The People of Pancho

At Play In The Archive

The Birth and Baptism of Leo

We begin at the beginning.

My great-grandfather Franz Georg Leopold Lessiack was born on the 17th of December in the year 1890 in Hamburg, Germany. I am reasonably sure this information is correct, because I have found 19 sources (so far) that corroborate the date. Plus, I have his actual Geburts Urkunde (birth certificate) in my possession. Check out this beautiful calligraphy, People.


The front side of Leo’s birth certificate, which was prepared on December 19, 1890.


The back side of Leo’s birth certificate.

Leo’s parents were Anton Ludwig Lessiack and his wife, Henriette Catharina Marie Puhlmann. While none of the photographs in my possession are labeled as such, I have come to the conclusion (based on a number of clues) that these images are of my great-great grandparents.


My great-great grandfather Anton Ludwig Lessiack. Leo refers to him with affection as “Papa” in later letters to his siblings.

Here’s another photo, I believe, of my great-great grandfather Anton.  At least, I think it’s the same guy–what do you think, People? The cock of his head and the shape of his eyes and eyebrows look the same to me. Isn’t that mustachio spiffy?


My great-great grandfather, Anton Ludwig Lessiack. Date and photographer unknown.

And, here is my great-great grandmother, Henriette Catharina Maria Puhlmann.


My great-great grandmother, Henriette Catharina Marie Puhlmann. Date and photographer unknown.

You might recognize her from this picture in an earlier post. She’s a bit older here.

The back of the photo says July 1922, Harz Mts, Germany. Postcard to Mrs. F. Bielitz (no address). The baby is my grandfather, Robert Lessiack.

Henriette Catharina Marie Puhlmann, Leo Lessiack, and Margaret Spielmann Lessiack. The back of the photo says July 1922, Harz Mts, Germany. It’s a postcard to Mrs. F. Bielitz (no address), who is my great-grand aunt Lillian Spielmann Bielitz. The baby is my grandfather, Robert Lessiack. Photographer unknown.

Eight months later, on the 16th of August in 1891, great-grandpa Leo was baptized into the German Evangelical Lutheran Church at the church of St. Gertrud in Hamburg. Here is a picture of his original baptismal certificate. My scanner wasn’t quite big enough to fit the whole thing.


Leo’s baptismal certificate from St. Gertrud’s church in Hamburg, Germany.

Notice the names of his Godparents. It’s not hard to figure out where great-grandpa Franz Georg Leopold Lessiack got his name.

  • Franz Lessiack (I suppose this is great-great grandfather Anton’s brother, but have uncovered no proof)
  • Georg Tuhl (a family friend, maybe? Another thing to research)
  • Leopoldine Maurienhardt (Another mystery to research — she could be a friend, or she could be sister to either of the parents)

I also discovered this incredibly nifty website that offers a virtual tour of St. Gertrud’s church. To “go inside” the church, click this link, and then click on the little arrow inside a circle just outside the church door (I put a giant red arrow in the picture below to help you find it). Take a look around — the site will pan 360° automatically, and it’s almost like being there. The internet is amazing, no?

Photo by 360° Tourist

Photo by 360° Tourist, a most marvelous website.

We’re off and running with Leo now. Happy Monday, People.

9 comments on “The Birth and Baptism of Leo

  1. Mom
    October 21, 2014

    19 sources…that’s all ya got? Wow, I am in awe of your work dear!


  2. Amy
    October 21, 2014

    Nineteen sources and you are still not sure? LOL!

    I do think they are the same man, even though there is something in the eyes that looks different. But I think that’s just differences in expression, not features.

    I look forward to seeing what else you learn about Leo.


    • Pancho
      October 21, 2014

      Oh, I’m sure about Leo’s birthdate! Thanks for the input on Anton’s photo. I agree about the eyes–it might be him, or it might be a relative who looks like him. I wasn’t 100% convinced, but alas, I’ll probably never know.

      Liked by 1 person

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