around the Mill at Boulaide" looking southeast showing the
bridge after it was rebuilt in 1949.
The barn is blocking part of the mill house. The smaller building behind it was already a ruin.
The land to the right is in the Commune of Bigonville.
My grandmother Mary Bierchen died in Chicago in 1966. She was born Marie Schuller at an old flour mill in a quiet corner of Luxembourg. Her sister Margaret Michelau shared her beginnings. I never spoke to her about the mill, her childhood, or her relatives over there. In fact I think she was relieved to be away from that hard life. In later years I built up a curiousity about these things, and some mental images, and I began to gather stories and bits of information about family relationships. By the time I finally devoted serious attention to it, most of the older relatives were gone. But I followed each lead and eventually ended up with so much information that it didn't seem right to keep it all to myself. Odd facts began to corroborate each other and lead in new directions. I knew there was a story to tell, and people would want to hear it. Maybe others could add to it.
Until the Internet came along, research was laborious. Nowadays a network of researchers is available who are studying their own family histories and uncovering information that fits into the work being done by others. It amazes me how an isolated fact can lead in some unknown direction.
My grandmother had an array of relatives that we knew nothing about. Then there's the mill itself, a fascinating spot with a rich history. There is no way to separate the mill from its people, since they influenced each other. My grandmother's family lived in that building for 80 years. So this is the story of the mill, hundreds of years old, and the stream of people who lived and died there or who crossed the ocean to find a new life.
A note on names
In the official acts in Europe the same person might be referred to as “Pierre” or “Peter”, “Friedrich” or “Frederic”, “Jean” or “Johann,” “Nicolas” or “Nikolaus”, depending on which town is involved, or on the native language of the clerk who makes the record, or on the vicissitudes of governments. The tiny country of Luxembourg was conquered and influenced by a succession of powerful neighbors. Katherina Hoschet and Catherine Hoschette are the same person. More confusing than personal names are place names. Sometimes there are three versions. The town called Boulaide is also known as Bauschleiden in German, although Baschleiden is a separate village just to the north) and Bauschelt in the Lëtzebuergesch language. It was named for the Busleyden (Buysleyden) family who were prominent in history. Bigonville is the same place as Bondorf. Harlange is Harlingen. Aachen is also known as Aix-la-Chapelle, and Fels is also called Feels and Larochette. This is not the fault of either group, but a result of centuries of local custom, and a consequence of how certain sounds fit into the patterns of speech. Record-keeping practices changed as governments changed. For more on place-names in Luxembourg, see links below. Generally in the western part of Luxembourg French is more common, but the situation is very complicated. But there doesn't seem to be any linguistic animosity as there is in Belgium. People switch back and forth seamlessly. For an article on the precarious but pragmatic linguistic balance that has been achieved in the country today, see articles like http://www.luxembourg.co.uk/lingua.html . The Lëtzebuergesch language, a version of the Middle-Frankish dialect of German, also overlaps into Belgium and France, with some 30,000 speakers each, and less so into Germany.
The location of the mill
In the foothills of the Ardennes Mountains of northwestern Luxembourg only 2 kilometers from the Belgian border stands an old flour mill. The mill faces an arched stone bridge, used today as a footbridge on what is now a hiking path. Belgium's entire Province of Luxenbourg formerly belonged to the Grand Duxhy of Luxembourg, and it was separated off in the Third Partition in 1839, following earlier partitions of the territory.
There is now a highway from the Bigonville to Boulaide. It leaves Bigonville, crosses the Sûre River (Sauer in German, the name probably owing to the tannic nature of the water) right before the Bigonville mill, and then climbs some ridges and forest land into Boulaide. But the old road switches off just before the Bigonville mill and bisects the loop of the river, staying flat and heading north until it reaches the Boulaide mill, where it crosses the stream and then rises steeply into Boulaide. The narrow old road is now known as the “Upper Sûre Trail,” still connecting the two mills as part of a network of trails. It's 42 km in total length and is part of a system of 19 National Footpaths in Luxembourg which in turn form part of a vast network of trails throughout Europe.
This route was a side road of the main Roman Road from Aachen, the seat of Charlemagne's Holy Roman Empire, to Arlon. Just south of the bridge by the Boulaide mill there was a ford through a wide spot of the river. When the water was low one could see the paving-stones in the bed of the river. That old road then climbed a steep ravine behind the mill and led to Boulaide. That ravine part of the road into Boulaide was too steep, and was replaced by switchback road north of the Boulaide mill some 80 years ago.
The river rises in Belgium in the high plains of the Ardennes, and at Martelange (Martelingen), begins skirting the border for a time, then crosses into Luxembourg flowing east. It makes a loop to the north here and the mill is located at the tip of the loop, but the water flows generally east across Luxembourg and then into the Moselle (Mosel) which continues to the Rhine at Koblenz, Germany. Boulaide and Bigonville are both situated on hilltops, north and south of the Sûre. The deep valley, almost 450 feet below the elevation of Boulaide, was a factor in various deaths! I'll explain.
Map 1. The Upper Sûre Park surrounds the man-made lake east of Boulaide.
Map 2. The rectangle corresponds to map 3 below. Note the little piece of Belgium.
Map 3. The Sûre River is shown
in aqua and the roads are in dark blue. Adapted from maporama.com.
The old road connecting the mills at Boulaide and Bigonville does not show up here.
Map 4. This WWII US Army map shows both mills (Mln.) and part of the old road which is now just a hiking trail. Bigonville is a little further south.
Map 5. This is the best
depiction yet of the mill area. From the website http://map.geoportail.lu
5 metre contour lines. This one clearly shows the millhouse and the barn, the weir, the millrun and a diversion ditch, the old
road to Bigonville, the old steep wagon-road to Boulaide (15% grade), the new road to Boulaide, and the cliff foot-path.
The ruin of the laborers' barracks is in the white oval area.
Early history of the mill
The Bauscheltermühle was built in the Middle Ages. It's mentioned in the land register of the counts of Luxembourg during the years 1317-1322. Another mention of the mill and the bridge in the local annals was in 1622 when the villagers petitioned for the "repair and building of the bridge and the mill" which took place thereafter. I have heard from more than one source that the mill was actually visited by the royal family on numerous occasions, but I would love to have some evidence of it.
