Monday, May 18, 2015

Amanuensis Monday: Barbara THINES’ death certificate

On 9 June 1890, Peter STROESSER, accompanied by his neighbor Johann PUNSCH, appeared before the Burgermeister for the sad task of reporting the death of his wife. Barbara THINES had passed away the previous evening, leaving Peter alone to raise their six children, ranging in age from five to sixteen.

This image has been trimmed from the original at FamilySearch.

Transcription (the italicized parts were handwritten on the record):

Im Jahre tausend acht hundert neunzig den neunten
des Monats Juni um fünf Uhr vor mittags sind vor Uns
Glesener Michel, Bürgermeister, Beamten des Civilstandes
der Gemeinde Folscheid , im Kanton Redingen , Großherzog=
thum Luxemburg, erschienen Stroesser Peter, Eisenhändler,
alt fünfzig fünf Jahre, Ehemann der Verstorbenen,
wohnhaft zu Schwiedelbruch
und Punsch Johann, , alt vierzig fünf Jahre,
Handarbeiter, wohnhaft zu Schwiedelbruch,
Nachbar der Verstorbenen.
Diese haben Uns erklärt, daß Thinnes Barbara
alt vierzig fünf Jahre, Haushälterin,
geboren zu Helzingen , wohnhaft zu Schwiedel=
bruch; Ehefrau des Erst=deklaranten Stroesser
verschieden ist gestern um acht Uhr nach mittags,
zu Schwiedelbruch,
und haben beide Anzeiger gegenwärtige Urkunde, nachdem sie ihnen vorgelesen worden,
mit Uns unterschrieben.

Line by line Translation:

In the Year one thousand eight hundred ninety, the ninth
of the Month of June at five o’clock before noon have before Us
Glesener Michel, Burgermeister, Officials of the Civil State
of the Commune of Folschette , in the Canton Redange , Grand-
duchy of Luxembourg, appeared Stroesser Peter, Ironmonger,
aged fifty five Years, Husband of the Deceased,
residing in Schwiedelbrouch
and Punsch Johann, , aged forty five Years,
Manual Laborer residing in Schwiedelbrouch,
Neighbor of the Deceased.
This has been declared to Us, that Thinnes Barbara
aged forty five Years, Housekeeper,
born in Hachiville , residing in Schwiedel-
brouch; Wife of the First-declarer Stroesser
deceased is yesterday at eight o’clock after noon,
in Schwiedelbrouch,
and have both Informants the present deed, having been read to them,
with Us signed.


Folschette, Redange, Luxembourg, death certificate no. 28 (1890), Barbara Thinnes; digital image #135 of 142, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, "Décès 1879-1889," FamilySearch ( : accessed 21 Nov 2014).

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Amanuensis Monday: Peter STROESSER and Barbara THINES’ marriage certificate

Helzerklaus, the hermitage chapel
Johnny Chicago at lb.wikipedia [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Not far outside the village of Hachiville stands a little hermitage chapel dedicated to St. Thomas. The ancient whitewashed building, known to the locals as Helzer Klaus, is tucked snugly among the trees, and a mineral spring ripples narby. Since the Middle Ages it has stood in its grove and witnessed pilgrimages, processions, and a few less pious rituals. For through the years curious young people surely have attempted to divine the identity of their future mates by following the dictates of tradition: thrice circling the hermitage unseen, twice beating their heads against a birch, then jumping barefoot into the stream. Following this interesting formula, popular belief claims the young person could hear the name of their spouse in the bubbling of the brook.

If during her young maidenhood Barbara THINES ever slipped away to that lonely grove and performed the magic rites, and if they were successful, the name she would have heard the creek whisper was “Peter.”

She and Peter STROESSER, a blacksmith living in Heispelt, were married on 4 Aug 1871, when Peter was 37 and Barbara was 27.

This image has been trimmed from the original at FamilySearch.

