Category Archives: SCHARNOFSKE

Maria Emilie Auguste Scharnofske


I’m trying to find someone to translate this from German for me. I will be circulating a request on various forums.

I did a search on Ancestry of my great-great grandmother’s name, Marie Scharnofske, and discovered a marriage record for another woman named Maria Emilie Auguste Scharnofske.

Morgenstern on the map.She was born on 10 November 10th, 1886 and in 1917 married a man named Friedrich Paul Eichelbaum during the fighting of the First World War.

What is of particular interest to me is the repeated mention of Morgenstern and what appears to be the word Bütow. Morgenstern, translated into English as Morning Star, is the name of a small village in Pomerania, in the county of Bütow, where my great grandparents attended church.

Charlottenburg, where they registered the marriage, is, according to Wikipedia, “an affluent locality of Berlin.”



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 Wends

A painting of Danish Bishop Absalon destroying the idol of Slavic god Svantevit
A painting of Danish Bishop Absalon destroying the idol of Slavic god Svantevit

The Wends, or Wenden in German, is a word used to label the Slavs who lived in eastern Europe near the German frontier. Some moved into German territoryA crusade was directed against them in 1147.

The Encyclopedia of the Middle Ages has some intriguing details.

The designation Wenden (Veneti) is a Germanic term used from the 6th century to designate the Slavs. The name Veneti was applied to the Slavs by a non-Slav group established between the Slavs and the Germans (this term may be related to Venezia, Venice). The term Wenden, later applied to the Slavs, was maintained longer, especially in the German Empire and in the regions affected by the colonization of the East. In the 15th century, the term was used to name some towns situated in the east, like Lübeck, Hamburg, Lüneburg, Rostock, Wismar and Stralsund, the “Wendish towns”. The expression “Wend land of Hanover” (Hannoversches Wendland) is still current to designate an eastern part of the Land of Lower Saxony, bordering the left bank of the Elbe, where snatches of Slav languages were still spoken in the 18th century. Later, the term “Wends” was used to designate the Slavs who lived in the German Empire during the Middle Ages.

I once thought that one of my branches of the family tree was Slavic, probably Polish. My maternal grandmother had recorded one surname as Schenovsky. Marie Schenovsky was her husband’s — my grandfather — maternal grandmother.

The -ky ending indicated this family was Jewish. Of course, it could also be spelled with the -ki ending, Schenovski, so until I could confirm the name in records, I wasn’t sure. For a few years I looked through many sources hunting for Schenovsky and any variants, including during a visit to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.

Every since seeing this name, I was curious about Germans and Poles, Lutherans and Jews, intermarrying. What was life like near the borders of these populations? Did these differing groups get along? Did they mingle together? Were cultural traditions shared and blended? Or did the people stay apart, cloistered together among their own? I still haven’t answered these questions, how these relate to my ancestors.

Another researcher, one of my mother’s cousins, then sent me some material on the family. She had the name written down as Scharnofske. Although I am apparently without any Slavic heritage, I find the peoples and history of eastern Europe fascinating, particularly interaction with the Germans and the Norse. Hence, my interest in the Wends.

The Wends immigrated to a region situated between the Oder and the Elbe-Saale, mainly during the second half of the 6th century and in the 7th century (North-Western Slavs or Elbe Slavs). On numerous occasions, they crossed the Elbe-Saale line towards the west. They also penetrated the Danube region as well as the Northern Pre-Alps in the 7th and 8th centuries (Alpine Slavs).

The Wends were not monolithic.

The Wendish immigrants came from various regions, had different religious, cultural and economic traditions and spoke different dialects. This was why federations of tribes or of parts of the Empire were formed only with difficulty. In the 9th century, the Moravian Empire was formed, and at the same time appeared the kingdom of Bohemia which kept going for longer. In the region between the Elbe and the Oder appeared various Slav peoples. In present Holstein and western Mecklenburg, it was the Obodrites who, in the 11th and 12th centuries, formed a most important kingdom, which even the duke of Saxony, Henry the Lion, could not permanently subdue. To the east, we find the Liutizes, who brought their tribes together in the 10th and 11th centuries in the union of Liutizes, whose sanctuary was in an ill-identified place, Riedegost-Rethra. What is now Pomerania was peopled by the Pomeranians. Further south, in the continental region of modern Brandenburg, were the Heveles. Finally, the Sorabes were mostly fixed in modern Saxony.

Many Slavs were part of German culture, sometimes not willing.

A fraction of the Wends was integrated until the 10th century in the eastern part of the Frankish Empire, as well as in the German Empire and its advanced Eastern marches. Between 983 and 1066, the Slavs of the northern Elbe revolted and swept away the German rule that was exercised over them. Not until the 12th and 13th centuries, in connection with the colonization of the East, were they durably reintegrated into the territories of the German Empire. The Slav towns adopted German law, e.g. the law of Lübeck or the law of Magdeburg. The princely dynasty of the Obodrites, founded in the 12th century by Niklot, reigned until 1918.

There is another distinct minority group, the Kashubs, near where my family lived in Pomerania. The area known as Kashubia is named for them. The Sorbs are another.


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.



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.