The lecture was organized by my local genealogy association luxracines.lu. Prof. Dr. Peter GILLES explained in his lecture the procedure and results of several years of research. The project was supported by the Luxembourg National Research Fund (FNR) from 2009-2012 at the University of Luxembourg. The 2600 most frequent family names were published in Luxemburger Familiennamenbuch by Cristian Kollmann, Peter Gilles and Claire Muller in 2016. I have a copy of the book and mentioned it in my post How a Surname Had Me Spiraling Down a Rabbit Hole.
The PREISEN surname is unusual and, with the evolution of surnames on my mind, I wanted to add an unexpected end to this family’s story.
When Thomas, the father of this family, was baptized in 1753 his surname was spelled PREISER. When he married in 1779, the record showed the spelling PREUSEN. When his children were born between 1779 and 1799, PREISEN and PREUSEN were seen on the baptismal records. When Thomas died in 1801, PREUSEN was the spelling used by all of his children. By 1880, the descendants had gone back to using the PREISEN spelling.
The three sons of Thomas and Anna Maria who married, each had 8 to 9 children but only one son each. Peter and Joseph’s sons both lived to the age of 80 but never married.
Anton’s son had a son who had a son who had a son…
Anton was the only son of Thomas and Anna Maria who continued the male line, the line which kept the surname alive. Anton had a son:
Philippe (1822-1883) who had a son
Michel (1852-1945) who had a son
Michel Philippe (1889-1975) who had a son
Jean Pierre Christophe (1915-1944), known as Jempy to the family and friends.
There were no other male descendants other than Anton’s son, grandson, great-grandson, and great-great-grandson. Jempy was the last male PREISEN in the line.
Jempy died at the age of 28 years as the result of an accident. What terrible “accident” took his life?
Diekirch – Jempy Preisen † . The city of Diekirch has endured four years the Nazi tyranny and oppression with a strong heart and unflinching will. No wonder the day of our deliverance, September 11th, was a day of joy, enthusiasm, and rejoicing. Unfortunately, the victorious goddess demanded a sacrificial prize in the person of the 28-year-old Jempy PREISEN from Diekirch. This member of the Luxemburgish Freedom Organization was shot by a cowardly national traitor during the cleansing of our city. Jempy was always a noble friend to us all, animated by an ardent patriotism; it was rightly said of him: How tall stand today the women and men who did so much for our homeland — who like those from other large countries, put their lives on the line. The general interest of the town and the surrounding region of Diekirch may be a quiet consolation for the respectable PREISEN-THILLEN family, who have now sacrificed their only son and heir for the homeland. Jempy Preisen has entered into the long series of heroes who have sacrificed their lives for the liberty of Luxembourg; his memory will always be honored.
The underlined part is the translation of the quote used at the beginning of this post.
In 1880 the Luxembourg census had 9 persons enumerated with the surname PREISEN, a name no longer found in the telephone book in 2009. The last living male person to carry the surname PREISEN, Jempy’s father, died in 1975, nearly 200 hundred years after Thomas and Anna Maria started their family.
The Story is Not All Sadness
For those of you who have read the first part of this story, Thomas and Anna Maria’s story is not all sadness. Marie’s children lived short lives and Elizabeth had two stillborn daughters, but the other five children each had between seven and a dozen children. There were some who did not live to adulthood and others who chose to not marry, but the rest married and continued their lines although not with the PREISEN name.
One of these was my children’s 4th great-grandmother Margaretha PREISEN.
Her line went full circle when her granddaughter Elise FABER married François MEDER (half 3rd cousins) and had eleven children. In yesterday’s post I mentioned this unusual discovery which may have been a bit hard to follow. Amy Cohen of Brotman: A Family Journey suggested doing a chart (above, click to enlarge) to help “decipher your sentence about the sixth great-grandparents…” Does this make it easier?
Name:Gangolf “Gangolphe” WILMES Parents: Michaelis WILMES and Barbara JACQUEMIN Spouse:Anne Marguerite SCHOOD Parents of spouse: Nicolai SCHEID (SCHOOD) and Anna Maria FETT Whereabouts: Diekirch, Grand Duchy of Luxembourg Relationship to Cathy Meder-Dempsey: 4th great-grandfather of husband
All records for this family were found in the church and civil records of the town of Diekirch. Births, baptisms, marriages, and deaths mentioned below occurred in Diekirch unless otherwise stated.
Gangolphus WILMES, the son of Michaelis WILMES (1700-1783) and Barbara JACQUEMIN (1705-1751), was born and baptized on 5 April 1739. His godparents were Gangolphus Walbrüll and Margaretha Juttels. The church record shows the surname spelled WILLEMS. He was the middle child of the nine documented children found for his parents.
