Since first hearing this family tradition I’ve thought there was a murder mystery in my maternal family tree. And I’ve wanted to get to the bottom of it for the longest time. Records are not publicly available for the recent time period the supposed crime was committed. This post is meant to clear the name of my first cousin twice removed Maisy VESQUE.
Jean and Marie were the parents of ten children, two of whom died as babies. Their sixth child, daughter Paulina FRANTZ (1880-1966) married Johann Peter François VESQUE in 1910. They had only one known child, a daughter named Maisy who was born about 1913.
I have not been able to locate a birth record for her. Mamer where her mother was from, Contern where her father was from, and Rumelange where her father was living in 1910 when they married were searched to no avail. [Any help would be appreciated!]
UPDATE (26 September 2018): My friend Linda K. who has helped me out several times with finding records in Luxembourg, found Maisy’s birth record. She was born on 7 August 1912 in Rumelange. Her birth name was Maria Margaretha.1 Why I missed this record will be shared in my next post.
A family tradition told by my grandmother was that Maisy served time in prison for killing a man.
I believed the story must be true since it was told by my grandmother who was her first cousin and four years older than Maisy. However each time I searched the newspapers on eluxemburgensia, the Luxembourg National Library’s portal for their project to digitize Luxembourg periodicals, I came up empty. I had no idea when this event took place. I assumed Maisy would have to be an adult to serve time, i.e. between 1931-1969: from the age of 18 to the time of her death.
Recently I found a DNA match on MyHeritage whose most recent common ancestors (MRCA) to with my brother whose test I manage are Jean Baptiste MAJERUS and Catharina CORNELY, the grandparents of Marie MAJERUS, Maisy’s maternal grandmother.
In my first message to the match, I included the link to my article on the CORNELY-MAJERUS couple. Maisy’s story, although only a one-liner in another post, attracted the match’s attention since she has a family tradition that her great-grandfather may have been murdered while on a trip to Luxembourg. Neither of us had further information.
Maisy and the match’s great-grandfather’s wife were first cousins twice removed but Maisy was born after the husband’s death. The timeline doesn’t match up. Still, my curiosity was piqued. Once again I searched for any mention of Maisy VESQUE in the Luxembourg newspapers. An article, in a newspaper which was only recently added to the eluxemburgensia collection, was found about an incident which likely started the embellished family tradition.2
Translation of the French text:
Publication: L’indépendance luxembourgeoise Published: 30 December 1933 Title: Chronique Locale Towards the health home. – Yesterday, around 16 hours, a young person, named Maisy Vesque, 21, of Oetrange, came to the home of Mr. Robert Leesch, dentist, in Liberty Avenue. Without saying a word, she shot twice at the dentist’s assistant who opened the door. However, he was not hit. The municipal police were immediately requested, and the strange visitor took two more shots, which also failed. Since she was obviously a madwoman, the police immediately directed her to the health center in Ettelbruck.
Maisy was about twenty years old at the time. Whatever led her to take a gun to the dentist’s home and fire four shots is not mentioned in the article. I was relieved to learn she did not harm or kill anyone. The health center she was taken to in Ettelbruck was the neuro-psychiatric hospital. How long she remained there as an inmate or if she stood trial for her acts is not known.
Maisy never married and had no children. At the time of her death, she was a resident of Oetrange where her parents had made their home since their marriage and where she had been living at the time of the event. Her mother had been deceased a little over two years and her father five years when she passed away.
UPDATE (26 September 2018): The birth record found by Linda K. included the date and place of death in the margin. Maisy died on 24 April 1969 in Ettelbruck.
Pauline and Franz had one daughter Maisy who served time in prison for killing a man and never married.
I wrote this line in June 2015 and it is now time to retract the statement. There is no evidence to date which shows Maisy served time or killed a man. She attempted to do harm to the dentist or his assistant and then the police for an unknown reason. She may have been an inmate of the psychiatric ward but there is no proof she was in prison.
As genealogists and family historians, we can pass on the family traditions but whenever possible they should be proven when records are available. In this case, my grandmother is no longer alive to give me more information. I should have questioned her when she casually told me Maisy had been locked up for killing a man. Maybe she hadn’t meant prison and I was the one who unknowingly touched up the story.
A decade before America declared its independence Maria Theresa of Austria implemented the first modern cadastre and census in a large part of the territories under the rule of the House of Habsburg, including the Netherlands which encompassed present-day Belgium and Luxembourg.
