52 Ancestors: #44 Legendary Two-Time Tour de France Winner’s Second Great-Grandparents

Susanne KIEFFER was born on 25 March 1754 in Mamer to Nicolaus KÜFFER (1734-1796) and Susanna SCHILTZ (1737-1807). Earlier variations of the surname were KIEFER and KÜFFER. Susanne was the oldest of eight known children. The only reference available online is an alphabetical family group register of births/baptisms and marriages for the town of Mamer. Actual parish records for baptisms, marriages, and burials in Mamer are only available on FamilySearch for the years 1779-1793.

Küffer-Schiltz family group from the Mamer parish book. “Luxembourg registres paroissiaux, 1601-1948,” images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1942-32402-77-6?cc=2037955 : accessed 28 November 2015), Mamer > Baptêmes 1718-1940, familles alphabétique > image 135 of 375; paroisses, Luxembourg (parishes, Luxembourg).

Susanne was my fourth great-grandmother. She married Michel KOLBACH on 17 February 1783.1 Michel was born about 1748 in Kehlen to Francisci KOLBACH and Maria KAYSER. His parents were deceased at the time of his marriage. Michel and his parents were not my ancestors.

Luxembourg, registres paroissiaux, 1601-1948 (images), FamilySearch (original records at Luxembourg National Archives, Plateau du Saint-Esprit, Luxembourg), Mamer > Baptêmes, mariages, sépultures 1779-1793 > image 46 of 168. 1783 Marriage Record (top of left page). (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1961-32401-17711-69?cc=2037955 : accessed 29 November 2015).

Susanne and Michel were the parents of five children.

Margaretha born on 4 January 17842
Michel born on 31 March 17853
Catherine born on 29 November 17864
Peter born on 9 January 17895
Anna Maria born on 14 May 17916

These children are documented as they were born during the period in which actual parish records are available on FamilySearch for baptisms, marriages, and burials during the years 1779-1793.

Following the birth of Susanne and Michel’s fourth child, her sister Elisabeth married Nicolas CHRISTOPHORY (1743-1803) on 11 May 1789.7 Elisabeth was the only known sibling of Susanne to also marry. [As of this writing. A brother’s marriage was found in April 2021. Read the post here: The Ancestors: Nicolaus Küffer and Susanna Schiltz of Mamer, Luxembourg]

When their youngest child had just turned two years old, Susanne was widowed when Michel KOLBACH died on 30 May 1793. He had been a linen weaver or linitextor and was about 45 years old.8

1793 Death Entry for Michel KOLBACH.

A little over seven months later Susanne remarried. On 7 January 1794, she married Paul FRANTZ. Paul was the son of Nicolaus FRANTZ and Angela BARTEL of Senningen.9

1794 Marriage Index Card. 2.

No marriage record has been found for Susanne and Paul. Their marriage is recorded on a marriage index card. The information on the card points to Paul being from Bergem in the parish of Schifflingen. Per the 1843 census, Paul was born on 10 August 1763 in Senningen.10 On the 1846 census, the day and month were the same but the year was 1764.11 The place of birth on the 1846 census was blank. Although their names are known, his parents and siblings are at this time a brick wall.

Paul was my fourth great-grandfather. When he married Susanne he took on a family of five children between the ages of 3 and 10 years. Like Susanne’s first husband Michel, Paul was a linen weaver.

Susanne was soon expecting twins. Nicolas and Johannes were born on 21 November 1794. As no birth records are available for the twins it is not known who was the oldest. Nicolas or my third great-grandfather Johannes.

When the twins were seventeen months old their grandfather, Susanne’s father, Nicolaus KEIFFER died on 1 May 1796.12

Susanne gave birth to another son on 10 January 1797. He was named Henri.13 Less than two months later Susanne’s youngest daughter from her first marriage, Anna Maria, died at the age of five years on 6 March 1797.14 The family may have been battling some kind of disease or the baby was not strong enough to survive as little Henri died on 6 June 1797 at the age of five months.15

The children grew and by 1802 Susanne’s oldest daughter was courting and the results were soon to be seen. Margaretha was 17 years old when she married Leonardus RÖELINGER on 18 November 1802.16 Three and a half months later, on 9 March 1803, she gave birth to a boy she named after her father Michel.17

Susanne’s brother-in-law Nicolas CHRISTOPHORY died on 16 December 1803.18 His widow Elisabeth was 46 years old when she married Theodore HELLESCH on 7 May 1806.19 It was on this marriage record that the 1796 date of death for Nicolaus KIEFFER, the bride’s father, was found.

