The family of Wilhelm Dawurske immigrated to New York in 1881. Because the Dammen church records for earlier years have been lost, this family’s lineage was painstakingly reconstructed from the few scraps of history left to tell the tale.

The connection to Groß Gluschen was confirmed by information found on a now-defunct German website (, which denoted her place of birth. A second source, another daughter’s Social Security claim, confirmed this location as well.

Johanna was widowed sometime before 1891. It is important to note that Johanna Doriske, also of Rochester, New York, is not the same person. This Wilhelm, later known as “William” in America, was also determined to be different from the one who would move to Lauenburg and die in Danziger Höhe. The newly Americanized family would have their name continually subjected to such revisions as: Dawuske, Dawusky, Dawuski, Daworske, and Dawoski.

In an unfortunate twist of fate, his only known son—the only remaining heir to his branch of the surname—died in what would be a scandalous tragedy heavily gossiped about in the newspapers.

For more information about church resources in the Rochester, New York area, please read about the Pomeranians in Rochester.

Johann Friedrich Wilhelm Dawurske was born on 22 Aug 1835 in Wendisch Karstnitz and was baptized on 30 Aug 1835 in Lupow with a Bolduan listed as one of his godparents. (He is assumed to be the Wilhelm who married Johanna in Groß Gluschen.) He lived in Groß Gluschen in 1859 and 1866. Wilhelm married Johanna Mueller, probably before 1864. She was born about 1834 (city directories list her as Hannah married to William). Her middle initial was mentioned to be “A.” Most census records indicate her birth in 1834. However, the 1892 census shows her birth year as 1831. They immigrated to Rochester, Monroe, New York, arriving in the United States with five children on 01 Apr 1881. These children are the only ones known to be associated with the family:

  1. Matilda I. Dawurske (Jan 1864 – 29 Jan 1932)
  2. Martha Wilhelmine Albertine Dawurske (23 Apr 1868 – 29 May 1959)
  3. Theodore Julius Dawurske (abt. 1871 – 15 Apr 1899)
  4. Anna Albertina Dawurske (03 Feb 1873 – 21 Jan 1948)
  5. Elisa J. Dawurske (abt. 1877 – 02 Nov 1950)

Matilda I. Dawurske  was born in January of 1864 (her name would have been spelled “Mathilde” in German records). She died on 29 Jan 1932 in Rochester, Monroe, New York. She married John Yauchzi, who was a florist, sometime around 1884 in Rochester. He was born in May of 1857 and died on 27 Nov 1939, having lived his whole life in Rochester. Together, they would have the following children:

  1. John Yauchzi Jr. was born around 1884 in Rochester. He died on 01 Jun 1884, also in Rochester.
  2. Martha M. Yauchzi was born in March of 1885 in Rochester. She died on 19 Jan 1957. Martha was married to Charles Christian Pagels before 1924. He was born on 30 Jan 1891 in Rochester and died on 05 Sep 1958 in Rochester.
  3. Arthur T. Yauchzi was born on 17 Feb 1893. He died in Dec 1977 in Webster, Monroe, New York, USA.
  4. Louise A. Yauchzi was born on 10 Jan 1897 in Rochester and died on 11 Jan 1987. She married Edward A. Heidt after 1924 in Rochester. He was born on 11 Sep 1895 in New York and died on 20 Jan 1973 in Rochester.

Martha Wilhelmine Albertine Dawurske was born on 23 Apr 1868 in Groß Gluschen. She died on 29 May 1959 in Rochester. She married Friedrich Christian Johann Gienke on 14 Aug 1890 in Rochester. He was born on 04 Feb 1867 in Banzkow, Parchim, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany, a place that would have been under the jurisdiction of Mecklenburg-Schwerin at the time. (However, his name was referenced as “Friederich Johann Carl” Gienke according to this FamilySearch tree: He died on 21 Oct 1934 in Rochester. Friedrich Christian Johann Gienke and Martha Wilhelmine Albertine Dawurske had the following children:

  1. Alma Gienke was born in May 1898 in Rochester.
  2. Erwin Gienke was born about 1901 in Rochester.
  3. Clara Gienke was born on 12 Mar 1904. She died in March of 1986. She married Frederick Chester Bode. He was born on 10 Jul 1898 and died on 18 Oct 1979.
    1. Frederick C. Bode II was born on 10 May 1938. He died on 17 Oct 2009 in Rochester. He had two children and a companion named Nancy Sanger.
  4. Herbert Gienke was born about 1907 in Rochester.