The 1766 census was grouped by villages and towns with each of these belonging to a paroisse or parish. Parishes were classified in a decanat or deanship (diocese). In a village or town, the names of all persons in a household were classified into four groups by age: men were listed as 16 or older and under 16 while women were seen as 14 or older and under 14 years. A column for occupations was only available for men 16 and older. On the last page of each village was a list of occupations of the inhabitants divided into several categories: public service jobs, merchants, laborers (including servants), craftsmen (masters and journeymen), and clergy.
ERPELDING of Kackerd
The ERPELDING family lived and worked on Kackerterhaff near the village of Oetrange in the parish of Oetrange in the decanat of Remich.
1766 Census for a place called Kackerd in the Paroisse of Oettringen (Parish of Oetrange)
Caspar Erpeldingen male over 16 yrs occupation laboureur or farmer
Jean Erpeldingen male over 16 yrs
Gertrude Erpeldingen female over 14 yrs
Jean Erpeldingen male under 16 yrs
Nicolas Erpeldingen male under 16 yrs
Barbe Erpeldingen female under 14 yrs
Maria Erpeldingen female under 14 yrs
1 married couple in household
CONRADT of Uebersyren
The CONRADT family (written CONRADE on the sheet) lived in Uebersyren in the parish of Hostert not far from the parish of Oetrange.
1766 Census for the Village of Ubersyren in the Paroisse of Hostert
Pierre Conrade 16 yrs or older occupation tisserand or weaver
Ann Catherine Conrad 16 yrs or older
no males under 16 yrs
Elizabeth Conrad female under 14 yrs
Madlene Conrad female under 14 yrs
Marie Conrad female under 14 yrs
Catherine Conrad female under 14 yrs
1 married couple in household
Twenty-two years later…
Nicolas ERPELDING, 22 years old, married Madelaine “Magdalena” CONRADT, 29 years old, on 7 July 1788 in Schuttrange. Nicolas, the youngest son of Caspar ERPELDING (d. 1779) and Gertrude JEHNEN (d. 1774), was born 7 November 1765 in Villa Kackert near Oetrange. Magdalena, the second oldest daughter of Peter CONRADT (d. 1789) and Anna Catharina ROEDER (1736-1791), was born 2 June 1759 in Uebersyren.
The young couple made their home in Uebersyren during the first years of their marriage and this is where their first child Mathias was born on 27 March 1791.
Following the birth of Matthias and before their next child was born they left Uebersyren and made their home auf dem Kackert, in the home Nicolas had been born and raised in. The move may have followed the death of Magdalena’s mother in Uebersyren six months after the birth of Mathias.
When daughter Catharina was born on 15 October 1793, Nicolas and Magdalena were seen as a legally married couple and operariorum commorantuim in Kackert – workers residing at Kackert. Nicolas’ parents had died in 1774 and 1779 and the farm likely went to their oldest son Jean ERPELDING. Catharina’s baptismal record lists Jean as her godfather and agricola habitans in Villa Kackert – a farmer who lives on the Kackert farm. Villa in Latin has several definitions including villa or country house, village, farm, or premises. As later documents refer to Kackerterhaff, and it is still known as such, the translation would be a farm.
At this point in the family timeline, there is a discrepancy which I have not been able to resolve. From marriage records found, it appears that there were two daughters named Catharina. No baptismal record has been found for the second daughter named Catharina. Her marriage record is a religious marriage record which names her parents but does not include her date of birth. No civil marriage record, which normally includes the date and place of birth, has been found. All birth records of her children and her death record place her birth at about 1793, the same as the first daughter named Catharina. Due to records found, they cannot be the same person.
Nicolas and Magdalena’s fourth child Margaretha was born and baptized on 15 December 1795. Her parents were seen as operariorum in Kackert – operators of Kackert.
Pierre, the next child, was born on 15 January 1797 and the entry in the parish records was the first for the new year. No godparents were listed. The parents were seen as a legally married couple living in Kackert.
The second daughter named Margaretha was baptized on 16 November 1800 and born on 1 January 1801. That is not a typo. The records show she was baptized six weeks before her birth! While the church records continued to be kept using the Gregorian calendar, the civil records at the time used the French Republican calendar. A difference of a day or two could be explained but six weeks cannot be an error in calculation. The discrepancy in the church record vis-a-vis the civil record was brought to my attention by Cyndi Speltz Gipp 14 years ago. Cyndi is my husband’s 7th cousin through Gertrude JEHNEN’s parents.
The last child of Nicolas and Magdalena was Barbara born on 25 February 1804. As with all of her siblings, except for her oldest brother Mathias, she was born on the Kackert farm.
The Middle Years
All of the children Magdalena gave birth to survived to adulthood. The seven children remained on Kackerterhaff until they began to marry.