His mother, Barbara, died on 25 October 1751. On 5 March 1753, a little over sixteen months later, his father married his second wife, Marie THOBES (1727-1792). They were the parents of four documented children.Further research (page by page viewing of the church records) needs to be performed to confirm the number of siblings and half-siblings Gangolf actually had.Anna Margaretha SCHOOD, daughter of Nicolai SCHEID (SCHOOD) and Anna Maria FETT, was born and baptized on 24 November 1741. Her godparents were Joannis Feth, Synodalis (a church counselor) and Anna Margaretha, frate olim (sibling of old) Feth.Anna Margaretha’s surname was seen as Schoodt, Schood, Schod, Schoed, and Schoedt in records found for her and her children. Different spellings of surnames was not unusual during this time period. To avoid confusion I have used the spelling found when her parents married: SCHOOD.When I started to look into the WILMES-SCHOOD couple I did not have Anna Margaretha’s parents, siblings, or her date of birth/baptism. I will share how I found the records in another post. For now, I would like to point out that FETT and FETH are very likely the same family name, only a different spelling. I will be able to confirm or refute this claim after I have done further research on Anna Margaretha’s mother’s FETT family.
Gangolphus and Anna Margaretha – The Marriage
My children’s 5th great-grandparents, Gangolphus WILMES and Anna Margaretha SCHOOD, were married on 29 October 1764. No further information was included in the entry for the marriage in the church record. No parents of the bride and groom, no age for the bride and groom, and no witnesses. Other entries made on the same page, in a different handwriting, have a bit more information on the parents of the bride or groom. It looks like two persons were keeping the records. My children’s ancestors’ marriage was recorded by the one who wrote short entries with little more than the names and date.
Gangolphus and Anna Margaretha – Become Parents
Gangolphus and Anna Margaretha’s first child was born less than two weeks before their first wedding anniversary. Susanna WILMES was born and baptized on 18 October 1765. Her godparents were Joannes Preusen and Susanna Schodt. The godmother was likely her 21 years old aunt Susanna, her mother’s sister.
Gangolphus and Anna Margaretha did not wait long for their second child who was born thirteen months later. Elisabetha was born and baptized on 23 November 1766. Her godparents were Christian Flick and Elisabetha Schoodt. The godmother Elisabetha was likely a sister of the mother of the child, however I cannot say if she was Elisabetha age 27 or Maria Elisabetha age 20. Births of these two ladies have been found but marriages and/or deaths records have not been searched for.The third child of this couple was of my children’s 4th great-grandmother Apolonia WILMES. She was born and baptized on 27 February 1769. Her godparents were Nicolas Theys and Apolonia Scholtes.Gangolphus and Anna Margaretha finally had a son when their fourth child was born. Nicolaus WILMES was born and baptized on 19 February 1772. His godparents were Nicolaus Unden and Maria Barbara Clemang.The fifth child was once again a girl. Anna Margaretha Wilmes was born and baptized on 5 July 1774. Her godparents were Michel Wilmes, a brother of the father, and Anna Margaretha Preuser.On 16 February 1777, two and a half years later, the sixth child Margaretha WILMES was born and baptized. Her godparents were Nicolas Wilmes, a brother of the father, and Margaretha Frison.Four years later another daughter joined the family and was given the same name as the last child. Margaretha WILMES was born and baptized on 7 January 1781. Her godparents were Joes (Joannes) Schumacher of Hollenfels and Margaretha Preuser of Diekirch.The baptismal record of this child is the first record showing a signature for the father “Gangolff Wilmes” as he signed above, on the right side near the bottom. It is 1781 and Gangolphus would soon turn 42.
An Aside Concerning Godparents
As seen above, godparents included both the mother’s and the father’s siblings. What of the other godparents? Preusen and Preuser, names seen for three godparents of the children mentioned above, are likely the same surname. Were they also relatives?
Further research is planned as this is a name which is already in my children’s family tree. Thomas PREISEN (PREUSEN) and Anne Marie SCHRANTZ were the parents of their 4th great-grandmother Margaretha PREUSEN. It will be interesting to see if there is a connection.
The Children’s Mother Dies
Gangolphus’ wife Anna Margaretha died on 12 January 1781, five days after giving birth to Margaretha. Her age was given as 34 although she had turned 39 the previous November. Gangolphus was left with seven children to care for. The youngest was only 5 days old when her mother died and the oldest was 15 years old.The widower waited six weeks to remarry. He married Maria Catharina Colman, daughter of Andreas Colman and Catharina Wevers, on 24 February 1781. The fact that he was the widower of Anna Margaretha SCHOOD is included in the entry. His brother Damian WILMES was one of the witnesses. Once again we see the signature “Gangolff Wilmes” which would suggest that in day to day life he went by Gangolff while the church authorities concerned his name to be Gangolphus.
