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Bone of my bone, blood of my blood

Every so often, you just have to take another look.

And when you do, or at least when The Legal Genealogist does, it can sure point out the holes in your research.

Case in point: Anna Adelheid (Wöltjen) Lahrs.

Anna is bone of my bone, blood of my blood.

She is my fourth great grandmother, from the line that begins with my paternal grandmother. So this is in my German line.

And what I know about Anna is pitiful.

Essentially, what I have about Anna is two documents: her daughter’s 1833 marriage record, which lists both parents as deceased;1 and her own death record from 1826.2

That death record –– recorded in the civil registration records of the Bremen city clerk’s office (in German, the Standesamt) — is a gem for that time.

Anna Lahrs 1826

It reports that exactly 192 years ago tomorrow, at 6:45 p.m., Anna died in the city of Bremen. The death was reported to the city officials on 3 July 1826 by two men: 33-year-old Johann Justus Wiedemann and 35-year-old Christian Heinrich Niemeyer.3

They said that Anna lived at Buntenthorsteinweg, Nr. 8, in the city of Bremen. Her father was Hermann Wöltjen and her mother Beke Fresen. Hermann was reported as deceased but Beke shown as living. Her husband was reported to be Heinrich Lahrs, a laborer, and he was also shown as living.4

She was, the death record reports, just 40 years old when she died. So using basic math, she would have been born around 1786, most likely they are in the city of Bremen.5

From her daughter Beta’s 1833 marriage record, I know that Beta was 23 when she married Gerhard Nuckel in Bremen on 9 August 1833.6 And the funerary records of the City of Bremen in 1878 list Beta as 68 years old when she died.7 That puts her birth in 1810.

And that means that Anna was about 24 years old when Beta was born.

Now, using civil registration and related records from the city of Bremen, I can trace my line of descent from Anna through her daughter Beta to Beta’s son Johann,8 to Johann’s son Carsten Hinrich Wilhelm,9 to Carsten’s daughter Marie, my grandmother.10

And that’s it.

That’s all I know.

Born 1786. Giving birth to a child around age 24 in 1810. Dead in 1826.

I don’t expect to be able to find the depth of information I would really like to have about Anna: what she looked like, what her voice sounded like, whether she was merry or dour, the shape of her hands, her favorite color.

Her time was long ago and — particularly as a woman at that time — the records she would have left will be sparse indeed.

But there is more that can be found — much more that I haven’t done yet.

I need to look at the Bremen city records to see what other children Anna may have had, not just the one from whom I descend. And I need to check those records to see if I can find any siblings Anna may have had.

I need to look at the church records from all the churches that all the family members attended. Did Anna ever stand as godparent to children in her neighborhood, in her family, in her church community? Did she ever stand as witness to a marriage?

I need to look more deeply at the civil registration records for her time. Did Anna herself ever report a birth or a death there in Bremen where she lived?

I need to look at whatever I can find about the neighborhood itself where Anna lived and died: what was Buntenthorsteinweg like in the first decades of the 19th century? What did people there do for a living? What was the socioeconomic condition of that area? Was Anna well-off or poor or just average compared to her neighbors?

I need to look at Anna’s FAN club — the friends, associates, and neighbors with whom she and her family were associated.11 Who, for example, were the men who reported Anna’s death to the city authorities? One of them, Johann Justus Wiedemenn, also reported her husband’s death just a few months later.12 What was his relationship to the family?

These are just some of the things that I can still do to research the life of this fourth great grandmother.

I owe her at least that much to try to find and to tell her story.

Because, after all, she is bone of my bone, blood of my blood.

And if I don’t find and tell her story… who will?


  1. Bremen Standesamt, Zivilstandsregister (Bremen city registry office, civil status registers), Heiraten (Marriages), p. 249 1833, Nuckel-Lars.
  2. Ibid., Todten (Deaths) 1826, Reg. Nr. 635, p. 318, Anna Adelheid Lahrs, 1 July 1826.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Ibid.
  5. Ibid.
  6. Ibid., Heiraten (Marriages), p. 249 1833, Nuckel-Lars.
  7. “Funerary Records of Bremen since 1875 (Leichenbücher der Stadtgemeinde Bremen ab 1875),” entry for Beta Lars Nuckel (25 March 1878), Die Maus – Family History and Genealogical Society of Bremen (Gesellschaft für Familienforschung e. V. Bremen) ( : accessed 30 June 2018).
  8. Bremen Standesamt, Zivilstandsregister, Geburten (births) 1838, Reg. Nr. 232, Johann Nuckel.
  9. Ibid., Geburten 1860, Reg. Nr. 1931, Carsten Hinrich Wilhelm Nuckel.
  10. 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).
  11. See Elizabeth Shown Mills, QuickSheet: The Historical Biographer’s Guide to Cluster Research (the FAN Principle) (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2012).
  12. Bremen Standesamt, Zivilstandsregister, Todten 1826, Reg. Nr. 909, p. 455, Hinrich Lahrs, 24 September 1826.
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