The trouble started on Sunday afternoon, due to the ineptitude of the Twins and my lack of interest in a weekly PGA tournament played by two-man teams rather than individuals. I decided to take a nap, and it was so successful that It lasted until 8:30 p.m.
This meant no chance of getting back to sleep at the usual midnight hour. I was Googlin' at 2 a.m. looking for the details on a column written a couple of years ago. For some reason, one option that popped up was a reference to the River Reuss that runs through Switzerland.
Turns out, it starts at Lake Lucerne and there were a couple of gorgeous photos of theReuss and its prominent place in the city of Lucerne. I’ve never been into the ancestry deal, but the Reusse clan is alleged to come from the Alsace-Lorraine area that’s part of France with a strong German influence.
The River Reuss runs through Lucerne, Switzerland. AP photo
So I’m thinking, “Lucerne must be fairly close to Alsace-Lorraine, and maybe the family name traces to 6- or 700 years ago, and people who had lived near the Reuss became known as a Reusse.’’
With that brainstorm, I looked for the origin of the name Reuss, and to quote Jim Brockmire: “Imagine my surprise when discovering there was a Principality of Reuss dating to ancient times in what’s now the Thuringia region of Germany.’’
Further Googlin' indicated the first recorded spelling of the name Reusse took place in 1272, when a gentleman named C. der Reusse signed up on the tax rolls in Franken, Germany, which is in the same area that the House of Reuss was holding court.
That’s right – there was a House of Reuss, with three separate lines of family members, the Elder, the Middle and the Younger. Sadly, the Middle line became extinct after several hundred years in 1616, but the Elder and the Younger held in there, to point that the Elder line produced a daughter named Hermine Reuss, who became the second wife of Kaiser Wilhelm II.
Of course, the Kaiser was the villain of the First World War, which led to the rise of Hitler and the Second World War, so if I ever happen to be in the Thuringia neighborhood and run into a Reuss, I probably won’t ask if they have some very old photos of the grand wedding of Aunt Hermine.
The connection to the Kaiser aside, I did discover something wonderful: All male members born to the various Reuss clans were named Heinrich. The line of Heinrichs would go up to 100 and then start all over again.
There were no Heinrichs in my father’s family. Otto was the Reusse that came to Fulda, Minn. in the late 1800s and the first child also was named Otto (died young), so that would seem to lower the odds of a connection to the House of Reuss.
Then again, C. der Reusse was right there in the midst of them in 1272, so I wasn’t giving up.
The House of Reuss wasn’t that far away from the House of Hanover, which is basically the Germanic line that got itself in position to serve as British royalty for the past several centuries.
And here’s the deal: The only reason I watched that endlessly repetitive “Suits’’ TV series for a couple of years was to see what Meghan Markle was up to. I think Prince Harry is getting himself quite a prize when the Royal Wedding takes place on May 19.
Yes, it was 3:30 a.m. now and my mind was a raging torrent, flooded with rivulets of thought cascading into a waterfall of creative alternatives, that being:
How about an old-fashioned telegram to the Queen, pointing out what pals the Hanovers and the Reuss(e)s used to be, and maybe she could sneak me a couple of late invitations to the Royal Wedding on May 19?
OK. Probably not.
For one thing, if the Queen had her people check on my authenticity, she would find out that I’m adopted and a full-blooded Irishman, so a DNA test to prove a connection to the House of Reuss wouldn’t do me much good.
I did decide how great it would have been if my parents had decided to go with Heinrich rather than Patrick as my name. It was late in 1945 and our troops had just taken care of the Nazis, including Himmler, so the Heinrich handle probably didn’t receive much consideration from my mom, a McDonough, who was calling the shots on a name, I’d guess.
But it was now 4 a.m. and I saw the byline front of me:
By HEINRICH REUSSE XXXII
Throw that name at ‘em and the New York Times would have gobbled me up in five minutes, guaranteed.
And then I took one more shot before checking to see if the Star Tribune had arrived on the front step. I searched for “origins of the last name Reusse’’ and this was what showed up:
“This unusual and interesting surname is of German origin, and is from an ethnic name for someone from Russia, derives from the German ‘Reusse,’ the Middle High German ‘riusse,’ Russian.
“This derives ultimately from the Scandinavian term meaning ‘rower, oarsman,’ the Russian state having been first established in the 9th Century by Norse settlers who rowed up the rivers from the Baltic.’’
Wait a minute here.
Rower? Oarsman? Does this mean that a Reusse is supposed to Row the Boat?
Dang, I’m sorry to have started all this.