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… en route to family history

Warning: The Legal Genealogist is whining.

On an ordinary day, I’m managing the discombobulation of this pandemic reasonably well. I’m Zooming along with family, friends and colleagues. My housemate, Clancy, has fangs and fur and as long as he’s fed regularly, petted on demand (and only on demand) and his litterbox changed, he’s fine. I’m busy at home and getting out just enough not to feel too confined.

So most of the time I’m okay.

Not today.

Today I’m whining.

This is the day when I should have been traveling home from the 2020 Federation of Genealogical Societies conference in Kansas City — getting an early start homewards, actually, because… sigh … this is the day I should have been doing laundry, grabbing the bigger travel suitcase…

And finding the passport.

And tomorrow… tomorrow is the day when I should have been boarding an airplane headed for family history.

Reuss coat of arms

This is the crest of the ruling family of Fürstentum Reuß jüngerer Linie (Reuss Junior Line in English), a tiny principality in today’s German state of Thüringen (Thuringia in English). A whopping 319 square miles of territory with a 1905 population of 145,000.1

And that is where, in March of 1891, my paternal grandfather Hugo Ernst Geissler was born, in what is now the town of Bad Köstritz.2 Where he was baptized.3 Where his parents, my great grandparents, were married.4

And where — sigh — I had intended to be, in the days and weeks to come.

Starting two years and more ago, I had blocked off the entire month of September 2020. No speaking gigs, no meetings, no obligations whatsoever after the FGS conference.

Because I was going to walk in my ancestors’ footsteps.

I had planned to spend a lot of time in Thüringen, in places like Bad Köstritz and Gera and Rüdersdorf, and in Sachsen-Anhalt, in places like Ossig and Reussen and Haynsburg.

All the little towns and villages where my own people — my father’s father’s side of the family — had lived and worked and married and died, for centuries.

And I’d planned to spend a lot of time in Bremen. Where my father was born.5 Where his mother, Marie Margarethe Nuckel, was born.6 Where my grandparents were married.7 Where their first child, my aunt Marie Emma, was born and died and buried.8

Where my own people — my father’s mother’s side of the family — had lived for hundreds of years.

I’ve been to Germany before. Many times. But this was the year I was going to do the family history part.

The ancestral journey.

The walking-in-their-footsteps trip.

This year.


The year of the pandemic.

When — as of today — Germany’s borders are closed to Americans, since we can’t seem to summon the self-discipline to get the pandemic under control here.



I will walk in those footsteps.


Just — sigh — not today.


Cite/link to this post: Judy G. Russell, “Oh, to be …,” The Legal Genealogist ( : posted 5 Sep 2020).


  1. Wikipedia (, “Principality of Reuss-Gera,” rev. 11 June 2020.
  2. Standesamt Köstritz, Geburten, No. 23, 1891, Hugo Ernst Geissler (City Registrar, Births).
  3. Evangelische Kirche, Kirchenbuch Bad Köstritz, Taufregister Seite 69 Nr. 21 aus 1891, Baptismal Record of Hugo Ernst Geissler (digital image of record in possession of JG Russell).
  4. Ibid., 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).
  5. Standesamt Bremen, Geburten, Nr. 2888, 1921, Hugo Hermann Geissler.
  6. .
  7. Heiraten (Marriages), p. 41, nr. 5, Geißler-Nuckel, 14 Feb 1918; Kirchenbuch (Church Book), Evangelische Kirche St. Jakobi, Bremen, Heiraten 1911-1930; FHL INTL microfilm 953,273. Also Bescheinigung der Eheschließung (Certificate of Marriage), nr. 135 (1918), Geißler-Nuckel, Standesamt (Registry Office), Bremen.
  8. For the birth, Bremen Standesamt, Zivilstandsregister (Bremen city registry office, civil status registers), Geburten (Births) 1919, Reg. Nr. 2420, Marie Emma Geissler (1919). For the death, ibid., Todten (Deaths), Reg. Nr. 226, Marie Emma Geissler (1920). For the burial, “Sterbefälle in Bremen 1811 – 1975 (Deaths in Bremen 1811 – 1975),” Die Maus – Family History and Genealogical Society of Bremen (Gesellschaft für Familienforschung e. V. Bremen) ( : accessed 5 Sep 2020).
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