The Ancestors: Jean Schmit of Hautcharage and Eva Ducker of Differdange

On 6 November 1756 Joannes SCHMIT of Oberkerschen (also known as Hautcharage) married Eva DUCKER of Differdingen (also known as Differdange).1 No other information was given in the three short lines written in the Obercorn parish register. Differdange at the time belonged to the Obercorn parish.

1756 Marriage Entry in the Obercorn parish register. Courtesy of FamilySearch.

Time for a little Latin lesson

The word Octobris (or October) was marked out and corrected with 9bris in the marriage entry above. Nine does not designate the number of the month, but rather the name of the month in Latin when September, October, November, and December were the 7th, 8th, 9th, and 10th months. Nine was novem in Latin, making 9bris the month November, and not September the 9th month as we know it today. The suffix -bris or -ber indicates the number is to be spoken and pronounced as the standard names.

While searching for records, if you are using dates abstracted by someone who unknowingly assumed the number referred to the month as we number them today, this is likely what may be tripping you up. If you cannot find a record abstracted as July, it may be dated 7ber or September.

The children of Jean and Eva

Jean and Eva, my 5th great-grandparents, made their home in Niedercorn, a village in the parish of Obercorn. Their seven known children were born in Niedercorn and baptized in Obercorn.

Nicolaus SCHMIT (1756-?)

Jean and Eva cut it close when they married. Their first child, a son, was born less than a month after their marriage. Nicolaus was born and baptized on 1 December 1756. His godparents were Rdus (Reverendus or reverend) Dominicus SCHMIT of Oberkerschen and Catherine DÜCKER of Rodange, formerly of Differdange.2 No further record was found for this child.

Franciscus SCHMIT (1758-1814)

The second child of Jean and Eva was baptized on 27 September 1758. His godparents were Franciscus SCHMIT and Maria SCHMIT, both of Niedercorn.3 Franciscus was married twice. He married(1) Elisabeth KETTENMEYERS on 8 January 1788.4 Elisabeth gave birth to two children5,6 before dying on New Year’s Eve in 1792.7 Franciscus married(2) Magdalena NOEL on 20 November 1793.8 They had at least two sons, one born in 17959 and a second in 1804.10 Franciscus died on 7 April 1814 at the age of 55.11 Magdalena died on 8 November 1820 at the age of 63.12

Marianne SCHMIT (1760-1824)

The first daughter and third child of Jean and Eva was my 4th great-grandmother Marianne SCHMIT. She was born and baptized on 21 December 1760. Her godparents were Frederico SCHAUS of Niederkorn and Maria DECKEN (a variation of DUCKER) of Differdange. Her baptismal name was Maria.13 Later, when she married, had children, and died her name was seen as Marianne. She married Pierre FOURNELLE (1748-1816) on 1 April 1783.14 Marianne was 22 and Pierre was 34. They were the parents of ten children. Their oldest lived only a little more than a year. Eight of the nine children married. One son has not been traced after his baptism in 1791. Marianne’s husband Pierre died on 17 October 1816 at the age of 67.15 Marianne died on 14 Jun 1824 at the age of 63.16 More about this family can be read here: 52 Ancestors: #40 The Fournelle-Schmit Family of Rodange.

Jean SCHMIT (1762-aft. 1821)

The fourth child of Jean and Eva, Jean was born and baptized on 19 Sep 1762. His godparents were Jean REDING from Reding and Margaritha THILTGES from Niedercorn.17 He married Françoise MARTIN on 6 February 1792 in Rodange.18 Jean was 29 and Françoise, a widow, was 50. Witnesses to the marriage were the bride Françoise’s father Jean TONNELIER (he was her step-father) and her son Pierre VAUDOIS, and the groom Jean’s brother François SCHMIT, and his brother-in-law Pierre FOURNELLE. Jean TONNELIER had married Françoise’s mother Angélique MUSQUIN following the death of his wife Catherine DUCKER. Catherine was the sister of Jean’s mother Eva. Therefore Jean TONNELIER was Jean’s uncle by marriage and became his step-father-in-law. Jean and Françoise likely didn’t have children due to her age at the time of the marriage. Françoise was 79 years old when she died in Thil, Meurthe-et-Moselle, France, on 29 October 1821 at the home of her husband Jean SCHMIT.19 A death record after 29 October 1821 was not found in Thil for Jean.