The location was perfect. The bridge was built at a narrow spot in the river. The citizens supplied 3000 sticks, 13 cart-loads of timbers, 150 cart-loads of stones and 13 trucks of lime, and the quantity of clay soil to cover the sticks. A dike was constructed of sticks and stones and covered with dirt. This weir caused the formation of a mill-pond, and both directed and accelerated the water into the mill race to the millwheel, which turned a large axle extending into the house where it rotated the grinding wheel. This was an "undershot" mill, meaning that the blades were propelled by water running in a race, rather than pouring over the blades from above as in an "overshot" mill. The grain was poured by the sackful into a hopper mounted above, and pulverized between the rough rotating stone and the stationary horizontal stone.
The mill was mentioned as a going concern in 1656. In 1740 the mill was operated by the REMY family. In 1754 it was in the hands of the NEUMANN family. A certain Joseph NEUMANN, who went on to became vicar at Tinnen, was born at the mill. Fr. NEUMANN directed that a man named Nicholas Klein take over the mill. It then passed to the ETTINGER family. Charles Ettinger was listed in the 1766 census. The millhouse was known as House number 40 (of 43 in Boulaide.)
Even today on the side of the millhouse facing the steep hill hangs a large stone shield with a coat-of-arms depicting the Austrian double-eagle symbol and the initials M.T. for Maria Theresa, leader of the Hapsburg Empire which ruled a big part of Europe including Luxembourg from 1715-1795, a period of stability. The shield had formerly been located beside the door of the mill, facing the bridge, under a gable. It was probably there as a sign of tribute to the Empress.
Until then the mill had been owned by the princes or counts, or whoever was governing the land. But there was a trend of legalization of privately-owned mills that were formerly crown property. So in 1785 a committee of inhabitants of Boulaide petitioned for the mill to be sold to them communally. The next year the villagers decided to sell it, and Anton FELTEN of Boulaide was the first private owner.
By 1820 Pierre GOEREND (or GOERENS), Mr FELTEN's son-in-law, owned the mill. He and four other local millers (from Bondorf, Bilsdorf, Martelingen, and the Moulin de l'Oeil in Tintange staged a protest that year against the establishment of a new oil and flour mill at Martelinville, just a little upriver.
Martelange (Martelingen) and Tintange are now part of the Belgian Province of Luxembourg which was the larger half of Luxembourg, partitioned away by the Treaty of London in 1839, the third partition of the little country.
GOERENS held the mill through the 1820s and raised a family there. Matthias GOERENS died at the mill in 1830. His daughter Marguerite GOERES married Mathias MERSCH in 1821 and their seven children were born there, the last in 1839.
In the 1800s most of the work done at the mill was by hand, and it was barely profitable. Typically there was more than one family at the mill at a given time. Their livelihood was derived from shares of the flour they milled. The townspeople brought grain to the mill to be milled, in exchange for food or whatever other goods and services they produced. It was a barter system requiring little cash. Millers in general didn't always enjoy a good reputation, often being suspected of keeping some flour from their clients. For one thing, a completely full sack of hard-earned grain produces less than a full sack of flour. And customers had to be restricted from the interior because of the dangerous work going on, so they couldn't see the process. There were large cogwheels and belts spinning with no safety protections.
Being a miller was more than a full-time job. For example, the water level behind the dike had to be adjusted at all hours as rainfall amounts upstream altered it, to provide enough water pressure for the wheel, but not so much as to spill over and erode the weir. As little as 10 centimeters of water-depth was sufficient ro turn the wheel. These powerful contraptions had no safety measures. There was no shut-off switch, because the wheels were turned by the relentless pressure of the water. To service the gears and pulleys, the miller had to first stop up the dike and then wait. Any rise in water level would start the wheel turning again without warning. The millrace had to be kept clear. Besides the dangers of the regular operation the machinery, boards and fittings had to be replaced and ice broken, and workers had to walk on a narrow plank among the heavy shafts spinning and long belts whirring all around the area. Sometimes beams had to be fashioned from selected oak timbers. Accidental deaths and injuries were common. Kids swimming or falling into the water could drown in the eddies of the millrace or by be pulled into the machinery. Another hazard was the fine flour-dust that pervaded the mill and coated everything inside. Besides being explosive, the dust also did damage to the lungs. The Belgian TV series "Destins de Moulins" has several segments such as http://www.tvlux.be/video/le-moulin-de-saint-leger_13991.html that explain the machinery and the layout of some mills in the area, but it's in French.
In the 19th century Luxembourg was an impoverished land. Some of the privations people suffered might be evident in the events described here, and help to explain why so many Europeans were leaving for the New World where the West was opening up and reports abounded of fertile soils and unlimited opportunities for a better life. Some 70,000 Luxembourgers left their homeland for the Midwest. The hard times in Luxembourg continued until after World War 2. For example Boulaide's 1850 population of 1420 inhabitants diminished to 560 by the year 1988, but as of 2009 prosperity has returned and the population is increasing, rebounding to 926 souls. Luxembourg today is one of the richest countries in Europe per capita.
We don't know the exact year, but Jean F. SCHLEICH, the son of Friedrich SCHLEICH and Katherina HOSCHET from Büderscheid, moved to Boulaide and was working as a miller. At some point before 1842, he bought the mill. One source gives the very early date of this transaction as Dec 8, 1819, in spite of the GOERES and MERSCH families still being there.
About 15 kilometers to the east, further down the Sûre River, lies the village of Büderscheid. The town's mill was owned by the KREMER family. Friedrich SCHLEICH, born about 1709 in Goesdorf, came to Büderscheid. (His father was Johann SCHLEICH of Goesdorf, born some time between 1662-1672, and married at some time between 1692-1702.) On Jan 9 1735, Friedrich married Catherina KREMER, who was born Jun 25, 1717 in Büderscheid and died Mar 3, 1793 in Büderscheid. Friedrich was reported "living in the miller's house" in 1737 in Büderscheid, so we think he moved in upon marrying the daughter of the family, and became the miller. Friedrich died on Oct 21, 1765. (This early Schleich information is thanks to Rob Deltgen at http://www.deltgen.com/ who has an extensive Luxembourg genealogy website with ties to the SCHLEICHs, the SCHULLERs, and the MICHELAUs.)
