test en

Arno Bourggraff

Bourggraff History

USA trip 2013

Our journey to the USA in 2013
Finally, time had come on 30 September 2013 . My wife Gertrud and I had packed our bags in order to make the journey to America, which was preceded by many preparations . So we had started English lessons two years ago in evening classes. The contacts with the American relationship had been made several years ago. In Lynda Burggraff Bokker from South Dakota, we had found the right contact. She was planning a family reunion of the Burggraff. This should be in their vicinity, in Dell Rapids. So we flew from Luxembourg via Amsterdam to Minneapolis in Minnesota.
When we started there with our car, a great little jeep, we could not b
elieve it, we were in America! The first time in our lives! A dream had become true. I had to remember how difficult it was for John Burggraff, when he left his home in Luxembourg in 1860 and set out with his family on the way to the New World. For us, the trip lasted not even one day, but for Jängi it were weeks by ship traveling in an uncertain future.
Now we roared with 65-70 miles (100-110 km) on the huge highway on the way to our goal. Meanwhile, we were awake15 hours already and still had about 400 km before us. But the new adventure kept us awake. When we bought drinks in a shop on the way, we were pleasantly surprised by the friendliness of Americans. When we arrived in the evening in Dell Rapids and had finally found some food in the small town, we were incredibly tired, but went happy to bed. The impressions of the first day were: in America everything is big : the streets, the squares, the giant corn and soya fields, the cars ... About 50 % of the cars were heavy pickups, plus lots of cross-countries and very little small cars.

The next morning after a hearty breakfast, unfamiliar (pancakes, fruit, sausage) but tasty, we went to the farm of Frank and Lynda Burggraff. After several miles over rubble roads run through the corn fields when we came near her farm, the navigator told us that we had arrived. But there was no farm of our relatives. So we drove on some miles further through the fields and suddenly saw a mailbox with the name Henry Burggraff. As we drove into the yard, a giant came to meet us. I said in my bumpy English: We come from Luxembourg and we are looking Frank Burggraff. He replied, "I am Glenn Burggraff, Frank is my brother".  First breakfast in USAWith his help, we quickly found the farm of Frank, where we were warmly received. The farm was remote, surrounded by lots of land giant tractors and machinery were to be seen ... everything was big and heavy. But we felt extremely comfortable and even today when the warmth of the people moves me to tears.                                     FrankFelder










Frank showed us the farm, explained his work and his little granddaughter Frankenkelindrove us through the fields sitting on the lap of grandpa. In the evening we met other children of Frank and Lynda in Sioux Fall's and visited the waterfalls nearby . The Melcher family that we had met in the fall of 2012, when they had visited Germany and Luxembourg, had arrived (900 miles) from the distant Illinois and had dinner together in a Texan restaurant.                               AbendessenmitfamilieThe simplicity of the Americans surprised us. The restaurants were basic but plentiful and inexpensive. The clothing was casual and practical. We were also amazed at the cleanliness of the villages and towns we passed, There was no piece of paper lying on the road.                                                                                            Reunion
When we got to the Burggraff meeting the next day, people welcomed us with great cordiality. A whole room full of Burggraff! Although we knew no one except Lynda and Frank's family and Melcher's, there was an immediate feeling of family membership. If one considers that the common ancestor, Nicholas Burggraff, was born in 1705! It was a great pleasure to talk with the old people and exchange about the relatives.Gertrude and I sang the "Hemecht" , the Luxemburgish National anthem and a song of the emigrants about the homesickness for their native land Luxembourg. And I felt a deep connection with the American relatives.
When I consider that in the 19th century 70 000 people from Luxembourg emigrated and most of them to the USA, I am very grateful that they have found a new home there. In Minnesota 60% of residents have German -speaking roots.GertrudeMuseumArnoBadland

In the next two weeks Gertrud and I crossed five states and had many beautiful experiences: in South Dakota, the Badlands, a magnificent rocky landscape, or a "Prairie Homestead" ... This is an earth house with barn and stables, as the first settlers built them. The Mount Rushmoore with the heads of some US presidents carved in the rock. Deadwood, a former gold mining town, where you can still see buildings from the gold rush era.


