52 Ancestors: #24 The Peffer-Pierret Family of Feulen and Gilsdorf

Sometimes when I start to search for information on a family it looks like it will be quick and easy. This family was supposed to be one of these. I did much of the preliminary research two years ago when I wrote about the oldest son Anton PEFFER and his wife Maria GRASSER. They were my children’s fourth great-grandparents.

I put off writing the post the end of June because it fell on the same day I planned to publish my Slave Name Roll Project article. My readers took me up on my offer to explain how I found the records with the names of the slaves and I wrote a very successful spin-off Step by Step Guide to Accessing Browse-only Records on FamilySearch.

The weather finally improved and my husband and I were able to get back on our racing bikes for some much-needed exercise. Two of our rides took us through the town of Gilsdorf where this family lived.

I delayed doing the post again in preparation for my visit to the State Archives of Arlon in Belgium and instead wrote Luxracines on Tour in Belgium and France.

This family had me searching through browse-only church records, civil records, and census records for a period of 150 plus years. This takes time. Not only to browse but to download the images, cite them, analyze them, and attach them to the events of each individual. Each time I put off writing this story, I picked up the research again and I found more records which had to be dealt with.

I now have a nearly complete timeline for the family with so many records that my citation list would be longer than the story. I’m going to leave it up to you to visit my GEDCOM file to consult the sources if you are interested. As the family’s story develops, I have linked each person at the time of their death to his or her individual page on RootsWeb’s WorldConnect Project: Opening Doors in Brick Walls.


Dominique PEFFER (1743-1813) and Marguerite SINTGEN (1750-1821) married on 8 January 1775 in Diekirch. He was from Niederglabach (Mersch) and she was from Gilsdorf, a neighboring town of Diekirch. This couple would have nine children born between 1775 and 1797. All were born in Gilsdorf likely in the ancestral home of the mother. Marguerite was the oldest child and, as was the custom of the time, she may have inherited the family home. Of the nine children born to Dominique and Marguerite, three are known to have married and had children. One of these was Adam PEFFER born on 25 July 1777.

Nicolas PIERRET (1740-1808) and Anna Maria ROBINET (1747-1785) were married on 14 March 1761. The marriage record has not been located. The marriage index card indicates it took place in Eischen/Arlon. This may mean the marriage took place in Eischen and the record will be found in the Arlon parish records. What a strange coincidence when only last Saturday I was visiting the archives in Arlon. Nicolas and Anna Maria were the parents of ten children born between 1764 and  1784 in Eischen (Capellen). Their seventh child was Marguerite PIERRET who was born on 4 August 1777 in Eischen. Anna Maria ROBINET died in 1785 and her widower remarried in 1786. His second wife gave him a daughter in 1787 before dying in 1793.


Adam PEFFER married Marguerite PIERRET on 28 June 1802 in Feulen (Diekirch). Why Adam, who was born and raised in Gilsdorf, and Marguerite, who was born and raised in Eischen, ended up marrying in Feulen is not known. They would remain in the Feulen area, living in Obermertzig where their first five children were born. When Adam had the births of these children recorded his occupation was seen as Taglöhner or day laborer.

  • Antoin “Anton” born 20 May 1803
  • Nicolas born 23 October 1805
  • Eva PEFFER born 4 February 1808 and died 19 March 1808
  • Christian Peffer born 7 May 1809
  • Christina born 15 April 1811

Two days before the birth of their first daughter Eva, Marguerite lost her father Nicolas PIERRET who died in Eischen on 2 February 1808.

Sometime after the birth of daughter Christina, Adam and his family moved back to his hometown of Gilsdorf. This may have had something to do with the death of Adam’s father Dominique PEFFER who died on 11 April 1813 in Gilsdorf. His death was reported by his second oldest son Theodore. At this time it is not known if Adam and Theodore’s older sister was still living. It’s possible that Adam was now the oldest child and may have come home to care for his mother and work in the occupation of his father.

Town sign at the entrance of Gilsdorf via the road coming from the bridge which crosses the Sauer River.

Back in Gilsdorf, Adam and Marguerite added two more children to their family. Both daughters.

  • Susanne born 21 August 1814
  • Angelique born 11 February 1817

In 1814 and 1817 when Adam reported the births of his daughters his occupation was Leinenweber (tisserant in French) or linen weaver – the same occupation as his father Dominique PEFFER.