Friedrich and Catherina (SCHLEICH-KREMER) had a son Johann Friedrich SCHLEICH, born Dec 14, 1736 in Büderscheid, died Jan 12, 1786 in Büderscheid, who married Elisabeth LUTGEN (also given as Elisabeth LUTGEN FATZ) from Eschweiler on Jan 21, 1759. She was the daughter of Antoine LUTGEN (born 1710 in Eschweiler, died March 28, 1789 in Eschweiler) and Madeleine FATZ (born 1705 in Eschweiler, married in 1727, and died March 19, 1785 in Eschweiler.) Elisabeth died giving birth to their first child Friedrich SCHLEICH on Feb 25, 1760, but the baby lived.
Friedrich grew up and married Katherina HOSCHET (a.k.a. Cathérine HOSCHETTE, born about 1761 in Wahl and died Oct 30, 1817 in Büderscheid) and he died on Jun 19, 1829. It seems that both of these generations worked as millers at Büderscheid. Her parents were Franciski HOSCHET and Margaretha FELLINGER.
According to an old book, Fridericus (now we have the Latin version of his name) SCHLEICH of Bockholtz was judge of the county of Esch-sur-Sûre, a very powerful position. He petitioned to build a mill on the Sûre at Bockholtz, just outside of Goesdorf, in 1762. Note that there are several Friedrich SCHLEICHs in this story and I'm not clear whether the Bockholtz mill was built by the father or the son.
The actual mill at Bockholtz still exists and can be seen at http://www.luxalbum.com/communes/wiltz/goesdorf/bockholtz-moulin1.htm, a website that has pictures of every town in Luxembourg and features topographic maps of them. This old mill still has some of its equipment but nothing is in working order.
Friedrich and Katherina (SCHLEICH-HOSCHET) had a large family at the Bockholtz mill even though the births are recorded at Büderscheid:
- Catherina SCHLEICH (Oct 23 1783- Jan 27 1853) m Pierre CLEER in 1805. They had 9 children of whom one, Elisabeth CLEER, born 1820, died in 1893 in Earling Iowa.
- Margaretha SCHLEICH (Oct 25 1784- May 31 1788)
- Frantz (François) SCHLEICH (Nov 10 1785- Mar 4 1832) m Anna Catherine GOERES. They had 3 children in Büderscheid.
- Gaspard SCHLEICH (Jan 9 1786-Mar 10 1855 in Roullingen.) He married Susanne THILGES (2 sons) and then Elisabeth OESTREICHER (3 sons, 1 daughter).
- Jean SCHLEICH born Jun 12 1787. He married Ann Marie SCHAUL (b May 17 1792 in Arsdorf) on Feb 2 1819, in Arsdorf, and they lived there.
- Margaretha SCHLEICH Sep 10 1789
- Jean SCHLEICH (Mar 21 1791- Jul 30 1847 in Boulaide) m Barbara HANSEN of Boulaide. They bought the mill in Boulaide and their story continues in the next section.
- Catherina SCHLEICH Mar 15 1794
- Anna Maria SCHLEICH (Oct 27 1795- Mar 20 1867 in Luxembourg City) m Peter WEIS. They had 17 children and incidentally, two of the them later came to the US. One, Nicholas WEIS (changed to WISE), 1827-1902, fought and was wounded in the Civil War in 1864, and later had the honor of guarding Lincoln’s body as it lay in state in the Capitol Building. He and his brother Paul both lived and raised large families in New York.
- Margaretha SCHLEICH (Mar 6 1797-Jan 3 1838 Boulaide) m Nicolas NEY or NEU (Jul 3 1798 Boulaide- Apr 15 1856 Boulaide) on Jan 18 1826 in Boulaide. They lived in Boulaide but not at the mill. Their one daughter Susanne NEY (1829- 1880) was born in Boulaide.
- Elisabeth SCHLEICH (Sep 15 1799- ?) m Martin MERSCH of Büderscheid. Two children.
- Cornelius SCHLEICH (Oct 15 1800- Mar 25 1848) m Anna Maria SCHAULS. They had a daughter Elizabeth SCHLEICH, (1829-1911 m Karl SCHAULS) and a son Jean SCHLEICH, 1832-?. Anna Maria died soon after, and then Cornelius married Anne Marie KIMMES. They had Mathias (a.k.a. Martin) SCHLEICH (1835-1897), Frederic SCHLEICH (1838-1901), Elizabeth (a.k.a Catherine) SCHLEICH 1842-1845, and Henry SCHLEICH (1847-?). The first Elizabeth, as well as Mathias, Frederic, and Henry, all settled in the Luxembourger community of Caledonia Minnesota. Frederic fought in the Civil War and was wounded at the Battle of Atlanta.)
- Nicolas SCHLEICH (Mar 15 1802-?) m Elisabetha SCHAULS. They lived in Warnach, Tintange, Belgium and had a son Pierre SCHLEICH and daughters Marie-Cathérine 1834 and Josephine SCHLEICH 1836.
The SCHLEICH-HANSEN Family
After Jean SCHLEICH (Mar 21,1791-1847) married Barbara HANSEN (Apr 1, 1799-Mar 28, 1863) from Boulaide, who was the daughter of Jean Hansen and Susanne Guilleaume, they took over the operation of the Boulaide mill. We don't know how Jean came to Boulaide, but we noticed that his older brother Frantz had married a GOERES and I wonder if there's some connection to the GOERENS/GOEREND family. Jean and Barbara married in Boulaide. They had the following children:
- Frédéric SCHLEICH (Apr 25 1823- Oct 9 1889) m Gertrude BONERT from Bourscheid (Apr 9 1813) on Jan 12 1846. See next section.
- Jean SCHLEICH Feb 19 1825 m Anna KEMP (born Oct 3 1835 in Finsterthal, the daughter of François-Joseph KEMP, a farm laborer living at the mill as of Aug 20, 1845, when Anna's brother François was born there) on Feb 11 1861 in Boulaide. They had one daughter Marguerithe SCHLEICH born Jan 2 1864. Jean also worked at the mill and lived there with a large group of Kemp relatives. The family moved to Bras, Belgium after 1864 and had several more children.
- Michel SCHLEICH Aug 9 1827 m Catherine (or Clara, or Claire) SCHROEDER (born Sep 15 1831 Tintange, Belgium) on May 18 1864 in Boulaide. Their children were Marie, Antoine, Frédéric, Cathérine, and Jean SCHLEICH, born between 1865 and 1873. They moved to Tintange, Belgium.
