52 Ancestors: #8 The PEFFER-MERTES Family (1866-1995)

Week 8 (Feb 19-25) – Good Deeds. Does this mean a generous ancestor or one you found through land records? You decide :)

2002obit
Newspaper clipping of the obituary of Maria POLFER-PEFFER from the 18 April 2002 issue of the Luxembourger Wort.

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!

1895census
1895 Luxembourg Census, household of Nicolas PEFFER and his wife Maria MERTES.[1]
1900census
1900 Luxembourg Census, household of Nicolas PEFFER and his wife Maria MERTES with their son Franz.[2]
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.

  1. 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.[3]
  2. 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.[4]
  3. 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.[5]

photocopy
1. Annotation on the photocopy of the original birth record in Bettendorf.[3]
digital
2. Annotation on the digital copy of duplicate of original birth record in the archives.[4]
digitalmarriage
3. Annotation on the digital copy of the duplicate of the original marriage record in the archives.[5]
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

3generationsLeft 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.

granddaughters and great-grandchildrenLeft to right: Maria with her daughter B.; E. with her daughter M.; and my mother-in-law Maisy with my husband E.

grandmothers with babiesHere the grandmothers switched places. Left to right: Marguerite PEFFER with her granddaughter M., Francis PEFFER’s wife with her granddaughter B., and Suzanne PEFFER with her grandson E.

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.[6]

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.[7]

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.[8],[9] 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.[10]

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.[11] Maria was pregnant with her second child when Johann died on 10 February 1895.[12] 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[13] and lived a little less than two months, dying on 1 October 1895.[14] 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.[15] 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.[16]

Their fourth child Wilhelm was born 4 March 1899[17] and died less than a month later on 1 April 1899.[18] So much heartbreak and loss.

Finally, on 26 October 1900[19] a son, François, was born – the first child who would survive infancy. The pattern of their lives was changing. On 2 August 1902[20] their second daughter, named the same as their first Margaretha, was born followed by Maria on 15 September 1904.[21] 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.[22] 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.[23]

Maria and Nicolas’ little family of five was not complete until Suzanne PEFFER was born on 18 February 1910 in Wecker.[24] 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.[25]

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[3], [4], [5] 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.[26]

The three remaining PEFFER children lived longer lives.

  • François “Francis” PEFFER died 20 July 1974 in Ettelbrück at the age of 74.[19]
  • Suzanne KREMER-PEFFER died 13 June 1987 in Moestroff at the age of 77.[24]
  • Marguerite “Tattes” REUTER-PEFFER died 27 June 1995 in Esch-sur-Alzette at the age of 92.[20]

Sources:
[1] 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).
[2] 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).
[3] 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
[4] 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).
[5] 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).
[6] 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).
[7] 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).
[8] 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).
[9] 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),.
[10] 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).
[11] 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).
[12] 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).
[13] 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).
[14] 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).
[15] 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).
[16] 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).
[17] 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).
[18] 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).
[19] 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).
[20] 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),.
[21] 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).
[22] 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).
[23] 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).
[24] 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).
[25] 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.
[26] Telephone conversation between Cathy Meder-Dempsey and Mr. André Longatte on 29 November 2000.

Genealogy Sketch

Name: Nicolas PEFFER
Parents: Nicolas PEFFER and Marie ZWANK
Spouse: Maria MERTES
Parents of spouse: Michel MERTES and Margaretha RUCKERT
Whereabouts: Moestroff and Strassen, Luxembourg
Relationship to Cathy Meder-Dempsey: husband’s great-grandparents

1. Nicolas PEFFER
2. Suzanne PEFFER
3. Marie Françoise “Maisy” KREMER
4. Cathy’s husband

© 2015 Cathy Meder-Dempsey

52ancestors-2015This 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.