Susanne’s mother Susanna SCHILTZ died on 4 August 1807. Her son-in-law Paul FRANTZ was the informant on her death record.20 A little over a year later, on 9 October 1808, he was once again at the city hall reporting a death. This time it was his wife Susanne KIEFFER who died at the age of 54 years.21 She left 4 KOLBACH children and the FRANTZ twins.

My 4th great-grandfather was now alone and caring for his 13-year-old twin boys and three unmarried step-children who were in their twenties. Only his step-daughter Marguerite was married with two little boys but likely also living in the household as was her right as the oldest.

Five years after the death of Susanne, her daughter Catherine KOLBACH married Jacques HENTGES in Mondercange on 29 December 1813.22 This marriage was only found in the last few days.

Her brothers Michel and Peter KOLBACH would add some very interesting branches to my family tree.

Michel KOLBACH married Susanne HAMES (1786-1855) on 11 January 1815 in Mamer.23 Susanne was the sister of my 4th great-grandmother Catherine HAMES (1789-1864), my direct matrilineal line.

Petrus KOLBACH married Susanna FRISCH, daughter of Jacob FRISCH and Regina HUBERTY, on 14 January 1818 in Mamer.24 Jacob and Regina are also my fourth great-grandparents.

Confused? I hope this will help.

Less than three weeks later Nicolas FRANTZ, one of the twins, married Anna KÜNSCH (1795-1875) on 3 February 1818 in Mamer.25

It would be another nine years before the other twin, my fourth great-grandfather, would marry Elisabeta FRISCH (1800-1880), daughter of the above-mentioned Jacob FRISCH and Regina HUBERTY. They were married on 18 January 1827 in Holzem.26

All of Paul FRANTZ’s children, biological and step, were now married. I believe Paul was living in the home he had shared with his wife Susanne with her oldest daughter Margaretha and her family. This is supported by the census taken in 1843 and 1846. But before the census was enumerated there were several deaths in the family.

Petrus KOLBACH, a father of three sons, died on 23 April 1837 in Mamer at the age of 48.27 His widow Susan FRISCH would live to the age of 93 dying on 20 October 1885.28

The oldest of the bunch, Margaretha KOLBACH had given birth to ten children. She died on 16 December 1838 in Mamer.29 She left a widower and six children. During the years the family had changed the spelling of RÖELINGER to RELINGER and finally REDLINGER, the version seen when Margaretha’s widower Leonardus die on 20 March 1843.30

1843 Paul Frantz household.

In 1843 when the census was taken, Paul FRANTZ was the head of a household in Mamer. Living with him was his step-grandson Peter REDLINGER, his wife Susana WAGNER, and their four children. Both of Peter’s parents were deceased and he was likely the oldest of the REDLINGER children. The family home may have been passed on to him. In 1846 Peter REDLINGER was the head of household and Paul FRANTZ, as well as three of Peter’s single brothers, was living with the family.

Paul died at 8 in the morning on 27 July 1847 in Mamer at the age of 83. His death was reported by his step-grandson Peter REDLINGER.31

Michel KOLBACH died on 18 April 1855 in Mamer at the age of 70.32 He had fathered six children, two of whom died at a young age. His widow Susanna HAMES died exactly a month later on 18 May 1855 at the age of 68.33

The only living KOLBACH child, Catherine died on 30 October 1869 in Bergem.34 Until a few days ago I thought she may have died as a child. However, after finding her marriage record, I learned she was the mother of at least six children. Her husband Jacques died on the oldest son’s 15th birthday in 1830 leaving her widowed with children between the ages of 2 and 15.35

Susanne KIEFFER’s KOLBACH children were now all deceased. Her twins, the sons she bore Paul FRANTZ, lived into their eighties. Nicolas FRANTZ, father of seven children (at least two died young), died on 8 August 187936 at the age of 84 and my fourth great-grandfather Johannes FRANTZ, father of five children (one died young) died on 24 January 188037 at the age of 85.

One final note of interest and the reason for the peculiar title for this article. My 4th great-grandparents Paul FRANTZ and Susanne KIEFFER were the 2nd great-grandparents of the famous Nicolas “Nic” FRANTZ, winner of the 1927 and 1928 Tour de France. He was not the first Luxembourger to win the Tour but he was the only one to win it twice and twice in a row.


