Week 8 (Feb 19-25) – Good Deeds. Does this mean a generous ancestor or one you found through land records? You decide
Maria POLFER-PEFFER, daughter of Francis PEFFER and granddaughter of Nicolas PEFFER and Maria MERTES, is the person in this family who stands out for her good deeds which resulted in her being interned and deported. What good deeds did she perform? She was a part of the resistance movement in Luxembourg during World War II. The Résistance worked in secrecy against the German occupation of the country. They helped political refugees and those being conscripted into the German forces. They printed patriotic leaflets and flyers by hand or machine to encourage the people of Luxembourg and promote patriotic spirit. More about the Luxembourg Resistance and Luxembourg in World War II.
Maria was awarded the Médaille de la Résistance, a medal awarded to civilians for distinguished services to Luxembourg during World War II. She was a member of the Conseil national de la Résistance, a member of the central committee of the LPPD (League for Luxembourgish Political Prisoners and Deportees), an umbrella group of the Resistance groups, and President of the Bettembourg section of the LPPD.
Yesterday, 22 February 2015, was the Nationalen Dag vun der Resistenz, National Day of the Resistance in Luxembourg. In 1997 the Conseil national de la Résistance made the decision to have an annual remembrance day on the Sunday in February closest to the 25th. A day to remember all those involved in the Résistance and who lost their lives while interned and deported. Especially remembered are the 23 members of the Résistance who were shot in the Hinzerter Bësch 71 years ago on 25 Februar 1944, as well as the victims killed during the general strike in September 1942 on Hinzert, a German concentration camp located in Germany, 30 km from the Luxembourg border.
The PEFFER-MERTES Family (1866-1995)
Early on in my research I knew that my husband’s great-grandparents Nicolas PEFFER and Maria MERTES had three children. I personally knew two of the daughters, Bom and Tattes, and the only son’s daughter Maria POLFER-PEFFER.
On 29 November 2000 I received a telephone call from the son of a third, at that time unknown daughter. He found me through my GEDCOM file at RootsWeb’s WorldConnect Project. I still have the notes I scribbled while on the phone with him.
I always wondered why this couple did not have children during the first five years they were married. They married in 1894 and, being Catholic, birth control was not an option or even available. Last month when I began taking a new look at this family, checking for them in the census, I nearly missed looking for birth records for more children.
I found Nicolas and Maria in the 1895 census as newlyweds, I thought, enjoying their second year of marriage, and in 1900 with their 5 week old son Franz. No other children!
Records are very well kept in Luxembourg, however, for this time period, they did not include the cause of death on the civil death record. This has often bothered me as I’ve found many death records for children. I wondered if this family may have also had a child who died young.
So back to the birth and death records I went. What did I find? Nicolas and Maria had 4 children before Franz came along and all four died young. Eight months, two months, two weeks, and less than a month. That is how long Maria’s babies lived.
The next three children were born in 1900, 1902, and 1904 followed by the youngest in 1910. These were the 4 children that I knew about and they all lived to marry and have children. Could there also be more children, siblings of my husband’s Bom, born between 1905-1909?
My husband’s grandmother Suzanne, known to him as Bom, was their youngest child. She was not born in Moestroff where all the other children were born. Her father, a shepherd (Hirt), had moved with his family to Wecker sometime after 1904 and before Suzanne’s birth in 1910. Not finding any other children in Moestroff I looked in Biwer, the commune that Wecker belongs to. And I found another child’s birth and death records. A son born in 1907 died in his fourth month. Maria was 35 years old and still young enough to have more children.
I did not find any more records in the communes of Biwer or Bettendorf. The family may have lived in other towns however the census is only available until 1900 at FamilySearch and in any case only browable making it impraticable to search all areas. Without a lead to a town I would have to check through the Luxembourg Civil Registration database which would mean browsing through 767,518 images or at least checking the Tables Décennales (ten year lists of births, marriages and deaths) for the time period 1905-1922 of each of the 145 communes. Perhaps one day the records for Luxembourg at FamilySearch will be searchable, until then….
I know that Maria carried nine children to term, gave birth to them, and cared for them. Maria and Nicolas buried five of these children between 1895-1907.
