I Hit the Jackpot with Four Births and a Death!

or How to use the (online) Municipal Archives in Metz, France

Things have been a lot busier than normal for me since the New Year. I haven’t had the time to go to my WordPress Reader and read the blogs I usually follow. Luckily most of my favorite bloggers use Facebook, Google, and Twitter and I see them as I go through my feeds. A few days ago I had a bit of time and began reading the most recent (unread) posts on my Reader.

I follow Laura Aanenson’s where2look4ancestors. In her post Catherine Brun; My 6th Great-Grandmother she mentioned her favorite French website to go to and wrote:

Then a funny thing happened.

The Moselle Departmental web site was completely revamped!

This is a site I’ve used and it’s bookmarked on my Firefox toolbar as 57, the number the department is known by. Less than two months ago I consulted the site when working on  52 Ancestors: #47 The SCHLOESSER-CONSBRÜCK Family. I wrote:

It wasn’t very sporting of my 3rd great-grandfather Johann Joseph SCHLOESSER to spend the last years of his life in Metz, France. It’s not fair he chose to work, live, marry, have children, and die in Metz. You ask why?

While most French departmental archives I’ve consulted have civil records online, at this time, the Archives départementales de la Moselle doesn’t. They have the Tables décennales from 1792 to 1952 (10 years lists of births, marriages, deaths) and the pre-1792 parish records online but no vital records.

There may be a light at the end of the tunnel as an article I found online suggests they were to go online before 2015. On the Archives de la Moselle homepage there is a message which translates: Gradually, the microfilms of vital records will be unavailable from 17 November 2015. Users are advised to inquire before planning a trip to the archives. None online and may not be available in the archives? Hopefully this means they are pulling the microfilms to make digital copies for the internet. I’ve subscribed to their newsletter so I won’t miss the big announcement when they go online. I promise to be a good sport until they do!

So far I haven’t received any newsletters but thanks to Laura’s post I went to the site for a quick look around. I clicked on: Recherches > Archives en Ligne > Registres Parroissiaux > Concernant Metz et ses nombreuses paroisses. I was surprised to find a notice about the municipal and departmental archives being complementary and only the images of the departmental archives were on the 57 site.

For the municipal archives of the city of Metz I followed their link which took me to the Ville de Metz – Archives Municipals. I had to jump through more than a few hoops before I got to the page which took me to the records I was interested in. The site is entirely in French (I did not find a Translate button) so I’d like to share with you how I found my way to the records.

How to get from A to B on the City of Metz’s Archives Municipals Site

Click 1
Click 2
Click 3
Click 4
Click 5 to open parish & civil records and ten years lists.
Click 6 to open the registers of the civil records.
Click 7 to choose the civil records for Metz.
Click 8: scroll down to correct year and click Etat-civil 1840-1842.
Click 9 until….

This is where it starts getting interesting. Metz was divided into 5 sections so there are 5 batches of birth, marriage and death records for each year. I was searching for Jean Joseph SCHLOESSER’s death record. I knew from the 10 years lists (Tables Décennale) that he died on 24 November 1841 in Metz but not which part of Metz. We can leave out a few clicks here (I checked section 1, then section 2 and would have continued through 5).

Note: If at this point you realize you are not in the right time period and you use your back button or their Page précédente button to go back to the Plan de classement des Registres you will have to repeat clicks 5 through 8 as the list collapses when you go back.

Click 10 to see the death register for section 2 of Metz for the year 1841.
Click 11 and 12

Click 11: Most registers have an index at the end. The site is not slow but it’s faster to click on 1 (see image above) and choose the last or second to last image to get to the end of the book. Click 12: After choosing the image number you have to click on 2 (see image), an “eye” to view the image.

metz12smThis is a screenshot of the the 2nd to last page (zoomed and pixelated*) in the register of deaths for 1841. The index shows my 3rd great-grandfather’s death record is number 194. Since he died the end of November I chose a page I thought would be in the area and then went forward/backwards until I found record number 194. This is similar to using images on FamilySearch (before their new feature was added) where you had to “play the numbers” to get to the page you were looking for.

