Fishing for Cousins: A New Cousin Adds a Twig to the KREMER Branch of the Family Tree

Monday morning I had a comment waiting to be approved on my post 52 Ancestors: #16 A Door Opens in the KREMER-WINANDY Brick Wall written nearly two years ago on 21 April 2017. The post on my husband’s 4th great-grandparents had attracted the interest of another researcher showing me once again that blogging is great cousin bait.

Elodie Kremer is passionate about genealogy and has also researched the KREMER family. In her comment, she said Nicolas KREMER (1797-1867) was her ancestor. I wrote about Nicolas, a son of the KREMER-WINANDY couple, in August 2015 in my post 52 Ancestors: #34 KREMER-FRIEDERICH Family – Using Substitutes to Tell Their Story.

In a follow-up comment, I learned Nicolas’ son Anton KREMER (1836-1918) is the common ancestor Elodie shares with my husband. Anton was her 3rd great-grandfather and my husband’s 2nd great-grandfather making them 3C1R (third cousins once removed). Elodie and my children are fourth cousins; their common ancestors are their 3rd great-grandparents Anton KREMER and Anna Maria MERKES. I wrote about this couple in May 2015 in my post 52 Ancestors: #18 The KREMER-MERKES Family of Bettendorf.

Twelve children were born into the KREMER-MERKES family between 1860 and 1878. Only five of these lived to adulthood. Elodie’s ancestor was their oldest child Nicolas born in 1860 while my husband and children descend from the youngest child who lived, also a Nicolas born in 1875. In between, there was Maria born in 1862, Mathias born in 1865, and Peter born in 1869.

When I wrote about the family in May 2015 I knew the elder Nicolas had worked in the mines and died in Rumelange, in southern Luxembourg on the French border, in 1895 at the age of 35. Per his death record, he was the widower of Margaretha NAU. The informants were Nicolas’ bother Mathias KREMER (1865-1945) and their uncle Mathias MERKES (their mother’s youngest brother).1

The only lead I had on Nicolas’ wife was the name found on his death record. I found no marriage in Luxembourg (using Luxracines‘ marriage database) and no children for Nicolas KREMER and Margaretha NAU born in Rumelange where the father worked and died. Records for Luxembourg are not indexed making it difficult to find births of children when families didn’t stay in one place and when the families have not been researched by others. As far as I could tell the elder Nicolas’ line ended with his death.

Elodie’s reaching out to me has solved the mystery of Nicolas KREMER (1860-1895) and has added a twig to the KREMER branch in our family tree.

Nicolas had a son Mathias born on 4 September 1890 to his wife Catharina NAU in Dudelange.2 The name given on Nicolas’ death record for his deceased wife was a mistake. I had searched for a death record for her with the wrong name. Nicolas’ wife Catharina NAU died 7 February 1892 at the age of 21.3 Her son Mathias was only seventeen months old.

1890 Baptismal Record of Mathias Kremer (here seen as Krämer). Image courtesy of Matricula Online.

Mathias was baptized on 7 September 1890. His godparents were his paternal uncle Mathias KREMER and a maternal aunt Anna NAU.4 His baptismal record is annotated with the date and place of his marriage as well as the name of his bride. Mathias married Catharina EICH on 11 December 1919 in Audun-le-Tiche, Moselle, Lorraine, France. The civil records for the département de la Moselle are not yet online for this period. The tables décennales (ten-year lists for BMD) are online and I found the date on the list to be 1 December 1919.5 (Something to look into…)

Mathias and Catharina were already parents of a son when they married. Their son Nicolas who was born on 19 November 1919 in Audun-le-Tiche and died in 1992 in Loudun, Vienne, Poitou-Charentes, France. Several GEDCOM files were found on Geneanet that include private living persons listed as siblings of this Nicolas. He had at least seven siblings, six of whom are married with children.6 Nicolas was Elodie’s grandfather.

Thanks to Elodie’s getting in touch through my Facebook page and by commenting on my post, another child of Anton KREMER and Anna Maria MERKES is known to have descendants.

At this time, only the fate of Peter born in 1869 is still unknown. Peter had been working in Esch-sur-Alzette for 18 months per his father’s 1890 census record.7 On the 1895 census record, he was found to be working in France – the actual place is not mentioned on the father’s census record.8 Normally only single children working away from home were listed in the parents’ census records in Luxembourg.

Elodie’s ancestor Nicolas (1860) was also listed as working away from home on his father’s 1890 and 1895 census. As I now know, he was not single at the time of either of the enumerations. When the 1890 census was taken on 1 December 1890 Nicolas was not only on his father’s census record but also enumerated in the Italian neighborhood of Dudelange in his own household with his wife and child. Also in Nicolas’ household was his mother-in-law Margaretha TIMMER who was not at home at the time and in Rumelange for the day on a visit.9

1890 Luxembourg Census for the KREMER-NAU family in Dudelange, Luxembourg.

If Nicolas was on his father’s census record when he should not have been, what does this mean for his brother Peter? Was he single in 1890 and/or in 1895? Could Anton have given information on his sons even though they were married and no longer his responsibility?