Five days before Angelique was born, her father Adam’s next oldest brother Théodore married Marie Cathérine KAISER on 6 February 1817 in Stegen. Their youngest brother Peter was a witness. Did Adam stay home to be with his wife Marguerite who was ready to give birth to their last child?

The entrance of the Gilsdorf cemetery where the family is likely buried. We did not walk the cemetery to check for the names.

Adam’s mother Marguerite SINTGEN died four years later at the age of 68 years on 22 February 1821 in Gilsdorf. Her son Théodore reported her death.

The chapel of the Gilsdorf cemetery.

Adam and Marguerite’s family of eight would be reduced to seven on 17 August 1826 when their daughter Susanne PEFFER died four days short of her 12th birthday. Her father reported the death. No longer seen as a linen weaver, his occupation was Ackerer (farmer) at the time of her death.

Adam and Marguerite’s oldest son, my children’s 4th great-grandfather, Antoin “Anton” PEFFER married Maria GRASSER (1801-1882) of Moestroff on 17 February 1830 in Bettendorf, the commune to which Gilsdorf and Moestroff belonged. Adam was a Taglöhner when his son Anton married.

The Catholic church of Gilsdorf. Likely the place the religious marriage ceremonies took place for the children who lived in Gilsdorf and married (civil) in the commune of Bettendorf.

It was another 7 years before the next child of this couple married. Their second oldest son Nicolas married Susanna SCHARLÉ (1810-1873) of Gilsdorf on 6 January 1837 in Bettendorf.

Four years later, Adam and Marguerite’s oldest daughter Christina who was 30 years old married Johann SCHEUER (1794-1875) on 15 February 1841 in Bettendorf. Johann who was 47 years old and widowed with several children.

On 22 December 1843 when the census was taken Adam PEFFER had in his household his only unmarried son Christian and his youngest daughter Angelique who was also still single at the age of 26. Adam and Christian were day laborers and Angelique was seen as having no profession. Where was Adam’s wife Marguerite? The person who filled out the sheet wrote marié (married) as Adam’s marital status and then struck it out replacing it with veuf (widowed). Marguerite PIERRET died the same day as the census sheet was filled out and signed. She died at 9 in the morning at home. Adam and his son-in-law Johann SCHEUER went to the records office at 4 in the afternoon the same day to report her death. Her occupation was listed as day laborer and her place of birth was seen as Eischen in Belgium near Arlon.A month later on 20 January 1844 and on 4 February 1844 the banns were read for the marriage of Adam’s youngest daughter Angelique PEFFER and Nicholas POTT (1815-1873). They married on 10 February 1844 in Bettendorf.

A month later on 20 January 1844 and on 4 February 1844 the banns were read for the marriage of Adam’s youngest daughter Angelique PEFFER and Nicholas POTT (1815-1873). They married on 10 February 1844 in Bettendorf.

When the next two censuses were taken in December of 1846 and of 1847 Adam was had in his household his son Christian in Gilsdorf. His son Anton was living in Moestroff with his wife who was from Moestroff. Adam’s children Nicolas, Christina, and Angelique were in their own households in Gilsdorf.

Adam PEFFER died a few weeks after the 1847 census at the age of 70. He died on 16 January 1848 in Gilsdorf at noon. His death was reported the next day by his oldest son Anton PEFFER and his son-in-law Johann SCHEUER. He died at his home in the “first” street of Gilsdorf. Was this the name of the street or only an indication of where the street was located in the village?

The Years After Adam and Marguerite’s Deaths

Town sign at the entrance from Diekirch. The PEFFER family lived on this side of the village, on a street behind the pink house seen in the center between the two signs.

In December 1849, when the census sheets were once again being filled out, the children of Adam and Marguerite were found mostly where they had been the previous years. Only Christian, the son who had been living with Adam, was now staying with his sister Christiane and her husband Johann SCHEUER.

The single son Christian became my focal point in this family. Would he marry or remain single? In December 1851 he was single and living alone. In December 1852 he was not found alone nor with Angelique, Christina, Nicolas, or Anton. Perhaps he was living with another family in Gilsdorf and the census sheets need to be more closely examined. In December 1855 he was again found alone in his own household.

