George Drechsel (1823-1908), Flight of Faith, 52 Ancestors #111

Drechsel valentine

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Today, you’re going to meet a real cupid and Valentine’s Day hero!  Georg’s story is remarkable.  I never understood the subtleties and what they meant until I really delved into the history and customs of the Germany where and when George lived.  The story on the surface is not the true story at all, and to think how easily I could have missed it.  Come along, you’ll love meeting Georg and hearing his surprising love story!

Georg Drechsel was born September 8, 1823 in Speichersdorf, in the Pfalz, in Bayern, Germany. He was born at 11:30 at night according to his birth records in the church in Wirbenz.  He was christened at 2 in the afternoon the following day.  A christening this soon after birth makes me wonder if there was some question about Georg’s health.

Speichersdorf church

Georg’s father was named Georg Drechsel as well, born in 1785 in Neuhoff/Crusen, in the Pfalz, in Bayern, Germany.

His mother was Eva Barbara Haering born in 1789 in Speichersdorf, a servant who is the single daughter of a farmer.

Georg’s parents were not married when he was born, and he was christened George Hering (Haering), but obviously used the surname Drechsel. His father’s surname was listed as Drechsel, and he is noted as being a servant.  Georg’s parents were subsequently married five years later in 1828.

Our family had humble beginnings.

You can see on the map below, with the church location noted, that fields surround the church yet today. It may well be in these fields that these families worked, as servants.  Germans lived in houses clustered in the village and worked the fields that surrounded the village.  That explains why there are so many villages scattered like polka-dots throughout the countryside, literally every couple of miles.

Speichersdorf church map

The church is shown in the old part of Speichersdorf, on the way to Goppmannsbuhl, where Georg’s sweetheart, Barbara Mehlheimer, lived.

Speichersdorf to Goppmannsbuhl


Like his parents, George had children prior to marriage. He had two illegitimate daughters with Barbara Mehlheimer.

The first record we find of Georg, after his christening, is the birth record of his first daughter, Barbara, born to Georg Drechsel and Barbara Mehlheimer on October 8, 1848 in Goppmansbuhl, a little farming village outside of Wirbenz. Barbara was baptized in the church in Wirbenz, a couple of miles distant.

On May 13th, 1851, a second daughter, Margaretha was born to George and Barbara, also in Goppmansbuhl, also baptized in the church in Wirbenz.

Maybe by today’s standards, having two children out of wedlock, in Germany at the time, might be considered “odd,” but the Germans were not living by the American’s standards of then or now. And no, by the way, the couple was not “living together” as couples might do today.

But still, I had to wonder, clearly, they had 6 or 7 months after Barbara discovered she was pregnant for the first child to “fix” the marriage issue. Why didn’t they?  It clearly wasn’t a “one night stand,” because they had a second child together two and a half years later.  Barbara was no child either.  She was 2 months shy of 25 years old when she had the first child and 27 when she had the second.


We don’t know anything else about Georg, spelled without the e on the end, until we find his permission to emigrate. Yes, then in Germany, you had to seek and obtain permission to leave the country.  You also had to pay tithes on any property you took out of the country.  I’m guessing George and Barbara took nothing but the clothes they had on their backs and their daughters, because as servants, they would have owned nothing else.

The State Archives in Amberg, Germany, said in a record for the administration of the upper Palatinate they find that,” Barbara Mehlheimer of Goppmansbuhl am Berg received permission to emigrate with her two illegitimate children, as well as Georg Drechsel from Speichersdorf, on April 18, 1852. We were not able to find any record for Georg Hering or Drechsel regarding paternity, but the two records for the two daughters, Barbara and Margaretha are still available.”

This record tells us that George was living in Speichersdorf at the time, and Barbara was living in Goppmannsbuhl.

Speichersdorf to Wirbenz

On this map. You can see that it was about 4km from Speichersdorf to Goppmannsbuhl, and that’s assuming they both lived “village center.” They may have lived much closer to each other actually.  Wirbenz, where both daughters were baptized, is shown at right.  Was George in attendance at their baptisms?

Barbara and George must have been thrilled. Emigration was their ticket to a new, better and very different life than what was available to them in Germany, and what had been available to their parents as well.  In Germany, they were destined to be servants and never more.  There was no upward mobility once you were classed as a servant, restricted in your ability to form your own family and stained with the cultural blot of illegitimacy, caused by the restrictive circumstances of servitude.  In other words, it was a vicious circle lasting generations from which there was no escape, except emigration.  A new beginning, a fresh start, an opportunity.  George and Barbara weren’t just turning over a new leaf, they were writing a whole new book and changing the future.