Further Deaths in the Family
Sadly, the death of Gangolphus’ wife and mother of his children was not the last during the year. His youngest, baby Margaretha died at the age of seven months on 14 August 1781. The death entry includes the name of her deceased mother.
She was followed two weeks later by her sister who was also baptized with the name Margaretha. The death record of the second child has the correct age at death but when she died on 31 August 1781 her name was given as Elisabetha. As with her baby sister, the name of her deceased mother was included in the entry.The five remaining WILMES children lost their paternal grandfather Michaelis WILMES on 21 November 1783 at the age of 80 years.Three years later Gangolphus buried his only son Nicolaus Wilmes who died on 19 April 1786 at the age of fourteen.
Four Remaining Daughters
Of the four remaining daughters, two have not been traced. The oldest Susanna and the youngest Anna Margaretha. It is not known if they married or even died young. They were not found in the index of marriages for Diekirch which could mean they died young, married in another town, or never married.
The first of Gangolphus and Anna Margaretha’s daughters to marry was Apolonia “Apolline” WILMES. She married Johann Nicolas “Jean Nicolas” MEDER (1766-1844) on 13 January 1794.
Apolonia’s older sister Elisabetha married André KOENIG (1769- ) on 20 June 1796.
Apolonia and Elisabetha gave Gangolphus ten grandchildren, three of whom predeceased him.
Gangolphus is Again Widowed
On 31 March 1811 “Gangolffe Wilmes,” a 77 years old day laborer was the informant for the death of his wife, Marguerithe THOLMANG who was 76 at the time of death.This name does not match the name seen for the woman he married in 1781. The marriage record shows her name as Maria Catharina Colman, daughter of Andreas Colman and Catharina Wevers. Was this the same lady he married in 1781 or was he married three times? Hopefully further research will solve this question.Gangolphus WILMES outlived his last wife by fifteen years, long enough to see two of his grandsons marry in 1821 and 1822.His daughter Apolonia, my children’s ancestor, died on 26 November 1824.
Gangolf “Gangolphe” WILMES died on 22 January 1825 at the age of 85, outliving his father by five years. His death was reported by his grandson, Jeangout KOENIG. Jeangout is the French version of the name Gangolf. Gangolphus’ name was given as Jeangout WILLMES and his age as 82 years. According to the death record, he was the widower of Marie TOLLMAN – similar to Marie Catherine Collman seen in 1781 but not a match. Could her maiden name on the marriage record have been transcribed incorrectly and did this influence my interpretation of the handwriting?
At the time of his death, the only known living child of the WILMES-SCHOOD couple was Elisabeth WILMES who died ten years later on 10 December 1835 at the age of 70.
Next week, I will continue with another set of my children’s 5th great-grandparents, the parents of Elisabetha CLOS. The parents of her husband, Théodore REIFFER are at this time unknown and I am not expecting to find the key to a door in his brick wall in the near future.
Following the marriage of Johannes MEDER (1723-1784) and Susanna LAMBERT (1729-1803) on 27 December 1752 their first child was born eight months later. More children followed about every two years until the family included nine children in 1770. The baptisms of each child took place on the day of birth in Ettelbrück where the couple lived following their marriage in Mersch.
Ch 1: Margaretha on 30 August 1753. Her godparents were Nicolaus Flamman and Margaretha Eichorn, both of Ettelbrück.
Ch 2: Magdalena on 24 July 1755. Her godparents were Wilhelm Benderin and Magdalene Philips, both of Ettelbrück.
Ch 3: Pierre on 11 January 1757. His godparents were Petrus Kremer and Barbara Meder, both of Ettelbrück.
Ch 4: Nicolas on 13 August 1758. His godparents were Nicolaus Polfer and Anna Maria Meder, both of Ettelbrück.
Ch 5: Joannes on 18 January 1761. His godparents were Joannes Wagener and Elisabetha Hoffman, both of Ettelbrück.
Ch 6: Agnès on 15 September 1762. Her godparents were Philippus Frisch of Ettelbrück and Agnes Schodeck of Mersch.
Ch 7: Elisabetha 5 October 1764. Her godparents were Théodorus Welter of Ettelbrück and Elisabetha Bettendorf of Warken.
Ch 8: Joannes Nicolaus on 26 October 1766. His godparents were Joannes Nicolaus Bequinet and Barbara Wagner of Ettelbrück.
Ch 9: Margaretha on 21 September 1770. Her godparents were Joannes Cames and Margaretha Flamand, both of Ettelbrück.
