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New twigs on the tree

The joy, for The Legal Genealogist — and in truth for all genealogists, never wanes.

That moment when you can add another twig or two to a branch of the family tree.

And when the twigs are on my paternal side, well, it’s both a joy and a surprise.

I grew up believing I didn’t have any paternal side cousins — or, for that matter, any real likelihood of any paternal side family at all. My German-born father rarely spoke about his family, my paternal grandparents were both dead before I was born, and the only relatives I’d ever heard of left no known issue.

It turns out, of course, that there were many more people on that paternal side than I’d ever heard of, but it’s still a special joy and a welcome surprise every time I find another one.

Stecher baptism

Welcome, uncle Adolf Gustav and cousin Hedwig Hertha.

Half-great granduncle and half-first cousin twice removed, to be precise.

In a line where I truly believed I wouldn’t find anything more.

Here’s the deal.

On the 20th of April, 1855, my great grandfather Hermann Eduard Geisler was born in the village of Ossig in Sachsen-Anhalt, Germany, and baptized in the village church there on the 21st of April.1 The first-born child of his then-30-year-old mother, Friederike Geisler.

That’s not her married name. It’s her birth name. Hermann was — sigh — of course — “ein uneheliches kind.” Born out of wedlock. No father named then or ever, in any record I can identify. He kept and used the surname Geisler until the day he died.2

Friederike didn’t marry until February 1859 when, at the age of 34-going-on-35, she married Johann Gottfried Stecher.3

And that’s when I lost sight of the Stechers. Hermann popped up in Bad Köstritz when he married Emma Louisa Graumüller on 22 June 1879.4 But his church marriage record didn’t name his parents at all; the civil marriage record only gave his mother’s maiden name.5

And then a whole bunch of new — and indexed — German records were added to the collections.

Including the baptismal record of one Adolf Gustav Stecher. Born 1 February 1860 in Raba, baptized 4 February 1860 in the Lutheran Church at Haynsburg, Germany. Son of Johann Gottfried Stecher. Second son of Friederike, maiden name Geißler.6

And his death record, in Magdeburg, at the age of 58, on the 14th of October, 1918, and naming his parents Johann Gottfried and Friederike (Geissler) Stecher, and his widow, Emma Hedwig (Emmerling) Stecher.7

To use the vernacular — hot damn! Friederike had another son! Welcome uncle Adolf Gustav!

I haven’t yet found the marriage record, but in another set of newly-indexed records is the birth record. Adolf Gustav Stecher reporting that his wife, Emma (Emmerling) Stecher, had had a baby girl on 29 November 1894 in Magdeburg Altstadt. And the baby had been named Hedwig Hertha.8

Welcome cousin Hedwig!

Will there be others? I don’t know… It’s still a surprise to find anyone on this side of my family.

Now, of course, I’d be a lot happier if I hadn’t also found the record of Hedwig’s death, unmarried, at the age of 45, on 7 May 1940.9

But even being able to add these twigs on that branch — sigh — it’s such a joy.

Cite/link to this post: Judy G. Russell, “The other son,” The Legal Genealogist ( : posted 23 Nov 2019).


Image: Adolf Gustav Stecher baptism, 1860.

  1. Taufregister 1855 nr. 4, Hermann Eduard Geisler, 21 April 1855, Evangelische Kirche Ossig (Kr. Zeitz), Kirchenbuchduplikat, 1799-1874 (Staatarchiv Magdeburg); FHL microfilm, Salt Lake City.
  2. Sterbeurkunde (death certificate), Nr. 645 (1933), Eduard Hermann Geisler; Standesamt Gera, 31 July 1933 (photocopy provided by Stadtarchiv Gera, 2011).
  3. Marriage record, Evangelische Kirche (Lutheran Church), Ossig, Sachsen-Anhalt, Germany, 13 Feb 1859, Friederike Geissler-Johann Gottfried Stecher; Kirchenbuchduplikat, 1799-1874, Staat-Archiv, Magdeburg; FHL microfilm 1335489, now available as digital images, “Saxony, Prussia, Lutheran Baptisms, Marriages, and Burials, 1760-1890,” ( : accessed 23 Nov 2019).
  4. Kirchenbuch Bad Köstritz, Trauregister, Seite 11 Nr. 11 aus 1879, Marriage Record of Hermann Edward Geissler and Emma Louisa Graumüller, 22 June 1879 (Church book, Marriage Register, Page 11, no. 11 of 1879); digital image of entry in the possession of JG Russell.
  5. Marriage record, Nr. 19 (1979), Eduard Hermann Geisler; Standesamt Bad Köstritz, 22 June 1879.
  6. Baptismal record, Evangelische Kirche, Haynsburg, Sachsen-Anhalt, Germany, Nr. 5 aus 1860. Adolf Gustav Stecher, 4 Feb 1860; Kirchenbuchduplikat, 1799-1874, Landesarchiv Sachsen-Anhalt, Magdeburg; FHL microfilm 1335489, now available as digital images, “Saxony, Prussia, Lutheran Baptisms, Marriages, and Burials, 1760-1890,” ( : accessed 23 Nov 2019).
  7. Sterbeurkunde (death certificate), Nr. 2656 (1918), Adolf Gustav Stecher; Standesamt Magdeburg, 15 October 1918; digital images, “Magdeburg, Germany, Deaths, 1874-1950,” ( : accessed 23 Nov 2019).
  8. Haupt-Geburts-Register, Nr. 3062 (1894), Hedwig Hertha Stecher, 29 Nov 1894; digital images, “Magdeburg, Germany, Births, 1874-1903,” ( : accessed 23 Nov 2019).
  9. Sterbebuch 1940, Nr. 1286, Hedwig Hertha Stecher, Standesamt Magdeburg-Altstadt; digital images, “Magdeburg, Germany, Deaths, 1874-1950,” ( : accessed 23 Nov 2019).
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