In SD we visited the " Laura Ingalls Home " to the great pleasure of our grandchildren. Laura Ingalls describes in the books "The Little Farm" the life of their family in Minnesota, Wisconsin and SD. As for me, Gertrude, the sight of the Mississippi stream we suddenly saw on a hill in front of us in the valley overwhelmed me. We visited the "Corn Palace" in SD, Cprnscheunea large granary, whose facade is redesigned every year and only with different colored corn and cereal grains and small straw and hay bundles. This year was presented a crib. But the best experiences were the encounters with various relatives. We had tears in our eyes at each farewell and we hope to see many of them at the next meeting of the family in Luxembourg again. We also met very nice people except the relatives, to mention only the family Schmitt from Dubuque/Iowa, whose ancestors come from Luxembourg. Mary an Ray Schmitt They spontaneously invited us to a boat trip several hours on the Mississippi. As we passed an old paddle steamer boat, I felt like Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn . The Schmitt 's will come to Luxembourg next year, to get to know the places of their ancestors.
Michelle and Dan Melcher showed us the city of Chicago, a grandiose city located on Lake Michigan with many attractions.





The brother of my grandfather, Jean -Michel Reuland, had a store there in the late 19th century. His daughter Sophie once told me, he had earned a lot of money deploying bread.                                                              Melcher2

In Naperville Michelle Melcher showed us the church she and Dan attend. A large, modern church with approximately 1200 seats, where on weekends there are four services and the church is fully occupied each time. In this city there are four Catholic churches, as well as Lutheran, Baptist and many others. In the church we were pleasantly surprised by the informal way of the worshipers, and their frankness concerning their faith.
Chikago1In Wisconsin we visited in the village of "Belgium," the Luxembourg emigrants center, which was very interesting.

At the end we would like to express our thanks.
Thank you, Tracy Burggraff, you made the contacts with the United States on Facebook. Thank you, Lynda and Frank for your hospitality, for the family reunion, for all that you showed to us have us these days. You were a present for us. Thank you, Michelle and Dan for your hospitality, for Chicago, for the time with you. We felt so comfortable with you. You have so lovely children.


Thank you, Mary and Douglas, you have also spoiled us as your guests. Thank you, Teri, you and your husband have given us excellent food. Thanks for the tour of “Eau Claire” and the theater performance of your children. Don and Marlene, you can be proud of your children. Don, it was nice to see you again. Marlene, we was pleased to get to know you.






Thank you, all Burggraff relatives who were at the meeting,You were all great!
Tim and Elizabeth Hanson, you took such a long journey upon yourself. It was nice to meet you.

Charles Van Hove, thank you for the American family tree of the Burggraff family. Through your work, the American branch could be added to the Luxembourg family tree.
Thank you, Bryan Tassava, You put your guitar at my disposal.
To all of you we say, " Welcome to Luxembourg in July 19, 2014 !"
On the last day when we returned our rent car at the airport and checked in for the return flight, we were very grateful for the many encounters and a little proud that we did that tour alone in a distant and foreign land at our age.
Gertrud an Arno Bourggraff Luxemburg.

