22 comments on “About Me

  1. Hi, Judy!

    How exciting to hear your details about Hannah and Valentine! It’s wonderful to find more of the missing pieces of their story! I have been researching this story for years so it’s extremely fascinating to uncover more personal details about the victims and survivors. Do you have any information about Hannah’s family in Germany? Do you know if her mother died in Germany? It isn’t exactly clear what became of Hannah’s father, (he is sometimes referred to as Andreas and sometimes as Henry/Heinrich). Some articles imply he also survived while others indicate he did not. Please feel free to e-mail me directly at jleffler1904@outlook.com. Thanks so much for your response! I apologize for the delay in replying. I had some major technical issues with my computer. Thanks for your patience! I don’t want to give you the impression that I was ignoring your comments! Great to hear from you as well as Dan and Lorry! Amazing to uncover these fantastic details!

  2. Oh my goodness, what a find. I just recently discovered Hannah in the 1850 census. And, now all this information! Hannah Frobasin is my 2nd great grandmother. Many years ago my grandmother, Carrie Gladys Thomson Sievers wrote some brief family histories. She wrote that Hannah, her father, and her older sisters were in a shipwreck while on their voyage to America. The sisters and all their belongings were lost at sea. She went on to say Hannah was taken in by a wealthy New York farmer. She concluded the story by saying the farmer owned land in Clayton Co., Iowa. When Hannah married Valentine Ertel the farmer deemed the young couple to be quite industrious, and granted them the land in Iowa. After working this land for a few years they moved across the Mississippi River to Crawford Co., WI.

    Valentine Ertel, his mother and siblings lived in Williamsport, PA. Valentine’s older brother, George, moved to Elmira, NY for a time. Chemung is located very near Elmira. Since there was a train that ran directly from Williamsport to Elmira, I suspect Valentine met Hannah when he would visit his brother.

    Valentine died in 1911. Sadly, at the time his will was executed Hannah was deemed incompetent. Hannah’s will, executed 2 years later made no mention of her status.

    1. Thank you so much for sharing this. Hannah was my 3rd great-grandmother. (Her grandson, Herbert Leon Thomson was my great-grandfather.) We inherited a box of memorabilia (from Helen (Asperheim) Thomson) that included a scrap of paper written by H.L. Thomson that says,
      “Grandpa Valentine Ertel born at Newburg, Germany in 1831. His father Carl Ertel died in 1840. He His mother Geo & sis Mary nee Erne & his mother Mary Ertel came to America in 1850
      Grandmother Ertel & her father were all saved from ship wreck 4 sisters mother died in Germany Name Frobosen from Hanover Ger.
      Father was Henry Frobosen
      Dan Ertel bro of Valentine
      Geo Ertel bro of Valentine @ Quincy Ill.”

      It was very hard to make sense of this note: the lack of punctuation, and use of ditto marks, etc.
      Any information about the above mentioned Carl? or Henry?
      We have spent a lot of time looking through newspaper clippings that include lists of survivors and of those lost in the wreck of the Iduna;
      Complicating things, Hannah is never mentioned in any of the surviving lists and her father is listed under a variety of different names: The Quebec Gazette (Aug 21, 1847) refers to Heinrich Frohlose and daughter; The Weser-Zeitung (18 Sept, 1847) lists Andreas Frohbuser and daughter and also lists 5 daughters of Andreas Frohbuser from Hanover on the passengers lost list. The New York Herald (Aug 18, 1847) quotes The Boston Advertiser in naming H Trohlose and daughter but doesn’t mention his daughters in the list of passengers lost on Aug 20, 1847. In other papers, the name Andreas seems to be the most common.
      We have no idea what happened to Henry/Heinrich/Andreas.
      It would be super to share information with each other. The box of memorabilia is filled with letters, photos and documents. There is an album full of un-named people. From Helen’s side or from H.L.’s, we don’t know. But, you may be able to shed some light on some of it!!