P.S. Things are always busy this time of the year and I have not had the time to include the sources at the end of my last few articles. I relied on being able to point my readers to my online GEDCOM file, however, Rootsweb is currently unavailable and it is not known how long the downtime will last. Three more sets of 4th great-grandparents to go and then I will come back and add the sources later in January 2018. [Sources on this post were finally added 4 May 2021.]

© 2017-2021, 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), Mamer > Baptêmes, mariages, sépultures 1779-1793 > image 46 of 168. 1783 Marriage Record (top of left page). (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1961-32401-17711-69?cc=2037955 : accessed 29 November 2015). 
  2. Ibid., Mamer > Baptêmes, mariages, sépultures 1779-1793 > image 51 of 168. 1784 Baptismal Record. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1942-32401-18408-0?cc=2037955 : accessed 29 November 2015). 
  3. Ibid., Mamer > Baptêmes, mariages, sépultures 1779-1793 > image 62 of 168. 1785 Baptismal Record (top of left page). (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1951-32401-18173-83?cc=2037955 : accessed 29 November 2015). 
  4. Ibid., Mamer > Baptêmes, mariages, sépultures 1779-1793 > image 73 of 168. 1786 Baptismal Record (top of left page). (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1971-32401-17555-71?cc=2037955 : accessed 29 November 2015). 
  5. Ibid., Mamer > Baptêmes, mariages, sépultures 1779-1793 > image 100 of 168. 1789 Baptismal Record (top of right page). (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1951-32402-806-79?cc=2037955 : accessed 29 November 2015). 
  6. Ibid., Mamer > Baptêmes, mariages, sépultures 1779-1793 > image 122 of 168. 1791 Baptismal Record (top of left page). (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1951-32402-540-56?cc=2037955 : accessed 29 November 2015). 
  7. Diözesanarchiv Luxemburg / Archives diocésaines Luxembourg (images), Matricula Online, http://data.matricula-online.eu/de/LU/luxemburg/, Creative Commons License CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 (citing original records in the Luxembourg Diocesan Archives, Luxembourg City), Mamer, KB 18: neuer Einband, Paginierung übernommen, Taufen, Heiraten, Sterbefälle [1779-1793], image 108 of 172, page 217, entry at top of page. 1789 Marriage Record. (https://data.matricula-online.eu/de/LU/luxemburg/mamer/KB-18/?pg=108 : accessed 1 May 2021). 
  8. Luxembourg registres paroissiaux 1601-1948, Mamer > Baptêmes, mariages, sépultures 1779-1793 > image 167 of 168. 1793 Death and Burial Record (right page, 7th entry). (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1942-32402-335-60?cc=2037955 : accessed 29 November 2015). 
  9. Ibid., Mamer > Tables des mariages 1779-1804 (index organisée par l’époux) > image 41 of 238. 1794 Marriage Index Card. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L9WS-431Q?cc=2037955&wc=STHD-2NY%3A1500941501%2C1501133556 : accessed 20 December 2017). 
  10. Luxembourg, Volkszählungen 1843-1900 (images), FamilySearch (original records at Luxembourg National Archives, Plateau du Saint-Esprit, Luxembourg), Mamer > 1843 > image 73 of 291. Households of Paul Frantz and his step-grandson Pierre Redlinger. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-997B-2YDZ?cc=2037957&wc=M9MV-928 : accessed 3 May 2021). 
  11. Ibid., Mamer > 1846 > image 195 of 297. Households of Pierre Redlinger and his step-grandfather Paul Frantz. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L97B-2TK5?cc=2037957&wc=M5LT-RMW%3A345860401%2C345858602 : accessed 3 May 2021). 
  12. Archives diocésaines Luxembourg, GV.MF 356-443, Mamer, KB-01, image 118 of 128, page 227 (stamped). 1796 Death Record. (https://data.matricula-online.eu/de/LU/luxemburg/mamer/KB-01/?pg=118 : accessed 25 April 2021). 
  13. Ibid., GV.MF 356-443, Mamer, KB-01, image 40 of 128, page 52, bottom. 1797 Baptismal Record. (https://data.matricula-online.eu/de/LU/luxemburg/mamer/KB-01/?pg=40 : accessed 28 April 2021). 
  14. Luxembourg registres paroissiaux 1601-1948, Mamer > Baptêmes, mariages, sépultures 1790-1804 > image 28 of 30. 1797 Death Entry (index). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-99WM-SDQ?cc=2037955&wc=STHZ-C6V%3A1500941501%2C1501074474 : accessed 23 December 2017). 
  15. Luxembourg, Registres d’état civil, 1662-1941 (images), FamilySearch (original records at Luxembourg National Archives, Plateau du Saint-Esprit, Luxembourg), Mamer > Mariages 1838-1890 Décès 1796-1880 > image 521 of 1497. 1797 Death Record (18 Prairial V) (right page). (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-266-12143-121172-9?cc=1709358 : accessed 26 March 2010). 
  16. Ibid., Mamer > Naissances 1834-1890 Mariages 1796-1837 > image 1185 of 1504. 1802 Marriage Record. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-266-12585-49719-87?cc=1709358 : accessed 29 November 2015). 
  17. Ibid., Mamer > Naissances 1796-1833 > image 99 of 549. 1803 Birth Record (18 Ventôse year XI). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HY-XS45-8K?cc=1709358&wc=9RY8-L29%3A130065401%2C130303901 : accessed 23 December 2017). 
