Category Archives: LENTZ

Immanuel Lutheran Church and Cemetery

Through the years I’ve asked my mother about the religion of her father’s family. They were German Lutherans. It gets a bit complicated because of theological and doctrinal questions which have led to church splits. I still haven’t sorted it out in my mind.

But yesterday, discovering that my great-great aunt and uncle were members of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Richland County, North Dakota has helped. The church was founded in 1884. It’s just south of Lidgerwood, near Elm Lake. There’s not much else around. It’s still a functioning church, with a congregation, and part of what’s called the Missouri Synod.1

They are buried in the cemetery across the road, Highway 18, from the church. The property may include a rather large parsonage. From what I’ve been able to see via satellite photos, Google Street View, and read online, it certainly appears to be the case.


1. The official name of the denomination is The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod. The other major group is the Wisconsin Synod.

Brothers and Sisters

I’d never given much thought to my great grandparents’ brothers and sisters. But I am hoping that finding them will help in the search for information on their parents. All I’ve had for years was names: Carl Fromke and Caroline Radde & Ludwig Lentz and Marie Scharnofske.

A few years back a couple in Montana contacted me about information the Radde family, with details and names going back several generations. Unfortunately, even with the new material, my maternal grandfather’s portion of the family tree is lacking. It’s full of holes.

Wars in Europe, particularly both world wars, devastated what records there were. Coupled with a lack of German political cohesion until very late in the game, 1871, and records are often problematic.

My mother mentioned a cousin, Julius Lentz, who would come and visit from time to time. So this got me to thinking about siblings of the older generations. I started poking around and found his parents, Herman L. Lentz and Pauline Fromke. Herman was the brother of my great grandmother, Augusta Wilhelmina Lentz. Pauline was the sister of my great grandfather, Albert August Fromke. My mom described Julius and a few others as “double cousins.”

I located the cemetery and church where Herman, Pauline and other family are buried using Google Maps and Street View. It’s great to see photos of the spot. And the church is still in use and it looks as if the cemetery is as well.


The Peasants and the Land in Pomerania

Ancestors on my mother’s side of the family were impoverished peasant farmers from Germany — before there was a Germany. They lived in a land dubbed Pomerania by the Romans. To the Germans it was known as Pommern.

While at Willamette University’s main library today, I picked up a copy of Germany from Napoleon to Bismarck 1800-1866 by Thomas Nipperdey. I quickly checked the index for the word Pomerania and found a few pages of material. I turned to the first ones, pages 136 to 138, and here’s what I discovered.

In 1855, in Pomerania, of the total surface of cultivable lands, 61.8 percent was in huge estates of more than 150 hectares, although properties this size were only 0.86 percent of the cultivable land in the entirety of Prussia. This was first place of all the nine provinces, likely signifying a large peasant class. Pomerania’s estates were disproportionately large compared to the rest of Prussia, averaging less than half of the cultivable land (45.70 percent). (I’ll include a table here based on the one in the book when I have more time to work on the coding.)

Another book I grabbed, but didn’t have time to get to today, was The Lands of Partitioned Poland, 1795-1918 by Piotr S. Wandycz. It’s volume VII (7) in series titled A History of East Central Europe. There appears to be some good information on Pomerania in this book as well.



Over the years I have founded a few groups and lists for genealogy research, and here’s the latest. I decided to start a mailing list at RootsWeb for the name Scharnofske. My grandmother had the name a bit mixed up. She had written it down as Schenovsky.

Here’s what I know about my Scharnofske relatives.

Marie Scharnofske (Schenovsky) married Ludwig Lentz. I don’t have any information on their parents, nor birth and death dates and locations. They did live in Gröbenzien, Pomerania, at least for a time. (This is now Rabacino, Poland.)

Their daughter Augusta was born in February of 1859 in Gröbenzien and married Albert August Fromke. They were married October 27, 1880 in Bütow. (Augusta and Albert are my great grandparents.)


Heinz Radde’s Site on Bütow & Pomerania

Heinz Radde, probably a distant relative, is a German man from the region of Pomerania. He currently lives in Switzerland. He has some great material on his site about the history and people of the area, including a timeline of major events. I am focusing on the 18th and 19th centuries because I am not sure when the Fromke family and other branches, such as the Lentz, Radde, Scharnofske, and Milczewski clans.

Here are some highlights:

1700. (13/5) Almost the entire town of Bütow is destroyed by fire.

1707-09. There are many victims of the plague in Bütow and Lauenburg.

1758. On the 24th of April during the Seven Years’ War 50 Cossacks appear before the castle in Bütow, but they are dispersed by a detail of dragoons from the von Platen Regiment. But Cossacks remain a scourge in Pomerania until 1762.

1772. The Prussian King Frederick the Great manages to finally end the sovereignty of Poland over Bütow and Lauenburg. From this time on he calls himself King of Prussia.

1773. On the 19th of December the Warsaw Treaty is signed, in which the part of Pomerellen belonging to the Teutonic Knight is returned from Poland to Prussia.

1773. Poland relinquishes its claim to Bütow and Lauenburg granted by the Bromberg Treaty on the 6th of November 1657, thus granting independence from Poland and coming firmly to Prussia.

1773. Lauenburg and Bütow are made part of the new Prussian province of West Prussia. The situation is complicated by the fact that while in matters of justice and church administration County Lauenburg-Bütow is West Prussian. But in matters of administration, business and finance it remains Pomeranian.