- Marie SCHLEICH Jan 15 1830 m Nicolas WOLLES (born July 28 1828 in Arsdorf) on May 7 1856 in Arsdorf. Marie died Feb 26, 1864 in Arsdorf. They had one child, Pierre WOLLES, born 1858, who married Susanne FRETZ.
- Jean SCHLEICH Jun 23 1832
- Cathérine SCHLEICH (Nov 23 1834- Oct 13 1901 in Boulaide), m Nikolas HILBERT (Apr 7 1825 Messancy Belgium- Apr 16 1901 Boulaide) on Feb 6 1859. The HILBERT family lived in Boulaide and had 10 children .
- Marie Cathérine SCHLEICH Feb 9 1839 m Johann CLEMENT. They moved to Harlingen.
- another Frédéric SCHLEICH (May 29 1841- Aug 9 1922 in Bauschleiden) m Susanne LOUTSCH (Feb 16 1840- Sep 11, 1899) on May 25, 1875. They owned a hotel in Boulaide and had two daughters. Susanne SCHLEICH (Apr 12 1878) married Théodore THYS (May 16 1879) of Boulaide on Feb 4 1902, and Josephine "Finny" SCHLEICH (Sep 27 1882) married Jean Pierre NEU (Oct 21 1888- Sep 6 1948) of Baschleiden on May 30 1911. Finny lived into the late 1970s.
The first five children were born in the village of Boulaide, but the last three were evidently born at the mill, even though documents hint that the family acquired the mill in or shortly before 1842. The 1843 census shows Jean SCHLEICH, meunier, and Barbe HANZEN, ménagère, and the 8 children at the mill. The two eldest children were listed as cultivateur, and the rest as sans état. There was also a Jean HANZEN who was born Mar 29 1840. The note states that they were all "one family" in December 1843, so Jean must have been a brother of Barbara.
Jean SCHLEICH (born 1791) died at the mill on Jul 30, 1847. Barbara HANSEN died at the mill on Mar 28 1863.
Michel (#3) was very active in the day-to-day operation of the mill but later he moved to Tintange, Belgium, and worked the mill there, which still exists and is known today as "Moulin d'Oeil." He probably followed his uncle Nicolas SCHLEICH (1802) who had moved to Tintange.
Marie Catherine SCHLEICH (#7) married Johann CLEMENT of Harlingen and they moved there. Four of their CLEMENT children emigrated to Chicago. I studied the family and put my findings on the CLEMENT Page.
Jean and Barbara's eldest son Frédéric SCHLEICH (that is, Friedrich), born in Boulaide in 1823, lived at the mill and eventually took over ownership from his father although some siblings were also involved. He died at the mill on Oct 9, 1889. On Jan 12, 1846 he married Gertrude BONERT (born Apr 9, 1813 in Bourscheid, died Mar 8, 1883 at the mill). Gertrude was the daughter of Georges BONERT (died Jul 22,1815 in Bourscheid) and Marie Reding (died Jun 7, 1844 in Bourscheid). Georges BONERT was also known as Georges MITSCHEN, earlier MITSCHOEN.
Frédéric SCHLEICH and Gertrude BONERT had the following children,
all born at the mill:
Real Estate and Land Status
of the Mill in the 1800s
There was a survey done in 1824 when the property was owned by Pierre Goerens. The land by the mill is divided into irregular parcels: cultivated fields, pastures, lots, shoreland, and gardens, as well as the one-acre piece containing the millhouse. The dividing line between the municipalities of Boulaide and Bigonville was the river, the lands north of the river being in the commune of Boulaide. The ownership and use of the plots changed over time and most of the records would be difficult to trace, but a couple of facts are clear.
One book mentions that "starting in 1835 several buildings were constructed at the mill for housing laborers. They number seven." A legislative document from 1852 mentions a popluation of 15 at the mill site. Today, some ruins can still be seen.
On May 17, 1861 the mill and another 11-acre parcel of land appear to have been transferred, but not sold, to Michel SCHLEICH (the brother born in 1827) and some partners. He is also listed as "miller" in a marriage document from February 1861.) I get the impression that the mill was an informal family business but there were attempts to structure it somehow as the families grew and diverged.In the year 1867 there was a census, and it shows that there were 14 inhabitants of the "müllerhaus." Frédéric SCHLEICH (b 1823) was the proprietor, and then there were one domestic carpenter, one domestic, two shepherds, two laborers, and two servants. Presumably the other five were family members.
The SPARTZ and SCHULLER families
In the year 1865 the family of Jean-Pierre (or Johann Peter) SPARTZ, experienced millers from Germany, somehow came to operate the mill. Although the SPARTZ family ran the mill at Gemünd, Germany, the family originated in Luxembourg. J.P. SPARTZ was born in the parish of Rodershausen in Gemünd, Germany, on Sep 22, 1842 and married Anna Maria SCHLEICH of the Boulaide mill on April 20 1875. They hadr two children, Margarete and Christian SPARTZ, born at the mill, in 1876 and 1877 respectively. The very next year, 1878, August 6th, J.P. SPARTZ suffered a fatal head wound when his heavily-laden wagon jacknifed while returning to the mill from town on the steep ravine-road, just a few hundred meters from home. The horse went under the wagon wheel, suffered a broken leg, and had to be killed. Workers heard the commotion and went and carried Spartz back to the mill, where he died later during that night.
There was another death that took place on Feb 26, 1873. The newspaper announced that the border guard found the body of a farmer from Harlingen (Harlange) near the Boulaide mill in a water-filled ditch.
At first Anna Maria had several SCHLEICH brothers to do the heavy work. But they all moved away and by 1879, the widow was overwhelmed with farm work and two small children, and struggling to run the place. During these years, Anne Marie had been selling off pieces of the surrounding land to her family members to gain some operating funds. Most of these sales weren't even recorded. She enlisted Alexander LANNERS and his wife Barbara FRANCK from the mill at the village of Soller to help out. Their second son was born at the Boulaide mill. They stayed until 1883, when they returned to Syr (Surré) and bought the mill there. The family kept the Syr mill running until the 1970s, and it was the last mill still operating in Luxembourg. Their grandson died in March 2005.
For a time after the departure of the LANNERS family in the early 1880s Anna Maria had help from a farmer named Antoine THYS. He was a wealthy farmer who lived in town, but tended the fields near the mill.
