Category Archives: Genealogy

So this is how my great-great grandparents met… in Iowa… circa 1885.



After the death of their parents, my great great grandmother and her sisters went to live with various relatives. One, Jennie Boal, lived with her grandparents, her mother’s parents, the Fosters. And living close-by was Jerome Darling, with his mother and siblings. Jerome, later known as Dr. J. H. Darling, married Jennie’s sister Nettie in 1890. I can imagine Nettie visiting her grandparents frequently.


Lightning has been an occasional recurring theme in the family tree


I have been tying branches of my grandmother’s family together and in so doing came upon this account of lightning striking a house.

The house of Rev. Israel Hay, on Mechanic street, Fredericksburg, on Sunday afternoon was struck by lightning. The bolt struck the east gable end and for some distance tore up the ——–, and then descended down to the kitchen, playing sad havoc with the glass and chinaware.”

Israel, perhaps the son of David Hay and Nancy Miller, was pastor at the Church of God in Fredericksburg in Lebanon County, Pennsylvania.

Lightning has been a recurring occasional theme in the family tree. One of my ancestors was struck by it, making for a brief peculiar historical highlight.


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

The German Connection


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.


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.


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


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.



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)