On Wednesday, 30 July 1817 my fourth great-grandparents Michel and Catherine met at the city hall in Pétange in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg with two other couples. Michel was 39 years old and Catherine was 42 years old. At 8 o’clock the first couple was married, followed by Michel and Catherine at 9 o’clock, and the third couple at 10 o’clock. Michel witnessed the first and third marriage. This in itself is unusual but there is more to the story.
There may be another connection to Elisabeth MAMER as her mother’s parents were a BURKEL and a BERKIN, both surnames shared with my ancestors. But it is not the connections to the first couple which is so interesting. What did else did these couples have in common? The newlyweds – all three couples – had children who were legitimized at the time of marriage.
Michel and Catherine’s Marriage Record
Michel and Catherine’s record marriage record had notes in the margin showing they had children: 1. Marguerite, 2. Catherine, 3. Anne, and 4. Jean Pierre, all born prior to marriage. These were not the only children born to Michel and Catherine. They had had eight children in eighteen years, the last born in 1814. Only four were living at the time of their parents’ marriage in 1817. The marriage must have been blessed by the church in a religious ceremony at least eighteen to nineteen years prior to the civil ceremony in 1817. It must have so been believed to be legal by the civil servants who recorded the births of seven of the children as being born to a lawfully wedded couple.
In 1795 the Duchy of Luxembourg became the Département des Forêts following its surrender after a siege of over seven months by French Revolutionary troops. The anti-religious policy of the new government is one of the reasons a marriage record may not be found for a Luxembourg ancestor during this time period.
The people rebelled against the new laws continuing to be married by their priest, even if it meant having the ceremony performed in the kitchen, and refusing to have a civil record of the marriage recorded. When the Napoleonic Code was introduced in 1804 all persons were required to be married in a civil ceremony. Couples who had only been wedded by a priest since the introduction of civil records around 1796 had to be married in a civil ceremony to legitimize their children’s births. The children’s names were listed on the civil marriage record following the line in which the groom and bride were joined as husband and wife. Often the list was so long that it had to be continued in the margin of the marriage record. (see image above)
Michel PHILIPPART, the son of Jacques PHILIPPART (1749-1823) and Catherine SINGER also known as Catherine KETTER (1743-1835), was born and baptized on 16 October 1777 in Rodange. His godparents were his paternal uncle Michel PHILIPPART of Rodange and Nanette KETTER of Bettingen. His relationship to his godmother is still under investigation. [I couldn’t resist. Bettingen or Bettange-sur-Mess is a new parish for me and so far I have only found one SINGER/KETTER sibling named Barbara.]
Catherine MEUNIER, the daughter of Henri MEUNIER and Margaretha KILBOUR, was born in 1775 in Rodange. A birth/baptismal record has not been located. Catherine’s father was from Rodange and her mother from Esch-sur-Alzette where they married on 21 December 1774. Both Rodange and Esch parish records were checked for Catherine’s birth without results. Her 1775 year of birth was found on her 1817 marriage record without a month or date which suggests the officials also had difficulties finding a record for her. Variations of her year of birth (calculated from age at the time) on the census records in 1843, 1846, 1847, and 1849 and her 1851 death record ran between 1768 and 1780. The 1849 census had her date of birth as 5 June 1774. This is not reliable as the three other persons in the household had dates of birth which did not come close to being correct.
Michel was the oldest of four children while Catherine may have been an only child. Her father died before the 1 December 1793 as her mother remarried on Tuesday, 17 December 1793. The marriage banns were published before the marriage to André DOMANGE on three consecutive Sundays (1st, 8th, 15th) dating the death of the first spouse at before the first bann.
Michel and Catherine’s children
As mentioned Michel and Catherine had all of their children before their legal civil marriage ceremony. Their oldest daughter Marguerite was born about 1800. No record of birth was found for her. When the census was taken in 1849 her birth date was listed as 11 August 1802 which cannot be correct due to the date of birth of the next two children. Marie Catherine, my third great-grandmother, was born on 8 November 1801 and her brother Henri on 1 December 1802.
UPDATE (10 December 2017): My genealogy friend Linda (who has helped me out several other times with my families in Luxembourg) found the birth record of Michel and Catherine’s daughter Marguerite. She was born on 19 Nivôse in the year VIII (9 January 1800) to Catherine Meunier. The birth was reported by the grandmother Margaretha KILBOUR. No mention is made of the father. This helps to date the possible religious marriage of Michel and Catherine at between 9 January 1800 and 8 November 1801 when Marie Catherine was born to a legally married couple.
