Category Archives: RADDE


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.



The Pastor in Bütow

Wittenberg, Germany in the time of Martin Luther
Wittenberg, Germany in the time of Martin Luther

My mother’s family had been German Lutherans for more than a hundred years, probably much longer. Unfortunately I haven’t found many German records of my ancestors beyond the late 19th century.

However, today I came across the name of one of the pastors in the major town in the area where my ancestors lived. The family, my family, may have lived there for centuries.

His name was Szimón Krofey.1 He was born in 1545 in the village of Dampen, not far from the villages of my ancestors.

His father, the mayor of Dampen, sent Szimón off to the university at Wittenberg, where Martin Luther had entered as a student and never left. Luther became a professor and figurehead of the university.

Despite Luther’s death in 1546, the year after Szimón’s birth, his remarkable influence upon Wittenberg, the university and Northern Europe also extended to Szimón personally. In 1579, upon finishing his studies, Szimón returned to his roots, becoming pastor of the Lutheran church in Bütow.

When and how my ancestors converted isn’t known. I assume they were Christians, Catholics, who became Lutherans. Did Reverend Krofey have something to do with it?

More than three hundred years later, in 1880, my great grandparents were married in that very Lutheran church in Bütow.


1. Sometimes his name is translated as Simon or Shimon Krofey, which looks Jewish to me. (Think Shimon Peres.) It is the Hebrew form of Simon or Simeon. In Kashubian, it is Szëmón Krofey.

Understanding the Junkers

While in the Suzzallo library browsing the stacks, I discovered a book which is turning out to be a great find.

The Great Elector by Derek McKay has details on Pomeranian society that are extemely useful in helping me understand my ancestors and their experiences. The book title refers to Frederick William of Prussia and Brandenburg.

It was a brutal life. The leading classes were callous.

In sections of Chapter 5 titled The Junkers and The Peasantry, McKay goes into expert detail on the situation.

First, he explains the Junkers and the very origins of the word.

The nobility of the lands east of the River Elbe sprang from a mixture of native Slavs landowners and German colonists and soldiers who had settled there in the late middle ages. As many of the newcomers were the younger sons of German nobles, they were called Junkers (Junk-herre) or young lords. By the sixteenth century these Junkers dominated Brandenburg, Pomerania and East Prussia, at the same time as the influence of their princely overlords had declined.

The Reformation was a pivotal period. Family members were practicing Lutherans into the 21st century. Catholic churches were converted to Lutheran ones. Ironically, this would happen in reverse at the end of World War II: Lutheran churches and cemeteries became Catholic.

The Lutheran Reformation and the resulting confiscation of church property benefited the Junker nobility rather than the chronically indebted princes. Although most ecclesiastical land went to the crown – the electors owned a third of Brandenburg and the dukes two-fifths of East Prussia – the best came into Junker hands, either directly or on favourable long leases.

Who are the the electors? I’ve always wondered about the use of this descriptor. According to Wikipedia, Frederick William was known as “The Great Elector” (Der Große Kurfürst) because of his military and political abilities.

Princes and royalty were not absolute monarchs, however.

But noble power not only profited from the decline of the princes and collapse of the Catholic church, it also benefited from a parallel downturn in urban fortunes. As the towns’ political influence slipped (Königsberg was the exception till the second half of the seventeenth century), the burghers could no longer enforce their monopoly over industry and trade. Instead the Junkers bypassed the towns, exporting their own agricultural goods and importing directly what they needed. This commercial role of the Junkers coincided with burgeoning profits from an expansion of manorial farming.

It is sad to read how backwards German society was. No wonder so many sought new lives elsewhere, some going east to Russia and others heading west to the Americas.

From the fifteenth century a contracting population in north-east Germany and Prussia had made it difficult for the lords to live off peasant rents, unlike in the more populated regions of the German south and west. They turned instead to managing directly parts of their estates, the manorial lands (the demesne), and forcing their peasant tenants into bondage, tying them to the soil and enforcing labour services of two or more days a week. These labour services and other dues were regarded as assets of an estate, having a monetary value when it was sold.

