TWO HUNDRED YEARS OF THE TREASE FAMILY IN AMERICA: 1733-1933
compilation by Mark Davies, grandson of John Oscar Trease,
1. Cornelius DREES(E) and family (c1713 GER -
c1763 PA) / Catharine (c1717 ? - c1760/70s PA)
TO AMERICA, 1733
The story of the Trease family in America starts about 1700 in the southwest corner of Germany. Andreas Dries was born about 1675 (in or near Leistadt) and Anna Maria Spengler was born in nearby Kallstadt on Jul 1 1677 to Johann Adam and Anna Margaretha Spengler. On Jan 24, 1702 they were married in Kallstadt, and they lived there for at least the next 13 years (their son Johann Adam was born there in 1715). By 1728 at the latest they were in Riesdorf, which was a mile or so to the west of Böllenborn.
There were many religious disturbances in this region at the time, with the French and German fighting for control, and more than anything, the Catholics and the Protestants. The ruler of the region was Catholic, but most of the people, like the Drieses, were Protestant (Andreas was born Catholic, but had converted by the time he married Anna Maria). Things got so bad that, starting about 1700, thousands of Protestants (called Palatines, from that region of Germany) left their homeland in search of peace and a new start in America, mainly in Pennsylvania.
By the 1720s, there had already been so many Germans emigrate to Pennsylvania that there began to be backlash from others. But in the 1720s most of the immigrants were still fairly well off economically. But by the 1730s, when the Drieses came, the poorer classes, who hadn't been able to afford the passage before, started coming in greater numbers. Starting in 1728, five years before the Drieses came, a system of indenture started, in which the children were promised to the captain of the vessel for a period of five to ten years, until they were about 21. It was only in this way that this poorer class of Germans could afford to come to America.
By the time the Drieses came in 1733, there were on the average of six or seven vessels loaded with Palatinate immigrants coming into Philadelphia every year. The Drieses had come down the Rhine to the city of Rotterdam. From there they boarded the vessel "Pink Mary", which carried more than 170 people, belonging to over 30 families. The ship stopped in Plymouth along the way (it was an English ship) and then arrived in Philadelphia in September of 1733. By the end of the month the mother and older children had signed an oath of citizenship and were settled in Philadelphia, ready to begin a new life, far from the religious persecution on their old country.
Unfortunately, Anna Maria may have been forced to fend for herself in this new land. Some evidence suggests that her husband, who was perhaps in his 60's, had died soon after they reached America (there is no evidence for him in records after their arrival). Anna Maria had help, though, in that she had four strong boys to help her, aged 16 to 22 (Andreas, Cornelius, Peter and John). In addition she had her 24 year old daughter Barbara, who was of marrying age, and the two teenage girls (Maria Barbara and Anna Maria), aged 13 and 11.
BERKS COUNTY, PA (c1740s-1780s)
The next we hear of the Dries family is about twenty years later, in the 1750s, when Cornelius, now entering into his forties, is in Albany, Berks County, to the northwest of Philadelphia, towards the hilly central part of the state. It is not clear when Cornelius migrated to Berks County. His township was formed in the early 1750s and a couple of years later he is paying taxes on a moderately sized farm in Albany township (Google Streets view). Many of the Germans at the time would just wander on to a piece of property, farm it for several years, and then legally buy it at a later date. So Cornelius may have come to Albany Township as early as the 1740s.
The Dreeses were not alone in their move from Philadelphia to Berks County. Between 1740 and 1760, the population in the county zoomed, more than doubling in size. And nearly all of the settlers, about 90% of them, were Germans, just like the Dreeses. In fact, their township of Albany was the most German township in the most German county in the state. Cornelius' township was one of the poorer in the county, though. The Germans called it Allemeangel, which in German means 'all wants', because of the poor quality of the soil. But the Germans were known for their hard work and ability to take advantage of even the scarcest of means.
