DISCOVERING DISTANT COUSINS
SOME ALIVE, OTHERS LONG DEAD
It is always fun and exciting expanding the family tree. I have talked with cousins from around the world, from Australia to Germany. That is often thanks to this very blog. People find my notes on so-and-so, and then write to me.
Recently I learned about a man named Milczewski — Zygmunt Milczewski. It is such a rare surname that I am sure he is a distant cousin, so I am working on learning more about him and his work.
I have a Google Alert set up for that name. Every time the Google bots find something with that name included, I am alerted via email. I highly recommend using Google Alerts.
I am particularly interested in the ethnic diversity of where my ancestors lived in Germany, near the Polish border. There were many Jews, Poles, and Kashubians living among the Germans, or Germanized people, in the Bütow area, where my great-grandparents lived before emigrating to America.
One of the questions I want to answer: Is the Milczewski name German or Polish? I am guessing that it is Slavic and that through the years some with the name became more and more Germanized, including a few of my ancestors.
Great grandpa Albert had a sister I didn’t know about. Her name was Friederike Caroline Auguste Fromke. In English this translates as Fredericka. She was born on February 4, 1859. She married a man named Friedrich Johann Ferdinand Kowalke on April 11, 1882 in a place called Borntuchen in Germany. I haven’t been able to track down what happened to them.
In my pursuit of learning more about the family history, I discovered the names of three siblings — three brothers — of my great grandfather, a farmer born in Prussia who settled in South Dakota named Albert Fromke, which for some reason had been lost and not been passed down.
Oddly, another brother who also immigrated to America, August Ludwig Fromke, isn’t included on this family tree. He was born on 1873 and died in South Dakota in 1909. He relocated to California for a while, but did not like life there and returned to South Dakota.
I am convinced that my family, specifically my ancestor Maria Wolf, wife of Brazilla Van Note, is related to Frederick Wolf and his wife Barbara. They are probably her grandparents.
One of the key clues is the fact that Brazilla and Maria married in Wayne County, Indiana in 1844. This is where Frederick and Barbara’s son Jacob had settled with his wife and kids, as mentioned in the deed abstract above. Other family too were in Wayne County.
I’ve seen the name Barbary before, which confused me till a few days ago. I thought it may have been a man whose parents had an affliction for bizarre names. But now that I researched this family a bit, it’s obviously Frederick’s wife, who was named Barbara.
The missing connection is Maria’s parents. Her mother was named Elizabeth. Elizabeth was born in 1795, according to her gravestone, though the censuses have recorded varying years. She may have lied about her age or not known her birth date.
But her father has been elusive. I don’t know his name, other than Mr. Wolf. So I am hoping that if I dig into this family, plod through the tree and research, I may find some clues to connect, hopefully resulting in a name and some other details on Maria’s dad.
I have been tying branches of my grandmother’s family together and in so doing came upon this account of lightning striking a house.
“The house of Rev. Israel Hay, on Mechanic street, Fredericksburg, on Sunday afternoon was struck by lightning. The bolt struck the east gable end and for some distance tore up the ——–, and then descended down to the kitchen, playing sad havoc with the glass and chinaware.”
Finally I’ve come to understand who had taken in my great-great grandmother and her sister Stella after their parents had died young. It was their aunt, sister of their father, and her husband, James W. Harrison.
Sarah Jane Boal, daughter of William Boal and Anna Marie Shannon, had married Mr. Harrison in 1866. Her brother John Shannon Boal had married Ann Almeda Foster two years earlier. They had four daughters: Nettie, Jennie, Stella and Blanche. John’s wife died in 1874. He died four years later, in 1878.
So the kids were split up. Jennie and Blanche went to stay with the maternal grandparents, the Fosters, while Nettie and Stella went to live with their aunt Sarah Jane and her family.
For years I’d been wondering how the heck these Harrisons fit into the picture, and now I know.
I have been working on the family tree, literally, experimenting with an online site that makes charts using HTML, the web programming language. I have created a site using my Eastern Oregon University Google account. The first file starts with my grandfather, Raymond (Ray) Hill, and shows five generations of his ancestors, at least what I’ve been able to research so far. I’ll be doing Grandma’s side when I get a chance. And then the maternal family is next.