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The YDNA roadblock

Every two years, without fail, The Legal Genealogist takes a deep, deep breath, and takes a look once again.

Not that I don’t look at the YDNA results for my family members in between, mind you, but at least once every two years I take a careful look in the hopes that maybe — just maybe — something will have changed.

The triggering event, each time, is Father’s Day in the United States, when so many people are celebrating their YDNA forebears.

And every two years, without fail, I am doomed to breathe out a deep, deep sigh of disappointment when I see that nothing at all has changed — it remains a sad state of affairs.

I use that term “affair” with deliberation since it clearly was an affair that’s to blame here.

You see, here’s what I know about my own direct paternal line:

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 that 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?


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 anyone at that level 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.

Cite/link to this post: Judy G. Russell, “And speaking of historical affairs…,” The Legal Genealogist ( : posted 21 June 2020).


  1. For the birth, Bremen Standesamt, Geburtskunde Nr. 2888, Hugo Hermann Geissler (5 July 1921); Stadtarchiv Bremen. For the baptism, 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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