Tag Archives: Germany

Gotthilf!

His complete name is Gotthilf David Siegfried Lentz.

Recently I visited a friend, a retired Methodist minister, who has been visiting her daughter in Seattle.

For years she lived and worked in Seattle. The family is from Vermont, and she spent much of her youth in Switzerland, where her father was stationed with the State Department, I think.

While we talking one evening, she mentioned my tweet. She was curious about the name. We figured out the God part, but didn’t get farther than that. So later I decided to use the Google, specifically Google Translate, and after learning the meaning of his name, I sent off a note to her.

Just learned that Gotthilf is ‘God’s help’ in English.”

And she promptly replied, after her return home to Portland via the Bolt Bus.

“That is fantastic…nice name.”

Get thyself on Twitter, Hager-Smith! And then ye may tweet me directly.¹

ajh

1. She is, or was, on Twitter, but hasn’t updated her account since 2014.

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Ludwig of Gröbenzien

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I’m so glad I’ve finally found a record of my great-great grandfather, Ludwig Lentz of Gröbenzien. Gröbenzien was a village in Germany, near the Polish border.

The images are from the Borntuchen church book, known in German as Kirchenbuch. This is the first time I’ve found Ludwig in any historical records. And there’s another unknown, his son Eduard. Most other surviving records from this branch of the family are in other church books.

I’ve included links to the image files of the complete record and the key at the top of the page.

_323ludwig_lentz

ajh

Fascinating stuff! Long-lost siblings of my great grandpa — in Germany.

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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.

ajh

Einwohner? Notes on German society in 1883, using my great grandpa as a case study.

GERMAN, A CHANGING LANGUAGE

Hmm. The only record that I’ve found of my great grandfather in Germany, which is a compliation of many sources I believe, lists his occupation in 1883. The German word is Einwohner.

Upon reading the word, I immediately began probling the tubes that make up the Internet to translate it, using everything from Google Translate to a hashtag on Twitter.

Not satisfied, I tried a mailing list on genealogy, geographic-specific, hosted by Yahoo and recvieved this wonderfully descriptive answer from Piotr Mankowski, resident of Nowogard, Poland, which was Naugard, Germany until World War II.

“Einwohner was a status and meant a person who rented or leased a flat or house in the village or town. In some cases, the person had to pay for the roof over his head by, for example, working for a day for the owner, especially if residing in the farmer’s house.”

Heniz Radde, who was born in a place called Gross Tuchen, which isn’t far from where my ancestors lived, and now lives in Switzerland, wrote a concise explanation.

“Today Einwohner means inhabitant and nothing else. But in the past, the word was in use for day laborer and very small farmer as well. Sometimes it was written Einlieger for the same.”

ajh

The Missing Fromke Brothers | Friedrich Wilhelm, Carl August & Emil Gustav

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.

On this chart, Albert continues to be listed as the first born, a detail which I’ve always ignored for some reason.

The second born, another male, is new to me. His name was Friedrich Wilhelm Fromke. He was born in 1861 Borntuchen, Kreis Bütow, Pommern, Prussia. He died two years later, in 1863.

The next child unknown to me was Carl August Fromke, born in 1866 in Borntuchen. That’s all the information recorded.

The last brother, new to me, was Emil Gustav Fromke, born in Borntuchen in 1875.

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.

ajh

Manhattan, 1887

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When my great grandparents landed at the Castle Garden immigration depot at the tip of Manhattan in 1887, this is what New York City looked like, at least on one street. It must have been exciting, traveling from the far reaches of Germany in Eastern Europe, likely visiting the cities of Stettin, Berlin and Bremen along the way, and ending up in New York City after crossing the Atlantic before setting out for their final destination, South Dakota.

ajh

Albrecht Alt? Never heard of him. He was a German Lutheran scholar of the Old Testament.

Albrecht was born on September 20, 1883, so he was roughly the generation of my grandfather or great grandfather, whose name was also Albert.

As a German Lutheran scholar of the Old Testament, Albrecht authored a book, Biblia Hebraica, with a fella named R. Kittel which “became the standard critical text of the Old Testament for Bible students.”

ajh

I’ve been wondering about the name August, the Germanic form of Augustus. It is prominent among my maternal grandfather’s family.

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Augustus II the Strong (German: August II. der Starke) | His great physical strength earned him the nicknames the Strong, the Saxon Hercules and Iron-Hand.

My great grandfather was Albert August Fromke. His younger brother was August L. Fromke. Albert’s wife was Augusta Wilhelmina Lentz.

I am hoping to learn about why this was such a strong tradition in Germany. There is many a German prince with the name and a few princesses too.

There’s Augustus the Strong, born in Dresden and elected King of Poland. There’s Augustus the Third, son of Augustus the Strong who also became King of Poland.

Then, there’s Augustus the Younger. He had the largest collection of books and manuscripts north of the Alps. There is Augustus d’Este, a grandson of King George III of Great Britain.

It all goes back to Augustus, Elector of Saxony. And, of course, before him, there was Rome. The first Roman emperor is known as Augustus.

ajh

At one point, the world witnessed fifty thousand deaths a day in World War I, totaling seventeen million by its end.

“ . . . the Great War, as it was initially called, sucked up lives at rate of almost 50,000 a day at one point. The Germans committed atrocities against civilians in Belgium, and reduced the Cathedral of Arras to rubble. The soil of Northern France, pockmarked with war craters, is all one big burial ground for lost souls — the graveyards you see, 410 military cemeteries, and the graveyards you don’t see.

When the war ended, after 17 million deaths worldwide, a headline in Britain’s Daily Mirror proclaimed: ‘Democracy Triumphs Over the Last of the Autocrats.’”

My great-great uncle was one of those 17 million.

ajh