BIERCHEN/ BIRCHEN/ BIRGEN Genealogy Page
Mary Elizabeth Heckenbach, born March 7 1922, died Jan 31 2019
This page began by detailing the BIERCHEN family of Eschdorf, Luxembourg, and following 5 brothers to Chicago. I am gradually broadening the scope. There didn't seem to be many other BIERCHENs in Europe, except for isolated individuals in Germany and Luxembourg. Now we find a large family or group of BIERCHENs living in Norway in the 1700s. But there were BIRCHENs near Eschdorf and it seemed possible that they were related somehow. It took a long time to trace earlier generations of this family. Now we find more spelling variations, even within families. Then it became evident that the same individual might show up in the records under different last names, even with different spellings within the same document. That happens starting with the first BURSCHÉ below. Notice another turning point between 1836 (birth of Anne BIRCHEN) and 1839 (birth of Nicolas BIERCHEN.) In German, BIRGEN and BIERCHEN, in fact, are pronounced almost alike, with the hard ch. Now Rob Deltgen has found a judicial decree from 1883 that the names Birchem, Birchen, Birmchen, and Buerchen were to be replaced by BURGEN.
While some surnames are so standardized that variations are rare, BIERCHEN is the opposite case, being subject to change from place to place and over time. It's easily misheard and misspelled by clerks. Then misspellings can lead to new pronounciations.
So this page will treat any BIRCHEN and BIERCHEN submissions equally.
We don't know the origin of the name. Now we find the Biechen name in Sweden and Norway. John Bierchen who settled in Chicago has a southern or eastern European mien. This case calls for a DNA test if any Bierchen man out there is willing to take one.
BIERCHEN family of
Eschdorf, Luxembourg and Chicago, IL
Théodore BURSCHÉ was born about 1730 in ex Calmus and died Jan 29 1808. His occupation in 1755 was: cowherd. He married Madeleine KRUCHTEN about 1755. She was born about 1733. Their children were:
(A) The family of Jean BIRCHEN
Jean BIRGEN and Anne Marie NELIS had one son, also Jean BIRGEN
Jean BIRGEN was born Nov 1 1777 in Useldange. As of 1814 he resided in Lultzhausen and worked as a Tagelöhner (day-laborer.) On Oct 12 1814, in Heiderscheidergrund (Heiderscheid-Fond,) he married Catherine KLEIN, born Jun 2 1786 in Heiderscheidergrund, the daughter of Mathieu KLEIN and Barbe SPIRKEL. Jean BIRGEN died Nov 11 1830 in Heiderscheidergrund. Catherine died after 1841.
Catherine KLEIN was the widow of Michel Werné, born 1755 in Ex Oberpallen, died on Sep 20 1813 in Luxemburg City.) He himself was twice widowed. Catherine married him on Feb 21 1809 in Pratz and they had a daughter Marguerite Werné, born May 5 1811, in Pratz. As for Marguerite, she married Nicolas JAAS, born Aug 15 1811 in Nobressart, RW, Belgium, on Jan 23 1834 in Heiderscheid. They had three children, all born at Heiderscheid-Fond: Catherine JAAS, born May 26 1835, Jean JAHS born Jan 27 1841, and Henri JAAS, born Jun 23 1844.
Besides Marguerite Werné, Jean BIRGEN and Catherine KLEIN had 3 children. Note the spelling change.