We know the couple obtained permission to leave on April 18th, and we know they arrived in Baltimore on either July 20th or 24th, both dates are recorded in two different places.  Regardless, they left from Bremen and the crossing itself would have taken from 3 weeks in a steamer to 6-8 weeks or so in a sailing ship.   Speichersdorf to Bremen was 561 kilometers.

Speichersdorf to Bremen

Bremen was not close, in fact, it was half a continent away.

Bayreuth Bremen map

I checked the major rivers to see if Georg and Barbara likely used the waterways to make their way to Bremen, their port of departure. Bayreuth is very close to the Czech Republic in the eastern part of Germany.  There are no direct river passages from there to Bremen, so it’s likely that they went overland to a location on perhaps connected with the Fulda or the Weser Rivers which would take them to Bremen.


The Drechsel’s arrived in Baltimore on July 24, 1852 on the ship “The Harvest” that sailed from Bremen. Daughter Barbara was shown as 3 years old and  Margaret, an infant, was listed separately from her parents on a page with all of the infants on the ship.

Drechsel passenger list cropDrechsel passenger list 2

They were passengers 240, 241 and 242.  That ship was very full, and they weren’t at the end of the list.

Drechsel passenger list 3

Georg’s emigration and arrival papers tell us that they left from Bremen.  His age was 28 when he arrived and 29 when he applied for citizenship.  He was a farmer and they arrived in Baltimore July 20th or 24th, 1852. Georg applied for citizenship January 7, 1853 in Dearborn County, Indiana.

Working backwards from this arrival date to discover a departure date, it looks like they would have left in either May or June, so it took them about a month or 6 weeks to make their arrangements and get themselves to Bremen. I wonder if they were excited or terrified or a bit of both.

We don’t know if Georg’s parents were alive, and he had to tell them goodbye, or if he had already said his goodbyes to them graveside. Either way would have been difficult.  Georg knew he would never see any of his German family members again.

Aurora, Indiana

Within a year, Georg and Barbara’s lives changed completely, literally, like night and day. In addition to telling their family goodbye, they would apply for and obtain permission to emigrate, make their way to Bremen, leave Germany, sail the Atlantic, arrive in Baltimore, make their way to Aurora, apply for citizenship, and get married. Yes, they did!  They applied for their marriage license the same day George applied for citizenship and were married just a few days later!

This was a Red Letter Day for this couple, maybe THE Red Letter Day, as they obtained their marriage license the same day as they applied for citizenship.  What a celebration they must have had!

Georg and Barbara were married 4 days later, on the 11th, by the justice of the peace.  This was indeed the American dream for this brave couple.  Did they just leave the courthouse with quiet smiles, or did they stand on the steps, whoop for joy and wave those long-sought and much-suffered-for papers in the air with a victory dance?

Drechsel marriage license crop

Above, the much coveted Drechsel-Melheimer marriage license in Dearborn Co Marriage Records, book 8 page 491 by W. Stark, JP.

So George Drechsel and Barbara Mehlheimer were married immediately upon arrival in the US. If they were married immediately upon arrival, why didn’t they marry in Germany before they left, before they had children, or at least after the first one was born?  Ahhh – there is more to the story – it’s not at all as it might appear.

It’s so easy, and natural, to look at the history of our ancestors through the lens and filter of social and cultural norms today, but they don’t always apply – and this time they certainly didn’t.  Any assumption I might have made would have been wrong.

According to Reverend Greininger, who found these records for me in the churches in Germany, Georg and Barbara probably had to immigrate to be allowed to marry. He commented on how brave this young couple must have been.  In Germany, a young man had to prove he could support his family before he was allowed to marry, although the good Reverend did not say what constituted proof nor who had to confer their approval.  Whoever it was, they clearly didn’t.

Immigrating to America at that time was the social equivalent of eloping. This would have been going against the grain, rebelling, not conforming, bucking tradition, and likely without the approval of his or her family and certainly not the church.  The German people liked order, conformity and obedience.  George broke the mold.  George and Barbara were rebels.  It was “bad enough” having children out of wedlock, your sins recorded for all posterity to see in the church records, “staining” your daughters forever and, of course, confirming that you had s, e, x out of wedlock too.  But then to openly defy the system on top of that……tsk, tsk, tsk.