Serendipity

Hearing from Elodie not only pushed me to do new research on the KREMER family but also led me to another cousin. While checking FamilySearch for the records of Nicolas’ wife and son the site froze up on me. As I clicked around trying to solve the problem, I noticed a little red dot on the messages icon in the upper right corner. A researcher from Brazil had left a message for me on March 22 and I was only now seeing it two weeks later. Another one of my husband’s distant cousins from a line that had not been researched due to an unknown emigration in the 1820s.

Have you been reaching out to distant cousins or have distant cousins been getting in touch with you lately?

© 2020, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.


  1. Luxembourg, Registres d’état civil, 1662-1941 (images), FamilySearch (original records at Luxembourg National Archives, Plateau du Saint-Esprit, Luxembourg), Rumelange > Décès 1891-1923 > image 83 of 923. 1895 Death Record No. 80. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1971-32036-3166-12?cc=1709358&wc=9RTY-L23:130319501,130319502 : accessed 29 April 2015). 
  2. Ibid., Dudelange > Naissances 1888-1890 Mariages 1796-1890 Décès 1796-1840 > image 166 of 1477. 1890 Birth Record No. 151. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-DWY9-9ML?cc=1709358&wc=9RT1-K68%3A129625901%2C130271901 : accessed 6 April 2020). 
  3. Ibid., Rumelange > Décès 1891-1923 > image 7 of 923. 1892 Death Record No. 3. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-997J-T991?cc=1709358&wc=9RTY-L23%3A130319501%2C130319502 : accessed 7 April 2020). 
  4. Diözesanarchiv Luxemburg / Archives diocésaines Luxembourg (images), Matricula Online, http://data.matricula-online.eu/de/LU/luxemburg/, Creative Commons License CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 (original records in the Luxembourg Diocesan Archives, Luxembourg City), Microfilm/-fiche GV.MF 172-285, Dudelange, KB-09, Taufen – 1883 – 1890, page 167, image 85 of 89, right page, 1st entry. 1890 Baptismal Record. (http://data.matricula-online.eu/de/LU/luxemburg/duedelingen/KB-09/?pg=85 : accessed 9 April 2020). 
  5. Archives départementales de la Moselle (57), browsable images of microfilm collection of parish and civil records (online http://www.archivesnumerisees57.com/mdr/index.html), Document 9NUM/8E38/2, Tables décennales (1873-1952 ) Image 220: FRAD057_8E38_2_0220.jpg. Images from this site are free to use by the public per conditions viewed on 26 May 2019. Tables décennales (env 1792 – 1952) : Audun-le-Tiche (Deutschoth) 1 Dec 1919 Document Nr. 43. (http://www.archives57.com/index.php/recherches/archives-en-ligne/tables-decennales-des-departements-de-la-sarre-et-du-palatinat : accessed 7 April 2020). 
  6. Geneanet, several GEDCOM files: https://gw.geneanet.org/sergewendling?n=kremer&oc=&p=mathias; https://gw.geneanet.org/john86?n=kremer&oc=&p=mathias; https://gw.geneanet.org/fabricekremer?n=kremer&oc=&p=mathias 
  7. Luxembourg, Volkszählungen 1843-1900 (images), FamilySearch (original records at Luxembourg National Archives, Plateau du Saint-Esprit, Luxembourg), Bettendorf > 1890 > images 563-565 of 778. Kremer-Merkes household No. 1. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1971-32393-3622-67?cc=2037957&wc=M5GC-YWB:346114101,345876401 : accessed 11 February 2015). 
  8. Ibid., Bettendorf > 1895 > images 303-305 of 810. Kremer-Merkes household No. 3. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1942-32467-11113-98?cc=2037957&wc=M5GD-FM4:346114101,345878001 : accessed 11 February 2015). 
  9. Ibid., Dudelange > 1890 > images 510-512 of 1971. 1890 Nicolas Kremer household. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-8971-P7GX?cc=2037957&wc=M5G4-3YS%3A345975601%2C345876401 : accessed 7 April 2020). 

Lëtz Research – When A Record Doesn’t Want to be Found

Why Lëtz Research? Luxembourg is known as Lëtzebuerg by Luxembourgers (Lëtzebuerger) and this is about genealogy research in/for Luxembourg. So instead of Let’s Research…

Lëtz Research!

Genealogists who have Luxembourg ancestry are fortunate in that FamilySearch has the digital images online of civil records, church records, census records, and notarial records. Nearly all of these are image-only, i.e. have not been indexed and are browse-only.

