Friday, December 21, 2012

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories: Christmas Music

  Time for one of those question posts... What did your Luxembourger ancestors listen to around the holidays? I know there are some traditional songs, but I don't know what they were. My family, I suspect, may have mixed Luxembourger and German traditions.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories: Christmas Stockings

   It's a little hard for me to talk about Christmas stockings as a family tradition. I know what the stockings held - fruit and other small gifts, in an era when such things were a treat in the winter - but not what they looked like.
   For my generations, the stockings have varied with the years. We have one set of hand-made stockings, intended for specific people. But we also have several store bought sets that match other decorations.  Was this the model my ancestors followed? I'm not sure.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories: St. Nicholas Day and Black Peter

   I'm still somewhat annoyed I missed St. Nicholas day (somehow didn't realize it was the 6th until the very end of the day!). My family's one story about Luxembourger Christmas traditions relates to St. Nicholas Day. One of my ancestors talked about being frightened of Black Peter (St. Nick's evil sidekick). The site provides a good history of both here. While I have no interest in reviving Black Peter, I would love to see St. Nicholas come back. I relate more with him than with Santa Claus.

    Did you celebrate St. Nicholas Day? What about Santa Lucia? What would you revive?

You can read my previous posts on Black Peter here.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories: Luxembourger Cookie Recipes?

   My family is completely useless as far as Christmas cookie recipes go. I suspect it's the product of a lot of intermarriage... (In my family lines, I have Irish, Scottish, German, French-Canadian, Luxembourger and English. ) Our only recipe that has been passed down is for butter cookies. Why? Because it was easy.
   I'd love to fill in the gap. Can anyone point me in the right direction for finding Luxembourger cookie recipes? :)

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Tech Tuesday: Language Practice

  Like all of us, I study on a regular basis to  keep my genealogy skills up to date. Of course, when I first started doing this, I didn't envision that study would include language lessons. I'm now working hard to study French every day just to make sure those skills are up to date.
  How do I do that? In some cases, the same way I studied French to begin with: worksheets and textbooks. I've also found some great online sources. The site provides French lessons, reviews, and practice. The BBC also offers beginner courses. Of course, German is more useful for Luxembourg...

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Advent Calendar: Luxembourger Holiday Foods?

    This is one holiday area in which my family has absolutely no real traditions. Our Christmas foods have changed as our neighbors have changed...which means we've sometimes eaten Mediterranean food, sometimes Scandinavian. Each generation had typical year to year foods, but the parents' foods never matched the children's.
   That has always left me wondering: what are typical Luxembourger foods? Why did my family not replicate them?

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Advent Calendar: Luxembourgers and The Christmas Tree

       Okay, I'll admit it. I've been bad. It's hard to keep up with posting when life gets crazy, and my life is definitely crazy. My Luxembourger research has gotten put aside so I can work on my Connecticut families... I'm doing too many projects. You know the drill.

     But the Geneabloggers prompt has gotten me thinking. Starting today, bloggers are using what they call "The Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories." These are blog prompts on Christmas topics, taking you right up to Christmas. Christmas is when I'm most aware of my Luxembourger heritage, so I thought I'd dive right in.
  My family is rare for Luxembourgers: it's part-Luxembourger, part-German. As a result, our traditions are a little muddled. Some are Luxembourger; others German. And honestly, I'm not sure what comes from where.

  So here's my plan. Some days I'll share traditions. Others, I may be posing questions. I hope you'll jump in. I have a lot to learn.

    So, here goes! The Christmas Tree... As a little kid, I noticed that my family was the only one to open presents Christmas Eve. Apparently the tradition was to open presents, attend midnight mass, and then eat... And relax Christmas morning. Still our drill. Is that normal?

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Those Places Thursday: Christmas Markets

  Can't visit Luxembourg City for the Christmas Market? is offering you a photo visit... Things to think about on Thanksgiving!
   Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Tech Tuesday:

  I dismissed HistoryPin the first time I saw it as "not useful." The site is designed as a visual map.  In theory, you or another group should be able to upload historic images. Someone could then search for a location on the map and look at all the images. The first time I examined the site, most of the images were family snapshots - not of much interest to anyone outside the family. However, that's starting to change.
  Thanks to increased usage, is starting to develop. There are now vintage home photos up alongside the 1970s snapshots. It's still thin the small towns, but the promise is there... Now if I can just convince enough Luxembourger towns to add images!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Surname Saturday: Luxembourger DNA projects?

  I just finished Bryan Sykes's DNA USA. While I struggled with some of the thicker biology sections, I found it a fun read overall. It certainly introduced me - a genetic genealogy newbie - to the subject. (You can read a much better review than I can manage here.) It also left me wondering...
   Has a surname study been used with a Luxembourger family yet? I could see it having some interesting applications in our families. First of all, the "three brothers" myth tends to be a little more true, and most of us have a pretty provable paper trail. Second, we know most of the "brick walls" or the illegitimate ancestors.  Small immigrant communities have their pluses... Getting a surname study done (or several) might help prove the unprovable... but perhaps I'm just thinking out loud.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

With Thanksgiving approaching, European Christmas markets are in the works. Articles at announced this year's in Luxembourg City. But where do these markets come from? According to a CNN Travel article, they have their roots in the Middle Ages. Each country, it indicates, has its own traditions that make the celebration special. Frankfurt Germany's tourism office ties their fair to a local mystery play but suggests that the most famous tradition - giant cookies - may be more recent. Despite being a bit "outdated" (around 1000 years old), the Christmas markets are still going strong. I would so love to see Luxembourg's!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Tuesday's Tip: an update to passenger lists - and finding your ancestors

   Thanks to the reader who pointed out that I missed a reason why you might not have found your ancestor on a passenger list - they may have traveled first or second class. According a history produced through Fordham's honors program, those passengers likely escaped Castle Garden or Ellis Island. Steve Morse's frequently asked questions explains how those passengers were treated on a ship's manifest. While most Luxembourgers were not that lucky, there's always a chance. Check out these sites for more information...

And thanks again to  attentive readers!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Surname Saturday: Luxembourger Families

  The longer I research, the more apparent this becomes. Because immigrants from Luxembourg were so few in number, Luxembourger-American families with the same surname tend to be related. So what does this mean for you? Chances are high that someone has already done research on your family.
   You have a few ways to find it.

1) Enter the family surname + genealogy into Google.
2) Check out the Luxembourg boards on message board sites. Here's one example.
3) Visit Luxembourg American Families.

Happy research!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Motivation Monday: What can you do with that degree?... Why genealogists make good employees...

  Unlike many genealogists, I have degrees that make sense for my field - French, History, and a Certificate in Genealogy. Of course, this inevitably leads to the question: what can you do with those degrees? You can be a genealogist of course, but most of us need to have a day job. So most people jump to a second option. You should teach, right?
  Frustrating! Like other genealogists, I can and do love to teach, but I can do other things. And here's  a few reasons why:

1. Genealogists are patient... Have you ever calculated how much time it takes to trace your family back two generations (if you don't already know their names)? Try taking your family back to the American Revolution.

2. Genealogists are good at unraveling problems... Not everyone left a nice neat family tree for us. Or even a copy of their birth certificate.

3. Many of us can speak or at least read another language. We need to be able to read vital records. But those same skills can be applied to technical manuals.

4. We're web-savvy. We have to be. How many libraries still stock the census on microfilm.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Follow Friday: GenBlog

 (Warning - The first paragraph is from the Explorations in Connecticut Genealogy blog.)
     Written by Julie Cahill Tarr, GenBlog covers topics in genealogical research. Posts feature lists of useful articles, resource links, and book reviews. The author is a professional genealogist. Posts reflect her interests. They're worth a read just in case your interests overlap.
    She recently wrote a nice post on Luxembourg resources. While many of these sites are ones that you would have seen before, a few were new to me. Take a look at the links page by page. One of those new suggestions may help you break through a brick wall.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Wedding Wednesday: features on the royal wedding

   The recent Luxembourg royal wedding has provoked (Luxembourg's English language version of its newspaper, online) to create some interesting features on weddings, the royal family, and Luxembourger culture. For an overview - and the ability to avoid some of the "frilly" commentary - check out the links on the Luxembourg-American Cultural Society's Facebook page.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Tuesday's Tip: Don't Just Look at Ellis Island

  Remember that not every Luxembourger ancestor came through Ellis Island. I've seen many people search the Ellis Island site and get frustrated when they don't find their ancestor. According to the site, you may be searching in the wrong location: Ellis Island wasn't in use until 1892. The site indicates that prior to that date immigrants to New York came through Castle Garden.  And they may not have even come through New York. Some Luxembourgers came through New Orleans. Best bet? Check every port.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Tech Tuesday: Luxembourg Notarial Records on has made a new set of Luxembourg records available to users as of 25 September. Called the Luxembourg Notarial Records, 1621-1821,  the collection contains images of  notarial documents recorded during that period. Records are divided by town, notary, and time period.  There is no central index, so you'll need to be patient. But this is likely your best chance to access documents of this genre!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Those Places Thursday: A New York Times Article on Luxembourg

