Saturday, March 31, 2012

Society Saturday: Minnesota Genealogical Society

    Looking for records of Luxembourg-American families in Minnesota? You may have some luck with the Minnesota Genealogical Society. While little information is available online, the library offers access to a variety of local records. Researchers can search city directories, church records and more. Volunteers will do research at a fee of $20/hr. If you're only interested in what can be found online, check out their "Lost Minnesota Photos" page. You may be able to find an image of your ancestor.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Follow Friday: Stump Craig

   Genealogist Craig Scott has provided a great new addition to the blogging world with his blog Stump Craig. In the blog, Scott sets out to solve brick walls, those pesky genealogical problems you just can't get beyond. Thus far, he's addressed Revolutionary War soldiers and Louisiana census records in 1840.  He begins by offering the problem and then breaks down how he'd address it. I don't know that his blog will cover questions about Luxembourger communities, but I'd love to see his suggestions!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Thrifty Thursday: Dakota County Historical Society (Minnesota) Catholic Church Records Databases

    Combing through Catholic church records can be both a blessing and a challenge for genealogists. These records often provide fantastic information but can be almost impossible to access. Often they're languishing somewhere in a church office. Finding these records accessible is a rare treat.
    Dakota County Historical Society has gone a step beyond. Not only are the records accessible via microfilm, they've created an online transcription database. Enter a name, and you'll be returned with a date and the name of the appropriate church. It's a huge time saver and a big savings if you need only to confirm an event took place.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Tech Tuesday: and vintage photos

   Once again, I'm returning to my favorite genealogy topic, vintage photos. My family has a lot of vintage photos out there, so I tend to haunt the internet hoping to find new ones. I've already shared a  few of my favorite sources, including photo reunion blogs, Find A Grave, and eBay. Today I revisited a genealogy classic -
  Although it's probably mentioned in every genealogy book, the site is still worth a visit. Photos are submitted by volunteers, who use the site to connect with relative. You can search by several different catagories: surname, location and photographer. Thus far, these searches haven't offered me any new information, but I keep hoping. My favorite section is the "mysteries" section. There, visitors can post unidentified photos and ask for hints. It's a great way to see what your ancestor's home town looked like.

Happy research!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Mappy Monday: Luxembourg Partition Maps

 I check Luxembourg message boards frequently and often see one mistake. There's always a question posted about a family from the Luxembourg region of Belgium. The family assumes the word Luxembourg must mean that they're from Luxembourg. They're half-right, but the assumption can make locating their family's records that much harder.
   Luxembourg was originally much larger than it is today. Parts of the Grand Duchy - as I discovered this morning - are now contained in France, Belgium, and more. Take a look at the partitions of Luxembourg section on the Belgium Roots Project page to get a better idea of what country your family's home village belongs to now. Once you've made that step, you can begin accessing your family's records in the correct archive.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Church Record Sunday: St. Mary's, David City, NE

  Founded in 1877, the church of St. Mary's in David City, Nebraska was the home parish for a group of Luxembourgers who had arrived in the area in 1869. They worked with local clergy to build what structures they could for worship. Expanding gradually over time, the church building did not take on its modern form until 1911.
   Today, the parish is still active in David City. You can reach the church at by visiting their website, 402-367-3579 or 580 I Street, David City, NE 6863. Cemetery records are available on Find A Grave.  Good luck!

Society Saturday: Butler County (Nebraska) Genealogical Society

     One group has made tracing the footsteps of Luxembourg-Americans much easier. Luxembourgers first settled in the area around David City, NE in 1869. They set up new lives as area farmers and left their mark in local records. The Butler County Genealogical Society offers a way for non-locals to uncover those records. For a fee of $5.00 per hour (plus expenses), they will search for a name in local newspapers, school records, deed books, marriage records and more. This a very reasonable rate and a great time-saver. Contact them for more information, since their page is a little dated.


