A Last Photo with the Family before Emigrating to America

At the annual Genealogy and Local History day hosted by my genealogy society Luxracines last month, Nicole gave me two old photographs. They were found at the recycling park and passed on to her as she has an interest in genealogy. As I’ve worked with old photographs and have an interest in researching US families, Nicole thought I might be able to research the family and write a post.

When you jump to conclusions…

On the back of one of the photographs was enough information to identify the family. At first glance, I thought the name of the family was MAMER. We were at the Luxracines event and, as members of the committee, we were both busy setting up and making sure things were running smoothly.

I was really excited to be able to work with these photographs as I have a connection to a MAMER family and know there are descendants of the line in America. These descendants are half-cousins as they descend from my 6th great-grandmother Anna Catharina RONAS who was first married to a MAMER and then to my 6th great-grandfather Nicolas HEITZ. Anna Catharina is one of my matrilineal ancestors.

However, once I got home and had time to sit down and study the photographs, I realized the family name on the back of the photo is MAUER and not MAMER.

About the photographs…

The photographs are nearly identical. The backdrop of the pictures is likely the family home. The same persons are in both photos except for a baby. The woman holding the baby in this photo was probably the mother.

The cardboard frame of the photo above had been cut away while the second one’s frame (below) is the original size making it too large to lay flat and scan completely on my flatbed scanner. It came out a bit blurry compared to the first.

Written on the back of the photo without the baby is the following information:

Etienne Grethen
Marie-Anne Mauer + Kinder Anna + Hélène
mit der Mütter v. M.-Anne Mauer +
Bruder Eugène Mauer
Bruder Valentin Mauer
wahrscheinlich vor der Abreise nach America v.
Eugène + Valentin Mauer
= écriture de Germaine Thill-Steichen de Koerich
décédée le 2 octobre 2008

Translation:
Etienne GRETHEN, Marie-Anne MAUER and her children Anna and Hélène with the mother of Marie-Anne and brother Eugène MAUER and Valentin MAUER probably before the departure for America of Eugène and Valentin.
= handwriting of Germaine THILL-STEICHEN of Koerich who died 2 October 2008.

Also on the back is the photographer’s stamp:

Marcel THILL
19, rue William Turner
LUXEMBOURG

Could Germaine have been the wife of the photographer? Did she include the information for the photographer’s archive? Did she know the family? Was she related to them?

Researching the family in Luxembourg

I started my research into this family with the possible marriage of the mother of the children, Marie-Anne MAUER. She married Etienne GRETHEN on 1 June 1897 in Koerich. Their marriage record included the names of her parents, Jean MAUER and Catherine MERTES.1 Jean and Catherine were married in Hesperange on 21 December 1863.2 As their daughter, Marie-Anne was born in Koerich I checked the Tables Décennales (10-year lists) for births of MAUER children in Koerich for the period 1863-1892. I found a son named Eugène born in 1880 but none named Valentin.

Researching the MAUER brothers who went to America

Before searching for further records for the families in Luxembourg, I checked on Ancestry to see if the two men, Eugène and Valentin, had actually gone to America as noted on the back of the photo.

1920 U.S. Federal Census, courtesy of Ancestry.com

I found Valentin MAUER in the 1920 census with his wife, a son, a daughter, and a boarder named Eugene MAUER. Both men were listed as born in France as were their parents and both immigrated in 1906. Valentin was a naturalized citizen since 1911 and Eugène was an alien. No mention was made of their being brothers or even related.3

Record hits for Valentin consistently showed he was born in France. The 1910 and 1930 census showed he immigrated in 1906 as seen in 1920. A 1921 US passport application gave his place of birth as Ourscanips, France. Obviously a typing error on the application.4 His US World War I Draft Registration Card had his place of birth as Ourscamp, l’Oise, France.5

At the Oise Archives, I located Valentin’s birth record. He was born on 1 August 1887 in Ourscamp, Chiry-Ourscamp. His parents were Jean MAUER age 52 and Catherine MERTES age 46.6

With confirmation that Valentin was born in France and the son of Jean and Catherine, I continued to search in the US records for the Eugène MAUER seen in the 1920 census listing.

Eugene MAUER also filled out a draft registration card in 1918 when he was living in Cottonwood, Idaho County, Idaho. He declared himself an alien from Luxembourg and named Catherine KUHNEN as his nearest relative.7 Per the 1900 census, Catherine immigrated in 1896. She married Andrew KUHNEN in 1897 in California.

Eugene was found on a manifest of alien passengers for the US. He had sailed on the SS Venezuela from San Francisco to Baltimore, Maryland, in June 1921. The information given confirms he was born in Koerich, Luxembourg. He gave Valentin MAUER of San Francisco as his nearest relative. As he was entering a US port he was asked if he had entered the country before, when, for how long, and where. He replied yes from 1906 to 1921 in various places. His purpose for visiting the US was that he was in transit.8 He was likely traveling home to Luxembourg as the next spring he was found marrying Margaretha CLAREN on 30 April 1922 in Folschette.9 They had at least one child, a daughter born in 1923. Birth records are not available after 1923.

Researching the younger generation in Luxembourg

With confirmation that Valentin MAUER and Eugène MAUER found living in San Francisco and Idaho were brothers and the sons of Jean MAUER and Catherine MERTES, I looked into the children of Etienne GRETHEN and his wife Marie-Anne MAUER, also a daughter of the MAUER-MERTES couple.

Etienne and Marie-Anne had a daughter Anna born 3 February 189910, a daughter Hélène Marie-Anne born 30 December 190011, and a son Jean Baptiste born 11 January 1905.12 With these names, I was able to confirm the identity of the persons in this cropped view of the family in the photo with the baby.

Back row left to right: Etienne GRETHEN, Catherine MERTES widow of Jean MAUER, Eugène MAUER, and Valentin Mauer. In the front left to right: Anna GRETHEN, her mother Marie-Anne MAUER holding baby Jean Baptiste, and Hélène GRETHEN.

The baby is a blur in the photograph as he was likely not holding still and it’s impossible to tell his age. As he was born in January 1905 I would estimate the photo was taken later in the year. Valentin stated on his US passport application in 1921 that he sailed from Antwerp, Belgium, about 1906. Passenger lists for ships from Antwerp to America in 1905-1906 may show if Valentin emigrated with his brother Eugène.

Valentin’s 1921 application also includes a passport photo which can be compared with the 1905/1906 photo.

Valentin MAUER ca. 1905-1906 (left) and 1921 (right)

Obituaries were found for Marie-Anne MAUER in 194613 and for her widower Etienne in 1950.14 The obituaries show the children Anna, Hélène, and Jean Baptiste all married and had children. The names of the grandchildren were not included in the death notices.

Is there more to the story of this family?

If the MAUER-MERTES family were one of my families I would have so many questions I’d want answered.

Jean MAUER died in 189215 leaving Catherine MERTES with at least seven children between the ages of 5 and 26 years of age. An 8th child likely died young. A little curious, I checked for her household in the Luxembourg census for the years 1895 and 1900.