  18. Archives diocésaines Luxembourg, GV.MF 356-443, Mamer, KB-01, image 127 of 128, page 244 (stamped), 4th entry. 1803 Death Record. (https://data.matricula-online.eu/de/LU/luxemburg/mamer/KB-01/?pg=127 : accessed 26 April 2021). 
  19.   Luxembourg, Registres d’état civil 1662-1941, Mamer > Naissances 1834-1890 Mariages 1796-1837 > image 1195+1196 of 1504. 1806 Marriage Record (part 1). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-61F9-RCL?cc=1709358&wc=9RY7-FM9%3A130065401%2C130365601 : accessed ‎21. ‎August ‎2011) and 1806 Marriage Record (part 2). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-61F9-G1N?cc=1709358&wc=9RY7-FM9%3A130065401%2C130365601 : accessed ‎21. ‎August ‎2011). 
  20.   Ibid., Mamer > Mariages 1838-1890 Décès 1796-1880 > image 585 of 1497. 1807 Death Record No. 17 (age 70). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-6XPQ-65D?cc=1709358&wc=9RY3-VZ9%3A130065401%2C130130201 : accessed 20 December 2017). 
  21. Ibid., Mamer > Mariages 1838-1890 Décès 1796-1880 > image 595 of 1497. 1808 Death Record No. 21. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-266-12143-119238-21?cc=1709358 : accessed 23 March 2010). 
  22. Ibid., Mondercange > Naissances 1879-1890 Mariages 1796-1890 Décès 1796-1870 > image 217 of 1385. 1813 Marriage Record No. 14. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HY-698S-6J1?cc=1709358&wc=9RYH-N38%3A130108901%2C130286801 : accessed 28 December 2017). 
  23. Ibid., Mamer > Naissances 1834-1890 Mariages 1796-1837 > image 1259 of 1504. 1815 Marriage Record No. 1. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-61F9-R26?cc=1709358&wc=9RY7-FM9%3A130065401%2C130365601 : accessed 8 October 2015). 
  24. Ibid., Mamer > Naissances 1834-1890 Mariages 1796-1837 > image 1289 of 1504. 1818 Marriage Record No. 3. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-266-12585-52496-64?cc=1709358 : accessed 30 November 2015). 
  25. Ibid., Mamer > Naissances 1834-1890 Mariages 1796-1837 > image 1290 of 1504. 1818 Marriage Records No. 5. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-266-12585-48736-80?cc=1709358 : accessed 26 March 2010). 
  26. Ibid., Mamer > Naissances 1834-1890 Mariages 1796-1837 > image 1370 of 1504. 1827 Marriage Record No. 2. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-266-12585-48893-0?cc=1709358 : accessed 26 March 2010). 
  27. Ibid., Mamer > Mariages 1838-1890 Décès 1796-1880 > image 887 of 1497. 1837 Death Record No. 21. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-6XPQ-X3D?cc=1709358&wc=9RY3-VZ9%3A130065401%2C130130201 : accessed 22 December 2017). 
  28. Ibid., Mamer > Décès 1881-1890 > image 66 of 144;. 1885 Death Record No. 32. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-267-12699-122496-5?cc=1709358 : accessed 30 November 2015). 
  29. Ibid., Mamer > Mariages 1838-1890 Décès 1796-1880 > image 904 of 1497. 1838 Death Record (right, bottom). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-6XPQ-XM6?cc=1709358&wc=9RY3-VZ9%3A130065401%2C130130201 : accessed 22 December 2017). 
  30. Ibid., Mamer > Mariages 1838-1890 Décès 1796-1880 > image 957 of 1497. 1843 Death Record No. 16. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-6XPQ-XKN?cc=1709358&wc=9RY3-VZ9%3A130065401%2C130130201 : accessed 23 December 2017). 
  31. Ibid., Mamer > Mariages 1838-1890 Décès 1796-1880 > image 1002 of 1497. 1847 Death Record No. 28. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-266-12143-120450-0?cc=1709358 : accessed 24 March 2010). 
  32. Ibid., Mamer > Mariages 1838-1890 Décès 1796-1880 > image 1118 of 1497. 1855 Death Record No. 11. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-6XPQ-XXV?cc=1709358&wc=9RY3-VZ9%3A130065401%2C130130201 : accessed 22 December 2017). 
  33. Ibid., Mamer > Mariages 1838-1890 Décès 1796-1880 > image 1119 of 1497. 1855 Death Record No. 15. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-6XPQ-X88?cc=1709358&wc=9RY3-VZ9%3A130065401%2C130130201 : accessed 22 December 2017). 
  34. Ibid., Mondercange > Naissances 1879-1890 Mariages 1796-1890 Décès 1796-1870 > image 1371 of 1385. 1869 Death Record No. 28. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HY-698S-ZLS?cc=1709358&wc=9RYH-N38%3A130108901%2C130286801 : accessed 28 December 2017). 
  35. Ibid., Mondercange > Naissances 1879-1890 Mariages 1796-1890 Décès 1796-1870 > image 983 of 1385. 1830 Death Record No. 7. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HY-698S-S22?cc=1709358&wc=9RYH-N38%3A130108901%2C130286801 : accessed 28 December 2017). 
  36. Ibid., Mamer > Mariages 1838-1890 Décès 1796-1880 > image 1472 of 1497. 1879 Death Record No. 29. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-266-12143-120679-13?cc=1709358 : accessed 26 March 2010). 
  37. Ibid., Mamer > Mariages 1838-1890 Décès 1796-1880 > image 1478 of 1497. 1880 Death Record No. 4. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-266-12143-120588-9?cc=1709358&wc=9RY3-VZ9:130065401,130130201 : accessed 23 March 2010). 