52 Ancestors: #4 The Plumber/Tinsmith and the Seamstress

Week 4, Closest to your birthdayNot too much to think about here. What ancestor has the birthday closest to yours? (I mean in terms of month and day, not the year ;) )

I checked all my ancestors and none were born on the same day as I was. Since namesdays were at one time more commonly celebrated in Luxembourg than birthdays and I knew that my grandmother Marie Marcelle FOURNELLE’s namesday, January 31, was very close to my birthday, January 14, she fit the bill. If she hadn’t, I still would have written about her and her husband this week!

monogram
Marcelle and Nicolas’ monogram on their wedding announcement.

The FOURNELLE-WILDINGER Family

nic
Nicolas ca. 1909

Nicolas WILDINGER who was born in Mettendorf,  Eifelkreis Bitburg-Prüm, Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany, on 25 August 1906, the third and youngest child of Johann WILDINGER and Katharina PÖPPELREITER.[1],[2]

When Nicolas was 8 years old times were getting harder and harder for his father Johann, a builder. In July 1914 the family moved to Echternach and Johann found a job as a builder in Wasserbillig.

bomi
Marcelle ca. 1917

Maria Marcelle FOURNELLE was born at 7 o’clock in the morning on the 17 June 1909 in the house called Mühlenacht (Millenoacht in Luxembourgish) in Echternach. Her father Johann Joseph FOURNELLE, 38, a rose breeder (Rosenzuchter), was the informant for the birth of the child born to his wife Catharina FRANTZ, 36 and without an occupation. Peter STEINMETZ and Mathias PRIM were witnesses and Rudolf BRIMMEYR was the mayor and official who recorded the bith.

1909birth
1909 Birth Record No. 41 [3]

 Nicolas and Marcelle Become a Couple and Marry

034
Marcelle and Nicolas in the 1930s.

At 7 o’clock in the evening of 26 July 1935 Mathias SCHAFFNER, the mayor of Echternach, married Nicolas, a plumber (Klempner), and Marcelle, without occupation. Nicolas was 28 and Marcelle was 26. Nicolas’ mother Catharina PÖPPELREITER and Marcelle’s father Johann Joseph FOURNELLE were present and agreeable to the marriage.

Nicolas’ father had been dead 11 years and Marcelle’s mother a little over a year. The marriage banns had been read on Sunday the 7th of July. A marriage contract was signed on the day of the marriage in the presence of the notary Julius REDING in Echternach.

There were no other witnesses present at the marriage and the record was signed by the bride and groom, their parents and the mayor.

It is interesting to note that Nicolas’ mother signed as Mrs. Wildinger (Frau Wildinger) which is unusual as women in Luxembourg normally sign all legal documents with their maiden name. In the margin the death of the groom, who predeceased the bride, was recorded. Below this is the official stamp and the date that the copy of this record was obtained from the records office at the city hall.

MRIN01117 1935 Nicolas Wildinger and Maria Marcelle Fournelle marriage 13
1935 Marriage Record No. 13 [4]
As is the case with all bridal couples in Luxembourg, Nicolas and Marcelle were presented with a Family Book.

MRIN01117 1935 Fournelle-Wildinger Family Book 1 MRIN01117 1935 Fournelle-Wildinger Family Book 2 MRIN01117 1935 Fournelle-Wildinger Family Book 3The Couple Marry in a Religious Ceremony

1935 Announcement of Marriage sent out by the parents of the bride and groom.

Nicolas and Marcelle’s parents sent out announcements of the religious marriage of their children who were married in the strictest privacy in the St. Willibrod Basilica Echternach the following day. The witnesses were Nicolas’ brother who signed P. WILDINGER and Marcelle’s father who signed J. FOURNELLE. Jean Pierre KAYSER, the priest, made an entry in the couple’s Family Book to show that the religious ceremony had been performed on 27 July 1935 in Echternach.

