The Boßecker Newsletter

Volume 1 Issue 12 September 1996


Friederika Margaretha Bosecker and her First Daughter


I am sure that many of the readers of The Boßecker Newsletter have watched episodes of the television series, Unsolved Mysteries.

For those of you that might not be familiar with Unsolved Mysteries, it is a series of television shows about... you guessed it; unsolved mysteries!

Sometimes an episode has a story about a person who has disappeared from the rest of his or her family. It has usually been many years since the person has been seen or heard from and the family is anxious to learn what became of this person.

The details of the missing persons life prior to the disappearance are examined in detail and then the show makes a plea to its viewers for help in solving the mystery. Often the series will follow up on the "missing person" story and report that the separated parties have been joyfully reunited.

The Boßecker Newsletter has a story worthy of the Unsolved Mysteries television show which I will convey to you in the following paragraphs. In these paragraphs I will cover both the people involved and the methods I used to solve the mystery.

This story begins over 80 years ago in Saint Louis, Missouri where an 18 year old young woman by the name of Beatrice Hart gave birth to a little girl on or about 30 Sep 1911 in a charity hospital known as The Female Hospital. Beatrice named her illegitimate daughter Ida Anita Hart.

Meanwhile, 200 miles east of St Louis in rural Wabash County, Illinois, Gustav [1875-1945] & Louisa (Rademacher) Bosecker [1869-1928] had recently suffered the untimely death of an adopted infant daughter. Desiring a sister for their 2 sons, Gustav & Louisa traveled to the Bethesda Foundling Home in St Louis in the summer of 1912 and took 10 month Ida Anita Hart back to Cowling, IL to be their adopted daughter.

On 18 Aug 1912 Gustav & Louisa's newly adopted daughter was baptized in the St John Lutheran Church just north of Cowling, IL. They named her Friederika Margaretha Bosecker and she was known as "Ricki".

On 15 Nov 1928, Louisa (Rademacher) Bosecker died. Her mother's death was very traumatic for Riki. On 2 Sep 1929 Riki gave birth to a little girl. Initially Riki cared for her daughter but then she became pregnant again. During this pregnancy she made arrangements to adopt out the girl and the child she was about to give birth to. Riki gave birth to a little boy on 30 Nov 1930. Shortly after the 2nd child was born, Riki's children were adopted by 2 different couples.

On 4 Apr 1931 Riki married Robert Wassenaar in Knox County, IN. Robert and Riki left Indiana and, to the best of my knowledge, the family did not hear from Riki again until 1938.

In late summer of 1938, Riki wrote a letter from Lead, South Dakota to her Uncle Bill [1892-1961] & Aunt Martha (Bosecker) Bringwald [1891-1988]. In this letter she mentioned that her first marriage had failed but that she had recently married a fellow by the name of Clarence Baumgardner and she was optimistic about the future. In this letter she was very anxious to re-establish contact with her family in Indiana.

I do not know if anyone responded to her letter and, to the best of my knowledge, that was the last the family heard from Riki.

About 50 years after the above letter was written, I began to research my family history. I began to question my father about his parents and it was during this conversation he mentioned that his " had a sister that disappeared in the 30's and hasn't been heard from since...".

Information from other family members on Riki's whereabouts after she left Indiana was sparse at best. The basic story was that she was last heard from in the 30's and she was living "out west somewhere".

At this point I got a break. The son who had been adopted out knew that his mother's name was Bosecker. He called my father and asked him if he knew anything about his birth mother. We arranged a meeting and as a result of that meeting I obtained a copy of the letter written by Riki in 1938.

So I had a place, Lead, SD; a name, Friederika Baumgardner; and a rough date, September 1938.

My first step was to try to determine if Riki was still alive. The Church of Latter Day Saints has acquired all of the Social Security death claims that have been computerized. This information is available on CD-ROM and is called the Social Security Death Index. I did a search of this index and I did not find either a Clarence or a Friederika Baumgardner listed whose age fit the folks that I was looking for.

So there were 3 possibilities: Riki was still alive; Riki had died before 1962 (1962 is the roughly the year that Social Security began to computerize their claims); or Riki had died but she had married again and her name was no longer Baumgardner.

I called the Deadwood, SD library and asked if they had any City Directories for the late 1930's. The librarian checked and found that they had a directory for 1939. In this directory was listed, "Baumgardner, Clarence... ...Freda... & ...Leroy (2)".

The directory indicated that Clarence was the owner of the property that they lived on so I knew that there should be a deed recorded at the courthouse. The child, Leroy, also indicated that a paper trail might be picked up in Lawrence County, SD.

