52 Ancestors: #37 The Groelinger-Mergen Family of Holsthum

My 4th great-grandfather Johann GROELINGER (1766-1840), son of Peter MERTSCHERT (c1737- 1768) and Susanna SCHNEIDER (1737-1778), was born in Holsthum on 8 May 1766. He was their fifth and last child. The family lived on the Schneider-Vogtei which had come into their “possession” through Johann’s mother Susanna’s family.

The historical background of the SCHNEIDER family and the Schneider-Vogtei were dealt with in the Prequel to The Groelinger-Mergen Family of Holsthum, Germany in order to make it easier for my readers to understand the confusion of the surnames used by Johann GROELINGER and his parents. To simplify it a bit more I created this mind map with Scapple.

Johann GROELINGER and Anna Maria Benedikta MERGEN

Johann married Anna Maria Benedikta MERGEN (1769-1829) on 24 March 1798 in Schankweiler. At the time Holsthum was part of the Schankweiler parish. In the marriage record, the father of the groom’s surname was given as GROELINGEN alias MERTSCHERT. His father had passed away in 1768 when Johann was 21 months old. His mother Susanna SCHNEIDER remarried within a month and her husband Johann BARTZEN became the holder of the Schneider-Vogtei.

On the road from Ferschweiler to Holsthum, there is a resting/picnic hut for hikers.

Johann’s bride Anna Maria Benedikta MERGEN was born on 5 February 1769 in Holsthum. She was the daughter of Gertrud THELEN (1746-1818) and Theodor MERGEN (1746-1817). She was their oldest child. In the Schankweiler family book, her name is given only as Maria. She is referred to as Anna Maria Benedikta in several of the family books which have entries for her and her husband and/or for her children. [see sources 1-9 for the family books of Biersdorf, Edingen, Ernzen, Körperich, Mettendorf, Nusbaum, Schankweiler, Utscheid, and Wissmannsdorf]

Gertrud THELEN and Theodor MERGEN had married on 21 December 1767 in Holsthum. Theodor was a Rinderhirt or cowherd in Holsthum as was his father-in-law. Neither of Anna Maria Benedikta’s parents was found in the 1766 census.

Anna Maria Benedikta had at least three sisters: Anna Maria born in 1771, Anna Maria born in 1781, and Maria Katharina born in 1786. The repeated use of the name Anna Maria may mean one of them did not survive but as seen in other families there is the possibility of names being used for multiple living children. The Familienbuch Schankweiler does not give any further information on these girls. Church records, according to the compiler of the book, are missing for large periods of time. Perhaps when I visit the archives in Bitburg I may be able to pick up the trail of these siblings. For example, if they were godmothers of one or the other child born to Johann and Anna Maria Benedikta. Also, if they married, a husband may have been the informant on the deaths of the parents-in-law. 

Johann and Anna Maria Benedikta named their first two sons after their fathers. Their first son was born on 10 January 1799 and named after Johann’s father Peter and their second son was born on 17 November 1800 and named after the maternal grandfather Theodor.

Johann’s brother who shared the same name died on 11 November 1801 at the age of 39 years. He likely never married.

A view of the town of Holsthum from the resting/picnic hut.

The Napoleonic Wars had been underway five months when Johann and Anna Maria’s first daughter was born on 14 October 1803. Their next daughter Maria Catherina was born on 28 February 1805 followed by Susanna, named after the paternal grandmother, on 1 August 1807.

I find it unusual that neither of the first two daughters nor the three born after Susanna was named Gertrud after the maternal grandmother.  Magdalena was born on 20 August 1809, Elisabeth on 17 April 1812, and Maria Katharina on 2 June 1814.

The Napoleonic Wars came to an end in 1815. Johann and Anna Maria Benedikta were still having children. Their son Wilhelm was born on 3 February 1817. His birth was followed three weeks later by the death of his maternal grandfather Theodor MERGEN on 24 February 1817. The widow Gertrud THELEN died a little over a year later on 2 April 1818. It is the death records of these two individuals which I hope may include the names of one or the other son-in-law who is at this time unknown.

Two more sons were born to Johann and Anna Maria Benedikta. Johann on 18 August 1818 and Gerhard on 2 May 1821. All of the children were born in Holsthum where Johann and Anna Maria Benedikta lived.

The first of these children to marry was the third child Maria. She married Ludwig GERMAN on 23 August 1827 in Schankweiler. Their first child, a son named Johann, was born a month later. The family moved from Holsthum to Ließem were at least two other children were born.