Theodore Julius Dawurske was born sometime around 1871. He died on 15 Apr 1899 in Rochester, being 28 years old at his time of death on St. Joseph Street. Theodore was a tin smith in 1892, and this would be his known profession until his death seven years later. He was married to Bertha Pauline Schramm, daughter of Bernard H. Schramm and Johanna Swantis, on 23 Nov 1892 in  Rochester at St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church. She was from Wollin, Prussia, though exactly which Wollin remains a mystery. She also died on 15 Apr 1899 in Rochester at the age of 28 years old. Their one known child would die shortly after their untimely and highly publicized deaths:

  1. Elisa Dawurske was born on 01 Oct 1894 and died on 06 Jul 1899 in Rochester on Bessie Place at the age of five years old.

Their deaths were covered in the following news articles:

Rochester Union and Advertiser – April 15, 1899

Was It Double Suicide or Murder Followed by Suicide?
Mrs. Dawusky Found Dead in Bed Beside Her Dying Husband.
He Died a Short Time After the Discovery–Little Child Found Crying from Hunger in Its Bed.

Bertha Dawusky, aged 25 years, was found this morning dead in bed at her home, No. 398 St. Joseph street, from carbolic acid. Her husband, Theodore Dawusky, aged 28 years, lay beside her dying from the same cause. Their 4-year-old child, Lizzie, was found crying from hunger.
The Homeopathic Hospital ambulance was summoned and took the father to that institution. The surgeon did not wish to take Dawusky as he was almost dead, but the relatives insisted and the ambulance started on a gallop for the hospital. The man died a few moments after the hospital was reached. Coroner Kleindienst was notified and going to the house took charge of the body.

Dawusky was an expert tinsmith and had charge of making parts of dark lanterns for the Dundlach optical works. The family lived in a neat little cottage surrounded with evidences of comfort. Dawusky’s work was regular and paid well, but he had been on a spree for three or four days of this week, and had not worked. He had had no trouble so far as known and both when sober and when under the influence of liquor was jovial and cheery.

Yesterday afternoon Mrs. Bernard Schram, mother of Mrs. Dawusky, called at the house. She found the doors locked and the house darkened as though every one were away. She thought nothing of the matter, however, and went away. But when she called this morning and could not get in and saw yesterday afternoon’s Union lying on the steps, she suspected something wrong and went for her son, Emil Schram. The latter came and went about the house trying doors and windows but was unable to enter. Listening, however, they heard the faint cries of the child. Mr. Schram broke open a cellar window and entered the kitchen of the house from the cellar. He went into the sitting room and heard the child in the room occupied by its parents to the right. Entering a fearful sight met his gaze.

Mrs. Dawuski was lying on her back in the bed on the side next the wall dead. Her husband was lying by her side breathing faintly. The child was vainly trying to arouse her parents and was crying and faint with hunger.

The couple had apparently been there since Wednesday night as no one had seen them about the house yesterday. The child seemed to those who knew her to be noticeably emaciated. She was so weak from hunger that she was unable to speak and will not recover from the effects for a couple of days. This would hardly be the case had she eaten any food yesterday so the physicians say.

There is no clue as to whether the case is one of murder or suicide, or whether both the parents committed suicide. The wife is said by her family and friends to be of a cheerful nature, thought not of the laughing, joking kind as was her husband. But most of the relatives seem to think that he committed suicide after giving his wife a dose of the poison. The fact that the wife was dead and the husband alive when found this morning would be the best argument in favor of the theory that the husband took the poison last. The child was unable to give any information this morning and at her tender age will probably be unable to give any intelligent account of it when she does recover. The child was taken to the home of Mrs. Schram where she is being cared for.

Dawuski and his wife had lived in the little cottage for a little more than six months. The only trouble seemed to be the husband’s sprees, though he did not go on them frequently nor did they last long. His friends and relatives say he was not depressed after they were over as is sometimes the case.

The bodies of Mr. and Mrs. Dawusky were taken to the morgue. An autopsy was made this afternoon by Coroner’s Physician Wolff under direction of Coroner Kliendienst.


Democrat and Chronicle – April 16, 1899

Tragic Death of A St. Joseph Street Couple May Be Double Murder Sensational Rumors Afloat in the Neighborhood Result of Autopsies Theodore J. Dawuske and Wife Died as the Result of Swallowing an Irritant Poison – Rigid Investigation Being Pursued by the Coroner.