In 1895 she had Ann-Marie, Eugène, and Valentin living at home. Two daughters, Marie and Catherine, had been working in Paris for 5 years and son Johann had recently gone to unknown parts of France to work.16

In 1900 Valentin was still at home with his mother and his married sister Barbara had come home with her husband and three children. The children were born in California between 1892 and 1896 which would explain Barbara not being on the 1895 census. Daughter Marie was in her 9th year of service as a nurse in Paris. Son Johann was also working in France while Eugène had been working in Esch-sur-Alzette for a year.17 Marie-Anne was married and in her own household.

In both census listings, the mother Catherine was working to support the family as were all children except young Valentin in 1895.

I have not looked into when Barbara went to America and if, after her family returned to Luxembourg, they remained in Koerich. Nor have I checked if Marie who was working in Paris may have married or even returned to Luxembourg.

Catherine MERTES, the mother of the MAUER children, died in 1914 at the age of 72 years.18

Back to the beginning…

Anna GRETHEN married nine days after her uncle Eugène MAUER on 9 May 1922 in Koerich to Pierre STEICHEN.19 Germaine THILL-STEICHEN who wrote on the back of the photograph was their only (known) child.

I found trees maintained on Ancestry by several descendants of Valentin MAUER and Catherine MAUER. I’ll be getting in touch with them to see if any are interested in receiving digital copies of the photographs or the originals which were saved from the recycling park.

© 2019, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.


  1. Luxembourg, Registres d’état civil, 1662-1941 (images), FamilySearch (original records at Luxembourg National Archives, Plateau du Saint-Esprit, Luxembourg), Koerich > Mariages 1895-1923 > image 21 of 222. 1897 Marriage Record No. 7. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L97V-Q466?cc=1709358&wc=9RTB-2NR%3A129989801%2C129649201 : accessed 31 October 2019). 
  2. Ibid., Hesperange > Naissances 1869-1890 Mariages 1797-1823, 1796-1868 > image 1432 of 1492. 1863 Marriage Record No. 15. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HY-DKRX-VL?cc=1709358&wc=9RYW-7M9%3A129747201%2C130056301 : accessed 2 November 2019). 
  3. 1920 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, citing Fourteenth Census of the United States, 1920 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C., NARA microfilm publication T625, 2076 rolls, Roll: T625_141, California, San Francisco County, San Francisco District 28, Enumeration District 3000, Page 2B, Lines 54-58, HH #483-35, Valentine Mauer household. (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 31 October 2019). 
  4. “U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925” (index and images), Ancestry, citing Selected Passports at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C., Roll #: 1693; Volume #: Roll 1693 – Certificates: 66376-66749, 18 Jul 1921-19 Jul 1921. Passport application of Valentine Mauer issued 19 Jul 1921. 
  5. “U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918,” (index and images), Ancestry, citing original data: United States, Selective Service System. World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C., FHL microfilm M1509, 4,582 rolls, Registration State: California, Registration County: San Francisco, Roll: 1544256, Draft Board: 08, Valentine Mauer. (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 2 November 2019). 
  6. Archives départementales de l’Oise (60), browsable images of microfilm collection of parish and civil records (online http://archives.oise.fr/archives-en-ligne/), Chiry-Ourscamp, Etat Civil naissances, mariages, divorces, décès 1887-1888, 3E150/23, image 66 of 155. 1887 Birth Record No. 75. (http://ressources.archives.oise.fr/ark:/44803/9b4f7a420970afc4142b20a70bf130c3 : accessed 1 November 2019). 
  7. World War I Draft Registration Cards, Registration State: Idaho, Registration County: Idaho, Roll: 1452216, Eugene Mauer. (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 31 October 2019). 
  8. Baltimore, Passenger Lists, 1820-1964, Ancestry citing The National Archives at Washington, D.C.; Washington, D.C., Records of the US Customs Service, RG36; NAI Number: 2655153; Record Group Title: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1787-2004; Record Group Number: 85, Roll Number: 119. (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 1 November 2019). 
  9. Luxembourg Civil Records, Folschette > Mariages 1851-1923 Décès 1894-1902 > image 560 of 659. 1922 Marriage Record No. 4. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QSQ-G97J-Y6YY?cc=1709358&wc=9RTY-T3D%3A129624801%2C129674001 : accessed 2 November 2019). 
  10. Ibid., Koerich > Naissances 1895-1923 > image 52 of 222. 1899 Birth Record No. 8. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QSQ-G97V-WF8Q?cc=1709358&wc=9RTB-RMD%3A129989801%2C129648901 : accessed 31 October 2019). 
  11. Ibid., Koerich > Naissances 1895-1923 > image 74 of 222. 1900 Birth Record No. 46. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-897V-WXVS?cc=1709358&wc=9RTB-RMD%3A129989801%2C129648901 : accessed 31 October 2019). 
  12. Ibid., Koerich > Naissances 1895-1923 > image 133 of 222. 1905 Birth Record No. 1. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L97V-WFHG?cc=1709358&wc=9RTB-RMD%3A129989801%2C129648901 : accessed 31 October 2019). 
  13.  Luxemburger Wort, digitized by the Bibliothèque nationale de Luxembourg, http://www.eluxemburgensia.lu (Verlage der St-Paulus-Druckerei, Luxembourg), 18 November 1946, p. 5, col. 3. Madame Etienne Grethen née Marie-Anne Mauer Avis Mortuaire. (http://www.eluxemburgensia.lu/webclient/DeliveryManager?application=DIRECTLINK&custom_att_2=simple_viewer&pid=802390&search_terms=etienne%20grethen#panel:pp|issue:802390|article:DTL636|query:etienne%20grethen : accessed 1 November 2019). 
  14. Ibid., 3 May 1950, p. 7, col. 3. Monsieur Etienne Grethen veuf de Marianne Mauer Avis Mortuaire. (http://www.eluxemburgensia.lu/webclient/DeliveryManager?application=DIRECTLINK&custom_att_2=simple_viewer&pid=829556&search_terms=etienne%20grethen#panel:pp|issue:829556|article:DTL969|query:etienne%20grethen : accessed 1 November 2019). 
  15. Luxembourg Civil Records, Koerich > Naissances, mariages, décès 1891-1894 > image 87 of 122. 1892 Death Record No. 12.  (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-61W9-VTM?cc=1709358&wc=9RY7-C6R%3A129989801%2C129717601 : accessed 2 November 2019). 
  16. Luxembourg, Volkszählungen 1843-1900 (images), FamilySearch (original records at Luxembourg National Archives, Plateau du Saint-Esprit, Luxembourg), Koerich > 1895 > image 447 of 628. Mauer-Mertes household. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-9971-RNZV?cc=2037957&wc=M5G6-T3D%3A345861701%2C345878001 : accessed 1 November 2019). 
  17. Ibid., Koerich > 1900 > image 55 of 632. Mauer-Mertes household. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L971-Y35Z?cc=2037957&wc=M5GF-7MZ%3A345861701%2C345873901 : accessed 1 November 2019). 
  18. Luxembourg Civil Records, Koerich > Décès 1895-1923 > image 183 of 267. 1914 Death Record No. 15. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-897V-QHDK?cc=1709358&wc=9RTB-2J9%3A129989801%2C129623802 : accessed 2 November 2019). 
  19. Ibid., Koerich > Mariages 1895-1923 > image 208 of 222. 1922 Marriage Record No. 2. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-897V-QCWT?cc=1709358&wc=9RTB-2NR%3A129989801%2C129649201 : accessed 31 October 2019). 