Daughter Anne was born 17 December 1804, followed by two sons, Jean Pierre on 25 October 1808 and Jean Baptiste on 29 January 1810. Jean Baptiste lived only a little more than a month dying on 2 March 1810. Their seventh child, Catherine was born on 17 April 1812. Before the birth of their last child, their oldest son Henri died on 9 August 1813 at the age of 10.
Michel and Catherine named their youngest child Michel when he was born on 2 June 1814. He lived a little over a month and died on 15 July 1814. His death was followed by the death of young Catherine on 20 November 1814 at the age of two years.
By 1817, when Michel and Catherine were legally married, they had lost four children while Marguerite age 18, Marie Catherine age 16, Anne age 12, and Jean Pierre age 10 were thriving. Michel was supporting his family working as a shoemaker or cordonnier.
The children are grown
Nearly four years later Catherine’s mother Margaretha KILBOUR died on 4 April 1821 at the age of 80.
Jacques PHILIPPART, the father of Michel, died on 23 March 1824 at the age of 75 years.
The second of four marriages took place on 20 September 1826 when Anne, the youngest daughter, married her first cousin once removed Jean Baptiste PHILIPPART (1798-1828). Jean Baptiste died on 6 April 1828 and his widow Anne gave birth to a son she named Joseph on 29 May 1828.
The oldest daughter Marguerite married her first cousin once removed, Joseph PHILIPPART (1801-1864), brother of Jean Baptiste, on 12 September 1828. Jean Baptiste and Joseph were the sons of Joseph PHILIPPART and Susanne SCHMIT. The men’s grandparents Jacques PHILIPPART and Elisabeth BURKEL were the great-grandparents of their wives, Anne and Marguerite.
Catherine’s step-father André DOMANGE died on 17 December 1833 at the age of 69 years.
The last of the children to marry was the youngest and only son Jean Pierre PHILIPPART. Until I began to review and research this family for this post I had no idea if Jean Pierre was still living or had married. I found his marriage in my genealogy society’s database for Luxembourg marriages for the years 1796-1923. It is still a work in progress and not yet online but as a member of the board of Luxracines, I have access to the beta version.
Jean Pierre was working as a border guard in Stadbredimus when he married Barbara GOVERS (also seen as GOUVERS) on 27 February 1834.
A year later Catherine SINGER, mother of Michel PHILIPPART, died on 9 February 1835 at the age of 91.
Michel and Catherine likely did not expect to outlive any of their remaining children. However, their daughter Marie Catherine, wife of André FOURNELLE, died on 20 July 1843 at the age of 41 years. She was the mother of eleven children, the last having been born only nine days earlier. André, my third great-grandfather, was left to raise the children on his own. He never remarried.
Michel PHILIPPART died at the age of 71 on 23 September 1849. His death was reported by Joseph PHILIPPART who was erroneously listed as his son instead of his son-in-law. Three months later Joseph reported the death of his wife Marguerite, daughter of Michel, who died on 31 December 1849 at the age of 50.
Catherine MEUNIER, Michel’s widow, died on 24 May 1851 at the age of 76 years. Once again it was Joseph who reported the death and was seen as her son and not son-in-law. She left two living children, Jean Pierre and Anne.
Jean Pierre and his wife had a daughter born in Osweiler in 1837. This event in the commune of Rosport gave Jean Pierre, his wife, and child an entry in Thomas Webers’ family book for Rosport. The daughter’s marriage was included – an event which took place in Namur, Belgium in 1862. This tiny tidbit along with her date and place of death was enough to trace the family further. The marriage record included the date and place of death of the bride’s father. Jean Pierre died on 21 October 1861 at the age of 52 in Hondelange, Province of Luxembourg, Belgium. He was a Belgian customs employee or employé des douanes belges, sous brigadier. He left a wife and a son who was the informant for his death. With each new record, a new clue was found and I learned he had at least five children and his widow was still living in 1875.
By 1861, after Jean Pierre’s death, the only living child of Michel and Catherine was their daughter Anne who was also known as Nanette. As mentioned earlier her husband died while she was pregnant with their son Joseph who was born nearly two months later. But Anne and her father Michel PHILIPPART left a puzzle I have not been able to figure out.
