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A happy ending to May

They lived hundreds of miles apart, at a time when hundreds of miles in distance really meant something.

They spoke the same language, but lived in what then were different countries.

They didn’t come from the same backgrounds.

They certainly never met.

Yet two very different couples had something very much in common.

Both couples met, courted and — albeit in different years — married on the 31st of May.

May31bAnd, a half century later, in a very different world, their grandchildren — the ones you see here on the left — met, courted, married — and ultimately became my grandparents.

It’s another of those odd coincidences so many of us find as genealogists.

The quirks that go into making our family history — our stories — unique.

The first to marry, on the 31st of May 1852 in the little village of Bad Köstritz in what was then the principality of Reuss jüngerer Linie, were Johann Christoph Gustav Graumüller and Auguste Wilhelmina Zimmermann.

The groom, called Gustav, was a resident of Bad Köstritz and the third son of Johann Christoph Graumüller of Rüdersdorf. His bride, called Wilhelmina, was the second daughter of Johann Gottfried Zimmermann, a carpenter who lived in Bad Köstritz.1

They went on to have seven children that we know of: Ida Emma in 1853; Emma Louisa in 1855; Auguste Pauline in 1857; Henrietta Louise in 1859; Ernst Gustav in 1863; Karl Emil in 1865; and Anna Emilie in 1867.2

Emma, the second born, married Hermann Eduard Geissler, a bricklayer in Bad Köstritz, on 22 June 1879.3 She and Hermann also had seven children that we know of: Emma Hedwig in 1881; Martha Pauline in 1884; Arno Werner in 1885; Ida Agnes in 1887; Elly Marie in 1888; Paula Ida in 1890; and Hugo Ernst in 1891.4

On the other side of Europe, in the Free City of Bremen, the second couple married on the 31st of May 1860. Johann Nuckel was a 22-year-old laborer; his bride, Marie Margarethe Sievers, was just 18. Both of their families resided on Buntenthorsteinweg.5

The Nuckels had three children: their first-born Carsten Hinrich Wilhelm was born in November 1860, a little more than five months after his parents married6; a daughter Johanna was born in 18637; the last child was an unnamed stillborn daughter in 1866.8

The son, Carsten, grew up to be a crate maker in the city of Bremen. He married Juliane Margarethe Smidt, daughter of a cooper from Bremen, around 1888.9 and their marriage produced eight known children, five of whom did not survive to the age of three.10 Only three daughters lived: Adelheid; Marie Margarethe, born in 1891; and Gretel.11

The intersection of the stories of these two very different families — one from the laboring class in the big city and the other from craftsmen in the far more rural east — came on the eve of the First World War.


The family story is that Hugo Ernst Geissler was a soldier on leave in that big city, hanging around in a biergarten (beer garden), and that’s where he met Marie Margarethe Nuckel. Whether that’s true or not, it’s the family lore, and there’s no-one alive today to deny it.

Hugo Ernst and Marie married in Bremen on Valentine’s Day 1918.12 They only had two children. The first, a daughter, Marie Emma, was born 10 September 1919, and died just four months later, on 20 January 1920.13 The second was my father, Hugo Hermann, born in 1921.14

And you can’t help but think, here on this double wedding anniversary day, of all the decisions that had to be made just one way, things that had to happen just so, in order to result in the person sitting here right now, typing away as The Legal Genealogist.

It’s another of those odd coincidences so many of us find as genealogists.

The quirks that go into making our family history — our stories — unique.

Happy anniversary to two separate sets of my second great grandparents.


  1. Kirchenbuch Bad Köstritz, Trauregister Seite 434 Nr. 11 aus 1852 (Church book, Marriage Register, Page 434, no. 11 of 1852), Marriage Record of Johann Christoph Graumüller and Auguste Wilhemina Zimmermann (digital image of record in possession of Judy G. Russell).
  2. Ibid., Taufregister (Baptismal Register), Seite 57 Nr. 35 aus 1855 (Ida Emma Graumüller); Seite 110 Nr. 52 aus 1855 (Emma Louisa); Seite 162 Nr. 64 aus 1857 (Auguste Pauline Graumüller); Seite 216 Nr. 83 aus 1859 (Henrietta Louise Graumüller); Seite 313 Nr. 19 aus 1863 (Ernst Gustav Graumüller); Seite 414 Nr. 42 aus 1865 (Karl Emil Graumüller); Seite 10 Nr. 54 aus 1867 (Anna Emilie Graumüller).
  3. Ibid., Trauregister Seite 11 Nr. 11 aus 1879, Marriage Record of Hermann Edward Geissler and Emma Louisa Graumüller.
  4. Ibid., Taufregister Seite 23 Nr. 52 aus 1881 (Emma Hedwig); Seite 34 Nr. 4 aus 1884 (Martha Pauline); Seite 41 Nr. 45 aus 1885 (Arno Werner); Seite 48 Nr. 8 aus 1887 (Ida Agnes); Seite 57 Nr. 89 aus 1888 (Elly Marie Martha); Seite 64 Nr. 21 aus 1890 (Paula Ida); Seite 69 Nr. 21 aus 1891 (Hugo Ernst).
  5. Bremen Standesamt, Zivilstandsregister, Heiraten (Bremen registry office, civil status registers, marriages), 1811-1875, Johann Nuckel and Marie Margarethe Sievers, Heiraten 1860, p. 282; FHL microfilm 1344200).
  6. Ibid., Geburten (births) 1860, Reg. Nr. 1931 (13 Nov 1860), p. 973; FHL microfilm 1344170.
  7. Ibid., Geburten (births) 1863, Reg. Nr. 977 (22 May 1863), p. 489; FHL microfilm 1344172.
  8. Ibid., Geburten (births) 1866, Reg. Nr. 141 (18 Jan 1866), p. 68; FHL microfilm 1344175. Also, ibid., Todten (deaths) 1866, p. 59; FHL microfilm 1344233.
  9. Marriage record of their daughter, Marie Margarethe Nuckel, Bescheinigung der Eheschließung (Certificate of Marriage), nr. 135 (1918), Geißler-Nuckel, Standesamt (Registry Office), Bremen.
  10. Their burials are recorded at the website of the Family History and Genealogical Society of Bremen, in “Die Leichenbücher der Stadtgemeinde Bremen von 1875 – 1953” (The Funerary Records of the City of Bremen, 1875-1953), Die Maus ( :accessed 30 May 2014).
  11. Marie’s birth is document in her 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). Only family records document the others.
  12. Heiraten (Marriages), p. 41, nr. 5, Geißler-Nuckel, 14 Feb 1918; Kirchenbuch (Church Book), Evangelische Kirche St. Jakobi, Bremen, Heiraten 1911-1930; FHL microfilm 953273. Also Bescheinigung der Eheschließung (Certificate of Marriage), nr. 135 (1918), Geißler-Nuckel, Standesamt (Registry Office), Bremen.
  13. “Die Leichenbücher der Stadtgemeinde Bremen von 1875 – 1953,” (The Funerary Records of the City of Bremen, 1875-1953).
  14. Evangelische Zionskirche, Bremen, Kirchenbuch, Taufregister Nr. 3 aus 1922, Baptismal Record of Hugo Hermann Geissler, 12 Feb 1922; FHL microfilm 953275.
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