George would have had to work long and hard to save enough for both his and her passage, and those of their two children.  But saving enough for the entire family to emigrate apparently still wasn’t enough “proof” of commitment and financial stability to allow them to marry. Emigration to America was likely their only opportunity, and they seized it, marrying at their first opportunity.  Marriage is a right we take for granted today, but one they risked their lives and fortunes to obtain.

A marriage license to us might be just a technicality we have to endure to get to the wedding itself, but for them, it was a victory – proof positive they had made the right decision despite the hardships and heartache!  I can just see their smiling faces as they held that document in their hands.

For Georg, he had succeeded. He had rescued his family from a place and circumstances where he could not marry his wife and a culture that made his daughter’s forcibly illegitimate.  He worked hard enough to pay their passage, and upon arrival, he married Barbara – with his two beautiful daughters in attendance.  How could there be a sweeter love story?

A new and shiny bright future was in front of them, and they were taking full advantage of their opportunities to make a life in America!

George Drechsel’s application for citizenship is shown below, and his signature enlarged above. Notice that the old style s looked very much like an f during the timeframe when Georg lived.  Also, the German name of Georg did not have an e on the end like the English version does.  His e would get attached soon enough and the spelling of the surname would change over time too!

Drechsel naturalization

Sometime after their arrival the name “became” Drexler, which was probably the English phonetic pronunciation.

George and Barbara set out to live the American dream to its fullest. They began to save for property and just a few years later, they bought their first and only house.  Or, perhaps they bought a lot and built a house.  But regardless, it would be theirs, where they raised their children and then deeded the property to daughters Lou and Barbara in 1891 and 1905, respectively.

George and Barbara were no longer servants, or children of servants, nor did they or their children any longer carry that social stigma what was inherited in Germany. In America, they could rise above their birth circumstances, they could own property, and they could succeed as far as their hard work would carry them.  Georg and Barbara were Americans!

The American Dream – Property

When Mom and I visited in the early 1990s, we found what we believed was the location where the Drechsel family lived according to the deeds we found and an 1875 map.

We discovered that Georg Drechsel had several entries in the Grantee and Grantor Deed Indexes 1826-1982.

  • Drechsel, Georg – (from) Riedel, Christian book 11 page 597, Nov. 1, 1856, Aurora lot 254. Note that Christian Riedel is the same person who witnessed for Georg’s naturalization.  I was hopeful of finding Christian in the census, but had no such luck.
  • George Drecksel to Louise Giegoldt Book 47 page 411, March 12, 1891, lot 254 the north half.
  • George Drecksel to Barbara Kirsch, book 66 page 19, lot 254 the E half lot 254, Dec. 15, 1905.

Except, there was a fly in the ointment. The 1875 map I was using was a black and white copy of an original.  I thought I could read it, then and now, but fate played a really cruel trick on me.

Mom and I went and found these properties in 1990. We took pictures.  We bonded with them.  They have been “mine” ever since…until tonight when Jenny Awad from the Dearborn County Historical Society sent me a color scan of the original map.  I looked at it and immediately thought, “wow, how clear.”  Then, I realized it was a different map, with more landmarks identified.  Then, I looked at the lot numbers and thought something looked odd.  Yep, you’ve probably guessed it by now.  Mom and I had the wrong lot number.  THE WRONG LOT!!!

For a quarter century now, I’ve been coveting the WRONG property. But it does make the 1900 census confusion go away.  The reason George Drechsel lives on 4th Street in 1900 is because his lot IS on 4th Street and his house IS on 4th Street – and has been ever since he bought it in 1856, on 4th Street.

Sigh. So all those lovely photos of the wrong house….bye bye.  This is as bad as sawing the limb off of your own family tree!

Oh, and yes, I get to go back and “fix” a couple of other articles too. Well, all I can say is better late than never, but am I ever mad at myself.  I should have checked against the original, back then.  The person at the historical society marked the proper lot for me, being much more familiar with the town than I was – and off Mom and I went to find that property today – “today” being about 1990.  We were SOOO happy.  Little did I know that the lot numbers, which were hand written of course, and worn, would be that easy to confuse…but they certainly were.  I did it too – until I saw the second map with the really, really clear lot numbers.  I had never seen that map before.  Thanks Jenny, I think!

So, here’s the really good map where I can see the lot numbers clearly, thanks to “troublemaker” Jenny who caused me to have this disruptive epiphany and genealogical meltdown, resulting in absolutely no sleep last night. As exasperated as I am (with myself), I’m actually extremely grateful to Jenny, because she stopped me from disseminating (and believing) incorrect information.  Because I publish online, “fixing” what I’ve written incorrectly is comparatively easy.  In fact, that’s what I did most of the night.  Do you think I inherited a bit of that German propensity for order and accuracy, perhaps?