The Pennsylvania Germans, and the Dreeses were very typical in nearly all respects, were a people very unlike what we picture the early colonists as being. In Berks County, German was the main language of everyday contact even into this century. Certainly, when the Dreeses lived there 200 years ago, it was the only language, except for when they had to deal with the government, etc. The Pennsylvania Germans were known for their hard work, their artistic abilities (crafts and the like) and for their folklore. For example, in order to have good luck, they would erect their fences when the moon was up, nail down the roof shingles when the moon was down, and clear their fields when the moon was full. And, of course, they had almanacs in German to help them know these stages of the moon. So life among the German immigrants in Berks County was like just a little bit of their fatherland, imported from across the ocean.
Cornelius and Catherine, his wife, were still having children in the 1750s -- Michael was born about 1749 and John was born in 1752. Some evidence also suggests a youngest son, Peter, who was one of the first children christened at the new Evangelical Lutheran church (which had just become the first organized church in town) in 1754. Seven years later (about 1761) Cornelius was dead, and Catherine, like her mother in law, was left with several children, from about eight years old to some children in their twenties. As her grandchildren were born, in the 1760s and early 1770s, Catherine continued attending the christenings, often serving as one of the witnesses recorded in the church registers.
Although her husband was dead, Catherine probably continued receiving help from her grown sons. Help and protection for the poor and elderly was critical during this time. Just a few years before Cornelius died, the Drees' neighbors in the township were attacked by Indians. They killed two of the children, and left a total of eleven people, most of them who had lived right around the Dreeses, dead.
TO SNYDER COUNTY, PA (1780s)
The Dreeses continued living in Berks County during the American Revolution. There are no records which show that any of them were regular soldiers, although there were a number of battles nearby. In fact, Valley Forge is quite near Berks County. After the war, and as the new country was just starting up in the 1780s, the Dreeses left their almost completely German county and started the slow migration west. Four of Cornelius' sons (Jacob, Michael, John, and Peter) left their home for Beaver Township, Snyder County (50-60 miles to the northwest, towards the center of the state), in 1785.
Again, the Dreeses were just part of a larger migration that was taking place in this post war period, as the western frontiers were being opened up. In fact, the first settlers in Snyder and Mifflin counties (adjoining counties, and the Dreeses lived right on the county border) didn't come until the 1760s. But they were very few. The big push was at the same time that the Dreeses came. The first roads were being built in the mid 1780s, and Mifflin County didn't have enough people to be organized until 1789. In Snyder County, there was just one township until 1789, when it was split, forming Beaver Township, where the Dreeses lived. In 1789 there were only about 160 families in all of Mifflin County. But in just 25 years the population exploded, and there were that many just in the one small township where some of the Dreeses lived.
The county histories say that when this big push of settlers came in the 1780s, there were still Indians that roamed freely, and cattle and deer would graze together. There were no schools of any type, until over 40 years later, when our Treases had already left the area. And the first post office wasn't built until thirty years after the Dreeses came, and after the first wave of them had already moved on. It was real wilderness country, at least for fifteen or twenty years.
Available records don't say much about Michael, one of the four sons of Cornelius who came to the county (because he left after being there only twenty years) but they do say quite a bit about his three brothers and their descendants. His older brother Jacob came to the county about 1780, and finally made a permanent settlement in 1785, with his brothers. He was a blacksmith, and also owned a fair amount of land. He died not long after he arrived, in the 1790s. Michael's younger brother John never married, and became quite a wealthy man. When he died, most of his money was willed to the village church, which caused quite a stir with the family members. Peter, the youngest, came with his brothers in 1785, when he was in his early thirties, and had quite a large family.
As was mentioned, little is mentioned of Michael in county records, although many of his children stayed in the area when he moved on to Ohio, when he was in his sixties. But when he came in 1785, his livestock (two horses and two cows) and land (300 acres) was as much as his brothers John and Jacob combined. It is not clear just where Michael and his children settled, whether in Decatur Township in Mifflin County on the west side of the county line, or in Beaver Township, in Snyder County, to the east. At any rate, the whole family was together, within a four or five mile radius.
Besides being farmers, the Dreeses were involved in others pursuits. By 1800 several of them had mills in one of the two townships, and a few had also become blacksmiths. By 1800, many of Michael's children were grown or nearly grown, and while the sons remained farmers, some of the daughters married men in other trades. Daughter Molly married a carpenter, and Emma married a shoemaker. The Dreeses were becoming part of the total American scene, and leaving their strictly German Berks County roots. His children were marrying spouses who weren't German, and the children were no doubt beginning to speak English with many of their associates.