Print Email

The gold digger

The gold digger

Joseph Bourggraff was born on the 15th of November 1865 in Hautbellain in Luxemburg. His mother Catherine Bourggraff, a daughter of Franz Bourggraff, was not married. Catherine passed away when Joseph was younger than one year. Joseph lived with his grandparents until he emigrated at the age of 22 years with some friends and relatives, Jean Michel Reuland and Nikolas Bourggraff, to America. On the attic, I found a letter as well written by a Bourggraff who had emigrated to the United States of America. He wrote that himself and his friend, who was also a native of our village, would have found gold of a value of 6000 dollars. Unfortunately, the gold of my relative had been stolen. The letter has been lost.I always wanted to do genealogical research and I decided to start after my retirement of work. So, at the age of 60, I concretely started with my research. I found most of the dates at the National Archives of Luxembourg. Those dates are filed and may be seen on request.Also, I found on an American homepage (Luxembourg's Goldseekers) a report by Fausto Gardini, where the talk is of two prospectors from Bellain, Burgraf and Kesh. According to a source from the National Archives Joseph Bourggraff emigrated to America in March 1888. Also in the "Luxemburger Gazette", a German-language newspaper for the Luxembourgers in the New World, is in the output of 18 March 1888 noted that Joseph Bourggraff, 22 years old, as well as Nicolas Bourggraf, 25 years old, and John-Michel Reuland, 24 years old, had emigrated to Rose Creek, Minnesota in America. According to a census of December 1895, a certain Joseph Bourggraff, born around 1870, had been in America for about four years. This Joseph was named in the 1895 census as a nephew of the Bourggraff-family. The head of the family was Michel Bourggraff. These are some notes about the young adventurer Joseph, who sought his fortune in America.Where and when he died, and whether he had descendants, has now cleared!Through this research, I found out that the letter writer from the United States really was Joseph Bourggraff, who emigrated to Minnesota in 1888 and whose track had been lost. He was a cousin of my grandfather Joseph Bourggraff. In August 2011, after nearly 50 years, I finally found the descendants oft the gold digger Joseph Bourggraff. A special help came from Lynda Bourggraff Bokker from South Dakota. After many mails and telephone calls, she sent me a complete genealogical tree of the descendants of John Bourggraf. She also went to the Immigration Center of Minnesota (Mower Country Historical Society Austin). That’s where one was looking now for Joseph Bourggraff. According to the information I collected from the National Archives in Luxemburg, the trace led to Ohio. Joseph Bourgraf (the name had been abbreviated) took the American nationality on Oktober 18th 1893 and got married to Anna Reichwein in June 1896. In 1902, Joseph came back to Hautbellain once more to see his family. He sent two postcards home, with the stamp of Troisvierges near Hautbellain, making proof. My last doubts were taken away when Gary Bourgraf (a descendant of Joseph) sent a death notification from Ohio. I was really surprised to get a death notification of my great-grandfather Michel Bourggraff. He was the uncle of Joseph Bourgraf and when he died this death notification was sent to his nephew in America.

Print Email

The very beginning

On the basin, some day I found an old piece of furniture, it was the desk of my great-great-grandfather Franz Bourggraff. He was known as   “Schulfranz”, a teacher during the 19th century. I found a letter as well written by a Bourggraff who had emigrated to the United States of America. He wrote that himself and his friend, who was also a native of our village, would have found gold of a value of 6000 dollars. Unfortunately, the gold of my relative had been stolen. The letter has been lost. Now I became very curious and one day I drove with my moped to reverend Eugène Jost at Basbellain and started to scrabble around. Reverend Jost had a record card of every family indicating the birth, the marriage and the death. The oldest book that I was able to consult, a marriage register, dated from 1616. So I could collect my first information concerning the Bourggraff family. The two sheets with the notes taken are still in my possession. I always wanted to do genealogical research and I decided to start after my retirement of work.

So, at the age of 60, I concretely started with my research. I found most of the dates at the National Archives of Luxembourg. Those dates are filed and may be seen on request.

By these searches I found out that this gold seeker who had written the letter was Joseph Bourggraff, who had emigrated in 1888 to Minesota and of whom each trace had been lost. He was a cousin of my grandfather Joseph Bourggraff. The gold digger

I have invested a lot of time in these searches and found a many interesting events of the family, which I have written down in a chronicle. A reprint, respectively a supplement to the existing chronicle is planned and will be ready for the next meeting of the genealogical tree in 2014.

Print Email

Burggraff USA

The John Burggraff Family in the USA

John Burggraff’s great-grandfather, Nikolaus Bourggraff, was born in 1705 in Trotten or Troine, a little village near Clerveau in the northern part of Luxemburg. John was born in Helzingen, Luxemburg, the 22nd of February, 1832. He married Josephine Schackman (Jacquemain) of Belgian descent.

The house in Helzingen or Hachiville Luxembourg, where John Burggraff was born.

The church in Helzingen

After their marriage, John and Josephine immigrated to the new world. Initially, they settled in Canada where they lived for a while. Sometime between 1860 and 1869 they left Canada and took a train to Michigan. They settled on a farm, but their stay was limited to about one year, as they disliked the country. Their next move was to the state of Minnesota. The journey as far as Anoka was made by train. This was as far as the railroad extended. The journey from Anoka to St. Cloud was made by a team of horses. John and Josephine had 9 children. Nickolas and Henry were born in Canada and Charles, Mary, John Jr., Bertha, Christina, Elizabeth, and Martin were born after they moved to the United States.