Maria saw three of her grown children marry and held two of her grandchildren before she died in 1929 at the age of 54. Only her youngest daughter Suzanne would marry after her death. Her widower Nicolas died at the age of 75 on the 31st of December 1941.
I don’t have a copy of his death record. I have three sources for his death – that should be proof enough. On the other hand, the three sources have conflicting information.
- Photocopy of the 1866 birth record No. 11 located in the birth register of Bettendorf at the town hall. This record includes the annotation in the left margin of his death on 31 December 1941 in Moestroff as well as the location of the death record, No. 1 in the 1942 death register. This birth record was obtained in 1995.
- Digital image of the birth record located in the Luxembourg National Archives, Plateau du Saint-Esprit, Luxembourg, microfilmed by the Genealogical Society of Salt Lake City, Utah, in 1993 at the Archives in Luxembourg. This record includes an annotation in the left margin indicating that he died in Moestroff, no date, and the death record is No. 11 from 1942.
- Digital image of the marriage record of Nicolas PEFFER and Maria MERTES located in the Luxembourg National Archives, Plateau du Saint-Esprit, Luxembourg, microfilmed by the Genealogical Society of Salt Lake City, Utah, in 1993 at the Archives in Luxembourg. This record includes an annotation in the left margin made by the Landessippenamt. At the time of Nicolas’ death the civil records offices in Luxembourg were in the hands of the Germans. The official of the Landessippenamt wrote that Nicolas died on 31 February 1866 and that the death is recorded in the 1941 Sterbebuch (death register) as record No. 1. The annotation on the marriage record was made on 10 August 1941.
I believe that the first record is the most reliable. If the protocol was followed the civil registrar would have issued the death record, recorded it in the death register or Sterbebuch in Bettendorf, made a duplicate to be lodged in the Courts of Justice in Diekirch and Luxembourg City, and included the annotation to the original birth record which was housed in Bettendorf. The duplicate sent to the Courts of Justice would have been the source for the annotation made on the records 2. and 3. which were later digitized.
Now on my to-do list is a visit to the Bettendorf town hall to acquire copies of the records that are not available online for 1923 and later and specifically for a copy of the death record of Nicolas PEFFER.
Three Generations in a Photographic Series
Maria and Nicolas PEFFER-MERTES’ children were quite close as can be seen by this series of photos taken in the latter part of 1956 of two of their daughters and a daughter-in-law with their daughters/daughter-in-law and the grandchildren.
Left to right: Baby B. with her mother Maria PEFFER and grandmother (Maria’s mother) Mrs. Francis PEFFER; Baby M. with her mother E. and grandmother (E.’s mother-in-law) Marguerite “Tattes” PEFFER; Baby E. (my husband) with his mother Marie Françoise “Maisy” KREMER and grandmother Suzanne “Bom” PEFFER.
Who Were They, Nicolas PEFFER and Maria MERTES?
Nicolas PEFFER, my husband’s great-grandfather, was the third child of seven known children of Nicolas PEFFER Sr. ( or “der Ältere“) and Marie ZWANK. His father Nicolas b. 1833 had a younger brother also named Nicolas b. 1836 who was known as Nicolas Jr.
Nicolas PEFFER was born 9 February 1866 in Moestroff, Commune of Bettendorf, District of Diekirch, Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. His parents were both 32 years old when he was born. His father Nicolas was a day laborer.
Maria MERTES, my husband’s great-grandmother, was the oldest of seven children of Michel MERTES and Margaretha RUCKERT. She had 13 known siblings as her father had six children with his first wife. It was the second marriage for her mother as well but the first marriage lasted only 6 months, due to the death of the groom, and there were no children.
Maria MERTES was born 14 February 1875 in Strassen, District of Luxembourg, Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. Her father was 38 and her mother was 28 years old.
The Marriage of Maria and Nicolas
As with all of our ancestors I wondered how Maria MERTES and Nicolas PEFFER met. They were not born and raised in the same town or even the same community. What brought them together? I can only guess and by studying their marriage record I found a connection and reason why Nicolas would meet a young lady named Maria from Strassen.
