If you are just joining me on my latest history detective adventure, be sure to read part 1 of this series here.
I loved having something new to research and seeing vintage letters sent from the U.S. to post-war Germany was too interesting to pass up!
I decided to go through one letter at a time.
The first letter was dated Feb 9, 1947.
The first big clue was Freda's address - 428 Crown Ave. Scranton, PA. So I knew where she was living in 1947. But who was Freda Rose?
As I noted clues in Freda's letter about her family, I came up with some key people that would help me identify her.
Maria/Marie Siste Recker
Christ (short for Cristopher or Christian? Last name unknown, possibly Rose)
Carl Siste (Freda's cousin and Marie's father)
Mrs. Becker (Freda's sister)
Mrs. Fred Wolf (Freda's sister?)
I went to Ancestry.com and soon found Freda and "Christ" living in Scranton's South Side. In 1910 they were on Beech Street. I knew it was them because it was Freda Rose, listed as a housekeeper for her brother, Christian Rose, who is a police officer.
1910 US Census for Scranton, Pennsylvania. Accessed at Ancestry.com
The house number is listed as 720 and the page before this one in the census was for Beech Street, and it seemed the enumerator was going in order down the street, so I assume that Christian and his sister Freda were living at 720 Beech Street in 1910.
I wondered if Freda would show up on the 1900 or 1880 census. (The 1890 census isn't available as records were destroyed in a fire). I found the Rose family in 1900 living on Beech Street.
And then I found them in 1880! Freda was there as a one month old baby! And the name she has is Mary. Perhaps at birth she was named Mary Freda?
1880 US Census for Scranton, Pennsylvania. Accessed at Ancestry.com
From the census record I discovered Freda's father is August and her mother is Johanna. They are German born and listed "Saxony" as birthplace. August is a laborer and his oldest son, Freda's brother, Charles workes in an iron mill. Johanna is home with the other children, Emma, Bertha, Christian, Frederic and Mary (Freda).
I knew by 1910, (see census above) Christian and Freda are single and living together on Beech Street in Scranton. In Scranton's 1915 City Directory, Christian Rose is living at 720 Beech Street but Freda is living with her brother Frederick at Rear 1034 Locust Street. She's working as a laborer. But in 1920 I found them and Freda is living again with Christian.
1920 US Census for Scranton, Pennsylvania. Accessed at Ancestry.com
Freda and Christian are living at 428 Crown Avenue by 1920 and guess who is next door? Their sister Bertha Becker! She is the "Mrs. Becker" Freda spoke of in her letter. Bertha Rose Becker is living at 426 Crown Ave. with her husband Rudolph Becker, a boiler maker, and their six children - Hilda, Herbert, Ester, Mildred, Earl and Grace.
I found both families again in 1940 at the same location(s).
Christian's occupation is listed as a policeman for a bank. We know from Freda's first letter that he had retired as chief of police in Scranton and is a guard for the First National Bank. The bank is a historic building in Scranton and still stands today.
Accessed at digitalcommonwealth.org
I saw that Rudolph and Bertha Becker (Freda's sister and brother-in-law) are still living next door in 1930. We know from Freda's letter that Bertha died in 1932 and a search online confirms this. Rudolph Becker is a widow in 1940.
We know that Christian and Freda were still living as of 1947 when Freda wrote her letters. But what happened after that?
I can't wait to tell you what I discovered!
Read my next post here.