Transcription (the italicized parts were handwritten on the record):

Im Jahre tausend achthundert ein und siebenzig, den neunten des Monats August

um Drei Uhr Nach mittags, sind vor Uns Wilhelm Jacques

Bürgermeister Beamten des Civilstandes der Gemeinde Wahl

im Kanton Redingen im Großherzogthum Luxemburg, erschienen Stroesser

Peter Huffschmied, alt dreißig sieben Jahre, geboren zu

Ettelbruck, den vierten Juni achtzehn hundert

vier und dreißig wohnhaft zu Heispelt im Dieser

Gemeinde. groß jähriger Sohn des zu gesagten Heispelt am

zehnten April, achtzehn hundart sechzig, verschiedenen Peter Stroesser und

der hier gegenwärtig und in diese Heirath einwilligenden Anna Maria

Mertz Haushalterin wohnhaft zu Heispelt einer=Vorstehendes erhellt

aus beiliegendem Aus zug aus dem Civilregister der Gemeinde Ettelbruck

und aus dem Civil=Register dieser Gemeinde

und Barbara Thines, ohne Stand, alt zwanzig sieben Jahre

geboren zu Heltzingen den

fünften Mai achtzehn hundert vier und vierzig wohnhaft

groß jährige Zochter

der hier gegenwartigen und in diese Heirath einwilligenden

Michel Thines und Anna Maria Schmidt, Ehe= und Ackersleute

wohnhaft zu Heltzingen andrerseits. Vorstehendes Geburts=Daten

erhellt aus beiliegendem Aus zug aus dem Civil=Register Per Geburts=

Urkunden der Gemeinde Heltzingen

Welche uns ersucht haben, zu der unter ihnen übereingekommenen Vollziehung ihrer Heirath zu schreiten und dere Verkündigungen vor

den Gemein den Häusern von Wahl und Heltzingen ein den

Sonntagen neunten und sechzehnten des verflossenen Monats

Juli um die Mittagsstunde

Statt gehabt haben.

Da und kein Widerspruch gegen gedachte Heirath verkündet worden ist, so lassen wir ihrem Begehren Recht widerfahren; und nachdem wir alle

obenerwähnten Akten und das 6. Kapitel des Civil=Gesetzbuches, von der Heirath betitelt, vorgelesen, haben wir den Bräutigam und die Braut

gefragt, ob sie sich zum Mann und zur Frau nehmen wollen; de beide, jedes besonders und bejahend, geantwortet haben, so erklären wir im Namen

des Gesetzes, daß Peter Stroesser und Barbara Thines

durch die Heirath vereinigt sind

Von allem diesem haben wir diese Urkunde errichtet, und zwar in Gegenwart des Jacques

Nicolas Ackerer alt zwanzig sieben Jahre,

wohnhaft zu Wahl, nicht verwandt,

Des Jacques Franz, Ackerer alt sechzig ein Jahre,

wohnhaft zu Arsdorff, nicht verwandt

Des Jacques Falentin Ackerer alt sechzig Jahre,

wohnhaft zu Wahl, nicht verwandt,

Und des Becker Leonard, Schuster alt dreißig zwei Jahre,

wohnhaft zu Wahl, nicht verwandt

Welche, nachdem sie ihnen vorgelesen worden ist, dieselbe mit uns unterschrieben haben. Mit—

Aus nich ein der Mutter der Braut und der, des Bräutigams

die sich ein Schreiben (erklärt) lese, unerfahren erklärt haben.

Line by line Translation:

In the year one thousand eight hundred and seventy one, the ninth of the Month of August

at Three O’Clock After noon, before Us Wilhelm Jacques

Burgermeister Officials of the Civil State of the Commune of Wahl

in the Canton of Redange in the Grand-Duchy of Luxembourg, appeared Stroesser

Peter Blacksmith, age thirty seven Years, born in

Ettelbruck, on the fourth of June eighteen hundred

thirty four residing in Heispelt in This

Commune of age Son of the aforesaid Heispelt on the

tenth of April, eighteen hundred sixty, distinct Peter Stroesser and

the currently present and in this Marriage consenting Anna Maria

Mertz Housekeeper residing in Heispelt single-Above evident

from enclosed extract from the Civil Registry of the Commune of Ettelbruck

and of the Civil-Register of this Commune

and Barbara Thines, without Occupation, age twenty seven Years

born in Hachiville on the

fifth of May eighteen hundred forty four residing

of age Daughter

the currently present and in this Marriage consenting

Michel Thines and Anna Maria Schmidt, Married- and Farmer couple

residing in Hachiville on the other hand. The foregoing Birth-Dates

evident from the enclosed extract of the Civil-Register By Birth-

Deeds of the Commune of Hachiville

Which have requested us, to proceed to the Completion of their Marriage and particular Announcements as agreed among them before

the Common Houses of Wahl and Hachiville on the

Sundays the ninth and sixteenth of the past Month

July at Noon

Have been held.