Birth, marriage, and death records found in the civil records collection are the first and easiest to research. Although volunteers are working on them, only a little more than 100,000 of these records have been indexed. The birth and death records have four records per image while the marriage records have two records per image. There are 716,518 images. Let’s assume an average of three records per image = over two million records which need to be indexed.

There’s no need to wait until indexing is finished. Even if the collections have not been digitally indexed, there are internal indexes which can be used to find records. This is the case for most collections no matter where the location. For example, will books in U.S. counties usually have an index at the front or back of the book. Clerks did not have search engines back when…so they created a list of names so they wouldn’t have to page through registers.

Index for Year

For Luxembourg after the civil records were produced the town secretary made an alphabetical index at year’s end and included it in the registers (birth, marriage, and death) at the end of the year’s records. These are most helpful when you know the date and place of an event.

Tables Décennales

If a family lived in a town for a long period of time and had, let’s say, a dozen children there is an easier way to search for the births records.

To further simplify a search, the clerks also created lists at the end of a ten-year period called tables décennales (TD). They begin in 1803. Created in alphabetical order they are arranged in order: birth, marriage, and death for the periods 1803-1812, 1813-1822, 1823-1832, etc. to 1922 the last publicly available year. The lists include the name of the person as well as the date of the event. Marriages are in alphabetical order by the surname of the groom only.

Like the yearly index which was done at the end of the year, the ten-year index was created at the end of the ten-year period. One peculiarity of both the one-year and the ten-year indexes is that they were usually used the French version of the person’s first name. Peter’s birth record may have been created for Peter while the index has the name as Pierre (Katharina=Catherine). Most names are similar in German and French, however, there are some names which can cause a bit of head scratching. For example, Stephan (German) and Etienne (French) or Wilhelm/Guillaume. This is further complicated by the old handwriting they used.

As with all indexing, there is the possibility of a mix-up in names or dates in the ten-year lists. Some may not be in perfect alphabetical order. When I’m searching for a name in the tables décennales, I always take this into consideration.

When an Index Isn’t Good Enough

Recently while working on my post, Retraction of Allegations Made Against Maisy Vesque (1913-1969), another peculiarity of the tables décennales was brought to my attention. Something we should all be aware of with any index (handwritten or digital) we are working with – an omission! We may all know this but do we always remember this may be the case?

Tables décennales for Rumelange in 1903-1912

I had checked the tables décennales for the birth of Maisy VESQUE around 1913 in Rumelange as this was the town her father lived and worked in when he married her mother in 1910. I checked 1903-1912 and 1913-1922 as I had only an estimated birth in 1913. Maisy, as I well knew, is a nickname so I was looking for any female child with the surname VESQUE. None were found. (see image above for 1903-1912)1

With A Little Help from a Friend

In my retraction post, I included a plea for help. My friend Linda K., who has come to my rescue several times, took the bait. She emailed me the date of birth and birth name. I immediately checked the TD (tables décennales) to see why I had missed it. It had been omitted from the list (see image above) but was found on the 1912 birth records’ index (below).

1912 Index of births in Rumelange

The record for Maria Margaretha VESQUE was easily found with the record number 107 found in the index.2 The birth record3 also included the date and place of death of the child as well as the record number in the margin which would make it easy to locate the death record – if it did not fall under the 100-year law for civil records.

1912 Birth Record No. 107 for Maria Margaretha Vesque

A closer look at the document made me wonder if the clerk might have NOT completely filled out the record at the time the father came to report the birth and sign the record. Information appears to have been pencilled in and written over.

The lesson I learned was to check the yearly indexes even when a record is not indexed in the ten-year index as an omission is possible. The title of this post: When a record doesn’t want to be found could also read When we don’t do a thorough search to find a record. Sometimes we need to try harder to find them or admit we need help and ask for it.

© 2018, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.


  1.  “Luxembourg, Registres d’état civil, 1796-1941,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L97V-9BCK?cc=1709358&wc=9RTB-ZN1%3A130319501%2C130692102 : accessed 26 September 2018), Rumelange > Tables décennales 1883-1922 > image 109 of 220; Archives nationales de Luxembourg (National Archives), Luxembourg. 
  2. Ibid., (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-897V-9YM9?cc=1709358&wc=9RTB-ZNL%3A130319501%2C130499501 : accessed 26 June 2018), Rumelange > Naissances 1898-1912 > image 786 of 789; Archives nationales de Luxembourg (National Archives), Luxembourg. 
  3.  Ibid., (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-897V-956R?cc=1709358&wc=9RTB-ZNL%3A130319501%2C130499501 : accessed 26 June 2018), Rumelange > Naissances 1898-1912 > image 763 of 789; Archives nationales de Luxembourg (National Archives), Luxembourg.