Then came Phillipp SCHULLER, who was born in 1852 in Schieren, a town just south of Ettelbrück. His family had moved to Bigonville (Bondorf) some time after 1860, based on the birth dates of his siblings. Phillipp took on all the hard work of the Boulaide mill before 1885. On July 16, 1886 he married Anna-Maria SCHLEICH in Bigonville. They had two daughters Marie SCHULLER, born April 21, 1887, and Marguerite SCHULLER born Dec 20, 1889. Marie was my grandmother.Philipp SCHULLER was nicknamed "Felix." He had two brothers and two sisters about whom nothing is known, but his sister Caroline (1860-1945) was married to Henri HIRTZ, a well-known figure around Bigonville. They then moved to Paris and had 12 children. Two sons Johann (1887-1969) and Antoine HIRTZ (1895-1964) later moved to Saskatchewan and have many descendents there. A daughter Caroline HIRTZ (1893-1983) married George LAGARDÈRE from Paris. Another son Michel ''Michy'' HIRTZ (1907-1974) did some genealogy work in the early 1960s for which I am most grateful. For much more on the SCHULLER and HIRTZ families, including some great family stories, see Val Hvidston's Schuller Family History.
According to the family story we heard, J.P. SPARTZ's well-to-do family, after his death, was able to repossess the mill by obtaining documents from Germany that somehow showed that the SPARTZ-SCHLEICH marriage was more legitimate than the SCHULLER-SCHLEICH marriage, and they received a judgment in their favor. There was some bitterness. I know that these statements are somewhat at odds, but I think they represent "two sides of the story." We only heard the version according to the memory of a young girl many years later, forced to accept the decisions of her elders.
In 1894 Marguerite SPARTZ married and moved to town. Her story continues below. Christian SPARTZ assumed the duties of miller as soon as he was old enough. According to the newspaper, on Feb 14, 1895 miller Christian SPARTZ saved a boy from drowning in the mill-pond. The son of the border-guard was there with some friends and he fell through the ice. A few days later on Feb 19 there was a fire. The barn was destroyed in the blaze and the damages were 4000 Francs. It was insured. The fire began in the stove. The census from December 1895 reported (Anne) Marie and her sister Catherine Schleich, son Christian Spartz, and daughters Marie and Margaret Schuller. There was also a Marguerite EICHER, a widow born in 1840 in Wiltz, who is otherwise unknown. Marguerite and
In 1898 two parcels of land that had been assigned to Michel SCHLEICH in 1861 are among those owned by Friedrich SCHLEICH (born 1841, the innkeeper in Boulaide). He had been trying to help his niece Anna-Maria out by mortgaging some of the land, but came into possession of the property when she couldn't pay him back.
The 1900 census lists Marie with Christian Spartz, Maria and Margaret SCHULLER, their aunt Catherine SCHLEICH, and Mathias ARENDT (born 1879 in Ischpelt) living at the mill.
Still again Anne-Marie had to turn to other millers to help run the place. One was a miller named REUTER. He was mentioned in a newspaper article in 1904. Halfway to Baschleiden, a strap of his wagon broke, and the noise spooked the horse. The large work horse fell and broke his leg and had to be slaughtered.
The Sale of the Mill
On April 18, 1905, Anna Maria SCHULLER died at the age of 56. Three months before that her sister Marie GENGLER, who was part-owner of the property, also died. Thus the mill fell into the possession of Marie and Marguerite SCHULLER, who were still teenagers. It must have been obvious that their only option was to sell the place.
Therefore on October 19 of 1905 an auction was held, and the mill and its outbuildings plus about 20 other lots, fields, pastures, and other lands, were sold together for the sum of 15000 Francs. The girls, being orphans and minors, were represented by their uncle Henri HIRTZ of Bigonville as judicially appointed guardian, with their uncle Friedrich SCHLEICH, hotelier/restauranteur/barkeeper in Boulaide as co-guardian. The auction was held in town at his hotel, the Gasthaus Schleich. The SCHULLER girls and the SPARTZ children somehow divided the proceeds, but the girls apparently received a meager share.
The buyers of the mill were Pierre SCHMITZ (born in Surré Apr 17, 1860, died at the Boulaide-mill Mar 22, 1940) and his wife Suzanne PLIER (born Boulaide, June 10, 1873, married Oct 9, 1900, died in Boulaide Dec 18, 1934.) Pierre SCHMITZ purchased all the land at the mill, about 16 parcels all told: fields, pastures, woodlots, and buildings.
mill as it appeared when Pierre SCHMITZ purchased it in 1906. By 1920
he was enlarging it. The barn, newly rebuilt after the fire, is at left
and the millhouse at right. The small building in between was a
slate-floored outdoor kitchen with a large built-in
cauldron, demolished before 1950. The millrace and weir are at
the lower left. You can see the difference in elevation of the two
ponds. There was also a laborers' barracks building off the picture to
the right. Behind the barn is a ravine with the steep Roman Road rising
toward town. Pierre SCHMITZ built a new
switchback road to replace it. Today the rocky hillside is
thickly covered with trees.
New Life in America, and the BIERCHEN and MICHELAU families
According to the ship's records at Ellis Island New York, 18-year-old Marie SCHULLER came to Chicago first for a visit on March 21, 1906. According to numerous sources, her brother Christian accompanied her on the trip and then returned to Luxembourg, but I can't find any record of that. Her name appears with Jean-Baptiste FRERES, age 20 from Harlange and Barbara SCHMITZ, age 18. Both Marie and Barbara indicated that they were coming from Bourscheid, and both were going to see Josef SCHMITZ, Barbara's brother (and Marie's cousin) in Chicago. Baptiste FRERES was also traveling to Rogers Park in Chicago.
These SCHMITZ are probably not related to the Schmitz family who bought the mill. Joseph, Barbara, and Peter Emil SCHMITZ were born in Boulaide to Johann SCHMITZ and Katherine GENGLER. They also had a sister Maria born May 24 1881. Katherine was the sister of Johann GENGLER who married Marie SCHLEICH (b 1848) at the mill. Joseph (1879- 1963) and Emil (March 27 1885- 1947) SCHMITZ lived in Wheaton Illinois, while Barbara LEIS (May 28 1888- 1977) lived in Los Angeles CA. (The 1900 census record from Boulaide has Nikolas born Dec 13 1879 and Joseph born March 13 1883.)