Marie SCHMIT (1765-aft. 29 Nov 1803)

Jean and Eva’s 2nd daughter and 5th child, Marie was born and baptized on 30 March 1765. Her godparents were Peter LIPPERT and Maria SAMPSON, both of Niedercorn.20 Marie married Antoine MAUER on 10 February 1789 in Obercorn.21 They were the parents of five children born between 1789-1803. No trace of this couple or their children was found after the birth of their last known child and only daughter Maria on 29 November 1803.22

Magdalena SCHMIT (1766-1785)

The third daughter and 6th child, Magdalena was born and baptized on 14 October 1766. Her godparents were Michael LORANG and Magdalena DECKES (a variation of DUCKER), both of Niedercorn.23 Magdalena never married. She died on 17 May 1785 at the age of 18 while visiting or living with her sister Marianne in Rodange. Her brother-in-law Pierre FOURNELLE was present at her funeral and signed the burial notice.24

Susanne SCHMIT (1769-1819)

Jean and Eva’s youngest child was a daughter Susanne born and baptized on 5 March 1769. Her godparents were Michael GRUND and Susanna BASSENDORF.25 Susanne was likely the mother of a natural child born and baptized on 22 October 1789 in Rodange. The child was named Angelique SCHMIT. Her godparents were her uncle Pierre FOURNELLE and Angélique MUSQUIN, wife of Jean TONNELIER (her mother Eva’s brother-in-law).26 By elimination, only Susanne could have been the mother. Angelique died at the age of two months on 2 January 1790. The entry in the parish records for her death and burial does not name her parents. The death was witnessed by her godfather/uncle.27 Five years later, Susanne married Joseph PHILIPPART on 23 January 1795 in Rodange.28 Joseph was the brother of my 5th great-grandfather Jacques PHILIPPART. Susanne and Joseph were 25 and 30 when they married. They were the parents of six children born between 1796-1809. Susanne died on 17 September 1819 at the age of 50.29 Her husband Joseph died at the age of 63 on 19 January 1828.30

Death on Wedding Anniversary

The marriage of Jean SCHMIT and Eva DUCKER lasted exactly 21 years. Jean died on their anniversary, 6 November 1777 in Niedercorn. He was buried the following day in the cemetery of Obercorn.31 He was a sexagenarian at the time of his death, i.e. born before 1717.

Eva, 50 years old, was left with two sons and four daughters aged between 9 and 19 years.

Eva died fourteen years later on 18 March 1792 in Niedercorn. She was buried the following day in the cemetery of Niedercorn. Her oldest son Franciscus was a witness who signed the death/burial record. Her funeral was said by J. B. NEUERS of the parish of Obercorn, the same priest who had celebrated her husband’s funeral.32 Eva had lived to see four of her children marry. Two children predeceased her.

Research Manager

Jean SCHMIT and Eva DUCKER’s names were found in the 1783 marriage record of my 4th great-grandparents Marianne SCHMIT and Pierre FOURNELLE. When I wrote about Marianne and Pierre in December 2017, I mentioned the family book for the village of Obercorn.33

Eva’s parents were Peter DUCKER, formerly of Mamer, and Maria SCHMIT of Niedercorn, They raised their family of eight children in Differdange. While Eva’s parents and siblings were found and documented with the help of information found in the family book of Obercorn, a few questions remain.

As Eva’s mother and husband shared the SCHMIT surname, were they related? Who were the parents of Jean SCHMIT from Oberkerschen or Hautcharage?