One of my readers last week wrote, “So great to have such a wealth of records, not to mention being able to read them!” I admit that being fluent in several languages I forget sometimes that my readers not only may have difficulties reading the handwriting but also knowing the language it is writing in. The text of each baptismal record above was in Latin and reads:
Natus et baptimus est [child’s name] filius/filia legitimus/legitima [father] et [mother] conjugum ex [town], Susceptores fuerunt [godfather] ex [town] et [godmother] ex [town]
Born and baptized [child] legitimate son/daughter of married [parents] of [town], godparents were [godfather] and [godmother] of [town]
The paternal grandfather of the children lived long enough see all of them born. Adami MEDER also known as “Juckes” died at the age of 77 years on 9 March 1774 in Ettelbrück. To date, no record of death has been found for his wife Elisabetha ESCH. An exhaustive search, viewing every page of the church death register from December 1771 when she was last seen as living, has not been done.
The first of Johannes and Susanna’s children Pierre MEDER married Anne Marie FABER (1755-1812) on 11 January 1779 in Ettelbrück. It was to be the only marriage of a child attended by Johannes as he died at the age of 61 years on 13 February 1784 in Ettelbrück.
Johannes’ widow Susanna saw four of their children marry in three years:
Ch 4: Nicolas MEDER married Marguerite BRACHTENBACH (1764-1823) on 27 December 1793 Ettelbrück
Ch 8: Johann Nicolas MEDER married Apolonia WILMES (1769-1824) on 13 January 1794 Diekirch
Ch 7: Elisabeth MEDER married Jacques BROCHMAN (1757-1831) on 23 May 1796 Diekirch
Ch 9: Margaretha MEDER married Martin SCHMIDT (1750- ) on 9 September 1796 Ettelbrück Note: Only the index card with marriage information was found for this couple. The church records appear to be missing pages (or they may be out of order) for May to November 1796. Civil marriages were first registered in the Republican Year 5, a week after this marriage took place.
No marriages or death records have been found for the oldest daughters Margaretha and Magdalena or for the third son Joannes. Did they die young or marry and live in a town other than Ettelbrück? I suspect Margaretha (b. 1753) died before the younger Margaretha was born in 1770. A complete search of the church records is still in progress.
The mother of the family, Susanna LAMBERT, died at the age of 74 years on 8 September 1803 in Ettelbrück. Her death was reported by her second oldest son Nicolas.
Two of Johannes and Susanna’s children moved to Diekirch to raise their families while four of their children remained in Ettelbrück. Their daughter Agnès never married. The MEDER name was carried on by Pierre and Nicolas in Ettelbrück and by Johann Nicolas in Diekirch.
Death records were found for the following children:
Ch 3: Pierre MEDER , the oldest son, died 28 March 1812 Ettelbrück
Ch 4: Nicolas MEDER died 9 March 1823 Ettelbrück
Ch 7: Elisabeth MEDER died 29 November 1844 Diekirch
Ch 8: Johann Nicolas “Jean Nicolas” MEDER died 22 December 1844 Diekirch
Ch 6: Agnès MEDER who never married died 23 December 1844 Ettelbrück
Ch 9: Margaretha MEDER died 14 December 1859 Ettelbrück
The winter of 1844 was not a good year for the family. Three siblings died within a month, two of them a day apart.
Finding all of the above records was child’s play compared to what I went through to find the baptismal records of their parents Johann MEDER and Susanna LAMBERT. While doing the research for this family group I found myself slipping down a rabbit hole. I was pulled back in time to an era where family names were not the surnames we know today. Join me next week to see how I fared while exploring the rabbit hole.
Week 26 (June 25-July 1) – Halfway:This week marks the halfway point in the year — and the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge! What ancestor do you have that you feel like you’ve only researched halfway? What ancestor do you feel like takes up half of your research efforts?
Halfway finished with 2015 and this year’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge. What better time to switch gears and begin on a new generation. The 3rd great-grandparents will take me through to the end of the year. Sixteen paternal and maternal sets for my husband and 8 maternal sets for myself. My paternal sets were discussed during the first year of the challenge in 2014.
This generation of ancestors will be take me into a time period which has only been researched halfway. Civil record keeping in Luxembourg began ca. 1796 while the country was under Napoleonic rule (1795- 1812). During the first half of this year I featured many state-gathered records (births, marriages, deaths). The church records (baptisms, marriages, burials) for Luxembourg went online at Family Search at the beginning of this year. At the time I made a resolution to focus on the planned families each week and not check for church records for earlier generations and families until it was time to write about them.
I admit it was hard to keep this resolution, knowing the database was there for the pickings. I went in a few times to check on this or that ancestor and I told myself it was only a practice run. The family I’m doing this week gave me the first opportunity to really dig in and work with the church records. I was only halfway done when I began cleaning up source citations, etc. and adding records for this family.