I called my dad and we arranged to fly to Rapid City, SD and rent a car to drive to the Black Hills where my father's aunt had lived.

Upon our arrival in Deadwood (county seat of Lawrence County, SD) we proceeded to the courthouse and, after some searching, located a marriage license, a birth certificate for a child born on 11 Nov 1938 and a record of the sale of the property that the Baumgardners had lived on dated 3 Oct 1939. My father's Aunt Freda had moved not long after she wrote her letter to Indiana. The trail was still fifty years old and pretty cold.

My father and I drove to the neighborhood that the Baumgardners had lived in and knocked on a door of one of the houses there. When the lady came to the door, I explained what we were looking for and asked who was the oldest person in neighborhood. She thought for a minute and then directed us a few houses down the street.

Fifty years, although a long time, is within living memory of some folks. My hope was, in such a small community, someone might remember the Baumgardners.

As my father and I walked towards the house we had been directed to, we noticed an elderly fellow chopping wood in the yard. As we approached we also noticed 2 large dogs of uncertain pedigree about the same time they noticed us. One of the dogs growled and the owner of the dogs ceased his chopping, leaned on his ax and eyed my father and I warily.

"If you two are tax assessors you can just get the h--l out of here!", he stated sharply. Keeping our eyes on the dogs while denying as quickly as possible that we were involved with any government agency, we told the gentleman what we were looking for. After listening to the brief description of our search, the man relaxed and his animals followed suit.

He told us that he couldn't help us as he had only lived in the area for about 15 years but that there was fellow further up the road that had lived there for his entire life and he was in his 80's; perhaps he could help.

We took our leave and visited the indicated house; no one was home. Running out of time we returned to Rapid City, SD to catch our flight home. At the airport we tried making a phone call to the long-time resident we had missed earlier. He answered the phone and listened patiently to my story. "Yes", he said after some thought, "I do remember Clarence Baumgardner but I don't know what became of them after they left here.".

So my father and I returned home disappointed. At that time I didn't realize that I had the clues I needed to solve the mystery in the notes I had taken during our time at the courthouse.

About a month later I examined my notes and realized that the birth certificate I had located in the courthouse held some clues that might be useful.

On the birth certificate it was noted that the father, Clarence Baumgardner, had been born in Greencastle, IN and his age put his birth around 1908. I knew that during the 1930's the WPA had indexed most of Indiana's health records and that these indexes were available in various libraries.

I went to the Putnam County, IN index and quickly located Clarence Baumgardner's birth information. This information listed Clarence's parent's names, Andrew & Ruby (Blake) Baumgardner. I then checked for Andrew & Ruby's marriage information and located it. The marriage information also included Andrew & Ruby (Blake) Baumgardner's birth dates.

Armed with these names and birth dates, I returned to the Social Security Death Index and looked for Andrew and Ruby. I found Andrew's death information and learned that he had died in Tacoma, WA in May of 1965.

I picked up the phone and called the Tacoma, WA library. I was connected to the reference desk and I asked the reference librarian if they had an obituary file; she answered that they did. Elated, I requested a search for Andrew Baumgardner's obituary and gave her the death date listed by the Social Security Death Index.

The obituary listed the 4 surviving children, Andrew Baumgardner, Dale Baumgardner, Lucille Thordsen and Dixie Kraupa, and their addresses. I called directory assistance for each city listed but there was not a listing for any of these folks.

Although I didn't have birth dates for any of them, I returned to the Social Security Death Index and searched for each of the children. I located the death of an Andrew Baumgardner in Tacoma, WA in January 1983.

Again, I called the Tacoma library and received another obituary via mail. The copy of the newspaper clipping contained the surviving 3 brothers & sisters names and addresses.

Dale Baumgardner was listed as living in Nampa, Idaho; I called directory assistance and was given the phone number. I called the number and a gentleman answered the phone. I explained that I was doing some family history research and asked if he had a brother named Clarence. "Yes", he replied, "he was killed in a construction accident in the 50's".

"Well", I continued, "he was married to my great aunt; do you happen to know what became of her?"
"Oh!", he said, "She's married to Reno Beardsley and lives in Portland, Oregon. Let me get her address and phone number for you."

After I received the information, I thanked Mr. Baumgardner and hung up the phone. While I had always assumed that there was about a 25% chance that Riki was alive, I was now faced with a dilemma. What to do next?

I called my father and told him the news. "What do I do now?", I thought aloud. "You can't quit now!", came dad's reply. I knew he was right but that I also knew that I would have to tread lightly to avoid hurting anybody.

I think most of you are aware that I am a pilot for Delta Air Lines. I had found Riki in late October 1991 and, as luck would have it, I had a couple of Portland, OR layovers scheduled for November.