Marcelle did not take her husband Nicolas’ German nationality when they married. She made a declaration 20 August 1935 to conserve her Luxembourg nationality. This was published in the Mémorial du Grand-Duché de Luxembourg No. 48 on 23 June 1936.[5]

Mémorial du Grand-Duché de Luxembourg No. 48.
Mardi, 23 juin 1936.
Page 612
Relevé des Luxembourgeoises de naissance qui ont fait en 1935 la déclaration pour conserver la nationalité luxembourgeoise.
I . Déclaration prévue par l’art. 24 n° 3 de la loi du 23 avril 1934.
Noms et prénoms: Fournelle Marie-Marcelle, épouse Wildinger, Nicolas
Résidence: Echternach
Lieu et date de naissance: Echternach 17. 6. 1909
Date de la déclaration: 20. 8. 1935

Nicolas and Marcelle Become Parents

1938 ca. Nic. Wildinger with daughter Josette
Nicolas with his daughter on the front door step of their house.
010 Papa (back) et Josette (front)
Nicolas playing with his daughter (front) and another little girl in front of their house.

Ten months later Nicolas and Marcelle’s only daughter was born. Seen here with her father on the front step of their house (left) and playing with her dog on wheels in front of their house (below).

Nicolas, Plumber and Tinsmith

Nicolas was a master plumber and had his own business. In the 1930s he worked on the gutter of the hospital in Echternach. Little did he know that by the beginning of the next decade he would be a patient in this hospital and it would be the place of his death.

1930s Nicolas Wildinger far right
Nicolas WILDINGER (far right) working as a tinsmith, fixing the gutter of the hospital in Echternach in the 1930s.
2015-01-23hospicecivilechternach
Front view of the “Spidol” or Hospice Civil as it is known today. Photo used with permission © Egon Meder.

Nicolas WILDINGER advertised his plumbing (sanitary  installations) and tinsmith business on this Sphinx Sanitary Ware ashtray.

MRIN01117 Nicolas Wildinger de Sphinx collage
Photo used with permission © Egon Meder.

Marcelle Becomes a Widow

Nicolas, diagnosed with tuberculosis, did not have many years to play with his young daughterOn 10 May 1940 German troops marched into and occupied Luxembourg. The Germans insisted on the people of Luxembourg changing their names to the German equivalent of their French sounding names. Marie Marcelle FOURNELLE bacause Maria Marzella WILDINGER (née FOURNELLE). She signed the death record of her husband Nicolas with this name when she reported his death on 25 October 1941. Nicolas died at 9:40 the evening of the 24th of October in the Bürgerhospital at Oberhoveleck 2, in Echternach. The civil servant who filled out the death record knew (as noted on the record) Marcelle who said that she was present at the time of her husband’s death. Also seen on the record is the date of marriage of the deceased as well as the number and location of the marriage record. This was cross-referenced in the margin of the marriage record as seen above.

MRIN01117 1941 Nicolas Wildinger death
1941 Death Record No. 49 [6]

Life Continues in German Occupied Luxembourg

Amulette from WWII 1 front
Spéngelskrich or “War of the Pins” amulette

As mentioned earlier, German troops marched into and occupied Luxembourg on 10 May 1940. Nicolas’ widow Marcelle would have been a wonderful subject for last week’s theme – a tough woman. I wrote a short piece on her last year: Fearless Females: Bomi’s Resistance Amulette. This was one of the most interesting times during her life. Please take a few minutes to read more about my grandmother and her Spéngelskrich amulette.

plaque
In memory of the evacuation of the city of Echternach on 6 October 1944. Photo used with permission © Egon Meder.

On 6 October 1944 the Germans occupying Echternach announced that the people of Echternach must leave the town at 11:00 in the morning. Everyone was to take the same route towards Osweiler where they were met by American soldiers waiting to move into Echternach. The people of Echternach continued their journey on foot pulling wagons with their belongings or in wagons pulled by horses to Bech. Marcelle WILDINGER-FOURNELLE was travelling with her 8 years old daughter and her 73 years old father Joseph FOURNELLE. They remained in Bech a week or two. From there families moved on to places where they had relatives or friends in other parts of Luxembourg. Marcelle, her daughter and her father were in Helmdange for a short period of time and then joined a family who had relatives in the Lorentzweiler area.