Before I get to the actual marriage let’s take a look at the witnesses of the marriage. Two of the witnesses were listed as relatives:
- Nicolas REITER, Maurer, 39 years old, living in Moestroff. cousin of the groom
- Mathias GLODT, Taglöhner, 26 years old, living in Strassen, cousin of the groom
The Reiter connection is easy: Nicolas’ paternal aunt Marguerite PEFFER married Jean REITER and Nicolas REITER was their son. Census listings for Marguerite show that another one of her sons, Jean married Maria GLODT of Strassen. Mathias GLODT was Maria’s brother. This would not make him a cousin to Nicolas PEFFER. Further research led to the marriage of Mathias GLODT to Marie REITER, a daughter of Marguerite PEFFER and cousin of Nicolas PEFFER. So Mathias was a cousin-in-law!
Could this be the answer to how Nicolas PEFFER met Maria MERTES? In 1890 Nicolas PEFFER’s cousins Jean and Maria REITER were marrying the GLODT siblings Maria and Mathias., In May 1890 when Maria married Mathias her brothers Jean and Nicolas were present and named as witnesses. Both of these men were masons (Maurer), the same occupation as Nicolas PEFFER.
At six o’clock in the evening on the 19th of February 1894, Nicolas and Maria were married in Strassen. Nicolas was 28, worked as a mason and lived in Moestroff. Nicolas’ parents were both deceased as were his grandparents. Maria was 19, underage, did not work and lived in Strassen. She had recently returned to Strassen after living in Livange in the commune of Roeser. Both of her parents were present and agreeable to the marriage. The banns had been read in Bettendorf and in Roeser, both of the communes that the bride and groom lived in prior to their marriage, on the 4th and the 11th of February, both Sundays.
The Children of Maria and Nicolas
Nicolas and Maria lived in Moestroff following their marriage. Maria was pregnant when the couple married. This may be an explanation for her recently having lived in Livange. She may have been working there, was dismissed for being pregnant and unmarried, and returned home to her parents. She gave birth to their son Johann on 12 June 1894, four months after the marriage. Maria was pregnant with her second child when Johann died on 10 February 1895. The first wedding anniversary was not a happy occasion with their mourning the death of their first child.
Daughter Margaretha was born on 11 August 1895 and lived a little less than two months, dying on 1 October 1895. In 1895 when they were enumerated on the census they had been married 22 months. There is no field on the Luxembourg census for the number of children born and the number of children living as seen on the 1900 and 1910 U.S. Federal Census.
On 8 February 1897 their son Jacques, most likely named after both of the parents’ maternal grandfathers, was born. They may have raised their glasses on the 19th to celebrate their third anniversary and their son’s birth but days later little Jacques died on 23 February 1897.
Finally, on 26 October 1900 a son, François, was born – the first child who would survive infancy. The pattern of their lives was changing. On 2 August 1902 their second daughter, named the same as their first Margaretha, was born followed by Maria on 15 September 1904. These children were healthy and striving.
During all this time Nicolas’ occupation was seen as Maurer or mason on the birth and death records of his children. After 1904 his occupation changed. In 1907 Nicolas and his wife Maria were living in Wecker in the commune of Wecker. Nicolas’ occupation was seen as Hirt or shepherd. On 9 August 1907 their son Nicolas was born. How sad it must have been for both of the parents, especially to Nicolas, to have to report the death of their son Nicolas, named after his father, on 21 November 1907.
Maria and Nicolas’ little family of five was not complete until Suzanne PEFFER was born on 18 February 1910 in Wecker. Nicolas was still a shepherd. How many years of Suzanne’s childhood were spent in Wecker is not known. The family of six was back in Moestroff by the time Suzanne’s oldest siblings began to marry.
Nicolas and Maria’s oldest child François, also known as Francis, PEFFER was most likely the first to marry. I have not done research on his marriage, however, believe that the marriage took place 1928 or earlier as his daughter Maria PEFFER was born about 1928 (she was 74 when she died on 16 April 2002).
Maria PEFFER was the first of the daughters to marry. She married Louis LONGATTE (1904-1996) on 2 May 1928 in Bettendorf. This date of marriage has not been confirmed with a marriage record.
A year later Marguerite PEFFER married Jean REUTER (1903-?) on 10 February 1929 in Bettendorf. This date of marriage has not been confirmed with a marriage record.
