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Looking back to 2022, forward to 2023

The very best part of falling headlong into family history research is the stories.

Stories in The Legal Genealogist’s family take us back a long way in America on the maternal side and in Germany on the paternal side.

Stories that begin, in this country, in the late 1600s. Stories in Germany that we can take all the way back to the late 1500s.

Some of them, astoundingly, given my family’s tendency never to let the truth get in the way of a good story, that may even possibly be true.

Milestones 2023

And some of the possibly-true ones — that is, the ones that I’ve managed to document with something other than a marginal note that one of the family storytellers told me so — had very big milestones in 2022 or will have big milestones here in 2023.

These “big milestones” are events that were exactly 50 or 100 or 150 or 200 or 250 years ago — or more! — during the year.1

And they’re the kinds of milestones that we shouldn’t allow to pass without pausing to reflect.

Looking back

In 2022, for example, in the 250-year milestone category, we had the reported birth, on 11 April 1772, of Eve Anna Shew, oldest known daughter of my fifth great grandfather Philip Shew of Guilford and Wilkes Counties, North Carolina.2

In the 200-year milestone category, the marriage on 3 January 1822 between William M. Robertson and Deliah Moore, my now-proven third great grandparents.3

In the 150-year milestone category, a bunch of cousins born in Iowa in or about 1872,4 and in the 100-year milestone category, the birth on 29 December 1922 of my Robertson cousin, Mary Leila (Rudolph) Scott in Hall County, Texas — one of my very first mtDNA testers.5

And in the 50-year milestone category, in keeping with my longstanding tradition of remembering those who didn’t live long enough to leave stories of their own… the birth on 11 January 1972, and death just three days later, of my little cousin Ned Aaron Pilcher, a second cousin once removed in my Cottrell line.6 His mama, my second cousin, has been a joy to collaborate with in our family history — and, yes, has DNA-tested; she is not alone in mourning what the 50 years of this child’s life might have added.

Looking forward

In 2023, we have some milestones coming up as well.

In the 250-year milestone category, we have the birth of Jacob Jan Smidt, my fourth great grandfather, whose age was recorded in the 1812 birth record of his son, Carl Smidt.7 So it’s not an exact date but another “close-enough” record. His son Carl and Carl’s wife Catherine Marie Schöne are my third great grand parents, who married in Bremen 10 December 1835.8 Their son Jacobus Johannes Smidt and Johanna Henriette Hüneke are my second great grandparents and married in Bremen on 17 October 1861.9 Their daughter Julieane Margarethe Smidt and her husband Carsten Hinrich Wilhelm Nuckel are my great grandparents and were married in Bremen 25 October 1884.10 Their daughter Marie Margarethe Nuckel and her husband Hugo Ernst Geissler were my grandparents, married in Bremen on Valentine’s Day 1918.11

In the 200-year milestone category, yet another birth in Germany, this time of a second great grandfather. Johann Christoph Gustav Graumüller was born 25 November 1823 in Rüdersdorf, Greiz, Thüringen, Germany, and baptized at the church there on 29 November 2023.12 The real problem with this ancestor is figuring out — sigh — which Johann Christoph is mine. Yep, two of them, born in the same town a few months apart, baptized the same year in same church, both of whom had fathers named Johann Christoph and mothers named Johanne Justine and no, not the same couple naming a second child after a deceased brother… Two separate couples with the same names giving their sons the same name. Such fun…

In the 150-year milestone category, we’ll look to the maternal side of the family and a death instead of a birth: the death on 30 August 1873 of David Davenport Baker, oldest son of my third great grandparents Martin and Elizabeth (Buchanan) Baker.13 What makes this second great granduncle particularly worth noting in this memorial year is the confusion in many family histories between this David and his uncle of the same name. The older David Davenport Baker was born in 1801 and died in 1890 in Texas.14 Sigh… makes you wish parents had more imagination, doesn’t it?