1875 Aurora Map color

The map above, from 1875, shows the Drechsel house, lot 254, on 4th Street between Bridge and Exporting.  It was a block away from the barrel factory where George probably worked as a cooper.

If the original house still stands, and it looks like it does, it’s this house, at 510 4th Street today.

510 4th Street Aurora

1860 Census

The 1860 census shows that Georg’s family is growing.

Drechsel 1860 census Aurora

George and Barbara now have 5 children:

  • Barbara, age 11, listed at Babbit
  • Margaret, age 9
  • Lina, who was Caroline, age 6
  • John, age 4
  • Louisa, 9 months old

Mary would be born 2 years later.

George says he is a laborer, but I surely wish we knew more about what he did.  Maybe the next census will tell us.

The Civil War

George Drexler is listed on the Center Township district #9 Civil War Draft List.

This is a list of all persons subject to do military duty between the ages of 20 and 45 in Dearborn Co. with the following information:

“Any person enrolled may appear at the board of enrollment at Greensburg and claim to have his name stricken off the list if he can show to the satisfaction of the board that he has been improperly enrolled and not liable to do military duty on account of

  1. alienage
  2. nonresidence
  3. unsuitableness of age
  4. manifest permanent disability”

We show no evidence that George actually served in the war, but it is a distinct possibility that cannot totally be ruled out, although Fold3 shows no record of his service.  Why his name would have been on the exclusion list above, if it was, is also a mystery, as he would have been eligible to become a citizen in 1859, although he may have been bumping up against the age limit.

Another list for Dearborn county included about three times the number of people they actually needed and the balance of the people were “dismissed” as soon as their quota was filled. Perhaps this is what happened with George as well.


I finally found George in 1870 by going through the Aurora census page by page. I have no idea how his surname is indexed, but it’s not Drechsel nor does it look anything like that, but based on the names and ages of the family members, it’s clearly the correct family.

Drechsel 1870 census

George’s real estate is listed as worth $700. He was born to parents of foreign birth, but he is a citizen. And now we know he’s a cooper.


In 1880, George is shown again as a cooper and was unemployed for 2 months during the census year. I’ve never thought of “layoffs” in the 1800s in the trades.  I wondered perhaps if the cooper business slowed in the winter due to ice on the Ohio River, but that didn’t make sense either – because they would just have continued to work to stockpile barrels for the “rush,” certain to follow in the spring.  The primary use of the barrels was for whiskey which knows no season.

However, reading the “History of Dearborn County” written in 1885, it appears that the Wymond cooperage burned in the great fire of 1879 that burned several city blocks before being brought under control. One of the Wymond brothers retired at that point, but Samuel Wymond rebuilt and joined with another cooperage company to produce in excess of 600 whiskey barrels per day, plus barrels for other purposes as well, employing over 100 men.  This company owned several city blocks and the owners were exceedingly wealthy.  Little did he know it at the time, but George Drechsel’s granddaughter would one day marry into this family, with devastating results.

Drechsel 1880 census

By 1880, George’s children are gone except for Louisa who is living at home and is a seamstress. Mary, his youngest daughter is living at the Kirsch House with her sister, Barbara Drechsler Kirsch.  His house must have been getting quiet.

The 1883 Flood

In the 1880s, a photographer named James Walton had a portrait studio in Aurora. Barbara Drechsel Kirsch had her picture taken there.  Given Aurora’s proximity to the Ohio, and Hogan Creek, Aurora has a history and propensity to flood, like almost every year.

1883 Aurora Flood

The photo above is labeled 1883, and the 1884 flood was significantly worse – as in the river was another 5 or 6 feet higher. It was said to have been to the second level of the Kirsch House and to the roof of the train depot.  I’m exceedingly grateful to James Walton for this photo, because it’s the only one of the town in the 1800s that I’ve seen that includes our family properties, plus it gives us some perspective on the floods in general, and how terrible it must have been a year later, in 1884.  These floods affected the entire community and no one was immune.

This photo was taken from Langley Hill, so we are looking straight down Exporting Street.

1883 Aurora flood family properties

The top right arrow off to the right side of the picture is pointing to Third Street. The arrow below third street is pointing to Fourth Street, which is the first street running parallel with the bottom of the photo, closest to us.  The arrow on the corner of 4th Street and Exporting is the house that Barbara Drechsel Kirsch, George’s daughter, would purchase in 1921 when she sold the Kirsch House.