Maria MERTES, the mother of this family, died 6 August 1929 in Moestroff. Her date of death was found on the marriage record of her youngest daughter Suzanne PEFFER who married Franz “Fritz” KREMER (1905-1972) on 7 January 1931 in Bettendorf.
In 1931, when Suzanne married, her 64 years old father Nicolas was once again seen in the occupation of mason (Maurer). During World War II (1 Sep 1939-14 Aug 1945) Nicolas PEFFER died on 31 December 1941 in Moestroff, ,  as discussed earlier in this post.
Daughter Maria LONGATTE-PEFFER was the first to pass away after the death of the parents. Her son André, also known as Ender, said his mother died of cancer at the age of 40. He also said she died in 1956. There is some discrepancy in his statements as she was born in 1904 and not in 1916. It is my understanding that André was her only child. His father remarried to a French woman.
The three remaining PEFFER children lived longer lives.
- François “Francis” PEFFER died 20 July 1974 in Ettelbrück at the age of 74.
- Suzanne KREMER-PEFFER died 13 June 1987 in Moestroff at the age of 77.
- Marguerite “Tattes” REUTER-PEFFER died 27 June 1995 in Esch-sur-Alzette at the age of 92.
 Luxembourg, Volkszählungen 1843-1900 (images), FamilySearch, (original records at Luxembourg National Archives, Plateau du Saint-Esprit, Luxembourg), Bettendorf > 1895 > image 695 of 810. Peffer-Mertes household No. 3. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1971-32467-9673-13?cc=2037957&wc=M5GD-FM4:346114101,345878001 : accessed 26 December 2014).
 Ibid, Bettendorf > 1900 > image 743 of 793. Peffer-Mertes household No. 32. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1951-32396-9937-99?cc=2037957&wc=M9MJ-1NL : accessed 14 January 2015).
 Zivilstandes der Gemeinde Bettendorf im Kanton Diekirch, Großerzogtum Luxemburg, Photocopy of the 1866 Birth Record No. 11 obtained in 1995 from the town hall of Bettendorf
 Luxembourg, Registres d’état civil, 1793-1923 (images), FamilySearch (original records at Luxembourg National Archives, Plateau du Saint-Esprit, Luxembourg), Bettendorf > Naissances 1828-1890 Mariages 1800-1816 > image 783 of 1507. 1866 Birth Record No. 11. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-267-13200-7084-85?cc=1709358&wc=M9M6-28S:1346120346 : accessed 01 Apr 2013).
 Ibid, Strassen > Naissances, mariages, décès 1891-1894 > image 65 of 117. 1894 Marriage Record No. 3. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-267-12396-19061-71?cc=1709358&wc=M9M6-LNR:27729865 : accessed 01 Apr 2013).
 Ibid, Bettendorf > Naissances 1828-1890 Mariages 1800-1816 > image 783 of 1507. 1866 Birth Record No. 11. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-267-13200-7084-85?cc=1709358&wc=M9M6-28S:1346120346 : accessed 01 Apr 2013).
 Ibid, Strassen > Naissances, mariages 1796-1823, 1850-1890 > image 645 of 1464. 1875 Birth Record No. 11. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-266-12588-58599-17?cc=1709358&wc=M9M6-LNP:1592332876 : accessed 01 Apr 2013).
 Ibid, Strassen > Naissances, mariages 1796-1823, 1850-1890 > image 1458 of 1464. “.” 1890 Marriage Record No. 11. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-266-12588-61343-70?cc=1709358&wc=9RY7-N38:130458601,130573201 : accessed 20 February 2015).
 Ibid, Bettendorf > Mariages 1817-1890 Décès 1800-1859 > image 841 of 1494. 1890 Marriage Record No. 9. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-267-12456-38052-5?cc=1709358&wc=9RY8-SP8:129626601,129729901 : accessed 20 February 2015),.
 Ibid, Strassen > Naissances, mariages, décès 1891-1894 > image 65 of 117. 1894 Marriage Record No. 3. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-267-12396-19061-71?cc=1709358&wc=M9M6-LNR:27729865 : accessed 01 Apr 2013).
