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Adding to the family tree

It was December 2015 before The Legal Genealogist knew for sure who the man was.

The “Gerd” identified on the back of a family photo of my German grandmother’s Nuckel family could have been a cousin or a nephew or…

Both of my father’s parents, you see, were dead before I was born, and my father rarely spoke of those left behind in Germany when he and his parents came here in 1925.

I was, of course, hoping Gerd might be a brother to my grandmother, giving me a chance to trace forward to living cousins using the male surname.

It wasn’t until 2015 that my friend and colleague Ursula Krause got me a copy of the death record of my great grandfather, Carsten Hinrich Wilhelm Nuckel. And the section identifying the informant reads: “Eingetragen aus mündliche Anzeige des Sohnes, Arbeiter Gerhard Nuckel” (entered on oral notice of the son, laborer Gerhard Nuckel).1

The son Gerhard Nuckel!

A brother — a surname to chase!2

I chased Gerd — a short form of Gerhard — through the records. Found his marriage to Lina Sophie Henriette Blanke, called Sophie, in Bremen, in May of 19223 and the family living in Bremen at least through Sophie’s death in 1959.4

And then the disappointments.

Five death records for infants and toddlers. No clue as to the full names or whereabouts of the two children in the photo who might have been Gerd’s, a boy and a girl. One tantalizing hint — that there was no Bremen death record I could find and no Bremen burial through 1975 for the second of a pair of twins born in 1938, one of whom died at the age of two months.5

I had hoped to perhaps find at least some leads in person during a long-planned boots-on-the-ground German research trip I had planned.

For September.


Yeah. Right. Pandemic and all.

So I had pretty much resigned myself to maybe getting back to this whole issue of living German cousins in 2022.

And then came the contact that blew me away.

“Hello Judy,” it read. “My mom was a child from Gerd and Sophie. … I have documents.”

A cousin.

A second cousin to be exact, child of a first cousin of my father’s whose very existence I knew nothing about until that contact.

German cousins

And from the information exchanged so far, it’s not just a cousin.

It’s cousins by the half-dozen — and more.


Even in a pandemic, life can be very very good.

Cite/link to this post: Judy G. Russell, “Cousins by the half-dozen,” The Legal Genealogist ( : posted 13 Feb 2021).


  1. Bremen-Hemelingen Standesamt, Zivilstandsregister 1940, Todetn (deaths) 1940, Reg. Nr. 198, Carsten Hinrich Wilhelm Nuckel (15 Apr 1940); digital image, StadtArchive Bremen.
  2. See Judy G. Russell, “Well, hello there, Uncle Gerhard…,” The Legal Genealogist, posted 19 Dec 2015 ( : accessed 13 Feb 2021).
  3. Bremen Standesamt, Zivilstandsregister (Bremen city registry office, civil status registers), Heiraten (marriages) 1922, Reg. Nr. 815 (1922).
  4. See “Die Leichenbücher der Stadtgemeinde Bremen von 1875-1975” (Funerary Records 1875-1975); database, Die Maus – Family History and Genealogical Society of Bremen, entry for Nuckel Lina Sophie Henriette, 18 June 1959 ( : accessed 13 Feb 2021).
  5. See ibid., “O cousin, where art thou?,” The Legal Genealogist, posted 24 Sep 2016.
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