Finding A Way Around The Brick Wall in Genealogical Research

Its been a while since I blogged and a lot of the time since my last article was taken up doing research.  One of the interesting things that has come out of the research I have been doing in Germany, is a possible link between two soldiers who enlisted in the De Meuron regiment on August 19th 1809 in Malta. As many of my readers know I am descended from Pierre Henry Heyer, soldier #2120 who enlisted in Malta in 1809. He is my great, great, great grandfather. For the past 30 years I have been searching for his history between the time he was born in 1786 and when he joined the regiment in 1809. Where was he and what did he do in that time period. A few years ago I had a professional genealogist conduct a search of the Catholic registers in the city of Koln. Koln was the city he gave as his place of origin when he enlisted in Malta. The research turned up nothing which seemed very odd. The genealogist was stumped as well, but recommended looking to the north of Koln towards the Dutch border where he indicated the Heyer name was very common.

Five years later and no further ahead in finding where Pierre Henry Heyer was actually from, the break came in examining the antecedents of another De Meuron soldier, Jospeh Dommersch. Maurice Vallee in his book indicated that Jospeh was also from Koln. His parents were named in the record of his second marriage in Montreal in 1825. He married Marie Louise Malepar in Montreal on the 7th of November 1825 and his parents were Jean Joseph Dommersch and Maria Heyer from the town of Kempen. Maurice very kindly provided me with a copy of the marriage record. This lead me to start wondering whether Maria Heyer was related to Henry Heyer in some way?

The birth, marriage and death records for Krs. Kempen are available on line at and a quick search turned up many, many Heyers in Kempen.  So I thought lets start with what I knew. Pierre Henry Heyer was born in 1786, his parents were Peter Heyer and Agnes Offer according to his marriage record in 1815 at Chambly, Quebec. Low and behold I found Pierre Henry Heyer, born 7 December 1786 in Kempen and whose parents were Petrus (Peter) Heyer and Agnes Houver. I had finally found the Heyer family! Subsequent research has resulted in pushing the Heyer family back two generations to the mid 1700s in Kempen and St. Toenis. I will detail the Heyer family in another blog article but lets look at the link between Pierre Henry Heyer and Joseph Dommersch.

Joseph Dommersch was born July 25th 1786 in Kempen. His parents were Joannes Dommers and Maria Catherin Heyer.  You can see the genealogy of the Dommers family here.  In researching Pierre Henry’s siblings I discovered that his brother Joseph Albertus Heyer born in 1774 had as god parents Albertus Houver and Maria Catherin Dommers. A further search revealed that Maria Catherin Dommers was actually Maria Catherin Heyer married to Joannes Dommers.  They married in 1767. I am still searching for the family link but I suspect that Pierre Henry Heyer’s father Petrus Heyer and Maria Catherin Heyer were siblings. Further research in Kempen will be needed to expand the family genealogy and confirm this definitively.

Joseph Dommersch (Dommers) married for a second time in Montreal in 1825. His first wife having passed away sometime between 1823 and 1824. He did have a son Joseph who is named in the marriage record in 1825. As of this writing I have been unable to find anything further on Jospeh Dommersch (Dommers) in Canada.

This short article serves as an interesting tale about how one surmounts those inevitable walls in genealogical research. Sometimes it pays to look in places that don’t on the surface make any sense.




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