SCHMIT is the number one most common family name in Luxembourg. Without any finding aids, it’s nearly impossible to research a person named Jean SCHMIT or John SMITH.

Baptismal records for Hautcharage are available from 1713-1793 on FamilySearch and Matricula. Marriages and burials are not available until 1779. Marriages before 1779 can be inferred from the baptismal records of the children of married couples.

Jean SCHMIT died in 1777 and was a sexagenarian, i.e. born before 1717. There were two SCHMITT men in Hautcharage having children with their wives around the time Jean SCHMIT was born: Henricus and Jacobus. A third man Joannes who used the surnames MERCIENIUS, SCHMITT, and MORITZ at the time of three daughters’ baptisms is also a candidate.34 More records than the baptismal entries of the children of these three SCHMITT men will be needed to prove if any of them were the father of Jean SCHMIT of Oberkerschen.

This research will be saved for another day. The subjects of my next post will be Marianne SCHMIT’s parents-in-law Pierre FOURNELLE and Jeanne NEU.

Genealogy Sketch

Name: Jean SCHMIT of Hautcharage
Parents: Unknown at this time
Spouse: Eva DUCKER of Differdange
Parents of spouse: Peter DUCKER and Marie SCHMIT
Whereabouts: Niedercorn, Luxembourg
Relationship to Cathy Meder-Dempsey: 5th great-grandparents

1. Jean SCHMIT and Eva DUCKER
2. Marianne SCHMIT and Pierre FOURNELLE
3. André FOURNELLE and Marie Catherine PHILIPPART
4. André FOURNELLE and Odile Lucie SCHLOESSER
5. Jean Joseph FOURNELLE and Catharina FRANTZ
6. Marie Marcelle FOURNELLE and Nicolas WILDINGER
7. Living WILDINGER and Fred Roosevelt DEMPSEY
8. Catherine Ann “Cathy” DEMPSEY and Living MEDER
9. Our children