   If you've read this for any period of time, you know I tend to fall head over heels for travel articles on Luxembourg. Well, The New York Times has offered another great article. Their travel writer covers his three day bike trip from Luxembourg City and the surrounding country. It's aimed at a traveler with no knowledge of Luxembourg, but it's still a worthwhile read.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Follow Friday: Luxembourgensia

    If you've fallen head over heels for Luxembourg research, you may enjoy Fausto Gardini's blog entitled Luxembourgensia. Blog posts, which are updated daily, include fun facts about Luxembourg-Americans. Some are biographies of famous people born that day. Others trace Luxembourg-American involvement in American events, such as the Gold Rush. A fun read.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Tech Tuesday: -Luxembourg news in English

 Interested in following news in Luxembourg? The website provides a way to read the daily news in English. Essentially, you're treated to the headlines from the paper's print addition. If you want to learn about Luxembourg daily life, this is a great way to start.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Matrilinear Monday: Identifying an Ancestor's Birth Place off of a Passport Application

      Researching my Irish line reminded me of a helpful hint for any foreign born lines. has a collection called "U.S. Passport Applications, 1795 to 1925." Passport applications list the applicant's place of birth. For my Luxembourger ancestor - who applied in the 1890s - this does not include his home village. However, the application does provide details of his immigration and naturalization. The naturalization papers might indicate a full birthplace. In the 1920s, the application form included one, even more helpful, feature. If the applicant was female and unmarried, she had to list her father's birthplace. Play around with the collection. You never know what you may find.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Sentimental Sunday: Favorite Family Pets

   In looking for a photo of one of my Luxembourger ancestors recently (yes, my photo storage needs help), I stumbled across a photo of another g-great with the family horse. It's become the family joke: "the horse that will live forever." We know nothing about him - except his name, which one of the descendants marked on the back of the photo.
  It makes me wonder what role this horse played in the family's life. Obviously he was important enough that the ancestor was willing to have the photographer haul his equipment out into a field for a photo. He probably was a major source of their farm labor. But I can only guess.
  What family pets have you "kept" as part of your genealogy? What roles do you think they played?

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Sentimental Sunday: Traditional Patterns for Needlework?

   This is a "posing a question" post. Can anyone suggest sources for learning about traditional Luxembourger needlework patterns? If you've read my blogs in the past, you know I love cross-stitch. I've found some great traditional patterns from the Alsace region of France, but I'd love to be able to work on projects reflecting my family's ancestry - and I'm sure I'm not alone. Most of my searches turn up general sites, so help would be greatly appreciated!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Tech Tuesday: Luxembourg-Americans on Facebook

   If you're like most of us and on Facebook on a regular basis, you have some great options for adding to your knowledge of Luxembourg-Americans. The Luxembourg-American Cultural Society hosts a page at That page covers both the Society's events and news- contemporary and historic - from Luxembourg. I'll admit, I feel a little left out not reading Luxembourgish or German, but it's interesting reading. There are also groups that might help your research: search for Luxembourg or the state your ancestor lived in. Some are private; others are run by

Monday, August 20, 2012

Change to the posting schedule

   Hi all,
      Just wanted to give everyone a word of warning... My schedule's gotten crazy enough that I've made it official. I'm changing my posting schedule to just two times a week (or three if it's a good week :) ). I'm hoping that means I can keep up with my research!

Motivation Monday: An editing and personal research

 Well, I haven't had a huge amount of time, so my progress updating the has been slow. Hey, at this point, I've at least gotten my "favorites" for Luxembourger research added (Luxembourg American Cultural Society and Pilgrim's Progress)... but I still have a lot more to go. I wish I could find someone who knows Luxembourger history inside and out to add to the page.
  I've also hit some dead-ends on my family research. Thanks to a native Luxembourger, I now have enough information to trace my g-g-g...s another generation back - if I could get access to the records. Unfortunately, since they were born in the 1790s, their birth certificates aren't on online. I've got to order the microfilms from FHL. Another thing to add to the do-list.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Tech Tuesday: Western Europe FamilySearch Forums

  I love genealogy forums: they're a great way to connect with people researching your family.  I stumbled across a new one recently. has a Western Europe forum. It doesn't get a lot of activity, but it should provide you access to a new group of people who know about Luxembourg.  Search Luxembourg to see what's been posted. If nothing else, we can help make it active!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Motivation Monday: Updating the Luxembourg FamilySearch Wiki

   It's "motivation time." I've been insanely busy (Connecticut research, etc)... and trying to keep up with my Luxembourger learning has fallen to the bottom of the list. I tried to play catch up today and stumbled upon a new project: the Wiki for Luxembourg is desperately in need of updating. I'm going to do a little work  -and hopefully get my focus back. Will you join me? I'd love to see this become a fantastic resource. We all know how hard Luxembourg is to research!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Surname Saturday: Leisch

   Sadly, like many family tree sites, the Leisch family site hasn't been updated since the late 1990s. The site was begun as a way for an owner studying a common surname to find connections between the trees. As a result, many of the articles are general: they mention an individual's name, a few statistics and little else. However, if you think you may be related to a Leisch - this is a good place to start.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Tech Tuesday: Luxembourg-American Cultural Society Facebook Page

   I'm officially behind the times. Turns out the Luxembourg-American Cultural Society has added a Facebook page. Many of the posts are about current cultural announcements - such as following Luxembourg's Olympic team. There are some great history photos, too. I loved the post about old photos of the train station, and the images of Luxembourg City. Definitely a must-read.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Surname Saturday: Arens Family

   I've mentioned the work of Bob Arens before. His Luxembourg-American Families website is one of the few that addresses Luxembourg-American genealogy in any thorough way. That's why I was so happy to stumble across his personal website this evening.
   The website is a bit dated - it's in the old FamilyTree Marker format and hasn't been updated since he started his new site - but it has good bones. The main feature is his personal family tree. If you belong to the Arens family, chances are high that you can find solid information about your own family. Arens has also posted his family's unidentified photos. If you're at all related, take a look!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Follow Friday: Genelux becomes Familux

  The Luxembourger site Genelux has done a major upgrade. First of all, they have a new name - FamiLux - and a new website, They also have new content. The front page of the site highlights the upcoming Luxembourg Fest of America, and its focus on Luxembourger food. This includes some great links to Luxembourg food websites. If anyone can tell me how to get a hold of the cookbook for less than $150, please let me know :) The research pages remain the same, but I hope that they'll be updated soon!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Tech Tuesday: Online Tourism Videos as "Virtual Visits"

    Normally, I'm not a big fan of tourism videos. The Connecticut promotional ads have recently been critiqued for showing you pretty pictures of the state but not telling you where or what anything is. And the critique was accurate. However, when I haven't been to the place, I start to appreciate the "pretty pictures" a lot more.
    While I have been to my family's "ancestral village" (or at least region) in Luxembourg and the country's capital, I missed visiting most of the country. Promotional videos produced by Luxembourg's tourist office on the site have provided me with at least a glimpse of what I missed. The videos are more than slightly eclectic, but I found the "pretty pictures" worth the look.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Matrilinear Monday: Tracing Your Family Luxembourg Ancestors?

    I've already run one of my Luxembourger lines into the end of internet based records. For my family's home village, they start in 1796... a few years after my great-great-great-grandfather was born. For that line of the family, I'm on to microfilms. Of course, that means I have to find time to do it.
    In the meantime, I'm working on a female line. This poses its own challenges: Luxembourg birth records do not list the mother's age. They only include her maiden name. That reduces you to one record to find the woman's birth record: her marriage record. In my case, it's in German. Not happening. I'm stuck with hand-searching and estimating, based on birth dates of children.
   So that leads me to ask: What are your tips for researching female Luxembourger ancestors?

My favorites are as follows:
1. If it all possible start with American records: American census documents will provide you with an approximate birth and immigration dates. You can use those to pinpoint a birth record in a village's record.
2. Look  for the marriage record: It should list the bride's age. Since couples tended not to move far, chance are high the birth record are from the same town.
3. If you get stuck, average age at birth of first child is at least 20. You can start hand-searching 20 years back.

Any better ideas?

Friday, July 27, 2012

Follow Friday: The Knowles Collection

   Why am I talking about a blog tracing the Jewish families of Europe while studying Roman Catholic Luxembourg? Because Luxembourg wasn't all Roman Catholic. While the majority of Luxembourg-American families were Roman Catholic, their lives were shaped by those living around them. One article in the Knowles Collection blog provides a nice overview of Jewish history in Luxembourg. I even could overlook the typos!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Those Places Thursday: Local Research Resources

    As I proceed deeper into my "across the pond" research, I wanted to make sure that I reviewed more than just birth and death records. It turns out that many towns kept yearly  census records as well as lists of who had immigrated to the United States.  The Luxembourg American Cultural Society keeps a nice list of resources on their website.  It doesn't cover every town, but it is a nice starting point.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Wedding Wednesday: the saga continues...