TO (PICKAWAY) OHIO [MICHAEL; c1805]
But the assimilation into the American culture was not yet complete. Snyder and Mifflin counties still had a very marked German presence as they came into the 1800s. But in 1803 Ohio became a state, and many thousands of Pennsylvania Germans took to the wagon once more, and headed west. The Treases were again part of a much larger movement, when Michael sold his farm in Snyder County in the spring of 1805 to his son in law and headed west with most of his sons and his youngest daughters.
However, probably six of his daughters were married by this time, and had their own lives with their husbands, and so five of the six married girls stayed behind when Michael, now an older man just turning sixty, headed west. It is not certain whether Rachel, Michael's wife, was still alive by the time her husband came to Ohio. If so, she had certainly passed on by the time that he died in 1812/3. In addition to some of the daughters, Jacob, the second to the oldest child in the family, stayed behind. A county survey done five or six years after his father left for Ohio shows that of the hundred or so people in his township, only two or three were more wealthy than he was. He owned a good deal of land, and also had one of the seven or eight mills in town.
Although most of the Dreeses lived on the Beaver township, Snyder county side of the county boundary, Jacob lived a mile or two to the west in Decatur, Mifflin county. The Decatur and Beaver townships area was very beautiful. They both lay between two chains of low mountains, in a long, fertile valley with a creek running the distance of it. Jacob had a small little family in Decatur by 1800 and lived there until he finally joined up with his brothers in Ohio in the mid 1820s. The fact that he was doing so well in Pennsylvania might help to explain why he stayed behind when all of his brothers and his father moved on.
Although Jacob himself was doing quite well, he was not the only one. His uncles and their families (Jacob, John, Peter Drees and children) were very important in building up Beaver Township, across the county line. When the first church was built there in about 1810, it was Drees money, labor, and land that helped to build it. In fact, Jacob (our ancestor, Michael's son, in Decatur) may have contributed also, since that church served the whole area. One of the men listed as a contributor was a 'Jacob Drees', and his uncle that shared the same name had died 20 years earlier. In addition, the Dreeses continued to contribute much to Beaver township, even after Michael and his clan had moved on to Ohio.
As was previously mentioned, Michael's move to Ohio was part of a much larger push. Ohio became a state in 1803, and by that time the migration had already begun in earnest, although the really big push didn't come until after the War of 1812. Anyone who came before that war can be considered a true pioneer.
Michael and his family settled in Circleville, Pickaway County, the most populated city in one of the most populated counties in 1805. But even at that rate, Circleville hadn't been settled by white men until 1801, and only contained 20 or 25 families when he arrived. Michael and his family had traveled with a much larger group of friends from the Snyder county and even the old Berks county area. A11 of the Germans lived on the east side of the county, on rather small, orderly farms. Settlers from Virginia lived on the other side of the county, across the river, on larger, less well kept farms. When the church that the Treases attended in Circleville was organized in 1810, its services were conducted entirely in German, which shows that it was still the language of the family even in the early 1800s, although most could probably handle some English by this time.
Upon arriving in Ohio, Michael's one married daughter (Polly) and his younger daughters, as they married, dispersed throughout Pickaway county and closely surrounding counties, where they spent the rest of their life. Except for Jacob, who had stayed in Pennsylvania, all of Michael's boys came with him to Circleville. The two oldest of these sons (John, aged 38 in 1805, and Peter, 32) spent most of the rest of their life in Pickaway County, until as rather old men they moved with their children and grandchildren to Hancock County, about 150 miles to the northwest in Ohio.
Henry was the youngest of Michael's sons, being about 20 when the family came to Ohio. When Michael passed away at the age of about 60 in August 1808, Henry was put in charge of his father's estate. Henry published an article in a nearby newspaper in Ohio, as well as one in Pennsylvania, that his sisters and brother there would have access to. He let them know of their father's death, and let them know that they needed to come claim their share of their father's inheritance (mainly land), or simply get in touch with him so they would get part of the proceeds from the sale. All of the Pennsylvania children, and the ones in Ohio who were now moving away from Pickaway county, had Henry sell their portions of the land, and received the money from the sale. The sons who were still in Pickaway opted to receive their portion of the land.