- Francois BIRCHEN, b. Oct 2 1847 in Bourscheid-Flébour, died Nov 1 1918.His occupation was Knecht= farmhand. He married Catherine GREVISSE, born Nov 5 1845, in Waldbillig, on Feb 12 1872 in Waldbillig. They had the following children:
- Jean Pierre BIRCHEN, b. Oct 19 1872, Waldbillig died Oct 20 1872
- Jacques BIRCHEN, b. Nov 13 1873, Waldbillig married Henriette KAUFFMANN
- Pierre BIRCHEN, b. Nov 8 1876, Waldbillig died Feb 2 1879 in Waldbillig
- Catherine BIRCHEN, b. Dec 12 1878, Waldbillig
- Jean BIRCHEN, b. Jun 9 1882, Waldbillig died Dec 17 1886 in Waldbillig
- Jean BIRCHEN, b. May 19 1884, Waldbillig, married Susanne ERNZEN (b. Nov 16 1881, in Bettendorf) on Apr 30 1907 in Waldbillig
- Elisabeth BIRCHEN, b. Aug 25 1887, Waldbillig, died Oct 4 1887 Waldbillig
- Madeleine BURGEN, b. Jan 13 1861, Bourscheid-Flébour
- Michel BURGEN, b. Mar15 1863, Bourscheid-Flébour
- Jacques BURGEN, b. Jan 20 1868, Bourscheid-Flébour
- Martin BURGEN, b. Jan 29 1870, Bourscheid-Flébour
- Marguerite BURGEN, b. Mar 26 1872, Bourscheid-Flébour
- Jean BIERCHEN, b. Nov 26 1858, Eschdorf-Hierheck. He married Marguerite MAI, (b. May 9 1859, Heiderscheidergrund), the daughter of Nicolas MAI and Catherine JAAS, on Apr 15 1890 in Heiderscheid.
- Gregoire BURGEN, b. May 8 1864, Winseler. He married Catherine FROST, (b. Feb 4 1867, Stiring-St.Wendel, Lorraine, France,) on Apr 9 1892 in Liège, Belgium
- Marguerite BIRCHEN, b. Jan 11 1866, Berlé. She married first Pierre WAXWEILER, (b. May 2 1862 in Wiltz) on Sep 7 1904 in Harlange, and then Pierre GOFFINÉ, (b. Jun 1 1842, Heiderscheidergrund,) on Dec 2 1918 at Wiltz,Luxemburg
- Marie BIERCHEN, b. Dec 8 1867, Nothum. She married Mathieu BACKES, (b. Nov 8 1864, Bavigne) on Mar 8 1887 in Mecher. They had two children, Marguerite BACKES and Jean BACKES.
- Guillaume BIRCHEN, b. Jan 6 1873, Bavigne. He married Marie WIARD, (born Mar 27 1872 at Tarchamps) on Jan 2 1901 in Mecher
- Jean BIERCHEN, b. Jun 26 1877, Bavigne. He married Catherine KOENIG, (born Sep 28 1882 in Heiderscheidergrund, died Sep 11 1916 in Luxembourg City), the daughter of Jean KOENIG and Marie Catherine TROES, on Jun 7 1905 in Eschdorf. He was a machinist or a locksmith. They lived in Esch and had 5 children : Anne BIRCHEN, born Sep 14 1902 in Heiderscheid, who married Pierre SCHLEIMER, born Oct 21 1900 in Heiderscheid, on Jan 16 1927 ; Margaretha BIERCHEN b June 29, 1907 in Esch ; Elise BIERCHEN March 4 1909, died Dec 28 1987 ; LucieBIERCHEN Jan 15 1912 ; John Peter BIERCHEN vDec 29 1913
(B) Nicolas BIRGEN had no descendants
(C) The family of Dominique BIRGEN
Dominique BURSCHÉ BIRGEN and Elisabeth LUX had one
Jean BIRCHEN, born Sep 22 1807, at Michelau, Luxemburg, died Jun
10 1876 at Eschdorf. His occupation was also: shoemaker. He
married Marguerite MAJERUS on Sep 20 1826 in Bourscheid, the
daughter of Philippe MAJERUS and Marie TURPEL. She was born Nov
11 1801 in Michelau, and died Jun 13 1857 in Eschdorf.
Jean and Marguerite BIRCHEN had the following children:
Nicolas BIERCHEN, born November 18, 1839, died Sep 30 1895 in Eschdorf. His occupation was: Feldhüter or garde-champêtre, forestry guard. He married Elisabeth SCHWEICH or SCHWEIG on Dec13 1876 in Heiderscheid. She was the daughter of Johan SCHWEICH and Marie PLETSCHETTE of Eschdorf.) For more about Elizabeth's family, see SCHWEIG Notes below. She was born Jun 14 1853 in Eschdorf and died Jan 25 1923 in Hollenfels. They had a large family all born in Eschdorf. Five sons came to the US:
- Pierre SCHERFF May 7 1903
- Anne Marie SCHERFF (June 4 1905- Oct 8 1979 Born) m Jean ZEIMET (Feb 19 1901 Flaxweiler- Jun 1 1966 Born sur Sûre) on Aug 27 1924 in Mompach. They had a son Norbert ZEIMET (1926- 1995) m Marcelle MÜLLER and a daughter Anne Marie ZEIMET (1928-)
- Anne SCHERFF May 10 1907
- Jean Pierre SCHERFF September 8 1909
- Elisabeth SCHERFF Apr 7 1911
- Mathilde SCHERFF March 15 1916- July 15 1994, Ettelbrück
- Camille SCHERFF Feb 6 1919- Dec 20 1998, Diekirch
- Nicolas J. BIERCHEN (Aug 23 1908 -Feb 22 1974 Chicago IL, buried in St Henry's, Chicago). In 1940 he was a busboy. US Army July 6 1942 to Nov 8 1945.
