I happened to be working at the Lutheran Heritage Center & Museum yesterday along with my buddy, Gerard Fiehler. We had finished assisting some guests from Illinois and North Dakota who had come to see our museum. I had already completed yesterday’s post and then began looking for a story for today. That process led to a discussion between Gerard and me that lasted well over an hour. In the end, I think we solved a problem we found in our German Family Tree, however a few other questions were never resolved. I decided to describe the places where our discussion took us.
The first place I decided to look for a special event that took place on this date was the Saxon Lutherans Genealogy site which can be accessed by clicking on this link: https://zionrootsgenealogy.org/tree/saxons. On that site, I found that Caroline Franke was born on August 11, 1839. The year, 1839, always catches my attention because it was the year when the German Lutherans arrived in Perry County, so I decided to take a look at her information on that site. Below is a portion of what I found.
I immediately recognized Caroline because I saw that her husband was Christoph Mueller. I remember writing his story quite a while ago. That post was titled, Christoph in the Cavalry. That was written in 2017, and I figured I could find additional information about this couple if I decided to write about them again. I began researching Caroline Franke. I first found that there was a passenger list that included her, so I looked at that list. Her family made the voyage across the Atlantic Ocean in 1850 aboard the ship, Bremen.
This passenger list has all the looks of a father travelling with 4 of his children. No wife is included. If that was the case, where is the Johanna Grau that is said to be Conrad Franke’s wife on the Saxon Lutherans Genealogy page, who died in 1893? While looking at different Franke family trees on Ancestry.com, there didn’t seem to be much agreement on the names of the children of Conrad Franke, and at the same time, most of them gave the surname of his wife as Hecht, not Grau. Plus, the information shown earlier only lists one child for Conrad.
Somewhere along the line in our discussion, we discovered that there were two census entries for Conrad Franke in the 1870 census. One of them is found showing him living in Caroline and Christoph’s family in the Apple Creek Township. Conrad was 75 years old in this entry.
The other entry in the same year’s census finds him living in the Cinque Hommes Township in the household of August Franke. It says Conrad was 76 years old.
Next, I am going to display some information that is included in the German Family Tree. In that document, there are two different August Franke’s. First, here is one that married Theresa Koenig on July 5, 1859. The GFT calls his father Johann Heinrich Franke.
The other August Franke married Theresa Lorenz on May 4, 1854. This one is called Heinrich Wilhelm August Franke. The GFT calls his father Conrad Franke.
Gerard and I began wondering if there were two Conrad Franke’s and two August Franke’s. However, it seems very unlikely that two August Franke’s would die on the same day, May 19, 1918. However, these two August’s had two different birthdays, October 20, 1833 and October 27, 1833. Our Franke discussion lasted a while with much scratching of our heads before we noticed that Theresa Lorenz died in 1858. That was the key to us concluding that these two August Franke’s were the same person who married two different Theresa’s. Also, we concluded that there was just one Conrad Franke who somehow managed to be included in two different census entries in 1870.
However, we still have the question of the two different birthdays. We eventually found the sources of the two different dates. First, we have to look at August’s first marriage record. It was part of a double wedding involving two Franke/Lorenz couples. In the record for August’s marriage it says he was born on October 27th. I made a rather feeble attempt to put a blue circle around that date.
The October 20th date shows up on August’s gravestone in the Grace Lutheran Cemetery in Uniontown. His gravestone is still very readable after all these years.
Since August died after 1910, we can also look at his death certificate, which also says he was born on October 20, 1833. It would have been nice if this form would have given his mother’s maiden name. It says his father’s name was Henry Franke.
I am comfortable saying that there was just one August Franke and just one Conrad Franke. Several family trees on Ancestry give Conrad’s name as Johann Heinrich Conrad Franke. I think the October 20th birthday is right, and the pastor at Grace Lutheran Church made a mistake on the marriage record, but I could be wrong about that.
There is still the question about where the Hecht surname comes from for Conrad’s wife. I looked for a marriage record in Germany for such a marriage between a Franke and a Hecht, but found none. That doesn’t mean there wasn’t one. I did a search of all the Franke records found in our German Family Tree and found no mention of a Hecht at all. And even on Ancestry, I found no family tree that called her Johanna Hecht. It is always “Unknown Hecht”. Gerard and I don’t know where that Hecht surname originated.