Marie returned to Luxembourg at some point, about 1907. Marguerite went to Paris and worked as a waitress or cook, saving money until she could afford steamer passage to America. They had SCHULLER cousins in Paris and may have stayed with them.
Then on Feb 22, 1908, with $15 cash, Marie returned alone to Chicago for good on the ship Kroonland sailing from Antwerp. She named the home of her great-uncle Fritz CLEMENT in Chicago as her destination. Marguerite, now 18, followed on July 6, 1908, along with a cousin Elise NILLES, on the ship Vaterland. Elise was the daughter of Dominique NILLES. (See The NILLES Family below.) Marguerite mentioned her cousin Fritz GENGLER in Luxembourg City as her relative.
Fritz CLEMENT helped Marie SCHULLER to settle in America and get her start. These close cousins were instrumental in the lives of Marie and Marguerite SCHULLER, not only by helping them settle in America, but also by introducing Marguerite to her future husband John Peter MICHELAU, also of Harlange. I have moved the CLEMENT family to a separate page here.
I know that the girls sought a new life far from the dank mill in the Sûre valley. They worked hard in Chicago; Marie was said to have "earned $7 (a week) and saved $5." Mary and Margaret SCHULLER, to use their Americanized names, had some interesting parallels in their lives. They were both married in 1910 to men named John (BIERCHEN and MICHELAU), both bore 7 children, and both died in 1966. Mary and Margaret also named their first daughters after each other.
John and Mary BIERCHEN were married at St Henry's on Jan 12 1910. John BIERCHEN was born in Eschdorf, Luxembourg, in 1882. In May 1910, after their marriage, the BIERCHENs were living at 7461 N California Ave. in Chicago. They also spent time living in Skokie. Then in 1919, they were living around the 2200 block of Devon Ave, among other addresses in Rogers Park. Around 1926 the BIERCHEN family bought the house at 1976 Devon Avenue. They had extensive greenhouses in back. The Bierchens’ house must have been a sort of welcoming center for immigrants from the old country. They sponsored Christ SCHLEICH (see below) and other friends and relatives including two of John BIERCHEN’s brothers. They also sponsored Mary's “mean old” aunt Catherine SCHLEICH.
I now have the pedigree chart for John and Mary BIERCHEN posted here.
They had two babies who died. Both were named Catherine, after aunt Catherine SCHLEICH who had arrived in the US in 1911 and lived near the BIERCHENs. Catherine must be the same aunt who appears in the 1890 property transfers. The first baby Catherine died in a housefire late one night. This event took place at their residence in Skokie in 1912. They each ran back into the burning building, suffering injuries themselves, but could not rescue their baby. A few years later the second Catherine suffered a mysterious head injury while in the care of Aunt Catherine SCHLEICH who was working as the Bierchens’ housekeeper. It's believed she fell or was dropped on the floor. The baby lingered for a while and then died on June 19, 1919.
John BIERCHEN, beloved by his children and nieces (they called him "Uncle Bierk") died of a stroke on Aug 25, 1932, at the height of the Depression, leaving Mary with a house full of kids. She managed to hold on to it by means of profits from her greenhouses and rental income from her boarders. But she did end up losing the greenhouses during that period, by being one day late with the mortgage payment to the Clark family on account of a blizzard.
Mary Bierchen and Margaret Michelau about 1945
Margaret's husband John MICHELAU came from Luxembourg in 1901. John MICHELAU's brother Peter had married Margaret's cousin Anni CLEMENT. They were both from Harlingen and actually sailed to the US on the same ship. Later they were surprised when they met again in Chicago. There were 12 MICHELAU children of whom six came to the US. John and three brothers settled in Chicago, and two went on to Minnesota. John and Margaret lived on Dempster Street in Niles Center (Skokie) Illinois and then on a farm in Grayslake. The farmhouse still stands, surrounded by new subdivisions, and was occupied by their son Benny (Fred Benedict MICHELAU who was named after Fred CLEMENT). John MICHELAU died accidentally on Nov 25, 1952.
For more information on these families, please see my webpages
: the MICHELAU
page and the BIERCHEN
page. The BIERCHEN and MICHELAU
children are tabulated below :
|BIERCHEN children||dates||spouse||MICHELAU children||dates||spouse|
|Margaret BIERCHEN||1910-2000||Mike SIKULA,
|Joseph Peter MICHELAU||1911-1985||Elsie CRAFT|
|Catherine BIERCHEN||1912-1912||-||Mary MICHELAU||1913-2006||Chuck JANS|
|Ann BIERCHEN||1913-2002||Ray DOERING||Susan MICHELAU||1916- 2011||Joseph BEZDEK|
|Elizabeth “Elsie” BIERCHEN||1916-2001||Al GORDON||Elizabeth Anna “Lee” MICHELAU||1920-1987||Bill HAJDUK|
|Catherine BIERCHEN||1918-1919||-||Fred B “Benny” MICHELAU||1923-2005||Kathryn JACKSON|
|Mary Elizabeth BIERCHEN||1922-||Frank HECKENBACH||Margaret MICHELAU||1925-||Ray HOOK|
|John Henry BIERCHEN||1924- 2010||Joea ELLIS||Ann MICHELAU||1927-||George HOOK|
Meanwhile back in Luxembourg...
Mary and Margaret's half-sister Margarete SPARTZ (1876-1935) and half-brother Christian SPARTZ (1877-1948) stayed in Luxembourg.
Christian SPARTZ (b Oct 10 1877 at the mill) married Catherine BONERT (b Dec 10 1878 in Kehmen but living in Bourscheid) on May 11, 1910 in Winseler near Wiltz. It's virtually certain that Catherine was the granddaughter of Johann Bernard BONERT, who was a brother of Gertrude BONERT (see Schleich-Bonert Family above.) Catherine's older brother Jacques BONERT (b 1872 in Kehmen) had moved to the town of Schleif in 1905 and bought a farm. After the auction sale of the Boulaide mill Christian and Catherine moved to Schleif and in 1911 they bought a large part of Jacques' farm from him. They had two sons who died young, Edouard SPARTZ (1911-1911) and Jacques SPARTZ (1914-1920). At the time Catherine died in 1941 they were living in Doncols. Christian SPARTZ died on Sep 4 1948 at the home of Emile NILLES in Ospern where he was staying (see The NILLES Family below.)