I am wondering how this was different from feudalism during the Middle Ages. It sure doesn’t appear that society had progressed much.

This system, known as Gutswirtscschaft (literally, manorial economy), where the manors functioned as self-contained economic units, was accompanied by the princes’ abandoning judicial and taxation control of the peasantry to the Junker lords.

Direct Junker authority (Gutsherrschaft) over the rural population allowed them to regulate who occupied peasant lands and to force the peasants to ask permission to marry or to move. Moreover, to ensure a cheap, steady supply of manorial servants, young peasants not immediately needed on the family farms had to work for their lords for a couple of years at low wages (Gesindezwangsdienst). This manorial economy, based on what Marxist historians called ‘the second serfdom’, was found in varying degrees throughout Europe east of the River Elbe and the Bohemian mountains, but also in most of Brandenburg west of the Elbe.

By enserfing their peasant tenants and directly farming their own manorial lands, the Junkers during the sixteenth century took full advantage of western Europe’s growing appetite for agricultural goods, particularly grain, but also timber, wool, hemp, flax and hides.


Stagecoaches in Pomerania in 1811

Heinz Radde, a man of German descent born in Pomerania who now lives in Switzerland, has just sent information on a map he recently discovered. The map is of the stagecoach (postkutschen) network in Pomerania in 1811, during the Napoleonic era.

Heinz is likely a distant cousin of mine. We are both subscribers to a mailing list about Pomerania and genealogy. He described the map as showing the “public transport by stagecoaches in Pomerania.”

It’s interesting that certain bigger towns, especially in Eastern Hinterpommern — for example, Rummelsburg —
had no connection at all.

I imagine this might be the way my great grandparents took to get to their ship in Bremen to immigrate to America in 1887. I don’t know if they would have had the money for a train nor if a passenger or other train reached some place nearby Kreis Bütow.

Anyone interested in this time period, with Napoleon on the scene, should read about Baron vom Stein.


Heinz lists his source as “Post- und Reisehandbuch für Deutschland…”, Verlag Steinersche Buchhandlung, Nürnberg 1811.

Herman & Pauline

Here’s what I found on Saturday while researching at the public library using I decided to delve into the lives of Herman Lentz and Pauline Fromke.

Information from the 1930 census has that Herman immigrated in 1883, but I am having a hard time finding him in any of the databases. There should be a record of some kind, a passenger manifest or something.

Pauline immigrated in 1886 or 1887. I am assuming it was actually 1887, although the 1900 census has it as 1886. In 1900, they were farming in Mazeppa, Grant County, South Dakota. This is where my great grandparents, Albert Fromke and Augusta Lentz, were living as well.

Pauline and Herman were both 25 years old when they married in 1889. They owned their house in 1930. It was valued at $1500.

He was born in January of 1864. She was born in September of 1865. Her middle initial is sometimes recorded as K. or H. From what I recall it is actually H. What her complete middle name is I am not sure, perhaps Henrietta or something.

They had a child named Oscar. Oscar was a popular name in the family. My grandfather and his first cousin shared the name. So there were at least three in the family named Oscar. This leads me to believe there is likely an ancestor named Oscar, perhaps Carl Fromke’s father or grandfather.

A Pauline Frommke, mistakenly transcribed as Pauline Frominke, arrived in Baltimore on April 19, 1887 from Bremen on the ship Donau, precisely ten days after Albert and Augusta Fromke with two children, Emil and Ottilie, arrived in America, on April 9. I think they were in quarantine for three days, presumably leaving New York City on April 12. The passenger manifest lists her age as 21, which matches the birth year, 1865, of Pauline Lentz.