   I've written the last few weeks about trying to trace my great-great-grandparents' marriage record in Luxembourg. I did finally turn up their marriage record, so it's on to their birth records. I wrote a little about searching for Catherine Danckoff's birth record in Saturday's post. According to Luxembourg-American Families,she was born in April 1800. Her husband, Jean, was supposedly born in 1797. A hand-search of the Luxembourg Civil Records online has turned up nothing. It leaves me to wonder. Am I missing something or are the dates wrong?

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Tuesday's Tip: French Republican Calendar Explanation and Conversion

   I've started trying to back-trace my great-great-great-grandfather's family. Step 1: determine his birth year. Using his children's birth records, which state his age, I was able to make a good guess for his birth year. It's somewhere between 1794 and 1797. Step 2: where was he born? The family records are in pretty much in the same place, so I'm leaning towards that town. Of course, the search ran me head on into something I wasn't expecting - the French Republican Calendar.
    All I really knew about the French Republican Calendar was that it was used in the French Revolution. Kimberly Powell's history of the French Republican Calendar gave me a nice overview. I can use her chart to figure out what month I'm probably dealing with. But what does 6eme annee (sorry for the lack of accents!) mean? Time for a calendar converter...
   I like Steve Morse's calendar converter with a few reservations. For Luxembourg, the French Republican Calendar dates would all appear in the first century. Unless you realize this, you will end up confused quickly. Make sure that your screen is set correctly. It's on the first line. Don't touch the second line if you're converting from the French to modern calendar. The third line is the one you'll need to change. The first number is the year. If your record says 6eme annee, put in 6. The second item is the month. The last is the day. Entered properly, you'll be able to return a modern date.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Motivation Monday: Online Family Trees

  Most genealogists have a love-hate relationship with online family trees. Many have mistakes, some noticeable. If you've ever seen a tree with an impossible fact - such as being enumerated in a census after death - you'll know what I mean. Others don't list their sources. That can make strange facts hard to confirm. I have one ancestor whose birth date is chronically listed off by one day, simply because someone misread his original birth certificate. If I hadn't backtraced the story, I never would have figured out what happened. But there are some good trees out there, especially for Luxembourg genealogy.
    I've mentioned Bob Arens's Luxembourg American Families before and wanted to mention it again. Arens has made an effort to trace many of the Luxembourg-American families and provides good basic information on many families. If you find something wrong, he's provided a way to submit corrections.
   Why am I mentioning his trees? Because right now, it's providing motivation for my research.  He's got more information than I do, but I've found errors in the information previously submitted to his tree. End result, I'm doing what I can to confirm what he's found. And hopefully, we're both benefiting.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Sentimental Sunday: Postcards of old Luxembourg

   The deeper I get into research, the more interested I get in discovering how my ancestors lived and what their lives might have looked like. For one line, this process is fairly easy. I live close to their home, and it's still fairly rural. It's not too much of a jump to imagine back two centuries. That's not true for my ancestors in Luxembourg.
   That's why I was so thrilled to stumble across the Old Postcards website. Featuring a native Luxembourg photographer, the site offers a biography, as well as photographs from many of the villages across the country. J.M. Bellwald  was born in 1871 and traced the evolution of photography over the next seventy years. His postcards traced life in many different villages. I recognized one from my family tree. If you happen to be from Echternach, you're in luck!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Surname Saturday: Catherine Danckoff, Senningen, Luxembourg

   Catherine Danckoff was married to Jean Reuter 3 June 1823 in Senningen, Luxembourg and had at least two daughters. And at this point, that's all I know. I've been able to trace her husband's birth year using the children's birth records. Unfortunately Luxembourg's french language birth records list the father's age, but not that the mother's. That means I'm more or less stuck guessing her birth year based on her children's birth and the marriage date. Still looking...

Friday, July 20, 2012

Follow Friday: More Luxembourg Photo Blogs!

   Apologies everyone for the spotty posting the last few weeks. I finally am able to concentrate on my Luxembourger research after a few weeks of doing anything but! It's nice to be back on schedule.
   As part of my "return" to work, I'm enjoying spending time looking at pretty pictures of Luxembourg.  Dawn Spaulding is an American ex-pat photographer who lives part time in Luxembourg. She's been blogging about the buildings she's seen in Luxembourg, as well as her visits to surrounding countries. As a medieval studies minor, I especially loved her photographs and histories of local churches. I've been to the Cathedral Notre Dame, but I'm not sure I saw all of those details.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Thankful Thursday: French language records!

   Well, I managed to trace the family sideways a little. I found my g-g-grandmother's sister. Good old fashioned hand-searching. The younger sister was born two years later than my g-g-grandmother. And fortunately, for me, it was in period where my family's region in Luxembourg was using French, not German. I am thrilled! I love actually being able to translate my records without a dictionary and lots of help.  I didn't get much new information thanks to a quirk in the French language records that give the husband's age and not the wife's. However, it was fun to see a new family name and to learn a little more. Hopefully I'll be able to trace the parents back further shortly.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Wedding Wednesday: my great-great-grandmother's family... and the Luxembourg Civil Registration

   It took several hours, but I finally found what I was looking for in the Luxembourg Civil Registrations on My great-great-grandparents married in a village in Luxembourg in June 1823. I made an assumption about location based on where my later relatives were born, including their child. Using her birth date and the age of her father, I made an estimate of the date. I used the age the father turned 21 as a starting point and worked up until the birth of the child I knew about... Turned it up three years early. Now if the record were just in French.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Wedding Wednesday: Still digging...

   I mentioned earlier that I was intending to search for my g-g-g-parents' marriage record. I'm still digging... Thus far I've started with when the husband would have been of legal age (21). I've followed through the next seven years and still have five to go.  I keep hoping. On the upside, I know I have an outside limit. Their daughter was listed as legitimate.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Tech Tuesday: CIA World Factbook, Luxembourg

   Continuing this week's overview of basic resources... If you need basic information to start resourcing Luxembourg, a good place to start is the CIA World Factbook. The Factbook covers a variety of different topics related to Luxembourg history and culture, including languages spoken and more. The site provides a nice map, a recording of the national anthem and photos. If you're starting from scratch, this is the perfect point.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Motivation Monday: Educational Goals for Luxembourger research

   I know I'm not the only one going through this process, so I thought I'd share my next steps for learning more about my Luxembourger genealogy.
    1. Try to learn some basic phrases in Luxembourgish. There are some good fact sheets online... In the meantime, at least I've managed "hello."
   2. Trace my great-great-grandmother's family. My male line in Luxembourg has hit a temporary dead-end until I start sorting some additional paperwork. That's not true for the female line. I have a birth date and name for her father, so I'm hoping to find his marriage certificate. At least I know what town I'm looking for... The date's a guess.
   3. Figure out my next steps for learning more...

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Genealogy Blogging for Fun or Profit?

   This week, many genealogy bloggers are discussing why they blog - for fun or for profit. I figured it was time to chime in with my two cents. This blog is definitely not a "for-profit" blog. As far as Luxembourg genealogy goes, I am an amateur. I actually started blogging because I realized that the little I know was more than was easily accessible on the internet.
  And that mentality explains a lot about how this blog functions. I blog to learn. Some weeks I know that I want to learn next. Others I don't. You'll see pauses and mistakes. Please feel free to correct me when you see a mistake or share information. Even add what you think I should cover next. I'm creating my own course as I go!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Surname Saturday: A Useful Publication List

  I just discovered another wonderful resource for researchers studying Luxembourg. The Institut Grand-ducal provides a list of publications on its website that can be purchased within the United States. Many of these publications are complete genealogies for a specific region or city. If you are trying to make the jump back to Luxembourg, these will prove priceless. Even if you just have an interest in the region, you can find some great reading!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Follow Friday: Dani's Blog

  The blog of a freelance photographer, Dani's Blog traces her travels throughout Europe. While the content in words is limited, the images are incredible. I'm hoping she posts more from Luxembourg!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy 4th!

In honor of Independence Day, I'm taking today off... Hope you're enjoying the fireworks like our ancestors would have!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Tech Tuesday: Digital Resources Netherlands and Belgium provides unusual Luxembourg publications

  I've spent far too much time recently sorting through lists of Luxembourg resources. Researching in the United States, this becomes a necessity. Many of those websites are dead-ends, no longer actives or contain links to common sites. I stumbled across one that was different.
   Digital Resources Netherlands and Belgium links to a variety of digital publications. Some are wide ranging databases. Others are simple but may prove helpful if you know your family. A list of teachers from 1856 was one of my favorite options. Take a look...