The village of Holsthum

Anna Maria Benedikta MERGEN died on 6 February 1829 at the age of 60. Preparations for the marriage of her oldest son Peter may have been underway when she died. Peter married Margaretha PROST on 1 March 1829 in Biersdorf.

The second son Theodor married Margarethe WALLENBORN on 5 June 1831, also in Biersdorf. And the next marriage also took place in the same town when Maria Catherina married Johann Adam ERSFELD on 11 January 1832.

One last marriage took place before Johann GROELINGER passed away. Magdalena married Johann PHILIPP on 19 January 1839 in Schankweiler.

Johann GROELINGER died on 11 December 1840 in Biersdorf. As this record of death has not been viewed I can only assume he was visiting one of his children who had married in Biersdorf or he was living with one of them. Johann lived to the age of 74 years.

The first of his and Anna Maria Benedikta’s eleven children to die was Maria who had been the first to marry. She was living with her husband in Menningen at the time. She died on 30 March 1841. He remarried within two months.

My 3rd great-grandmother Maria Katharina married Theodore PÖPPELREITER (1816-1891) on 20 January 1842 in Mettendorf.

Slowly but surely Johann and Anna Maria Benedikta’s children were setting up their own households.

  • Susanna married Johann JÜNGELS (1805-1862) on 23 October 1843 in Wißmannsdorf
  • Elisabeth married Mathias SCHMITZ (1810-1879) on 13 January 1845 in Altscheid
  • Johann married Catharina BURES on 5 January 1850 in Biersdorf
  • Gerhard married Helena Rosa LUDES on 25 October 1850 on Bickendorf.

Ten of the eleven children were married by 1850. Only son Wilhelm’s marital status is unknown at this time. A family with nearly a dozen children and all (except for Wilhelm whose fate is unknown) married and had children. No infant deaths. This may have something to do with the family coming from the Schneiders-Vogtei and possibly being more prosperous than families who came from manual and domestic laborers.

While up to nine different family books were used to trace the children, the family of the youngest son Gerhard was only traced through Thomas Pick’s Homepage for Eifel Birth and Marriage Data. The extracted information shows he married and had eight children in Bickendorf but does not include the names of the parents of Gerhard. The family book for the town of Bickendorf may be in our Luxracines archives in Walferdange. I was working my way back through the ancestors and had not gotten around to searching for descendants or checking for the Bickendorf book.

DNA Match with a 4C1R in America

Pick’s database shows the surname spelled GRELINGER which had me wondering if this Gerhard was the son of Johan GROELINGER and Anna Maria Benedikta MERGEN. I didn’t want to be following the wrong family.

After finding a descendant who is a DNA match to my brother on AncestryDNA with one of those shaky leaves which indicate a Shared Ancestor Hint, I am convinced the spelling of the GROELINGER name changed to GRELINGER for youngest son Gerhard when he married and moved to Bickendorf.

Shared Ancestor Hint on AncestryDNA

Gerhard’s son, a farmer, Johann GREHLINGER, born on 20 March 1858, single, requested permission to go to North America on 29 August 1881. He said his parents owned residential and economy buildings, and he had the necessary means to travel.[10]

Records indicate this son who went to America in 1881 was Johann Michael GRELINGER. He bought a farm five miles outside of Beloit, Mitchell County, Kansas, in 1893 and married in 1894. The match my brother has is a descendant of this line and shares 25 cMs across 2 segments.

He had three siblings who also went to America. His oldest brother John arrived in 1871 and his second oldest brother Michael in 1876 per the 1900 and 1910 census when they were living together with their youngest sister Elizabeth who came in 1893. John and Michael both owned farms in Jewell County, Kansas, likely adjoining. The siblings, seen as GRELIER on the 1900 and 1910 census, were and would remain single.

DNA Match with a 5C in America

The GRELINGER cousin was found with a Shared Ancestor Hint. Since there were no other hints I searched for matches with the surname GROELINGER and GRELINGER in their trees. I found GROELINGER in this tree.

Pedigree view of the family tree of a match on Ancestry

The surname GERMANN was a red flag as this was the surname seen in the first marriage to take place for one of the children of Johann and Anna Maria Benedikta. Their daughter Maria married Ludwig GERMAN in 1827. The owner of this tree has not made the connection to the parents. The match is a fifth cousin and shares 11.4 cMs across one segment.

Since the second match is considered a distant match, Ancestry does not show it as a shared match with the first test which is classified as a fourth cousin match. To compare the chromosome segments I need both of these matches to upload their raw DNA to Gedmatch. I sent messages this morning but they only went through after several attempts.

