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.
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?
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).
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.
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.
Since first hearing this family tradition I’ve thought there was a murder mystery in my maternal family tree. And I’ve wanted to get to the bottom of it for the longest time. Records are not publicly available for the recent time period the supposed crime was committed. This post is meant to clear the name of my first cousin twice removed Maisy VESQUE.
Jean and Marie were the parents of ten children, two of whom died as babies. Their sixth child, daughter Paulina FRANTZ (1880-1966) married Johann Peter François VESQUE in 1910. They had only one known child, a daughter named Maisy who was born about 1913.
I have not been able to locate a birth record for her. Mamer where her mother was from, Contern where her father was from, and Rumelange where her father was living in 1910 when they married were searched to no avail. [Any help would be appreciated!]
UPDATE (26 September 2018): My friend Linda K. who has helped me out several times with finding records in Luxembourg, found Maisy’s birth record. She was born on 7 August 1912 in Rumelange. Her birth name was Maria Margaretha.1 Why I missed this record will be shared in my next post.
A family tradition told by my grandmother was that Maisy served time in prison for killing a man.
I believed the story must be true since it was told by my grandmother who was her first cousin and four years older than Maisy. However each time I searched the newspapers on eluxemburgensia, the Luxembourg National Library’s portal for their project to digitize Luxembourg periodicals, I came up empty. I had no idea when this event took place. I assumed Maisy would have to be an adult to serve time, i.e. between 1931-1969: from the age of 18 to the time of her death.
Recently I found a DNA match on MyHeritage whose most recent common ancestors (MRCA) to with my brother whose test I manage are Jean Baptiste MAJERUS and Catharina CORNELY, the grandparents of Marie MAJERUS, Maisy’s maternal grandmother.
In my first message to the match, I included the link to my article on the CORNELY-MAJERUS couple. Maisy’s story, although only a one-liner in another post, attracted the match’s attention since she has a family tradition that her great-grandfather may have been murdered while on a trip to Luxembourg. Neither of us had further information.
Maisy and the match’s great-grandfather’s wife were first cousins twice removed but Maisy was born after the husband’s death. The timeline doesn’t match up. Still, my curiosity was piqued. Once again I searched for any mention of Maisy VESQUE in the Luxembourg newspapers. An article, in a newspaper which was only recently added to the eluxemburgensia collection, was found about an incident which likely started the embellished family tradition.2
Translation of the French text:
Publication: L’indépendance luxembourgeoise Published: 30 December 1933 Title: Chronique Locale Towards the health home. – Yesterday, around 16 hours, a young person, named Maisy Vesque, 21, of Oetrange, came to the home of Mr. Robert Leesch, dentist, in Liberty Avenue. Without saying a word, she shot twice at the dentist’s assistant who opened the door. However, he was not hit. The municipal police were immediately requested, and the strange visitor took two more shots, which also failed. Since she was obviously a madwoman, the police immediately directed her to the health center in Ettelbruck.
Maisy was about twenty years old at the time. Whatever led her to take a gun to the dentist’s home and fire four shots is not mentioned in the article. I was relieved to learn she did not harm or kill anyone. The health center she was taken to in Ettelbruck was the neuro-psychiatric hospital. How long she remained there as an inmate or if she stood trial for her acts is not known.
Maisy never married and had no children. At the time of her death, she was a resident of Oetrange where her parents had made their home since their marriage and where she had been living at the time of the event. Her mother had been deceased a little over two years and her father five years when she passed away.
UPDATE (26 September 2018): The birth record found by Linda K. included the date and place of death in the margin. Maisy died on 24 April 1969 in Ettelbruck.
Pauline and Franz had one daughter Maisy who served time in prison for killing a man and never married.
I wrote this line in June 2015 and it is now time to retract the statement. There is no evidence to date which shows Maisy served time or killed a man. She attempted to do harm to the dentist or his assistant and then the police for an unknown reason. She may have been an inmate of the psychiatric ward but there is no proof she was in prison.
As genealogists and family historians, we can pass on the family traditions but whenever possible they should be proven when records are available. In this case, my grandmother is no longer alive to give me more information. I should have questioned her when she casually told me Maisy had been locked up for killing a man. Maybe she hadn’t meant prison and I was the one who unknowingly touched up the story.
Week 25 (June 18-24) – The Old Homestead:Have you visited an ancestral home? Do you have photos of an old family house? Do you have homesteading ancestors?
Homesteading, Ancestral Home, and a Famous Cousin
None of my American ancestors took advantage of the Homestead Act. But homesteading is not restricted to settling on goverment land and farming it. Homesteading was and is a lifestyle of self-sufficiency. The farther back we go in our families trees the more independent our ancestors were. They provided for themselves through farming, hunting, home preservation of foodstuffs, and, in the case of my 2nd great-granfather Jean FRANTZ, a linenweaver, the production of textiles.
