Joseph Geissler: An American Father

When we left off, Joseph and Caroline had married and purchased property in Prairie Township in 1856. Their land neighbored James Kinnaird and Caroline’s father, Heinrich Mack. Additional neighbors included the Puseckers, Strunkenbergs, and Tinappels, all from the same village in Hanover as the Macks.

After over year and a half of marriage, Joseph and Caroline welcomed their first of four children to their family.  Charles “Carl” Geißler was born  17 November 1857, most likely in their home in Prairie Township.  Joseph was 21 years of age while Caroline was 19.

What was the origin of this child’s name?  In jumping ahead, we discover that the couple’s second son would appear to honor Caroline’s father and Joseph, himself. Their first daughter’s name origin is uncertain but has the same middle name as Caroline’s step-mother. Was she thus named in honor of the mother that immigrated with Caroline? Finally, the fourth child has the name of Caroline. With this tradition of honoring their children after family members, who was Karl named after?

It is interesting that the Puesecker family’s patriarch was Karl Puesecker. Did Joseph and Caroline name their firstborn after the head of the family who traveled with the Macks from Germany to Ohio? Or perhaps Carl is the male form of his mother’s name. Or perhaps Carl is a clue to opening up the parents of Joseph’s.

Just over a month later,  Carl was baptized in on 25 December 1857, although the church is in question. Some sources say it was at Holy Cross and others say it was at St James. The sources say there are images to support each theory and these need to be found to determine which is correct.

The following year, Joseph renounced his loyalty to the Grand Duke of Baden and formally recited the oath of allegiance to complete the naturalization process and thus became a recognized citizen of the United States of America on October 11, 1858, in Columbus, Franklin, Ohio.i

Naturalization registration Franklin County Ohio 1863
Naturalization registration with the Franklin County Superior Court

Autumn 1863 Term, date: October 11, 1858.  (1 of 2 pages)


Joseph appears as the second name in the above document as Joseph Keizler. Some German-speaking individuals have suggested that the G in Joseph’s last name has a harsh ‘k’ sound, which would explain the court official writing Keizler. It’s unclear how much English Joseph had acquired during his five years in America. Thus, what was written in English was acceptable even though he would write his name in the German script with a G.

Naturalization record for Joseph Keizler [Geiszler]
Naturalization record for Joseph Keizler [Geiszler], in the family record
collection of David G Geissler of Columbus, Ohio
Because his naturalization certificate was framed and preserved by his descendants, family members know that Joseph Keizler is the same as Joseph Geißler.  And the court registration date matches that on this document. Otherwise, one could theorize we were viewing the naturalization of the wrong person.

It’s worth noting that his witness on that day was Adam Nortlich. More will be written about his witness in a follow-up post.

The naturalization process generally covers 5 years. It begins with a person residing in the United States for 2 years before starting the process. The initial proceedings involve filing a Declaration of Intent and then three more years of residency before the naturalization was finalized. Joseph’s Declaration of Intent may be in 1855, meaning he was at least in the United States by 1853 at the latest. Thus, Joseph married Caroline, who arrived in 1854, the year after he filed is Declaration of Intent. A search of the Franklin County, Ohio Declaration of Intent has thus far not resulted in a discovery of this document. The record set has a gap in the 1855-1857 time period which is theorized to include Joseph’s documentation.

The joy of citizenship would continue as the couple would soon discover they were expecting their second child. On 27 May 1859, Joseph and Caroline became the parents for the second time, and they named this son Henry Joseph Geiszler. It is believed that their son Carl was 18 months old at the time Henry joined the family.

Sometime between Henry’s birth in May and Carl’s birth date in November, tragedy struck.

i. Joseph Keizler, court docket for citizenship (1858), Franklin County, Clerk of Superior Court, September term AD 1858, vol.  , p. 223.
Devon Noel Lee

Devon Noel Lee

Devon Noel Lee is passionate about capturing and preserving family stories so no one alive today has to be researched, or forgotten, tomorrow. She has authored 6 how-to books, a memoir, two published family history biographies, and over 60 family scrapbooks. She's an enthusiastic speaker who energizes, encourages, and educates at the same time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Are you utilizing the best online genealogy research tools?
Sign up for our newsletter and receive our free guide
10 Online Genealogy Resource You Have to Try.

We take your privacy seriously! See our privacy policy click here.