On our vacation to Cleveland in March of 2000, my grandfather dropped a bombshell. Ignatz and Lena had a third child, a daughter, of whom no one had any records. He said she was the youngest and had died of an illness, a tragically preventable illness, had her parents not been so devoted to “old world medicine.”
Grandpa didn’t have a name or dates, just memories of hushed-up conversations that he was not meant to overhear.
Fast forward sixteen years.
My cousin Ginny and I traveled to Cleveland over Labor Day for a “genealogical dig.” We spent hours driving through downtown Cleveland, looking for the old houses, exploring acres of graves in some of the oldest cemeteries in the city.
We devoted one day to research at the Western Reserve Historical Society in the University Circle.
It was amazing! I was in Heaven! I hadn’t done this level of research since I worked on my thesis for my History degree. Ginny poured through the microfilm and I utilized the free access they provided to Ancestry.com.
And I found her.
The lost girl, my great grandfather’s older sister: Helene Margaretha Ernestine Frohmberg.
According to the Woodland Cemetery Record I found (above), she died when she was 11 years old, which matched Grandpa’s story, that she had died before hitting puberty.
The address listed on the record also matches the home address of Ignatz and Lena’s first home, though it doesn’t exist anymore as the city renamed her streets and renumbered houses in 1905.
This means that Margaretha died prior to the renaming/renumbering and since her parents immigrated around 1892, this narrows down her birth and death dates.
Her younger brother Kurt was born in 1891, also in Berlin, so that means Margaretha was most likely born sometime between 1887 and 1890 and died between 1898 and 1901.
The “remarks” section from the cemetery record remained a mystery to me: “3-30-1903.” UNTIL TODAY!
This afternoon I went to the Woodland Cemetery internment information system (not sure why I didn’t do this months ago) and discovered this:
I’d heard rumors that members of the family have been moved after death…
This record says Margaretha was buried May 18, 1899, so a death in the same month and year are most likely, and so is a birth or baptism year of 1888.
Mystery solved! 😀
P.S. No idea why her first name is listed as Margareta (not Helene) or why the last name is such a drastic difference from “Frohmberg.” It could be a matter of mis-transcription of original records, damage to the grave, anything is possible!
P.P.S. Nephritis is inflammation of the kidney, apparently one of the leading causes of death in the early 1900s.
P.P.P.S. Finally found Margareta Fronberg in Find a Grave, via Ancestry. (updated 1/7/17)