Monday, July 2, 2012

Military Monday: Luxembourg-American Cemetery

 When I mention to someone that I have an interest in Luxembourg genealogy, the Luxembourg-American Cemetery almost always comes up in conversation. It doesn't relate directly to what I do, but with family members  who fought in the Battle of the Bulge, I do find it important.
  There are a few good resources online to help you research family members buried in the Luxembourg-American Cemetery. The American Battle Monuments Commission has a searchable database designed to help locate burial sites. To search, you enter the name in the blank. You also have the option of searching by unit or cemetery. Visitor information is also available on their website.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Sentimental Sunday: Luzembourgish

   I finally decided to start embracing my Luxembourgish heritage and trying to learn a few words using Let'z Learn: Luxembourgish Lessons. I'll be practicing for a long time into the future, but I can already some challenges. How do people learn French, German, Luxembourgish, and English without mixing the four up? I can barely keep my English and French straight! I'll have a hard time not using "Avoir" instead of "Awar." Nothing like new challenges... :)

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Surname Saturday: Theisen of Meriden, CT

    One of the best ways to learn Luxembourg-American genealogy is practice, practice, practice. This time, my practice focuses on a family from Meriden, CT. Joseph C. Theisen was born c. 1868 in Luxembourg, married in his late 30s, and employed by a local factory. His should be an easy to trace Luxembourg history, but I've already hit a road-block. I'm hoping one of you might be able to break through it. 
   Since I'm not  tracing a specific family, I started with the United State Federal Census. For some reason, the 1880 census is relatively reliable about listing Luxembourgers as born in Luxembourg, not Germany. I used an search of that census with a residence of Meriden, CT (a known Luxembourger settlement) and a birth place of Luxembourg. I got a few hits, including a family I hadn't traced before.
   Joseph C. Theisen and his wife Margaret were life long residents of Meriden.Theisen was born in Luxembourg or Germany, according to the 1910 through 1930 census enumerations. He arrived in the United States relatively young. According to the census enuemrations, the dates vary from 1868-1870.   I'm not sure when either died, but I've been able to trace them in a city directory as late as 1932, using's "U.S City Directories, 1821-1989" database. According to an 1893 directory in the same database, Joseph worked for B & H Manufacturing Company (which made lamps and
   It's in tracing Theisen back to Luxembourg that I run into problems. I have a likely candidate for Theisen on New York passenger manifests. A six year old Joseph arrived on 27 September 1873 with a nine-year old girl named Susanna. Ifs this my Joseph? I don't actually know. I've tried to trace him back further, but I've run into problems. A search of the 1853/1863 decennial tables lists only one Theisen. I searched for Joseph in that town without success. Ideas?

Friday, June 29, 2012

Luxembourg History and Culture Week: Follow Friday, Blogging Luxembourg

   Blogging Luxembourg is somewhat outdated, having ended in 2010. It traces an expat's life in Luxembourg from 2007 and 2010. While much is devoted to the expat's interests, there are some nice profiles on local history and culture. Check out the Schueberfouer post, covering Luxembourg City's largest fair.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Luxembourg History and Culture Week: Those Places Thursday, World War II Memorial Sites

    If your ancestors served in Europe during World War II, they may have passed through Luxembourg. Several groups in Luxembourg have devoted energy to making sure their work was remembered. The General Patton Memorial Museum remembers the commander of the troops that liberated Ettlebruck. The website offers photos of the museum, a summary of Patton's work, and more. A website on historic trails permit you to follow the Battle of the Bulge. Read through, and you may discover far more about the experiences of your ancestors.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Luxembourg History and Culture Week: Luxembourg City Tourist Office

   If your family has any direct connection to Luxembourg City, be sure to check out the website of the Luxembourg City Tourist Office. Run by the city, it includes basic tourist information. It also covers profiles of historic monuments, a video of the city and more. The history profile is fun reading.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Luxembourg History and Culture Week: Tuesday's Tip, National Tourist Office

    One of the ways I discover new links is through hand-searching the website of the National Tourist Office of Luxembourg. Run by the government of Luxembourg, the office offers a list of sites that may be of use to Luxembourg visitors. Some are typical tourist sites, such as a site to book inn reservations. Others provide useful photos and histories. Check out the Luxembourg City Tourist Office.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Luxembourg History and Culture Week: Mappy Monday, Luxalbum

   Designed to showcase Luxembourg's cantons, Luxalbum provides maps and photos of each site. Click through the canton and region to the village. You'll rewarded with a photograph of the site and a map. Be patient and click carefully. The website has pop-up ads linked to each click. If you can avoid them, it's worth a look.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Luxembourg History and Culture Week:

     If you're like me, tracing who had control of Luxembourg - which has an impact on records structure and language - quickly gets confusing. Turns out Luxembourg's government has tried to make this easier! On the website, they've posted a timeline of major events in Luxembourg's history. While most Luxembourg-American families won't attach much importance to the date of the introduction of the Euro, you may be interested in the date of Luxembourg's independence (1815). The "Historical Abstract" is a definitely a nice cheat sheet.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Sorting Saturday: websites on Luxembourg food and culture

     I spent part of last night looking back through the websites on Luxembourg's food and culture I'd saved, searching for two things: dessert recipes and cross-stitch. Unfortunately, thus far I'm coming up empty handed. Most of the dessert recipes are too heavy for this time of year (in the middle of a record heatwave) or require off-season ingredients. Although I've been able to find patterns from Alsace, I have yet to turn up Luxembourg needlepoint patterns. The keyword search turns up a huge number of "Jardin de Luxembourg" patterns... End result, I'll have to save the winter recipes in a file and start looking for new ones. Any ideas?

Friday, June 22, 2012

Follow Friday: Sycamore Stirrings Little Differences

   Since I'm on a Luxembourg cultural kick right now, I thought you might enjoy a series on the blog Sycamore Stirrings called "Little Differences." Katy, the blogger, lived in Luxembourg during 2010 and posted about the differences between Luxembourg and American life. I especially loved the stories about "Black Peter." Our family's German/Luxembourg-American community still celebrated with him, even after decades in the United States.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Those Places Thursday: Luxembourg's Old Quarters

   Luxembourg City is on the UNESCO's list of World Heritage Sites. The city's old town was surrounded by fortifications for over three centuries. Although they have been partially destroyed, they still provide an impressive view of the older part of the city and the valley they surround.
   If you can't visit or don't know the history off the top of your head, UNESCO's website is worth a look. They have a nice overview, photos, and more.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Workday Wednesday: Luxembourg occupation

   I've talked a lot about Luxembourgers being farmers. While that was true of the families that immigrated to the US, that wasn't true of those who stayed in Luxembourg. I wonder how many of ancestors thought their country would be importing workers? Check out the website Multicultural Netherlands.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Talented Tuesday: Bretzelsonndeg recipes

    My Luxembourg cultural kick continues... I hate to admit it, but I'd never heard of Bretzelsonndeg before today. I stumbled across it while looking for websites on Luxembourger crafts. Apparently it's celebrated the Sunday before Easter.  Read more about it and view a recipe by blogger Katy here.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Mappy Monday: Historic Luxembourg maps

   I've been doing a lot of reading and trying to learn what I can about Luxembourg's history. Since the country changed hands so many times, it can be hard to follow its history. Maps can be a big help, and I'm slowly finding good images on websites. For maps from the 1500s through the 1700s, check out Luxembourg Antique Maps. The site has images of early maps of Luxembourg as well as maps of Luxembourg City from the same period. It won't illustrate villages, but it is a start. You can also find a few more modern maps on the University of Texas's website. Happy research!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Sentimental Sunday: Learning my cultural heritage

    The more research I do on my Luxembourger heritage, the more glad I am of the opportunity to study my family tree. Like many Americans, my family tree is a mix of different cultures and backgrounds. I don't have one ethnic heritage. I have several: Irish, German, Luxembourger, and a few more. They've combined to make me a full person with a great mix of traditions.
    But it's really nice to know where each piece comes from. I've been able to discover that the "Black Peter" stories one ancestor told probably came from the Luxembourger tradition and not from the family's German heritage.  The opening of Christmas presents Christmas Eve could have come from either. A little bit of cultural history goes a long way.
   So, please forgive me for doing a lot of cultural posts. I love learning!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Society Saturday: Courses in Luxembourgish

   I hate to admit it, but for a long time, we weren't aware my ancestor spoke Luxembourgish. We knew he spoke German since he married into a local Bohemian family. We suspected he spoke French, since his children knew words of French. It wasn't until my first trip to Luxembourg that what we knew started to make sense. While he could have spoken French, the Luxembourgish dialect uses words of French. Luxembourgish was the most likely option.
   Of course, realizing that has made me interested in learning Luxembourgish. My options are limited, but if you live in Wisconsin, you may be in luck. The Luxembourg-American Cultural Society offers onsite courses in Luxembourgish. Their contact information is available on their website. Even better, they're planning for an online course. I can't wait!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Follow Friday: More Useful Luxembourg Genealogy Links

I'm adding a few more links to my "Follow Friday" from last week.
1) The Genealogy Surname Navigator: Type in the surname, and you'll be able to search most Luxembourg message boards and a few databases at once. It's a good way to hit passenger lists, the 1880s census, message boards, and more. Be aware: a few links are outdated.
2) "Looking for Luxembourgers": A good - and short - history of Luxembourger migration, this entry gives you an idea of where to start looking for family.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Those Places Thursday: What Luxembourg town is that?

