It’s small and a bit pixelated, but I finally found an image of my mom’s side of the family before they came to America from Germany, I think. She has a very stern look upon her face. It’s my mother’s great aunt, Pauline Fromke, wife of Herman Lentz and mother of Julius Lentz. Mom sometimes stayed at Julius’ home when she visited her hometown — Watertown, South Dakota — including just after Grandma died in 1986. Previously, I did find other photos of the family, including an early one of Herman.
It really is amazing what you can find online. My latest discovery is pics of family from my Mother’s side of the family, specifically my great-great aunt and uncle, Herman Lentz and Pauline Fromke. Someone added them to a family tree on Ancestry.
My Mom has talked in the past about being double cousins with a branch of the family in North Dakota. Pauline is the sister of my great grandfather, Albert Fromke, and Herman is the brother of my great grandmother, Augusta Lentz. The puzzle that is the family tree is coming together bit by bit. Albert and Pauline’s parents are Carl Fromke and Caroline Radde. Augusta and Herman’s parents are Ludwig Lentz and Marie Scharnofske.
What is particularly interesting to me is information on the family tree.
Herman was born in “Steitch, Germany.” I don’t know anything about this place. I don’t recall having seen it before. I’ll have to investigate the spelling and see if I can find a copy of the original source.
In 1880, at the age of 16, he is recorded as living in Wausau, Wisconsin, though I am not sure about the accuracy of this because he supposedly emigrated in 1883 or 1893. I’m guessing 1883 is the right year.
They were married in 1889, in Baltimore, Maryland, according to the source on Ancestry. Why Baltimore? There were some folks named Fromke living there going back to the 1840s.
These latest discoveries should provide excellent opportunities for further documenting the family tree.
One of the best ways for finding out more information on a person — the names of parents, birthplaces, etc. — is to send away for a copy of the death certificate. I try not to do it too often, since it can cost a bit of money, but every once in awhile a branch on the family tree requires it.
Such is the case with my great-great grandfather, John Conner. I know the name of his father, also John, because he is living with the family in 1900 and is recorded on the federal census. However, trying to find where the family lived in Virginia and later Ohio is proving too elusive through other channels of research.
So I am forced to order a death certificate for John the Younger. Since I don’t know where John Senior died, I don’t want to risk sending money for nothing. I need more details on what happened to him. I’m assuming he died in Iowa, like his son, but who knows. Maybe he ended up living his last days elsewhere with another daughter or son.
But there’s no way around it at the moment, so I will have to find a notary, hopefully one willing to do it pro bono, and then send off a check or money order for $20. I haven’t written a check in ages.
I wonder what Grandma Goodell thought about Uncle Herman supporting the ACLU, or if she even knew about it. He is listed as H. A. Fromke. He often, like his younger brother Oscar, used his initials rather than his first name. The pamphlet was printed in September of 1921.
Anyone know anything about Everhard Ludwig Fromke? I sure didn’t until discovering his name a few days ago in the Castle Garden database. Given he shares my mother’s surname, I am interested to learn what I can. He arrived via the ship Sophia at Castle Garden in New York City on August 19, 1845. According to the ship manifest he was born around 1819 and hailed from Lingen in the province of Hanover, Germany. He was a bookbinder who planned on settling in St. Louis.
For a few years now I’ve made a point of trying to piece together my great-grandmother’s family by tracking down potential siblings.
One possible brother was Albert Lentz. I am convinced, after seeing an image of him online and the brief family pedigree someone added to Ancestry, that he is indeed an older sibling of my great-grandmother Augusta. He was born in 1842 in Prussia. A brief notice of his death appeared in the Los Angeles Times on March 31, 1921.
Albert married a woman named Wilhelmina Lange. She died in 1895 in Germantown, Codington County, South Dakota while giving birth. I don’t know if the child survived. He remarried at some point, and his second wife shared the same name, Wilhelmina. Her surname was Martins.
I will see what more I can find out about him. He may very well be the reason my great grandparents immigrated from Germany in 1887. He arrived years earlier. I will be looking up the details and sharing.
Sure enough, he certainly looks like her, though I have yet to get a decent photo of her uploaded for posterity. Those eyes and the nose. So alike. I am convinced the two are brother and sister based on their photos alone.
Yet, another clue is the family tree attached to his obviously poorly photocopied image of a photograph. It lists his parents as Henry Lentz and Marie Schenovsky, precisely the same name of the mother of Augusta my grandmother had jotted down years ago.
Henry, however, is something different. Our branch of the family has Augusta’s father listed as Ludwig Lentz, not Henry. I tend to think that Ludwig is probably the correct one. That’s not a common name to confuse. But who knows for sure until we can get more documentation.
The Schenovsky name, however, is a mistake that must flow from a common source. The actual name, after years of including Schenovsky in drafts of the family tree, I learned is Scharnofske. It’s easy to see how the name was bastardized.
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 was 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?
I’ve been going through the family tree yet again, searching for clues on how people I think may be related actually are.
One such source is obituaries, which with any luck will mention parents and places. I have been hunting for volunteers who do obituary look-ups.
North Dakota, where some of my Mom’s cousins lived, has a Public Death Index database worth searching, so I did, and discovered Julius E. Fromke.¹ He died on November 18, 1924 in Williams County at the age of 60, though no birth date is recorded. Doing the math, this means he was likely born in 1864, possibly 1865.
Yet, I don’t know who he is, where he belongs on the family tree. Who are his parents? Where was he born? There are many unanswered questions.
What makes this even more curious is that one of my grandfather’s middle names is Julius. How was Julius related to him?
1. Though a good resource, the North Dakota Public Death Index search requirements, methods of trying to prevent fraud, are cumbersome.