I would like to finally be able to add a maternal segment to the DNA map I am working on – it would be the first.

[1] Lika Hellwig, Ortsfamilienbuch 1 Biersdorf mit Hamm, Wiersdorf, Oberweiler, Nierderweiler, Beifels sowie zeitweise Echtershausen und Ließem 1714 bis 1899 (July 2002).
[2] Bodo Bölkow and Richard Schaffner, Familienbuch 2 der Pfarrei St. Lambertus Edingen an der Sauer Daten bis 1798 aus den Kirchenbüchern der Pfarrei Echternach (damals für Minden und Menningen zuständig) mit Edingerberg, Minden u. Menningen 1680-1899 Edingen selbst ab 1705 (2000).
[3] Richard Schaffner, Familienbuch 2 der Pfarrei St. Marcus Ernzen bei Irrel, Daten bis 1798 aus den Kirchenbüchern der Pfarrei Echternach (damals fur Ernzen zuständig); mit: Ernzen-Hof, Fölkenbach und teilweise auch Prümzurlay (Häuser der rechten Flußseite) 1680-1899 (2000).
[4] Richard Schaffner, Familienbuch der Pfarrei St. Hubertus Körperich in der Südeifel mit Körperich, Niedersgegen, Obersgegen, Gentingen, Roth an der Our, Seimerich und Scheuerhof (später Neuscheuerhof) 1689-1899 (2002).
[5] Werner Naumann, compiler, Familienbuch der Pfarrei Mettendorf Dekanat Neuerburg, Band 1 A-M Band 2 N-Z (1992).
[6] Richard Schaffner, Familienbuch der Pfarrei St. Petrus Nusbaum in der Südeifel mit Nusbaum, Nusbaumerhöhe, Freilingen, Freilingerhöhe, Enzen, Silberberg, Stockigt, und Rohrbach 1722-1899, PDF (Kordel bei Trier, 2001).
[7] Werner Neumann, Familienbuch der ehemaligen Pfarrei Schankweiler mit dem Pfarrort Schankweiler und den Filialen Holsthum und Peffingen (Trier, 1990).
[8] Werner Lichter, Familienbuch Utscheid (Outscheid) St. Peter 1728-1899 mit den Ortsteilen Buscht und Rußdorf (2009).
[9] Irmgard Schmitz, Familienchronik der Pfarrei Wissmannsdorf mit ihren Filialen Brecht, Hermesdorf und Koosbüsch (2009).
[10] Josef Mergen (1954) and Heinz Weber (1995), Die Amerika-Auswanderung aus dem Kreis Bitburg im 19. Jahrhundert (2009).

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

Prequel to The Groelinger-Mergen Family of Holsthum, Germany

Before I share the story of my 4th great-grandparents Johann GROELINGER (1766-1840) and Anna Maria Benedikta MERGEN (1769-1829) I need to go into a bit of detail on the life of Johann’s parents and the place they lived and worked.

Peter MERTSCHERT (1732-1768) of Röhl married Susanna “Anna” SCHNEIDER  (1737-1778) on 27 January 1753 in Holsthum. The marriage most likely had to be approved by the Vogt of the Schneiders-Vogtei.

What was a Vogt and a Vogtei?

The Vogt or overlord exerted guardianship or military protection as well as secular justice over a certain territory or area of responsibility called a Vogtei. The Schneiders-Vogtei was one of fifteen smaller farms (Hof=farm, Höfe pl.) of the larger Hof Schankweiler which comprised the present-day villages of Schankweiler and Holsthum. Hof Schankweiler was under the rule of Herschaft Bourscheid (Luxembourg) at the end of the 17th century.

The Vogtei holders (Inhaber) were similar to vassals in feudal service who could use the fief as long as they were loyal to the overlord. They were entitled to a limited use of the property owned by the lord. They were serfs and not allowed to make decisions for themselves and their children without the consent of the lord. They could not leave the fief without consent or marry off their children at their own discretion. But on the other hand, without grave reasons, they could not be deprived of the property they worked and many families were holders of a Vogtei for decades if not for a century or two.

The lease on the land was transferred by legal means to the oldest-born, or to the child married during the lifetime of the parents with the consent of the lord. The younger children, who were actually servants and maids, were only entitled to a kind of apanage. This was determined by the parents, or relatives if the parents were deceased, and came from the furniture and other household goods, excluding the farm equipment and livestock.

This approach, perceived as unfair today, ensured the existence of economically sound farms. The Vogtei holders were able to afford, without any particular difficulty, the taxes on their farms. Despite serfdom, the holders of the property prospered and their coffers were filled not only with linens and other materials but also jewelry and thalers.