On 30 September 1832, Anne gave birth to a male child who was given the name Jean HOUTTEN (seen as HOULTEN on the index). Michel PHILIPPART, the grandfather, was the informant and named Jean HOUTTEN of Robelmont in Belgium as the father and his daughter Anne as the mother. They were not married. No trace of this male child has been found after the birth. In the census records, as early as 1843, Anne is seen with her son Joseph and a daughter named Catherine. This daughter married twice and both times she was listed as born on 25 September 1832, five days before the male child. Only her mother Anne PHILIPPART was named on her marriage records. No father’s name was given. Was an error made at the time of birth? Was the child born to Anne in 1832 a daughter and not a son? Are there any other possible scenarios?
Anne died on 24 January 1871 at the age of 66 years. Her death was reported by her son Joseph and her son-in-law André HILBERT, the second husband of her daughter Catherine.
I found many new records for this family group while reviewing my database. I added several generations to the PHILIPPART and MEUNIER branches of the family tree as I discovered marriage records for Catherine MEUNIER’s parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents. Nearly all the families who lived in the area during the 1700s appear to be related to each other and to my families of Rodange. Lots of loose ends to tie together. But they will have to wait for now as this ends my visit to Rodange – next stop will be Vianden.
Sources: I’m taking the easy way out this week. I’ll be uploading my updated GEDCOM file to RootsWeb a.s.a.p. All sources have been found and can be referred to by clicking on the names in the box below.
The FOURNELLE family is one of my favorites to research. I spent nearly a year working exclusively on finding the records for every tiny branch of the descendants of my 7th great-grandparents Jean FOURNEL and Catherine SETON in 2013.
This set of fourth great-grandparents, Pierre FOURNELLE and Marianne SCHMIT take me back to the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.
For the time period this couple, their parents, and their children lived, the status and borders of Luxembourg changed. Pierre’s father was born in 1713 when the country was “only” a duchy. Pierre’s last living child died in 1870, fifty-five years after Luxembourg became a grand duchy and lost territory to France, Germany, and Belgium.
A genealogist’s work is never finished
The family group lived in Rodange in Luxembourg on the border to France. For the period before 1767 the parish of Rodange, where this family lived, was attached to Herserange which today lies in France. The baptismal, marriage, and death records for the years up to 1766 were found in the Archives départementales de Meurthe-et-Moselle in the collection for the parish of Herserange. Images from the French archives’ sites are not allowed to be used on the internet or for commercial purposes without permission. When I did the research in 2013 the image viewer or visionneuse did not have an option to save the link to the image. My source citations have enough information to quickly locate the record again on the Archives’ site to obtain the permalink which is now available on the visionneuse but the task is huge. I have over 500 citations for records found in the Meurthe-et-Moselle area which need to be re-visited to obtain the links.
My fourth great-grandfather Pierre FOURNELLE was born on 12 December 1748 in Rodange and was christened the following day. He was the third child of Pierre FOURNEL (1713-1765) and Jeanne NEU (1823-1783). They were married in 1743 in Aubange, Belgium, where Jeanne lived with her widowed mother.
Pierre and Jeanne had eight children from 1744-1763, all born in Rodange. All of their children lived to adulthood. Six are known to have married and had children while the two youngest sons have not been traced. They were last seen as godfathers of two children of their brother Pierre when they were still single and in their twenties.
Pierre’s mother died 9 March 1783 less than a month before her son Pierre married. Her death record included interesting information about her occupation.
Jeanne NEW was a fermière (farmer) for the Baron d’HUART. Baron Jean-François-Henri-Gérard d’HUART, known as Baron Henri d’HUART, died 1 January 1781 two years before Jeanne. His son Charles-Elisabeth-François, known as Charles, inherited the forges of Lasauvage and Herserange and was likely the owner of the land in Rodange which were farmed by Pierre’s mother Jeanne NEU.
Young Pierre’s wife was Marianne SCHMIT, daughter of Jean SCHMIT and Eve DECKERS of Niederkorn. The SCHMIT-DECKERS couple has had not been researched. They were seen living in 1783 when Pierre and Marianne married and had died by 1795 when another daughter married – according to index cards with information on the marriages. A brother and a sister of Marianne turned up as godparents for two of Pierre and Marianne’s children. Pierre was the godfather of an illegitimate child born to one of Marianne’s sisters. These are all individuals I hoped would help to open the door in Marianne’s brick wall.
