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A cousin!

Occasionally, The Legal Genealogist simply feels snakebit.

Part of it comes from having southern ancestors.

My entire maternal side comes from south of the Mason-Dixon line.

snakebitYou know, that part of the country where people lived far enough away from courthouses that much of what they did in their lives never got recorded in the first place…

Or where — it seems at times — every courthouse burned on a regular basis…

Or where the few records that ever were created and did name our people were in that courthouse when it burned.

The part of the country where, as Elizabeth Shown Mills puts it, any record that appears to directly name your ancestor turns out in the end to prove that there was another man of the same name in the same county at the same time.1

Ah yes the joys of southern ancestors.


So every so often I will do what we all do as genealogists — turn my attention to a branch that’s just a little less challenging, at least for a time.

Like my father’s side of the family.

Yeah, right.

My German-born father’s side.

Where the records, assuming you can find them, aren’t in English and aren’t even in a script that resembles any script you’ve ever learned to read, assuming you could read German in the first place.

Now my grandmother’s side isn’t too terribly bad. She was born in Bremen, and not only are there some neat records available from Bremen (like the civil registration records starting as far back as 1811,2 and church records as far back as the late 16th century3) but there is also a terrific website for Bremen research called Die Maus — the website of the Bremen Genealogical Society.4

But my grandfather’s side?

That’s a whole ‘nother story.

He was born in Bad Köstritz, in an area of Germany called Reuss jüngere Linie, a principality in what is today the modern German state of Thüringen and I spent a thoroughly depressing few minutes yesterday reading the FamilySearch Wiki page on Reuss j.L.5

A few minutes because — sigh — there is essentially nothing available on Reuss j.L.

Under “Featured Content,” the Wiki page reads: “(Add text and/or an image here).”

Under “Jurisdictions,” the Wiki page reads: “(Add text and/or an image here).”

And under “Did you know?,” the only entry is for research problems and strategies, the first of which is for finding the fathers of children born out of wedlock. Like my great grandfather who lived in Reuss.6 And we’ve already tried all of those… without success.

Even in the catalog there is — let’s see here — one book on emigrants before the first of my family members emigrated,7 and some reference works on the nobility,8 and not much else.


See what I mean? You have to feel just a little snakebit.

So why is the snake you see here smiling so broadly?

Because, every so often, you wake up and you find a comment posted on your blog:

Mein Name ist Moni und mein Urgroßvater war Paul Franke aus Gera *18.05.1884, seine Eltern waren Friedrich Gustav Franke und Emma Ida Graumüller *18.07.1853 in Bad Köstritz.

Deine Webseite hat mir sehr viel Freude bereitet. Ich wusste nicht das ein Teil der Familie Graumüller nach Amerika ausgewandert ist. Ja wie Du schon schreibst ist es nicht leicht an Daten aus dem Ostteil Deutschlands zu kommen.

Ich wünsche Dir weiterhin viel Erfolg.9

And for those of you who don’t read German:

My name is Moni and my great grandfather was Paul Franke born in Gera 18.05.1884, his parents were Friedrich Gustav Franke and Emma Ida Graumüller born 18.07.1853 in Bad Köstritz.

Your website has given me a lot of joy. I didn’t know that a part of the Graumüller family emigrated to America. Yes, as you write, it is not easy to get data from the eastern part of Germany.

I wish you much continued success.

Hot damn!

I have a new cousin!

Moni’s 2nd great grandmother, baptized Ida Emma Graumüller on 31 July 1853, is the oldest child of my second great grandparents, Johann Christoph Graumüller and Augusta Wilhelmina Zimmerman.10

And she is the older sister of my great grandmother Emma Louisa Graumüller, born 27 October 1855.11

Which makes Moni, if my analysis is right, my third cousin once removed!

Hot damn.

I wonder if she wants to do a DNA test…


  1. Elizabeth Shown Mills, comment on Facebook status of the author, some time in the last few weeks, even though I can’t find the darned post right now… Note: My cousin Paula found it, so let’s correct the citation: Elizabeth Shown Mills, comment on Facebook status of the author, 15 November 2014.
  2. See FamilySearch, catalog search, Germany, Bremen, Bremen – Civil registration, ( : accessed 28 Nov 2014).
  3. See FamilySearch, catalog search, Germany, Bremen, Bremen – Church records, ( : accessed 28 Nov 2014).
  4. See Judy G. Russell, “Bremen’s Maus,” The Legal Genealogist, posted 14 July 2012 ( : accessed 28 Nov 2014).
  5. FamilySearch Research Wiki (, “Thuringia – Reuss jüngere Linie – Fürstentum (principality),” rev. 25 Jan 2014.
  6. See Judy G. Russell, “Friedrike, how COULD you?,” The Legal Genealogist, posted 7 January 2012 ( : accessed 28 Nov 2014).
  7. Frank Reinhold, Auswanderer aus Reuß jüngerer Linie (Reuß-Gera) von 1849-1882 (Kleve : Arbeitsgemeinschaft für mitteldeutsche Familienforschung, 2006).
  8. My family name translates as “goatherd.” Nobility, we are not.
  9. Moni S., comment posted 29 Nov 2014 to “Losing a child,” The Legal Genealogist, posted 14 December 2013 ( : accessed 28 Nov 2014).
  10. Ida’s baptism was the first of the family events recorded in the Bad Köstritz church records after the May 1852 marriage of her parents. For the marriage, see Kirchenbuch Bad Köstritz, Trauregister Seite 434 Nr. 11 aus 1852, Marriage Record of Johann Christoph Graumüller and Auguste Wilhemina Zimmermann (digital image of record in possession of JG Russell). For the baptism, see Kirchenbuch Bad Köstritz, Taufregister Seite 57 Nr. 35 aus 1853, Baptismal Record of Ida Emma Graumüller (digital image of entry in the possession of JG Russell).
  11. See Kirchenbuch Bad Köstritz, Taufregister Seite 110 Nr. 52 aus 1855, Baptismal Record of Emma Louise Graumüller (digital image of entry in the possession of JG Russell).
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