Emil & Ottilie


When my great-grandparents, Albert and Augusta Fromke, arrived in New York, at a place at the tip of Manhattan called Castle Garden, they were not alone. They had two youngsters in tow. Their names and ages are listed clearly on the passenger manifest.

There was Emil, age 9, and his baby sister, Ottilie, a mere ten months old. Yet, before finding a microfilm copy of the log years ago, I’d never heard her name, though she did have an aunt with the same name, who died in Berlin in 1947.

Emil 1887_closeupwas said to have died during the voyage. The handwritten notes my mother inherited mention merely that he was buried at sea, somewhere in the vast expanse of the North Atlantic. But such deaths aboard passenger vessels was usually recorded. It’s doubtful that such a tragedy would be overlooked. And so it looks as if he survived the voyage.

The family made it’s way, probably by train primarily, to what was still the frontier, the Dakota Territory.

So what happened to Ottilie and Emil? I’d sure like to know. Despite meticulously searching cemetery and death records, I have not been able to learn anything. My mother has mentioned on more than one occasion that her father, my grandfather, once took her to a place out in the hinterlands. It was the site of two graves. Unfortunately, Mom doesn’t remember any other details.

But a thought does occur to me. Could these graves be on the old farmstead?



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