Friday, March 23, 2012

Follow Friday: Prarie Roots Genealogy blog - Iowa research

  Written by professional genealogist Alice Hoyt Veen, the Prarie Roots Genealogy blog offers hints for genealogical research in Iowa. Some of her posts are quite generic, such as a review of a recent Irish genealogy publication. Others are unique to the region. Her detailed post on ordering state-level vital records is priceless if you need to locate a birth certificate. I'd love to see still more examples of the later type of post.
   My favorite part of Prarie Roots Genealogy is actually not the posts. Veen has created a wonderful sidebar for her blog. That blog links to local museums, cemetery records, genealogical societies and more... For a non-native, having things neatly organized a great benefit. I'd highly recommend this blog as a starting point for any detailed Iowa research.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Thrifty Thursday: Iowa WPA Graves Registration Database

   As part of the Works Progress Administration's Historical Records Survey, employees created indexes of cemetery interments using a variety of sources. While these indexes have known flaws - spelling errors are common, they provide a starting point for death records research. The Iowa WPA Graves Survey website has made the documents available online. Enter a name into their search page to search the database; as a return, you'll discover the person's name, the cemetery name, the town and county.
   I'd recommend using a "soundex" search. I tried my ancestor's last name (his relatives lived in Iowa) and turned up no matches. A soundex search succeeded where a traditional search had failed. My ancestor's name had been entered with a c instead of a g. I probably could have found the same information on Find A Grave... but this a good back-up option.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Helpful Resource - First Names Translator

  One of the greatest challenges in making the jump between Luxembourg and American records can be finding the correct first name. Luxembourgers often changed their name from the French or German names they used at home to an English variant. A failure to notice the change - or a mistranslation - can block your search for records.
   Genealogy Today has created a resource that might help. Their "First Name Translator" allows you to enter a name in English or an another language and read out the translation in whatever language you choose. I tried Jacques, which is a common name among my Luxembourger family. The translator returned with Jacob. While it is a mistranslation of the French (it should be James), that is how it appears in American records. Hopefully you will be just as lucky.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Talented Tuesday: Luxembourger food

   My favorite part of researching my "ethnic" genealogy is having the chance to rediscover my ancestor's food and culture. While my family remembers the German heritage rather than the Luxembourger tradition, there are some great websites that can fill in the gap. The Luxembourg Tourist Office, based in the United Kingdom, offers a sample menu on its website.  The Luxembourg-American Cultural Society also has created a sample menu (be careful! it's measured in kilos...). Do a little bit of searching for the terms "Luxembourg recipes." You'll find lots of options.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Mappy Monday: Adams County Map

 If you're interested in the history of Adams County, Nebraska, consider visiting the website of the Adams County Historical Society. The Historical Society makes available a detailed map of the area's townships. Click to view one town at a time or look at the county as a whole. It's a great way to start plotting your family's life.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Church Record Sunday: Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Roseland, NE

  Founded in Roseland, Nebraska, the Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary was begun in October 1883. The church was based in the area's German settlement, protecting them from a long trip to weekly mass. Assumption Church took many of its early traditions - including a "mass monitor" - from the Luxembourger community at St. Donatus, Iowa. With a Germanic tradition, German remained its primary language well through World War I.
   Still active in Roseland, the Assumption Church does not have a website or an easy-to-locate address. The best way to locate their records is to contact the Adams County Historical Society, mentioned in yesterday's post.The cemetery is listed on  Find A Grave.


Saturday, March 17, 2012

Society Saturday: Adams County Historical Society

  Among the list of Luxembourger settlements on the Institut grand ducal's website is that of Juniata, Nebraska. A mixed settlement of Luxembourgers and Germans, the area expanded rapidly during the 1870s and 80s. Luxembourger roots remained rather shallow in the area and are mostly concentrated around Assumption Catholic Church. Germans and Luxembourgers seem to have intermarried.
   If your family has roots in the area, consider contacting the Adams County Historical Society. They've made many historical resources made available online. Their image collection is extensive, as is their collection of histories of the area. If what you're looking for isn't there, you can order archival research through their website. For a fee, they will search city records, newspapers and more.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Follow Friday: Iowa Backroads

 Started as a project to photograph all of Iowa's towns, Iowa Backroads helps paint a  "picture" of your ancestor's homeplaces. The author, Brian McMillin, has documented Iowa's small communities through photographs and small descriptions of his images. He has illustrated churches, historical societies, social groups and more. His work has produced images of many of Iowa's Luxembourger communities.

   I especially appreciated Brian's recent post. His photograph of Saint Donatus (St. Donatus, Iowa) gave me new insight into a church where my ancestor and his extended family once worshiped. I never knew the modern church wasn't the original. I'm looking forward to discovering more of Luxembourger life in Iowa.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Thankful Thursday: Glad for the opportunity to be a teacher...