Margarete SPARTZ married a man named Nickolaus SCHLEICH (Aug 13, 1870 - Mar 4,1903) on Aug 23, 1894. Remember her mother's maiden name was also SCHLEICH; they were distant relatives. Nicolaus was born at Böllerbuch in Boulaide, the son of Peter SCHLEICH and Katherina WEINTZEN (or WAINZEN, born Apr 10, 1845 in Bögen). Peter was a day-laborer and a grandson of Gaspard SCHLEICH and Elisabeth OESTREICHER, see above. He had a sister Elisabeth (b 1872, married Guillaume LINSTER in 1891) and twin brothers Guillaume (born 1874, m Anna DAX in 1895) and Jean SCHLEICH (born 1874, m first Marg. SCHROEDER, and then Marie DRAUDEN in 1903) of Ettelbrück. In 1895 Nickolaus and Marguerite were living with Peter and Katherina.
Margarete SPARTZ's family is spread over the next 3 lists. Starting at the Boulaide mill, by 1902 they had left and moved to the village. They lived in the house called "Auf der Lann" in Boulaide. Their children were:
- Elizabeth SCHLEICH (b Jan 4 1895 although the 1895 census shows November 4 1894, died Jun 21 1945 in Chicago). She moved to Chicago around 1914 and married Peter TRES (Jul 29 1895- Jun 1966) around 1927. She worked as a dental nurse and was the godmother of Elizabeth "Elsie" BIERCHEN (GORDON, born 1916) and Elizabeth "Lee" MICHELAU (HAJDUK, born 1920) mentioned in the table above.
- Marie SCHLEICH (Oct 31 1896-1944) married Christian Nicolas Eugene BOUCHARD (Dec 26 1894 Kehlen- Feb 5 1977 Hollerich) in Luxembourg City on Feb 23, 1916, and had three daughters, Germaine (Marcel) WIRTZ (1916- Jan 24 2010), Yvonne (Bernard) LUX, and Marcelle (Eugene) LUX of Indiana. Bernard and Eugene were brothers.
- Christian ("Christ") SCHLEICH (Oct 22 1898-Jan 26 1978) In Bonneweg (or Hollerich) on November 21, 1920, he married Mary Müller from Echternach (1897-Jul 27 1972). They took a honeymoon trip to the US and liked what they saw. They moved to Chicago on January 5, 1921. He listed his occupation as coachbuilder. For his first job in the new country, he worked at his aunt Mary BIERCHEN's greenhouses on Devon Avenue in Chicago. From about 1928 till 1948 he owned the Chicago Ready Mix Company on 63rd Street. The business prospered and they eventually turned it over to his manager Eugene LUX, the husband of his niece Marcelle. They had immigrated about 1941. Christ and Mary retired to Channel Lake in Antioch IL about 1963. They had no children. They frequently hosted relatives from Luxembourg and took about 7 trips there, where they were well-known. There are several pictures of them in the company of mayors and bishops. Christ was active in the Luxembourg Brotherhood of America and was the president of the Luxembourg-American Social Club from about 1961 until about 1967. He is said to have brought great honor to his country of birth and he never failed to visit the mill on his trips to Boulaide. He was very close to his godmother Finny NEU. His wife Mary was quite sick beginning about 1963 and died in Rochester Minnesota in 1972. His niece Germaine WIRTZ stayed with him for a year around 1977, before moving back to Luxembourg.
- Anne Marie SCHLEICH (Nov 18 1900 at the mill - died May 13 1901)
- Theodore SCHLEICH (born auf der Lann in Boulaide on May 1 1902, died 1959 of cancer) married Marie "Manny" LUDOVICY (about 1907) and stayed in Luxembourg. One daughter Laure ("Lorchen".)
Nickolaus SCHLEICH died in 1903 when he
had an accident on the ice and was dragged by his horse.
The NILLES family
On Jan 19, 1910 Margarete married Dominik NILLES (Jun 8 1853 Koetschette- Oct 17 1918 Boulaide). He was a farmer, the son of Gaspar NILLES and Catherine REUTER. He had previously (Mar 6 1883) married Susanne SCHARTZ or SCHWARTZ (Oct 18 1863- Aug 25 1900) The children of Dominik NILLES and Susanne SCHWARTZ were:
At least some of these seven were born in Boulaide. When Marguerite SCHULLER came to Chicago with Elise NILLES in 1908, Elise's friend Anton MILLER from Boulaide, a saddlemaker, (his father Michel was a teacher in Boulaide), was on board the ship with them. They all arrived at Ellis Island on July 6, 1908 headed for Chicago. According to a newspaper account of July 21, the three (Anton MILLER, Margreth SCHULLER, and "Lucie" NILLES) arrived in Chicago and had plans to stay. Elise married Peter Michels, born 1889, from Schrondweiler, Luxembourg. They had greenhouses too. Their children were Jesse and Edwin.
In November 1909 Marie NILLES arrived in Chicago. She married Anton MILLER in 1911. The MILLER children, all born in Chicago, were Nicadem (1911-1969), Peter (1912-1928), Harry (1913-1913), Elsie (1916-), Adele (1920-), and Eugene (1922-1947). For more on the MILLER family history including pictures, see Scott Plencner's webpage at www.splencner.com/family
Marie and Elise NILLES came to the US after their mother Susanna died. On the 1908 ship's record, Elise NILLES listed Marie SCHULLER as her cousin although technically Elise was my grandmother's half-sister's step-daughter.
Dominik then married the widow Margarete
SPARTZ/SCHLEICH on Jan 19, 1910.
Even though they both had children from previous marriages, some
of whom were grown up by then, Dominik and Margarete NILLES
had four children of their own:
Dominik NILLES died seven days before the birth of his son
Emile in 1918. Margarete died Jan 31 1933 after a brief illness. The blended families were raised
together and have remained close to this day.
The Operation of the Mill
After Pierre SCHMITZ took over he made many improvements. He had a system for picking up sacks of grain and delivering the flour and meal to farmers in the surrounding villages. They had a device at the road to signal him for a pick-up as he drove by. He kept elaborate records for all the transactions. At first he made the deliveries himself, but later his workers did that part. He milled rye, wheat, and barley. He had two millstones, fine and coarse. He also carried straw and hay. He had six horses: four for pulling the wagons to the farms, and two for working in his fields.