While we are on the subject of homesteading and ancestral homes, when I was a child we visited a FRANTZ family in Mamer, Luxembourg, to watch a bicycle race. I have no idea if the house was lived in by my FRANTZ ancestors, i.e. an ancestral home.
At the time I was also unaware of the significance and the connections between FRANTZ, the town of Mamer and cycling. Family tradition, once we genealogists get involved, is often debunked. However the story of my grandmother being a cousin of the famous Tour de France winner was proven true. My grandmother Marie Marcelle FOURNELLE (1909-2005) and Nicolas FRANTZ (1899-1985) were 3rd cousins – not quite as close as the story told. Their common ancestors were Paulus FRANTZ (1763-1847) and his wife Susanne KEIFFER (1754-1808).
Nicolas FRANTZ took second place in the Tour de France in 1924 and 1926 and was the winner of the tour in 1927 and 1928. In 1928 Nicolas was the first, and to date only winner of the Tour de France, to wear the maillot jaune, the yellow jersey, during the entire 20 days of the race, from the first day, due to his being the previous year’s winner, to the last day.
Having a Tour de France winner as a cousin is amazing. Even more so is I actually enjoy the same sport he excelled in. This is quite a statement for a girl who did everything to get out of doing sports while growing up.
Jean “Johann” FRANTZ and Marie “Maria” MAJERUS
My 2nd great-grandfather Jean FRANTZ was born in Mamer on 3 December 1837 to Jean FRANTZ (1794-1880) and his wife Elisabeth “Elise” FRISCH (1800-1880). On 16 February 1870 he married Marie MAJERUS. Marie was born in Mamer on 19 June 1850 to Jean MAJERUS (1817-1887) and his wife Marie TRAUSCH (1820-1875).
The young couple lived with Marie’s parents in 1871 and with her widowed father in 1875. Census records indicate Marie was the only child of the MAJERUS-TRAUSCH couple. By 1880 Jean FRANTZ and his wife had their own household. Marie’s widowed father lived with them in 1880, 1885, and 1887. Jean and Marie continued to be enumerated as a family in Mamer in the census in 1890, 1895, and 1900. From 1858 to 1900 Jean’s occupation was a linen weaver. They lived in the “Brücke bis Weweschgâss” area of Mamer. At the time mostly farm land, today this is a residential area.
When Jean and Marie’s children married the occupation of the parents was consistently listed as farmers, Ackerer or Ackerleute, on the marriage records for the period 1892 to 1916.
When Jean died on 24 February 1929, in his 92nd year, his occupation was cultivateur or farmer in his obituary.
Jean was survived by his wife Mrs. Jean FRANTZ, née Marie MAJERUS; his children Mrs. Jos. FOURNELLE, née Cath. FRANTZ; Mrs. Paul GERSTEL, née Joséphine FRANTZ; Jean FRANTZ; Mrs. François VESQUE, née Pauline FRANTZ; Jean-Pierre FRANTZ; Mrs. Théophile HILBERT, née Marguerite FRANTZ; and Joseph FRANTZ.
His wife Marie died two years later, on 13 September 1931 in her 82nd year.
For Jean’s widow Marie, the same children were listed. Missing in both obituaries is the oldest daughter Marie FRANTZ who predeceased her parents. Suzanne MIETTE and Guy HOSTERT, listed after the children of Jean and Marie, were Marie FRANTZ’s children.
The FRANTZ Children
1. Marie FRANTZ 1871-bef. 1929
Marie FRANTZ was born 11 January 1871 in Mamer. She lived at home with her parents and siblings until about 1885 when she went to Metz, France, to work as a servant. In February 1887 she was still in Metz and by the next year, she took a position in Reims, France, where she was working in 1890. By 1895 she was no longer mentioned in her parents’ household on the census suggesting she married between 1891-1895. Her marriage to Eugène Léon MIETTE was found in the 2e Arrondissement of Paris. They were married on 21 June 1892 and divorced on 16 July 1906. They had a daughter Suzanne Léonide Jeanne Marie MIETTE born in 1895. After her divorce, Marie married Mr. (given names unknown) HOSTERT and had a son Guy HOSTERT who was photographed in Paris, France, at the time of his Communion in 1921. Marie died before 24 February 1929.
2. Catharine FRANTZ 1872-1934
Catharine FRANTZ, my great-grandmother, was born on 17 November 1872. She lived at home with her parents and siblings until about 1889 when she went to Arlon, Belgium, to work as a servant. Soon after December 1890, she began working in Reims, France, where she lived when the census was enumerated in December 1895. She was back home in Mamer on 9 July 1900 when she married Jean Joseph FOURNELLE, my great-grandfather. She went with her newlywed husband to live in Echternach where she raised three children. She died 16 March 1834 in Echternach.