The MEDER-WILMES Family of Diekirch
Jean Nicolas (Johann Nicolaus) MEDER and Apolonia (Apolline) WILMES were my husband’s 3rd great-grandparents. Due to the nature of the civil and church records in Luxembourg their names were spelled differently over time. It is hard to choose the correct spelling as records were in German, French and Latin. The different spellings, however, did not make it difficult to find the records as I have become familiar with FamilySearch’s browse-only databases.
1766 Baptism of Johann Nicolaus MEDER
Johann Nicolaus MEDER was born and baptized on 26 October 1766 in Ettelbrück. His parents were Joannis MEDER and Susanna LAMBER. His godparents were Johann Nicolaus BEQUINET and Barbara WAGENER. In later records the father’s name was seen as Johannes and Jean and the mother’s maiden name was spelled LAMBERT.
1769 Baptism of Apolonia WILMES
Apolonia WILMES was baptiszed on 27 February 1769 in Diekirch. Her parents were Gangolphe WILMES and Anna Marguerite SCHODT. Her godparents were Nicolas THEYS and Apolonia SCHOLTES, both of Diekirch.
1794 Marriage of Jean Nicolas MEDER and Apolonia WILMES
Normally I don’t have much trouble reading the old handwriting in these documents however this marriage record for Jean Nicolas MEDER and Apolonia WILMES was an exception. I knew the date of marriage as it was found in the Family Book of Diekirch compiled by Rob Deltgen, Komplettes Familienbuch der Gemeinde 1796-1923. The names of the bride and groom were underlined which helped me find the record. I can make out the names of the bride and groom’s parents and witnesses however a complete transcription would take more time.
Births, Baptisms, Marriages, Deaths, Burials of Children
Jean Nicolas and Apolinia’s first child was a daughter Elizabeth born and baptized on 16 November 1794 in Diekirch. Her godparents were her grandfather “Gangolphus” WILMES and her aunt Elisabeth MEDER, wife of Jacques BROCHMAN, all of Diekirch. The record has the surname spelled MOEDERS instead of MEDER. Little Elizabeth lived only two months, dying at midnight from the 27th to the 28th of January 1795. She was buried on the 29th.
The second daughter of Jean Nicolas and Apolonia was born on 3 December 1795 at 7 in the evening and was baptized the next day. Christina MEDER’s godparents were Pierre GOSSENS and Christine MOCHY, both of Diekirch.
The first son of Jean Nicolas and Apolonia was born on 30 Pluviose year VI. Antonius MOEDER, as the name was written, was born during the Napoleonic rule when the Republican calendar was in effect. The date was 18 February 1798. No baptismal record was found however his name is on a list of baptisms performed in 1798. The church did not use the Republican calendar and his date of baptism was seen as 17 February 1798. Was this an error on the list of baptisms or on the part of the civil servant using the Republican calendar? In any case he could not have been baptized the day before he was born.
Three year old Christina MEDER died on 7 March 1799. Her death record filled an entire page of the register.
Mathias MEDER, the second son and fourth child of Jean Nicolas and Apolonia was born and baptized on 30 December 1800. In the civil record his surname was spelled MOEDER while in his baptismal record it was spelled MEDER.
Elisabeth MEDER was born on 10 Pluviose year 10 to Jean Nicolas and Apolonia. Her baptismal record shows she was baptized the same day and gives both dates: 30 January 1804 and 10 Pluviose year 10. Her godparents were Mathias WILMES and Elizabeth WILMES, both of Diekirch.
The third son of Jean Nicolas and Apolonia was born and baptized on 14 July 1807 in Diekirch. Theodore MEDER’s godparents were Theodore RITSCHDORFF and Eva KNEIP, both of Diekirch.
Jean Nicolas and Apolonia’s youngest child Anne Marie was born 12 September 1810. No baptismal record was found for Anne Marie MEDER. Baptismal records for 1810 were not available at FamilySearch as of 23 June 2015.
At the end of 1821 the first of Nicolas and Apolonia’s children made plans to marry. The marriage of Antoine MEDER married Maria Catharina WAGENER was “published” on the 23rd and 30th day of December 1821. The civil marriage took place on 8 January 1822 in Diekirch.
The year 1824 was not a happy year for the MEDER-WILMES family. Son Mathias MEDER died at the age of 23 years on 29 July 1824 in Diekirch.
Four months later Apolonia WILMES died at the age of 55 years on 26 November 1824. Her death record however gives her age as 62. At the time of her death she left a husband, two sons, two daughters, and two grandchildren.
On the 20th and the 27th of December 1832 the marriage of Theodore MEDER and Susanna REIFFER was published – read out loud and posted on the door of the city hall. They married a month later on 31 January 1833 in Diekirch.