In 1918 the miller SCHMITZ was caught by the belt-pulley of a farming machine and broke his left arm. That same year his younger daughter Thérèse, age 17, succumbed to the Spanish Flu. In 1920 he drew plans to enlarge the house. He spent the years 1921-24 combining two of the buildings into the large house now standing, and completely renovating the premises. He had to make many repairs to the neglected equipment. He designed a new iron waterwheel with its axle at the level of the water in the millrace, so the blades didn't just dip into the water, but half of them were underwater at all times to maximize power.
He built a small balcony on the upper floor with a pulley in its roof. This arrangement allowed him to hoist sacks of grain from a wagon parked on the ground to the first floor so it could be poured through a trap-door into the hopper of the millwheel below. Other objects could also be lifted up to any floor in the same way.
He put in a water-powered generator and used the power for lights. He connected a power take-off shaft from the millwheel to a machine outside for flaying grain, and to a small sawmill. In the picture below the millstone in the foreground was for animal feed, while the larger stone to the left was for grinding bread-flour. There was a trap-door above the hopper for pouring in grain. The large belt was for lifting the upper stone for maintenance. At the other end of the room he had a woodworking shop and a small forge for making horse-shoes and repair parts.He also built the new road to town by following a path through the woods, bypassing the old ravine-road where Mr Spartz died. That road reverted to nature as the hillside was gradually taken over by a thick cover of trees.
This is a picture of the actual interior of the Boulaide Mill. All this equipment was removed years ago.
Plans for renovation in 1920. Mr Schmitz combined two buildings to form the larger millhouse. During the work the coat-of-arms was found on the wall.
Boulaide and the mill in recent times
In later years the mill-stones were removed, and the land and buildings continued to be used as a farm. SCHMITZ's surviving child Alice-Catherine lived there with her husband Eugene PERRAD who came from the flour mill at Rahimont, Belgium. Their two children, Benoit and Marie-Anne PERRAD, grew up at the mill.
In WWII, when the Germans occupied the area, they confiscated all documents. At the Boulaide mill Mrs PERRAD had the foresight to hide the deeds, surveys, records, and purchase receipts behind a window shutter, and was able to preserve them. The German troops destroyed the bridge at the mill but it was rebuilt in 1949.
Boulaide and Bigonville were swept up in the Battle of the Bulge. Bigonville became an unexpected hotspot on the march to Bastogne during the (Dec 16 1944- Jan 18 1945) (4th Armored Division, Dec. 23-24.) Much of the town was destroyed. http://www.bigonville.info/Bigonville_in_World_War_II/Welcome.html has a description of the battle in there. Downstream from the mill on a high hill overlooking the river, the Germans had an artillery position set up but fortunately the Boulaide mill was around a bend, not within view of it.
Bigonville has both a Memorial to the 4th Armored Division and a newly erected Monument dedicated to the 9th USAF.
On Dec 27 1944 the 35th churned through knee-deep snow and
attacked boldly across the Sûre. The 137th Infantry trucked across
the bridge at Tintange and drove outposts of the German
Parachute Division from the village of Surré. While the Germans
were dug in in defensive positions on a series of hills overlooking
the Sûre south of the Boulaide mill and around a curve, the
crossed the Sûre--one company had to wade the icy river on foot--and
took Boulaide and Baschleiden without casualties. All together
nine villages were liberated that day. The American bombing
caused significant damage in Boulaide. Fifty-two rounds fired on
enemy traffic in and around Boulaide were observed to be 100
percent effective in routing the Germans. US forces in the
Boulaide area immobilized two tanks, destroyed another vehicle, and
scored direct hits on houses around which enemy movements had
been observed. The school was destroyed as were the town's vital
records (but backup records were kept elsewhere.) An
American four-engine plane crashed on the edge of the village. The
pilots bailed out and the plane circled for some time before
coming down. Recently a monument was placed at the site.
Boulaide erected a Memorial to the 35th Infantry Division. Boulaide today is a placid agricultural area known for recreational opportunities. There are tourist cabins, fishing and boating in the near-by Upper Sûre Lake, hiking and motorcycling on the trails. The man-made reservoir extends down to Esch-sur-Sûre.
The mill today, barn on left behind the blue tent.At the mill, after Eugene PERRAD's death in 1974, Alice-Catherine and her children sold the property. The next owner Mr PUJOL was a French businessman who had an idea to make the mill into a picnic area but never carried out the plans.
Next came a businessman Mr RIDLEY who bought the mill for a summer home, but got lung-disease ("consumption") and had to abandon the idea. After his death the mill passed to his daughter Agnes who lived in Arlon, Belgium. It remained vacant for years. In the year 2002 the mill was sold to a new owner who is making repairs and modernizing the building, including using the water power to generate electricity for his use. Since the property is now located in a National Park, there are restrictions on changing the exterior of the buildings.
cited above or otherwise worth a visit
||Luxembourg place names
|Lux. Embassy in London||the Luxembourg language situation
||the mill at Bockholtz. This page also
contains topographic maps of many Luxembourg places
||Lux genealogy site
||History of the SCHULLER family
pedigree of Marie Schuller
||another SCHLEICH page.
Bob is a descendent of Cornelius SCHLEICH b 1800.
||René has access to old records and is
writing a book on emigrations from Lux to the US in
the 19th century
|Guy Ries||Bigonville in WWII||http://www.bigonville.info/Bigonville_in_World_War_II/Welcome.html|
|TVLUX||TV series on mills in Belgium, in French||http://www.tvlux.be/video/le-moulin-de-saint-leger_13991.html|
|Luxembourg Survey and Topography
||Government portal for topographical maps and surveys||http://map.geoportail.lu
Further information wanted! This is obviously an evolving story and I am always interested in more. I believe that in sharing what we know, we add to our knowledge. What I would most like would be any information that corrects or adds to what is here. I'm also very interested in old pictures and documents.
A new angle is the study of DNA as it applies to genealogy. Any information from this new field would be appreciated! Far from being a "pure" genestock, we are really a collection of influences from far and wide.
Please email questions, corrections or complaints to firstname.lastname@example.org
by Jim Heckenbach. First Posted February 23, 2002. Last Updated October 2, 2016.
Copyright © 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 by Jim Heckenbach