  As I prepare for next week's classes, I'm realizing once again how glad I am that I can teach genealogy. It is possible to get into a rut doing genealogy. Unless you have a line that you're really interested in tracing down, you sometimes end up going through the motions. My students continue pose me new problems - and reinfuse me with joy in research. Thanks to all of you for reminding always why I do research!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Workday Wednesday: Meriden Factory Workers

   I'm drawn to the stories of Meriden's Luxembourg population partially because they were so different from the typical profile. These men and women settled in Connecticut - not the Midwest. Most weren't farmers or engaged in the typical Luxembourger agricultural trades. They stood out.
   I'm still piecing together their stories little by little, but the 1920 census gave me a more detailed picture. Of three families I studied today, all worked in the factories. One was a silver dipper. Others worked in a brass factor; another labored in a machine shop. What drew these men to a city? Honestly, I'm not sure. They arrived a little later than most (in the 1880s, about 20 years after the peak of immigration). They may have been headed for a promised job or for family. It's a topic for further research.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Tuesday's Tip: Finding an Immigrant Ancestor's Birth Place

  I'm in the midst of preparing for a class on vital records, and it's made me reevaluate my list of "things to remember when searching for a birth place." For our immigrant ancestor's, ordering a birth certificate usually isn't an option... and unfortunately, marriage certificates tend to tell you only the country. So what do you do?  I always start with church records - especially if the ancestor was Roman Catholic. These records can be surprisingly detailed. In one case, I found the cause of death listed on a burial record. This was a coup. Second, look for a gravestone. Find A Grave is a good starting point. The website contains images and transcriptions of tombstone information. These can at least narrow down the individual's lifespan and may even list a birth place. Irish tombstones are notorious for containing the extra information. If nothing else, you can always hope for a post-1906 naturalization paper. These may list the individual's birthplace.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Mappy Monday: What can I do if I can't find a map of the area where my ancestors lived?

   One of my greatest frustrations in doing my Luxembourger research comes from being unable to find a map that shows where my ancestors lived in the United States. By and large, my ancestors' hometowns were - and still are - very rural. In my Connecticut research, the area was crowded, and the maps were detailed. That isn't true in the areas where my Luxembourger ancestors lived. Only rarely can I even locate plot maps.
   So I've started to create my own. Google Maps ( allows you to create your own map. Click on my places, and then create maps. Once there, you can search for your locations and drop place markers (the blue dot) to mark the sites. It's a great way to figure out exactly where that church is.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Church Record Sunday: Immaculate Conception Parish, Gilbertville, Iowa

   For the Luxembourgers of Gilbertville, Iowa, Immaculate Conception parish was the local church. Suzanne Bunkers, a Luxembourger genealogist, features images of the parish on her website. Founded in the 19th century, the parish has yet to join the information age. It can, however, be reached by phone at (319) 296-1092 or by mail, 311 15th Ave, Gilbertville, IA 50634.  Cemetery records can be found on Find A Grave under St. Mary's Cemetery, Gilbertville, Black Hawk, IA.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Society Saturday: State Historical Society of Iowa

   With branches in both Iowa City and Des Moines, the State Historical Society of Iowa holds vital records, newspapers, maps, and more that might be of use to Luxembourger researchers. Most of these resources must be accessed on site. However, the Historical Society has built a few online collections that might be of use. There are scattered examples of photos and digital images of atlases. Each can be used to build a compelling case.While the Historical Society is probably more helpful in person, these webpages are a good place to start.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Follow Friday: Forgotten Old Photos

   Adding to the collection of photo blogs I'm following... Forgotten Old Photos! The author is an antique hobbyist in Minnesota and collects photos locally. They post just basic information on the photos, looking for the original owners. It's a great way to locate family photos if your family is from that area.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Thankful Thursday: Orphan Family Photos Websites

   I consider old family photos one of the "must haves" of research. I've actually identified relatives through labelled photos. I couldn't figure out who they were, dig a little research, and surprise... I was looking at cousins.
   Of course, not everyone is lucky enough to have inherited their family's photo trove. I've already mentioned a few resources for locating photos. I just discovered another one. Kimberly Powell provides a useful list of family photo websites on her site. I wouldn't use every site (some are hard to use, others charge more than I'm comfortable with), but it's a nice starting point for research.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Workday Wednesday: the Luxemburger Gazette

  If you've never heard of Nicholas Gonner, you're missing out on a valuable Luxembourger resource. Between 1872 and 1919, Nicholas was the editor of The Luxemburger Gazette. Published weekly in Dubuque, Iowa, The Luxemburger Gazette was supposed to provide Luxembourgers with their own German language newspaper. Ultimately, however, it became much more.
    For almost fifty years, The Luxemburger Gazette acted as a sort of community newsletter for Luxembourger villages.  It mentions local leaders, family news and more. It's written in German, which may take some work for researchers like me (I speak French, not German), but the paper is a guaranteed goldmine. I'm looking forward to getting access to it. The Luxembourg-American Cultural Society holds a full run.