Nicolas and Apolonia’s oldest living daughter Elisabeth married 24 January 1838 to Mathias BOCK. Elisabeth had been an unmarried mother since 22 June 1829 when her son Mathias MEDER was born. Mathias BOCK had the permission of his reserve regimental commander to marry. The publication of the marriage was noted on the marriage record and not on a separate document as seen when Antoine and Theodore married.
In December 1843 Jean Nicolas MEDER was seen on the Luxembourg census in the household of his married son Theodore. This census sheet included dates of births of the persons in the household. Jean Nicolas’ birthdate was incorrectly listed as 1 April 1763.
On 28 August 1844 the youngest child of this family married. Anne Marie MEDER married the widowed Heinrich KNOPS who was 21 years older.
When Jean Nicolas MEDER died on 22 Dec 1844 he had seen all four of his children marry. His son Theodore was the informant on his death record. Nicolas’ age on the death record was 75 although he was actually 78 as calculated from his birth record.
Elisabeth MEDER died on 7 December 1861 in Diekirch. She was survived by her husband Mathias BOCK, son Mathias MEDER and possible a daughter Anne Marie BOCK (last seen with her parents in 1858 on census, no marriage record or further trace of her found).
On 6 Sep 1866 the oldest child of this family, Anton MEDER, died in Diekirch. He was survived by his wife, two sons, two (?) daughters, and four grandchildren. The daughters were last seen 10 years prior to his death and no further information on them has been found.
The youngest child of this family, Anne Marie MEDER died on 15 April 1890 in Diekirch. She remained childless and had been widowed for 30 years.
Theodore MEDER, the last of living child of Jean Nicolas MEDER and Apolonia WILMES, died on 29 July 1898 in Diekirch at the age of 91 years. Theodore had been widowed for 20 years and left 5 known children. Two daughters have not been traced further and may have also still been living.
As can be seen by the records above and the sources cited below, nearly half of the records used came from the Luxembourg Church Records, 1601-1948 which have only been online since the beginning of the year. I can honestly say this family was only researched halfway before I got everything ready for this blogpost.
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.
Week 13 (March 26 – April 1) – Different. What ancestor seems to be your polar opposite? What ancestor did something that seems completely different than what they “should” have done or what you would have done?
Moving on to the next generation, my children’s 16 sets of great-great-great-grandparents. A quarter of these were discussed last year when I did 8 individuals (4 sets in red on the chart) of my/their American lines. See links for 2014 52Ancestors #8 through #15.
Théodore MEDER (1807-1898) is on the opposite side of the chart from Maria MAJERUS (1850-1931). My son inherited Théodore’s Y-DNA through his father and Maria’s mtDNA through me. I need to learn more about DNA, but this I get: Y-DNA and mtDNA are completely opposite.
The MEDER-REIFFER Family (1807-1930)
The father of this family group, Théodore MEDER (1807-1898) was born at four in the morning on Tuesday the 14th of July 1807 in Diekirch (Grand Duchy of Luxembourg) to Nicolas and Apolline. Nicolas MEDERT (sic, MEDER) was a 43 years old basket-maker (vannier). His wife Apolline WILMES’ age is not given but she would have been 38 at the time. Mathias KELLEN, a 33 years old farmer (laboureur) from Gilsdorf, and Philippe SCHAACK, a 36 years old tawer (mégissier), were the witnesses who signed the birth record. The father Nicolas declared not being able to sign his name.
Please excuse my going off on a tangent here but I find old occupations quite fascinating and it is interesting to learn more about the crafts and trades of our ancestors, or as was the case here, of their neighbors or acquaintances.
I had a bit of difficulty finding a translation for the French word mégissier. Google Translate “knew” the French word but did not come up with the English equivalent. After a bit, I found that mégissier is a tawer. In search of the translation and definition I found this illustration (left). A tawer is a person who taws or makes leather out of hide without the use of tanning.
Let’s get back to the main subjects!
The mother of this family group, Susanna REIFFER (1808-1877) born Wednesday, 6 April 1808 in Wahlhausen, Clervaux, Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, according to the extract of her baptismal record that was presented in Diekirch in 1833 when she married. The same date and place are also listed on the 1843 census. She was the daughter of Théodore REIFFER and Elisabethe CLOS whose dates of death were listed on her 1833 marriage record.
At eight o’clock the morning of Thursday the 31st of January 1833, Théodore MEDER, a 25 years old day laborer and Susanna REIFFER, a 24 years old house servant from Bastendorf, were joined in marriage in Diekirch. The bride’s parents were both deceased, her father in 1831 and her mother in 1829. Théodore’s father Nicolas was present and consenting to the marriage. His mother had died in 1824. Banns were published in Bastendorf and in Diekirch on the 20th and the 27th of January. As is normal with marriage records in Luxembourg, 4 witnesses were present and signed the record. Their relationships to the bride and groom are not listed. The bride, the groom and the father of the groom declared not being able to write and did not sign the marriage record., 
Théodore and Susanna were the parents of a dozen children:
Child 1: Jean MEDER (1834-1901) was born 6 January 1834 in Diekirch, Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. He married Barbara “Barbe” ADAM (1837-1906) on 10 January 1864 in Bettendorf where they raised a family of 4 children. Jean died on 26 October 1901 in Bettendorf. His wife Barbe died in the same town on 6 October 1906.
