Category Archives: New York

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?


The Infamous “Dark Day” of 1780

Today I happened upon some background on a strange day in New England, back in 1780. May 19, 1780. It was a Friday.

A Dark Day PoemOn May 19, 1780, New Englanders awoke to find a murky haze drifting over the morning sun. An early twilight descended over the next few hours, and by noon, the skies had turned as black as midnight. Night birds sang and confused chickens retired to their roosts. People were forced to light candles to see. It would be centuries before scientists finally determined the cause of the otherworldly darkness, but at the time, many bewildered Americans feared that nothing less than the biblical “end of days” was at hand. Two hundred thirty-five years later, take a look back at the confusion and awe that greeted the infamous “Dark Day” of 1780.


Our Dutch Ancestors

Olivier van Noort, the first Dutchman to circumnavigate the world
Olivier van Noort, the first Dutchman to circumnavigate the world

There’s a reunion coming in July on my paternal grandmother’s side, so I have been prepping some history for the cousins.

My grandmother’s grandmother, my great-great grandmother, was a Van Note.

A group of us are on Facebook, which has been the primary medium recently for disseminating information on the reunion. I wrote a brief introduction to the surname.

“The Van Note name is Dutch in origin. Our Van Note ancestors were part of the New Amsterdam colony in New York and New Jersey. The name is an Anglicization of Van Noort. The name is sometimes spelled Van Oort. Olivier van Noort (1558 – 22 February 1627) was the first Dutchman to circumnavigate the world.”

I included two links to men with the name: Lambert van Noort and Olivier van Noort.


Bowling Shoes? Really?

A group of New York legislators is sponsoring a bill regulating bowling shoes.

“It would require alley owners to post signs, warning kegglers not to wear bowling shoes outside.”

Kegglers? What is a keggler? Never seen that word before. Of course, it might help to spell it correctly.

A person who bowls; a bowler.
[German, from kegeln, to bowl, from Kegel, bowling pin, from Middle High German kegel, from Old High German kegil, peg.]
The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition

So why the sudden interest in bowling shoes? Someone, somewhere got sued.

“The reason, alleys would be shielded from lawsuits filed by people who slip and fall on snow, ice and wet pavement outside in their bowling shoes.”


A Lack of Table Manners

But only what we tell you is acceptable to eat.
But only what we tell you is acceptable to eat.

Today The Telegraph of London published an article about Hitler’s vegetarianism. One of his taste testers, forced to eat any food for him to combat any attempts on his life, gave an insightful interview, providing some details.

One fact provided by the reporter I found fascinating, especially given the current climate in America about diet and obesity.

“In 1942, Hitler told Joseph Goebbels that he intended to convert Germany to vegetarianism when he won the war.”

So Hitler wanted to ban meat consumption in Germany? Or would his campaign have been less draconian and used gentle persuasion instead?

My theory is that Hitler at some point developed an obsession with death, with his own mortality. In his twisted, convoluted world, this became entangled with food coming from animals. He described broth derived from meat as “corpse tea.”

Does this remind anyone of current trends? Perhaps these movements are cyclical.

Besides the radicals in PETA and the ALF, who like Hitler have a confused idea of morality, I couldn’t help but think of Mayor Bloomberg banning large sodas from certain establishments within New York City and Michelle Obama’s efforts to rid items from schools.

Apart from gaining some insights into the modern-day food Nazis, I find Hitler and Germany fascinating subjects.

The taste tester, a German woman who is now 95, explained the routine, what Hitler ate and how it was prepared.

“It was all vegetarian, the most delicious fresh things, from asparagus to peppers and peas, served with rice and salads. It was all arranged on one plate, just as it was served to him. There was no meat and I do not remember any fish.”

Her profession, however, wasn’t something she chose.

“Of course I was afraid. If it had been poisoned I would not be here today. We were forced to eat it, we had no choice.”

Hitler wasn’t kosher at the dinner table. A German soldier described what he witnessed in his diary.

“Hitler eats rapidly, mechanically. He abstractedly bites his fingernails, he runs his index finger back and forth under his nose, and his table manners are little short of shocking.”

It all leads back to that false Aryan ideal.

“Hitler’s apparent enthusiasm for vegetarianism reflected the Nazi obsession with Aryan bodily purity.”