Luxracines’ Marriage Database Helps Solve the Confusion of John Monner’s Marriage(s)

A year and a half ago Richelle Murray, a member of the Luxembourg Genealogy group on Facebook, asked for help with one of her families in Luxembourg. She was interested in John MONNER who married Anna HAUPERT on 10 February 1836. The conversation kind of fizzled out as the marriage I found for the date and place queried was for an Anna HAUPERT and Peter HAUPERT, a bride and groom with the same surname.1

Fast forward six months later Richelle asked about a record of a child born to Johann MONNER and Catharina HAUPERT. She found birth record No. 36 for her 3rd great-grandmother Marianna. A clerk had filled the left margin of both pages of the book with a court record. She needed help figuring out it is had anything to do with the record she was interested in. It pertained to birth record No. 35 correcting information in a record by court order and was of no importance to Marianna’s record.

While looking into this I checked the Luxracines site to see if the indexing project for marriages, a work-in-progress at the time, would include the wedding date of the MONNER-HAUPERT couple as she had previously asked about the marriage which she thought took place on 10 February 1836.

The search turned up two marriages for the same names in the same place but different dates. What could this mean? Had there been two marriages for two, three, or four different people? The actual marriage records needed to be consulted.

NEW! Marriage Database for Luxembourg 1796-1923

As of this May 2019, indexing is finally complete for the marriages in Luxembourg per the Tables Décennales (10-year lists for births, marriages, and deaths) for the years 1796-1923. This very important database for researchers with Luxembourg ancestry is available online to members of Luxracines.

• 170 communities (communes, Gemeinde) are included!
• 171,688 marriages for the period 1796-1923
• 108,642 marriages for the period 1610-1797
• A total of 280,330 marriages in Luxembourg

Luxracines is grateful to all members who worked on this project.

The Indexing Project for Luxembourg Marriages

Before going any further I need to say a few words about this project. A group of dedicated members of my genealogy society Luxracines worked on this project to index all of the marriages in the Luxembourg civil records using the Tables Décennales.

The indexing is complete and this new database is turning out to be a real time-saver. Researchers no longer need to search through town after town of the 10-year lists to find the marriage of a person who married in a place other than his place of birth or last known residence. Although many families remained in one town for generations there were times when children left home to find work or when entire families moved around seeking work and marriages took place in towns one would not think to look.

Marriages of Luxembourgers abroad are also being added and presently include Paris, Chiry-Ourscamp (a commune in the Oise department in northern France), and the city of Brussels (Bruxelles). Arlon (Belgium) is in the works and plans are to work on Attert (Belgium) next.

Getting back to the MONNER and HAUPERT marriages

Before looking up the marriage records I checked to see if any of our Luxracines members had worked on this particular family. Claude Bettendroffer, who has inputted baptisms, births, marriages, deaths, and burials for the parish and commune of Sandweiler from the church and civil records into his database, had Johann MONNER listed with two wives: Catharina HAUPERT and Catharina HAUPERT, both with the same parents but with different dates of birth. It’s work like Claude’s which makes it easier to find connections in Luxembourg families.

Lëtz look at the marriage records

Luxembourg (Lëtzebuerg) marriage records can be divided into four parts. Following the date, place, and names of authorities present for the marriage ceremony, the record contains:

• Groom’s information
• Bride’s information
• Dates of the publication of banns and the declaration that the bride and groom are joined in marriage by law
• Witnesses, usually four, to the marriage and signatures of all person’s present

The marriage record dated 5 April 18372 included this section on the groom:

1837 Marriage Record of Johann Monner and Catharina Haupert (groom’s info)

Johann Monner, carpenter, 27 years of, born in Pulfermuhl, in the commune of Sandweiler on 8 March 1810, a resident of Pulfermuhl, in the commune of Sandweiler, of age son of Peter Monner, carpenter, and Margaretha Cornely, no occupation, a married couple residing in Pulfermuhl, present and consenting to the marriage. Militia service was rendered per certificate of the Hamm police dated 28 March 1837.

And this section on the bride:

1837 Marriage Record of Johann Monner and Catharina Haupert (bride’s info)

The young lady Catharina Haupert age 25 years born in Sandweiler in the Canton of Sandweiler, without occupation, born on 22 November 1811 and a resident of Sandweiler, the of age daughter of Nicolas Haupert and Catharina Stümper, a legally married couple of Sandweiler who are agreeable to the marriage.

The marriage record dated 10 November 18413 included this section on the groom:

1841 Marriage Record of Johann Monner and Catharina Haupert (groom’s info)

Johann Monner, carpenter, 31 years of, born in Pulfermuhl, in the commune of Sandweiler on 8 March 1810, a resident of Pulfermuhl, in the commune of Sandweiler, of age son of Peter Monner, carpenter, and Margaretha Cornely, no occupation, a married couple residing in Pulfermuhl, present and consenting to the marriage.Widower of the deceased Catharina Haupert who died in Sandweiler on 7 May 1841.

And this section on the bride:

1841 Marriage Record of Johann Monner and Catharina Haupert (bride’s info)

The young lady Catharina Haupert, without occupation, 18 years old, born in Sandweiler in the Canton of Luxembourg the 17 August 1823, a resident of said Sandweiler, and the underage daughter of Johann Nicolas Haupert and Catharina Stümper, a married couple, farmers, residents of Sandweiler, present and consenting to the marriage. [I have not been able to transcribe and translate the last three lines which appear to be a kind of special permission given for the marriage on 12 October 1841.]

The groom in both marriage records was the same person. The brides in the marriage records were sisters, both daughters of Nicolas HAUPERT and Catharina STÜMPER. The second marriage record clearly shows Johann was widowed from his first wife.

Why the interest in Johann MONNER?

When Richelle posted to the Luxembourg Genealogy group, I didn’t know we had a connection. Richelle and I share common ancestors. Johann MONNER was the grandson of my 5th great-grandparents Hubert CORNELY and MARGARETHA EVEN through their daughter Margaretha CORNELY and her husband Peter MONNER.

Margaretha and Peter married on 15 June 18054 in Sandweiler and started a family of eight children. Johann was born on 8 March 18105 in Pulvermühle on the outskirts of Luxembourg City.

At the time Pulvermühle was part of the commune of Sandweiler. It would become part of the commune of Hamm in 1874, and then later of Luxembourg City. These changes in the location of the records would make researching the descendants more difficult as the communes were more populated. Also the spelling of the surname would change for some of the children from MONNER to MONNEUR.

Johann was the second son and third child of Margaretha CORNELY and Peter MONNER. Following his birth, Margaretha had five more children: a daughter and four sons. The youngest two were twin boys.

