-grandfather.[6]

1794 Baptismal Record for Nicolaus SCHERFF [7]
Nicolaus SCHERFF was born on 6 December 1794 in Born at three in the morning and baptized in the afternoon. His godfather came from Waldrach and was his paternal uncle Niclas SCHERFF, half-brother of his father who had also been a witness at the 1791 marriage. His godmother was his maternal grandmother Helena STEIMETZ. Helena would normally have been seen with her maiden name KOCH however in this case she was named with her husband’s surname. Nicolaus was the last child baptized in the year 1794. Directly below his entry, we see the pastor has likely transcribed births for the year to the parish register after the fact and makes note that this is a conformed copy.[7]

1797 Baptismal Record of Anna SCHERFF [8]
Anna SCHERFF was born on 18 September 1797 in Born at three in the morning and was baptized the same afternoon. Her godparents were her paternal uncle Peter SCHERFF from Waldrach and Anna TRIERWEILER from Born.[8] Peter was not a name found in the family books for Waldrach. Is there an error on Anna’s baptismal record? Was Peter a full sibling or only half-sibling of the father of the child?

1799 Civil Birth Record of Dominique SCHERFF [9]
Dominique SCHERFF was born on 15 Thermidor in the 8th year of the Republic or 6 December 1799 in Born. His birth was recorded in the civil register by the acting mayor of Born, Michel KINN who lived in Girst where the register entry was made. The child’s father, in the record written in French, was listed as Jean SCHERFF. He was an ouvrier de la commune de Born meaning he was likely working for the town in some capacity.[9]

This last child was very likely named after his maternal grandfather Dominique STEIMETZ who died earlier in the year, on 9 April 1799 at his own home. He was in his sixties. His death was reported by his widow Helena KOCH.[10]

Six years after the loss of her father, Maria was widowed and left with four children between the ages of six and twelve. Her husband Joannes SCHERFF died on 20 January 1805 in Born. He was fifty-one years old.[11]

It is not known how long Maria may have had the support of her mother Helena as no death record has been found for her. Helena was the mother of eleven children: seven died young, one son has not been traced, a son married and went to live in Dahnen (Germany), leaving Maria and her sister Catharina who has not been traced after the birth of an illegitimate child in 1796.

On 2 October 1818 Maria’s daughter Anna died at the age of twenty-one. Her death was reported by two of their neighbors.[12] Census records are only available online from 1843 making it difficult to determine where her two older brothers were and why they didn’t report her death. It is possible they were working away from home. No trace of Nicolaus, the younger of the two, who would have been 24 by this time, has been found. No marriage record. No death record.

Michel, the oldest son, married Elisabetha CLEMENS (1796-1870), daughter of Joannes “Jean” CLEMENS and Suzanna “Susanne” WEBER, on 12 February 1827 in Born.[13] Michel (34) and Elisabetha (30) were my children’s 4th great-grandparents and were featured in my post 52 Ancestors: #33 SCHERFF-CLEMENS, A Family Dependent on Each Other.

Maria STEIMETZ died on 12 January 1833 in Born at the age of sixty-nine.[14] She lived long enough to see her first grandchild Johann celebrate his fourth birthday, having been born on 8 April 1828.[15] She must have known her daughter-in-law Elisabetha was pregnant with her second child who would be born on 24 June 1833[16], a son Peter. Later census records indicate Michel and Elisabetha lived in the STEIMETZ family home, a home which would remain in the family for several generations.

Michel and Elisabetha had a third and last child, Catharina SCHERFF (1836-1908) born on 25 October 1836 in Born.[17]

The youngest child of Joannes and Maria SCHERFF-STEIMETZ, Dominique married Anne WEISEN (1804-1885), daughter of Michael WEISEN, on 13 January 1846 in Mompach.[18] They were both in their forties when they married. The marriage lasted only a little over five years as Dominique died on 12 August 1851 in Born.[19]

The oldest son, and only known living child at the time, Michel SCHERFF died on 2 January 1865 in Born at the age of 72.[20] His widow Elisabetha CLEMENS died five years later on 17 June 1870 in Born.[21]

Dominique’s widow Anne outlived him by 34 years dying on 11 November 1885 in Born.[22] As they did not have any children, her only survivors on her husband’s side of the family were the three children of her brother-in-law Michel SCHERFF.

Pushing Back Another Generation

Not only did I look into Joannes SCHERFF’s ancestry, as seen in the beginning of this post, but also into Maria STEIMETZ’s. Hers was not as simple. I had the years of birth for all of her siblings as well as the links to their baptismal records but needed to download the documents, add the information, and cite the sources.

While doing this I noticed an annotation in the margin of the baptismal record of the youngest child Henricus born to Dominique STEIMETZ and Magdalena KOCH. It read, Submersus Surlippe Mesenich. At first, I could not read the first two words but I knew Mesenich was a location. Submersus means drowned. This annotation may mean Henricus died by drowning possibly in the Sauer River in Mesenich, today a part of Langsur.

I have a few digital copies of German family books and Mesenich is one of them. I checked for Steimetz in the book as I thought I might find information on the child named Henri/Heinrich. What I found was an entry for his parents: Dominic STEINMETZ of Born and Helena KOCH of Mertert married on 4 March 1759 in Mesenich.[23] There is no further information concerning their children. However, now knowing where they were from, at the time of their marriage, may help to push back yet another generation.

While I was at home finishing up this post, my husband went on a 100 km bike ride through the Luxembourg and German countryside and came back with this photograph.

Yes, he listens when I ask about places (even when I really mess up the pronounciation) and surprises me with new photo content for my blog.


