Sisters Katie and Tillie Frauen

This RPPC was among a lot of around 100 photos I purchased on German ebay. It stood out for me, first of all, because of the unusual design of the taller lady’s skirt. Judging from the ladies’ fashion, the photo dates to the 1910s. Secondly, it was written in English which I don’t get often. The message was addressed to “Dear Cousin” and my Instagram community helped me identify the writer to have been one Katie Frauen. 

Katie is the little one in the photo, according to her own description. The other lady is her sister Tillie. So let’s see what we can find about sisters Katie and Tillie Frauen from America.

I was pleasantly surprised that this family had been thoroughly researched already. I could also find quite many records both in the States and in German online archives as well as some newspaper clippings mentioning the Frauen family. I’ve not yet located any close relatives to either Katie or Tillie. But perhaps this blogpost will help with that!

So how come this RPPC, written in English, was found in Germany? The answer is that Tillie and Katie’s parents had embarked on a life-altering journey in 1894 when they arrived in America which was going to be their new forever home. Katie wasn’t even born then. The father Markus had arrived in New York in April 1894, and the mother Rebecca with 7 children between the ages of 1 1/2 and 9 had followed in August 1894.

Passenger list from 1894 (Source Ancestry)

The Frauens purchased a small ranch in Springview, Nebraska. Rebecca’s brother Frank Neihus was already living in Nebraska at the time. He had come to America in 1877.  

The girls’ parents Markus Ludwig Frauen and Rebecca née Neihus were both born in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany, in 1857 and 1858. They had got married in 1882 and had 7 children in Germany before they dared to start a new life in the New World. They left behind family members in Germany (Rebecca had 5 siblings) to whom their children apparently had contact, even when not writing in the mother tongue of their parents, in German.  

In America, two more children were born, one of them was Katie in the photo.

Katherine “Katie” Frauen, the smaller woman in the photo, was born on October 5th, 1897, in Springview, Nebraska.

She married Benjamin F. Adson in 1916. Benjamin was born in Iowa to a Norwegian father and Iowa-born mother.

In 1940, Katie and Benjamin and their 3 children were living in Jaroso, Costilla, Colorado. Benjamin was a farm labourer. In the 1950s, Katie and Benjamin probably lived in this house, according to available records.

Source Google Streetview

Katie was widowed in 1980, after 64 years of marriage! She herself passed away in 1986 at the age of 89 years and is buried in her hometown in Pueblo, Pueblo County, Colorado, next to her husband. (Click HERE)

Katie and Benjamin had 4 children:

  1. Ada Rebecca „Ida“ Chilcutt Toland neé Adson (1917-2019). Ada passed away at the age of 102 years just last year! What a woman, what a life! She must have inherited some of her adventurous spirit and courage from her adventorous German grandparents. You can read her obituary HERE

Ada had three children: daughter Barbara Anna Parry, son Benny Jack Chilcutt, and son Marvin who she had outlived. Ada’s obituary also lists grandchildren Audra Zinn, Robert Parry, Heather Sanders, Paige Craig, Addie Kerr, Megan Chilcutt and 10 great-grandchildren. Hopefully this blogpost will help me make contact with at least one of them!

2. Katie and Benjamin’s only son was Robert Franklin Adson (1921-1993). He seems not to have been married. Do you know otherwise?

3. In the 1940 Census, Katie and Benjamin have another daughter called Jean who was born around 1935/36.

Jean Louise Adson attended the Centennial High School in Pueblo, Colorado, in the 1950s. Here’s her yearbook photo from 1952. She is about the same age here as her mother in the photo above. Her sister Ada’s obituary from 2019 refers to her as Jean Ellis, married to one Ray Ellis. Is she still alive? Does she have descendents who might be interested in the above photograph of their grandmother Katie?

4. Ada’s obituary also names another daughter Mickey King, but I have no information on her.

Here the link to Katie’s tree on Ancestry (Click HERE).

Matilda “Tillie” Bertha Frauen was born in 1888 in Germany. She married Lionel Edward Stanley in 1913, and the couple had two children: Melvin E. Stanley, born in 1914, and Maxine R. Stanley born in 1916.

Before Tillie married Lionel, she was listed as a wage owner, working as a school teacher at a public school in Norden, Keya Paha in Nebraska. This is where she met her future husband Lionel, who was a native of Norden.

