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The roadblock in the Y line

It’s a sad state of affairs, for sure, this Father’s Day in the United States, when so many people are celebrating their YDNA forebears.

And The Legal Genealogist uses that term “affair” with deliberation since it clearly was an affair that’s to blame here.

Look at this image:

On the left my father Hugo Hermann Geissler. Born 5 July 1921, baptized 12 February 1922, Bremen, Germany.1

In the center his father, my grandfather, Hugo Ernst Geissler. Born 24 March 1891, baptized 26 April 1891, Bad Köstritz, in what is now the German state of Thüringen and was then the principality of Reuss jüngere Linie.2

On the right his father, my great grandfather, Hermann Eduard Geissler.

And therein lies the tale — the tale of that affair.

In the Lutheran church records for the little town of Ossig in Sachsen-Anhalt, Germany, a single line in the entries of baptisms for 1855 tells the story — and it has sure created a roadblock in my efforts to do any deep YDNA research of my own direct paternal line.

It tells me that Hermann Eduard Geisler (only one S and no ß, that goofy German letter that’s usually translated as SS) was born 20 April 1855. Baptized 21 April 1855. Four separate godparents. And in the columns for parents… You know what I’m gonna say already, don’t you? Yup. Hermann Eduard Geissler was the first-born uneheliches kind (illegitimate child) of Friedrike Geisler.3

Whoever Hermann’s father was — the man with whom his mother had that affair — never gave him his name; Hermann used his mother’s maiden name all his life. We have no clues whatsoever to the father’s identity.

And yes, I’ve YDNA-tested my brothers. They match each other — thank heavens! — but their next closest match is a genetic distance of seven at 67 markers. Our statistical odds of having a common ancestor with that man don’t even reach the 50-50 mark until roughly 13 generations ago. If you figure 25-30 years per generations, we’d be looking somewhere between the early to mid-1600s. In Germany. A country where few people do DNA testing.


Happy Father’s Day.


  1. Bremen Zionskirche, Taufenbuch 1922 nr. 3, Hugo Hermann Geissler; FHL microfilm 953275.
  2. Evangelische Kirche Bad Köstritz, Kirchenbuch, Taufregister Seite 69 Nr. 21 aus 1891, Baptismal Record of Hugo Ernst Geissler (digital image of record in possession of JG Russell).
  3. Evangelische Kirche Ossig (Kr. Zeitz), Taufregister 1855 nr. 4, Hermann Eduard Geisler; Kirchenbuchduplikat, 1799-1874 (Staatarchiv Magdeburg); FHL microfilm 1,335,488.
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