Peter’s surname was MERTSCHERT before his marriage. However, with the marriage to Susanna, he became the Inhaber (holder) of the Schneiders-Vogtei and used his wife’s maiden name SCHNEIDER. As the actual records (birth, baptism, marriage, death, burial) for this extended family group have not been viewed, it is at this point difficult to say how their children were named in the records.

Peter and Susanna’s family

Peter and Susanna were the parents of five children. Their first, Gertrud born in 1754, lived less than five months. Margaretha was born in 1757, Peter in 1759, and Johann in 1762. Their youngest child, also named Johann, was born on 8 May 1766 on the Schneiders-Vogtei, as were all his siblings.

The 1766 census is important to the story of the youngest son of Peter and Susanna born on the Schneiders-Vogtei the same year.

1766 Census listing for the Schneider family in Holsthum in the parish of Schankweiler. Luxembourg, Dénombrement, 1766 (images), FamilySearch (original records at Archives Générales du Royaume, Bruxelles), Film/DGS 1781975 > Film # 008198977 > Decanat de Bittbourg v. 1 A-K: > Holtzthumb (paroisse de Schouweiler) > Image 599 of 753. Schneider family. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSLL-M76P-9?i=598&cat=1184675 : accessed 10 November 2017).

Note: The town names in the 1766 census collection do not always match the spelling used today and some names were not indexed correctly. The citation above includes the incorrect spelling of the parish. If the link is changed or broken then to get to the image we need to follow FamilySearch’s incorrect naming of the parish of Schankweiler, i.e. Schouweiler. On the actual pages of the census it is written Schauweiler on images 592 and 593 and Schanckwei…r (missing letters in the gutter) on image 594.

When the census was taken in 1766 Johann’s family was living together with his mother Susanna’s mother Margaretha WAXWEILER and stepfather Matthias KRIPPES who, like Susanna’s husband, was going by the SCHNEIDER surname. Interesting to note here is the occupation of the head of household. Enumerated in French, the occupation was tailleur or tailor which is also the translation of the name and/or occupation Schneider.  Also in the household were a few of Susanna’s half-sisters. Susanna’s step-father may have been a younger brother or cousin of Peter KRIPPES, holder of the Krippes-Vogtei in Schankweiler.

Peter MERTSCHERT died on 20 February 1768 in Holsthum. His widow Susanna remarried only a month after her husband’s death on 24 March 1768 to Johann BARTZEN. With this marriage, Johann BARTZEN became the new holder of the Schneiders-Vogtei. Johann and Susanna had a daughter Eva ten months later. This daughter would also later be found in records with the GROELINGER surname when she gave birth to an illegitimate daughter in 1793.

Susanna SCHNEIDER died in October 1778 and her widower Johann BARTZEN married the following month. This makes me wonder if the owner or the manager of the larger Hof Schankweiler may have been playing matchmaker with the families living on the fifteen smaller farms since the marriages took place so soon after the deaths of the holders of the Schneiders-Vogtei.

There were no other families in the area named GRELINGER or GROELINGER but the Familienbuch der ehemaligen Pfarrei Schankweiler mit dem Pfarrort Schankweiler und den Filialen Holsthum und Peffingen (Familienbuch Schankweiler) indicates the family of Peter MERTSCHERT and Susanna SCHNEIDER also went by the name GRELINGER as seen in their son’s marriage record in 1798 where the father of the groom’s surname was given as GROELINGEN alias MERTSCHERT.

Skimming through the Familienbuch Schankweiler, I found at least one mention of a family where a man married into a Vogtei from another village. He went by his wife’s (Vogtei) name and at times by the surname his father was known by in his native village after the marriage.

Seeing this I wonder if Peter MERTSCHERT’s family of Röhl may have later gone by the GRELINGEN name which I have seen in other family books with a slight variation of spelling as coming from Röhl. Richard Schaffner is working on the family book of Sülm including Röhl and Scharfbillig. Once it is available, I may learn more about the MERTSCHERT family and if they also went by the name GRELINGEN, GROELINGEN, KRELINGEN, or KRALINGEN.

Hopefully, this prequel will help clear up any confusion there may be about the surnames used by the family of my 4th great-grandfather Johann GROELINGEN alias MERTSCHERT in my next post.

Werner Neumann, Familienbuch der ehemaligen Pfarrei Schankweiler mit dem Pfarrort Schankweiler und den Filialen Holsthum und Peffingen, p. I-III, Foreword to the book.

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