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Name repetition in German families

A striking characteristic of German families — or at least my German family — is the persistence of names. From father to son to grandson, from mother to daughter to granddaughter, names tend to be repeated from generation to generation and even within generations.

The last Carsten, 1860-1940

My third great grandfather Carsten Hinrich Wilhelm Sievers was born 3 December 1820 in Bremen, Germany.1 He married Metta Huthoff on 11 December 1840.2

They had a daughter Maria Margarethe, born 5 February 1841 and baptized the next day;3 she lived one week.4

On the 15th of January 1842, Carsten and Metta had another daughter, and they named her Marie Margarethe.5 She lived to adulthood, and married Johann Nuckel in 1860.6

On 12 November 1860, Johann and Marie had their first son, whom they named Carsten Hinrich Wilhelm Nuckel.7 He grew up and married Julianne Margarethe Smidt around 1888.8

On 10 April 1889, Carsten Hinrich Wilhelm Sievers died in Bremen; on the 13th he was buried at Bunthenthor Cemetery there.9

Just about the same time, that Carsten’s grandson Carsten Nuckel and his wife Juliane had a son. They named him Carsten Hinrich Wilhelm Nuckel, and he was two years and nine months old when he died 24 January 1892. He was buried 28 January 1892 at Reichsburg Cemetery in Bremen.10

In the meantime, in 1891, Carsten and Juliane also had a daughter, my grandmother, and they named her Marie Margarethe.11

Their next son was born on 1 July 1892, just six months after they buried their first little boy. This son too was given the name Carsten Hinrich Wilhelm Nuckel. He was one year and 20 days old when he died 19 August 1893. He was buried 22 August 1893 at Bunthenthor Cemetery.12

Carsten and Juliane had yet another son in May 1897. They didn’t try naming him after his father and his brothers. Instead he was named Johann Friedrich Wilhelm Nuckel, after an uncle. He was 11 months and 12 days old when he died 22 April 1898. He was buried 26 April 1898 at Walle Cemetery.13

My great grandfather Carsten went to his grave in April 1940.14 His daughter, my grandmother Marie Margarethe, died only seven years later.15

As far as I know, there have been no more Carsten Hinrich Wilhelms and no more Marie Margarethes in our family. I haven’t been able to locate any living members of my grandmother’s family yet so I can’t be 100% certain, but the records don’t suggest any.

The fact that the names haven’t been passed down is a pity; they’re lovely names. But then again, there have been no more infant deaths in our family, either. And — while I’m not superstitious enough to suggest cause and effect — just in case, I hasten to add that’s a trade-off we’ll take any day…


  1. Bremen Standesamt, Zivilstandsregister 1811-1875 (Bremen city registry office, civil status registers 1811-1875), Geburten (births) 1820, p. 614, Nr. 1242 (7 Dec 1820); FHL Film 1344150, Family History Library, Salt Lake City.
  2. Ibid., Heiraten (marriages) 1840, p. 432; FHL microfilm 1344191.
  3. Ibid., Geburten 1841, Reg. Nr. 155 (5 Feb 1841), p. 77; FHL microfilm 134415.
  4. Ibid., Todten (deaths) 1841, p. 72; FHL microfilm 1344222.
  5. Ibid., Geburten 1842, Reg. Nr.75 (15 Jan 1842), p.37; FHL microfilm 1344159.
  6. Ibid., Heiraten 1860, p. 282; FHL microilm 1344200.
  7. Ibid., Geburten 1860, Reg. Nr. 1931 (13 Nov 1860), p. 973; FHL microfilm 1344170.
  8. Marriage record of their daughter, Marie Margarethe Nuckel, Bescheinigung der Eheschließung (Certificate of Marriage), nr. 135 (1918), Geißler-Nuckel, Standesamt (Registry Office), Bremen.
  9. “Die Leichenbücher der Stadtgemeinde Bremen von 1875 – 1939” (The Funerary Records of the City of Bremen, 1875-1939), book 1889, page 181; online database, Die Maus – Family History and Genealogical Society of Bremen ( : accessed 13 Apr 2012).
  10. Ibid., book 1892, page 59.
  11. Bremen birth certificate, attached to visa application, Form 255, 4 December 1924, Marie Geissler; photocopy received 2004 via FOIA request by Judy G. Russell from U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (now U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services).
  12. Bremen Funerary Records, book 1893, page 451.
  13. Ibid., book 1898, page 234.
  14. Marginal notation, civil register of births, Geburten 1860, Reg. Nr. 1931 (13 Nov 1860), p. 973; FHL microfilm 1344170.
  15. Illinois Department of Public Health, death certificate no. 12011, Marie Geissler, 12 Apr 1947.
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