In the meantime, Nicolas’ brother Jean ERPELDING (his second brother named Jean) died on 20 May 1806 on Kréintgeshaff, a farm near Kackerterhaff. His place of death has helped to differentiate between the two brothers named Jean.
On 15 December 1814, the first of Nicolas and Magdalena’s children married. Catharina married Nicolas GLODT (1793-1858) on 15 December 1814 in Oetrange.
Madelaine “Magdalena” CONRADT did not live long enough to see any of her other children marry. She died on 28 January 1818 on Kackerterhaff.
Six years later the oldest son of the ERPELDING-CONRADT couple, Mathias, married Margaritha GROSS (1796-1872) on 25 February 1824 in Oetrange. Mathias, being the oldest, remained on the farm.
A little more than a year later, the younger son Pierre married Margaretha KRUCHTEN (1797-1859) on 21 March 1825 in Contern. They would make their home in Oetrange in the commune of Contern.
Four years later Nicolas ERPELDING died on 10 May 1829 at Kackerterhaff. He left two married sons, a married daughter, and four unmarried daughters. His youngest daughter Barbara was 25 years old and expecting a child. The male child was born and died on 28 December 1829. No father was listed on the birth record.
The oldest daughter Catharina married Johann BOUR (1772-1855) on 26 February 1831 in Bertrange. She was 37 years old and he was 58 and had been a widower for two years. Catharina was living on Kackerterhaff up until the time of the marriage. It would be interesting to learn how she met her husband as two of her three sisters would also marry in Bertrange and live in Strassen, at that time part of the commune of Bertrange. What brought these women to Strassen and Bertrange which both lie on the other side of Luxembourg City from Kackerterhaff?
Nicolas ERPELDING’s oldest brother Jean died before 1833 as his widow Catharina EVEN’s death was declared by her nephew Mathias ERPELDING on 13 December 1833. She died on Kackerterhaff. To date, no children have been found for this couple which may be the reason the farm was now seen in the hands of Mathias.
The younger Margaretha, my children’s ancestress, married François “Franz” MERTES (1806-1864) on 25 February 1834 in Bertrange. Both of her brothers, Mathias and Pierre, were present and signed as witnesses to her marriage.
Five years later, the older Margaretha who was still living on the home farm married Johann SCHMIT (1780-1856) on 10 April 1839 in Bertrange. Margaretha was 44 and Johann, widowed only four months earlier, was 58 years old. None of the witnesses were relatives of the bride, however, Michel BRIMEYER, one of the witnesses, was listed as her acquaintance.
Finally, on 11 February 1846, the youngest child of Nicolas and Magdalena married. Barbara married Peter ENTRINGER (1801-1867) on 11 February 1846 in Sandweiler. Barbara’s son Mathias ERPELDING, born illegitimately on 29 May 1835, was 10 years old. The marriage legitimized his birth as Peter ENTRINGER recognized him as his son. Between the time of Mathias’ birth and the marriage, the groom had been married to another woman and widowed.
The Later Years
Catharina ERPELDING who married Nicolas GLODT died on 6 January 1848 at the age of 55 in Oetrange. She had given birth to at least eight children.
Margaretha ERPELDING who married Johann SCHMIT was widowed on 29 December 1856. It is unknown when or where she died. She remained childless.
Catharina ERPELDING who married Johann BOUR was last seen in the census in December 1861 in Strassen. She was widowed in 1855 and also remained childless. No death record has been found.
Pierre ERPELDING died on 23 December 1865 in Oetrange. He outlived his wife, who had given him seven children, by six years. Two of these children died as infants. His oldest son Theodore, after being widowed twice, would emigrate to America in 1884 with his sons John and Nicholas and his daughter Angelique to join his older son Peter who had emigrated the previous year. The line would continue in Nebraska.
The youngest daughter Barbara ERPELDING was widowed on 10 Sep 1867. She was not found between the time of her marriage in 1846 and her husband’s death in 1867. It is unknown if they had other children and what happened to the son Mathias who was legitimized at the time of the marriage.
My children’s 4th great-grandmother Margaretha ERPELDING died on 1 November 1868 in Strassen. Widowed in 1864, she left only one child, a son Michel who fathered thirteen children.
Following Margaretha’s death, the only known living child of Nicolas and Magdalena was their oldest son Mathias ERPELDING. He died on 31 December 1871 on Kackerterhaff. His wife followed him four months later. They were the parents of eight children. Sons Peter and Mathias never married but worked the farm until their deaths on Kackerterhaff in 1897 and 1916. They are the last known ERPELDINGs to have lived on the home place.