Child 2: Mathias MEDER (1835-1912) was born 25 November 1835 in Diekirch. He married Maria “Marie” KAUFMANN (1833-1912) on 24 June 1863 in Bettendorf where they raised a family of 3 children. Mathias died 23 April 1912 in Bastendorf a little over a year after Marie who died on 2 April 1911 in Bettendorf.
Child 3: Maria MEDER (1837-1918) was born 21 November 1837 in Diekirch. Maria married Nicolas WEBER (1836-1918) on 14 November 1860 in Diekirch where they raised 5 children. Nicolas died 20 January 1881 in Diekirch. Maria died 37 years later on 11 October 1918 in Diekirch.
Child 4: Philippe MEDER (1839-1839) was born 29 October 1839 in Diekirch. Philippe was not quite two months old when he died on 23 December 1839 in Diekirch.
Child 5: Anna Maria MEDER (1841-1911) was born 21 January 1841 in Diekirch. She married Nicolas SCHOLTES (1847-1897) on 28 November 1867 in Diekirch where 10 children were born. Nicolas died on 16 January 1897 in Diekirch. Anna, as she was usually known, died 5 January 1911 in Diekirch.
Child 6: Maria “Elisa” MEDER (1842- ) was born 26 October 1842 in Diekirch. When she married Célestin RENAUT (1830- ) on 3 July 1865 in Diekirch Elisa was listed as the name that she normally used. This family moved around a bit and were last seen in the 1875 census in Diekirch. At that time they had two daughters, the first born in Esch-sur-Alzette and the second in Magneux, Marne, France, where Célestin was from. In 1876 another daughter was born in Diekirch. The family disappears [has not been found] after this birth and it is not known when Elisa and her husband died.
Child 7: Elisabetha MEDER (1844- ) was born 23 February 1844 in Diekirch. In 1858 and later she was no longer found with her parents. It’s possible that as a 14 years old in 1858 she may have been living and/or working in another household. There is no trace of a death record for her in Diekirch.
Child 8: Margaretha MEDER (1845-1845) was born 8 June 1845 in Diekirch. She only lived 16 days, dying on 24 June 1845 in Diekirch.
Child 10: Johann “Jean Pierre” MEDER (1847-1848) was born 16 September 1847 in Diekirch and died 29 May 1848 in Diekirch at the age of 8 months. Although his birth and death record show that his name was Johann, on the 1847 census he was seen as Jean Pierre, most likely to distinguish him from his oldest brother Jean.
Child 11: [–?–] MEDER, a female, (1849-1849) was stillborn on 19 August 1849.
Child 12: Catharina MEDER (1850-1879) was born 5 December 1850 in Diekirch. Catharina married André WILHELMY (1853-?) on 15 May 1878 in Diekirch. She died 26 February 1879 in Diekirch 8 days after giving birth to a stillborn son. Her widower André remarried a year later in Alscheid.
The Occupations of Théodore MEDER
Life may have been hard for Théodore, Susanna, and their many children. As seen in the following chart Théodore worked as a day laborer from the time of his marriage in 1833 until 1846 when he became a shepherd. He remained in this occupation for about 10 years. On one record it is clearly noted that he was a goat shepherd. By 1858 he was once again working as a day laborer. In 1880 at the age of 73 he seen on the census as a miner (Bergbauarbeiter). This seems to be a very hard job for a man of his age. Finally at the time of his death, at the age of 91, he was seen as having no occupation.
The MEDER-REIFFER family in the Luxembourg census
Previous posts on family groups in Luxembourg have concentrated on the birth and marriage records of the children. For this family, I’ve decided to do something different. Above I used a pink or blue box for each child, including footnote links to the very long source list found at the end of this post. Instead of discussing the birth and/or marriage records, I’ve chosen to focus on the census records of this family.
The census in Luxembourg was taken every three or so years. At FamilySearch there are presently 1,115,931 census images available for these years: 1843, 1846, 1847, 1849, 1851, 1852, 1855, 1858, 1861, 1864, 1867, 1871, 1875, 1880, 1885, 1887, 1890, 1895 and 1900.