Since no contradiction to the intended marriage has been announced, we can honor their desire; and after we all

the above document and the 6th chapter of the Civil Code, of the Marriage titled, read, we have the Groom and the Bride

questioned, whether it be that they want to take one another for Man and Wife; because both, each particularly and affirming, have responded, as we explained in the Name

of the Law, that Peter Stroesser and Barbara Thines

are united in Marriage.

From all this we have made this Certificate, and in the Presence of Jacques

Nicolas Farmer age twenty seven Years,

residing in Wahl, not related,

Of Jacques Franz, Farmer age sixty one Years,

residing in Arsdorf, not related

Of Jacques Falentin Farmer age sixty Years,

residing in Wahl, not related,

And of Becker Leonard, Cobbler age thirty two Years,

residing in Wahl, not related

Who, after having it read to them, have undersigned. With—

Not from the Mother of the Bride and which, the Groom

which a letter (declared) reading, have declared inexperienced.

(Those last couple of handwritten lines have proved confusing to me; the clumsy translation above is the best I have been able to manage. If you have a better understanding of what is being said, please enlighten me!)

This marriage produced eight children, whose vital records—or at least the ones produced in Luxembourg—have already been presented:

1. Michel “Mike” STROESSER (1873-1937)

2. Baltasar STROESSER (1875-1939)

3. Anna STROESSER (1876-1946)

4. Johann “Harry” STROESSER (1878-1964)

5. Johann-Nicolas “Nick” STROESSER (1880-?)

m. Rosa FRANKS (1915)

6. Johann STROESSER (1881-1882)

7. Catharina STROESSER (1883-1884)

8. Clara STROESSER (1885-1921)

m. Nicholas FANCK (1905)


Hachiville, Paroisse Et Ancienne Commune.” Luxroots. Web. Accessed 29 Oct 2012. (In French.)

Luxemburg: Volksglauben International.” Wandermagazin. W&A Marketing & Verlag GmbH, Mar.-Apr. 2008. Web. Accessed 29 Oct 2012. (In German.)

Wahl, Redange, Luxembourg marriage certificate (1871), Stroesser-Thines; digital image #1145 of 1475, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, “Naissances 1867-1890 Mariages 1796-1797, 1800-1804, 1805-1823, 1796-1803, 1805-1890 Décès 1797-1803, 1805-1828,” FamilySearch ( : accessed 14 Apr 2011).

Monday, April 27, 2015

Thoughts on John Stephen Craig

Not long after my grandparents’, Rose Stroesser and Jack Hoyt’s, marriage they moved from the midst of their families in the Omaha, Nebraska/Council Bluffs, Iowa area halfway across the country to Oregon. Therefore, they raised their children with the knowledge of a multitude of cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents, but with little actual contact with that extended family.

So when we learned that a Stroesser cousin was coming to visit and wanted to meet her Hoyt cousins, we (Rose and Jack’s children and grandchildren) swooped down upon her, voracious for kinship. I was present for an evening’s potluck with the family, during which our “new” cousin posed the question: “Did you ever hear that Grandma was supposed to ride on the Titanic?”

The Titanic at the docks
See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

We all eagerly assented to our having heard that rumor before. And that set me on a course of thought which finally led to a breakthrough.

Every seasoned genealogist has heard that well-known rumor of an ancestor who was supposed to ride the Titanic but luckily didn’t—and we have all been taught to scoff at such wishful oral history. But oral history quite often contains a kernel of truth, and the trick is to tease that truth out into the open. Quite some time ago I believed I had discovered the truth of my family’s Titanic story: I found a ship’s passenger list containing two people who appeared to be my great-grandmother Mary Craig and her father John Craig. And how did this tie to the Titanic? The ship they were riding on was the Mauretania, which turned out to be the sister ship of the Lusitania. If you recall high school history class, you may remember that the sinking of the Lusitania was an impetus for the U.S. becoming involved in World War I. And if you have any understanding of human nature, you can easily see how one famous sunken ship could become confused with another when retelling an imperfectly remembered tale.