When the Burggraff family first arrived in St. Cloud, the main part of the town was located in what was then the site of Lowertown. John took rooms in the "Student House", then located near the 1936 site of the orphanage. This plot of land was at the time laid out for the St. John`s College. John did some carpenter work whi1e staying in St. Cloud and during his spare time he scouted around the county looking for an ideal homestead site. John soon located a homestead site near Opole Holding Township in Stearns County. They proceeded to build a log house, barn and dog house. They grubbed (cleared) the land and used oxen for their farm work. Henry, with his brothers and sisters, attended school in a small log school house located on Spunk Brook, just about one mile east of Opole.

After five years they left the farm and purchased 100 acres of land in Two Rivers Township, two miles east of North Prairie on the Spunk River. John

built a saw mill which he operated until 1884 at which time it was carried away and destroyed by a heavy flood. Soon after, he replaced the saw mill with a flour mill, building on the same ground. It was one of the first, if not the first flour mills in Morrison County. Farmers brought wheat by oxen and horses from near and far to have it ground into flour.

After John disposed of his interest in the mill, he purchased a partly improved 200 acre farm in Two Rivers Township. It was located southeast of North Prairie on the river road. Originally, a house stood on the place, while John added the rest of the farm buildings. He cleared some of the land. He used horses for his farm work. John farmed there for ten to twelve years. He then divided the farm between his two sons, John Jr., who stayed on the home place and Charles, who received part of the farm without buildings. In 1890, John Burggraff Sr. moved to North Prairie, where he built a home and resided there until his death. When the first small log church was set up at North Prairie, John built the sacristy.

John and Josephine’s son, Henry, who was born on March 7, 1860, married Mary Thomalla on June 7, 1879 in North Prairie, Minnesota. Henry and Mary Burggraff had 12 children: 9 sons and 3 daughters.

In this picture you will find Henry Burggraff, and his sons from left to right; Edward, Albert, Joseph, Richard, Nicholas, Peter, Aloysius, Roman, and Claude. His wife, Mary, and their two daughters, Otilia “Tillie” and Margaret “Maggie” are not pictured. Another daughter, also named Margaret, was born in 1885 and died from diphtheria when she was 3 years old.


Theodor Loch with his spouse Elisabeth Burggraff, daugther from Jean Bourggraff/Luxemburg und her childern

    Albert and Mary Burggraff and their children. From left side: Dolores (1938) Albert (father) Bernard (1936), Mary (Mother), Lorraine (1939) In the Back: Henry (1928) Joseph (1929)

Albert, who was born on May 11, 1896, married Mary Siemonsma on January 5, 1927 in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. They farmed near Hartford. Their children were Henry Francis; Joseph Peter; Aloysius George, who died at the age of 8; Dolores Marie, who died when she was 3 days old; Mary Ann, who died on the day she was born; Bernard; Dolores Louise; and Lorraine Ihlene. Albert passed away August 23, 1974 and his wife, Mary, passed away on March 22, 1968. They are buried at St. George Cemetery in Hartford, South Dakota.


Burggraff Brothers and Sisters Burggraff

In Front: Father Aloysius, Otilia(Tillie), Roman.

Middle: Nick, Albert. In Back: Ed, Richard











 Henry Francis Burggraff and Dolores Marie Penning

Henry Francis Burggraff married Dolores Marie Penning and Joseph Peter Burggraff married Alice Penning in a double wedding ceremony on June 2, 1954 in Dell Rapids, South Dakota. Bernard Nicholas Burggraff married Vera Penning on September 3, 1957 in Dell Rapids, SD. Dolores Louise Burggraff married Don Elverud on September 4, 1958 in Hartford, SD. Lorraine Ihlene Burggraff married Melvin Schmidt on October 6, 1959 in Hartford, SD.

Henry and Dolores Burggraff farmed near Egan, South Dakota. They grew corn, soybeans, and hay. They also raised cattle and hogs. They are the parents of Marilyn, Frank, Lonnelle, Wayne, Lloyd, Karon, Gordon, and Glenn. 