52 Ancestors: #4 The Plumber/Tinsmith and the Seamstress

Week 4, Closest to your birthdayNot too much to think about here. What ancestor has the birthday closest to yours? (I mean in terms of month and day, not the year ;) )

I checked all my ancestors and none were born on the same day as I was. Since name days were at one time more commonly celebrated in Luxembourg than birthdays and I knew that my grandmother Marie Marcelle FOURNELLE’s name day, January 31, was very close to my birthday, January 14, she fit the bill. If she hadn’t, I still would have written about her and her husband this week!

Marcelle and Nicolas’ monogram on their wedding announcement.


Nicolas WILDINGER who was born in Mettendorf,  Eifelkreis Bitburg-Prüm, Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany, on 25 August 1906, the third and youngest child of Johann WILDINGER and Katharina PÖPPELREITER.[1],[2]

Nicolas ca. 1909

When Nicolas was 8 years old times were getting harder and harder for his father Johann, a builder. In July 1914 the family moved to Echternach and Johann found a job as a builder in Wasserbillig.

1909 Birth Record No. 41 [3]
Maria Marcelle FOURNELLE was born at 7 o’clock in the morning on the 17 June 1909 in the house called Mühlenacht (Millenoacht in Luxembourgish) in Echternach. Her father Johann Joseph FOURNELLE, 38, a rose breeder (Rosenzuchter), was the informant for the birth of the child born to his wife Catharina FRANTZ, 36 and without an occupation. Peter STEINMETZ and Mathias PRIM were witnesses and Rudolf BRIMMEYR was the mayor and official who recorded the birth.

Marcelle ca. 1917

 Nicolas and Marcelle Become a Couple and Marry

Marcelle and Nicolas in the 1930s.

At 7 o’clock on the evening of 26 July 1935 Mathias SCHAFFNER, the mayor of Echternach, married Nicolas, a plumber (Klempner), and Marcelle, without occupation. Nicolas was 28 and Marcelle was 26. Nicolas’ mother Catharina PÖPPELREITER and Marcelle’s father Johann Joseph FOURNELLE were present and agreeable to the marriage.

Nicolas’ father had been dead 11 years and Marcelle’s mother a little over a year. The marriage banns had been read on Sunday the 7th of July. A marriage contract was signed on the day of the marriage in the presence of the notary Julius REDING in Echternach.