  3. Many thanks for your response, Paula! Much appreciated! Enjoy your busy schedule this summer! Happy hunting!

  4. Hi, Paula!

    We have crossed paths a couple of times over the years. I first met you and your husband, Jim, in 1989 during the Great MN Ancestor Hunt. Then I moved to OK and TX and spent about 20 years down south. I have just returned to this area in recent years. I live in Hudson, WI. I attended your MGS Webinar about researching at the NARA in DC and found it very helpful. I have been working on a multitude of family history projects since 1985. I hope to publish one this year if I can “complete” my research.

    One of the projects I’m researching involves the shipwreck of the IDUNA, a Swedish barque in 1847. I have been conducting research in Sweden, Germany and the U.S. as I’m incorporating these three angles into the project. I don’t speak either Swedish or German, but have been fortunate to have had some luck in contacting museums and archives there. I’ve been able to track down some living descendants of Captain Moberg’s brother so I have composed a letter to her in Sweden. I hope she will respond. In 1847, Captain Anders Gustaf Moberg and his 10-member crew left Gävle, Sweden on board the IDUNA, bound for Hamburg, Germany. In Hamburg, the IDUNA picked up a large group of emigrants, mostly German and Swiss, who were headed for New York. On 9 August 1847, at 1L00 am in dense fog, the IDUNA was rammed by an American ship, the SHANUNGA, Captain William Patten, out of Liverpool, England on its way to Boston. The IDUNA sank in 30 minutes. Of the estimated 206 passengers on board, 172 were lost including Captain Moberg, 3 members of his crew and the entire extended family of my great-great-grandfather. He was the sole survivor in his family at age 19 and arrived in America destitute, with no family or means of support and probably no language skills. The SHANUNGA picked up only 34 survivors and brought them to Boston. The incident was widely reported in American newspapers although there is a fair amount of conflicting information in the news reports. I am re-constructing the passenger and crew list based on newspaper articles and archival research in Sweden.

    I am having some difficulty finding any information about the SHANUNGA or any maritime records for Captain William Patten. He was from a well-known family of early shipbuilders and mariners in Maine, but it appears he was based out of Boston as a ship captain as the SHANUNGA was headed their as its final destination. Oddly enough, the SHANUNGA itself sank in 1852 near Nantucket, MA, about 5 years after the IDUNA shipwreck. Around 1855-1860, he was living in Philadelphia, where he died in 1871. His wife was also from a very prominent New England family (Tallman).

    Can you provide any tips or suggestions about hunting for any maritime records for the SHANUNGA in Maine or Massachusetts? I have some details on the IDUNA and have sent many queries to various places in Sweden. I’m hoping to get some positive results there. Several newspaper articles indicate a little orphaned girl from the IDUNA was to be adopted by a distinguished merchant from Boston. Do you think it would be possible for me to find a record of her adoption? I’m hoping to find a passenger list for the SHANUNGA also in Boston. I’m also trying to locate any potential lawsuits brought against the owners of the SHANUNGA and Capt. Patten on behalf of the IDUNA victims and survivors. I plan to “finish” this project by next year which would be the 170th anniversary of the shipwreck.

    I would greatly appreciate any tips you may be able to provide to steer me in the right direction. I have very little experience and knowledge of researching maritime records. I have researched the family histories of the two ship captains and that of my immigrant ancestor in Germany. I am still gathering further details on these people and the general history (political, economic, religious and social) taking place in Germany, Sweden and New England during that time frame. I want to tell their story in a broader sweep, not just the shipwreck, trying to put “flesh on the bones” of those involved. I believe this is an important story to tell in immigration history so I am documenting it as accurately as possible to preserve and honor the memory of the IDUNA victims and survivors. Many thanks!

    Joni Leffler

    1. Hi Joni,

      Welcome back to the Midwest! Your questions are not in my areas of knowledge, but I suggest looking at the various seaport museum websites in New England and also that of the National Archives location at Waltham, Massachusetts. http://www.cyndislist.com/ has a category related to shipping, seafarers, etc. Many seaports had newspapers with shipping news. As for the adoption, you might join the Facebook page Search Squad where someone might be able to assist you.