- Joseph Alexander BIERCHEN (Apr 26 1910- Sep 20 1911). Died age 16 months, of acute gastroenteritis, buried in St Henry's, Chicago
- Anna Josephine BIERCHEN (Oct 23 1912- Jan 29 1976, age 63). In the 1930 census she was a mail-order clerk, and in 1940, a stenographer. Later, claims adjuster living at 3042 W Eastwood, buried in St Henry's, Chicago
- Robert Paul BIERCHEN (Jan 7 1916 - Feb 29 1976) m Pearl Faith DEPPE or BUSS (Jan 20 1906 Waterloo WI -Oct 18 1979 Kent WA) in Canadian County, OK on July 14, 1941. Both are buried in Washington Cem, Portland, Dodge County, WI. Robert was stepfather to Pearl's son William BUSS (1927-2005) who m Catherine McADAMS (1925-2005) in 1948. Robert was a laborer in the 1940 census. He served in the US military from Sep 10 1943 to Feb 7 1946. Later, plant supervisor living at 3042 W Eastwood, Chicago.
Ebert's Inn at 6666-6668 Ridge Ave in Chicago was formerly a roadhouse and inn that dated back to the 1850s, on the old Ridge Trail to Milwaukee. Joseph EBERT (1861-1907) and Carolina FRUHE (1863-1937) were both born in Germany. They immigrated in early 1888 and named it the Ebert Inn. Joseph died in October 1907 and when Nick BIERCHEN married Lena Ebert on Feb 26 1908, he became a partner in her family business, with Lena and her brother Joseph. Jake Bierchen also worked there. After Nick died of a heart attack during a card game in 1916, age 35, Jake helped with management duties. Lena and her brother Joseph Jr, born Jun 20 1892, continued the restaurant until Joseph died during a heat wave on July 28, 1934. That's when Lena sold the establishment and it became "Nufer's" and then “Allgauer’s”. It burned in 1962.
Nick was very active in the Luxemburger Brüderbund (Brotherhood) in Chicago, and Luxembourgers always congregated at Eberts, and held an annual festival "Schobermesse") there. Besides a buffet restaurant (free lunch) it also had a bar, a "3-pin" bowling alley, and a picnic grove.Right next door at 6648 Ridge Ave.was the Ridge Inn, a similar bar, restaurant, picnic grove, and former roadhouse built in 1836, that had belonged to Nicholas Kartheuser, who had married the widow of the original owner. The two establishments were friendly competitors. Gus Allgauer bought it in 1955, and razed it in 1958 to make room for another expansion.
- Margaret BIERCHEN (Dec 13 1910 - Feb 10 2000) m Mike SIKULA (also Dec 13, 1910- May 14, 2002), and then Robert McCLAUGHRY (Aug 15 1927- Mar 17 2004) (OK)
- Catherine BIERCHEN (1912- Feb 18 1913 age 3 months, died in a house-fire)
- Ann Elizabeth BIERCHEN (Dec 13 1913- Mar 21 2002) m 1935 Ray DOERING (1911- Sep 4 2004) (AZ)
- Elizabeth "Elsie" BIERCHEN (Jun 6 1916 -Jun 9 2001) m Al GORDON (Oct 8 1916- Jun 5 2003) (FL)
- Catherine BIERCHEN (May 11 1918 -Jun 30 1919 age 13 months, died from a fall. St Henry's)
- Mary Elizabeth BIERCHEN (Mar 7 1922- Jan 31 2019) m Frank HECKENBACH (Nov 12 1914- Jun 17 2001) (FL)
- John Henry BIERCHEN (Jan 4 1924- May 13 2010) m Joea ELLIS (Aug 5 1932- Nov 28 2000) (FL). He served in the US Merchant Marine.