Frank is the great-great-grandson of John (Jean) Burggraff. Frank Burggraff and Lynda Bokker were married January 28, 1978 in Dell Rapids, SD and raised their four children on a farm southeast of Egan, South Dakota. Their children attended school in Egan, SD, and later in Flandreau, SD. Frank is a farmer and raises corn, soybeans, and hay. He raised hogs and cattle. He also raises and sells Black Angus bulls. Lynda is employed at Avera Medical Group Flandreau in the medical records department in Flandreau,SD                                                                                                                                

The Family Frank Burggraff his wife Lynda Bokker and their Family

In this picture you will find the family of Frank Burggraff, his wife, Lynda, their children and grandchildren. From left to right in the back row is Frank, Lynda, their daughter Tracy; their daughter Jill, her husband, Randy Smith, with their children, Tristan and Megan. In the front row from left to right is their daughter Charla, her husband, Neal Burri, with their son, Logan; and their son Marc, his wife, Kari (Ramsdell), their daughter, Allysa, and behind them are their sons, Devon and Tison and Samuel Joseph Burri, son from Charla Dawn Burggraff an Neal Burri, born in Sioux Falls, 25 August 2013





Print Email

The Family Bourggraff in the Thirty Years' War

The Thirty Years' War from 1618 to 1648 was e conflict over hegemony (supremacy) in Germany and Europe and a religion war.After this war, the regent Isabel Clara Eugenia, from Spain takes en national census. 

Meanwhile, I found out that in Trotten in 1602 and 1620 there was twice an entry called Bourgraff, in the Préfectur Bastogne. In the French-language report you will find on the website at: “Franc-hommes”, there is a detailed report on this state in the late Middle Ages. "Franc-hommes" is a state that belonged neither to the nobles nor to the citizens or the non-free. The "Franc-homme" (Freih-Mann / Frei-Mann), in fact, was this state, free of all taxes and duties. The Franc homme, but had to make annual muster with horse and armor (sword and lance) in Bastogne for muster. Moreover, when his master / count / duke or king called he had to follow him to war. The sons of Franc-hommes were not allowed to marry outside the state, otherwise they lost their privileges. Nor were they allowed to practice any other profession than "landowners". They possessed a “Fief” or a land property ("Alleu" and "Fiefs" in French) which could be divided to the sons. For most, however, the land was overwritten only the eldest son. Also, they were not allowed to sell it. The land was not pledged. Actually, they were only beneficiaries. The beginnings of this estate can be found even before Charles 5th in the 12th century. How it came to this is not yet clear. Were they noblemen of the rank or were they merits acquired by men in the service of the king? The place, Troine, Trotten, where the Bourggraffs already lived in the 16th century, belonged to the French-speaking part of Luxembourg. When in 1839 a large part of Luxembourg (today's province Luxembourg) Belgium was added, however, Troine remained Luxembourgish. Maybe they spoke there as in the surrounding villages "Letzeburech".

This Michel Bourggraff is the Grandfather from Nicolaus and his brothers   Michel, Joannis, Vincentius, Elisabeth and his probably born 1560. At en census the elders and married mans was names than first family man. In the same document on an other side wee find en place over Michel Bourkes. He is an Freemans too a he had different estates in en else village. We now that the Bourggraff family to live in the Bourkes Sondag house. Is possible that this house was en farm or court from en nobleman. In different marriage contract and testament from the 18. Century it was to be that the Bourggraff family do live in a big farm. Someone more family does live in this house.In the 17- 18. Census wee find often en Bourrgraff, what was godfather to be children that was not related. To be godfather was very expensive and the godfather mast to be a riche person.

In the Bourggraff- Family wee find a lot of priest and wee see in document from 1678 Dominicus Joes Bourggraff priest in Bleyfeld, like godfather from Elisabeth Bourggraff. He was the brother from the father from Elisabeth and brother from Nicolaus. Wee see different style to write the name Bourggraff, like Burgraf, Burggraff, Borgrave…Tombstone with coat of arms of the family Monflin.

 The originally name in Germany was Burggraf ( too mean “count in e castle”) the name Bourggraff with the letter O is French. It is possible that the Bourggraff family came from French Luxembourg (Arlon) and has from en Count e big farm in Trotten, where they can to be living than “Freemans”.   In this document we see a birth certificate from Nicolas one grandson from Michel. He was born 1673 an the name from his father was writhe “Michaele Bourggraff”


  Interpretation: In the year 1673 On 22nd April was born Michaile Bourggraff from the founder house Bourens Sondags and Catharina, his wife, baptized the son and was given the name Nicolaus. Godfather Nicolaus Burggraff and Joanna Matz from the parrish.

Print Email