1777. Bütow and Lauenburg, on the 15th of May, are made into a single county, with its administration in Lauenburg.

1804. County Lauenburg-Bütow is returned to Pomerania completely.

1807. Kolberg in Pomerania is defended against Napoleon’s troops for six months until the Peace of Tilsit. It is the only city that remains out of Napoleon’s grasp. The Prussian commander is von Gneisenau, who receives critical assistance from Kolberg citizen, Joachim Nettelbeck.

1809. Hussar Major Ferdinand Baptist von Schill falls in street fighting in Stralsund. Schill had organized a volunteer army in Pomerania and had won fame for several spectacular attacks against Napoleon’s troops.

1812. Without the consent of the King of Prussia, Ludwig Count York von Wartenburg, who came from Gross Gustkow in County Lauenburg, as commander of the Prussian troops who are forced to support Napoleon’s campaign in Russia, signs the “Convention of Tauroggen” with the Russian troops. This is the beginning of the successful War of Liberation against Napoleon.

1817. King Friedrich Wilhelm III merges the Lutheran and Reformed Churches of Prussia.

1831. King Friedrich Wilhelm III imprisons dozens of Lutheran pastors who continue to conduct Lutheran services. Persons who attend these services are fined and punished. Those who remain faithful to the teaching of Martin Luther are called Old Lutherans. After forty years the Prussian government again legalizes the Lutheran Church in 1857.

1838. A group of Old Lutherans leave for Australia.

1839. A separate group, lead by Captain Heinrich von Rohr, leave for America. Some stop in the state of New York, but in October Captain von Rohr and forty families go on to Milwaukee in the territory of Wisconsin.

1839. Twenty families, led by Captain von Rohr, locate a few miles north of Milwaukee and form the first Lutheran church in Wisconsin. They call their settlement “Freye Stätte”, later corrupted to Freistadt. Other Old Lutheran congretations establish churches in Wisconsin, but Freistadt is the first.

1839-1843. About 3,000 Old Lutherans arrived in America, Wisconsin and Minnesota are going to be centers of Pomeranian settlement in America.

1844. A permanent half-timbered church is built in Freistadt, 1884 the present Trinity Church is built of limestone. 1977 a “Pommerscher Verein Freistadt” is established in order to observe the Pomeranian heritage.

1845. On the 9th of December Bütow and Lauenburg are again separate.

1867. The Imperial Chancellor, Prince Otto von Bismarck, who grew up in Pomerania, purchases Varzin Castle in County Rummelsburg, where he later retires.

1870. (18/8) In the decisive battle of the Franco-Prussian War at Gravelotte Pomeranian regiments bore the brunt of the fighting and, in spite of heavy casualties, contributed significantly to the Prussian victory. This is memorialized to this day in the Memorial Hall of Gravelotte.

1919. (28/6) The Versailles Peace Treaty is signed. This follows the creation of what is known as the Polish Corridor. Pomerania is cut off from its natural markets in West Prussia. The result is complete economic destruction on both sides of the border, which is now 7.5 kilometers nearer. Pomerellen now belongs entirely to Poland.

1919-1924. There is hunger in agricultural Pomerania. Grocery stores are plundered. Conditions gradually improve until 1939.

1932. Pomerania, with its Baltic Sea resorts, developed into the leading German tourist area.

1933. On the 30th of January President Hindenburg names Adolf Hitler to be chancellor. Beginning of the Third Reich, which ends in total capitulation after nearly six years of war on the 8th of May 1945.

1938. The remaining border counties of Posen and West Prussia; Schlochau, Flatow, Deutsch-Krone, Schneidemühl, Netzekreis, Arnswalde and Friedeberg are joined to Pomerania. With these additions Pomerania now has the greatest land area of its history.

1945. Pomerania becomes the bridgehead for millions of refugees who are rescued in bitter cold by the German Navy and Merchant Marine. In the last 115 days of the war at least two million Germans are rescued in 500 Navy and Merchant Marine vessels, at least a half million of whom are wounded soldiers. Soviet submarines torpedo countless passenger ships and tens of thousands drown in the icy Baltic Sea. All who do not escape by sea attempt to leave in wagon caravans or by railway. Pomerania is now overrun by the Red Army. Between the 6th and 10th of March the eastern Pomeranian towns of Bütow and Lauenburg are occupied. Entire streets go up in flames. Many citizens decide to end their own lives out of fear of the Soviet cruelties they have heard about from refugees.

1945. (4-11/2) Yalta Conference. Setting up of the Oder-Neisse Line. Everything to the east that is German goes either to Poland or to Russia.

1945. (17/7 – 2/8) Potsdam Conference. Authorizes the forced evacuation of all members of the German population to the east of the Oder-Neisse Line. They are transported to the west in cattle cars, often without food and water, and must suffer the same cruelties that Germans had visited on Jews and other unwanted people. The number who die in their misery must be more than two million, but has never been calculated. Half-hearted protest by the western powers have no effect on this forced evacuation.

1946-47. Pomerania east of the Oder river and Stettin is now emptied of its German inhabitants. The villages and towns are now inhabited by Poles who, at least partly, come from areas of White Russia where they were themselves deported. The difference is that, while the Germans are sent into uncertainty the Poles move into furnished residences..

1970. (7/12) German-Polish Treaty, known as the “Warsaw Treaty”, in which the present boundary is recognized by both sides as permanent. With that Pomerania (after more than 700 years) is no longer a German province. Only the part to the west of the Oder River, with the exception of a small strip around Stettin, now is a part of the new Mecklenburg-Vorpommern in Germany.