Saturday, January 25, 2014

#52Ancestors, week 4 - My First Experience With Genealogy Research - Caspar Glesener - Binsfeld, Weiswampach, Luxembourg to Chicago, IL

It's another week, and I'm writing another post for the challenge brought by Amy Johnson Crow, 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.  This has been an interesting adventure for me, and I'm finding I have much more to write about then I originally thought!  I started this hobby 13 years ago, but it wasn't until 2003 when I actually branched out past what was available online at the time.  This week my topic is about my Luxembourg ancestors, and how I went about finding them.

Casper Glesener
Casper Glesener, also known as Gaspard, was the first family line I successfully traced past the 1800s.  He was born on June 22, 1862 in Luxembourg.  For a long time, all I knew was my great, great grandfather's name and that he married Caroline (Lina) Grote in Chicago, IL.  I knew he was from Luxembourg, but where??  Ordering his death certificate from Cook County, IL gave me his parents names, but no city, town, or area to search in Luxembourg.

Success came from the message boards on!!  In 2003, I posted the little bit I knew about Casper, his name, date of death, and the names of his parents listed on his death certificate.  The next day, I received a reply from a Mr. Bob Olson with the names of his parents, date of their marriage, and the town they were married in!!  Thank you! Thank you Mr. Olson!!  That little nugget of information helped to get my research going!

That same post I made in 2003 also offered a suggestion from someone to contact the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota.  They have two databases, the Luxembourg Parish/Civil Records 1600-1890 and the Tables Decennales 1853-1863.  I contacted the school and, for a small fee, I received birth records for Casper, his parents, and most of his siblings!!!

Birth record of Gaspar Glesener dated June 22, 1862,
Binsfeld, Weiswampach, Luxembourg

This information led us to find Nicolas Glesener, Casper's father, born January 15, 1830 in Hosingen, Luxembourg, and was the son of Georgius Glesener and Anna Glesener.  We also learned Anna Elisabetha Theis, Casper's mother, was born March 21, 1837 in Binsfeld, Weiswampach, Luxembourg, and the daughter of  Jean Theis and Marie Hamus.  Their marriage record was also included!  They were married March 2, 1859 in Hosingen, Luxembourg.  Unfortunately, There was also a death certificate for Anna, which showed she died May 1, 1864 in Binsfeld, just a few weeks after giving birth to Casper's younger sister MargarethaMargaretha only lived 6 days.  Casper would not have yet turned two.  This leaves Nicholas to raise Casper and his older sister, Marie (born June 1, 1860) by himself.

But not for long.  On November 9, 1867, Nicolas married Maria Theresia Schmitz in Weiswampach.  After that came 12 more children: Anna Catherina (b.1868, d.1868), Maria (b.1869), Margaretha (b.1870, d.1871), Nicolas (b.1872), Margaretha (b.1873, d.1873), Peter (b.1875, d.1875), Nicolas (b.1876), Johann (b.1877), Peter (b.1878), Anna Catherina (b.1879), Georges (b.1881, d.1881), and Marguerite (b.1883).  Of these 12 children, only 7 made it to adulthood.  Unfortunately, this was not uncommon at this time.