How I opened the door
Pierre FOURNELLE married Marianne SCHMIT on 1 April 1783 in Rodange. For years I have had her birth listed as 1 January 1763 in Rodange. I had found this date in a GEDCOM on Geneanet owned by a descendant of Pierre FOURNEL and Jeanne NEU. However, no sources were given. Over the years I’ve used it as a guide but have found errors which were corrected using the online records for Luxembourg at FamilySearch.
In all this time I never was able to find a record to support the date and place of birth for Marianne SCHMIT. While writing this and reviewing the records I realized there was information in the 1783 marriage record I had overlooked due to the almost impossible handwriting.
Parish marriage records for Luxembourg have been indexed on cards which were microfilmed and accessible on FamilySearch. Two copies are available for the marriage of Pierre FOURNELLE and Marianne SCHMIT. One is for the marriage record I found in Rodange.
The other was for a marriage record which appears to have been included in the Herserange parish records.
I have gone over and over the Herserange collection and cannot find the record on the second index card.
I took yet another look at the marriage record (above) and realized Marianne was 22 years old at the time of marriage. This would place her birth at 1760-1761. Her father is referred to as deceased but not named while her mother is named Eve DECQUESSES. Both of her parents were from Niederkorn in the parish of Oberkorn. If they lived in Niederkorn, could it be that Marianne was born there and not in Rodange?
Armand Logelin-Simon’s family book of Oberkorn compiled from the parish records for the years 1637-1804, a popular publication in the online library of Luxracines, is available as a free pdf download to members of the society. The compilation is handwritten and includes a family which appears to be that of Marianne SCHMIT.
Joes (Joannes) SCHMIT and Eva DICKEN (Dücker, Ducker, Dick) had seven children born between 1756 and 1769 including a daughter Maria born 20 December 1760. There was a second daughter named Maria born in 1765. I am certain this is the right family and the older daughter named Marie is Marianne. I found the baptismal records of the seven children born in Niederkorn in the parish records of Oberkorn. Also included in the entry for the family are the dates of death for the father and mother as well as their date of marriage. Joannes died in 1777 and Eva in 1792. The records of death and marriage need to be looked up.
The children of Pierre and Marianne
With this research problem out of the way, I will give a brief run-down of the children of Pierre and Marianne.
i. Michael FOURNELLE was born on 27 April 1783 in Rodange. Michael was baptized the same day and his godparents were Michael FOURNELLE, his uncle (one of the brothers of Pierre who has not been found after this date), and Marianne NICOLAY. He died on 30 August 1784 in Rodange.
ii. Jean Baptiste FOURNELLE was born on 13 November 1784 in Rodange. Jean was baptized on 13 November 1784 in Rodange; the godparents were Jean Baptiste SCHMITZ, uncle (this brother of Marianne is seen only as Jean in the Oberkorn compilation), and Jeanne FELTEN. He died on 17 January 1864 in Niederkorn.
Jean married Marie Anne HEINRICH on 30 January 1825 in Differdange. Marie was born on 30 September 1795 in Niederkorn. She died on 23 November 1855 in Niederkorn. They were the parents of three children.
iii. Susanne FOURNELLE was born on 14 March 1786 in Rodange. Susanne was baptized on 14 March 1786 in Rodange; the godparents were Christophel FOURNELLE, her uncle (the other brother of Pierre who has not been found after 1792), and Susanne SCHMIT, her aunt. She died on 20 June 1845 in Rodange.
Susanne married Jean Pierre LUCAS, son of Théodore LUCAS and Margueritte MEUNIER, on 27 December 1804 in Pétange. Jean was born about 1773 in Rodange. He died on 18 June 1852 in Rodange. They were the parents of at least six children.
iv. Pierre FOURNELLE was born on 5 May 1787 in Rodange. He was baptized the same day. His godparents were Pierre FOURNELLE, his cousin, and Jeanne LADURELLE. He worked as a stone mason, bricklayer (maçon, Steinmetz). He died on 12 August 1856 in Rodange.
Pierre married Appoline WESTER, daughter of Jean Baptiste WESTER and Anne Catherine HANSEN, on 18 August 1812 in Pétange. Appoline was born on 14 November 1781 on Bouferterhaff (Beaufort farm) near Bertrange. She died on 13 February 1827 in Rodange. They were the parents of five children.