*Due to the terms and conditions of the archives a license (free) must be obtained for non-commercial online use of images. I have pixelated parts of the index page to be on the safe side since I have not applied for a license.

After finding my 3rd great-grandfather’s death record I went on to search for the birth records of his four daughters who were born in section 2 of Metz in 1836, 1838, 1840, and 1841.

Now the work begins. I’ve picked out the most important items in the records (to be sure they are for the correct individuals) but a full transcriptions of each might turn up some little known clue. On item I found very interesting was the name of the street the family lived on was mentioned in each record. I’ve already taken a virtual visit of the street, rue Saulnerie in Metz, courtesy of a French blogger, Marc de Metz.

Un grand merci à Laura Aanenson for mentioning her favorite French website where I found the information about the Municipal Archives of Metz!

© 2016 Cathy Meder-Dempsey

The New FamilySearch – I’m loving it!

Yesterday morning I had a scare, a BIG scare. The Download button on the FamilySearch site had disappeared on me. No, I didn’t think to get a screenshot!

I planned on digging up some FOURNELLE death records in a particular town in Luxembourg. For each person I was going to find the record, cite it correctly in my genealogy program AncestralQuest 14, download the image giving it a new name (MRIN# year name type), attach it to the source citation and add it to the scrapbook of the individual.

The plan was good until I found the first record and went to download it. To make a long story short, FamilySearch is still working on getting their New and Better site working, and six hours later the Download button was back along with the Print button which I didn’t miss since I never use print. The Tools button had been there the entire time but did not work.

FS1As I have the links to the databases for Luxembourg bookmarked I don’t go through FamilySearch’s front door and missed the banner at the top announcing maintenance being done November 11 through 13. It was only November 10th!

I clicked all over the place (in panic mode) looking for the Download button and got to know the New FamilySearch a bit better. I continued my research, adding citations, tagging each individual and adding an item to the Research Manager to get the image of each document (later). A few steps more than usual but time well used.

They’ve made it so much easier to browse through the non-indexed records. Let me show you what I mean.FS6I’m using an example from the Luxembourg Civil Registration, 1662-1941. The collection is divided up by communes and then different groups of records (above). For Pétange there are 16 and not 17 sub groups of records. One group has such a long name it is seen at the bottom of one column and at the top of the next. This is a quirk which could be corrected so as to not cause confusion.

FS2I clicked on Décès 1859-1890. As the collection is browse only and not indexed there is no information available at the bottom of the screen. To view all images in the collection, click on the button at the left of the image.FS3aThey may still be tweaking here and there. When I wrote this the double click did not work. After posting I went back in to use the records and sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t.

I’ve been working with the civil records for Luxembourg since they went online. I had to play the hot/cold game to zoom in on the year and record. With the small images of the pages I can now tell where a year ends and another begins.

FS4I click on an image of a page with an index and View single image icon. On the page I and can quickly find a name in the alphabetical index the clerk added to the back of the records for that year with the number given to the record.

FS3The record I want to find is #6. I go back to the small images. In this example there are only 5 images for the year 1860. Record No. 1 is always on the lower right of the first image for the year followed by 4 records on each of the next images, i.e. 2 thru 5, 6 thru 9, 10 thru 13, etc. In later years, as the population grew, there are years where there were 50 to 80 or even more than a 100 records per year. With 100 you know there are at least 26 images for the year. The example I’m using has only 496 images while around 1500 is the norm.

FS5I clicked on the third image for 1860 and found Death Record #6 is in the upper left hand corner. After checking the information in the record, I click on Information at the bottom to open the source citation. After I copy and tweak the citation to the event for the individual in my database, I download the image using the Download button.

Seeing the entire collection in the small images lets me go from one index to the next without having to click through image by image or jumping a certain number of images  forward or backwards until I find what I am looking for.

FS7FamilySearch was often (I don’t want to say always) very slow loading the images but this has changed! FS has also gotten FASTER loading the images. This is going to save me and YOU so much time.

bestwishescathy1© 2015 Cathy Meder-Dempsey



How I write my 52 Ancestors posts in 4 easy lessons (4)

Schalene Jennings Dagutis of Tangled Roots and Trees and I made a deal. I would write about how I keep everyone straight while writing my 52 Ancestors post and she would tell me how to find a book on the minutes of the annual conferences of the Methodist church.

