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Another cousin lost and found

It is more the norm than the exception for The Legal Genealogist.

Whenever I turn my attention to my father’s German side of the family tree, the discoveries I make are those of loss.

Thielmann residence

My father was himself the only surviving child of my grandparents. A sister, Marie Emma Geissler, born in 1919,1 lived only four months and 10 days. She died on 20 January 1920 at the Children’s Hospital in Bremen, Germany.2

His mother, my grandmother Marie Margarethe (Nuckel) Geissler, was one of 10 known children of Carsten Hinrich Wilhelm Nuckel and Juliane Margarethe (Smidt) Nuckel. Only five lived to adulthood, and one of those five was just 21 when he died.3

My grandmother’s only surviving brother — the youngest, the baby Gerhard — had eight children we can document… and buried five of them as infants.4

Her two sisters and their families have been harder to trace. German privacy laws are strict; birth records are sealed for 110 years, marriages for 80 years and deaths for 30 years.5 The one son born to sister Marie Juliane Margarethe “Gretel” Nuckel and her husband Amko Lauterback died when he was just five years old.6 We haven’t been able to find what happened to her one known daughter, Erna.

The other sister, Gesche Adelheid Nuckel, married Heinrich Diedrich Thoms and she too had one known daughter: Henriette Adelheid Thoms. I found her through her burial record — Henriette Adelheid (Thoms) Thielmann, wife of Karl Hermann Thielmann, born on the 6th of December 1920, and was just 42 years and five months old when she died on the 29th of May 1963 in Bremen. She was buried in the same plot as her mother at Walle Cemetery.7

What I didn’t notice when I found that cousin was that there’s another Thielmann burial in that cemetery.

The burial of a child who never was.

Stillborn on the 30th of December 1956. Buried on the third of January 1957. A little girl not even graced with a name. Just “totgeb.” — stillborn.8

I know she was ours by the circumstantial evidence. The informant listed in the record is also Karl Hermann Thielmann. And in case there’s any thought that there might have been two Karl Hermann Thielmanns, the address in Bremen at which the baby died was Karlshafenerstr. 2.9 And the address at which Henriette Adelheid (Thoms) Thielmann died six years later? Karlshafener Str. 2.10


I think I need to go back to chasing some of my mama’s fiercely prolific relatives for a while… In the middle of a raging pandemic, this German research is downright depressing.

Cite/link to this post: Judy G. Russell, “The child who never was,” The Legal Genealogist ( : posted 11 July 2020).


  1. Bremen Standesamt, Zivilstandsregister (Bremen city registry office, civil status registers), Geburten (Births) 1919, Reg. Nr. 2420, Marie Emma Geissler (1919).
  2. Ibid., Todten (Deaths), Reg. Nr. 226, Marie Emma Geissler (1920).
  3. See e.g. Judy G. Russell, “But not forgotten…,” The Legal Genealogist, posted 25 Apr 2020 ( : accessed 11 July 2020).
  4. See ibid., “Empty chairs,” The Legal Genealogist, posted 9 May 2020.
  5. FamilySearch Research Wiki (, “Germany Civil Registration > Locating Records,” rev. 18 Dec 2019.
  6. Judy G. Russell, “Remembering those who are not,” The Legal Genealogist, posted 16 June 2018.
  7. “Die Leichenbücher der Stadtgemeinde Bremen von 1875-1975” (Funerary Records 1875-1975), entry for Henriette Adelheid Thielmann, citing Bremen Standesamt 1963, Seite (page) 821, Nr. 2457, Die Maus – Family History and Genealogical Society of Bremen ( : accessed 11 July 2020).
  8. Ibid., entry for totgeb. Thielmann, citing Bremen Standesamt 1957, Seite 1, Nr. 4.
  9. Ibid.
  10. Ibid., entry for Henriette Adelheid Thielmann.
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