Although I have spent the past two weeks attaching (and citing sources for) birth, marriage, census, and death records to all individuals in this family (several generations), the largest part of the research was done by my husband’s 7th cousin Cyndi. She ordered the FamilySearch microfilms and viewed them at her local Family History Center fourteen years ago. Not only did she research her line down from Gertrude JEHNEN’s parents Christophori “Stofel” JEHNEN and Maria SCHINGEN but also this ERPELDING family and shared all with me. In 2015 I got in touch with her again when I wrote 52 Ancestors: #40 Happy Birthday to Michel of the MERTES-ERPELDING Family and now we keep up via Facebook. Thank you, Cyndi, for all the work you’ve done on this branch of the family.
P.S. Kackerterhaff is Luxembourgish for the German Kackerterhof. So for those of you who noticed, I made the featured image first. While writing the post I decided to be consistent by using Kackerterhaff throughout and forgot I’d used the German version in the image.
Week 40 (October 1-7) – October:What ancestor has a birthday or anniversary in October?
François, the Groom
François “Franz” MERTES (1806-1864) was the son of Nicolas MERTES and Marie Catherine DONNEN (1783-1854). Franz’s parents were married on 21 February 1803 in Bertrange (Bartringen). François, the name given to him at birth, is believed to have been their first born child. He was born at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday 5 April 1806 in Bertrange. On Sunday morning at 7:00 a.m. when Nicolas reported his son’s birth another father, Martin JUNG was at the city hall to report his daughter’s birth. Martin JUNG witnessed Nicolas’ son’s birth record and Nicolas witnessed JUNG’s daughter’s birth record. Both men did not know how to write and signed with an X.
François had the following known siblings: Anne 1808, Catherine 1811, Nicolas 1814, Joannes 1817, and Nicolas 1821. Their marriages and children have not been researched.
While doing François’ census work I saved the links in Evernote of all pages with the MERTES name from 1843 through 1855. “Census work” for families in Luxembourg during this time period means viewing every image in the batches at FamilySearch as they are browse only and don’t have a list or index similar to the later census years. It is very time consuming but usually helpful when developing a timeline for the family.
François marries Margaretha ERPELDING
In the year eighteen hundred thirty-four, the twenty-fifth of the month of February at 9 o’clock in the morning, there came before us, the mayor, civil officer of the commune of Bertrange in the province of Luxembourg, François MERTES, single, age twenty-seven years, born in Bertrange in this commune on the fifth day of April eighteen hundred sixteen (sic, 1806), a civil day laborer, resident of Bertrange, adult son of Nicolas MERTES and Marie Catherine DONNEN who are both present, consulting to this marriage.
and the demoiselle Marguerithe ERPELDING age thirty-three years born on the Kackerter farm in Oetrange in the commune of Contern on the eleventh day of the month of Nivôse in the ninth year of the French Republic, corresponding to the first of January eighteen hundred and one, without an occupation, resident of Kackerter farm, adult daughter of Nicolas ERPELDING and Madelaine KUNERATH who died at the named Kackerter farm, the mother on the twenty-eighth January eighteen hundred eighteen and the father on the ten May eighteen hundred twenty-nine, during their lifetimes civil day laborers.
Who requested that we procede in the celebration of this marriage planned between them, and banns were published in Contern on Sundays the second and ninth of the month of February and in Bertrange on the ninth and sixteenth of the same month.
No opposition to the marriage was given us,granting them the right of their request, after readingallabove mentioned, as well asthe titleof ChapterSixof the CivilCode entitledthe Marriage,we asked thefuture husbandand the futurewife if they want totake each other to be husbandandwife; eachresponding separately andaffirmatively, we declare, on behalf of the law,that François MERTES and Marguerithe ERPELDING are united by marriage.
All of this took place inthe presence of witnessesnamedbelow, namely Mathias Erpelding, age forty years, farmer, resident of the said Kackerter farm, brother of the future bride Pierre Erpelding, age thirty-five years, residing abroad, weaver, brother of the future bride Jean Reichling, age twenty-five years, farmer, resident of Bertrange, acting as a friend of the future groom And Nicolas Goergen, age twenty-five years, farmer, resident of Bertrange, acting as a friend of the future groom
Who after it was read to them,signedwith us, with the exception of the groom, the bride, and the mother and father of the groom who declared not knowing how to sign.