Part 4 – Pulling it all together

I was joking in part 3 about sending the post to my editor.
It isn’t ready for anyone to see – yet.

Most of the writing is done. Before reading through the entire post for the first time, to be sure it flows the way I want it to flow, there are a few things I do first:

  1. Images: choose size, position, add captions, and check the box to open link in another window/tab
  2. Sources: edit the sources generated with the timeline and add any new sources used while writing
  3. Links: add links to online information and other blogposts (children or parents)
  4. Format: check to see if the text format is consistent
  5. Tags: add surnames, places, etc.
  6. Preview: use the preview feature to check images, sources, format, tags in post and test all links

saveThe post now looks the way I want it to look but does it read the way I want it to read?

splitFor the first read through of the post I have two tabs open (split screen) – one for the editing window and one for the Preview version of the post. If I stay in editing mode I keep rewriting or will go off searching for something to add. In the Preview version I stick to reading, only moving to the editing tab/screen if there is a spelling error or a sentence needs to be fixed.

The second time I read through the blogpost I try to read it outloud (in my head). This forces me to read each word and helps me to notice the little typos or mistake that are missed during speed reading. I know that I’ve been mumbling the text when my husband asks, “Aren’t they doing what you want them to do?” or “Who’s giving you problems now?”

One last read through and it’s ready to publish.

publishI hope you’ve enjoyed reading about how I write my 52 Ancestors blogposts. I’d love to hear what you might do differently.

Part 1 – Preparation
Part 2 – Gathering my eggs
Part 3 – It’s time to write
Part 4 – Pulling it together

© 2014 Cathy Meder-Dempsey

How I write my 52 Ancestors posts in 4 easy lessons (3)

Schalene Jennings Dagutis of Tangled Roots and Trees and I made a deal. I would write about how I keep everyone straight while writing my 52 Ancestors post and she would tell me how to find a book on the minutes of the annual conferences of the Methodist church.

Part 3 – It’s time to write

When I was in high school (Spirit of ’76) we were taught to draw up an outline, keep notes and sources on index cards, and use both to write. There might have been more to it but that’s what stuck.

Everyone has their own way of writing. I’m not saying mine is better, only that this is what works best for me with the 52 Ancestors posts.

For this particular challenge my blogposts on my ancestors are quite long as I want to include everything I have about their lives. Several family members are hoping to see it in book form when the challenge is over.

The way they are planned I know that I will be doing the wife of the ancestor the following week so I have to decide what I want to include in the first and what to save for the second. Depending on which spouse lived longer I might concentrate more on the children in the post of the spouse who lived the longest.

The timeline is my outline and, being in chronological order, I can work my way through the ancestor’s life without losing tract of the time period. Before I begin to write I choose the images I want to include in the post and add them to the rough draft of the timeline. Seeing the images helps keep me focused on what I want to write.

Screenshot of part of the timeline with notes that have been added to the draft for Week #37
Screenshot of some of the images (thumbnails) that I plan to use in my Week #37 post.


When I begin to write I don’t necessarily start at the beginning and work forward. Instead of shuffling index cards, I write a few thoughts or sentences for the major events in the timeline. Adding muscle to the bones.

Draft of my blogpost for Week #37 with bulleted list of siblings.

The siblings of my ancestor are secondary characters and to highlight them I sometimes use a bulleted list for their births. This way they are listed together and can be easily referred to when mentioned later in the narrative. While I’m writing I might decide that I want to include more or less on the siblings. It all depends on how I feel they influenced my ancestor.

saveI don’t write my posts in one sitting. When I’m writing I find questions cropping up that need to be answered. I save my draft (I do this often, just in case) and search for whatever is bothering me. If I find something new I add the link in the text or note the source in the list that was generated with the timeline.