There were no other witnesses present at the marriage and the record was signed by the bride and groom, their parents, and the mayor.

It is interesting to note that Nicolas’ mother signed as Mrs. Wildinger (Frau Wildinger) which is unusual as women in Luxembourg normally sign all legal documents with their maiden name. In the margin, the death of the groom, who predeceased the bride, was recorded. Below this is the official stamp and the date that the copy of this record was obtained from the records office at the city hall.

MRIN01117 1935 Nicolas Wildinger and Maria Marcelle Fournelle marriage 13
1935 Marriage Record No. 13 [4]
As is the case with all bridal couples in Luxembourg, Nicolas and Marcelle were presented with a Family Book.

MRIN01117 1935 Fournelle-Wildinger Family Book 1 MRIN01117 1935 Fournelle-Wildinger Family Book 2 MRIN01117 1935 Fournelle-Wildinger Family Book 3The Couple Marry in a Religious Ceremony

1935 Announcement of Marriage sent out by the parents of the bride and groom.

Nicolas and Marcelle’s parents sent out announcements of the religious marriage of their children who were married in the strictest privacy in the St. Willibrod Basilica Echternach the following day. The witnesses were Nicolas’ brother who signed P. WILDINGER and Marcelle’s father who signed J. FOURNELLE. Jean Pierre KAYSER, the priest, made an entry in the couple’s Family Book to show that the religious ceremony had been performed on 27 July 1935 in Echternach.

Marcelle did not take her husband Nicolas’ German nationality when they married. She made a declaration on 20 August 1935 to conserve her Luxembourg nationality. This was published in the Mémorial du Grand-Duché de Luxembourg No. 48 on 23 June 1936.[5]

Mémorial du Grand-Duché de Luxembourg No. 48.
Mardi, 23 juin 1936.
Page 612
Relevé des Luxembourgeoises de naissance qui ont fait en 1935 la déclaration pour conserver la nationalité luxembourgeoise.
I . Déclaration prévue par l’art. 24 n° 3 de la loi du 23 avril 1934.
Noms et prénoms: Fournelle Marie-Marcelle, épouse Wildinger, Nicolas
Résidence: Echternach
Lieu et date de naissance: Echternach 17. 6. 1909
Date de la déclaration: 20. 8. 1935

Nicolas and Marcelle Become Parents

Ten months later Nicolas and Marcelle’s only daughter was born. Seen here with her father on the front step of their house (left) and playing with her dog on wheels in front of their house (below).

1938 ca. Nic. Wildinger with daughter Josette
Nicolas with his daughter on the front doorstep of their house.
010 Papa (back) et Josette (front)
Nicolas playing with his daughter (front) and another little girl in front of their house.

Nicolas, Plumber and Tinsmith

Nicolas was a master plumber and had his own business. In the 1930s he worked on the gutter of the hospital in Echternach. Little did he know that by the beginning of the next decade he would be a patient in this hospital and it would be the place of his death.

1930s Nicolas Wildinger far right
Nicolas WILDINGER (far right) working as a tinsmith, fixing the gutter of the hospital in Echternach in the 1930s.
Front view of the “Spidol” or Hospice Civil as it is known today. Photo used with permission © Egon Meder.

Nicolas WILDINGER advertised his plumbing (sanitary installations) and tinsmith business on this Sphinx Sanitary Ware ashtray.

MRIN01117 Nicolas Wildinger de Sphinx collage
Photo used with permission © Egon Meder.

Marcelle Becomes a Widow

Nicolas, diagnosed with tuberculosis, did not have many years to play with his young daughterOn 10 May 1940 German troops marched into and occupied Luxembourg. The Germans insisted on the people of Luxembourg changing their names to the German equivalent of their French-sounding names. Marie Marcelle FOURNELLE became Maria Marzella WILDINGER (née FOURNELLE). She signed the death record of her husband Nicolas with this name when she reported his death on 25 October 1941. Nicolas died at 9:40 on the evening of the 24th of October in the Bürgerhospital at Oberhoveleck 2, in Echternach. The civil servant who filled out the death record knew (as noted on the record) Marcelle who said that she was present at the time of her husband’s death. Also seen on the record is the date of marriage of the deceased as well as the number and location of the marriage record. This was cross-referenced in the margin of the marriage record as seen above.