As seen above Johann married twice. His first wife bore him two sons. His second wife gave him three sons and three daughters from 1842 to 1850. One of the daughters died at the age of five months.

In 1852 Johann, his second wife Catharina, their children, and Johann’s two older sons departed from Le Havre, France, for New York where they arrived on 31 May 1852. Catharina was carrying a child on the journey and gave birth to a son Hillary “Henry” on 23 October 1852 in Dubuque County, Iowa. He would be the first and only MONNER child of Johann and Catharina to be born in America. Catharina died two years later on 10 May 1854.

John, as he was now called, raised his children in Dubuque County and then Jackson County, Iowa, before dying in 1880.

John was not the only child of Peter MONNER and Margaretha CORNELY to leave Luxembourg. Their second youngest son Peter moved to Paris between 1854 and 1860. Pierre MONNEUR was found on the marriage index database of Paris as he remarried there in 1861 following the death of his wife in 1860. One of his sons married his second wife’s daughter in 1868. Two more marriages found with the help of the Luxracines Marriage Database.

Full circle

Richelle’s tree back to our common ancestors.

The marriage record dated 10 February 1836 for Anna HAUPERT and Peter HAUPERT turned out to be important to Richelle’s research. Peter, like the two Catharina’s above, was a child of Nicolas HAUPERT and Catharina STÜMPER. Peter and Anna also went to Dubuque County, Iowa, a year earlier than the MONNER family. They had a son Michael who married Marianne MONNER, daughter of John, in 1865. Michael and Marianna were first cousins and Richelle’s 3rd great-grandparents.

Richelle and I are 6C1R but she does not share DNA with my brother whose test I manage. He has several matches to descendants of John MONNER and his first wife as well as his second wife. The trees these matches have attached to their DNA mistakenly list only one wife for John MONNER and by writing this post I hope the error can be rectified.

Thank you to Richelle and Claude for giving me permission to use their names in this post.

© 2019, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.


  1. Luxembourg, Registres d’état civil, 1662-1941 (images), FamilySearch (original records at Luxembourg National Archives, Plateau du Saint-Esprit, Luxembourg), Sandweiler > Naissances 1865-1890 Mariages 1797-1890 Décès 1797-1822 > image 929 of 1493. 1836 Marriage Record No. 7. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HY-X46J-1Y?cc=1709358&wc=9RYD-MNL%3A130336601%2C130552301 : accessed 19 May 2019). 
  2. Ibid., Sandweiler > Naissances 1865-1890 Mariages 1797-1890 Décès 1797-1822 > image 936 of 1493. 1837 Marriage Record No. 3. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HY-X46C-DR?cc=1709358&wc=9RYD-MNL%3A130336601%2C130552301 : accessed 3 April 2019). 
  3. Ibid., Sandweiler > Naissances 1865-1890 Mariages 1797-1890 Décès 1797-1822 > image 963 of 1493. 1841 Marriage Record No. 7. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HY-X46J-TY?cc=1709358&wc=9RYD-MNL%3A130336601%2C130552301 : accessed 3 April 2019). 
  4. Ibid., Sandweiler > Naissances 1797-1864 > image 75 of 932. 1805 Marriage Record (26 prairial an XIII) page 1 and 2. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HY-61JN-R6?cc=1709358&wc=9RY8-C68%3A130336601%2C130448701 : accessed 17 April 2019) and (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HY-61JL-3T?cc=1709358&wc=9RY8-C68%3A130336601%2C130448701 : accessed 17 April 2019). 
  5. Ibid., Sandweiler > Naissances 1797-1864 > image 123 of 932. 1810 Birth Record No. 8. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HY-61J2-JS?cc=1709358&wc=9RY8-C68%3A130336601%2C130448701 : accessed 17 April 2019). 

It’s Time to Start Working on a New Generation

Early in 2018, I wrote the last post on a set of 4th great-grandparents. I closed the post with the following paragraph:

Family history research will never be finished or ready to publish. Share what you have, make corrections and additions, write about your ancestors. Yes, it probably will remain a work in progress or a draft of a family book. By sharing what you think is incomplete, you may reach someone who has the missing information or the key to open the door in your brick wall.

It took me a year to write about 48 sets of 4th great-grandparents = 32 of my husband’s and 16 of mine. In 2014, the first year I blogged, I wrote about all of my paternal ancestors from my father to my paternal 4th great-grandparents. They made up only a quarter of my children’s tree. As the stories were coming along so well I decided to continue with the rest of my children’s ancestors up to their 4th greats in 2015 and their 5th greats in 2017-2018.

The next logical step would be to do their 6th great-grandparents. Of the 128 sets, 15 are brick walls – 5 paternal and 10 maternal (with the 10 being American ancestors). If I limit research and writing to one set a week I could get them done in a little over two years.

These are the names of the ancestors divided into the paternal and maternal sides:

Our children’s paternal 6th great-grandparents:

(256 & 257) Adami MEDER and Elisabetha ESCH
(258 & 259) Joannes REINERS and wife Maria: Susanna LAMBERT’s parents
(260 & 261) Michaelis WILMES and Barbara JACQUEMIN
(262 & 263) Mr. SCHEID (SCHOOD) and Anna Maria FETH
(264 & 265) Brick Wall (paternal grandparents of Théodore REIFFER)
(266 & 267) Brick Wall (maternal grandparents of Théodore REIFFER)
(268 & 269) Joannes CLOOS and Anne Marie KLAREN
(270 & 271) Nikolaus THEWES and Gertrud LESSEN
(272 & 273) Joannis ADAM and Margaritha (first married to THOMMES)
(274 & 275) Jacobi WOLTER and Marie Elisabeth MEYERS
(276 & 277) Joannes SCHENTEN x KOECHER and Catharina KOSTERS
(278 & 279) Parents of Cathérine OBERECKEN
(280 & 281) Mathias LORENS and Eva FRENTZ
(282 & 283) Petri STENGENFORT and unknown wife
(284 & 285) Joannis PREISER and Anna Maria FETH
(286 & 286) Petrus SCHRANTZ and Anne Marie HAMEN
(288 & 289) Jean “Joannis” SCHWARTZ and Maria HEINZ
(290 & 291) Mathia HALER and Angela ALENTS
(292 & 293) Johann Gerard TRIERWEILER and Elisabeth KERSCH
(294 & 295) Carl HOFFMANN and Angela ROSPORT
(296 & 297) Philippi SCHMITT and Apollonia MATTES
(298 & 299) Matthias PLEIN and Margaretha VALERIUS
(300 & 301) Johann WOLLSCHEID and Anna Maria WILLWERT
(302 & 303) Johann BARTHELMES and Eva BARZEN
(304 & 305) Johann Peter GORGES and Anna Maria HORSCH
(306 & 307) Nikolaus RODENS and Anna SCHUE
(308 & 309) Brick Wall (parents of Caspar BOTZ)
(310 & 311) Brick Wall (parents of Magdalena MASEN)
(312 & 313) Nicolaus SCHERFF and Helena OTTO
(314 & 315) Dominique STEIMETZ and Helena “Magdalena” KOCH
(316 & 317) Daniel and Elisabetha CLEMENS
(318 & 319) Matthias WEBER and Anna Margaretha FEILEN
(320 & 321) Henri and Magdalena  CREMERS
(322 & 323) Joannes VENANDI and Maria HOSINGER
(324 & 325) Johann THIVELS alias FRIEDERICH and Catharina FEDERSPIEL
(326 & 327) Martin HUNTGES and Marguerite MAY
(328 & 329) Johann Heinrich “Henri” MERKES and Anna ROSS
(330 & 331) Anton WAGENER and Catharina PIRSCH
(332 & 333) Mathias HASTERT and Anne NIEDERKORN
(334 & 335) Jean SCHMIDT and Maria LENTZ
(336 & 337) Leonard GRITIUS and Marie NEIEN
(338 & 339) Jean SCHETTERT and Anna Catharina SCHAACK
(340 & 341) Jean Baptiste SCHAEFFER and Catherine SCHAACK
(342 & 343) Nicolas GREISCH and Susanne ROLLINGER
(344 & 345) Michel WECKERING and Anna Maria DALEYDEN
(346 & 347) Brick Wall (parents of Marguerite LASCHEID)
(348 & 349) Jacob BERNARD and Jeanne CAPPUS
(350 & 351) Valentin GREBER and Christina STEFFEN
(352 & 353) Dominique PEFFER and Marguerite SINTGEN
(354 & 355) Nicolas PIERRET and Anna Maria ROBINET
(356 & 357) Nicolas GRASSER vulgo REUTERS and Elisabetha WINANDY
(358 & 359) Léonard HOSCHEID and Marie Catharina REULAND
(360 & 361) Pierre ZWANG and Anne Marie HUSCHET
(362 & 363) Johann WELTER and Anna Maria FELTES
(364 & 365) Jean DHAM and Marie WELTER
(366 & 367) Nicolas KIMES and Anna Maria STRENG
(368 & 369) Peter MERTES and Marguerite BIVER
(370 & 371) Johann DONNEN and Barbara CHRITOPHORY
(372 & 373) Casparus ERPELDING and Gertrudes JEHNEN
(374 & 375) Peter CONRADT and Anna Catharina ROEDER
(376 & 377) Petrus RUCKERT and Anna Catharina SPEYER
(378 & 379) Petrus MICHELS and Susanna MARTIN aka MERTES
(380 & 381) Peter SCHMIT and Rosa CLEMENS
(382 & 383) Nicolas WEICKER and Anne Margarethe HARTMANN

Our children’s maternal 6th great-grandparents: The American families

(384 & 385) Brick Wall (great-grandparents of William A. W. DEMPSEY)
(386 & 387) Brick Wall (great-grandparents of William A. W. DEMPSEY)
(388 & 389) Brick Wall (great-grandparents of William A. W. DEMPSEY)
(390 & 391) Brick Wall (great-grandparents of William A. W. DEMPSEY)
(392 & 393) Bailey WOOD and Nancy, his wife
(394 & 395) Martin McGRAW and Margaret “Polly”, his wife
(396 & 397) Hans Jacob HONEGGER and Maria GOETZ
(398 & 399) Isaac WISEMAN and Elizabeth DAVIS
(400 & 401) Ester INGRAM – an assumption
(402 & 403) John KINCAID and Elizabeth Hannah GILLESPIE
(404 & 405) William JOHNSON Sr. and Amy NELSON
(406 & 407) James SIMS and his wife Phebe (written in 2018)
James SIMS (1754-1845) Pioneer of Nicholas County, West Virginia
(see also link to page with all posts for James SIMS)
(408 & 409) Brick Wall DEMPSEY and his wife Susannah
(410 & 411) James LANDRUM and his unknown wife
(412 & 413) Phillip GOING and Judith POTTER
(414 & 415) William CRISP and his wife Lucy
(416 & 417) Henry RUPE and Catherine Barbara NOLL (written in 2016)
Henry RUPE and Catherine Barbara NOLL ~ The Early Years in Maryland (1765-1793)
Henry RUPE and Catherine Barbara NOLL ~ The Years in Rockbridge (1793-1801)
Henry RUPE and Catherine Barbara NOLL ~ The Years in Rockbridge (1793-1801)
Henry RUPE and Catherine Barbara NOLL ~ At Home on the Old Henry Roop Place
Henry RUPE and Catherine Barbara NOLL ~ Family Life in Montgomery County, Virginia
The Last Will and Testament of Henry RUPE 1765-1845
Henry RUPE’s Estate and his Widow Catherine’s Last Days
A Date of Death for Catherine Barbara NOLL (1768-1859)
(418 & 419) Robert CARROLL and his wife Anne
(420 & 421) John LESTER II and Mary Ann TERRY
(422 & 423) Owen SUMNER and Sarah NEWTON
(424 & 425) John PETERS and wife – Can this be proven with DNA?
(426 & 427) Joseph LIVELY and Mary L. CASH
(428 & 429) Augustin PROFFITT and Elizabeth “Betsy” ROBERTSON
(430 & 431) Edward COCKRAM and his wife Mary
(432 & 433) Jeremiah CLAUNCH and his wife
(434 & 435) Brick wall (parents of Nancy BEASLEY)
(436 & 437) Brick Wall (paternal grandparents of Mary E. DOSS)
(438 & 439) James DOSS Jr. and Elizabeth LESTER
(440 & 441) BRICK WALL (paternal grandparents of John COOLEY)
(442 & 443) BRICK WALL (maternal grandparents of John COOLEY
(444 & 445) Edward TREDWAY and Nancy MAGNESS
(446 & 447) Brick Wall (maternal grandparents of Sarah Ann TREADWAY)

Our children’s maternal 6th great-grandparents: The families of the greater Luxembourg area

(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
(480 & 481) Pierre FOURNELLE and Jeanne NEU
(482 & 483) Jean SCHMIT and Eve DUCKER
(484 & 485) Jacques PHILIPPART and Catherine SINGER aka KETTER
(486 & 487) Henri MEUNIER and Margaretha KILBOUR
(488 & 489) Joseph SCHLOESSER and Catherine ARENDT
(490 & 491) Nicolas TRAUDT and Barbe BILL
(492 & 493) Johann CONSBRÜCK and Barbara SCHMIDT
(494 & 495) Sébastian LANSER and Maria Catharina HASTERT
(496 & 497) Nicolaus FRANTZ and Angela BARTEL
(498 & 499) Nicolaus KIEFFER and Susanna SCHILTZ
(500 & 501) Joannis FRISCH and Margaret ZEIMES
(502 & 503) Peter HUBERTY and Jonannata BEREND
(504 & 505) Jean MAJERUS and Margretha BREGER
(506 & 507) Hubert CORNELY and Margaretha EVEN
(508 & 509) Remacle TRAUSCH and Theresia BRAUN (COLLING)
(510 & 511) Johannes HAMES and Agnes HEITZ

Where should I begin? I believe each tiny twig on every small branch of the larger branches in the family tree is as important as the next. If I continued in the same order I’ve been writing about the previous generations, I’d start at the top of the lists above and work down. However, I want to get my Luxembourgish side done first!

