It’s been awhile since I’ve been able to do any research on my Luxembourg roots. A little over a week ago, I was able to attend a lecture entitled “Luxembourgers in Aurora,” presented by Sara Jacoby, the executive director of the Luxembourg American Cultural Society. Since my Luxembourgers settled in Aurora, Illinois, I did not want to miss this presentation, so I made arrangements to go. And since the lecture was held in Aurora, I had to get in some research time while I was there.
My first stop was the Aurora Public Library. I haven’t been there since 2011, when they were in the old building. The new building has a special, climate-controlled room for their local history and genealogy collection. Here I was able to explore a wide variety of sources I didn’t get to look at on my last trip in 2011. I was also able to dip my toes into the Luxemburger Gazette, which they have on microfilm. This was my first experience with this newspaper, and only my second experience in German newspapers (you can read my post Checking Out Chicago’s Old German Newspapers for information and tips).
Fortunately, I had already determined four things I wanted to look for in the newspaper, based on the index of the newspaper in the second volume of Luxembourgers in the New World (Ensch, Muller, Owen), based on the 1889 work of Nicholas Gonner (who ran the Gazette). The newspaper reported on news in Luxembourg as well as the Luxembourger immigrants in the United States. Although the index doesn’t specify the location for each entry, based on the names and dates, I was fairly certain that there were four entries that would prove to fit in my family. Some day I’ll check out the other numerous entries, but since my time was limited, I wanted to look for those four so I could study the newspaper a bit before diving in deeper.
I found my four entries pretty quickly and knew they were my relatives. One was a marriage announcement for my second great-grandparents; the other three were obituaries. Two of the obituaries were for deaths I already had records for, but one was for third great-grandaunt, who I suspected died between 1900 and 1910 (turns out, she died in 1907 and this obituary solidified that and gave me the information I need to follow up in other records).
The next day, I visited the Aurora Historical Society, where I was able to look through records I hadn’t seen on my last visit in 2011. I was particularly interested in any records they had that related to the Luxemburger Independent Club of Aurora. Turns out they had a few batches of records, which will be the subject of a blog post down the line (there’s one batch that I’ll need to study to understand what the heck it is!). One set of records was the second volume of the meeting minutes for the club. I was running out of time, so I just perused them for a bit to get a feel for them (which is hard since it was written in German). What I did notice pretty quickly is that there were death notices for club members. Consulting the Families app on my Kindle Fire, I quickly looked up the death dates for a handful of people I was sure were members. I found three of my relatives.
In this post, I wanted to share with you some of the things I found pertaining to my third great-granduncle, Pierre “Peter” Kremer. My goal is to show you how foreign language newspapers and membership organization records can provide additional clues.
Peter Kramer, was born Pierre Kremer on 17 September 1831 in Consdorf, Echternach, Luxembourg. Prior to this research trip, I already knew quite a bit about him (but if I hadn’t, the Gazette and club minutes would have been very helpful, as you’ll see in a moment). Peter married Magdalena Welter on 6 August 1862 in Nommern, Mersch, Luxembourg, about 20 miles west of his birthplace in Consdorf. Their son Johann was born in Nommern, and their daughter Mary was probably born there as well. Shortly after Mary’s birth, Peter (and likely his wife and two children) and his younger brother Johann D. left Luxembourg for the United States in 1868.
Again, I was fortunate to have found numerous records for Peter in both Aurora and Luxembourg. But if those records has been lost or of no value, I would have had to have looked for substitutes to find clues, particularly clues related to his origin.
Obituaries can be helpful in pinpointing origins. In this same town of Aurora, I learned the townland of one of my Irish ancestors through her obituary in the Aurora Beacon. Although Peter’s obituary in the Aurora Beacon mentions that he is from Luxembourg, it doesn’t specify where.
The obituary found in the Luxemburger Gazette says much of the same, but there are two important bits of information not mentioned in the Aurora Beacon obituary, as well as an interesting tidbit at the end.
First, it states he was born in Consdorf, Luxembourg. Had I not already known this, I would have been doing the happy dance! And second, it mentions that he operated a grocery and cigar shop, indicating the business was located on Aurora Avenue. I have seen the grocery mentioned a few times in other records, but I wasn’t aware of the cigar shop, nor the location of the business. I now have some additional clues to learn more about his business. And as a fun side note, and probably because Peter was one of the earliest members of the Luxemburger Independent Club, there is mention of the club’s annual Treipenfest that will be held the next day, for which preparations are in full swing.
The club’s meeting minutes book has a short death notice for Peter.
Peter Kramer gestorben den 26 Januar 1910 in seinen Wohnung on Aurora Ave. Geburtsig [probably some form of Gebursort] aus Konsdorf – Alter 78.
Beileid Seite 179
Peter Kramer died the 26 January 1910 at his home on Aurora Ave. Birthplace of Consdorf – Age 78
condolences page 179
Again, the indication of his birthplace in Consdorf would have been a fantastic find, had I not already known. The other facts related to his residence, age, and cause of death were not new to me either, but if I didn’t have a death certificate or the obituaries, I wouldn’t have known. The most interesting thing for me in this notice is the note “condolences page 179.” Since I didn’t notice this at the time I found the record, I have no idea if it means that there is a spot in the minutes book on page 179 for people to record condolences, or if there is some sort of special condolences book that was used. I want to know more and plan to find out!! (This note about condolences is found with the notice right below his, as well as the other two that I pulled for other relatives.)
So even though I already knew quite a bit about Peter, I did find some clues related to his occupation, I learned that the club’s annual Treipenfest was held on 2 February 1910, and that there seems to be some sort of record of condolences for club members. It was certainly worth my time to seek out these additional sources and spend the time transcribing and translating them. I can’t wait to dig in to further!
As always, source information is available upon request.