Another unanswered question has to do with who Johanna Grau is. Below is the GFT information about her which merely says she was married to a Franke and died in 1893.
FRANKE, Johanna nee Grau (Born ca. 1791, Died 13 Aug 1893) [UniontownMO]: Johanna nee Grau Franke, Died 13 Aug 1893, Buried 15 Aug, Age: 102 yrs, Cause: Old Age; [PerryCoMO-1876Census]: Anna Franke 83, lived in the Henry Brandes 50 household (Union Twnshp)
So, there you have it. A story that began with us looking into Caroline Franke ends us being a story about two Conrad’s, two August’s, and even two Theresa’s. However, I cannot finish this story without a little bit said about Caroline. When Christoph and Caroline Mueller celebrated their 50th anniversary, they had a photo taken of all the folks who attended. It’s one of my favorite pictures. It includes men, women, and children. It includes the pastor of their church (the orange arrow). Many of the men are wearing hats, holding cigars, and drinking beer. And, of course, there are the beer servers, who are almost always pictured kneeling in the front on both the left and the right.
Another conclusion that Gerard and I made: Kathy Berkbigler (who administers the Saxon Lutherans Genealogy site) and Lynn Degenhardt (the author of our German Family Tree) may have to make changes to their information after this Franke discussion.
3 thoughts on “A Franke Discussion”
Your https://lutheranmuseum.com/2022/07/24/brandes-birthday-and-betrothal/ post from 24 Jul 2022 made me think of “A Franke Discussion” again. Around the time you posted it, Fred Eggers & Gerard Fiehler asked me to interpret Johanna Franke née Grau’s death record. As you mention, many people assume she had been the wife of Johann Heinrich ‘Conrad’ Franke. I don’t think they ever had a relationship but she may have been the widow of one of Conrad’s brothers or cousins, etc., since they were both from Winzlar, a village in the parish of Bergkirchen, about 20 miles west of Hanover.
Just above the DOB you circled in blue on August Franke’s marriage record, it indicates his POB as “B͟e͟r͟g͟k͟i͟r͟c͟h͟e͟n͟, Fürstentum Schaumburg-Lippe”. Despite Bergkirchen’s close proximity to the seat of the larger Kingdom of Hanover (which was then ruled by Queen Victoria’s father, William IV, who was also King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland), it was actually part of the tiny former independent Principality of Schaumburg-Lippe. Ok, enough of the history/geography lesson tangent.
I don’t believe Conrad Franke’s wife (August Franke’s mother) was a Hecht. An index of the marriage register at Bergkirchen shows “FRANKE, Heinrich Conrad” married “ABELMANN vw. FRANKE, Marie Dorothee” on 12 Aug 1827. The “vw.” is an abbreviation of “verwitwet”, the German word for “widowed”. The index also shows “ABELMANN, Ilse Marie Dorothee” had previously married “FRANKE, Johann Heinrich Christoph” on 19 Jun 1817. To me, this indicates that Conrad married the widow of his brother (or cousin??), Christoph:
Who was the 22 year-old male “Wilh Franke” shown on the 1850 passenger list between 56 year-old “Conrad Franke” and 17 year-old “Aug Franke”? Since he would have been born shortly after Conrad’s 1827 marriage. the natural assumption would be he was Conrad’s eldest son, but August’s marriage record indicates August was the “ersten Sohn, erster Ehe” or the first son from the first marriage of Johann Heinrich Conrad Franke. Could the gender have been marked incorrectly on the passenger list and “Wilh” was not a son, “Wilhelm”, but rather a daughter, “Wilhelmine”? Or could Wilhelm have been a nephew or foster son, etc. (possibly even with a different last name not indicated on the passenger list)? There don’t seem to be further local records of a Wilhelm/ine Franke born around that time.
Warren, Thanks for blog on my 2nd great grandmother. I left a name list of people with the 50th Anniversary Mueller photo in the Mueller book. Has anybody identified other people in the picture.
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