So by the end of the War of 1812, Michael had passed on and the end of an era in the Trease family in America had come. Eighty years earlier Michael's father, a young German immigrant of twenty, stepped off the boat in Philadelphia and became part of the Pennsylvania German experience. Now, by 1813, the family was dispersed throughout Pennsylvania and Ohio, the children were intermarrying with non-Germans, and picking up their language and customs. They were now truly Americans.
It was right at this time, as the War of 1812 ended, and many of the Indian problems that had plagued the early settlers had ended, that Ohio's population soared. "Ohio Fever" overtook the country, and between 1812 and 1830, almost a million settlers came west to Ohio. The older counties in the eastern and southern portion of the state, such as Pickaway, couldn't handle this influx of settlers, and the northern and western sections of Ohio underwent great growth. It was near the tail end of this movement northwest that the three oldest Trease sons moved to Hancock County. Ten years later they were joined by their youngest brother Henry.
TO (WAYNE CO) OHIO [JACOB; 1820s]
It was during this period of "Ohio Fever" (1812-1830) that Jacob finally left his farm and mill behind in Mifflin County and came to Ohio. Between 1820 and 1825 he came and settled in Mohican township, Ashland county. It, too, was northwest of where the early settlers such as the Dreeses had come. Whether Jacob first joined up with his brothers in Pickaway and then went northwest two or three years later, or whether he went directly to Ashland County, is uncertain. But at any rate, he is listed on the town tax roles by 1825.
Jacob was about 55 by the time he moved to Ohio, and had several grown children, some teenagers, and some younger boys, the youngest being eight years old. Surprisingly, all of his children, even the married daughters and their families, came with him to Ashland county. Jacob settled on section 22 of Mohican Township, where his sons and grandsons would lived until sixty years later. When Jacob arrived, the land had already been partially cleared. A house had been built on the land in 1809, by what must have been one of the very earliest settlers in the county. During the War of 1812 a fort was built on the land, which possibly exists to this day.
Jacob spent ten years on this land before he passed away in the late spring of 1835. Margaret, his wife, had preceded him by about three years. In the spring of 1835 Jacob, probably sensing that the end was near and that at the age of 65 he couldn't handle the whole farm by himself, sold much of it to Henry, his 25 year old son, who now had a little family. In the deed, drawn up as spring was coming on, Jacob stipulated that he was to receive half of the fruit from the trees and half of the syrup from the sugar trees every year, and that Henry was not to sell any of the fruit until Jacob had chosen his half. Although Jacob was getting older, he probably expected to have a few more years of enjoyment on the land. But by the summer of 1835, he had passed on. Jacob was buried with his wife Margaret in a tiny cemetery plot, just large enough for a few members of the family, which lay more or less on the border of the Trease farm.
Before he had passed away, Jacob had given several parcels of land to each of his sons. On his death, they retained these parcels and the larger parcel, where the house and the fort were, and where Jacob and Margaret were buried, fell mainly into the hands of Henry, although George, his younger 20 year old brother, just getting married, got quite a bit too.
Soon after their father's death, however, the children started to split up. Starting in the fall of 1835, soon after Jacob's death, and for about the next five years, four of the seven sons moved away, some or all of them far to the west, to Indiana and beyond. This was part of a larger migration that was occurring, as lands in Indiana, Illinois, Iowa and beyond were being opened up to relieve the pressure on states such as Ohio, which had become filled up so quickly by the 1830s. In addition, the nationwide depression of the late 1830s, which hit Ohio particularly hard, caused many of the people to lose their stable farm income, and they had to move on to cheaper land in the west.