Echternach in Ruins But No Longer Occupied by Germans

“During the Battle of the Bulge Dec. 1944 this place was heroically defended by soldiers of E-Comp. 12th Regt. 4th U.S. Inf. Div. Their sacrifice delayed the enemy advance and contributed to the final victory we shall remember.” Photo used with permission © Egon Meder.

They stayed in Lorentzweiler until May of 1945 when they returned to Echternach, a town that lay in ruins. The living room of Marcelle’s home became a reading room for the American officer in Echternach. Diagonally across the street is a plaque commemorating the soldiers.

May 20th was Pentecost and on Tuesday May 22nd was the famous religious procession through the streets of Echternach. The basilica had been destroyed by the Germans on the 26th of December 1944 so the procession ended in the Peter and Paul Church (alten Pfarrkirche). Marcelle’s daughter and the other children her age had missed making their First Communion on the Sunday after Easter as they had not yet returned to Echternach on the 8th of April. They had to wait until 22 July 1945 to receive the sacrament in the Peter and Paul Church instead in the basilica which had to be rebuilt. The rebuilding was finally finished on 20 September 1953.

Marcelle, Works as a Seamstress and Runs a B & B

Marcelle with her daughter, ca. 1942.

Life continued after the war. Marcelle worked from home as a seamstress. Later she supplemented her tiny income by taking in tourists. When her husband was still living he had installed sinks in every one of the 6 bedrooms in the house. She would serve breakfast in the living room that had once served as a meeting place for neighbors during German occupation and later as the reading room for the American officers.

1975-01-21 Granddaddy, Grandma, Mom, Bomi
Fred and Myrtle DEMPSEY, the day after their 52nd wedding anniversary, with Marcelle FOURNELLE and her daughter at the construction site of the New River Bridge in West Virginia.

In  1957 her daughter married an American G.I. Fred Roosevelt DEMPSEY stationed at Bitburg A.F.B. in Germany. Marcelle had only her elderly father living with her when the young couple moved to the United States. Although she was only 31 years old at the time of her husband’s death she had never remarried. In 1958, a month after the birth of her first grand-child, her father died. She saw her daughter only when her son-in-law was stationed in Europe. Marcelle made one trip to America to visit her recently widowed daughter and her son-in-law’s parents, Fred Rothwell DEMPSEY and Myrtle Hazel ROOP. Her daughter returned to Echternach with her children to be near her mother that year.

1971-05-020 Luxembourg
Marcelle Fournelle in 1971.

Twenty-five Lost Years

And this is where the story becomes difficult and maybe biased as it is from my point of view. Marcelle, my Bomi, had become a very independent woman and had always been set in her ways. It was not easy for her to have her widowed daughter and five children in her home. And it was not easy for her daughter and her children to live with a woman who was used to getting her own way. Although there was plenty of room in the house her daughter made the decision to move into a home of her own.

Bomi cut ties between us, my mother and I, because we had met men we were interested in. I wonder if she may have regretted never having remarried. Bomi, my grandmother and godmother, was a very stubborn woman. My mother and I had no contact with her for 25 years. And we married the men who were indirectly the reason for her refusing to speak to us.

One of my brothers, who had remained contact with Bomi, was in the military and stationed in Germany in the late 1990s. When he knew that he would be transferred Stateside he sat down with Bomi. He explained that since she was now over 90 she would have to forget her pride and, after he left, accept help from her daughter and grandchildren who lived in Echternach. She loved him dearly, her favorite grandchild. She said that she would if her daughter would.

Making Up For Lost Time

On Thursdays my mother and I met at the supermarket while doing our shopping. One day Bomi was with her. I came in through the back, they came in through the front, and we met inside. I had been expecting this meeting and my heart was pounding. And what does she say to me after 25 years? “Cathy, I see you won the supermarket contest, 121 bottles of wine. Congratulations!”