On the 1843 census, earliest census available online at FamilySearch, birthdates of persons in the household were included. From experience I’ve found that they do not always match up with the birth records found. And that is the case with this family listing. The father, mother and oldest son’s dates match but the other 4 children are off. In the household are children Jean, Mathias, Marie, Anne, and Marie (who will later be known as Elisa). I was happy to find Jean Nicolas MEDER in his son Theodore’s household. His date of birth is seen as 1 April 1763. This cannot be correct as his baptismal record* shows that he was born and baptized on 26 October 1766. *Note: the baptismal record was located after footnotes were completed for this post.
In 1846 Théodore and his brother Antoine’s families are listed together in one household. Children in Théodore and Susane’s household are Jean, Mathias, Marie, Marie, Marie, Elisabeth, and François. Three girls named Marie! From one census or civil record to the next these girls would use different variations of their names. The years of birth are off for the older children but the younger ones born in the 1840s are correct.
In 1847 the family had grown to 10, parents and 8 children: Jean, Mathias, Marie, Anne Marie, Marie, Elisabeth, François, and Jean-Pierre.
In 1849 the family has one less member as their youngest child Jean-Pierre passed away in May 1848. As in 1847 none of the children are listed with an occupation. Their father is a shepherd (pâtre) and one can imagine that his older sons Jean and Mathias may have helped their father while the four girls helped their mother care for little François.
In 1851 young Catherine born in 1850 is now seen on the list of children. The mother is mistakenly listed as Marguerite however her maiden name and place of birth are correct. The ditto marks in the column for occupation make it appear as if the mother and the three sons are working as day laborers like the father. It seems very unlikely that 6 years old François would be working. All of the daughters are listed as having no occupation. An interesting addition to this census sheet is the column for the number of years each person has lived in the present community. The mother, who came to Diekirch at the time of her marriage, is seen as living in Diekirch for 18 years while for all other members of the family the time of residence is equal to their age.
In 1852 the oldest son Jean is missing on the census. As I am concentrating on Théodore and Susanne’s family as a unit I have not taken the time to search further for their oldest son once he left the nest. I know that after his marriage in 1864 he lived in Bettendorf a village to the east of Diekirch. He “disappears” between 1852-1864 and depending on where he was working I will have to do a lot of browsing to find him.
In 1855 the next two oldest children, Mathias and the eldest Marie have also flown the coop, most likely due to their living with their employer. Children still at home are Anna, Marie, Elisa, François, and Catherine.
The 1858 census gave me a few problems. Marie seen here is Anna Marie and Elisa is the younger Marie. The reason that I know this is not Elisabeth is that when Marie marries in 1865 the marriage record has a note that she is known as Elisa and the date of birth matches Marie born in 1842. It is my belief that Elisabeth (1858 age 14) may be working in a nearby village. As long as the census is not indexed finding her will be a lot of work or I might get lucky and find her while checking on other families in the area. This means that I have to be careful to look at all persons listed in each household, especially at the end of the list where domestics’ names were listed.
In 1861 (above) and in 1864 (below) the family group remains the same as in 1858.
In 1867, below, the family has become even smaller. Only the two youngest children are still at home, François and Catherine. By this time all of the other children were married and had their own households. Marie in 1860, Mathias in 1863, Jean in 1864, Marie “Eisa” in 1865, and Anna Marie in 1867.
I went through the entire 1871 census collection for Diekirch and did not find Théodore, Susanna, and their youngest daughter Catherine. Are they living with one of their three married daughters? Their son François married in 1869 and was enumerated with his wife and children in the household of the in-laws. Jean and Mathias are in Bettendorf with their wives and children.
In 1875 Théodore and Susanna were found living alone in Diekirch. Their youngest daughter Catherine was not yet married and may be working and living with another family.
By 1880 Théodore was widowed and seen living with his son Franz and his family. Following the 1880 census Théodore no longer lived with Franz or any of his children who have been located in the 1885, 1887, 1890, 1895 censuses.
Théodore and Susanna were married nearly 45 years when Susanna died at 9 o’clock in the evening on 11 October 1877 in their home in Diekirch. Théodore who was the informant of her death declared that he could not write and did not sign the death record. The place of birth of the deceased was seen as Merscheid instead of Wahlhausen as seen in her marriage record and on several census sheets. I hoped that this would lead to her birth record but was disappointed once again.
Théodore spent the next 22 years as a widower and may have spent some time in the local hospital before his death. He died at three o’clock in the morning on 29 July 1898 in the hospital (Spital) in Diekirch. His death was reported by Dominik ZENNER, the 64 years old overseer in the hospital (Aufseher im Spital). It was interesting to see that Mathias WENGLER, age 72 was still the secretary of the civil hall in Diekirch and a witness on this death record. In 1877 at the age of 50 he had been the witness and secretary on Susanna’s death record.
If you have any connection to this family, please let me know. I look forward to reading your comments.
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.