The Trease family was part of this westward migration. Samuel and Michael, Henry's just older and younger brothers, both in their mid twenties, left in 1835 and 1837, respectively. Michael had a smokehouse in the tiny village of nearby Mohicanville, and it is probable that Samuel worked in a related line of work. The depression of 1837 probably affected Michael's business pretty badly, and he had to move on. John, who was in his mid thirties, and Isaac, the 'baby' of the family, who had just gotten married, both left in 1839-40. Both had been farmers in Mohican township, and Isaac moved to Adams, Indiana, and his older brother John presumably moved to more or less the same area, although no definite traces can be found.
Henry, meanwhile, stayed and cared for the farm. In about 1831 he had gotten married to Mary Oram. Interestingly enough, Mary and her father Thomas and their family had lived on the same plot of land the Treases bought in 1825. Thomas, who according to one account was a Methodist minister, had come to Ohio with his brother Joshua very early, like Michael Drees. In fact, he had settled in Fairfield county, just a few miles east of where Michael lived, in 1804, a year before the Dreeses came. Thomas' brother Joshua had moved up into the wilderness area of Ashland county right before the War of 1812, and became a prominent man in his community.
Sometime during the war, Thomas moved his family up to Ashland county to be with his brother. During the winter of 1812-3, these two families, along with four or five others, spent the winter holed up in a small fort four or five miles from where the Treases would live later. It was during the war that Thomas' wife died, and was the first white person buried in that township. Within a year or so, however, Thomas had remarried, to an Elizabeth Logue, who was a very kind woman who raised Mary, aged two, and the other children to maturity. As the war was about ready to end, Thomas moved his family to the farm where the Treases would live twelve years later. He spent only three or four years there, and by 1816 he had moved a few miles north to Montgomery township, still in Ashland county. He spent about fourteen years there before passing away in about March 1830.
By 1825, the Treases had moved to the farm Thomas left in 1816-19. It is probable that Thomas came back to the farm with his teenage daughter Mary at least a couple of times, just to see how things were going, and this is probably how Henry and Mary met. Soon after her father's death, Henry and Mary were married. They continued to live on the farm for the next fifty years (except for a few years about 1847-mid 1850s), both farming and milling, and by the 1860s Henry had become one of the most prosperous and important men in the township. During this time, he was involved in a lot of land trading, and was even visiting the county courthouse on a regular basis, probably regarding these land deals.
But in his later years he lost nearly all of his wealth, and died a very poor man at his son in law's house six or seven miles away to the east in Blachleysville. Mary was very sick the last years of her life, and was pretty much incapacitated. She lasted only a year or so after Henry's death, and died at her granddaughter's house near the old Trease farm in 1894. Even though they died very poor, Henry and Mary had donated money and land to the building of the United Brethren church in Lake Fork, a tiny village just south of their farm. Because of the donation, they are buried in fine fashion in the cemetery there, indicative of the good position he had in life in his earlier years.
Henry had eight children, the last two of them being twin boys, James and Jack, who were born in 1843. By 1861 James should have been enlisting in the Union Army, but strangely enough, later census records show that he had moved up to Wisconsin and had had a baby by 1863. By 1867, after the end of the war, he had moved back down to Ashland county and had another child, Morgan Baird Trease. Susan Cochran was the wife of the second child, and it is very possible that she was the mother of the first also, although family members often mentioned that the two babies had nothing in common, as far as looks or personality.
Susan Cochran had lived a rather hard life before marrying James. Her father Joseph Cochran was born in Ireland, and had immigrated to Maryland with his parents as a young child. In 1818, still not in his teens, he came to Coshocton County Ohio, with four of his brothers, the oldest in his young twenties. Joseph got married about 1827 to Susan Downs, and nine years later their daughter Susan was born. Tragically, though, her mother died of complications from the birth, and Joseph had to remarry. Joseph lived a very modest, humble life. He spent 1818-1887, when he died, in the same township in Coshocton county, and was never very important in civic affairs, and was always rather poor. The 1850 census shows that Susan, now a young teenage girl, was living with another family nearby her father's place, perhaps as a servant or something of the sort. She was in her late twenties when she and James married, quite old for a girl to be getting married in rural Ohio in the 1850s.
James and Susan, as far as the records show, never owned any land of their own, but lived in one of the three houses on their father Henry's property, helping with the farm duties. When James' newly-married son Morgan moved north out of Ashland county in the early 1890s, when James was in his late forties, he followed his son, and died at his son's place in Wadsworth county in 1901.