After receiving this information from the University of St. Thomas, I decided to take a trip to their library to do some research on my own.  With help from the librarian, and the use of their German to English dictionary, I was able to trace the family back another 2 generations from Nicolas' father Georgius (notice the different spellings of Glesener...It changed many times!):
  • Nicolas Glesener (b.1830 Hosingen, Luxembourg, d.1916 Binsfeld, Luxembourg)
    • Georgius Glesener (b.1792 Hosingen, Luxembourg, d.1855 Hosingen, Luxembourg)
      • Jacques Gloessener (b.1771 Dahl, Luxembourg, d. after 1820)
        • Jean Georges Glaessener (b. 1734 Roullingen, Luxembourg, d. 1787 Dahl, Luxembourg)
My search didn't end there, though.  I tried pulling the LDS church records for the area of Dahl in Luxembourg, but didn't find much.  So what did I do?  I went to the message boards again!!  I posted on again, and again received more!!  Mr. Rob Deltgen gave me the names of Jean Georges parents.  Not only that, he led me to his website where he has hundreds of names indexed from Luxembourg!!  You can find a list of surnames at  I don't have copies of the actual certificates for these people, but I have names.  One day I hope to obtain actual copies of the records.  But that will come in time.  For now, the names of the next 3 generations of Gleseners after Jean Georges Glaessener b. 1734 are:
  • Jean Nicolas Glaessener (b.1711 Dahl, Luxembourg, d.before 1788)
    • Jean Georges Glessener (b.1686 Dahl, Luxembourg, d. unknown)
      • Sondag, or Dominique, Glesner (b.1660 Dahl, Luxembourg, d. unknown)
It was an interesting journey, tracking this Glesener line.  I had never read German before, and trying to decipher the many records was challenging.  Not to mention, the script variations in the German alphabet!!  I went out and purchased the same German to English dictionary that I used when visiting the library in St. Paul.  If you are translating old German documents, I highly recommend the "German - English Genealogical Dictionary", by Ernest Thode.  It was very helpful and worth the money.  However, the records aren't just in German.  Some I found were in French.  I had to lean on the 2 years of french I took in high school. 

Back to Casper - Heading for the U.S.

I'm not 100% sure, but I do believe Casper sailed from Bremen to New York aboard the Saale, arriving July 16, 1887.  The name listed is Casper Gessner.  Not sure what made him want to leave Luxembourg.  Maybe having such a large family, he felt it necessary to make his own way?  We'll probably never know for sure.

The first we see Casper in the U.S. is on a marriage record.  September 11, 1889, Casper married Lina Grote, also known as Caroline GroteLina was the daughter of Wilhelm Grote and Augusta Rheinfels, born December 24, 1867 in Celle, Germany.  Lina came to the U.S. via Hamburg, Germany to New York and arrived less then a month after Casper in 1887.  How they met, we don't know.  Did they meet in Chicago?  Or could they have possibly met in New York on their way to Chicago?  Who knows??  So many questions!!

This marriage brought 3 children:
  • Frederick William (b.1889 Chicago, IL, d.1947 Chicago, IL)
  • Charles (b.1891 Chicago, IL, d.1967 Corpus Christi, TX)
  • Helen (b.1893 Chicago, IL, d.1963 Chicago, IL)
According to the Federal Censuses taken in 1900, 1910, 1920, and 1930, Casper and his family lived at 1906 Cornelia Avenue, Chicago, IL.  He made a living as a varnish cooker in a varnish factory, or furniture factory.  Below is a picture of Casper and Lina, taken probably around the late 20s or early 30s.  I'm guessing this is their home on Cornelia Avenue that they are standing in front of.  Don't they look like a cute couple??
October 2, 1931, Casper passed away at his home.  He was 69 years old.  The death certificate says he was buried at St. Lucas Cemetery in Chicago, IL.  Below is a copy of his Obituary that was found in the Chicago Daily Tribune, through  It states he was a member of "Imperial Council, N. U."  I've tried looking this up, but haven't found much online.  Again, I went to the message boards, this time to  According to the replies I got, "it refers to the Imperial Council No. 427 of the National Union."  His wife, Lina, went on to live almost another 15 years before passing on January 11, 1946 in Chicago, IL.

Just this week, while reviewing my notes and research to write this article, I did a little follow-up research.  Family Search has many of the documents from Luxembourg online!!  They aren't indexed, but I was able to locate Casper living with his family, on the 1880 and 1885 censuses for Luxembourg.  What I find interesting as well, is he and his brother, Nicolas, are listed on the 1900 census for Luxembourg too!!  However, they are listed on another page as absent from the household.  Were they expecting them to come back?  As far as I know, Casper and his brother Nicolas did not move back to Luxembourg.  In 1908, their brother Peter, or Pier, also came to the U.S.  I have not been able to find if he stayed, or went back to Luxembourg
As of the date of this posting, I haven't been able to search all the records from Luxembourg on that I'd like to.  Planning on doing that when time permits.  But what a great resource!!
If you have any questions about the people listed in this article, or on any of my other posts, please leave me a comment!!  Happy hunting!

 The headstone says he died in 1930, but the death record from Cook County says he died in 1931.

1 comment:

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