   So you've finally managed to find a reference to the name of your ancestor's Luxembourg town... and it doesn't match anything on a map. Why?  
    Luxembourg used three different languages. French and German weer official, while Luxembourgish served as a dialectic. The name you've found could be a rendering of any of the three languages. Keep in mind that English speaking locals rarely copied foreign languages correctly. You'll need to check any "sound alike" letters, such as switching i for e or y.
     While a map might be helpful in identifying the town, you also have a few other options. The Institut grand-ducal website offers a list of towns in all three languages. Also, search Luxembourg message boards for the town name you have. You should be able to narrow down the location quickly.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Workday Wednesday: What was the occupation of my Luxembourg ancestor?

  From everything I've read, most Luxembourger immigrants were lower middle class farmers when they left Luxembourg - but could move onto very different occupations in the United States. How do you find out what they did? The U.S. census and state census documents are a good place to start, since they list occupations. Make sure you check every census document for your ancestor. Mine had a  stint on the railroad I never would have known about, except for the fact that it was recorded in a state census. Look at death records and obituaries. Most list occupations. And (with thanks to our town historians for the reminder) check the tax lists. You never know what you'll find!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Tuesday's Tip: How do I break down my Luxembourg brick-wall?

   There aren't a lot of great options when you hit a brick wall. Few professional genealogists have any experience in the field (my inability to read German causes me problems...). You really have to piece together information from a lot of sources. However, I do have some places to start.
   1. Translation: The APG Directory allows you to search for translators. Have some patience... There's currently no option to search for a specific language.
   2. An American brick wall: Consider contacting the local historical society or town/village historian. You'd be surprised how well they know the local families.
  3. A Luxembourg brick wall: Yes, there are professional historians in Luxembourg. A Google Search will turn up a few names. Disclaimer - I haven't hired anyone.

And you can always ask a question. I'll do the best I can!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Maritime Monday: At which port did my Luxembourger ancestor arrive in the United States?

  The Institut grand-ducal's Pilgrim's Progress site provides a good answer to this question: New York, Philadelphia, Boston, and New Orleans.
   In my experience, New York is probably your best bet. Most immigrants left from Le Havre and arrived in New York. Especially during the Civil War, you would want to head north and across to the Midwest. Of course, there's no guarantee. If your ancestor arrived in the 1840s and early 1850s, be sure to check New Orleans as well. At least you know you can skip San Francisco!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Church Record Sunday: How do I find the American church records for my ancestor?

    I can at least give you a starting point. You're looking for a Catholic church. Most Luxembourgers were Roman Catholic and would either establish their own church or join with an existing church used by German speaking Catholics. The challenge may come in locating the current incarnation of that church. Due to a decrease in the active Catholic population, churches have been closed and offices have been merged. Patience online may serve your purpose. However, you usually have a back up option. The archives of the local diocese may have a copy of the records for the original church.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Surname Saturday: How do I know that my surname is Luxembourger?

   This is a question I constantly ask myself when I consider what it would be like to start from scratch. My family lore gave me their ethnicity, but not everyone is that lucky. So, how do I know that my surname is Luxembourger?
   The answer is that there's no easy answer. Most Luxembourgers immigrated to the United States sometime in the 19th century.  During that century, Luxembourg had used both French and German as official languages. German names are more common, but that's no guarantee.  The census can provide one hint. Look for a "Dutch" or Luxembourger ethnicity in an area with a lot of Germans. These individuals are likely Luxembourger. Remember to check all of the census documents for an individual. Depending on the enumerator, they could be recorded as German all but one time. Theresa Beckers offers some suggestions for reading on her webpage.  The information is a bit outdated. The publications from the National Archives are no longer available. You can access the index to the Tables Decennales online. Consider looking at Luxembourg message boards and family sites as well. Patience will solve most problems.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Follow Friday: Useful websites for Luxembourg - American Research

   I'm stepping away from my typical "Follow Friday" format today. I've spent the last few days looking for new ways to learn about Luxembourger culture and thought you might like to see some of the websites I've turned up:
  1. A page on a site dedicated to America's many cultures, this article provides a good overview of Luxembourg-American culture. I just wish it were cited!

 2. The Stearns County Historical Society gives you a new option for ordering from the Luxemburg Gazette. Even better, they have an index. They also have an index to immigrants to Stearns County.

3. The National Library of Luxembourg has an option for searching its newspapers online. I only found one mention of my family - but it was my ancestor's uncle announcing a plan to immigrate. Cool, right?

Hope they're useful!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Those Places Thursday: Saint Cecilia's, Sheldon, New York

    Thanks to Barbara Durfee for today's post. It teaches all of us a little more about life in Sheldon.
   St Cecilia's Roman Catholic church was the first Catholic parish in Wyoming County, NY. Father John Neumann was the inspiration to the twenty plus members to build a church. The first church was built on the land donated by the Pochel and Loreaux family (where the south cemetery is located)  in about 1830 to 1840. This was a log church, which soon became too small for the Belgians, Luxembourgers, French and Germans. The second church was of wooden construction.And in 1889/1890, a stone church was built at that site, at a cost of about $13,000. The stone was quarried from less than a mile away at the Almeter farm. The stone blocks were hauled by horse and wagons to the site and cut there.  Most of the work was volunteer, and  men of talent went to work - Constant Daniel, Peter Gabel, Almeters, Georges, Kehls, Jacoby, Dominesey, Jungers to name a few. The church is still called St Cecilia's , but with the merging of parishes, the parish is called  Fr John Neumann Roman Catholic parish.
    The original table that Fr Neumann used to say mass on, pray from and preach to the crowd, is now housed in the closed school house. Fr John Neumann has been canonized a saint, and there has been a dedication to name the church and place a bronze statue of him in the gardens there.   
   The nuns ran the school back then and lived there as well. They had a residence on the third floor. 
   There were several sheds built in 1915/1916 to house the horses and buggies in bad weather. According to an old East Aurora newspaper, there could be as many as 100 horse teams there on a Sunday for church services.I`m sure there was not enough room for all of them in the sheds.The churchgoers needed to get there early for that.
   The church bells are the original bells that rang for services. The only update is that there was an electric starter installed instead of the hand pulled clappers.
Sincerly submitted by Barbara Durfee  Sheldon Town Historian

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Wisdom Wednesday: Write Down Those Oral Histories

    I've been juggling a few too many projects for the last few days, including the decision of how to restructure my blog (Yes, that is why my posts keep getting put up late!). In the process, I've thought about some questions that I would have had to answer if I had started my Luxembourger research from scratch. I can think of two big ones: where was my family actually from and how did they get the United States?
   I didn't have to answer these questions. I have my family's starting village - and, though it took me a few extra steps, what port they came through. Why? Because my family had a strong oral tradition that indicated both. There was a bit of confusion. We'd been told that my ancestor came up the Mississippi before settling in the Dubuque area. This was true of one of my ancestor's uncles, but not true of my direct line (who came through New York). However, the story gave me the basic roots and made research a lot easier.
  I was lucky. The story was passed down basically intact from generation to generation. Combine that with the ancestors who were smart enough to write things down, and I had what I needed to do my research. For that reason, I wanted to recommend one thing. If you have an oral history in your family, write it down. You may not be able to make sense of it now. Eventually someone will.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Tech Tuesday: Suggestions for blog "improvement"

 My apologies for the late blog posts this week! I'm juggling a few too many projects at once. One of them is planning for the future of the blog. I've run to the end of the Insitut grand-ducal's "Settlement" list that I was using to create my blog planning. It's time for a new direction. What would you like to see next?