Two bodies, those of husband and wife, lie at the public morgue, awaiting the verdict of a coroner’s jury as to how they came to their death. Whether Theodore J. Dawuske and his wife, Bertha were murdered by parties unknown, or whether the husband was instrumental in causing the death of his wife and himself is yet to be determined. The Dawuske family lived at No. 398 St. Joseph Street, in a one-story frame dwelling.

Mrs. Dawuske had been accustomed to call upon her mother, Mrs. Bernhard Schramm, who lives at No. 3 Priem Park, a small thoroughfare running from No. 663 North Clinton Street, every day. She did so late Thursday afternoon, but failed to do so Friday. Her mother on Friday went to her daughter’s home, but failed to elicit any response to her repeated rappings on both the front and side doors.

Thinking that her son-in-law and daughter were away from home, she went away. Yesterday morning at about 10:30 o’clock she again called at the home of her daughter. She was accompanied by her son, Emil Schramm, and a neighbor’s boy, Gustave Birr, who lives at No. 279 St. Joseph Street. Again she rapped and failed to receive a response. However, the crying of a child could be heard within, and Emil volunteered to force in a cellar window and make his way to the upper part of the house.

This proposal received the ready sanction of his mother. Emil Schramm made his way upstairs to the room from whence came the cries of the child. He found the child lying at the foot of a bed, which had also two other occupants. Emil approached the bed and discovered that his sister was dead, and that his brother-in-law was dying.

He hastened to open the outer doors and admit his mother and young Birr, Mrs. Schramm at once realized that her daughter was dead, and had evidently been dead for a couple of days. Dawuske was still breathing, but seemingly with great difficulty. Neighbors were called in, and word was sent to the Homeopathic Hospital, an ambulance of which institution responded.

The ambulance surgeon at first hesitated about taking Dawuske to the hospital, as the man was dying and beyond medical aid. However, he did so, but the man died just as the gates of the hospital grounds were reached. Coroner Kleindienst was notified, and, at his direction, Morgue Assistant Frank Draude removed the bodies of both husband and wife to the public morgue.

At the morgue arrangements were at once made for a post mortem examination of each body, which was made at 3 o’clock yesterday afternoon. The autopsy revealed that both husband and wife were the victims of some irritant poison. The kind of poison is not known as yet, but a chemical analysis of the stomach of both the man and woman will be made some time to-day.

East Side Coroner’s Physician W. D. Wolff performed both post mortems. He was satisfied by Drs. T. T. Mooney, Wesley Mulligan, O. E. Jones, George Lane, Jr., and James Brady, and West Side Coroner’s Physician M. E. Leary. All of the organs of both bodies were thoroughly examined, but no particular organic or chronic trouble was discovered in either instance. It was the opinion of the doctors that Mrs. Dawuske had been dead for between thirty-six and seventy-two hours.

Coroner Kleindienst has been busily engaged in investigating the case. The information obtained by Democrat and Chronicle reporters, who also made an investigation, was to this effect. There had been for some time past some difficulty between Dawuske and his wife, because of the former’s alleged attention paid to a certain young unmarried woman in the neighborhood. Last Sunday afternoon, Dawuske called at the home of a neighbor and said that he intended to commit suicide.

He said that he intended to cut his throat with a large butcher knife he possessed, or else hang himself by tying a piece of cord around his neck and then fastening it to a large spike he had driven into a door casing in his home. He returned home, and afterwards his wife called on the same neighbor and said that she had become discouraged. She said she had obtained information that led her to believe that her husband was unfaithful to her.

Mrs. Eisenhauer, who lives next door to the Dawuske home, says that she heard the wife calling to her little girl Friday morning. She thinks that it was quite early in the morning when she heard the mother calling to her little one in accents that indicated that she was suffering intense pain. When young Schramm entered the Dawuske bedroom he found husband and wife lying side by side, the former with froth oozing from the mouth and the latter dead, while at its parents’ feet laid the little child.

Dawuske was employed by the Gundlach Optical Company. He was an expert tinsmith, but had not been at work for two days. He may have administered the fatal poison to his wife as early as Friday morning and then have taken a dose of it himself. It is probable that he took an overdose of it, for the condition of the body when found showed that he had vomited considerably. Probably, too weak to arise, he lay in bed and eventually the poison took effect. The neighbors, though they are very reticent when asked direct questions, make the insinuation that Dawuske and his wife may have the poison from someone outside their household.