I thought I’d heard just about every crazy idea that the Nazis promoted. But, alas, I was wrong. There must be a deep treasure trove of these.

“A Hitler Youth manual from the 1930s promoted soya beans, which it called “Nazi beans” as an alternative to meat.”


Bound to Be

A young immigrant girl from Norway in traditional costume
A young immigrant girl from Norway in traditional costume

The story of a determined girl was reported in the April 10, 1887 issue of The New York Times. I discovered some details of her unique story while searching for information on my great grandparents, who arrived in the harbor off Manhattan, with two kids in tow, on April 9, 1887.

An insane girl named Kate Triarty arrived at Castle Garden by the steamship Schiedam on March 12. The Commissioners of Emigration sent her back by the same vessel. On April 2 she again landed at Castle Garden. She was sent back yesterday on the steamship Belgenland. When she was placed on that steamer she declared that she would yet become an American.

What’s another word for determination? Kate Triarty, the epitome of perseverance. I wonder what happened to her. Did she make it?


Man Overboard

On June 6, 1885, the agent of the United Hebrew Charities serving at Castle Garden, Bernard L. Jaworower, fell overboard while leaving the steamer George Starr as it was docked at the tip of Manhattan. I am wondering how often this happened, people falling into the waters while disembarking.


My source is the Cleveland Jewish News.

Adaline Fromke

Yesterday I read about a woman I’d never heard of before.1

Adaline Fromke was born on March 30, 1839 in Prussia. Could she be my great grandfather’s aunt? Adaline is of the same generation as my great grandfather’s parents, Carl Fromke and Caroline Radde. Is she Carl Fromke’s sister?2

She married a man named Lietzke. They came from Germany in 1881, first living in New York and then Nebraska. He died in 1911.

The information is from the History of Richardson County, Nebraska by Lewis C. Edwards.

William L. Lietzke, one of the well-known farmers of Arago precinct, this county, is a native of Germany, but has been a resident of this country since he was thirteen years of age and of Richardson county since he was seventeen, having come here with his parents in 1885, the family settling in the precinct of Arago, where he ever since has made his home. He was born in Prussia on October 25, 1868, son of Henry and Adaline (Fromke) Lietzke, also natives of Prussia, the former born on February 28, 1841, and the latter, March 30, 1839, who came to this country with their family in 1881 and settled in New York state, where they remained until 1885, in which year they came to Nebraska and settled in Arago precinct, this county. Henry Lietzke, bought a farm upon his arrival here and spent the rest of his active life farming. He died in 1911 and his widow is still living, now a resident of the village of Barada, where she is making her home with her daughter, Mrs. Heine. To Henry Lietzke and wife were born seven children, of whom the subject of this sketch was the fourth in order of birth, the others being as follow: Albert, who is still a resident of his native land; Charles, who is living at Syracuse, Xew York; Otto, of Shubert, this county; Mrs. Emma Portner, of Jefiferson precinct, this county; Mrs. Henrietta Heine, of Barada, and Mrs. Ahine ??ink, deceased.

As noted above, William L. Lietzke was thirteen years of age when he came to this country from Prussia with his parents and was seventeen when he came with them from New York state tn Richardson county. He completed his schooling in the schools of this county and remained at home, a —- help in the labors of the home farm, until his marriage in the summer of 1890, when he rented a farm in Arago precinct and began farming on his own account. In 1911 he bought his present farm of one hundred and twenty acres in section — that precinct and has since made his home there, he and his family being very comfortably situated. Since taking possession of that farm Mr. Lietzke has made numerous substantial improvements on the same and has a very well-kept farm plant and is doing well.

On July 30, 1890, William L. Lietzke was united in marriage to Bertha Fricke, who was born in this county on December 27, 1871, daughter of August and Dora (McKoel) Fricke, natives of Germany and pioneers of Richardson county and the latter of whom is still living, now a resident of Falls City, and to this union have been born six children, August, Walter, Bertha, Anna, Clarence and Dora, all of whom are at home. The Lietzkes are members of the Lutheran church and take a proper part in local church —- as well as in the general social activities of their home neighborhood.


1. This was from my search using Mocavo, which I wrote about yesterday.
2. The spelling of Carl in German is Karl, although my grandmother had it written as Carl.