Monday, June 4, 2012

Mappy Monday: Wyoming County Maps, New York

  Sheldon, New York is located in Wyoming County. Since it was only created in 1841, it lacks early maps. A few historic maps can be located from the 19th century. The Wyoming County, New York Genweb site offers one map, dating from 1895. New York Public Library's Digital Gallery  also offers some great maps of the state. Patience should yield you what you need.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Church Record Sunday: St. Cecilia's, Sheldon, NY

  St. Cecilia's Roman Catholic Church was home to Sheldon's Luxembourger population. We'll be discussing the church's history more on Thursday, but I wanted to share where to find the records. Cemetery inscriptions have been digitized and are available online at several local sites, including Betty's Genealogy, Find A Grave, and Barbara Dufree's website. Contact with the church should help locate records.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Society Saturday: Sheldon (New York) Historical Society

  So, we've hit the last of the Institut grand-ducal's list of Luxembourger settlements: Sheldon, New York. Sheldon was founded in 1804, although Luxembourgers did not arrive until the 1830s. All the references I can find to the town refer to it as a German settlement. It sounds likely that the Luxembourgers merged - and intermarried - with local Germans, as they did in many non-Luxembourger settlements.
   The Sheldon Historical Society has a very small footprint on the web. Their website, with a few histories of the town, county, and museum, has not been fully undated since sometime around 2004. For recent information, you have to be very careful to click on their landing page. Go off that and you'll find yourself lost. Their Facebook page shows only one post since 2010.
   Despite that, I've managed to learn a bit about the Historical Society. Their primary focus is a museum run out of a former school house. They rotate exhibits in conjunction with an annual yard sale. The topics change annually. Meetings are scheduled regularly with breaks over the winter. Locals may have a good knowledge of the area's history, even though the group doesn't maintain a research library. Contact them for more information.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Follow Friday: Grosvenor Room Genealogy & Local History Blog

 The above local history and genealogy blog is run by the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library. While much of the blog is devoted to the resources of the Grosvenor Room, some of the posts are priceless for anyone researching the county. A December 2011 post traces sources for land records. Only a few sources are online, but the blogger also explains how to access those that aren't. A September 2011 post offers suggestions for researching in New York newspapers. I'd love to see some more recent additions (the last post was in February), but I'd highly recommend the blog to any Erie County family historians!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Those Places Thursday: Erie County New York Historic Aerial Photos

   The Erie County Public Works Division of Highways has offered a resource "gem" to researchers covering rural areas. In the 1920s and the 1950s, the Division took aerial photos of the county. They've posted those photos online. While they have noted problems, these collections allow you to understand how the area where your ancestor lived may have looked. To access the photos, click into the time period. The first screen to come up will be an atlas map of the county. Click on the section you want to examine. The next screen will bring up a more detailed map. From there, you can click right into the applicable photo. It only took me a quick look to discover that the town I was studying was very rural.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Workday Wednesday: Luxembourgers in North Collins, New York

   My searches into the history of North Collins were leaving me empty-handed, so I turned to my favorite back-up - the census. A search of the 1880 census on turns up a number of families that were Luxembourg born and living in North Collins: the Thrills, the Schroeders, and more. At least a portion of the families were farm laborers. Lana Bowen, born in Luxembourg and married to a German, kept house while he labored on a farm. 29 year old Barbara Battzer kept house for her 70 year old father, also a farm laborer. John Baltzer (Battzer?), 24, also labored on a farm. These Luxembourg born families seem to have kept to their traditional roles. While wealthy enough to own a house, by the 1880s, they still didn't own their own farms.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Tuesday's Tip: Look for the index page in the register

   I've been playing with the Luxembourg Civil Registration database on It's one of the rare Luxembourg databases available in the United States. Ideally, the register contains records of every birth, death, and marriage recorded within the village. After more than a few hours of searching, I finally stumbled across one time saving trick: look for the index page. Most registered had an index page at the start of each year's records, listing the date of the event and the involved individuals. Once you have the date, the search becomes much easier. Just a word of caution. I've found a few index pages at the end of the year. Read carefully.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Mappy Monday: Historic Maps

  The private site of the librarian of the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society, is just a fun, informative site. What was even better was the discover that the site's author has carefully compiled a list of maps of the county. Some come from her private collection; others are linked from other sites or off-line atlases. Each is explained by date, location, and a few added notes. This is a great way to find out more about where your ancestors lived.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Church Record Sunday: Saint Mary's, New Oregon (North Collins) New York

   The history of Saint Mary's Church in New Oregon is somewhat murky. I've found several sites which list it as closed, and one that indicates it to be open. As a recent Google Earth image shows no sign in front of the church, I'm inclined to believe the former. As a result, I haven't been able to find much out about the church.
    According to one nineteenth century history, New Oregon was a German settlement in the town of North Collins (remember, German often includes Luxembourger). A real picture photograph available on Ebay shows the church to be in the typical German style. Other than that, I have no details. The cemetery is still extent, listed on Find A Grave, and apparently under the control of Epiphany of Our Lord. It is likely the records are there as well.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Society Saturday: The Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society

  For Luxembourger-American families from Erie County, New York, a good place to start is the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society. Based in Buffalo, the Society's primary focus is the city itself and the famous people who lived there. President Millard Fillmore is especially well represented. Yet, there also collections of use to less prominent natives. The research library indicates holdings of manuscript material, a card index for obituaries in area newspapers, and more. They even suggest genealogy books that may of use. While few of the Society's resources are online, they will do obituary lookups for a fee and offer a list of professional researchers for more detailed research.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Follow Friday: Stephen J. Hartzell's History Notebook

  While not technically a blog, Stephen J. Hartzell's compilation website called the History Notebook could easily serve as a history blog for Seneca and Tiffin Counties in Ohio. Under a section called "Tiffin & Seneca County, Ohio," he provides links to different articles. Some lead to outside websites, such as the local GenWeb site. Others are connected to articles he has written himself. One such article lists the members of Co. A, 8th Ohio Volunteer Infantry. Another tells the story of Rock Run church.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Those Places Thursday: New Riegel Photos, Past and Present

  Digging for photos of the town's I'm researching has now become a huge part of my process. I think it allows you new insight into the areas where your ancestors lived and worked.
  For New Riegel (and most small towns), finding photos isn't easy. Images of the church can be found on the parish website I mentioned earlier. Ebay has only one option: a copy of a postcard of the train station. And if you're looking for graves, there's an extensive cemetery website. As always, I'd love to hear if I missed something!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Workday Wednesday: Tiffin Seneca County (Ohio) Heritage Festival

Sometimes it's easier to see how your ancestors live than to describe their experiences. Tiffin and Seneca Counties have created a program designed to give you that opportunity. On September 14th, 2012, they will open the Tiffin Seneca County Heritage Festival. A portion of the festival is based downtown and includes local history displays in store windows and museum exhibits. Festival committee members also plan to create a living history village, which will include displays of traditional skills.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Tech Tuesday: Script Tutorials and interpreting old handwriting

   I read French - and at that rate I'm going I might learn German, too - but one of the biggest challenges for me is interpreting older handwriting styles. If you've ever stumbled across a double ff in older English documents, you know what I mean. Read ff wrong, and you're liable to end up with a new word. BYU has established a website that should be of some help. Script Tutorials covers older alphabets for a variety of different languages. While French is still in the works, English and German are well-developed. Click on German, and you'll discover a list of common words, samples of Gothic handwriting and more. When you feel ready to actually read, this site will be a huge help.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Mappy Monday: Ohio Historical Maps

   It's Monday - so it must be map day! The Ohio State University Library has a research page designed to make our search much easier. They've combined library and online resources into one page, creating a list of some great research suggestions. I decided to follow a few of them through to the final website. Explore Ohio, run by the Ohio Public Libraries Information Network, is deceptively simple looking. They've brought to together historic maps from throughout Ohio. Some cover large areas; others only address villages. All together, they allow you to paint a picture of the state. even allows you to look at railroads. Have fun!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Church Record Sunday: Saint Boniface (All Saints Parish), New Riegel, Ohio

    One phrase on the Institut grand-ducal's "Luxembourg Settlements" page really stood out for me. Near New Riegel, Ohio, it states that the village of Meysembourg immigrated en masse to New Riegel under pressure from their landlord. A quick glance at Meysembourg on Google Maps suggests that this statement might be true. Compared to neighboring villages, Meysembourg appears to have significantly fewer buildings. 
    Once in New Riegel, the villagers would have to find a church. According to an area historic marker, Saint Boniface was founded in 1834 as a mission of area churches. From 1844 through 2003, the community was served by the Sisters of the Precious Blood and the Missionaries of the Precious Blood. Those orders, which owned over 200 acres, played a major role in the community. 
   In 2003, Saint Boniface was renamed All Saints Parish. The parish now serves churches in the surrounding community.  A phone call to the parish office should help locate records. The cemetery, still called Saint Boniface, is indexed on Find A Grave.