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


  1. Luxembourg, registres paroissiaux, 1601-1948 (images), FamilySearch (original records at Luxembourg National Archives, Plateau du Saint-Esprit, Luxembourg), Obercorn > Mariages 1727-1770, sépultures 1727-1737, 1740-1778 > image 68 of 96. 1756 Marriage Record (left page, 7th entry). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-89WS-9T2?cc=2037955&wc=STH8-44M%3A1500974001%2C1501083590 : accessed 9 July 2021). 
  2. Ibid., Obercorn > Baptêmes 1728-1778 > image 45 of 103. 1756 Baptismal Record (left page, 4th entry). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QSQ-G9WS-9ZCS?cc=2037955&wc=STH8-HZW%3A1500974001%2C1501099482 : accessed 18 June 2020). 
  3. Ibid., Obercorn > Baptêmes 1728-1778 > image 48 of 103. 1758 Baptismal Record (left page, 9th entry). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-99WS-9ZRD?cc=2037955&wc=STH8-HZW%3A1500974001%2C1501099482 : accessed 18 June 2020). 
  4. Ibid., Obercorn > Baptêmes 1779-1793, 1797, mariages 1790-1793, 1796-1797, sépultures 1779-1793 > image 240 of 407. 1788 Marriage Record (left page). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L9WS-9HYH?cc=2037955&wc=STH8-4W1%3A1500974001%2C1500974002 : accessed 4 November 2021). 
  5. Ibid., Obercorn > Baptêmes 1779-1793, 1797, mariages 1790-1793, 1796-1797, sépultures 1779-1793 > image 257 of 407. 1789 Baptismal Record (left page, first entry).(https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L9WS-9HR1?cc=2037955&wc=STH8-4W1%3A1500974001%2C1500974002 : accessed 4 November 2021). 
  6. Ibid., Obercorn > Baptêmes 1779-1793, 1797, mariages 1790-1793, 1796-1797, sépultures 1779-1793 > image 324 of 407. 1791 Baptismal Record (left page, entry).(https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QSQ-G9WS-9H2Z?cc=2037955&wc=STH8-4W1%3A1500974001%2C1500974002 : accessed 4 November 2021). 
  7. Ibid., Obercorn > Baptêmes 1779-1793, 1797, mariages 1790-1793, 1796-1797, sépultures 1779-1793 > image 371 of 407. 1792 Death Record (left page, first entry).(https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QSQ-G9WS-9ZFG?cc=2037955&wc=STH8-4W1%3A1500974001%2C1500974002 : accessed 4 November 2021). 
  8. Ibid., Obercorn > Baptêmes 1779-1793, 1797, mariages 1790-1793, 1796-1797, sépultures 1779-1793 > image 385 of 407. 1793 Marriage Record (left page and top right). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-99WS-9894?cc=2037955&wc=STH8-4W1%3A1500974001%2C1500974002 : accessed 4 November 2021). 
  9. Ibid., Obercorn > Baptêmes 1704-1727, 1746, 1794-1797, 1800-1805, mariages 1795-1797, 1800-1807, sépultures 1794-1797, 1802-1807 > image 110 of 296. 1795 Baptismal Record (right page, 2nd entry).(https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-99WS-9SCB?cc=2037955&wc=STHZ-N3T%3A1500974001%2C1500974302 : accessed 4 November 2021). 
  10. Luxembourg, Registres d’état civil, 1662-1941 (images), FamilySearch (original records at Luxembourg National Archives, Plateau du Saint-Esprit, Luxembourg), Differdange > Naissances 1796-1806 > image 37 of 166. 1804 (12 Prairial An XII) Birth Record (right page).
    (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-6LVQ-XRG?cc=1709358&wc=9RYQ-JWG%3A129627401%2C130102702 : accessed 5 November 2021). 
  11. Ibid., Differdange > Décès 1813-1858 > image 29 of 591. 1814 Death Record No. 46. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HY-6X1T-D6?cc=1709358&wc=9RYC-GP6%3A129627401%2C129627402 : accessed 5 November 2021). 
  12. Ibid., Differdange > Décès 1813-1858 > image 103 of 591. 1820 Death Record No. 31. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HY-6X19-9PY?cc=1709358&wc=9RYC-GP6%3A129627401%2C129627402 : accessed 5 November 2021). 
  13. Luxembourg Parish Records, Obercorn > Baptêmes 1728-1778 > image 51 of 103. 1760 Baptismal Record (right page, 2nd to last entry). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QSQ-G9WS-9Z4Y?cc=2037955&wc=STH8-HZW%3A1500974001%2C1501099482 : accessed 18 June 2020). 
  14. Ibid., Rodange > Baptêmes, mariages, sépultures 1779-1793 > image 35 of 108. 1783 Marriage Record. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1951-32463-14058-91?cc=2037955 : accessed 13 November 2015). 
  15. Luxembourg Civil Records, Pétange > Naissances 1878-1886 Mariages 1796-1890 Décès 1796-1858 > image 1190 of 1497. 1816 Death Record No. 13. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-266-12305-1045-93?cc=1709358&wc=M9M6-LZB:n289380544 : accessed 23 March 2010). 
  16. Ibid., Pétange > Naissances 1878-1886 Mariages 1796-1890 Décès 1796-1858 > image 1246 of 1497. 1824 Death Record No. 14. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-266-12305-1419-81?cc=1709358&wc=M9M6-LZB:n289380544 : accessed 23 Mar 2010). 
  17. Luxembourg Parish Records, Obercorn > Baptêmes 1728-1778 > image 57 of 103. 1762 Baptismal Record (left page, first entry). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-99WS-9ZPG?cc=2037955&wc=STH8-HZW%3A1500974001%2C1501099482 : accessed 18 June 2020). 