 Ibid, Bettendorf > Naissances, mariages, décès 1882-1894 > image 59 of 155. 1894 Birth Record No. 25. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-267-11578-20242-1?cc=1709358&wc=9RYW-2NT:129626601,130263301 : accessed 15 January 2015).
 Ibid, Bettendorf > Décès 1895-1923 > image 4 of 389. 1895 Death Record No. 10. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1951-32048-22801-16?cc=1709358&wc=9RT1-926:129626601,129623802 : accessed 15 January 2015).
 Ibid, Bettendorf > Tables décennales 1893-1902 > image 8 of 29. NOTE: The records for 1895 are missing on FamilySearch as of 15 Jan 2015. This entry was found in the Tables décennales 1893-1902.(https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-267-11578-20951-69?cc=1709358&wc=9RYW-2JH:129626601,129745501 : accessed 15 January 2015).
 Ibid, Bettendorf > Décès 1895-1923 > image 14 of 389. 1895 Death Record No. 52. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1951-32048-22723-75?cc=1709358&wc=9RT1-926:129626601,129623802 : accessed 15 January 2015).
 Ibid, Bettendorf > Naissances 1896-1923 Mariages 1895-1923 > image 25 of 777. 1897 Birth Record No. 10. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1951-32044-6350-71?cc=1709358&wc=9RTB-2NG:129626601,130150302 : accessed 15 January 2015).
 Ibid, Bettendorf > Décès 1895-1923 > image 36 of 389. 1897 Death Record No. 4. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1961-32048-23240-11?cc=1709358&wc=9RT1-926:129626601,129623802 : accessed 15 January 2015).
 Ibid, Bettendorf > Naissances 1896-1923 Mariages 1895-1923 > image 60 of 777. 1899 Birth Record No. 14. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1971-32044-6751-2?cc=1709358&wc=9RTB-2NG:129626601,130150302 : accessed 15 January 2015).
 Ibid, Bettendorf > Décès 1895-1923 > image 62 of 389. 1899 Death Record No. 6. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1942-32048-24868-86?cc=1709358&wc=9RT1-926:129626601,129623802 : accessed 15 January 2015).
 Ibid, Bettendorf > Naissances 1896-1923 Mariages 1895-1923 > image 87 of 777. 1900 Birth Record No. 49; includes annotation of death. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1942-32044-6345-57?cc=1709358&wc=9RTB-2NG:129626601,130150302 : accessed 27 December 2014).
 Ibid, Bettendorf > Naissances 1896-1923 Mariages 1895-1923 > image 121 of 777. 1902 Birth Record No. 47; includes annotation of death. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1971-32044-6408-22?cc=1709358&wc=9RTB-2NG:129626601,130150302 : accessed 27 December 2014),.
 Ibid, Bettendorf > Naissances 1896-1923 Mariages 1895-1923 > image 157 of 777. 1904 Birth Record No. 39. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1942-32044-6109-75?cc=1709358&wc=9RTB-2NG:129626601,130150302 : accessed 27 December 2014).
 Ibid, Biwer > Naissances 1895-1923 > image 146 of 293. 1907 Birth Record No. 23. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1951-32024-6424-50?cc=1709358&wc=9RTY-FMZ:129627101,129648901 : accessed 15 January 2015).
 Ibid, Biwer > Décès 1895-1923 > image 95 of 216. 1907 Death Record No. 22. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1942-32037-102-84?cc=1709358&wc=9RTY-YWB:129627101,129623802 : accessed 15 January 2015).
 Ibid, Biwer > Naissances 1895-1923 > image 176 of 293. 1910 Birth Record No. 9; includes annotation of death. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1961-32024-6158-56?cc=1709358&wc=9RTY-FMZ:129627101,129648901 : accessed 27 December 2014).
 Zivilstandes der Gemeinde Bettendorf im Kanton Diekirch, Großerzogtum Luxemburg, Heiratsurkunde No. 1 Kremer Franz mit Peffer Susanna. Mothers of the bride and groom were deceased at the time of the marriage and their dates of death are listed on this record.
 Telephone conversation between Cathy Meder-Dempsey and Mr. André Longatte on 29 November 2000.
© 2015 Cathy Meder-Dempsey
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.