Society Saturday: Ohio Historical Society

  The Ohio Historical Society provides useful sources both on and offline for doing research on Ohio's Luxembourg-American families. Offline, their library serves as the archives for the state of Ohio. As such, they hold pre-1908 vital records, land records, military records, newspapers and more. Online, they offer other useful resources. Their online death certificate index allows you to search for a number of records, which you can than order in their store. Their newspaper index will allow you to find the correct microfilm for articles on your family. Microfilm can then be viewed in the library, requested by interlibrary loan, or possibly, purchased. Other databases include searchable images and War of 1812 rosters. Some digging is required, but you'll likely find what you need.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Follow Friday: need suggestions for good Winona County Minnesota history/genealogy blog

    Well, for the first time on record, my search for new blogs turned up empty handed. While there are plenty of blogs covering general Minnesota history and genealogy, I haven't been able to find anything about Winona County. I suspect I'm missing something huge. In the meantime, I'd love to hear about any Winona County blogs - or general genealogical blogs covering Minnesota.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Those Places Thursday: Elba, Minnesota

  I'm continuing my tradition of sharing websites with historic photos today. I stumbled across photos on a site I wasn't expecting - a commercial community guide. features some nice photos of the town's church, post office, and more. A search of Ebay turned up only one real photo postcard. I'm sure digging would turn up a few more sites.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Tuesday's Tip:'s French Language Guide

 I finally got back far enough in my ancestors' Luxembourger records to find one in French. While that makes me happy (yea for the French degree!), it probably wouldn't be too easy if I didn't speak French. For those of you in that boat, I thought you might enjoy this useful resource. has created a French language resource guide.  Like its German language equivalent, the research guide includes helpful words, numbers and more. It's a great starting point.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Mappy Monday: Minnesota Maps Online

   It's Monday - so it's back to one of my obsessions, historic maps. The Minnesota Historical Society has made a great resource available to map buffs. Called Minnesota Maps Online, their database allows you to view digital images of survey maps and plat books. The variety of sources for Elba is somewhat limited, but it's a great starting point for discovering more about how your ancestors lived. For more context, you can visit other websites, such as the University of Texas Libraries or The Minnesota Geospatial Information Office (you can even create your own map!).

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Church Record Sunday: St Aloysius Church, Elba, Minnesota

   One of the earlier Luxembourger settlements in Minnesota, Elba is home to St. Aloysius Roman Catholic Church. The parish served Luxembourgers in surrounding communities until they built their own churches. While I can find little information on the church's history, the parish is easy to contact: visit their website at for more details. Find A Grave has an extensive cemetery listing. Hopefully you'll find what you need. And if you're from the area, I'd love to hear more.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Society Saturday: Jackson County Chapter, Iowa Genealogical Society

    I went in search of the Jackson County Genealogical Society, hoping it would yield some new resources. Unfortunately, it turns out that they don't have a website or much information online. I was only able to find their contact information here. If anyone is involved with the Society or knows someone who is, I'd love to hear more about them.
   In the mean time, check out the Iowa Genealogical Society's website. While most of their material is offline, they have resources that a non-native might be interested in. There's an option to hire research in their library at $25/hr. They've produced detailed research guides for each county, tracing its history and more. And for the readers among us, you can purchase detailed county histories. Have fun!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Follow Friday: Saving Local History

   Understanding your Luxembourger ancestor's history always requires understanding the history of where they lived. An Iowa librarian has tried to make that process easier through his blog Saving Local History. Only a few posts discuss history in themselves. The vast majority point you to new reading on the topic. While the books may not all interest you, there's a good chance you'll find some new resources.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Those Places Thursday: Photos of Bellevue, Iowa

   I absolutely love finding old photos of my ancestor's communities. Somehow it makes their lives more real. I recently found a series of old photos of Lyme, Connecticut which showed the harbor - and possibly an ancestor's boat. Stumbling onto Bellevue's historic photo slideshow completes my circuit. My Luxembourger ancestor lived near or in Bellevue for a few years and probably saw many of these places. Check it out. Your ancestor may have lived here too.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Workday Wednesday: Jackson County Museums

   Getting a real glimpse of what working life in Jackson County can be hard. Most Luxembourgers were farmers - an occupation often not well-documented. Without diaries, letters, or some other documents, you can be left wondering what being a farmer actually meant. A few museums have worked to change that.
   In Bellevue, the Young Museum documents life in the early 1900s. A ten room house, it has been kept entirely period. The museum is open from May to October.
   I've already mentioned the St. Donatus Parish Museum. Take a look at the Luxembourg-American Cultural Society's detailed write-up for even more information.
    And you can always follow the trail created by National Historic Register buildings. There's a lot to see and learn!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Tuesday's Tip: A History of the Low Countries

  I've been searching for a solid history of Luxembourg in English - and finally found one. Paul Arblaster's A History of the Low Countries traces the history of the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg from Rome to the modern era in great detail. While most of the focus is on the Netherlands, the book is a good way to familiarize yourself with the European forces that shaped Luxembourg. It was often traded between royals, along with Belgium and the Netherlands. I may never remember every detail of the history, but I did appreciate reading it.
   This book answered a few questions for me. I had wondered why early 19th century birth records were in French, while twenty years later, they were in German. Turns out Luxembourg was controlled by France from 1795 to 1815. A few years later, they were an independent - German- principality. A little history explained a lot!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Mappy Monday: Jackson County Maps

    As usual, I'm trying to use maps to piece together where my ancestors lived. I know - in my case- that they attended church in Saint Donatus but lived closer to Bellevue. A county map explains how that might be possible. If that isn't enough detail, the area's tourism site places the county within the state, offers a tourist map, and allows you to look at town maps. Have fun!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Church Record Sunday: St. Joseph, Bellevue, Iowa

   St. Joseph, founded as Bellevue's German Catholic church, is now part of four parish cluster. It dates back at least as far as 1868, when lay parishioners founded a school. Little more information can be found online. Records are likely located at the parish office, based in Bellevue. Contact information for the office can be found on St. Joseph's website.  Find A Grave has an extensive cemetery listing.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Society Saturday: Jackson County

   Admittedly, I haven't touched on all the Luxembourger communities in Dubuque County yet - just to clarify, we've missed Holy Cross and Luxemburg - but I think it's time to move on temporarily! There are only so many historical societies in a small space. So in the meantime, it's on to Jackson County.
   This was the start of my family's American experience. My ancestor and his siblings settled in Jackson County as children. While most started their adult life in the county, they moved north and west as new homesteading land opened. I identify as being "from" somewhere else. But learning more may change my mind.
   Jackson County has some great museum and society resources for Luxembourg-American. Consider learning more about the Saint Donatus museum I described in an earlier post. The Jackson County Historical Society isn't particularly active (their website dates from 2003), but consider sending them an email or letter. The Rootsweb group is very active and well worth a visit. The surname registry is a nice touch. I know I've missed a few places, so please add to my list!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Follow Friday: Dubuque County 4-H History

   As in many agricultural communities, 4-H has a long history in Dubuque County Iowa. 4-H's new blog can help you fill in some of that history. The front page of the blog is styled as a webpage, with links to each separate county. Click through to Dubuque County and you'll find a detailed timeline tracing the county's history. Founded in 1925, 4-H grew gradually to include the entire county. The program has changed significantly overtime and adjusted to the county's new populations. The blog is an interesting read and a great way to learn more about your family.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Those Places Thursday: Worthington photos

  Unlike Cascade, Worthington photos are hard to find online. The Dubuque County Historical Society doesn't have images of the area. The town doesn't have a website. However, Ebay has some great options. A quick search for Worthington, Iowa turned up three real picture postcards. One included multiple views, including the inside of the church. Another shows the church. The third shows the Catholic school. Take a look - even if you don't buy, you'll know what the town looks like.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Tuesday's Tip Update: I found the record!

   So, several hours of digging later, I've found my great-grandfather's civil birth record. It turns out it was in a neighboring town and not in the town where we thought he had been born. The German guide was helpful in identifying the correct record. Unfortunately, it isn't helping too much with the script portion of the record. I simply can't read the German Gothic script. This time, I'm asking for help. But I'm hoping I can use what I learn to work with the next record.
   Those of you have gotten back that far - how are you doing with reading the records?

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Tuesday's Tip: German Language Hints

   While I'm most comfortable researching Luxembourg-American records,  I finally decided it was time to take a leap into the Luxembourger records. Of course, I can't read German (and I'm not in a lucky village where the records were in French and Latin), so easier said than done - until I remembered something. offers word lists in various foreign languages. The German list provides what you'll need to translate the basics from vital records. Hopefully this will help you make the jump from Luxembourg-American to Luxembourg records. I'll let you know when I find something!

Monday, April 30, 2012

Mappy Monday: Iowa DOT Historic Maps

   Turns out everyone in Iowa is getting into historic maps! The Iowa Department of Transportation has made historic maps available on their website. Most are highway maps, which were mass produced after 1910s. However, they've also included a county map from 1914, another from 1986, and a railroad map from the 1850s. This is a great way to pinpoint where your ancestor lived, down to the street level.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Church Record Sunday: St. Paul's Catholic Church, Worthington, Iowa

    St. Paul's Catholic Church is the Roman Catholic church for the community of Worthington, Iowa. The only information about the parish available online is from Wikipedia. Founded in 1868, the parish was intended for the area's growing population of Irish and German immigrants. It is still active in the area. Consider contacting the parish office for records. The phone number for the rectory is 563-855-2405, but due to recent parish changes, the office may not be located there.
    St. Paul's cemetery is partially indexed on Rootsweb and Find A Grave.

