Fascinating stuff! Long-lost siblings of my great grandpa — in Germany.


Great grandpa Albert had a sister I didn’t know about. Her name was Friederike Caroline Auguste Fromke. In English this translates as Fredericka. She was born on February 4, 1859. She married a man named Friedrich Johann Ferdinand Kowalke on April 11, 1882 in a place called Borntuchen in Germany. I haven’t been able to track down what happened to them.



Remember CompuServe?


I didn’t even know that CompuServe was still around. But it is.

And those who use its forums are in for a lousy surprise. The company is shutting them down.

The Genealogy Forum on CompuServe dates back to 1988, and I’m sure there’s a wealth of material archived. Let’s hope it doesn’t disappear.

Too often unique sites are lost forever. Remember GeoCities and Yahoo’s decision to abandon the project?


Einwohner? Notes on German society in 1883, using my great grandpa as a case study.


Hmm. The only record that I’ve found of my great grandfather in Germany, which is a compliation of many sources I believe, lists his occupation in 1883. The German word is Einwohner.

Upon reading the word, I immediately began probling the tubes that make up the Internet to translate it, using everything from Google Translate to a hashtag on Twitter.

Not satisfied, I tried a mailing list on genealogy, geographic-specific, hosted by Yahoo and recvieved this wonderfully descriptive answer from Piotr Mankowski, resident of Nowogard, Poland, which was Naugard, Germany until World War II.

“Einwohner was a status and meant a person who rented or leased a flat or house in the village or town. In some cases, the person had to pay for the roof over his head by, for example, working for a day for the owner, especially if residing in the farmer’s house.”

Heniz Radde, who was born in a place called Gross Tuchen, which isn’t far from where my ancestors lived, and now lives in Switzerland, wrote a concise explanation.

“Today Einwohner means inhabitant and nothing else. But in the past, the word was in use for day laborer and very small farmer as well. Sometimes it was written Einlieger for the same.”


The Missing Fromke Brothers | Friedrich Wilhelm, Carl August & Emil Gustav

In my pursuit of learning more about the family history, I discovered the names of three siblings — three brothers — of my great grandfather, a farmer born in Prussia who settled in South Dakota named Albert Fromke, which for some reason had been lost and not been passed down.

On this chart, Albert continues to be listed as the first born, a detail which I’ve always ignored for some reason.

The second born, another male, is new to me. His name was Friedrich Wilhelm Fromke. He was born in 1861 Borntuchen, Kreis Bütow, Pommern, Prussia. He died two years later, in 1863.

The next child unknown to me was Carl August Fromke, born in 1866 in Borntuchen. That’s all the information recorded.

The last brother, new to me, was Emil Gustav Fromke, born in Borntuchen in 1875.

Oddly, another brother who also immigrated to America, August Ludwig Fromke, isn’t included on this family tree. He was born on 1873 and died in South Dakota in 1909. He relocated to California for a while, but did not like life there and returned to South Dakota.


Watertown Appleby Foley Grover Kampeska Pelican Rauville Waverly

I just had to make a hashtag out of it

I was looking through a genealogical database while at the local library the other day and decided to probe the Social Security Death Index.

In my grandfather’s file, there’s a long list of towns, places where he worked, I think. This is rather unusual. Most files only list one place, the last residence of the person.

Grandpa began working as a cashier at the age of 16 at a bank in Grover, South Dakota. It was called the State Bank of Grover. His older brother Herman worked there too. I think the bank went under in 1921, the same year as a robbery a la Bonnie and Clyde.

He worked in goverment for many years, first with the Works Progress Administration, then as the city and county auditor, in Watertown, South Dakota and Codington County. This may explain why his file is so thorough, because he was. Every year he helped many file their taxes.

I am assuming the list, chronologically, is backwards. It may also indicate where he and the family lived. Thus, his first job was at Waverly, where his parents lived for many years. Next is Rauville, where his parents were buried. I don’t know anything about Pelican. Kampeska is the name of the lake to the northwest of Watertown, and Grandpa owned a house there. His parents lived there for awhile. Next is Grover, followed by Foley and Appleby, two more places I know nothing about. And finally there is Watertown, where he lived and worked most of his life.


Name: Oscar Fromke
State of Issue: South Dakota
Date of Birth: Wednesday August 08, 1900
Date of Death: April 1976
Est. Age at Death: 75 years, 8 months
Last known residence:
City: WatertownApplebyFoleyGroverKampeskaPelicanRauvilleWaverly
County: Codington
State: South Dakota
ZIP Code: 57201
Latitude: 44.9156
Longitude: -97.1699

Name: Bernice Fromke
State of Issue: South Dakota
Date of Birth: Sunday November 03, 1912
Date of Death: February 1986
Est. Age at Death: 73 years, 3 months
Last known residence:
City: WatertownApplebyFoleyGroverKampeskaPelicanRauvilleWaverly
County: Codington
State: South Dakota
ZIP Code: 57201
Latitude: 44.9156
Longitude: -97.1699

Fantastic! Discovering details on my great-great grandmother.


I wasn’t sure I’d ever find more information than what had been collected before me.

I began asking questions and taking notes on the family history in 1989, my first year of high school.

But the only info my mother had on her father’s grandparents were their names, and one was misspelled.

My maternal grandmother had them recorded as Carl Fromke and Caroline Rabe. Later, I learned that Rabe was incorrect. Her maiden name was Radde.

And now I know when she was born and when she died.


Name: Caroline Fromke
Maiden Name: Radde
Death Age: 49
Event Type: Sterbefall (Death)
Birth Date: 22 Januar 1830
[abt 1830]
Death Date: 27 Jul 1879
Death Place: Borntuchen, Preußen (Germany)
[Polen (Poland)]
Civil Registration Office: Borntuchen, Krs Bütow
Father: Michael Radde
Mother: Eva Radde
Certificate Number: 22

Bluetooth technology is named after Harald Bluetooth, whose initials in runic script — ᚼᛒ — make up the logo.


The Bluetooth name is an Anglicized version of the Scandinavian word Blåtand, sometimes spelled Blåtann. In Old Norse it’s Blátǫnn. The word is the epithet of the tenth-century king Harald Bluetooth who united dissonant Danish tribes into a single kingdom and, according to legend, introduced Christianity. The Bluetooth logo is a combination of Harald’s initials, using what are called the Hagall (ᚼ) and Bjarkan (ᛒ) characters.


Well, this is strange. Did Emil make the trip to America or die in the Old World?

One of the puzzles on my family tree is my great grandparents’ son Emil.

Passenger records have him arriving with his parents at the immigration depot known as Castle Garden on the tip of Manhattan. He was listed as nine years old, having been born in 1878 or 1879. I found this odd because his parents didn’t marry until 1880. But I didn’t want to discount him being born out of wedlock.

However, someone else, part of the geni.com trove of material I discovered a few days ago, has an Emil August Rudolf Fromke being born to them on January 27, 1882 but only living for one day, before they emigrated in 1887.

So what’s the story? Who is the Emil who came to America? Unfortunately, I have more questions than answers at this point.