John Bierchen arrived in the US on Jan 25, 1902. He was 20, single, a laborer, headed to see his brother Nick at 502 Florence in Evanston IL. He went to Yankton, SD in 1902 and was pre-naturalized as a US citizen there. He also appeares there in the 1905 state census. He returned to Chicago and in 1910 he married Marie SCHULLER from Boulaide-Moulin, Luxembourg. He was naturalized in 1916. On his WWI Draft card he reports living at 6630 N Roby Street and working as a laborer. In 1919 his address was 1718 Devon Ave. He went to Luxembourg to visit his mother in 1920. John and Mary lived just across the street from St Henry's Cemetery at 1976 Devon in Chicago, and owned greenhouses northeast of there. In 1932 he suffered a stroke for which he received medical attention but no treatment, died a few days later, exactly one year after the death of his brother Ted, and was buried at Memorial Gardens in Skokie IL. This is a picture of John. (Click to enlarge.)
I have a whole page devoted to the mill at Boulaide, also known as Bauschleiden and Bauschelt.
Ted Bierchen immigrated to the US in 1902, at age 19. In 1905 he was living in Evanston and working as a florist. As of 1910 he was staying with his brother John in Chicago and working at his greenhouse. At some point he decided to work his way out to California. His WWI Draft card shows him living in Casselton North Dakota and working as a farmer. The 1930 Census finds him living in Cascade Montana, where he stayed at a boarding house, taking any odd job he could find.
He died in a forest fire. He and any other men available and looking for work were approached by Forest Service recruiters to fight the Waldron Creek Wildfire that erupted in August 1931. About 100 men were rounded up and sent to fight the fire without any training or equipment, wearing their street clothes. They were driven as far as the roads went, and had to walk the last 12 miles to the base camp. Ted was in a group of five who took a fateful turn and found themselves in a ravine with the fire below them. Chased by a wall of fire and black smoke, they had nowhere to run except up the steep slope. One of the men who was in excellent physical condition was able to run further than the others, and searchers didn't find his body until the following day. Their deaths brought criticism of the Forest Service, which denied any responsibility for the deaths, and led to calls for better training and equipment for forest firefighters. 1931 was one of the worst years for forest fires, and was the turning point in the history of Wildland Firefighter safety.
We aren't sure what became of Ted's body. Newspapers from 1931 say that it was shipped from Montana back to his brother Jake in Chicago, but no records can be found and no living relatives know what happened. The Forest Service claims to have no records on the fire. Lately there has been renewed interest in the story.
Update Feb 2009: There is a movement to get some initial recognition for Ted Bierchen and the other four men who died in the Waldron Creek Forest Fire in 1931. At the national Wildland Firefighters Monument in Boise ID, there will be a ceremony this Spring during which all of those who died during the 2008 fire season will be recognized. The five men from 1931 will be included in the ceremony. They will have a marker with their names and the name and year of the fire. It's a small but important step in getting these men recognized for their sacrifice. The forest is now known as the Lewis and Clark National Forest.
Update June 2009: the Wildland Firefighter Foundation held the ceremony on May 17th, 2009, at 10 am in Boise, Idaho, in conjunction with its 5th Annual Family Day. The monument to the five Waldron Creek fire victims was installed.
Choteau Acantha newspaper obituary extract:
NOVOTNY, Herbert, 21, Great Falls/Waldron Creek NF Teton, 1931-08-25, ACAN38-14, 1931-09-03 and ACAN38-15, 1931-09-10.
GUNNERSON, Harry, (Gudmundson), 35, Lethbridge Canada/Waldron Creek NF Teton, 1931-08-25, ACAN38-14, 1931-09-03 and ACAN38-15, 1931-09-10.
BIERCHEN, Ted, Chicago/ Waldron Creek NF Teton, 1931-08-25, ACAN38-14, 1931-09-03 and ACAN38-15, 1931-09-10.
WILLIAMS, Frank, 24, Great Falls/ Waldron Creek NF Teton, 1931-08-25, ACAN38-14, 1931-09-03 and ACAN38-15, 1931-09-10.