The Mauretania and the Lusitania passing one another
By UnknownAquitania at en.wikipedia [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

You will notice I said “I believed I had discovered” and “who appeared to be my great-grandmother.” I had not been able to prove to myself that the John and Mary Craig on the passenger list were my John and Mary Craig. The evidence on the list inclined me to think that they probably were, but there just wasn’t enough information to be sure. But I had long ago laid this question aside to focus on other research objectives, and filed away my conclusions as an interesting sidenote.

However, this turned out to be a very opportune time to return my thoughts to the passenger list. My experience with the 1907 passenger list of Nicholas Stroesser revealing my great-grandfather’s pre-Omaha residence was still fairly fresh in my mind, and it struck me that perhaps like that manifest the Mauretania’s had a second page. I returned to the image on Ancestry to check. Sure enough, it had. And it contained not only the certainty I was seeking, but another much-needed piece of John Craig’s puzzle.

And now, before I address the aforementioned much-needed piece of the puzzle, I need to back up a little. John Craig is, of course, my great-great-grandfather who was an unsolved murder in Omaha. My knowledge of his life is scanty despite a number of sources: apart from those articles I have already shared concerning his death, I had some other articles (which I will undoubtedly share sometime, for they paint a portrait of a very... ornery man), some city directories, a couple censuses, and a marriage record.

However, he seemed to have fallen out of the sky to marry Martha Robbenult, because I had been utterly unable to confirm any record prior to that. Although the marriage record conveniently identified his parents and said he was born in Scotland, try looking for a James and Margaret Craig with their son John in Scotland! And then expand the search to all of England as well, because some sources give his birthplace as England. Even narrowing it down to only those of the right age, there are far too many to choose from. I needed more information.

But there, on the second page of the portion of the Mauretania’s manifest applying to John Craig, was a birthplace listed. The first one I had ever seen that specified not only the country of his birth, but the town as well: Whitehaven, England.

The Old Quay at Whitehaven
Humphrey Bolton [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

So naturally the first thing I did was to google Whitehaven. I learned that it is situated in the county of Cumberland, in the far north of England, bordering Scotland. That geographical location could explain why John Craig is sometimes described as Scottish. The next thing I did was to plug this new information into what I already knew about John Craig and search for a census record. The result was almost immediate: a household popped up in the 1881 census, and I read the list of names. There were James and Margaret—the former born in Ireland, the latter in Scotland—there was John himself, slightly older than expected but in the right range and born in Whitehaven. As my eye ran farther down the list chills ran up my spine. The next two names were Matthew and Mary, siblings here but familiar to me as the names of two of John’s own children. Perhaps these were those children’s namesakes.

I was able to locate this family in three other census years as well. Although I haven’t found the proverbial smoking gun to confirm beyond a doubt that these are indeed my 3great-grandparents, all the evidence thus far tends to support that conclusion. (When I find evidence that this Margaret’s maiden name is Mury or Murray I will finally rest easy.) In a future post I will lay out all the evidence in detail, but this post is already long enough.


1861 census of England, Cumberland, Whitehaven registration district, Egremont ecclesiastical district, Egremont parish, folio 73, page 30-31, Household of James Craig; digital images, Ancestry, Ancestry ( : accessed 25 Apr 2015); citing PRO RG 9/3952.

1871 census of England, Cumberland, Egremont civil parish, folio 66, page 8-9, Household of Janes Crag; digital images, Ancestry, Ancestry ( : accessed 25 Apr 2015); citing PRO RG 10/5262.

1881 census of England, Cumberland, Cleator Moor, civil parish of Cleator, folio 117, page 48, Household of James Craig; digital images, Ancestry, Ancestry ( : accessed 25 Apr 2015); citing PRO RG 11/5191.

