Category Archives: Genealogy

The origins of my grandmother’s paternal line has been lost to later generations — until now.

The German Connection

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Using a multidisciplinary approach, including DNA and a family religious artifact, helped me confirm that my grandmother’s paternal line had its origins in Germany.

The artifact is a book, printed in Philadelphia in 1814 with text in German. This alone is significant. The language is not American English. This is German.

When I first saw this, after a copy of it was reproduced in a book on the family history called Michael Hay and His Descendants, I knew that I had to pursue this. I had to unravel this story.

One of the compiler’s of the book, Lucy Bayley, lived in Oregon. And one day years ago my grandmother, her brother Everett, and I made the short road trip to her home. She was welcoming, but when I began asking questions about the family, she was reticent to give much information.

She was publishing a book and did not want to share, as if I was a competitor. It was a strange experience. I certainly had no intentions of publishing a book. But she treated me like a spy. So I was frustrated. Grandma said that I should just let her handle it.

Funnily, when the book was finally released, many in our branch of the family were disappointed. It was a typical genealogical book, with a bunch of names and dates, but little else. And there were some errors. I much prefer a narrative format, rather than the routine one.

This is not to say that the book is without merit. The first few pages are worthwhile and quite informative. These include maps and photographs, of land where our ancestors farmed and the long-neglected cemetery on private land where many were buried, more than a century ago.

Lucy was convinced of a Scottish connection, that the family had been in Scotland, part of the Hay clan apparently, but had then relocated to Germany. She was obsessed with this theory. To this day I have no idea if there is one. But I have seen no evidence of it.

However, the link with Germany is solid. I convinced my great uncle, the same one who made the journey to visit Lucy, to submit his DNA, and the results proved a link to a man named Kettering, who had traced his line back to a particular place in Germany.

So now I am working on a translation of this catechism book. I don’t know if I can do it on my own, using online translators such as Google Translate. But I am gonna try.

ajh

Grandpa’s Missing Siblings

The pastor of the church where my great grandparents, Albert and Augusta Fromke, were members, part of what’s known as WELS, the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, is on Facebook and kindly offered to lookup information on the family a few weeks ago. I wasn’t familiar with how he sent the material, so it’s be lurking there on Facebook unknown to me until today.

I’ve been on the hunt for two children, Emil and Ottilie, who were born in Germany, but immigrated with Ma & Pa Fromke in 1887. Their stories are still a mystery. But I will stay with it.

Here is some of what he found and sent me on four children unknown to me:

Wilhelm Carl Albert Fromke, born 7 June 1898, died 17 November 1900, Age: 2 years, 5 Months, 17 days.

Gustav Arthur Fromke, born 9 November 1901, died 19 November 1901, Age: Ten days. (Indiscernible text? I will send photo.)

Adolph Ernst Fromke born 7 May 1903 died 24 May 1903, Age: 17 days (Same words that I cannot decipher.)

Herta Ella Meta Fromke, born 6 October 1904, died 22 October 1904. (Also indiscernible to me, other than “Albert Fromke”. But I never studied German.)

I will be posting the images and more research he sent when I get a chance.

ajh

Great Grandpa Fromke invites cousins in Wisconsin to rent the farm next door

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This is a snapshot of a genealogical notebook made by my cousin Jannik and his grandmother in Buxtehude, Germany. These notes were made by another relative, Delores Bryan, thankfully. I have to study the family tree to identify their precise relationship.

“They wanted their own place so when he received a letter from a friend by the name of Fromke telling Fred there was farm for rent next to his, Fred and Emilie took the train to South Dakota.”

I wonder what has happened to this letter. Delores died in 2014 and I don’t know if she had any children.

ajh

 

Some Radde Kids

Here’s the latest, what cousin Jannik has sent me. It’s a listing of my great-great grandmother’s siblings, the children of Michael Radde and Eva Milczewski, or Milczefsky, as he spells it. I tend to think that Jannik’s is the correct one.

Caroline Radde, my grandpa’s grandmother, died after 1885, he says. Her sister, Wilhelmine Charlotte Radde, and her husband, Karl August David, left Borntuchen in 1890. I doubt Caroline ever left. It’s just a feeling, a hunch, my intuition.

If Caroline and her husband Carl Fromke stayed in Borntuchen, there has to be a civil record of her death in the civil registry archive of Borntuchen, according to Jannik.

If they moved to a town, like Stettin, for example, then there should be a record of her death in the archives of the town. But I don’t know where she’s buried, so we will have to do some digging.