[1] Armin Giebel, compiler, Familienbuch Standesamt Ruwer-Waldrach, (Stand: Sept. 2016), page 3036, family nr. 15422. Scherff-Otto family group.
[2] Leo Schuh, Familienbuch der katholischen Pfarrei Sankt Laurentius in Waldrach mit Kasel 1681 bis1899 (2002), page 436-437, family nr. 2214. Scherff-Otto family group.
[3] Luxembourg, registres paroissiaux, 1601-1948 (images), FamilySearch (original records at Luxembourg National Archives, Plateau du Saint-Esprit, Luxembourg), Born > Baptêmes 1761-1797, mariages 1761-1797, sépultures 1762-1797 > image 7 of 88. 1763 Baptismal Record part 1. (,1500965970 : accessed 12 August 2015) and image 8 of 88. 1763 Baptismal Record part 2. (,1500965970 : accessed 12 August 2015).
[4] Ibid., Born > Baptêmes 1761-1797, mariages 1761-1797, sépultures 1762-1797 > image 65 of 88. 1791 Religious Marriage Record. (,1500965970 : accessed 12 August 2015).
[5] Ibid., Born > Tables des mariages 1764-1800 (index organisée par l’époux) > image 31 of 46. 1791 Scherff-Steimetz marriage card. (,1501369362 : accessed 12 August 2015).
[6] Ibid., Born > Baptêmes 1761-1797, mariages 1761-1797, sépultures 1762-1797 > image 44 of 88. 1792 Baptismal Record. (,1500965970 : accessed 10 August 2015).
[7] Ibid., Born > Baptêmes 1761-1797, mariages 1761-1797, sépultures 1762-1797 > image 48 of 88. 1794 Baptismal Record. (,1500965970 : accessed 16 August 2015).
[8] Ibid., Born > Baptêmes 1761-1797, mariages 1761-1797, sépultures 1762-1797 > image 51 of 88. 1797 Baptismal Record, part 1 (right page, bottom) (,1500965970 : accessed 12 August 2015) and image 52 of 88. 1797 Baptismal Record, part 2 (left page, top)  (,1500965970 : accessed 12 August 2015).
[9] Ibid., Born > Naissances 1796-1802, mariages 1797-1800, décès 1796-1802 > image 51 of 59. 1799 Birth Record (left page). (,1501017588 : accessed 12 August 2015).
[10] Ibid., Born > Naissances 1796-1802, mariages 1797-1800, décès 1796-1802 > image 44 of 59. 1799 Death Record ((20 Germinal An 7), part 1( : 9 January 2015) and image 45 of 59. 1799 Death Record ((20 Germinal An 7), part 2. ( : 9 January 2015).
[11] Luxembourg, Registres d’état civil, 1662-1941 (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 713 of 1393. 1805 Death Record part 1 (lower right hand corner). ( : accessed 12 Apr 2013) and image 714 of 1393. 1805 Death Record part 2 (upper right hand corner). ( : accessed 12 Apr 2013).
[12] Ibid., Mompach > Mariages 1831-1890 Décès 1796-1814, 1799-1830, 1799-1880 > image 865 of 1480. 1818 Death Record (left page, top). (,130138901 : accessed 13 August 2015).
[13] Ibid., Mompach > Naissances 1834-1890 Mariages 1797-1814, 1796-1809, 1799-1830 > image 1061 of 1393. 1827 Marriage Record No. 2.  ( : accessed 7 Apr 2010).
[14] Ibid., Mompach > Mariages 1831-1890 Décès 1796-1814, 1799-1830, 1799-1880 > image 1116 of 1480. 1833 Death Record No. 1. ( : accessed 12 Apr 2013).
[15] Ibid., Mompach > Mariages 1831-1890 Décès 1796-1814, 1799-1830, 1799-1880 > image 510 of 1480. 1858 Marriage Record No. 2. (,130138901 : accessed 10 August 2015). Note: The date of birth was found on the tables décennales however the birth record has not been located.
[16] Ibid., Mompach > Naissances 1799-1834 > image 267 of 272. 1833 Birth Record No. 20. (,130378501 : accessed 27 April 2015).
[17] Ibid., Mompach > Naissances 1834-1890 Mariages 1797-1814, 1796-1809, 1799-1830 > image 33 of 1393. 1836 Birth Record No. 26. (,130406101 : accessed 21 Nov 2014).
[18] Ibid., Mompach > Mariages 1831-1890 Décès 1796-1814, 1799-1830, 1799-1880 > image 442 of 1480. 1846 Marriage Record No. 2. (,130138901 : accessed 27 April 2015).
[19] Ibid., Mompach > Mariages 1831-1890 Décès 1796-1814, 1799-1830, 1799-1880 > image 1241 of 1480. 1851 Death Record No. 16. ( : 17 July 2014).
[20] Ibid., Mompach > Mariages 1831-1890 Décès 1796-1814, 1799-1830, 1799-1880 > image 1339 of 1480. 1865 Death Record No. 1. ( : accessed 05 Apr 2013).
[21] Ibid., Mompach > Mariages 1831-1890 Décès 1796-1814, 1799-1830, 1799-1880 > image 1393 of 1480. 1870 Death Record No. 13. (,130138901 : accessed 9 August 2015).
[22] Ibid., Mompach > Décès 1880-1891 > image 48 of 90. 1885 Death Record No. 26. ( : 17 July 2014).
[23] Heinrich Wagner, Familienburch Mesenich 1705-1899 (Ortschaften Födlich (1705-ca.1800), Grewenich, Mesenich, Metzdorf und Moersdorf (Luxembourg) (1705-1807)), Mersch 1997 (Association Luxembourgeoise de Généalogie et d’Héraldique), p. 302, family nr. 1104. Entry for Dominic Steinmetz of Born and Helena Koch from Mertert.

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