Category Archives: Genealogy

How’s your German? Or Polish? Or Kashubian?


I am trying to figure out just what the heck this document is and translating the information therein, which I am assuming is German. But who knows! Is it Polish? Or Kashubian, a Slavic language spoken and written by few? Do you know? I’d love to hear from you.

A distant cousin who lives in Switzerland posted it to a forum on Yahoo! Groups related to genealogy in a region of Europe known as Pomerania.

It is apparently about my great-great grandmother, Caroline Radde. (The file is named Caroline.R.) But I am having a heck of a time deciphering it.

If you can help, please don’t hesitate contacting me by commenting on this post or writing to me directly via email, And thanks in advance for any assistance!




His complete name is Gotthilf David Siegfried Lentz.

Recently I visited a friend, a retired Methodist minister, who has been visiting her daughter in Seattle.

For years she lived and worked in Seattle. The family is from Vermont, and she spent much of her youth in Switzerland, where her father was stationed with the State Department, I think.

While we talking one evening, she mentioned my tweet. She was curious about the name. We figured out the God part, but didn’t get farther than that. So later I decided to use the Google, specifically Google Translate, and after learning the meaning of his name, I sent off a note to her.

Just learned that Gotthilf is ‘God’s help’ in English.”

And she promptly replied, after her return home to Portland via the Bolt Bus.

“That is fantastic…nice name.”

Get thyself on Twitter, Hager-Smith! And then ye may tweet me directly.¹


1. She is, or was, on Twitter, but hasn’t updated her account since 2014.

Ludwig of Gröbenzien


I’m so glad I’ve finally found a record of my great-great grandfather, Ludwig Lentz of Gröbenzien. Gröbenzien was a village in Germany, near the Polish border.

The images are from the Borntuchen church book, known in German as Kirchenbuch. This is the first time I’ve found Ludwig in any historical records. And there’s another unknown, his son Eduard. Most other surviving records from this branch of the family are in other church books.

I’ve included links to the image files of the complete record and the key at the top of the page.



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.


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 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.


Since 1989, I’ve been hunting for this information. Thankfully, I’m not the only one.

One of my incidental Google searches came up with some wonderful results the other day. Fellow genealogists has been tracking my family. They are probably cousins.

They have uploaded details, information lost through the generations, to a genealogy site, I’m not familiar with it. I tweeted about my find at the time.

I’ve been hunting for more on my great-great grandfather, Carl Fromke, since I first learned his name while compiling the family tree after talking with my parents and looking at notes made by my late maternal grandmother.

A man named Dale Nelson has an interest in him too. He lists Carl’s birth year as about 1831 and his birthplace as Klein Pomeiske in Kreis Bütow in the German region known as Pomerania. His death is recorded as January 10, 1884 in Borntuchen, not far from Klein Pomeiske and the birthplace of Carl’s son Albert, my great grandfather.

For Carl’s wife, Caroline Charlotte Radde, has a second middle name, Wilhelmine, which had been lost. In fact, I hadn’t known any of her middle names until a cousin in Germany contacted me a few years ago. She was born on January 22, 1830 in Borntuchen and died there on July 27, 1879, according to Dale.

Also included in the trove of info is Caroline’s grandparents, Martin Radde and Anna Louise Kranz.

Anna was born circa 1758 and on August 31, 1853 in Borntuchen. Martin was born around 1759 and died on May 5, 1849 in Borntuchen, making him 90 years old.

Another interesting detail is the first middle name of my great grandfather’s brother August, which I only knew as L. It’s Ludwig. He shares it with his maternal grandmother, Ludwig Lentz. I had suspected this, but had no proof.

I’m hoping to make contact with many of these researchers to compare notes and expand my knowledge of the family and German history.


What was he doing in South America? In Montevideo, Uruguay?


My great grandmother’s younger brother, Leslie Warren Darling, was engaged to a girl named Ruth June Amos. But his death during the First World War changed their plans.

Ruth married another World War I veteran, William Donald Jordan, on August 12, 1919 in Red Oak, Montgomery County, Iowa.


There is a nine year gap in records. I can’f find any records for either of them until January 17, 1928, when William arrived in New York City after taking a ship, the SS American Legion, from Montevideo, Uruguay.

He had already apparently been living in New York City for some time, a residence at 41 Broad Street in the heart of Wall Street.

What he was doing in South America isn’t known, nor what happened to Ruth. He remarried in May of 1928.

Did he divorce Ruth or had she died? Did she die during a misadventure in South America? Or is there something more sinister at work here? Murder?

People don’t just disappear. I intend on getting to the bottom of this.


The Wolfs of Wayne County, Indiana

Maria Wolf & Brazilla Van Note, who married in Wayne County, Indiana in 1844.
A deed abstract of Frederick Wolf’s estate recorded in Montgomery County, Ohio.

I am convinced that my family, specifically my ancestor Maria Wolf, wife of Brazilla Van Note, is related to Frederick Wolf and his wife Barbara. They are probably her grandparents.

One of the key clues is the fact that Brazilla and Maria married in Wayne County, Indiana in 1844. This is where Frederick and Barbara’s son Jacob had settled with his wife and kids, as mentioned in the deed abstract above. Other family too were in Wayne County.

I’ve seen the name Barbary before, which confused me till a few days ago. I thought it may have been a man whose parents had an affliction for bizarre names. But now that I researched this family a bit, it’s obviously Frederick’s wife, who was named Barbara.

The missing connection is Maria’s parents. Her mother was named Elizabeth. Elizabeth was born in 1795, according to her gravestone, though the censuses have recorded varying years. She may have lied about her age or not known her birth date.

But her father has been elusive. I don’t know his name, other than Mr. Wolf. So I am hoping that if I dig into this family, plod through the tree and research, I may find some clues to connect, hopefully resulting in a name and some other details on Maria’s dad.