Pierre also married Marie ARENDT, daughter of François ARENDT and Claire SCHILTZ, on 5 December 1827 in Pétange. Marie was born on 23 September 1783 in Pétange. She died on 29 November 1843 in Rodange. They did not have children.
v. Henri FOURNELLE was born on 12 November 1788 in Rodange. Henri was baptized the same day; the godparents were Henri LUCAS and Marie SCHMITZ, his aunt. He worked as day laborer (journalier). He died on 8 October 1861 in Rodange.
Henri married Anna Catherine FEYEREISEN on 22 February 1819 in Pétange. Anna was born on 21 October 1789 in Nobressart (present-day Commune d’Attert, Province de Luxembourg, Belgium). She died on 11 September 1828 in Rodange. They were the parents of five children. She brought a son into the marriage who used the FOURNELLE name when he was in the militia.
Henri also married Marie Jeanne DOMMANGE on 25 February 1829 in Pétange. Marie was born on 10 October 1801 in Sepfontaines. She died on 3 September 1866 in Rodange. They were the parents of four children, two of whom went to America, one before 1885 and the other in 1890.
vi. Jean Baptiste Fournelle was born on 8 November 1791 in Rodange. He was baptized the same day with his godparents being Jean Baptiste FOURNELLE, his uncle, and Marie Julienne MATTHIEU, his aunt. A record of marriage or death has not been located for this child.
vii. Marie FOURNELLE was born on 2 January 1793 in Rodange. She was baptized the same day; the godparents were Nicolas MEUNIER and Marie FREDERIQUE. She died on 15 November 1860 in Sélange, Messancy, Belgium.
Marie married Pierre Joseph MONNET on 2 June 1824 in Villers devant Orval, Belgium. Pierre was born about 1780 in Bastogne, Belgium. He died on 28 December 1854 in Sélange, Messancy, Belgium. They were the parents of one known son.
viii. Philippe FOURNELLE was born on 8 November 1795 in Rodange. Philippe worked as a stone cutter (tailleur de pierres). He died on 17 January 1840 in Rodange, Grand Duché de Luxembourg.
Philippe married Anne-Marie JUNGERS, daughter of Pierre JUNGERS and Gertrude CUIR, on 10 October 1834 in Pétange. Anne-Marie was born on 23 April 1791 in Belvaux, Commune de Sanem. She died on 13 April 1874 in Rodange. Their marriage lasted only a little more than five years ending with the death of Philippe. They had no children.
ix. Jacques FOURNELLE was born on 26 September 1797 in Rodange. Jacques worked as day laborer (journalier). He died on 5 July 1870 in Rodange.
Jacques married Catherine PHILIPPART, daughter of Jacques PHILIPPART and Catherine SINGER, on 9 December 1822 in Pétange. Catherine was born on 23 April 1789 in Rodange. She died on 24 December 1856 in Rodange. They were the parents of two sons.
x. André FOURNELLE, my third great-grandfather, was born on 21 August 1799 in Rodange. He died on 2 August 1866 in Rodange.
Note: Marie Catherine PHILIPPART’s aunt Catherine PHILIPPART was the wife of Jacques FOURNELLE.
They raised their children farming
Both of Pierre FOURNELLE’s parents and his paternal grandfather were farmers. Did Pierre own the land he farmed or did he take over the farming job his mother Jeanne NEU held with the Baron of HUART before her death? Pierre was seen as laboureur (plow man) in the baptismal/birth records of nine of his children, as a cultivateur (farmer) when his son André was born in 1799 and as an Ackersmann (tiller of the soil) when he died in 1816. André, the youngest of the FOURNELLE sons, was the only one to follow in his father’s footsteps. André worked as a farmer while his brothers were laborers, stone mason, and stone cutter.
Marianne SCHMIT was an informant for the death of her husband Pierre FOURNELLE on 17 October 1816 in Rodange. As mentioned above, Pierre and Marianne’s daughter Marie married Pierre Joseph MONNET on 2 June 1824 in Villers devant Orval in Belgium. Marianne may not have been well enough to attend the marriage. She gave permission for her daughter Marie to marry via a document drawn up by a notary. She died twelve days later on 14 June 1824 in Rodange.
Marianne left eight living children and was the grandmother of 37 grandchildren many of whom were born years after her death.