My youngest brother turned over his AncestryDNA test to me three years ago. On our paternal side, my brother’s DNA has confirmed the paper trail is correct for the American lines and we have not had any surprises. However, the brick walls are still standing.

On our maternal side, matches are few. This is not surprising as these lines remained in Luxembourg up until my birth. Maternal matches on Ancestry are for the most part America descendants of Luxembourg emigrants from the 1800s. The highest maternal match is a 4th cousin once removed (4C1R) with 44 cMs on 3 segments. We share Jacob FRISCH and Regina HUBERTY, my 4th great-grandparents (children of 501 through 504).

Screenshot of my family tree on Ancestry with annotations.

This is how I’ve decided to proceed. Ancestry now shows a helix icon for the ancestors who are on the ThruLines in trees which are linked to DNA tests. In this screenshot, we see my maternal grandmother’s mother Catharina FRANTZ and all of her ancestors. On the right are the 5th great-grandparents from 496 to 511. Working from the bottom up I opened each to find the first couple with matches who share DNA with my brother and have the ancestor couple in their tree.

And the winner is…

Hubert CORNELY and Margaretha EVEN (506 & 507) have 8 suggested matches descending from three of their children.

  • Two of these matches have been proven as well as several more who do not have their trees linked to the DNA. A nice group of descendants split between a line which went to America and a line which moved from Luxembourg to Belgium to Switzerland to England.
  • Two matches come through a line in which I found an interesting phenomenon: a man who was married twice – to sisters – both with the same name. Yes, this has caused errors in online trees which need to be corrected.
  • Three matches share a very small amount of DNA with my brother (between 6-11 cMs). Their trees are incorrect and the common ancestors cannot be the CORNELY-EVEN couple.

Lëtz Research – Luxembourg Research

Researching Luxembourg families has become easier for me over the years. I have several advantages over the descendants of Luxembourg emigrants. As 3/4 of my children’s family tree is Luxembourgish, I’ve learned how to easily locate a civil or church record. I’m fluent in the languages used in Luxembourg records and have learned the most commonly used Latin terms. I had a great teacher in my father-in-law who helped me decipher the handwriting in the records during the early years. When all else fails, I have my genealogy society Luxracines and its members who are even more skilled in Luxembourg research.

It’s Time to Start Working on a New Generation

The posts may not be ready on a weekly basis. The objective is to get back to researching family groups with the intention of going back further in time on several lines which have not been researched. By starting out with the Luxembourg families, I hope to make connections with cousins descended from Luxembourg emigrants and interested in learning more about their roots in this beautiful country.

Next week I’ll begin my posts on my children’s 6th great-grandparents with Hubert CORNELY and Margaretha EVEN of Wickrange in the commune of Reckange-sur-Messe in Luxembourg.

© 2019, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

A New Milestone for Opening Doors in Brick Walls

It’s been an amazing journey – this blogging thing. I’d been doing family history research for about twenty years when I took up Amy Johnson Crow’s challenge to write about my ancestors.

It took me until week 3 to decide to start a blog. I already had a name I’d been using for my online family tree and for my Facebook page.

I don’t know how many pages of material all of my blog posts cover. This is post #559. Ninety thousand visitors have dropped in and viewed my posts over 168,000 times during these five years.

Although the majority of my articles have been about my children’s ancestors, visitors to my blog have been more interested in other content.

All-Time Top 10 Posts and Pages

6 AncestryDNA Notes for Easier Comparison – October 2016

How I Got My MISSING AncestryDNA Circles Back – April 2018

Dear Cousin ~ We Have a DNA Match, Now What? – March 2018

How I Use and Manage AncestryDNA Notes – October 2016

James SIMS (1754-1845) Pioneer of Nicholas County, West Virginia – written in 2002 and at home on my blog since 2014

Old Photographs Saved From Trash Can – since April 2015, a page linking all posts from the series by the same name

Step by Step Guide to Accessing Browse-only Records on FamilySearch – July 2017

The Ancestors, a page linking all of my children’s ancestor posts written in the past five years, mainly for the 52 Ancestors series

52 Ancestors: #47 Johnny CASH’s 1C5R ~ Kesiah LIVELY – November 2014

About Cathy Meder-Dempsey, my “about page” last update in November 2017. Maybe I should refresh it a bit.

My Least Viewed Post

This young man was featured in Old Photographs Saved From Trash Can ~ #36 Otterbein E. PADDACK 1874-1942 on New Year’s Eve 2015 and has gotten the least amount of views of all of my posts. A grand total of 47 views compared to the 1,649 to 2,798 for the top 10 above. With a name like Otterbein Paddack, no wonder he hasn’t been Googled.

Search Terms

What brings traffic to my blog if they didn’t drop in by clicking a link shared on social media? Search terms are no longer a precise way of determining what people are searching for as they are often encrypted on the search engines. But the ones which do make the list are fun to look at.

The top search term over the years has been the blog name followed by Johnny Cash family tree. Number 3 was Verwurelter. If you don’t know what Verwurelter are then take a moment to read the only recipe post I’ve written: Family Tradition: Berliner and Verwurelter.

Luxembourg and German towns names, as well as all those surnames of ancestors, have drawn readers to my blog. One search might not have helped the person interested in a dempsey in prison in beckley wv. It makes me want to do the same search just to find out if there was a Dempsey in prison in Beckley. I’m always willing to solve a puzzle.

The person who visited looking for a naughty 50-something mother in the countryside was probably not very impressed when the search criteria turned up: 52 Ancestors: #50 My Naughty Mr. and Mrs. DEMPSEY.

Setting Goals for Year 6

As I mentioned in my first post in 2019, I’m taking things as they come this year. I’ll be working on whatever needs to be researched, reviewed, or updated. No resolutions and no promises.

Not all of my time is spent researching and writing for my blog. Three years ago the president of my genealogy society, Luxracines, asked if I would be interested in joining the committee. It’s not much work, he said.  It was more time consuming than I had thought but I will be offering my candidature for another three years when our annual meeting is held in March.

Along with spending time with family and friends, I also have a retired husband who wants to share his passion for cycling with me. He keeps me healthy since research and blogging are sedentary tasks. Riding 5,300 kilometers (3,293 miles) last year took 210 hours and that doesn’t include preparations time and after ride clean-up.  And I get my eight hours of sleep at night.

And now it’s time to light the candles.

Happy 5th Blogiversary to Opening Doors in Brick Walls. Thanks to all of you for making this such an enjoyable journey. © 2019, 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.

A Family Book for Echternach

Rob DELTGEN, president of luxracines a.s.b.l. has announced the publication of the family book of ECHTERNACH by Thomas WEBERS (in German). Period 1796-1923, 5,862 families, 31,120 births, 751 pages.

Finally, researchers will have a family book for the commune of Echternach. For the longest time Echternach was the second largest town in Luxembourg. Even in the 1960s it had more hotel beds than Luxembourg City. No town in Luxembourg has a richer history.