Source Google Streetview

In 1930, Tillie and her husband were living at 404 West 13th Street in Grand Island Hall, Nebraska in apartment no. 5. Could this have been their home in 1930?

Google Streetview

Lionel passed away in 1953, they had been married for 40 years. At the time of his death, the couple was living in El Cerrito, California. This was probably their house in 647 Elm Street in El Cerrito in 1953.

Lionel’s obituary from 1953 lists three grandchildren for Tillie and him: Patricia, Richard and Kathleen Stanley. Do you recognise any of them?

I haven’t found out when exactly Tillie re-married, but her second husband was one Cosimo Comella of Italian heritage. Tillie was widowed for the second time in 1971 and 9 years later, she passed away in 1980 in Contra Costa, California, at the age of 92 years. 

Tillie and Katie’s siblings and parents

Because the family is wonderfully researched on Ancestry, I will write a few words about Tillie and Katie’s siblings and parents.

Source Emma’s profile on Ancestry

The oldest sibling Emma Graham Petersen neé Frauen was born in 1883 in Germany. In 1905, she married David M. Graham. I found their wedding photo on Ancestry.

Unfortunately David passed away in 1919. They had two daughters together: Marion and Magdalene Graham. Unfortunately I don’t know what became of them.

At some later point, Emma must have re-married. Her surname in later references is Petersen. Click HERE for Emma’s Ancestry profile.

The second-oldest sibling Martha Augusta Anderson Langer neé Frauen was born in 1884 in Germany. She married Andrew L. Anderson in 1904 but he took his own life in 1915. They had 2 children together: Helen Frances Anderson (1905-1973), and Roscoe W. Anderson (1907-1979). Martha re-married in 1916 in Valentine, Cherry, Nebraska. Her second husband was Rudolph Anton Langer with whom she had another son Ralph William (1921-1998). Martha and Rudolph lived in Ainsworth. She passed away in 1976.  

Jacob “Jake” Claus Frauen was born in 1886 in Germany. He was married to Beatrice Fern née Rector, and had three children: Ernest Claus Frauen (1917-1945), Hazel Fern Peterson neé Frauen (1919-2010), and Otto Frauen. The couple celebrated their golden wedding anniversary in 1963. Jacob lived with his family in Springview. He passed away in 1984. His obituary honours the man of good qualities (Click HERE):

Max Frauen was born in 1890 in Germany. He and his brother Harry ran the family ranch in Springview. Max was married October 1915 to Verna Woolf of Manchester, Iowa. They had three daughters: Margory (Mrs. G.E. Bammerlin) of Millboro, South Dakota, Phyllis (Mrs. Charles Sisk), Worland, Wyoming, and Bernice (Mrs. Paul Eichenberger) of Springview, Nebraska. Max passed away in 1959.

John Anton Frauen was born in 1891 in Germany. He lived in Norfolk. He passed away in 1934 as a result of a fatal accident. 

Clause Frauen was born in 1893 in Germany. He married Luella Irene Lambert in 1920. The couple lived in Ainsworth and had three children: Mary Margaret, James and Donald Frauen. Clause was widowed in 1940.  Clause passed away in 1951.

Harry W. Frauen was born in 1897 in Springview. He married Iva Leona Weldin in 1928, and they had a daughter Iris Frauen in 1928. Harry passed away in 1983.

Parents Markus and Rebecca Frauen both passed away in 1946. To honour them on their golden wedding anniversary, the Ainsworth Star-Journal from June 2nd, 1932, published this short tribute to the worthy couple.


The parents Markus and Rebecca took quite the risk in 1894 when they decided to leave Germany and start a new life in Nebraska. The 9 children they had together in 14 years probably inherited quite a few strong traits and values from their parents. Markus built up their fortune in the States from scratch. That took guts and perseverance. Rebecca travelled with 7 children alone on a steam boat to America, and had two more children just 3 years after their arrival. That speaks for courage, too. They were rewarded with altogether 27 grandchildren and many great-grandchildren. They taught their children that family ties matter, to not forget their roots and to keep in touch with their German cousins. I wonder if there are more letters or RPPCs out there from Katie and Tillie to cousins in Germany?

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