Source for her birth date is the KB of Borntuchen, there I found all children of Michael and Eva: 

  1. *09.02.1825: Johanne Charlotte RADDE (their oldest daughter, I know nothing about her…)
  2. *15.11.1827: Carl Christian RADDE (married Johanna ONASCH (*1834-✝1877), they had 10 children, but it seems that no child got older than 7 years, Carl died in 1882)
  3. *22.01.1830: Caroline Charlotte RADDE (your great-great-grandmother)
  4. *02.04.1832: Dorothea Friederieke RADDE (married August Friedrich BORKOWSKY and died in 1873..)
  5. *01.10.1834: Friedrich Wilhelm RADDE (…found nothing yet)
  6. *08.03.1837: Eva Maria RADDE (died 13 Apr. 1842)
  7. *30.11.1839: Wilhelmine Charlotte RADDE (my great-great-great-grandmother, married Karl August DAVID und had 4 children, moved with her family to Stettin in 1890, where she died in 1911)
  8. *02.08.1843: Ferdinand August RADDE (died 03 Jan. 1847)
  9. *08.10.1845: Johann Ludwig RADDE (…no information)

ajh

Learning about Grandpa’s Grandma from cousin Jannik in Germany

Caroline Charlotte Radde

My cousin Jannik in Germany, who I just learned about, has quite a bit of material on the family, thankfully. For years all I knew about my grandfather’s grandparents were their names: Carl Fromke and Caroline Radde.

Now I know her middle and when she was born. Caroline Charlotte Radde. Born on January 22, 1830 in Borntuchen, Pomerania, Prussia.

Another interesting factoid is how he spells the surname of Caroline’s mother, Eva. I’ve been spelling it Milczewski, based on information sent by cousins in Montana. Jannik spells it Milczefsky.

Jannik says that Caroline was Michael Radde and Eva Milczefsky’s third child and that they had nine children. Her younger sister Wilhelmine Charlotte Radde was Jannik’s great-great-great-grandmother.

I am so looking forward to chatting with him more and learning as much as I can.

ajh

A four week trip to Humboldt County, Iowa by covered wagon in 1898. Woulda loved to hear more about that.

50TH ANNIVERSARY
These are my great-great grandparents. Their anniversary made the front page of the local newspaper in Iowa where they lived for nine years, The Humboldt Republican. It was August 6, 1937, a Friday.

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THE GOODELLS, WHO FARMED HERE, HAD 50TH ANNIVERSARY The golden wedding anniversary was celebrated recently by Mr. and Mrs. L. L. Goodell, former residents of Humboldt county. The Goodells now reside in Bradley, South Dakota. They were married July 18, 1887, at Inca, (Iuka) Pratt county, Kansas, and for several years afterward lived on a farm near there. They made a four weeks trip to Humboldt county by covered wagon in 1898, and remained in the county nine years. The following ten years they farmed in Clark county, South Dakota, and finally moved to their present home in Bradley. They have three children, Bert W, Goodell and Mrs. W. O. Wesenberg of Bradley, and Mrs. Ray Gates of Aberdeen, South Dakota. There are ten grandchildren and one great grandson. Allen Ellis Gates ot Washington, D. C., the great grandson, was baptized at the golden wedding celebration. The Rev. F. C. Page of Faulkton, performed the wedding ceremony for each ot the children, and repeated the marriage vows of fifty years ago for Mr. and Mrs. Goodell. Relatives enjoyed a picnic dinner at noon on the lawn of the celebrants home. Open house was held there from four to six p. m. that day.

Learning more about my great-great grandpa’s youngest brother, a Methodist minister

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Thanks to an archivist at Dakota Wesleyan University, where at least one cousin has been a student in recent years, studying with the liberal icon George McGovern, I have been learning more about my great-great grandfather’s youngest brother, who was a minister in the Methodist Church for thirty years.

My uncle once recalled a story where his father, my grandfather, dismissively described the Reverend Darling as a “fire and brimstone” preacher.¹ Apparently, the reverend had given a sermon at the church² in Lake Preston, where his brother’s family and descendants attended, and Grandpa Hill was less than impressed. He and my uncle weren’t big on Christianity.

The oldest son, my father, however, is a devout conservative Christian. It makes for interesting family dynamics. You say dysfunctional, and I say we need a different, stronger, more complex descriptor.

Methodism these days has strayed far from those fire and brimstone days. Nowadays, Pastor Darling would not be welcome among most United Methodist congregations. Hell is an unpopular subject, as is sin.

ajh

1. Fire and brimstone (or, alternatively, brimstone and fire, translated from the Hebrew גפרית ואש) is an idiomatic expression of signs of God’s wrath in the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) and the New Testament. In the Bible, they often appear in reference to the fate of the unfaithful.

2. I’m glad to hear that the church is now home to the town museum, rather than being torn down or empty.