  18. Ibid., Rodange > Baptêmes, mariages, sépultures 1779-1793 > image 98 of 108. 1792 Marriage Record (top, left page). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-99WS-3FF3?cc=2037955&wc=STHD-W3G%3A1501084779%2C1500913302 : accessed 5 November 2021). 
  19. Archives départementales de Meurthe-et-Moselle (54), browsable images of microfilm collection of parish and civil records (online http://www.archives.cg54.fr/), Villerupt 1799-18475 > Mi 579/R 2 > image 310 of 935. New terms of use: En application du règlement sur la réutilisation des données publiques adopté par le conseil départemental de Meurthe-et-Moselle (délibération de sa commission permanente n°17, en date du 16 janvier 2017), je m’engage à mentionner la source du document téléchargé (Arch. dép. de Meurthe-et-Moselle, [suivi de la cote complète]), en cas de réutilisation. 1821 Death Record (bottom left, and middle right page).
    http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ede2e95/54aeac3faff03 : accessed 12 November 2021). 
  20. Luxembourg Parish Records, Obercorn > Baptêmes 1728-1778 > image 61 of 103. 1765 Baptismal Record (right page, 6th entry). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QSQ-G9WS-9ZZJ?cc=2037955&wc=STH8-HZW%3A1500974001%2C1501099482 : accessed 18 June 2020). 
  21. Ibid., Obercorn > Baptêmes 1779-1793, 1797, mariages 1790-1793, 1796-1797, sépultures 1779-1793 > image 267 of 407. 1789 Marriage Record (right page). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-89WS-9HFM?cc=2037955&wc=STH8-4W1%3A1500974001%2C1500974002 : accessed 4 November 2021). 
  22. Ibid., Obercorn > Baptêmes 1704-1727, 1746, 1794-1797, 1800-1805, mariages 1795-1797, 1800-1807, sépultures 1794-1797, 1802-1807 > image 179 of 296. 1803 Baptismal Record (right page, last entry). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-89WS-9S7Y?cc=2037955&wc=STHZ-N3T%3A1500974001%2C1500974302 : accessed 4 November 2021). 
  23. Ibid., Obercorn > Baptêmes 1728-1778 > image 64 of 103. 1766 Baptismal Record (right page, 4th entry). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-89WS-9CKY?cc=2037955&wc=STH8-HZW%3A1500974001%2C1501099482 : accessed 18 June 2020). 
  24. Ibid., Rodange > Baptêmes, mariages, sépultures 1779-1793 > image 55 of 108. 1785 Death Record (left page, 1st entry). (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1951-32463-14223-8?cc=2037955 : accessed 18 June 2020). 
  25. Ibid., Obercorn > Baptêmes 1728-1778 > image 69 of 103. 1769 Baptismal Record (left page, 4th entry).(https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-89WS-9CK4?cc=2037955&wc=STH8-HZW%3A1500974001%2C1501099482 : accessed 18 June 2020). 
  26. Ibid., Rodange > Baptêmes, mariages, sépultures 1779-1793 > image 78 of 108. 1789 Baptismal Record (left page, first entry). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L9WS-3FB3?cc=2037955&wc=STHD-W3G%3A1501084779%2C1500913302 : accessed 7 November 2021). 
  27. Ibid., Rodange > Baptêmes, mariages, sépultures 1779-1793 > image 75 of 108. 1790 Death Record (right page, 3rd entry). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QSQ-G9WS-3N6S?cc=2037955&wc=STHD-W3G%3A1501084779%2C1500913302 : accessed 7 November 2021). 
  28. Ibid., Rodange > Baptêmes 1767-1777, 1779-1796, confirmations 1791, mariages 1767-1777, 1779-1795, sépultures 1767-1777, 1779-1797 > image 83 of 102. 1795 Marriage Record (left, bottom and right, top). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QSQ-G9WS-3NFN?cc=2037955&wc=STHD-W32%3A1501084779%2C1501084780 : 9 January 2015). 
  29. Luxembourg Civil Records, Pétange > Naissances 1878-1886 Mariages 1796-1890 Décès 1796-1858 > image 1210 of 1497. 1819 Death Record No. 13. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-62QW-J5N?cc=1709358&wc=9RY3-168%3A130201201%2C130563401 : accessed 30 June 2011). 
  30. Ibid., Pétange > Naissances 1878-1886 Mariages 1796-1890 Décès 1796-1858 > image 1270 of 1497. 1828 Death Record No. 1. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-266-12305-6384-83?cc=1709358&wc=M9QN-BMX:n289380544 : accessed 30 Jun 2011). 
  31. Luxembourg Parish Records, Obercorn > Mariages 1727-1770, sépultures 1727-1737, 1740-1778 > image 55 of 96. 1777 Death Record (right page, first entry). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-99WS-99S9?cc=2037955&wc=STH8-44M%3A1500974001%2C1501083590 : accessed 3 November 2021). 
  32. Ibid., Obercorn > Baptêmes 1779-1793, 1797, mariages 1790-1793, 1796-1797, sépultures 1779-1793 > image 367 of 407
    . 1792 Death Record, part 2 (left page, first entry). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QSQ-G9WS-9Z8P?cc=2037955&wc=STH8-4W1%3A1500974001%2C1500974002 : accessed 3 November 2021). 
  33. Armand Logelin-Simon, Livre de famille de Obercorn, Tables familiales manuscrites de la localité de Obercorn d’après les registres paroissiaux. Période: 1637-1804 – Pages: 278 – Langue: Français/Latin (Digitized by Luxracines asbl), page 201, family 81. 
  34. Robert Wagner, Dépouillement de Hautcharage, Dépouillement des naissances, mariages et décès à partir des registres de la paroisse de Hautcharage. Inclut la filiale de Linger. Période: 1713-1797 – Pages: 48 – Langue: Français (Digitized by Luxracines asbl). 