MRIN01117 1941 Nicolas Wildinger death
1941 Death Record No. 49 [6]

Life Continues in German Occupied Luxembourg

Amulette from WWII 1 front
Spéngelskrich or “War of the Pins” amulet

As mentioned earlier, German troops marched into and occupied Luxembourg on 10 May 1940. Nicolas’ widow Marcelle would have been a wonderful subject for last week’s theme – a tough woman. I wrote a short piece on her last year: Fearless Females: Bomi’s Resistance Amulette. This was one of the most interesting times during her life. Please take a few minutes to read more about my grandmother and her Spéngelskrich amulet.

In memory of the evacuation of the city of Echternach on 6 October 1944. Photo used with permission © Egon Meder.

On 6 October 1944, the Germans occupying Echternach announced that the people of Echternach must leave the town at 11:00 in the morning. Everyone was to take the same route towards Osweiler where they were met by American soldiers waiting to move into Echternach. The people of Echternach continued their journey on foot pulling wagons with their belongings or in wagons pulled by horses to Bech. Marcelle WILDINGER-FOURNELLE was traveling with her 8 years old daughter and her 73 years old father Joseph FOURNELLE. They remained in Bech a week or two. From there, families moved on to places where they had relatives or friends in other parts of Luxembourg. Marcelle, her daughter, and her father were in Helmdange for a short period of time and then joined a family who had relatives in the Lorentzweiler area.

Echternach in Ruins But No Longer Occupied by Germans

“During the Battle of the Bulge Dec. 1944 this place was heroically defended by soldiers of E-Comp. 12th Regt. 4th U.S. Inf. Div. Their sacrifice delayed the enemy advance and contributed to the final victory we shall remember.” Photo used with permission © Egon Meder.

They stayed in Lorentzweiler until May of 1945 when they returned to Echternach, a town that lay in ruins. The living room of Marcelle’s home became a reading room for the American officer in Echternach. Diagonally across the street is a plaque commemorating the soldiers.

May 20th was Pentecost and on May 22nd, the following Tuesday, the famous annual religious procession through the streets of Echternach took place. The basilica had been destroyed by the Germans on the 26th of December 1944 so the procession ended in the Peter and Paul Church (alten Pfarrkirche). Marcelle’s daughter and the other children her age had missed making their First Communion on the Sunday after Easter as they had not yet returned to Echternach on the 8th of April. They had to wait until 22 July 1945 to receive the sacrament in the Peter and Paul Church instead of in the basilica which had to be rebuilt. The rebuilding was finally finished on 20 September 1953.

Marcelle, Works as a Seamstress and Runs a B & B

Marcelle with her daughter, ca. 1942.

Life continued after the war. Marcelle worked from home as a seamstress. Later she supplemented her tiny income by taking in tourists. When her husband was still living he had installed sinks in every one of the 6 bedrooms in the house. She would serve breakfast in the living room that had once served as a meeting place for neighbors during the German occupation and later as the reading room for the American officers.

In  1957 her daughter married an American G.I. Fred Roosevelt DEMPSEY stationed at Bitburg A.F.B. in Germany. Marcelle had only her elderly father living with her when the young couple moved to the United States. Although she was only 31 years old at the time of her husband’s death she had never remarried. In 1958, a month after the birth of her first grandchild, her father died. She saw her daughter only when her son-in-law was stationed in Europe.

1975-01-21 Granddaddy, Grandma, Mom, Bomi
Fred and Myrtle DEMPSEY, the day after their 52nd wedding anniversary, with Marcelle FOURNELLE and her daughter at the construction site of the New River Bridge in West Virginia.

Marcelle made one trip to America to visit her recently widowed daughter and her son-in-law’s parents, Fred Rothwell DEMPSEY and Myrtle Hazel ROOP. Her daughter returned to Echternach with her children to be near her mother that year.

1971-05-020 Luxembourg
Marcelle Fournelle in 1971.

Twenty-five Lost Years

And this is where the story becomes difficult and maybe biased as it is from my point of view. Marcelle, my Bomi, had become a very independent woman and had always been set in her ways. It was not easy for her to have her widowed daughter and five children in her home. And it was not easy for her daughter and her children to live with a woman who was used to getting her own way. Although there was plenty of room in the house her daughter made the decision to move into a home of her own.

Bomi cut ties between us, my mother and I, because we had met men we were interested in. I wonder if she may have regretted never having remarried. Bomi, my grandmother and godmother, was a very stubborn woman. My mother and I had no contact with her for 25 years. And we married the men who were indirectly the reason for her refusing to speak to us.