      1. Hi, Paula!
        I’m saddened to say I had to miss the Celtic Conference in Mpls. I’m very interested in the lecture you gave concerning Railroad Records and the Irish. The majority of my Irish immigrant ancestors worked for the Great Northern RR in St. Paul. One was the engineer of James J. Hill’s private train car. Many of mine worked at the Jackson Street shops and lived in the North End neighborhood. The same fellow who was the engineer for Hill’s private car was also the son-in-law of the first foreman at the Jackson Street shops. Is that particular lecture available in some form? Just curious! Thanks!

    2. I wish you well in this project, Joni. I believe that two of my ancestors may also have been survivors of the Iduna. Oral family history recounts how Henry Frobasin and his daughter Hannah survived a shipwreck in immigrating to America in approx. 1947 or 1948, but how the mother and four sisters were lost. This may be the Heinrich Frohlose and daughter described in the list of survivors in the Quebec Gazette of Saturday, Aug 21, 1847 (http://archiver.rootsweb.ancestry.com/th/read/TheShipsList/2000-07/0963923527). They seem to correspond to the Andreas Frohbuser and daughter described in a different list of survivors from an article entitled “Der Washington: Furchtbare Schiffbrueche” The Washington: Terrible Shipwrecks”, excerpted from the Weser-Zeitung (newspaper) of 18 Sep [1847]
      In that article the Frohbuser family is described as losing 5 daughters:
      ( https://books.google.ca/books?id=HnSo5jHJHIgC&pg=PA55&lpg=PA55&dq=Germany+1846+shipwreck&source=bl&ots=7GjbTMYj6r&sig=f3W254AJF_y015qL4sCOz3cbXVM&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiA7un_9-PLAhVS7mMKHUd4C7YQ6AEIPjAG#v=onepage&q=Germany%201846%20shipwreck&f=false )

      I would be very interested in the information you are putting together.

        1. Ironic that tomorrow is the 169th anniversary of the shipwreck and it happens to be my parents’ wedding anniversary! Even though they have both passed, I still remember then on their special day!

      1. Wonderful to hear from you, Lorry! Why don’t you drop me a line directly and we can discuss this project in more detail. What is the correct spelling of your family name – Frobasin or Frohbusher? Another researcher implied that Hannah was “adopted” by the American ship captain, but I haven’t found proof of this yet. She doesn’t appear in any census records as residing with him and his family. Do you know what happened to her after the shipwreck and why she was described as an orphan if her father in fact survived the shipwreck. It’s kind of mysterious to me. Do you have any info on Heinrich and his descendants? Would love to hear more about your lines! Fascinating, isn’t it?

        1. Joni – We knew very little about Hannah other than the family legend of a girl orphaned in a shipwreck and a handwritten note in an old trunk that described Hannah and her father surviving a shipwreck but losing 4 sisters. The note was ambiguous about whether the mother died in the wreck as well. We have no information about where and when Henry died.
          The spelling of the last name varies on early census and marriage records but “Frobasin” seems to be the most consistent.
          Our Hannah is probably the 18 year-old Hannah Frobasin from Germany described in the 1850 United States census in Chemung, Chemung, New York in the household of Gabriel and Sarah Sayer. She seems to have married Valentine Ertel in 1856 and she shows up as Hannah Ertel in Crawford County, Wisconsin in the censuses from 1860 until her death in 1913. We have some pictures from the family in Wisconsin in the late 1800s and believe that we have at least one of Hannah.
          I would be very interested in finding out more about the stories of her being adopted by the ship captain. It may be that her father actually died in shipwreck or shortly thereafter.

      2. Do you know what part of Germany Heinrich and Hannah were from? I’m trying to piece together the passenger list which was lost at sea. Many of the names appear to be grossly misspelled.

        1. We believe that Hannah and her family were from Neuburg, Neuburg am Rhein, Germersheim, Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany.

          Yes – in the lists that we found, the names seem to have varied greatly. That has made it very hard to tell for sure if we have found “our Hannah”, but the more we find out, the more it looks like we are right.

          I hope things have gone well in piecing together the list – Please let us know what you find out!

          1. Lorry, if you see this reply, please get in touch with me. I’m very interested in your possible connection to Hannah and her family! Thanks!


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