A Latin Rule You May Not Have Known

My 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks posts this year center around families in Luxembourg and Germany. Unlike my U.S. research, there are very few Facebook groups I feel I can share my posts with. Rob Deltgen, president of my genealogy society Luxracines, has a Facebook group for his genealogy website Deltgen.com and this is where I’ve been sharing my weekly posts.

I’m seeing more visits to my blog from people in Luxembourg. A couple of these have even commented in the group on my posts. Linda wrote this comment yesterday on my link to 52 Ancestors: #11 The Wollscheid-Barthelmes Family of Kirsch, Germany:

Hi, Cathy. I follow your research now every week and enjoy them a lot. I noticed you sometimes use the first names as they are used in the parish books such as Joannis, Caspari, Jacobi but these are the genitive forms of the names. In Latin, first names decline according to their role in the sentence. So the names in the example would be Joannes, Casparus, and Jacobus.

I had to read this twice before I replied. I may have been one of the best in my class while in school but sometimes I feel really dumb.

Well, Linda, as you can tell I’ve never learned Latin and this is new to me. I wondered why it was not always the same but didn’t think it had something to do with the grammar. Thank you so much for pointing this out to me. Now I may have a lot of correcting to do.

After sleeping on it, I checked online to see what Linda meant by genitive and decline in relation to the Latin language. As genealogists, we are always learning new things. I’m fluent in four languages but write only in English. For the generation I am presently working on, the records are mostly from church registers in Latin or indexed from the same. I thought I could get by without studying Latin. But, as I learned from Linda, it’s important to know at least some of the elementary rules of this dead language.

Latin for Beginners, 1911; Archive.org (https://archive.org/stream/latinforbeginner00doogrich#page/148/mode/2up : accessed 18 March 2017)

This is not a lesson in Latin

Linda’s well-intended comment showed me an error I’ve been making and, perhaps, you have too.

In grammar, genitive (abbreviated gen; also called the possessive case or second case) is the grammatical case that marks a noun as modifying another noun. ~ Wikipedia

Genitive refers to possession and decline or declension are the set of endings of words depending on their use in a sentence.

When I wrote the above sentence in my post yesterday, I included “Jacobus” and “Jacobi” in quotes as these were variations of his name I was seeing in indexed records. If I’d have paid a bit more attention I might have seen a pattern and realized my mistake.

Jacobus was the name seen on his death/burial record:

“Deutschland Tote und Beerdigungen, 1582-1958,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:J4MS-N59 : 28 November 2014), Jacobus Wolschet, 07 Jan 1826; citing 376 6, reference 376 6; FHL microfilm 469,141.

While Jacobi was found in records in which Jacob was seen as the father.

“Deutschland Heiraten, 1558-1929,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:J4FC-TYK : 26 December 2014), Nicolaus Schmidt and Maria Anna Wolschett, 17 Jan 1827; citing Longuich, Rheinland, Preußen, Germany; FHL microfilm 469,141.

In the above example, Maria Anna was the daughter of Jacob Wolschett and Catharina Barthelmes. Maria Anna filia Jacobi et Catharinae. Or in the example of Jacob’s death, Jacob’s wife Catharina is seen as Catharinae (possessive). Wikibooks has a Latin lesson I plan to use for further reference.

Of course, I asked Linda’s permission to use her comment and after thanking her she sent this very enlightening comment:

It is sometimes quite useful when you read the parish books to be aware of the genitive, because in Latin all the words are just one after the other. In some cases you will have for example … baptisatus est Joannes Adamus Jacobi MULLER … Now you know that the child’s name is Joannes Adamus, and the father’s name Jacobus (and not child Joannes and father Adamus Jacobus).

If you are seeing several spellings of a name in Latin records or indexed information from Latin records, the difference is likely due to the rules which show who is being named: the child, parent, or spouse.

If you plan on checking out my last post, I’ve already fixed the error. From now on I will know the difference. I’ll also be making corrections in older posts, all thanks to Linda’s informative comments.

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

A 303-Year-Old Marriage Record Found for My 7th Great-Grandparents

Last week I became curious about my “German” ancestors actually being Luxembourgers. I had finally found a map which helped me with the historical boundaries of the country I live in.

My maternal grandfather was born in 1906 in Mettendorf, Germany, and came to live in Luxembourg in July 1914, the month the First World War began. I have avoided seriously researching his line for nearly a quarter of a century. Last year I began writing about his parents, paternal grandparents, maternal grandparents, and 4 sets of great-grandparents.

Now that I have access to the family books of the towns his ancestors lived in at the library of my genealogy society, I am revisiting what I have and what I need to locate. I knew that the towns were just across the border of Luxembourg to Germany but was not aware of exactly when this area belonged to the Duchy of Luxembourg. Surprisingly, this week, I learned the records I have been avoiding researching are actually at my fingertips.

The Church Records for Echternach

While inputting data from the family books I noticed that the compiler of the Ernzen book included annotations concerning the marriage records of certain couples being found in the church records of Echternach. These records are online at FamilySearch.

I spent hours adding birth, marriage, and death records to this German branch of the family. I have not even scratched the surface. I will be busy for weeks, maybe months.

I want to have all information inputted before I do any more in-depth posts on my 4th great-grandparents and each generation back. But I couldn’t wait to share this wonderful discovery!

A 303-Year-Old Marriage Record Found for My 7th Great-Grandparents

Marriage records in Luxembourg have always been my favorite source for information. They were the first and sometimes the only records I obtained for ancestors in this country. Some habits cannot be broken. The first thing I did when I realized the records for the towns of Ernzen and Ferschweiler were located in Echternach for religious events which took place before the end of the French Revolution (1789-1799) was to check for marriages.

Title page of the Echternach church records of marriage from 1706
1713 Marriage Entry in Church Records of Echternach

Dabam Dimissoriales honesti Joannis Adami
Mayers ex Ernzen relicto legitimo filio
Joanni in ordine ad matrimonium contra=
hendu in honesti Adami Dietzen ex
Esseling relicta legitima filia Elisabetha

I gave the certificate to the honorable Johann Adam
Meyers from Ernzen’s surviving legitimate son
Johann in order to contract marriage
to the honorable Adam Dietzen from
Eßlingen’s surviving legitimate daughter Elisabetha

These five lines written in Latin give interesting information. The fathers of the bride and groom were both deceased in 1713. The bride Elisabetha DIETZEN’s father was from Eßlingen while the groom Johann MEYERS’ father was from Ernzen.

Elisabetha and Johann were married on Monday, 27 November 1713. One has to go back to the previous page to see that the marriage took place in November and leaf back to page 22 of the register to see that the year the marriage took place was 1713.

This is, so far, the oldest marriage record I’ve found for the “German” branch of my family tree. A branch which I have disregarded for too long.

Three hundred and three years ago this month my 7th great-grandparents married and their nuptials were recorded in the church records of the very same town my husband and I married in and live today.

Luxembourg, registres paroissiaux, 1601-1948 (images), FamilySearch (original records at Luxembourg National Archives, Plateau du Saint-Esprit, Luxembourg), Echternach > Mariages, décès 1706-1778 > image 17 of 293. 1713 Marriage Dimissoriale, left page, first entry. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1951-32399-12662-32?cc=2037955 : accessed 12 November 2016).


© 2016, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.