Photo Correction: What Happened to the Baby?

Last November I shared the last photo of a Luxembourg family before emigrating to America.

At the annual Genealogy and Local History day hosted by my genealogy society Luxracines last monthNicole 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.

In the post, I was able to identify the MAUER family of Koerich in Luxembourg. The brothers Valentin MAUER and Eugène MAUER had emigrated to America in 1906. Prior to their departure, they had their picture taken with their mother, their sister, and her family.

I wrote to several people who had trees on Ancestry® and heard back from three of them. They’ve received good quality digital scans of the photographs. The first two are descendants of Valentin MAUER and the third of his sister Catherine MAUER who married Andrew KUHNEN in California in 1897 the year after she emigrated. I haven’t looked into how she came to emigrate nearly a decade before her brothers.

I still have the originals and would like to send them to two of the descendants of Valentin MAUER if they are interested in owning the original(s). 

The reason for this post is that I made a mistake in my write-up on photographs.

My mother inadvertently helped me figure out something about the photos which I didn’t catch when I wrote my post. The photos were on the dining room table when she stopped by a week after my post.

Three months later, I’m getting around to correcting my error.

I was showing Mom the photographs and explaining who I had gotten them from. I told her about the MAUER family and how three of the children went to America. With the photos side by side, I was pointing out who was who.

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.

Do you see the mistake I made when I wrote: “except for the baby?”

Here is a close-up of the first:

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 GRETHEN, and Hélène GRETHEN.

And the second:

On the right in the seconded cropped image, the mother is clearly no longer holding the child. However, I noticed her dress wasn’t dark below the knees as in the first. There’s a blur in front of the mother and to the left of the little girl. This must be the baby I thought was missing in the photo.

Jean Baptiste GRETHEN, born 11 January 1905 in Koerich, was in both pictures with his parents, sisters, uncles, and maternal grandmother.

This may seem like a small thing to write a post about but it’s also a reminder to review previous research. You’ll likely turn up something you missed the first time around.

© 2020, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

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 GRETHEN, 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).