In the 100-year milestone category, it’s time to celebrate the 100th birthday of my Uncle Monte, my mother’s older brother. Monte Boyd Cottrell was born in Midland, Texas, on 19 November 1923, and died in California in 1994; he’s buried in the Fort Rosencrans National Cemetery in San Diego County.15 Monte is special to me for many reasons. His World War II service provides an amazing family story,16 and his kindness to me personally is something I will always remember.17

And in the 50-year milestone category, it’s a birth that will always and forever be celebrated. The birth on 5 May 1973 of my personal hero, my nephew, Timothy Evan Geissler. I will repeat here what I wrote in June 2017 just after the news of his passing reached me: “In so so many ways, Timothy Evan Geissler beat the odds. Born with spina bifida and hydrocephalus at a time when so many children with those conditions died soon after birth, Tim was a fighter who wouldn’t give up. Born to parents who could not see how they could provide for a child with his disabilities, the infant Tim charmed his way into the heart of one of the doctors caring for him… and into our family as my doctor-brother’s adopted son. Born to be funny and charming and a lifelong Cubs fan, Tim even got to see the Cubs win the World Series. He has been my hero his entire life. Enduring operation after operation. Years in a brace, and a wheelchair. Hospitalization after hospitalization. Always with a smile on his face. Always with the words of a Taylor Swift song in his heart. Always with a Cubs shirt on his back. But, yesterday, our time with Tim ran out. His body was simply worn out after all he’s been through. We cherish the memory of every moment our family was privileged to have with this amazing human being. Fare thee well, Tim. May the Cubs always win the series in heaven…”18

Each of these, a story of its own, to find and to tell– each, in truth, one of the real reasons why we do genealogy at all.

Why I have to write this blog.

Why I have to tell the stories.

To make sure that those I remember aren’t forgotten… that these milestones continue to be remembered down through the generations.

Cite/link to this post: Judy G. Russell, “Milestones, 2023,” The Legal Genealogist ( : posted 7 Jan 2023).


  1. Okay, okay, so close enough to exactly, okay?
  2. Okay, so it’s in the “close enough” category. The exact birthdate is family lore, though there is some support for it. See Judy G. Russell, “Milestones, 2022,” The Legal Genealogist, posted 2 Jan 2022 ( : accessed 7 Jan 2023).
  3. Monroe County, Mississippi, Marriage records 1821-1825, Robertson-Moore, 3 Jan 1822; DGS 7600989, image 170 (digital image provided via lookup service, not yet online), Family ( : accessed 7 Jan 2023); imaged from Monroe County Circuit Clerk, Monroe County Courthouse, Aberdeen.
  4. See “Milestones, 2022,” The Legal Genealogist, posted 2 Jan 2022.
  5. See Fairview Cemetery North Section, Memphis, Hall County, Texas, Mary Leila “Pug” Rudolph Scott memorial; database, Find A Grave ( : accessed 7 Jan 2023). And see “Those first DNA testers…,” The Legal Genealogist, posted 26 Dec 2021.
  6. Texas State Department of Health, death certificate no. 01839, Ned Aaron Pilcher, 14 Jan 1972; Bureau of Vital Statistics, Austin.
  7. Standesamt, Bremen, Zivilstandsregister, Geburten 1812, seite 517 (Registrar, Bremen, Civil Register, births 1812, page 517); digital images, “Zivilstandsregister, 1811-1875,” FamilySearch, FHL microfilm 1344147, Salt Lake City.
  8. Ibid., Heiraten 1835, seite 363; FHL microfilm 1344190.
  9. Ibid., Heiraten 1861, seite 458; FHL microfilm 1344200.
  10. Standesamt, Bremen, Heiraten 1884, nr. 713; digital image provided by Staatsarchiv Bremen.
  11. Ibid., Heiraten 1918, nr. 135.
  12. Evangelische Kirche Rüdersdorf, Taufen Nr. 52, Johann Christoph Graumüller, 29 Nov 1823; digital images, “Kirchenbuchduplikat, 1810-1875,” FHL film 1196105, FamilySearch ( : accessed 7 Jan 2023).
  13. See Find-A-Grave, memorial 205139512, David Davenport Baker, Kickapoo Memorial Cemetery, Leavenworth County, Kansas; memorial, Find A Grave ( : accessed 7 Jan 2023).
  14. See Walnut Grove Cemetery, Collin County, Texas, D.D. Baker marker; digital image, Find A Grave ( : accessed 7 Jan 2023).
  15. Monte Cottrell, entry in “U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs BIRLS Death File, 1850-2010;” database, ( : accessed 7 Jan 2023).
  16. See “The untold story,” The Legal Genealogist, posted 10 Nov 2012.
  17. Ibid., “The little things,” posted 21 Nov 2015.
  18. Ibid., “Farewell to my hero,” posted 21 June 2017.
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