ALLEN, Charles, Pittsburgh, PA/ Waldron Creek NF Teton, 1931-08-25, ACAN38-14, 1931-09-03 and ACAN38-15, 1931-09-10.
Update Dec 2014: St Henry's Cemetery has no record of his burial, but there are two sections of unmarked graves, which are said to be "full" even though no names are recorded. But in spite of John Bierchen's infant daughter Catherine who died in 1919 being buried in that section and having a grave marker, her name is not recorded either. The incomplete records are not unusual.
Update June 2015: There will be a book on the Waldron Creek Wildfire with a chapter about Ted Bierchen.
Update Novenber 2015: The book "Montana's Waldron Creek Fire; The 1931 Fire and the Forgotten Five" by Charles Palmer has been published by the History Press.
This is a newly-found picture of Ted from 1910, at age 26.
- Theodore Francis BIERCHEN (Nov 7 1920 Evanston IL -Sep 8 1975 McHenry IL) m Dorothy AHEARN (Jul 24 1923 -Sep 30 1979 McHenry IL) on Jan 10 1942. Both buried St John the Baptist, Johnsburg IL. He was a Corporal in WWII, fought in Italy and Africa, and was wounded three times. In the late 1940s he was a fireman in Evanston, IL. Children: Diane WADE, Ted BIERCHEN, Dolores ALLEN.
- Cecelia “Ceal” BIERCHEN (Jan 13 1922 - May 2, 2009) m Joseph SIPRUT (1921- ) Children: John, Joseph
- John Jacob BIERCHEN (Apr 30 1924 -Feb 6 1999 Menominee MI) m Lorraine Catherine KELLNER (Jun 1, 1925 - May 11, 2012) from Menominee, MI., on Sep 20 1947. She was the daughter of John and Mary (TAPPY) KELLNER of Menominee. Children: Dawn Marie, John Patrick, Cealia May, Mary Elizabeth, Lynn, and Michael William. John served in the US military from Feb 9 1943 to Jan 15 1946
- Nicholas John BIERCHEN (Feb 1 1926 -Feb 23 1984) m Antoinette VALVO (Apr 15 1930 -Nov 4 1990 Chicago IL., the daughter of Constintinu VALVO and Clara GARDNER. Nick served in US Army May 19 1944 to Jun 16 1946. Lived at 3722 N Kenmore, listed as: mechanic. Both buried at St Henry's. Children: Lawrence, Nicholas George, Mary Kathlene, Joyce Elizabeth, John Jacob, Theodore John
- Elizabeth (called "Mouse" as a child and later "Betty") BIERCHEN (Feb 1 1926- Feb 22 2018) m Fred WAGNER
On Jake Bierchen's 1917 draft card he reports working for Joe Ebert at 6668 Ridge Ave in Chicago as a bartender and assistant manager. For many years Jake was very active in the Luxemburger Brüderbund (Brotherhood) in Chicago, helping to organize the Schobermesse festival each Labor Day, which was held at Ebert's Grove for the first years. They also lived on the premises. In 1920 they were living at 6978 N Clark St. and he was working in a factory. Later he worked as an iceman, a candy maker, a Chicago Street Department worker, and a milkman. Jake was naturalized on May 27, 1930, and Elizabeth on Oct 4, 1932. They lived the rest of their lives at 7061 Ravenswood Street. Jake is shown here (standing) with a buddy. (Click to enlarge.)
Jean-Pierre Bierchen, (nickname "Jamp" and later "Jim"; he also used "John" and "Peter") was the youngest brother who came to the US. He also worked at his brother John's greenhouses. At one point he showed up in the Iowa State Census (no year given) as living in Woodbury IA. His Draft card shows him living in Terril, Iowa, working as a farm laborer. In 1916 he was living in Great Falls MT but the directory states that he moved to New York City. In January 1917 he was reported owning a farm in North Dakota, but he leased it out and took a trip to California. He was a private in the US Army from January 1918 until April 1919 and a WW1 veteran of the 82nd ("All-American") Division (before it became the "82nd Airborne Division.") His stripes indicate he served two 6-month tours in France. He became a citizen on June 17, 1919. In January 1925 he was a laborer and a boarder in Sioux City IA. He never married, and he was buried in 1971 at the Willamette Natl Cemetery, Portland OR, near where he lived. He came back to Chicago at least twice. Here is one of only three known pictures of him (another is below under SCHWEIG). (Click to enlarge.)