Margaretha, the Bride
Margaretha, seen above as Marguerithe, was born 10 Nivôse year IX (1 January 1801) on Kackerterhoff (Kackerterhaff) in Oetrange in the commune of Contern to Nicolas ERPELDING (1765-1829) and Madelaine “Magdalena” KUNERATH (1759-1818). Her date of birth was recorded in the civil records using the French Republican Calendar. Church records were kept using the Gregorian or Christian calendar and her baptismal record shows she was baptized on 16 November 1800 – six weeks before her birth! Civil records are the legal records used in Luxembourg. I am not sure how this discrepancy in the church records came about but it was brought to my attention by Cyndi Speltz Gipp.
A dozen years ago Cyndi, my husband’s 7th cousin, got in touch with me about her JEHNEN line. She spent hours at her local Family History Center viewing microfilms she ordered for her research of the JEHNEN descendants, including Nicolas ERPELDING whose mother was a JEHNEN. Cyndi found 5 siblings for Margaretha: Mathias 1791, Catharina 1793, Margaretha 1795, Petrus 1797 and Barbara 1804.
François and Margaretha’s Little Family
Ten months after their marriage, at 6 o’clock in the evening of Christmas Eve, François and Margaretha welcomed their first child into the family. François reported the birth of his daughter Marie Catherine MERTES on Christmas Day 1834 in Bartringen. As was the case at the time of his marriage, he was not able to sign the record.
Their second child and only son, Michel MERTES was born on 6 October 1837 at 4 o’clock in the afternoon in the commune of Bertrange. His father reported the birth two hours later. The place of birth is not specifically stated. Later when Michel married in 1861 his place of birth on his marriage record was Bertrange but when he married a second time in 1874 his place of birth on the marriage record was Strassen.
Happy Birthday Michel MERTES
Tomorrow is the 178th anniversary of the birth of Michel, François and Margaretha’s only son, and only child to live to adulthood and marry.
Census Records Help to Fill in the Timeline
Census records were found for the little family. On 23 December 1843 they were living next door to François’ parents in Bertrange. Following this census, the only one with the entire family listed, Marie Catherine died at the age of eleven years on 6 July 1846 in Strassen.
The family of three, father, mother and son Michel, was seen in Strassen for the censuses taken on 20 December 1846, 31 December 1847, 7 December 1849, 31 December 1851, and 6 December 1852.
François’ parents were still living in Bartringen when his mother Marie Catherine DONNEN died on 24 January 1854 and his father Nicolas MERTES died on 19 October 1855.
The MERTES-ERPELDING family was seen in Strassen on 3 December 1855 and 3 December 1858 when the census was enumerated.
Their only living child Michel MERTES married(1) Catharina HEIN (1834-1874) on 10 January 1861 in Strassen. When the census was taken in December 1861 Michel and his wife were living with his parents.
François and Margaretha’s first granddaughter Maria lived only 5 days, born 1 February and died 6 February 1862 in Strassen. Their second granddaugher Margaretha was born in 1863 about a year before François “Franz” MERTES died on 15 March 1864 in Strassen.
Margaretha ERPELDING was seen as the head of household on 3 December 1864. Her son Michel, daughter-in-law Catharina, and granddaughter Margaretha were in her household. On 3 December 1867 Michel MERTES was the head of household in Strassen. His mother Margaretha was in his household and died less than a year later in Strassen on 1 November 1868.
Michel MERTES, widowed with three children in February 1874, married Margaretha RUCKERT (1847-1895) on 22 April 1874 in Strassen. Their story can be read here.
New Connections Found in the Census
While researching this small family I found two ladies with the maiden name ERPELDING and Oetrange as their place of birth in the Bertrange and Strassen census. They were both married to older men and did not have children. Their marriage records were found and proved they were sisters of Margaretha:
Catharina ERPELDING (b. 15 Oct 1793) married Jean BOUR (b. 1772) on 26 February 1831 in Bertrange
Margaretha ERPELDING (b. 15 Dec 1795) married Jean SCHMIT (b. 1780) on 10 April 1839 in Bertrange.
These marriages were unknown to Cyndi who concentrated her search in the Oetrange, Contern area. Finding these records however brings up new questions. The birth dates above were found in the marriage records and match dates of birth found by Cyndi. Unfortunately not only were there two sisters named Margaretha, there was a second sister named Catharina b. abt. 1793 who married in 1814 and died in 1848. Both Cyndi and I have her listed with the birth date 15 October 1793. But which of the two Catharina’s was born on this date? I’ll have to add this research question and all it entails to my to-do list.
This is my weekly entry for Amy Johnson Crow’s challenge: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – 2015 Edition. It was so successful in 2014 that genealogists wanted to continue or join in on the fun in 2015. Be sure to check out the other great posts by visiting Amy’s blog No Story Too Small where she’ll be posting the weekly recap on Thurdays and allowing all participants to leave a link to their post(s) in the comments.