So in compiling siblings, I have Pauline, and her brothers August and Albert, children of Carl Fromke and Caroline Radde. Then, there’s the Lentz family. I’ve only got two names: Herman and Augusta, children of Ludwig Lentz and Marie Scharnofske.

Herman and Pauline are buried in the Immanuel Lutheran cemetery in North Dakota, not far from the state line with South Dakota.


1. There is a different Herman Lentz, who was born May 24, 1864 in Stettin, Germany. A court in Fargo granted him citizenship on August 30, 1944, at the age of 80. I know it’s not Herman Lentz, son of Ludwig, because he died in 1936.

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.


Fromke, Framke, Froemke, Frumpke

Logging into one of many accounts to access free Civil War records, I noticed someone had sent me a message. It was regarding a family with my mother’s family name Fromke. They lived in Pottangow, Pomerania, while my ancestors lived to the south, about 50 kilometers away, in Borntuchen and Grobenzien.  (I can never remember my user name, so I have multiple ones. How many I don’t know.)

My great grandmother was a Fromke, daughter of Ferdinand Fromke and Louise Rade. The family came to America 20 Nov 1883. The family consisted of Ferdinand b.abt 1821, Louise b. abt 1831, Albert b. abt 1861, Ernestine b. abt 1865, Rudolf b. abt 1869 and Minna b.abt 1879. The ship was the Albano. The residence for the family is Pottangow, Pommern. Another daughter, Caroline came with daughter, Meta, about 1882. Caroline was married to Ferdinand Plinske. The families settled in Monona county, Iowa. My great grandmother, Ernestine married in Onawa, Iowa. Her first marriage was to August Plinske on 10 Jul 1886. On the marriage certificate her parents are listed as Ferdinand Framke and Luise Rache. She was born in 1864 in Ulingen, Germany. August died 29 Aug 1887. Their son Max was born in Sept of that year. Her second marriage was to William Koch on 23 Nov 1888 on this marriage certificate her parents are Ferdianand Framke and Louise Rade. Her mother Louise and brother Rudolf are listed on the 1895 census for Onawa, Iowa and also on the 1900 census for Onawa, Iowa. On the 1900 census Louise is a widow, mother of 8 children, 4 living in 1900. I found, who I believe to be their son Albert died 03 Nov 1886. He was a single farmer born Germany. So, I know 3 of the four living children; Caroline married to Plinske, Ernestine married to Cook (Koch) and Rudolf living with his mom. Have no idea if Minna is alive or dead or the names of the other children. I did note the Fromke families living in the Onawa area and wondered about a connection. Fromke is not that commo[n] a name. I probably have given you more information than you want but if you have any connecting threads in your research please let me know.

What’s really interesting is the surname of Ferdinand Fromke’s wife, Rade. I am a descendant of Carl Fromke and Caroline Radde. I am confident our Fromke branches are related, but is there another connection via the Radde family?

Note that Pottangow is now Potęgowo, Poland. Borntuchen is Borzytuchom, and Grobenzien is Rabacino.


My Great-Great Uncle August L. Fromke

My great-great uncle August L. Fromke was born in August of 1873 in Germany. After immigrating to South Dakota in 1887, he married Anna L. Radtke, probably in 1898. She was born in April of 1875 in Wisconsin. In 1900, they were living in Grant County, South Dakota, near August’s brother, Albert August Fromke, my great grandfather.  (Their parents were Carl Fromke and Caroline Radde.)

Their son had the same name as my grandfather, Oscar. He was known as Oscar F. Fromke while my grandfather was Oscar J. Fromke. Sadly my grandfather, Oscar Julius, died at the age of 76, before I had a chance to know him, while his cousin, Oscar Friedrich, died in 1995 at the ripe old age of 96.

August died in 1909 on October 26. I don’t know where he was buried. In 1910, Anna, listed on the census as a widow, and the kids were living in Twin Brooks, Grant County, South Dakota. Anna remarried in 1922. (She was 47 and married Herman Nehls, age 56, on May 4th in Ferney, Brown County, South Dakota.)