Society Saturday: Dubuque County Historical Society

    Once again switching gears. This time we're in Worthington, Iowa. Worthington is located in Dubuque County, so the local historical society falls under the county level.
   The Dubuque County Historical Society was founded in 1950, growing out of a natural history museum founded in the 1870s. Today, the Society operates several museums and an archives. While the museums concentrate on local history, the archives focus on the history of the Mississippi River. Collections include photographs from the early 20th century, postcards of the Dubuque area, and biographies of prominent local individuals.
   Since Worthington was not on the river, the collections of the Dubuque County Historical Society may not contain much on Worthington's locals. But, as always, it's worth a try. You never know how much of a relationship your ancestor may have had with Dubuque.

Sentimental Sunday, the Octave

   As I've often mentioned, I love learning more about my Luxembourg ancestry. When I started researching this line in detail a year or so ago, I knew my family was from Hostert, Luxembourg. And that was about it. Doing some digging around holidays has allowed me to learn a lot more. For one thing, I'm slowly discovering that Luxembourg has some very special traditions.
   One of these traditions, called the Octave, is being celebrated this week. The Octave is an annual pilgrimage to the cathedral in Luxembourg City. Week-long (from April 28th to May 5th), it brings together pilgrims from surrounding countries in the celebration of masses honoring the Virgin. The tradition dates back to the 1600s. In 1666, Mary was chosen as the patron saint of Luxembourg and their protector from the plague. Images online reveal Luxembourg's deep Catholic roots.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Follow Friday: Dubuque Public Library blog

   Looking for a good Dubuque county history blog is harder than I expected. There just aren't that many local history blogs for Iowa. However, I did discover a blog that might provide some useful information about the Dubuque area. W. 11th and Bluff, run by the Dubuque Public Library, mostly profiles new books. However, under the genealogy category, I found an announcement by a local genealogy group. Hopefully they'll post more soon.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Those Places Thursday: Cascade Postcards

    I love using historic photographs and postcards to understand what a community looked like when my ancestors lived there. A few historic groups have made an effort to make those images available. The Rootsweb site includes postcards from the early 20th century. The Tri-County Historical Society includes a variety of photographs as part of their "Hidden Pages" section. Also, check out Ebay. There are a wide variety of postcards listed for sale. You may find your ancestor's home or business listed.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Workday Wednesday: Cascade, Iowa

  Farming communities tend not have occupational histories. Cascade is no different. A vague occupational history can be found on the local rootsweb site. It boils down to this. Most of the community were farmers or involved in support industries, such as the local flour mill. A list can be found here.  Like many farming communities, Cascade gained industry in the 20th century. Factories eventually began to pay a role in daily life, although farms remained important.
   Unfortunately, without hearing from the individual workers, you miss a lot. Cascade probably has an amazing story. Does anyone know where I can find it?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Tuesday's Tip: Read the town and parish histories carefully before looking for records

     I almost made a major mistake in researching for Church Record Sunday. I saw images of St. Martin's Church. It looked old. It appeared to be the only Catholic church building in Cascade. It had to be the church area Luxembourgers attended. Right?
   Wrong. St. Martin's was the local Irish Catholic church. St. Mary's, the German Catholic church (Luxembourgers often attended German institutions), was no longer in existence. It had merged with St. Martin's, and the building had been sold. And I almost missed it.
  Why? Because I didn't read the local histories closely enough. The local Historical Society's website provided me with some hints. There were references to events at St. Mary's. I didn't track them down. If I hadn't stumbled across a Wikipedia site, I would have missed what had happened - and a lot of Luxembourger history.
  Lesson learned. From now on, I will read parish and local histories more carefully. I will track down every lead. I could have accidentally presented the wrong story.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Mappy Monday: Historic Maps of Iowa

    I just went hunting for another round of historic maps, this time for Dubuque County (where Cascade is located). I turned up a gold-mine on the University of Alabama's Department of Geography website. They've provided digital images of maps dating from 1845 through the 1970s. The earliest show the state when it was still a territory. Many of the later maps are geological survey maps. Each can teach you more about Cascade, as well as the rest of Iowa.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Church Record Sunday: St. Mary's, Cascade, Iowa

  It's rare that I can't find a good history for a church somewhere online. Of course, this is one of those times. I can find photos, but the only available history is on Wikipedia.  St. Mary's, the German Catholic church for Cascade, Iowa, was merged with another parish in the 1990s and eventually was closed. The building has since been sold.
   Records have been transferred several times but should be easily to locate. The parishioners of St. Mary's joined St. Matthais, which is now part of the St. Thomas Aquinas Pastorate.   Contact the parish office.
   The St. Mary's Parish Cemetery is still active. Indexes are available on Rootsweb. Images are available on Find A Grave. 

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Society Saturday: Tri-County Historical Society

    It's time to change towns again! This time we're headed to Cascade, Iowa and checking out the Tri-County Historical Society. While the Tri-County Historical Society apparently doesn't have a research library, they do have some great articles, photos, and artifacts describing life in town. Online, you can view historic photos of the area. You can also read articles on the town's military road, its connection with Ringling Brothers and more. Off-line, the Historical Society boasts a museum with exhibits on the railroad, baseball star Red Farber, and local military service. A visit may not teach you much about your family, but it will teach you a lot about where they lived!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Follow Friday: Apple Valley, Minnesota Patch and the "Historic Faces of Dakota County"

    "Historic Faces of Dakota County" is a regular feature on the Apple Valley site. Compiled from material in the archives of the Dakota County Historical Society, articles in the column cover everything from the life of an NDSU coach to Romanian immigration in South St. Paul. For a researcher with interest in the area, this is a potential goldmine. Look carefully through the profiles; you may find your ancestors.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Thrifty Thursday: Dakota County Minnesota Public Library

   Once in a while, it's worth sharing a reminder of my favorite "thrifty" resource. The local public library has resources that can help you trace your ancestors. Most keep files of the area's old newspapers, have local histories, and at the very least, can point you in the direction of the local historical society. The Dakota County Public Library's website is designed for locals. However, if you're researching that area, give them a call. You never know how they might be able to help.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Wisdom Wednesday: Essential Luxembourgish Phrases

  When I try to deal with a new culture, I often struggle with not understanding the language. I stumbled across a BBC website today that's trying to bridge that gap. It offers "Luxembourgish Essential Phrases."  It won't be enough to read my ancestor's birth records. I might be able to say thank you now, though... And in the meantime, I'll keep looking for a genealogy guide to help with the translation.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Tuesday's Tip: Where to Look for Luxembourg-American Records Locally

  Putting together this week's blog reminded me that sometimes it's helpful to have a research plan laid out for you. Following is my "to do list" for researching Luxembourg-American records locally.  I'm assuming you've already done the basics of online research, such as searching the census, and if possible, ordered vital records.
   1. Establish birth, marriage, and death dates: This will make local research much easier.
   2. Start with the Roman Catholic church: Most RC churches keep very good records. Make sure you note sponsors as well as parents, spouses, etc. Many were from other branches of the same family.
   3. Visit the Roman Catholic cemetery: Look for anyone else with your surname. They may be related.
   4. Stop in at the local historical society: See what records they hold. Many have surname files, which contain any records about the family.
   5. Visit the local library: Make sure you look through their newspaper archives around the dates of your ancestor's major events. Obituaries often fill in gaps.

 Good luck!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Mappy Monday: Mapping Minnesota History

      Sometimes, finding out where your Luxembourger ancestor's records are held can be a challenge. Minnesota records provide one example. Between the mid-1800s and the end of the century, the state's borders changed multiple times. A Dakota Historical Society webpage can help you figure exactly where your ancestor might have lived. Their "Mapping Minnesota History" tool allows you to walk through borders in different eras.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Church Record Sunday: St. John the Baptist, Vermillion, Minnesota

  Founded in 1882 by area German, Irish, and Luxembourger families, St. John the Baptist Roman Catholic Church still serves Vermillion, MN. Despite being built wishes of the area's bishop, the parish soon grew. They received a part-time and then a full-time priest. The first church was replaced in 1912. Today, the community also includes an elementary school.
   The church has a few records accessible via their website. Their "About Us" page links to a detailed history of the parish. Although the focus is on the priests more than the parishioners, you may find a mention of your ancestor if they were a church trustee or involved in fundraising. For most records, you will likely have to contact the church.
   Find A Grave has a listing for the church's cemetery.