One of my brothers, who had remained in contact with Bomi, was in the military and stationed in Germany in the late 1990s. When he knew that he was to be transferred Stateside he sat down with Bomi. He explained that since she was now over 90 she would have to forget her pride and, after he left, accept help from her daughter and grandchildren who lived in Echternach. She loved him dearly, her favorite grandchild. She said that she would if her daughter would.

Making Up For Lost Time

On Thursdays, my mother and I met at the supermarket while doing our shopping. One day Bomi was with her. I came in through the back, they came in through the front, and we met inside. I had been expecting this meeting and my heart was pounding. And what does she say to me after 25 years? “Cathy, I see you won the supermarket contest, 121 bottles of wine. Congratulations!”

What? She had seen a sign in the supermarket with a list of winners when they came in. I had no idea that I had won but it broke the ice. We would meet like this every Thursday, sometimes going back to her house for a few minutes.

Christmas Eve 2001
Christmas Eve 2001

But she did not come to our house until my husband got up the courage to visit her on his own. And he did a good job of pulling her into a plot – removing most of the animosity between them. She loved playing jokes on people. They plotted on surprising us, my Mom and I, by Bomi’s coming to dinner on Christmas Eve at our house. It worked and I believe my husband earned her respect, the respect she should have shown him when they first met.

My children got to know their great-grandmother who they called Bomi-Bomi since my mother was already their Bomi. They loved listening to her tell the stories from the “old days.”

In 2004 Bomi was diagnosed with cancer of the esophagus. When she had to be hospitalized the headstrong woman did not make it easy for the nurses caring for her. As she needed full-time care she was put on the waiting list of the nursing home  “Am Schleeschen” in Echternach. It is interesting to note how the home got its name – since it is part of her past. During World War II when the Germans occupied Echternach they had their offices in the old building of the present complex. Christian Stock who performed the duties of mayor (Amtsbürgermeister) proudly said “Das ist mein Schlösschen” or This is my castle.” This reminded me of a story Bomi told us. One night she helped three men hang the Luxembourgish flag on the gates of Stock’s Schlösschen during the German occupation – a grave offense if they had been caught. She would never divulge the men’s names even after they had all passed away.

Marie Marcelle FOURNELLE died in her sleep on 24 January 2005 in the nursing home “Am Schleeschen” in Echternach, where she had been a resident for only a few days, at the age of 95 years, 7 months, 10 days.

MRIN01117 Fournelle grave
FOURNELLE family grave
MRIN01117 Wildinger grave
WILDINGER family grave









[1] 1935 Marriage Record No. 13, photocopy of original page in the marriage book at the records office at the city hall in Echternach obtained 21 Jun 1996.
[2] Commune d’Echternach Nr. 13/1935, Wildinger-Fournelle Family Book. This is an official document given to the bride and groom at the time of their civil marriage. It is used to record births, christenings, and deaths of children as well as the death of one or the other spouse. Scanned copy of the original, in possession of their daughter.
[3] Luxembourg, Registres d’état civil, 1793-1923 (images), FamilySearch, Echternach > Naissances 1903-1923 Mariages 1895-1905 > image 176 of 604. “1909 Birth Record No. 41.” (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1942-32040-10270-1?cc=1709358&wc=M9M6-2V1 : accessed 15 January 2015), (original records at Luxembourg National Archives, Plateau du Saint-Esprit, Luxembourg).
[4] 1935 Marriage Record No. 13, photocopy of original page in the marriage book at the records office at the city hall in Echternach obtained 21 Jun 1996.
[5] Mémorial du Grand-Duché de Luxembourg, No. 48, pg. 260, 23 June 1936. Online http://www.legilux.public.lu/leg/a/archives/1936/0048/a048.pdf : accessed 23 Jan 2015.
[6] 1941 Death Record No. 49, photocopy of original page in the death register at the records office at the city hall in Echternach obtained 10 July 1996.

Genealogy Sketch

Name: Marie Marcelle FOURNELLE
Parents: Jean Joseph FOURNELLE and Catharina FRANTZ
Spouse: Nicolas WILDINGER
Parents of spouse: Johann WILDINGER and Katharina Pöppelreiter
Children: Living (one)
Relationship to Cathy Meder-Dempsey: Maternal Grandmother

1. Marie Marcelle FOURNELLE
2. Mom
3. Cathy Meder-Dempsey

© 2015 Cathy Meder-Dempsey

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