1964-09-036-echternach
1964 – The Denzelt in Echternach during the visit of Charlotte, Grand Duchess of Luxembourg and King Olav V of Norway. Photo credit: Fred R. Dempsey (1936-1974).

Thomas WEBERS, an experienced author of numerous Luxembourgish and German family books, has embarked on this very extensive work and has mastered it with diligence and endurance.

Without the participation and support of the municipality of Echternach, this publication would not have been possible.

Please find below, the announcement made in German by Rob DELTGEN.

Ankündigung:

Familienbuch der Gemeinde Echternach

Echternach
Neuerscheinung Anfang März lieferbar

Familienbuch der Gemeinde ECHTERNACH
(1796–1923)

Autor: Thomas WEBERS

Herausgeber:
Gemeinde Echternach und luxracines asbl
5.862 Familien, 31.120 Geburten, 15.265 Todesfälle
751 Seiten
Vorverkauf 59 Euro (bis 28. Februar)
Ladenpreis ab 1. März: 69 Euro
Versand: Porto 15 € Inland, 25 € Ausland
Bitte angeben ob Versand oder SelbstabholerÜberweisung auf unser Bankkonto
luxracines.lu asbl
IBAN: LU97 1111 2992 8237 0000
BIC CCPLLULL

Abholbar bei der Buchpräsentation in Echternach (Termin wird mitgeteilt)
oder in unserem Lokal in Walferdingen während der Öffnungszeiten

Liebe Familienforscher,

Endlich liegt uns das Ortsfamilienbuch der Gemeinde ECHTERNACH vor. Diese Ortschaft war lange die zweitgrößte Ortschaft des Landes und noch in den sechziger Jahren besaß Echternach mehr Hotelbetten als die Hauptstadt Luxemburg. Es gibt keine Ortschaft in Luxemburg, die reicher an Geschichte ist. Funde aus der Stein- und Römerzeit belegen dies.

Thomas WEBERS, routinierter Autor zahlreicher Luxemburger und Deutscher Familienbücher, hat sich an diese doch sehr umfangreiche Arbeit herangewagt und sie mit Fleiß und Ausdauer bewältigt. Nicht immer war es für Thomas einfach, die Namen der Orte korrekt wiederzugeben. Wie schwer ist es für einen deutschen Forscher zu wissen, dass z.B. die in der Urkunde bezeichnete Ortschaft Siebenbrunnen identisch ist mit Septfontaines. Wir haben versucht die Orte-Datei soweit wie möglich zu berichtigen. Mein Dank geht hier auch an unsere fleißige Sekretärin Christiane OTH-DIEDERICH, welche mit großer Kompetenz vieles korrigiert hat.

Ohne die Beteiligung und Unterstützung der Gemeinde Echternach wäre diese Publikation nicht möglich gewesen. Dieses Buch ermöglicht nicht nur der Gemeinde die Originaldokumente zu schonen, denn jede Fotokopie schädigt die Tinte, sondern darüber hinaus ermöglicht dies den Unerfahrenen im Lesen der Akten, welche ja größtenteils in der alten deutschen Schreibweise, Spitzschrift genannt, verfasst sind, an exakte Daten zu kommen.

Wir danken der Gemeindeführung für die Zusammenarbeit.

Rob DELTGEN
Präsident von luxracines a.s.b.l.

bestwishescathy1© 2017, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Adding 3 Generations to the Family Tree

logo_klengI was on duty a week ago Saturday at my genealogy society’s library in Walferdange, Luxembourg. This new library is open to the public on Saturday afternoons from 2 to 5. Three members of the board of Luxracines were present and six visitors dropped in to research and to become familiar with our collections.

As it was not yet too busy, I was able to get some research done while on duty.

  • I opened up my genealogy software (AQ14), went to my maternal grandfather’s pedigree and checked for the closest unknown sets of ancestors. One by one I pulled the family books of the towns they were from and looked up the families.
  • I used Evernote’s Scannable app on my iPhone to scan the images of the pages of the German family books concerning the families I was interested in.
  • I attached the names of 5 sets of NEW ancestors to my family tree, as placeholders. I did not input any further information.
  • To the Research Manager of AQ14, I added a To Do/Research Item for each placeholder person:
    Check the images from the [name of town] family book taken at Luxracines library on 29 Oct 2016
  • I included a red tag for good measure.
  • At home, I sent the images to Evernote. Each image became a note which I titled with the town name, page number, family number(s), surname. The notes were filed in a temporary notebook.

The next step was to begin inputting the information, citing sources, and adding the cropped images to my database. I began with the Familienbuch der Pfarrei Messerich, Dekanat Bitburg, 1720-1900 compiled by Werner Naumann. It covers the towns of Messerich, Birtlingen, Niederstedem, and Oberstedem.

messerich2015Last year I wrote 52 Ancestors: #45 The WAGNER-KERSCHT Family. My third great-grandmother Anna Maria KERSCHT, wife of Johann WAGNER, was the daughter of Mathias KERSCHT (1759-1841), a sheep herder, Schäfer, and Anna EVEN (1766-1828) who were married 26 November 1785 in Messerich in the Eifel. Anna Maria’s parents, my 4th great-grandparents, would be the next logical couple to write about. The Mettendorf FB entry M1158 for them indicated that they had not always lived in Mettendorf. Their first six children had only estimated years of birth indicating the information was not to be found in Mettendorf. Their seventh child, born in 1809, was documented as being born in Mettendorf.

My fourth great-grandmother’s name was seen as Anna EVEN in the Mettendorf FB (Family Book). Since Anna and Mathias married in Messerich this was the logical place to look further for this family line.

To put this in perspective, Nicolas WILDINGER was my maternal grandfather. His line back to Anna is through his mother Catherine PÖPPELREITER, her mother Magdalena WAGNER, her mother Anna Maria KERSCHT, her mother Anna EWEN.

nicolaswildingerpedigreeThe first thing I noticed when I looked up EVEN, the name found in the Mettendorf FB, was that the name was spelled EWEN in the Messerich FB. I had suspected this may be the case as I had found Anna’s parents listed as Gerardus EWEN and Barbara THILIEN on Thomas A. Pick’s Homepage for Eifel Birth and Marriage Data. The data was transcribed from an unknown source and the town of Messerich is seen as Mefserich (clearly a transcription error). This made me question the correctness of Pick’s use of the names EWEN and THILIEN.

In the Messerich FB, Mr. Naumann included the book number, page number, and record number of the church records he viewed. He also mentions other spellings of names or name changes. Although records will have to be obtained as proof, I will, for now, go with the spelling found by Mr. Naumann.

The parents of Anna EWEN (1766-1828) were Gerhard EWEN and Barbara THIL, also seen as THIELEN. Anna had nine siblings born between  1761 and 1780. Not only did I find her parents but also her paternal grandparents, maternal grandfather, and both sets of paternal great-grandparents. The new names in the family tree are seen below in generations 8 and 9 in white.

annamariakerschtpedigreeWhen I finish all of the towns scanned, I will go into AQ14 and re-set the standard ancestral colors so that these new ancestors on my mother’s paternal line will also be pink.