- Margaret ("Maisy") BIERCHEN July 18 1930 m1 Mathias Raymond SCHNEIDER (June 9 1929-) on Oct 29 1952 in Luxembourg City, m2 Emelio PELLICCIOTTI (Aug 30 1934 Montenero Bisaccia-) on Apr 19 1973 in Luxembourg City Luxembourg.
- Jean BIERCHEN (Aug 17 1931- Jan 21 1980 Luxembourg City) m Rita Eiffes (January 6 1937 Esch sur Alzette-) in Esch sur Alzette on Nov 27 1959
- Guillaume "Willi" BIERCHEN (Oct 19 1933- Apr 21 2002) m Marguerite "Mia" Schmidt (Apr 5 1928-) Diekirch, Luxembourg) in Ettelbrück on Jun 1 1959
Some other family linesSince we're widening the scope to include BIRGEN and other variations, here are some other bits of information about other families who might or might not be related.
Willibrod PLETSCHETTE (Dec 6 1790) from Eschdorf married Anne-Marguerite NEY (Jun 11 1800) in Boulaide and they lived there.
Michel PLETSCHETTE (born around 1800, died May 25 1851 at Eschdorf) married Barbara JAAS (born about 1805, died after 1851). Besides their daughter Marie (>BIERCHEN, born Mar 13 1832, died after 1876) they also had a son Francois PLETSCHETTE, (born about 1830, married Anne Marguerite WEILER), a son Willibrod (aka Jean, born Oct 21 1834, married Elisabeth FRANCK in 1857), and a daughter Elisabeth (b Nov 8 1838, m Jacques THIRY from Mons, Belgium in 1857), and a daughter Barbe (born Jan 11 1847, married Nikolas FRETZ in 1866)
Johann SCHWEICH was born Nov 15 1824 in Kalbergrund,
Heiderscheid, Luxembourg, the son of Henri SCHWEICH
(Jul 25, 1780 - Sep
3, 1830) and Catherine SCHAN (SCHANNE, from Biwels, May 2, 1788 -Nov
22, 1825). He married Marie PLETSCHETTE on Dec 18 1851.
Elisabeth SCHWEIG (1853) had two brothers: Jacques SCHWEIG (born about 1861, died Sep 22, 1891 in Dellen) and Nicolas SCHWEIG (born Aug 8, 1879 or 1880 in Eschdorf, died accidentally on Nov 10 1934 in Chicago.) The name was always spelled SCHWEIG in the USA, but SCHWEICH is more common in the Luxembourg records. In German SCHWEIG and SCHWEICH were pronounced the same.
click to enlarge
|Marriage of Nicholas SCHWEIG and Anna Margaret Ansay in
Chicago about 1910. They both came to the US and became citizens around
1903. Anna was born in Luxembourg Oct 18, 1889, the daughter of Peter
and Margaret Ansay, and died Dec 15 1962. Margaret Ansay died
July 26, 1943. She lived in Evanston. Her other two children
were Mary Martin and Bernard Ansay.
They lived near Fullerton Street in Chicago. Their children were Helen SCHWEIG (Apr 8 1911- Jun 1978), Nicholas (Mary Jenkin) SCHWEIG (Dec 27 1914- Dec 1985), Mary (Edward) ALBRECHT (1912- July 1978), Margaret SANDKE (Mar 7 1916- Oct 12 1995), Ann KOULES (May 8 1918- Mar 1981), and Angeline BREDEMANN (May 31, 1920-). Anna later married Paul BARTZ who died in July 1956.
The other two in the picture are Nick's nephew Jim Bierchen and John Bierchen's sister-in-law Margaret Michelau. (Thanks Rita for the picture.)
© Jim Heckenbach. Page created Jan 25 2003. Updated April 4, 2019
Please send further information to firstname.lastname@example.org. I would like to add missing details and to connect this family to others in Luxembourg and elsewhere. All BIRCHEN and BURGEN, and other connected information, is welcome.
We also need more pictures. If you belong to any of these families I would like to hear from you. I might even be able to send you more photos or documents of interest.