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From 1838 to 1870…

He came into this world in the very early morning hours on a cold February day 185 years ago today.

He left it only a little more than 33 years later.

And, in between, there must have been a life of unimaginable difficulty.

Johann Nuckel, third child and second son of Gerhard and Beta (Lahrs) Nuckel, was The Legal Genealogist‘s second great grandfather. He was born, the birth registration says, at 2 a.m. on 11 February 1838 at Buntentorsteinweg in the Hansestadt Bremen, the free city just inland from the North Sea.1

Johann Nuckel birth 1838

And I can go ahead and record the basics of his life:

• He was baptized 16 April 1838 by Pastor Iken, pastor at the Bremen Neustadt Church of St. Paul’s.2

• Although the house number changed, he spent his entire childhood, teen years and early adulthood living on the street where he’d been born.3

• On 31 May 1860, at the age of 22, he married 18-year-old Marie Margarethe Sievers4 — who was practically the girl next door.5

• There was a reason why they married so young — younger than many in that time and place. Their first child, my great grandfather Carsten Hinrich Wilhelm Nuckel, was born just a bit more than five months later, on 12 November 1860.6

• A second child, a daughter Johanne, was born 21 May 1863, and died just days before her second birthday in 1865.7

• Only one more child is recorded for Johann and Marie — a stillborn girl, whose birth and death were recorded as of 17 January 1866.8

None of that was all that unusual for that time and place, and for that entire period from 1860 through 1866, this little family was recorded in the city directories, always on Buntentorsteinweg, surrounded by parents and siblings and uncles and cousins.

But then, in 1867, this branch of the family drops out of the directories. Johann wasn’t recorded in 1867 when his parents moved to nearby Bruchstrasse. He’s not there in 1868. Not in 1869. Not in 1870.

Dig a little deeper, though, and you will find him in 1870. At 7:30 p.m. on the 15th of March, at the age of just 33, Johann Nuckel died at the city hospital.9

And it’s the cause of death that hits hard.

Clearly recorded on that death registration, a singular cause of death: delirium tremens.10

And the term didn’t mean anything different then than it does today.

Essentially he drank himself to death.

Somewhere hidden behind the names and dates and places here is a life of unimaginable difficulty.

A life that required enough alcohol to sooth the pain.

A life that required enough alcohol to end the life.

His son, my great grandfather, was just nine years old when his father died. His widow, my second great grandmother, never remarried.

There is such a story here.

I just wish I had enough facts to tell it the way it should be told.

Enough to do more than try to imagine the unimaginable.

Cite/link to this post: Judy G. Russell, “Just 33 years…,” The Legal Genealogist ( : posted 11 Feb 2023 2023).


  1. Bremen Standesamt, Zivilstandsregister, Geburten (Bremen registry office, civil status registers, births), 1811-1875, Johann Nuckel, Geburten 1838, Reg. Nr. 232 (11 Feb 1838); FamilySearch microfilm 1344157.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Bremer Adressbuch, 1794 – 1980, entries for the Nuckel family 1839-1860; digital images, Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek Bremen ( : accessed 11 Feb 2023).
  4. Bremen Standesamt, Zivilstandsregister, Heiraten (Bremen registry office, civil status registers, marriages), 1811-1875, Nuckel-Sievers, Heiraten 1838, Reg. Nr. 282 (31 May 1860); FamilySearch microfilm 1344200.
  5. Her family lived a few doors away on the same street. Bremer Adressbuch, 1794 – 1980, entry for the Sievers family 1860.
  6. Bremen Standesamt, Zivilstandsregister, Carsten Hinrich Wilhelm Nuckel, Geburten 1860, Reg. Nr. 1931 (12 Nov 1860); FamilySearch microfilm 1344170.
  7. For the birth, see Bremen Standesamt, Zivilstandsregister, Johanne Nuckel, Geburten 1863, Reg. Nr. 977 (21 May 1863); FamilySearch microfilm 1344173. For the death, see ibid., Johanne Nuckel, Todten (Deaths) 1865, Reg. Nr. 141 (10 May 1865); FamilySearch microfilm 1344233.
  8. For the birth, see Bremen Standesamt, Zivilstandsregister, todtgeboren Nuckel, Geburten 1866, Reg. Nr. 141 (17 Jan 1866); FamilySearch microfilm 1344175. For the death, see ibid., todtgeboren Nuckel, Todten 1866, Reg. Nr. 116 (17 Jan 1866); FamilySearch microfilm 1344233.
  9. Bremen Standesamt, Zivilstandsregister, Johann Nuckel, Todten (Deaths) 1870, Reg. Nr. 607 (15 March 1870); FamilySearch microfilm 1344237.
  10. Ibid.
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