What? She had seen a sign in the supermarket with a list of winners when they came in. I had no idea that I had won but it broke the ice. We would meet like this every Thursday, sometimes going back to her house for a few minutes.

Christmas Eve 2001
Christmas Eve 2001

But she did not come to our house until my husband got up the courage to visit her on his own. And he did a good job of pulling her into a plot – removing most of the animosity between them. She loved playing jokes on people. They plotted on surprising us, my Mom and I, by Bomi’s coming to dinner on Christmas Eve at our house. It worked and I believe my husband earned her respect, a respect she should have shown him, and me, when they first met.

My children got to know their great-grandmother who they called Bomi-Bomi since my mother was already their Bomi. They loved listening to her tell the stories from the “old days.”

In 2004 Bomi was diagnosed with cancer of the esophagus. When she had to be hopitalized the headstrong woman did not make it easy for the nurses caring for her. As she needed full time care she was put on the waiting list of the nursing home  “Am Schleeschen” in Echternach. It is interesting to note how the home got it’s name – since it is part of her past. During World War II when the Germans occupied Echternach they had their offices in the old building of the present complex. Christian Stock who performed the duties of mayor (Amtsbürgermeister) proudly said “Das ist mein Schlösschen” or This is my castle.” This reminded me of a story Bomi told us. One night she helped three men hang the Luxembourgish flag on the gates of Stock’s Schlösschen during the German occupation – a grave offense if they had been caught. She would never divulge the men’s names even after they had all passed away.

Marie Marcelle FOURNELLE died in her sleep on 24 January 2005 in the nursing home “Am Schleeschen” in Echternach, were she had been a resident for only a few days, at the age of 95 years, 7 months, 10 days.

MRIN01117 Fournelle grave
FOURNELLE family grave
MRIN01117 Wildinger grave
WILDINGER family grave

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sources:
[1] 1935 Marriage Record No. 13, photocopy of original page in the marriage book at the records office at the city hall in Echternach obtained 21 Jun 1996.
[2] Commune d’Echternach Nr. 13/1935, Wildinger-Fournelle Family Book. This is an official document given to the bride and groom at the time of their civil marriage. It is used to record births, christenings, and deaths of children as well as death of one or the other spouse. Scanned copy of the original, in possession of their daughter.
[3] Luxembourg, Registres d’état civil, 1793-1923 (images), FamilySearch, Echternach > Naissances 1903-1923 Mariages 1895-1905 > image 176 of 604. “1909 Birth Record No. 41.” (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1942-32040-10270-1?cc=1709358&wc=M9M6-2V1 : accessed 15 January 2015), (original records at Luxembourg National Archives, Plateau du Saint-Esprit, Luxembourg).
[4] 1935 Marriage Record No. 13, photocopy of original page in the marriage book at the records office at the city hall in Echternach obtained 21 Jun 1996.
[5] Mémorial du Grand-Duché de Luxembourg, No. 48, pg. 260, 23 June 1936. Online http://www.legilux.public.lu/leg/a/archives/1936/0048/a048.pdf : accessed 23 Jan 2015.
[6] 1941 Death Record No. 49, photocopy of original page in the death register at the records office at the city hall in Echternach obtained 10 July 1996.

Genealogy Sketch

Name: Marie Marcelle FOURNELLE
Parents: Jean Joseph FOURNELLE and Catharina FRANTZ
Spouse: Nicolas WILDINGER
Parents of spouse: Johann WILDINGER and Katharina Pöppelreiter
Children: Living (one)
Relationship to Cathy Meder-Dempsey: Maternal Grandmother

1. Marie Marcelle FOURNELLE
2. Mom
3. Cathy Meder-Dempsey

© 2015 Cathy Meder-Dempsey

52ancestors-2015This 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.