James and Susan had only the two already mentioned children. Morgan Baird Trease, the younger son, was married in 1887 to Ella Etta Gross, daughter of a woman who had emigrated to America from the Alsace-Lorraine region of Germany/France as a young child. Ella was born on December 31, 1866, one day before birth records began to be recorded in Ashland county. As a result, it is impossible to know who her father was. All that is known is that her mother was alone by the time her younger sister was born in 1873.
Mary apparently had a hard lot in life. When Ella was about six, John Reep, a German immigrant who had been in the US just a couple of months, came to live with the Grosses, working for Mary's father. Within a few months of his arrival at the farm, Mary was expecting a baby, and she and John were married. Jacob became the guardian for this new German immigrant, and when John received his citizenship in 1877 and had no more need of a guardian, he left the Gross family, leaving Mary with two children to care for by herself. In her later years, when her daughters had married, Mary spent a quiet life with her German parents, dying a few years after them in 1909.
Ella's grandparents, Jacob and Mary Gross, had come to the United States in 1848, when they were in their late twenties, and little Mary was just a child of four. They came to the Ashland/Wayne county area during the 1860s, and in the early 1870s Jacob bought some land from Peter Trease, one of Morgan's older relatives. It seems that the Treases and the Grosses both attended the United Brethren church, perhaps even the same chapel for a period. In addition, they only lived two or three miles apart from each other. So it is no surprise that a Gross and a Trease, Ella and Morgan, would be married together.
TO MEDINA COUNTY, OH (1890s)
Since Morgan's grandfather was old and nearly destitute, and since his father owned no land of his own, the young couple packed their bags and moved, along with Morgan's parents, about 25-30 miles to the north to Western Star, Medina county. Within fifteen years of their marriage, they had seven children, little Johnny being the youngest. They had moved to Wadsworth, the township immediately to the west, and Morgan continued his dairy farming. In addition to caring for his farm, Morgan participated on the school board.
Morgan and Ella's children and grandchildren note that they were both rather quiet, Ella especially so. In addition, Ella was a very organized lady, and kept a very clean house. Morgan was a hard worker, which made up for his lack of brawn, and he received enough from the farm that he was able to buy a new Buick when few other farmers could afford such things.
When Ella died in 1926, at the age of just almost sixty, the obituary mentioned that she had many friends in the community. She was "an excellent companion and wife, a loving mother, just old fashioned enough to make the great ideal of her life the care of her family and home, to all of which she gave herself in unstinted devotion and care. For the welfare of her family and home she both labored and prayed to the end. She was also a good neighbor and lived in the highest esteem of all with whom she came in contact." "Born of Christian parentage, she was baptized in infancy, and on the 20th day of April, 1924, was confirmed in the faith, becoming a member of the Trinity Reformed Church of Wadsworth, where she has remained a faithful member."
After the death of his wife, Morgan carried on his work on the farm, mainly with the help of his youngest son, John, as well as others in the family on occasion. While John was away in California in the spring and summer of 1930, Morgan suffered a cerebral hemorrhage, and lived just a month or so after his son and new daughter in law, Ila Cowling Trease, rushed back from California to see him.
The newspaper mentioned that "Mr. Trease had lived on his present farm for 26 years, and had been a member of the Reformed Church practically all his life. He was also a member of the Wadsworth Lodge of Maccabees. Simple in his manner of life, he was a sincere Christian, an exemplary father, a good citizen, a hard worker, and a loyal friend and neighbor. Of warm and kindly temperament, he commended himself to all who were associated with him, and to these his memory will ever be a precious heritage." So as John and Ila took over the Trease farm, they entered into the third century of the Trease family in America. Commenced by humble German immigrants fleeing religious persecution in the 1730s. Hard working farmers in Berks, Snyder, and Mifflin counties, Pennsylvania. Moving westward in the early 1800s and pioneering in new settlements in Ohio. Experiencing the highs and the lows of farming and the rural life in the nineteenth century midwest. And entering into the twentieth century still firm in their tradition of hard work and devotion to God. That is the history of the Trease family in America.