3. Catharina Joséphine “Joséphine” FRANTZ 1874-aft. 1945
Catharina Joséphine FRANTZ was born 25 September 1874. She went by Joséphine. She lived at home with her parents and siblings until about 1893 when she went to work in Reims, France. She married Paul GERSTEL in 1900 and had two sons, Pierre and Jean. Her husband died before 24 February 1929. The family lived in Paris, France. Joséphine was living with her younger son Jean and his family on 1 January 1946. It is not known when she died.
4. Johann “Jean” FRANTZ 1876-1946
Johann FRANTZ was born 22 July 1876. He lived at home with her parents and siblings until about 1894 when he went to work in Reims, France. In December 1900 he had been in Esch-sur-Alzette for three months. A half a dozen years later he married Pauline VESQUE on 27 August 1906 in Contern. They had one daughter Daisy. Jean died 20 May 1946 in Dudelange. He was a retired postal worker decorated with the Order of the Oak Crown (l’Ordre Grand Ducal de la Couronne de Chêne). His wife Pauline died on 29 November 1956 in Hastière-Lavaux, Belgium.
5. Jean Pierre FRANTZ 1878-1879
Jean Pierre FRANTZ was born on 28 June 1878 and died 8 February 1879 at the home of his parents. He died at the age of 2/3 year per his death record.
6. Paulina “Pauline” FRANTZ 1880-1966
Paulina FRANTZ was born on 29 June 1880. In December 1880 when the census was enumerated she was listed as a son named Paul. She went by Pauline. She lived at home with her parents and siblings until about 1897 when she went to work in Reims, France. She may have lived with her sister Catharine and her family in Echternach around 1906 as she was included in a family portrait (seen above under #2). On 15 May 1910 Pauline married Johann Peter François “Franz” VESQUE. Franz worked for the railroad, Chemins de Fer Luxembourgeois. Pauline and Franz had one daughter Maisy who served time in prison for killing a man and never married. The family lived in Oetrange in the commune of Contern. Franz died 11 Feb 1964 in Oetrange and Pauline died 27 December 1966 in Luxembourg City. Their daughter Maisy died in April 1969.
7. Johann Peter FRANTZ 1882-1970
Johann Peter FRANTZ was born 14 October 1882. Johann Peter married Hélène KILL on 2 April 1913 in Mamer. They were the parents of three children: Jos, Paul, and Anna Maria. Their son Paul continued the family tradition of cycling. In 1936 he participated in the Olympic Games in Berlin, representing Luxembourg along with three other cyclists in the individual and team road race events. Johann Peter died 1 December 1970 in Luxembourg City. His widow Hélène died 12 October 1972, also in Luxembourg City.
8. Maria Margaretha “Marguerite” FRANTZ 1885-1977
Maria Margaretha FRANTZ was born 12 March 1885 in Mamer. She went by Marguerite. She married Johann Theophile “Théo” HILBERT on 25 October 1908 in Mamer. In 1915 their only daughter Margot Thea was born. Marguerite’s husband Théo was the driver of the car owned by Nicolas Frantz I (Tour de France winner) involved in two accidents in 1927, the first resulting in the death of a young boy and the second in the death of Nicolas Frantz II. Théo died 3 January 1946 in Mamer. His widow Marguerite died 22 March 1977 in Mamer.
9. Nicolas FRANTZ 1886-1886
Nicolas FRANTZ was born 16 April 1886. He lived only a month, dying on 18 May 1886 at his parents’ home in Mamer.
10. Johann-Joseph “Jos” FRANTZ 1888-1940
Johann-Joseph FRANTZ was born 4 September 1888. He married Marguerite BERWICK on 24 April 1916 in Mamer. They were the parents of two sons, Erny and Germain, born in Dudelange where the family lived. Johann-Joseph, also known as “Jos” was a teacher. He died 23 April 1940 in Dudelange. His widow Marguerite died seven months later on 28 November 1940.
New Lessons Learned
Without the photographs, newspaper clippings, thank you notes, funeral cards and other memorabilia saved by my maternal grandmother I would not have been able to tell their story in such detail.
Questions remain and may lead to new stories. I want to know more about Maisy VESQUE who served time in prison for killing a man. I’ve found newspaper articles about the deaths caused by Theo HILBERT when he was driving the car owned by Nicolas FRANTZ. A third question, I was able to answer and in doing so learned a new lesson.
I don’t know how many times I have asked myself who are “Mr Eugène Raymond, Mme, née Suzanne Miette et leur(s) enfant(s)” mentioned in Jean and Marie FRANTZ-MAJERUS’ obituaries? I knew Guy Hostert was the son of their deceased oldest daughter, Marie. Eugène or Suzanne had to be their grandchild and, since great-grandchildren were also mentioned, he or she had to have been born to one of the oldest daughters.
I don’t give up easily and the question took me to the online archives of the cities of Reims and Paris, France. Finding records in large cities is daunting. My persistence paid off. I found the records I needed to prove the relationship of Suzanne MIETTE and in doing so also learned how to use the Archives of Paris database.
If anyone is interested, feel free to leave a comment and I may write a post on how to use the Archives de Paris site.
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.