27, 28, 29 avril 2011
Wednesday morning the Internet connection has finally been achieved!
Elisabeth did a lot of calling around to see if there was anyone I could meet with regarding relatives. Shortly after 11:00, she made a connection with the parish house in Larochette. I headed into town, parked, and walked up the hill in the direction of the house. As it was, I had overshot my destination, but an older Portuguese man tried to help along with his wife and a neighbor. Finally when I said “the former priest house” they knew it.
The secretary was helpful, showing me a book from about 1875 to 1920 or so. I found the name Manternach several times, one being the son of Philippe (the musician). So I determined to come back the next day because the office was closing at noon.
From there I headed to the village of Manternach, which is REALLY in the middle of nowhere. It is a farm town that has had a history of mills – paper, wood, textile, and steel. I saw no remnants of anything large, but the mills have been gone for a very long time. After walking through the cemetery, I stopped at the town hall to ask for information. The young man seemed surprised and wasn’t sure what to say. (Imagine this scenario for a little town like Worthington, IA; the response might be the same.) He directed me toward a small museum further down the street. I walked the street without seeing anything that looked particularly inviting until I reached the top of the hill and the end of town. Turning to go back downhill, I stopped at a little bar called “Manternacher Stuff.” This café/bar was run by a young Portuguese woman. The dog barked a greeting and the two little girls, both under two years of age, were playing. I had a café crème, watched the girl’s temperament dissolve as they headed toward naptime, and used the restroom. As I departed, I received a souvenir of the place, a pen. Then as I headed back towards the car, I saw signs for a nature center.
Going in I found brochures with historic information and trail maps. This old house with a barn area attached had antiques from the turn of the century. It was neatly laid out. Upstairs was a lovely museum showing the geology of the area, the former flaxseed-to-linen production, and a number of taxidermy animals. A young man came in after a while. I surprised him, first by being there, and then by telling him that my family name was Manternach. He said that when he first arrived at the nature center, he had done an Internet search of Manternach but only Manternach family information came up, noting of the town. He was full of information about the area and gave me a trail map of the woods nearby.
The trail was along the little river where the mills had been over time. I was able to see the dam that could divert the water to the mill. The path took me up and down the hills. Other trails converged here – Luxembourg is a friendly place for hikers and bikers. At the mill sight, there was limestone rubble, but no indication of a foundation. By now it was late in the afternoon and I headed back to the car and homeward.Manternach trail and city pictures
Thursday morning I got to meet Mr. Colbach, a former mayor of Heffingen. He had looked up the Manternach family records for this little town. It does not seem that our family is closely connected. However, by looking at Fr. Albert’s written history, he was able to describe the street in Larochette on which they likely lived. Elisabeth said these houses are quite old, now occupied by the Portuguese families. The old church has been razed and the cemetery moved, so what I visited the other day is the new church and cemetery.
Because of Mr. Colbach’s visit, I did not get back to the parish house and in calling I was not able to reach anyone. So I will try again Friday morning. For the rest of the day, which was dreary, I headed to Luxembourg City.
Here I took the first parking lot and went directly to the Tourist Information office. With maps in hand, I circled the block several times trying to find the entrance to the Notre Dame Cathedral, formerly a Jesuit institution and college. The deceased members of the royal family are buried in a vault downstairs. The building is another dominating structure outside and inside.
The city’s historical museum gives the development of the fortress from the late tenth century to today. It offered everything printed in English as well as French, German and Dutch. The most striking exhibit was that of the German occupation during the Second World War. The people were forced by threat to participate as soldiers and cooperate with the army. Luxembourg has an amazing resiliency.
Next I walked along the borders of the “high city” and took an elevator down at least 4 floors to the “low city”. Back at the top I found the old St. Michael’s church, whose origins date back to the late tenth century. Then to the Casements which were tunnels under the city that held ammunition and allowed soldiers shelter and passage to other areas of the city.
It was a little after 5:30, so I hoped to get some supper in the City before heading back to Heffingen. Like in France, dinner service begins after 7:00 p.m., so I walked around looking at the multitude of menu boards. In the end I decided upon a place because my feet were tired. The food was delicious – my first taste of spring (white) asparagus. By 8:30 I was on my way back to the B&B.
This morning, Friday, I returned to the parish house to look at the book of records from the era of my great, great grandfather Henry. I was not able to find a lot, but I copied three items: the baptismal accounts for baby Henricus (1878) and then Mathias Henricus (1880); a year later, a record of the death of baby Henricus (1879). This is information that I don’t think we had before. According to the Iowa records, baby John should have had a place in the book in 1878, but I could not find another record. The other children who were born during the years of the book, I could not find either. There is likely another story to uncover here.
Afterwards, I walked next door to the Gemang, city hall of Larochette. Here Mr. Bruno Brunetti, through the request of Mr. René Manternach of Berford, helped find birth records for Henry in 1833, his sister Margueritte in 1831, and his son Philippe (1870)– my great grandfather. Even though the town hall could not provide more than this in the time they had, and because other books were “likely” destroyed in the fire that destroyed so much of the town during WWII, 1942 or ’43, I was grateful for the copies of these records.
Across from the mayor’s office there was a gathering of local people watching the wedding ceremonies of Prince William and Catherine Middleton.
I walked up the street called Hënneschtgaass, now Rue Michel Rodange. This was the street where the old church was located, and by Fr. Albert’s description, likely the one where the family home is located. Some of the doors indicated the year of construction, very few indicated the name of the family that constructed it. I took lots of pictures of this street, with the hope that I possibly captured a glimpse of the old family home.
At the site of the old church there is now a parking area and a small park for children. There are stairs leading up the bluff to a tower. I scaled upwards; the site was worth a visit for views of the town. Then I walked a very level trail along the hillside for quite a distance before turning around. The spring growth on the trees and the undergrowth are fresh and lush.
Before heading back to the B&B, I decided to have lunch at the restaurant of the Hotel de Chateau. It was fine, a good price, but the menu of the day was more Portuguese than Luxembourgoise: broccoli soup, fish (and calamari and, perhaps, mussels) in a red sauce with rice, and vanilla ice cream for dessert.
Back at the house, the BBC review of the royal wedding is repeatedly going over the details of the day. I’m rather interested in the music that was used, so I’ll be checking the Internet for more details on that.
Elisabeth had washed my laundry today, so she stopped by with the first load and more “relative” information. Good friends of Guy think that we may be related, and I think this is very possible. The family name is Molitor. They have death cards of Philippe (the musician) and his wife Thérèse Schumacher. This is a definite commonality. They will come for breakfast in the morning at 9:00.
Then we had tea and spent several hours together chatting. Elisabeth has a very interesting life story that could be a book. I won’t share it here in detail except to say that she met Zoltan Kodaly’s young wife one summer in Lucerne, Switzerland. Elisabeth’s grandmother took her many places to share the culture of music with her. When she was 13, she traveled with her grandmother to Lucerne for a music festival at which Kodàly was conducting some of his music. Since Kodàly, who was already and old man, liked to nap in the afternoon, his young wife of 18 years and a violinist was looking for companionship. The two young Elisabeth’s found each other and spent many hours together taking walks around the lake. Elisabeth Nilles never met Mr. Kodàly, but I feel like I just had an out-of-body experience in her storytelling.
I think that’s all for today. Here’s wishing you many happy memories of your week. And a special greeting goes out to my nephew Jonah who makes his first communion tomorrow. With love, Dear Reader.