Tag Archives: Pomerania

How’s your German? Or Polish? Or Kashubian?


I am trying to figure out just what the heck this document is and translating the information therein, which I am assuming is German. But who knows! Is it Polish? Or Kashubian, a Slavic language spoken and written by few? Do you know? I’d love to hear from you.

A distant cousin who lives in Switzerland posted it to a forum on Yahoo! Groups related to genealogy in a region of Europe known as Pomerania.

It is apparently about my great-great grandmother, Caroline Radde. (The file is named Caroline.R.) But I am having a heck of a time deciphering it.

If you can help, please don’t hesitate contacting me by commenting on this post or writing to me directly via email, hillaj@outlook.com. And thanks in advance for any assistance!




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


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

Ludwig of Gröbenzien


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.



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.


Fantastic! Discovering details on my great-great grandmother.


I wasn’t sure I’d ever find more information than what had been collected before me.

I began asking questions and taking notes on the family history in 1989, my first year of high school.

But the only info my mother had on her father’s grandparents were their names, and one was misspelled.

My maternal grandmother had them recorded as Carl Fromke and Caroline Rabe. Later, I learned that Rabe was incorrect. Her maiden name was Radde.

And now I know when she was born and when she died.


Name: Caroline Fromke
Maiden Name: Radde
Death Age: 49
Event Type: Sterbefall (Death)
Birth Date: 22 Januar 1830
[abt 1830]
Death Date: 27 Jul 1879
Death Place: Borntuchen, Preußen (Germany)
[Polen (Poland)]
Civil Registration Office: Borntuchen, Krs Bütow
Father: Michael Radde
Mother: Eva Radde
Certificate Number: 22

Western Pomerania

Yesterday I discovered a site dedicated to promoting Berlin to visitors. Included was an article on western Pomerania, the only part of that region still within Germany.

For hundreds of years, thousands of Germans would descend on the area for summer vacation. With its beautiful Baltic beaches and small forested lakes, it was popular to beat the heat and humidity of continental Europe by visiting Pomerania.


Kristallnacht in Bütow

Front page of The New York Times on November 11, 1938
Front page of The New York Times on November 11, 1938

In November of 1938, Nazis tried destroying the Jewish cemetery in Bütow (Bytów), the town where my great grandparents were married. It’s known as the Night of Broken Glass, or Kristallnacht. Recently, during restoration work in Bytów, matzevot (the Hebrew word for monument, but often translated as gravestone) lost during the violence and destruction of Kristallnacht have been rediscovered.

After seventy-three years, matzevot from the Jewish cemetery in Bytów, liquidated in 1938 by Nazi authorities, have been found. The fragments of Jewish tombstones had been placed under Bernarda Wery Street to fortify the road. The restored matzevot trace back to the 18th and 19th centuries and will be displayed at a special exhibition at the Muzeum Zachodniokaszubskie museum, which will present a history of the Bytów Jewish community. Museum workers hope that other matzevot and more remnants of the existence of Bytów Jews, who formed a big integrated community and made ca. 10 percent of the 19th-century Bytow population, are yet to be discovered.

Today, there is a playground at the site of the former Jewish cemetery in Bytow. Unfortunately, there is no information about the fact that it had been a Jewish cemetery prior to 1938.


Fromke, Framke, Froemke, Frumpke

Logging into one of many Ancestry.com 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.