1891 census of England, Cumberland, Cleator Moor, civil parish of Cleator, Egremont parliamentary division, ecclesiastical parish of St. Johns, folio 91, page 19, Household of James Craig; digital images, Ancestry, Ancestry ( : accessed 25 Apr 2015); citing PRO RG 12/4317.

FamilySearch, “Iowa, County Marriages, 1838-1934,” database, FamilySearch ( : accessed 5 May 2013), entry for John Stephen Craig and M. M.Robbenult’s 1886 marriage; citing Crawford, Iowa, United States, county courthouses, Iowa; Reference ID: p 60, GS Film Number: 1035129, Digital Folder Number: 004311125.

New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957,” online images, Ancestry ( : accessed 14 Feb 2010), manifest, S.S. Mauretania, 10 Mar 1911, list 6, lines 18-19, John Craig and Mary Craig; citing Passenger and Crew Lists of Vessels Arriving at New York, New York, 1897-1957, Microfilm Publication M237, 675 rolls; Records of the U.S. Customs Service, Record Group 36; National Archives at Washington, D.C; Microfilm Roll: Roll 1637; Line: 19; Page Number: 68.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Amanuensis Monday: Barbara THINES’ birth certificate

Since there are still so many records to present in my Luxembourg record project, I think it good policy to post two at a time whenever possible. Therefore, today will see the birth of both my great-great-grandparents, Peter STROESSER and Barbara THINES.

I have already summarized the life of my great-great grandmother Barbara THINES, but as this project is intended more as a presentation of my sources, here is her birth certificate.

This image has been trimmed from the original at FamilySearch. 

Transcription (the italicized parts were handwritten on the record):

Im Jahre tausend achthundert vier und vierzig, den sechsten Tag des
Monats Maÿ , um zwei Uhr des Nachtmittags ist,
vor uns Jean francois Laporte Burgemeister , Beamter des Civilstandes des Gemeinde
von Heltzingen , Kanton von Clerff , im Groß=Herzogthum
Lutzemburg, erschienen Michel Thines oder Theines Ackerer wohnhaft zu Heltzingen
alt dreyßig sieben Jahre, vater des Kindes
wohnhaft in dieser Gemeinde, welcher uns erklart hat dass seine ehfrau anne marie
Schmidt ohnegewerb alt dreyßig sechs Jahre wohnhaft zu Heltzingen, gestern
um eilf Uhr des vormittags ein Kind gebohren hat vom weiblichen
geschlecht und welches er uns vengezeigt hat.
und welchem er des Vornamen Barbara
geben zu wollen erklärt hat.
Welche Erklärung und Vorstellung in Gegenwart des Phillippe schmitz Ackerer,
alt vierzig drei Jahre, vun Weiler
und des Peter Thull feldhuter, alt vierzig vier
Jahre, von Hoffelt die in dieser Gemeinde wohnhaft sind, Statt gehabt haben;
und haben zeugen mit dem vater und mit mir
den gegenwärtigen Geburts=Akt, nachdem er ihnen vorher vorgelesen worden ist, mit uns unterschrieben.

Line by line Translation:

In the Year one thousand eight hundred and forty-four, the sixth Day of the
Month of May at two o'clock in the Afternoon is
before us Jean francois Laporte Mayor Officials of the Civil State of the Commune
of Hachiville , Canton of Clervaux , in the Grand-Duchy
Luxembourg, appeared Michel Thines otherwise Theines Farmer residing in Hachiville
aged thirty-seven Years, father of the Child
residing in this Commune, which to us has declared that his wife anne marie
Schmidt without occupation aged thirty-six Years residing in Hachiville, yesterday
at eleven O’clock in the before-noon had a Child of the female
gender and which he has shown before us.
and which he the First Name Barbara
has declared to want to give.
Which Statement and Presentation in the Presence of Phillippe schmitz Farmer,
aged forty three Years, of Weiler
and Peter Thull field watchman, aged forty-four
Years, of Hoffelt residing in this Commune, Instead have had;
and have testified to the father and to me
the current Birth-Deed, after having been previously read to them, with us signed.


Hachiville, Clervaux, Luxembourg, birth certificate no. 8 (1844), Barbara Thines; digital image #131, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, “Naissances 1828-1844,” FamilySearch ( : accessed 27 Jun 2010).