The little 4-year-old daughter of the Dawuskes was not poisoned, but was evidently nearly starved when young Schramm effected an entrance into the house. She was taken to the home of Mrs. Adelina Yaegaer, No. 416 St. Joseph Street, and afterwards to the home of her grandmother, No. 3 Priem Park. When interviewed Mrs. Schramm told a reporter that her husband was accustomed to pay frequent visits to the Patzwald house to see the young woman there.

Coroner Kleindienst intimated to a reporter last evening that it would be several days before he finished making his investigation of the case, as he desires to have it a most thorough one, owing to the many sensational stories in circulation in the neighborhood. He has consulted with District Attorney Warren, who will give the coroner assistance in conducting the investigation.

Dawuske was an expert tinsman and about 35 years old. He was considered a very fine workman. His friends can in no way account for his poisoning his wife and then himself, if he did so, because they never at any time knew him to be in a melancholy mood. He was of a cheerful disposition, naturally, they say. Mrs. Dawuske was about 28 years old. The couple had lived in their present home about nine months, renting from William J. Krieg, of No. 394 St. Joseph Street.


Batavia, Genesee County, New York State – April 17, 1899

Mr. and Mrs. Theodore J. Dawusky, Rochester young people, were found dead on Saturday. They were poisoned, but by whom is a mystery. A 4-year-old daughter is left an orphan.


Democrat and Chronicle, Rochester, NY – April 17, 1899

Investigation of Dawuske Tragedy on St. Joseph Street
Analyses of Stomachs
Professor Lattimore, Who is Making Them, Will Not Finish His Work for Several Days – Inquest to be Held the Latter Part of Week.

Gossip was rife Saturday and yesterday down on St. Joseph street, over the startling discovery that Theodore J. Dawuske and his wife, Bertha, who lived at No. 398 on that thoroughfare, had been poisoned. It was not until about 10:30 o’clock Saturday morning that the discovery was made, and that after the woman had probably been dead from twelve to twenty-four hours. Coroner Kleindienst, who has charge of the case, has been quietly conducting his investigation in the neighborhood.

As is usual in such cases, ugly rumors have found circulation, and the coroner is kept very busy investigating the various stories that come to his ears. Mrs. Bernhard Schramm, of No. 3 Priem Park, called at her daughter’s home Friday afternoon, but found the house locked and concluded that she had gone away. Mrs. Dawuske was at her mother’s home about 5 o’clock Thursday afternoon. They saw each other nearly every day, as their homes are in the same neighborhood.

When Emil Schramm, who works at the Gundlach Optical Company’s factory, where Dawuske was employed as an expert tinsmith, told his mother that her son-in-law had not been to work on Friday, she had him and Gustave Birr accompany her on Saturday to the Dawuske home to see if anything was wrong. There was apparently no one at home, but the feeble cries of the little four-year-old daughter of the couple could be heard, and Mrs. Schramm suspected that something was wrong.

Her son forced open a basement window and made his way to the first floor from the cellar. In the family bedroom he found Dawuske and his wife lying side by side on the bed in their night attire, with the child lying at their feet. The woman was dead and the man unconscious. The Homeopathic Hospital ambulance was summoned to take Dawuske away, but he died before the hospital was reached.

The post mortems performed upon the two bodies at the morgue Saturday afternoon by East Side Coroner’s Physician Wolff and several other physicians, revealed traces of an irritant poison in the stomach of both. The stomachs were removed and placed in separate jars, and yesterday were taken to the laboratory of Professor Lattimore, where they will be analyzed. The process of making the analyses will take several days, and an inquest will probably not be held by the coroner until the latter part of the week, possibly on Thursday. Meanwhile the remains of the man and wife will probably be buried by their relatives, though the arrangements for the funeral had not been completed yesterday.

The relatives of the Dawuskes cannot account for the tragedy. The physicians who performed the autopsy upon the woman, says that she may have been dead thirty-six hours when found. It is possible that for some unknown reason, Dawuske may have poisoned his wife, and then becoming remorseful had taken a fatal dose himself. There were no evidence that the child had been poisoned. When discovered it was very feverish, and was apparently half-starved.