(I plan on taking a look at August’s death certificate to confirm all of this.)


The Thun & Milczewski Families

The Bütow area in the Late Middle Ages
The Bütow area in the Late Middle Ages

A few years back a couple from Montana, John and Liesel Hingst, came across some of my genealogy queries and sent me a lot of information on my mother’s ancestors, most of which I’d never known.

The Hingsts had been working on an English translation of a book on Kreis Bütow. (Kreis Bütow was a county in Germany before its demise after World War II. It’s where many of my maternal ancestors lived.)

The book was printed in 1938, during the Nazi era. The Library of Congress has a copy of the original book, in German, which I checked out via interlibrary loan when I was a student at Portland State University. There are copies in various libraries and institutions in the United States and several in Germany. Later, John and Liesel mailed me their translation and notes, along with some journals related to research in Pomerania.

Georg Thun, born about 1678 in Gersdorf, Pomerania, Prussia, Germany, is the earliest ancestor identified on the German side of my mother’s family. Gersdorf is now Ząbinowice, Poland.

Georg Thun had a son also named Georg. He was born about 1720 in Bernsdorf and died 28 November 1792. His mother is unknown. This son married Maria Zurr on 29 June 1751. Maria was born 17 February 1737 in Hygendorf and died 17 April 1788. Her father, Michael Zurr, was born about 1711, also in Hygendorf. Hygendorf is now Udorpie, Poland while Bernsdorf is now Ugoszcz.

Maria and Georg then had a daughter, also named Maria. She was born 18 January 1767 in Petersdorf. Maria Thun married Johann Milczewski. Their daughter Eva Christiane Milczewski was born 31 August 1800 in Borntuchen, Pomerania and married a man named Michael Radde. Michael and Eva Christiane were the parents of my great-great grandmother Caroline Radde, who married Carl Fromke. (Petersdorf is now Mokrzyn and Borntuchen is Borzytuchom.)

Here’s a message John sent me at the end of May 2006:

Here’s what I can offer as to the probable convergence of our MILSCHEWSKI/MILCZEWSKI lines:
I am descended from Martin, who was born ca 1755 and resided at Mangwitz in 1780, through his son Michael who married Anne Catherine SCHISCHKE and also lived at Mangwitz.
Your Eva Christiane (born 31 Aug 1800 at Borntuchen) was a daughter of Johann (born ca 1766) and wife Maria Thun (born 18 Jan 1767 at Petersdorf, which is very close to Mangwitz). Maria’s parents were Georg Thun and Maria Zurr.
Could Martin and Johann have been brothers? One amateur researcher makes them both the sons of Jakob MILCZEWSKI (born 9 Feb 1733 at Wobesde, Kreis Stolp) and Dorothee Maria JAKOB, who owned land at Bedlin and Lindow in Kreis Stolp. However, I have been unable to find reliable evidence of this information. Do you have anything to prove or refute this?
This Jakob (1733) was the son of Johann MILCZEWSKI (born 1697, died 3 Apr 1763 at Wobesde) and wife Katherine Judith von KNUTH (died 2 Mar 1758 at Wobesde). This interests us only if the report regarding Jakob turns out to be true.
The cradle of the widespread MILCZEWSKI clan, both the Catholic and the Lutheran branches, apparently was the village of Milczewo, Kreis Karthaus, Westpreussen. This is located about 15 km NW of Karthaus and about 20 km SE of Lauenburg. But since the name Milczewo translates from the Polish as “mixed hardwood grove”, there may have been other locations so named and not appearing on my detailed maps or the published gazetteers. In any case, I can’t link any of the aforementioned people to any specific person bearing the name who came from Milczewo.
If you’ve got any confirmation, addition, refutation, or speculation regarding any of the above, I would greatly appreciate it. Regards, John


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.