In December 1858 Christian was now seen with his sister Christina and his brother-in-law Johann SCHEUER. Angelique, Nicolas, and Anton were still in their usual places. Three weeks after the census was taken, the oldest of the siblings, Anton PEFFER, died in Moestroff the day after Christmas. He left a wife and four children.

In December 1861 Christian was 50 years old, still a bachelor, and once again not found in the census. Three years later, in December 1864, he was in his brother-in-law Johann SCHEUER’s household.

His sister Christina PEFFER died on 28 March 1866 leaving a husband and two daughters. By the next census in December 1867 her oldest daughter Margaret had married Markus REIFFER and in the household were her single uncle Christian and her widowed father Johann SCHEUER.

In December 1871 the configuration of the PEFFER-SCHEUER-REIFFER household changed only with the births of REIFFER children. Where their father had been the head of household in 1867, their grandfather Johann was seen as the head in 1871. Christian was still with the family even though his sister was deceased.

By December 1875 Johann SCHEUER had been dead for nine months. His son-in-law Markus now was the head of household and had Christian PEFFER living with the family.Markus’ wife Margaret SCHEUER died on 25 August 1877. By the time the next census was enumerated in December 1880 her widower Markus had remarried. Christian PEFFER was not found with his niece’s widower or with either of his living siblings Angelique POTT-PEFFER or Nicolas PEFFER.

Markus’ wife Margaret SCHEUER died on 25 August 1877. By the time the next census was enumerated in December 1880 her widower Markus had remarried. Christian PEFFER was not found with his niece’s widower or with either of his living siblings Angelique POTT-PEFFER or Nicolas PEFFER.

On 6 March 1883 Nicolas, 78 years old, was the informant for the death of his 74 years old brother Christian PEFFER who died the same day at noon in Gilsdorf. At the time of his death, he did not have a profession and likely was too old or feeble to work.

Angelique and Nicolas were now the last surviving children of Adam and Marguerite PEFFER-PIERRET. Angelique had been widowed in 1873. In 1875 and 1880 she had her two youngest children, sons Jean and Mathias, still living at home. By 1885 they had “disappeared.”

On the February 1887 census, Angelique, as in December 1885, was seen alone in her household. However, on the back page of the census her son Jean was mentioned as being in St. Paul (America) and he had been gone for eight years. With this census listing, I discovered both her sons went to America. John and Matt, as they were later known, had emigrated to America in 1882 and 1883. Matt was married by the 1887 census and therefore not mentioned on his mother’s census sheet. In December 1890, Angelique was still living in her own household only a few doors away from her brother Nicolas.

During our second ride through Gilsdorf, I was on the lookout for the street sign for the Ahlstrasse or Aalstrasse and found “Am Aal” a street which is on the outskirts of Gilsdorf.

In December 1885, February 1887, and December 1890 Nicolas PEFFER was living in the household of his son Adam, who had been named after his grandfather. The PEFFER home was the same as it had always been. Over the years the name of the street was Ahlstrasse or Ahlgasse with Ahl also being seen as Aal.

Angelique PEFFER died on 31 December 1891 in Diekirch in the Bürger Spital (hospital). Her death was reported by her son-in-law Mathias MEITER of Stegen. He gave her age as 79 although she was only 74 years old. Her residence was seen as Diekirch which could mean she may have been a resident of the hospital for some time during the year 1891 until her death.

Nicolas PEFFER, the only living child of Adam and Marguerite, was seen as the head of household on 2 December 1895 in Gilsdorf. He was still living with his son Adam and his family. A year later, on 6 December 1896, he died in his home in Gilsdorf. His son Adam reported his death, gave the name of Nicolas’ deceased wife but did not know the names of his parents. Nicolas was 91 years old and his parents had been dead for around 50 years. Sad but maybe no wonder his 59 years old son Adam did not know their names.

Where will the research go from here?

For now, I believe I have wrapped up this family group. There are still the missing census records for son Christian – he may have been missed or I may have overlooked them. More important to this family’s story may be the emigration of the two grandsons, Jean and Mathias POTT, to America. What became of them and are there descendants waiting to be found? This task is not on the immediate schedule but, if I hear from a descendant, I could be convinced to speed up the research.


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