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Tech Tuesday: NEHGS Discussion Board

   Genealogical message boards are among my favorite Luxembourger genealogy resources.  I've already written one post on the subject, which you can read here. It's common for Luxembourgers of the same surname to share an ancestor. Often all it will take for you to find new hints is to find someone with the same last name. A search of surname or location message board will usually point you in the right direction. Look for messages with some of your surnames or genealogical information. You can always post your own.
   There are two major genealogy message boards: (Rootsweb uses the same message boards) and a competitor is rising from the wings. The New England Historic Genealogical Society has established a discussion board at It's just getting started, but you may be able to get more attention than you would otherwise. If you're a member, you can easily access these discussion boards. If not, I believe it  is accessible as part of the free account registration. To register for American Ancestors,  visit

Monday, March 5, 2012

Matrilinear Monday: Suzanne Bunkers's In Search of Susanna

  In Search of Susanna by Suzanne Bunkers is one of the rare books that comes up with every catalog search for Luxembourg genealogy. That was reason enough for me to hunt it down. An interesting memoir of her time in Luxembourg was a nice plus.
  A quasi-history, quasi-memoir, In Search of Susanna can be a challenging read. The first two chapters provide a solid overview of Susanna, Bunkers's Luxembourg ancestor, her role in the family's life and Bunkers's attempts to find records of her in Luxembourg and the United States. For a genealogist, this section is extraordinarily useful. There's suggestions of new sources, an outline of the research,  and an interesting overview of the researcher's interaction with her subject. The rest of the book traces the author's personal and family history, as well as her study of female autobiographies. While they were a solid example of memoir writing, these sections held my attention only with great difficulty - women's autobiographies aren't my field of interest.
   I'd recommend the first two chapters of Bunkers's book as a crash course overview of Luxembourger research. However, much of the material is available on her website. Consider starting there - - and continue on to the book if you think you need more information.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Church Record Sunday: St. Peter's, White Lake, SD

    Established in 1883, St. Peter's is the Roman Catholic Church for the town of White Lake, South Dakota. After several years of celebrating masses in the local hotel and school, the community built its first church in 1884. That church was destroyed in a fire in 1925 and was not fully replaced until 1967.
    St. Peter's is not an ethnically Luxembourger church. Judging from the church history, it appears to have included Germans, Irish, and more. It also had missions (smaller churches or the celebration of masses) to many surrounding towns. This does not mean that you will not find Luxembourg ancestors among the parish records.
   To contact the parish or reach the sexton of the cemetery, visit St. Peter's website at

"St. Peter's History,"St. Margaret's and St.Peter's 
   ( : accessed 3 March 2012).

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Society Saturday: Aurora County Historical Society

   White Lake, South Dakota is one of the many Luxembourger settlements in the American Midwest. According to the Institut grand-ducal, it was founded during the greatest period of Luxembourger migration - 1860-1900.  Little information about the area is available online. The only local history I could locate was that of the catholic church, St. Peter's.

   However, if you have a little patience, you might find what you need. The local Rootsweb offers lookups in history books: The county historical society likely has more records. They do not have a website, but they do have a post office box. Send a letter or email.  Their contact information follows:

 Aurora County Historical Society
PO Box 632
Plankinton, SD 57368

 Happy research!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Follow Friday: Family Photo Reunion

  If you've been reading this blog for long enough, you'll have noticed that I'm somewhat obsessed with family photos. I've been given the gift of finding childhood photos for my immigrant ancestors online - reprints off the negatives, since the photos themselves are long gone - and I'm always impressed by the people that take the time and effort to identify photos.
  That's why I find Family Photo Reunion so much fun. The author posts her own collected photos and what information she's discovered about the subject. She does all this with the goal of reuniting the photos with the family. The blog is a great way to pick up tips for identifying your  own photos. Who knows? One of her photos may be of your ancestors.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Thrifty Thursday: Institut grand-ducal's "The Pilgrim's Progress"

  One of the best resources on Luxembourg immigration to the United States is actually available for free. Called "The Pilgrim's Progress," the section of the Institut grand-ducal's website traces emmigration from the Moselle River Valley to the United States, beginning in 1846. It offers an overview of each step of the process, from preparing to leave through to settlement in the United States. If you're curious about your ancestor's journey, this is the place to start reading.