If I get stuck or frustrated about how it’s going I switch gears. I might check on the images I want to use in the post or make screen shots of this or that document. Or I’ll do something else, away from my laptop.

saveOccasionally I have problems writing a post and I’ll ignore it for a day or two. This is not a full time job although sometimes the ancestor may think otherwise. I try to plan several blocks of time during the week prior to the deadline so that I can work on my posts.

When time starts to run short, I switch gears again, and hope that nothing will get in the way of the speeding train. I work good (or is it well? – need to check the grammar while writing) under pressure and deadlines are an incentive.

saveParts of the timeline are deleted as paragraphs are written and finally the post more or less flows. And then it’s time for my editor to join in on the fun. 

Part 1 – Preparation
Part 2 – Gathering my eggs
Part 3 – It’s time to write
Part 4 – Pulling it together

© 2014 Cathy Meder-Dempsey

How I write my 52 Ancestors posts in 4 easy lessons (2)

Schalene Jennings Dagutis of Tangled Roots and Trees and I made a deal. I would write about how I keep everyone straight while writing my 52 Ancestors post and she would tell me how to find a book on the minutes of the annual conferences of the Methodist church. I found the book on my own but I’m sticking to the deal.

Part 2 – Gathering my eggs

Once upon a time, I worked for an American bank’s branch office in Luxembourg. First in the back office and later as a credit analyst. The skills I developed while working there have benefited my genealogy research. Organization had top priority, always. Much time was spent filing “things” as soon as they hit the desk. I did a lot of copying and pasting – before we had computers. Although I enjoyed the work, I no longer want to keep paper files unless absolutely necessary. The discipline I learned helps me keep my digital genealogy research organized.

Before I begin to write I gather all my eggs in one basket! This means being sure that everything that has been researched has been inputted into my genealogy software, Ancestral Quest 14. Legacy, Family Tree Maker, and Rootsmagic have similar features. I’ve used AQ for over 10 years and am very happy with what I can do with it and what it can do for me.

Family view on AncestralQuest 14

I check the ancestor’s parents and siblings for any missing information. Then I do the same for his wife/her husband and children. I want all events covered for the three generations before I can go on to the next step. I have to admit that I do not use the full potential of AQ when it comes to Events as I have favored the Notes section (below) for census listings, etc. for many years. [I’m working on this!]

Notes window in AncestralQuest 14.

I then generate a timeline which includes parents, siblings, and children with their events; notes* for the main individual, notes for marriage, and sources. The genealogy software will allow you to choose how much or how little you want included in the timeline.
*I’ve always kept notes for all individuals in my database are in chronological order – similar to a story line.

Timeline view on AncestralQuest 14

AQ14 gives me a choice between a pdf or a text file. I copy the entire text of the pdf and insert it into my blogpost. The notes, which are at the end of the timeline, are then moved up into the right time period on the timeline. Sources can stay at the bottom for the time being. [Did I mention that I used to do a lot of copying and pasting?]

Part 1 – Preparation
Part 2 – Gathering my eggs
Part 3 – It’s time to write
Part 4 – Pulling it together

© 2014 Cathy Meder-Dempsey


How I write my 52 Ancestors posts in 4 easy lessons (1)

Schalene Jennings Dagutis of Tangled Roots and Trees and I made a deal. I would write about how I keep everyone straight while writing my 52 Ancestors posts and she would tell me how to find a book on the minutes of the annual conferences of the Methodist church. I found the book on my own but I’m sticking to the deal.

Part 1 – Preparation

When I started the Amy Johnson Crow’s Challenge: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks I had a plan. I decided to do only my paternal line; working my way back – starting with my father, grandparents, great-grandparents, etc. They are all scheduled – to the end of the year.


#1 Fred Roosevelt DEMPSEY


The first thing I did was to start a post for each ancestor. Title [#, name, years born and died], the blurb about the challenge, and the image I use:


Blurb about the challenge and my image

When I begin writing about the ancestor who is next in line, the draft is ready and waiting.

Part 1 – Preparation
Part 2 – Gathering my eggs
Part 3 – It’s time to write
Part 4 – Pulling it together

© 2014 Cathy Meder-Dempsey