Concerned that a phone call might be too great of a shock, I decided to write a letter to my lost aunt:

Dear Mrs. Beardsley,

Allow me to introduce myself: My name is Scott Bosecker and I am the oldest grandson of your brother Anton {Tony} Bosecker.
About a year ago I came across a copy of a letter you sent to your uncle Bill Bringwald in the late 30's. From the letter it appeared that you were attempting to re-establish contact with the family. I decided at that time to see if I could locate you.
It has taken me about a year of detective work to find you. So if no one responded to your letter please allow me, on behalf of the family, to do so now. All of your Bosecker cousins, nieces and nephews are anxious to get in touch again.
I am a Pilot for Delta Air Lines and I'm scheduled to be in Portland on the 18th of November and will call at about 10:00 am. I am looking forward to talking to you.

Your great-nephew,

Scott E. Bosecker

On November 9th I was flying a trip from Mexico City to Atlanta to Baltimore, MD. As I passed through Atlanta, I called my wife to see how things were going at home. When she answered the phone and found out it was me she was very excited. "I've been pacing around here all morning wanting to tell someone about this!", she said, "Your Aunt Frieda called from Oregon and said your letter was the best 80th birthday present she could have gotten!".

When I returned home from the trip, I called my aunt and we arranged to meet at the hotel I stayed at in Portland.

At the appointed time the phone in my room rang and I answered. "We're downstairs!", the now familiar voice said with excitement. I left my room and took the elevator to the lobby. As I entered the lobby my great-aunt saw me and exclaimed, "Oh, he looks just like Tony!".

Aunt Frieda had brought her husband, Reno Beardsley, and her daughter, Jaunita, along with her. We sat in the lobby and talked for some time. Due to the lack of contact with the family, Aunt Frieda was unaware that her brothers were both dead. I had brought some photos of the family and we looked at those over lunch and discussed what Aunt Frieda had been up to for the past 50 years.

Aunt Frieda talked at length about how her parents had adopted her but nothing was said about her own adopted out children. When the time came for us to part, I asked Reno and Jaunita if I could speak with Aunt Frieda alone.

Aunt Frieda and I stepped around the corner, "You know what I am going to ask you don't you?", I began.
"No", Aunt Frieda replied.
I continued, "You have two children..."
"Yes", said Aunt Frieda.
"Would you be interested in contacting them...?", I asked.
"No", said Aunt Frieda, "that was a long time ago and I wouldn't want to intrude in their lives now."
"Oh", I responded, "Well, they are interested in contacting you..."
"Really...", said Aunt Frieda pausing for a moment, "...that would be OK."
"You're sure?", I asked.
"Yes", she said firmly.

I returned to Atlanta and made a phone call to talk to the son who had been adopted out. I told him I had found his birth mother alive in Portland, OR and that I would like to meet him and his sister to discuss the situation. We agreed to meet the day after Thanksgiving at his home in Vincennes, IN.

At our meeting I told them essentially the story that I have related to you in the preceding paragraphs. After I had finished my tale there was a moment of silence and then someone (I don't remember who it was) startled me by saying, "Let's call her... talk to her."

"Here we go", I thought as I picked up the phone and began dialing. Aunt Frieda answered the phone and we discussed my next visit to Portland which would take place the following week.
"Hey", I said, "I've got someone here who wants to talk to you.". I handed the phone to the daughter. Mother and daughter talked for a few minutes and then the phone was handed to the son. When he was through the phone was returned to me; everyone in the room was misty-eyed.
"It's Scott...", I said.
"You are an angel!", was the first thing I heard from my Aunt Frieda.
"Well", I responded, "I thought you might call me some names but I didn't know what they might be."

That was in November of 1991. In March of 1992, the son and daughter living in Indiana traveled to Portland, OR to meet their birth mother and their 6 half-brothers and sisters. In September 1992, Aunt Frieda traveled to Indiana and paid her respects at the graves of her adopted parents and brothers, visited various sites of interest from her youth and met with many Bosecker family members.

Margaretha Friederika {Frieda} (Bosecker)(Wassenaar)(Baumgardner) Beardsley passed away on January 26, 1996 in Portland, OR at the age of 85.


This is the 12th issue of The Boßecker Newsletter and it represents the end of the newsletter as a monthly. Starting with the next issue The Boßecker Newsletter will be issued quarterly. You may expect the next issue in December or January. Thanks to all for your interest and support.

The Boßecker Newsletter; 103 Meadowlark Trace; Peachtree City, GA 30269-2312 (770) 631-4855

This page was posted on 23 Feb 1997.

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