Category Archives: LENTZ

Herman, Pauline & Family

Herman Lentz and Pauline Fromke pose for a photo with their children.
Herman Lentz and Pauline Fromke pose for a photo with their children.

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.

Herman Lentz as a younger man.
Herman Lentz as a younger man, possibly his engagement photo.

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.


Last Resorts

An obituary notice for my great grandmother, Augusta Lentz Fromke, who was born and confirmed in Germany. It gives quite a lot of detail that I hadn’t learned elsewhere.

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.

The process in Iowa for ordering a death certificate is a bit strange, in my opinion. Requests must be notarized. Very odd, indeed, for a descendant researching the family tree. A bit excessive. If Grandpa Fromke was still among us, I’m sure he’d be willing to do it for me.

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.


Mora, Minnesota


I forgot to mention that the photocopy of a photograph of my great-great uncle that someone found on Ancestry is dated 1905. The place is Mora, Kanabec County, Minnesota. He is listed on the 1905 census of Minnesota as a resident. Ironically, it’s not far from Duluth, which I visited with my nephews and niece and their mother in 2013, after a trip to South Dakota for a family reunion.¹

According to the 1900 and 1920 censuses, he arrived in America in 1869, first settling in Herman, Dodge County, Wisconsin. I wonder what encouraged him to come. And why Wisconsin?


  1. Why she wanted to visit Duluth I still don’t understand, but we went. It was a crazy drive. She likes to multitask and drive fast, making for a nervous uncle.

More on Brother Albert

albert_lentzFor 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.


From Prussia To Los Angeles

Albert Lentz, older brother of my great-grandmother Augusta. He was born in 1842 in Prussia and died in 1921 while living in Los Angeles.

I was pleasantly surprised to learn, after someone sent me a response to a query I made, that someone had uploaded an image of a man I thought likely to be a brother of my great-grandmother. Unfortunately, the pic didn’t make it as a PDF attachment via email, only the very left portion of it. So, I went hunting for it myself on Ancestry. Thankfully, it didn’t take much effort.

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.


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?



A friend of mine is thinking about volunteering in Switzerland next year. Despite living there as a kid, she wants to brush up on her German.

On Facebook today, she was asking if anyone had a copy of the Rosetta Stone language program, German edition, something I’d love to have myself. Since my grandfather’s parents emigrated from Germany and the family tree is full of German ancestors, I want to learn the language.

Years ago, I discovered a poem, the Hymn of Pomerania, and wanting to translate it, I contacted the man who taught German at my high school. I never took a class with him. He had since retired, but his wife worked at the college I was attending, so we met there.

He went through it line for line, word for word with me, translating it. He introduced me to the concept of words being melded together to form extremely complex and long compound ones.

But since then, unfortunately, my cursory German studies have been overwhelmed, by duties and obligations and life. I really wanted to take some classes in college, but it was only offered every other year, and then outright eliminated during a round of budget cuts. Instead, I took two terms of French.

My friend’s post has inspired me again. I started poking around online, looking for German language learning resources. The BBC has some material.

“German is considered a difficult language to study by English learners, with its long and winding words . . . ”

It’s those compound words again!

“German is a very descriptive language. Nouns, especially, often combine the object with the activity.”

Look at the word for vacuum cleaner: der Staubsauger. It consists of the noun Staub, meaning dust, and the verb saugen, meaning to suck. Thus, the literal translation of the word is dustsucker! Reminds me of Sergio Leone’s Duck, You Sucker! Gotta love any language that merges words with such aplomb.

I still want to study German in a class setting. Makes it so much easier. So, here’s to me learning German, the language of my forefathers.


April of 1873

Augusta Lentz Fromke Obit Files
So Great Grandma Fromke was baptized at the Evangelical Lutheran church in Bütow and confirmed there in April of 1873. Hmmm. I wonder what else I can glean from these assorted records. She was 14 years old at the time of her confirmation.

Geo-politically, it was an interesting period. Bismarck, imperial chancellor, had apparently been stripped of his role as prime minister of Prussia in January of 1873. This would last until November, when he somehow managed to regain it.

Locally, it was a very tolerant place, with many Catholics and Jews.

“In the eastern, rather newer parts of the province, in the districts of Bütow and Lauenburg, which had not been part of the Duchy of Pomerania during the Reformation, the Catholic faith had survived.”

It must have been a lively community, with all sorts of influences, including Slavic.

Not being part of Pomerania during the Reformation is news to me. I find this factoid peculiar since learning about Szimón Krofey, a pastor who came to Bütow in 1579 spreading Luther’s ideas. How long the Lutheran church had been established I don’t know. It probably had not been very long.


Two German Grandmothers, Friends & Confidantes

“It’s the friends you can call up at 4 a.m. that matter.”
Marlene Dietrich

In January of 2006 I received a message from a woman in Brownsville, Texas. Thankfully I archived copies for future reference.

Her note was fascinating. She included details about my great grandmother and how her family had been friends with mine, even before immigrating to America.

Back in Germany they likely attended church together. Remarkably her ancestors even moved again after settling down, from Wisconsin to South Dakota, to be nearby, according to her note. What’s another 400 miles after crossing the Atlantic and half a continent?

My great grandmother delivered her grandmother’s children. They must have been very close. Thousands of miles and innumerable difficulties could not keep these two women apart.

Mr Hill,

You mention [the name] Fromke i[n] your message. I have then name in my family. My grandmother was from Morgenstern. [S]he went to the Evangelical church in Borntuchen. My Grandfather was from Borntuchen, [K]reis Buetow. [The] Fromke’s came to America around 1895 [and] moved to South Dakota. My grandparents moved from Wausau, Wis[consin] to be near them. Mrs Fromke delivered my grandmother’s babies. I can’t remember their first names but I can research South Dakota records and find out. My grandmother’s maiden name was POCH or POOCH. She used POCH in her obituary. I also have some pictures taken back then I don’t know who the people are but am sure it is [the] Fromke‘s kids. Let me hear from you. Delores Bryan. Right now we are in Brownsville, Texas for the winter . . .

Delores mentioned some old photographs. I didn’t think much about it at the time. Looking through these old notes I realized my oversight and tried writing her again. Unfortunately, the email address was out of date. Using Google and other search tools, I tried to find her. But to no avail.

So I had to give it up. Until, that is, about a week ago, when she wrote to me again after reading a message I sent to a genealogy mailing list. So, we are in contact once again.

She has promised to mail me the photos, so that I can compare and contrast with the photos our family has. I am looking forward to seeing them.

Delores is now 88. I hope to be able to meet her in person one of these days.


Albert Fromke’s Farm

The house on my great grandparent's farm, where my grandfather was born, as it was in 1988.
The house on my great grandparent’s farm, where my grandfather was born, as it was in 1988.

While on my trip to South Dakota this summer, a cousin of my mother stopped by my aunt’s house in Watertown while I was staying there. She brought a hefty notebook along full of family photos and history. Included were some snapshots of the old homestead, where my great grandparents farmed and where my grandfather was born. She had gone there in 1988 with camera in hand, thankfully. I have been told that none of the buildings remain now. I am not sure of its location, but I will dig around some more.