Dawuske, in following his occupation of tinsmith, had to use a number of acids, which are of a highly poisonous nature. The physicians who performed the post-mortems were unable to determine the kind of poison found in the stomach, as the odor was hardly perceptible and was one with which they were unfamiliar. The theory has been advanced that the couple may have been poisoned by eating some canned meat, the can of which had been imperfectly made and poisoned the meat, but this is not thought to be the case.

A thorough search was made of the house and surrounding premises without finding anything to indicate what kind of poison had been used, except for a can partly filled with muriatic acid, such as commonly used by tinsmiths and plumbers, but this acid causes corrosion and corrosion, such as would be made by, the acid, was not found in either instance at the autopsy. The house where the tragedy occurred was visited by thousands of people yesterday, and there was an excited throng constantly walking up and down in front of the building.

Most of the neighbors incline to the murder and suicide theory, but others think that a double murder has been committed. Mrs. Dawuske’s mother and brothers are especially bitter in speaking of the relations said to have existed between Dawuske and a certain young woman. They believe that the alleged intimacy was in some way instrumental in causing the death of Dawuske and his wife.

Dawuske is said to have earned $13 a week, and as for providing for the family necessities, he was quite able to do so. His relatives say that he had no financial troubles and he was not known to be melancholic. He drank heavily at times, it is said, but it could not be learned yesterday whether he had been seen drinking Thursday. In yesterday’s account of the tragedy, it was inadvertently stated that Mrs. Schramm had informed a reporter that her husband had paid frequent attention to a certain young woman living in the neighborhood. It should have read that Mrs. Schramm told the reporter that her daughter had told her that Dawuske was the young woman’s admirer.

A sensational report was in circulation in the neighborhood to the effect that the Dawuskes may have been poisoned by someone who entertained some grievance against one or the other of the couple. Coroner Kleindienst was not prepared last evening to give out any information that he had in his possession for publication. When the neighborhood gossips cease circulating their wild rumors, the authorities will be better able to get at the bottom of the matter.


Democrat and Chronicle – April 21, 1899

Coroner Kleindienst Has Not Yet Finished His Investigations.

Coroner Henry Kliendienst has not yet concluded his investigation of the St. Joseph Street tragedy, in which he is being assisted by Detective John F. McDonald. Theodore J. Dawuske and his wife were found poisoned in their little home, No. 398 St. Joseph Street, last Saturday morning. The wife was dead and the man unconscious when discovered. The latter died later. The stomachs of both the man and the woman are now being analyzed by Professor Lattimore with a view to ascertaining what kind of poison killed the Dawuskes. The inquest, the coroner stated last night, will be held some time next week.

No date has yet been fixed for the Costello inquest, which will not be held, anyway, until next week. The delay in this case is occasioned because no examination of the boiler that exploded at the Standard brewery last Monday afternoon with such disastrous results has been made. This will be done by experts employed by the insurance companies, who will give the result of their findings at the inquest. The remains of Thomas Costello, the dead engineer, have been taken care of by his relatives.


The Arizona Republican
April 22, 1899



Deaths Due to Inhaling Gas.
Arizona Republican – April 25, 1899

Rochester, April 25–The mystery surrounding the death of Theodore J. and Bertha Dawuske, who were found lying in a bedroom at their residence on St. Joseph Street, on the morning of April 15, war cleared up when Professor S. A. Lattimore submitted to a coroner’s jury his report of an analysis of the stomachs of the two people, which showed that death was caused by the inhalation of carbon monoxide gas.

Final Notes
According to NYC Genealogy’s lists of coroner inquests: they died as a result of being asphyxiated by coal gas and were buried by their families.

Elisa J. Dawurske was born around 1877; she was three years old in April 1881, but was also marked as born in 1876 in other entries. She died on 02 Nov 1950 in Tonawanda, Erie, New York. She married Edward F. Zeh, son of Killian Zeh Jr., on 21 Apr 1903 in Rochester. He was born around 1877. Elisa J. Dawurske was employed in a cotton factory in 1892 and had moved to Tonawanda by 1940, though it could have been sooner. She was also known as Elizabeth. Interestingly enough, the name Zeh was also found in Berlin with Georg Friedrich Dawurske’s wife’s second marriage. Whether they are related in any manner is unknown. Their children were:

  1. Gertrude A. Zeh was born around 1908.
  2. Ruth M. Zeh was born around 1910.

This is one chapter in a ten-part series.

To read more about this surname study, please see the index to the entire series, "Dworsky and Dawurske Family Tree and Surname Series."

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