An interesting name change was seen for Anna EWEN’s parents. Her father Remigius was born EUPERS. At the time of his marriage to Margaretha EWEN in 1733 he lost his surname as they lived in the EWEN home and their children were all baptized EWEN. He was known as Remigius EUPERS vulgo EWEN. Vulgo means “alias” or “also known as” and shows his association to the EWEN family and property.

The Mathias KERSCHT and Anna EWEN family group were included in the Messerich FB. However, there are still discrepancies. My Anna Maria KERSCHT is in the Mettendorf FB with birth being circa 1793. She had five siblings born between 1786 and 1794 in Messerich but she was not in the Messerich FB.

When I wrote 52 Ancestors: #45 The WAGNER-KERSCHT Family I discussed my doubts about Anna Maria being born abt. 1793 which would mean she was nearly 50 when her last child, my 2nd great-grandmother Magdalena WAGNER, was born. I didn’t have the WAGNER-KERSCHT family’s entry from the Mettendorf FB when I wrote the post a year ago. At the time the theme of the post was “nur nicht verzweifeln” or don’t despair due to all the missing information. I still don’t have the entry and have added it to the Research Manager as a To Do/Research Item for my next visit to the library.

Messerich, Germany

The first documented mention of the town Messerich, Miezriche, was in the year 1066. In 1852 remains of Roman settlements were found thus proving that the place existed nearly one thousand years before it was first mentioned. In 1473 Messerich had 15 Feuerstellen, or houses which were lived in; in 1525 there were 12; in 1541 there were 14; and in 1624 there were only 5. The Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648), one of the deadliest conflicts in European history, and the Black Death, which repeatedly struck the Nimstal area in 1620-1633, were the cause for the decline in population. Today there are over 400 residents and 100 houses in Messerich.

messerichinrelationtoluxembourg
Map courtesy of maps.google.lu

On the map above Messerich is a bit south of Bitburg. The closest towns to Messerich are Masholder, Birtlingen, Oberstedem, and Bitburg. Echternach, Luxembourg, the town where I live, lies 17.5 km or 10 miles to the south.

luxembourgpartitionsmap_english
By Spanish_Inquisition (LuxembourgPartitionsMap_english.jpg) [GFDL or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Until the end of the 18th century, Messerich belonged to the Bitburg Provost District of the Duchy of Luxembourg. The borders of Luxembourg, before 1659, are seen above as black lines including areas of present-day France, Belgium, and Germany. The area where Messerich lies belonged to the Duchy of Luxembourg until the dark green area went to Prussia in 1815.

Although Messerich today lies in Germany, during the time my ancestors lived there it was part of the Duchy of Luxembourg. Now I am curious to find out which of my other “German” ancestors were actually Luxembourgers.

The entries from the Messerich FB have all been inputted and cited in my family tree. Schankweiler, Mettendorf, Neuerburg/Eifel, Mürlenbach, and Fliessem family books remain to be done. Hopefully I will have finished them by November 26th when it is once again my turn to be on library duty.

bestwishescathy1

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

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

7 Top Suggestions from my Readers

logo_klengThe JNGH 2016, an international meeting of friends of genealogy and local history took place in Leudelange, Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, on Sunday, the 16th of October 2016. I represented the only genealogy blog in Luxembourg with Opening Doors in Brick Walls.

odibwlogo2016I wrote in Preparations and Afterthoughts on JNGH 2016 that neither my presence nor the interest in blogs and blogging drew the attention I had hoped. I asked my readers what I could do better next time. They were very forthcoming with their compliments and recommendations, mainly due to their own experience.

7 Top Suggestions from my Readers

1. If you don’t have extras, borrow two more laptops and screens. Run the presentation in German on one and in French on the other.

2. Explain the value of reading and of creating a blog.

3. Show how blogging has helped you in your research, i.e. having your information organized in one place, making connections with others of the same interest, etc.

4. Print out a sample post, maybe an introduction, in all your languages.

5. Include the languages you speak on the calling cards the next time you have them printed.

6. Draw the visitors’ attention to your table, i.e. balloons, flowers, candy.

7. Don’t be shy.

I’m taking these to heart and will implement them the next time I participate in this kind of exhibition. My inexperience and not having attended other genealogy events of this kind did not help. I believe shyness on my part may have also been a factor as noted in #7.

Here are the comments made by my readers (here and on Facebook) who kindly let me know I did a good job and coached me on how to make a better presentation at an international genealogy event.

Seems as though you did an excellent job of putting together your “booth”.  Suggestion: (not necessary, but just an idea) next time, borrow two more laptop and screens. Put one in German and one in French. (Of course, you would still have the one in English) Love your tree. ~ Luella, 3C1R, genealogist (Facebook)

Are you trying to encourage people to do more ancestry research or blogging, or both. Maybe you can put something together showing how blogging has helped you in your research, i.e. having your information organized in one place, making connections with others of the same interest, etc. I love all of your articles. ~ Ute (Facebook)

Cathy, I enjoyed your post, and it was quite interesting to learn that there are no bloggers in Luxembourg [there are no other genealogy bloggers], hard to believe. But, you are the first! Maybe next year, you could print out a sample post, maybe an introduction, in all your languages. Oh, I adore your calling card, I hope people picked them up, also next time you get them printed, put the languages on. Sorry about my suggestions. I hope you noticed an increase of hits on your blog. ~ Barbara Poole of Life From The Roots

1. I hope your presentation went well. As for suggestions, are there any Luxembourg FB groups? I know you are active on FB, so you’ve no doubt explored this avenue. Do you get any views from people in Luxembourg? Do you think it’s a language issue or just that people aren’t aware of blogging in general?
2. Well, until I started my own blog, I had NO idea what a blog really was or that there were so many genealogy blogs out there. So hang in there! Once people read your blog, they will see the value in reading and creating a blog. ~ Amy Cohen of Brotmanblog: A Family Journey

Maybe something like flowers or balloons on your table, something eye-catching next time would help draw attention to your table. Oh, and candy! I think you did great for the first time. Good luck with your next presentation! ~ Laura Mattingly of The Old Trunk in the Attic

Don’t be shy, Cathy! Your preparations were VERY professional although you don’t intend to make money out of your hobby! I very much love the design of your blogname, calling card and the tree. Until next year you will have worked on all the suggestions from your commentators and you’ll see, the visitors will come. To point out your language skills is a great idea! ~ Karen Feldbusch of Vorfahrensucher

I enjoyed reading this post, and seeing some of the links too, to see the venue photographs. Every place has its first genealogy blogger. You set the bar high for people to follow in your footsteps! ~Janice Webster Brown of Cow Hampshire

It looks and reads like you had a polished set up (nicely done on the logo, by the way). Perhaps your biggest asset is that you’re willing to ask and meditate on how you can better attract others to genealogy blogging. Good luck! ~ Michael Dyer of Family Sleuther

If you are interested in seeing what the other exhibitors presented, please visit Luxracines’ album titled Leudelange Journée Nationale de Généalogie 2016 with photos taken by Patrick Koster.

A special thank you to everyone who helped me out.

bestwishescathy1

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

Save

Save

Save

Save