George’s house would have been on 4th street, two lots to the right of the 4th street arrow, so just outside the picture.  Fourth Street appears to be somewhat higher in elevation than the areas nearer to Hogan Creek and downtown Aurora.

The top left arrow is pointing to the train depot, and the right arrow at the top is pointing to the Kirsch House, which fronts Second Street. You can see its portico over the sidewalk appearing below the white front of the building. At the time this picture was taken, George’s daughter, Barbara had been married to Jacob Kirsch for 17 years and they had been the proprietors of the Kirsch house for 8 years.  According to family oral history, the Kirsch House flooded at least once to the second level, in other words the portico.  The water was to the roof of the train depot, which was only one story.  I’m unclear whether this was the 1884 or 1913 floods, or perhaps both.  If that massive flood was in 1884, George would certainly have suffered through that one as well, although I don’t know if the part of town where George lived floods.  But if it was the 1913 floods, and there were two in three months, only George’s grave would have been flooded – and he wouldn’t have been worrying about it.

Church Founder

“The 1885 Dearborn Co. History for the City of Aurora” says that George Drexler was a founder of St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church.

“The church was formed in 1856 by a small number of settlers who were convinced that it was a necessity, as well as their Christian duty, to assemble on the Lord’s Day for divine worship. In May 1878, after renting a church from the Baptists, they began to build their own church on Mechanic Street.”

Jacob Kirsch st John's google

I don’t know if the patrons build the church themselves, or had it built. George was more than 50 years old when this building was finished.  Had the congregation dreamed about this for the past two decades?  Was this new church also a dream come true for George?

Mom and I found the church in 1990 when we visited as well. I wish we had taken pictures inside.

Aurora St. John Church

George would have been very pleased to know that his daughter, Barbara, “Mrs. Jacob Kirsch,” is listed among the members in the 50 year anniversary book published in 1924.


The 1890 census is missing, of course, but in 1900, we find George and Barbara living at 148 Fourth Street. The neighbors look really familiar!

Drechsel 1900 census

Louisa Giegoldt is the daughter of George Drechsel and Barbara Mehlheimer. This is interesting because in 1891, George deeded part of this property to Louisa and she and her husband apparently built on their part of the lot.  This is one way to keep your family close!

The next year, in 1901, Louisa’s husband, John Giegoldt would die. He was only 42 in 1900, so still a young man.  I don’t know if his death was unexpected or not, but the fact that he is listed without an occupation might be a clue that he was ill.  Louisa has two daughters and both are employed as “shoe seamstresses.”  I must admit, I’m not exactly sure how that might be different than a shoemaker.

George and Barbara Drechsel show that they have been married 50 years in 1900 and have had 6 children, 4 of whom are living – which of course means two of their children have died.  One daughter, Margaretha, died in 1889, but we don’t know the identify of the second child who died.

George and Barbara show that they arrived in 1854 and have lived here for 46 years and are naturalized. Memory is slipping just a bit.

Actually, they have lived in the US 48 years, arrived in 1852 and have been married for 48 years as well, but who is counting!!! How could they forget that momentous event, although maybe their “math” was strategically a bit off, all things considered.

In reality, had George been allowed to marry Barbara in Germany, when he first wanted to, they would have been married about 53 years – a remarkable milestone, even today, in the age of advanced health care and antibiotics. For a couple of that day and age to hit the half century golden anniversary is amazing.  At Barbara’s death, in 1906, they had been “effectively married” at least 59 years, perhaps more.

I believe the street addresses have changed in Aurora since 1900, because the Kirsch House is listed as 162 Second Street in 1900 and today it’s 506 North Second.

The property shown below is present day lot 254. In 1910, it was listed as 148 Fourth Street.  George’s original house today is located at 510 4th Street, on the right in the photo below, and sure enough, another house is snugged right up on the left.  That would have been Louisa’s north half of the lot and is today 512 4th Street, according to the house number visible on Google Street View.  I love Google Street view.  I’ve visited so many places I could never otherwise visit – and certainly not on short notice.  It’s not the same as being there, but it’s doggone close!

510 4th Street both houses

Clearly George lived here beside his daughter for the rest of his life. It was probably unclear who was helping whom, at least until the end.  Louisa’s husband died in 1901.  In 1905 George deeded the rest of the lot to Barbara Drechsel Kirsch.  George’s wife, Barbara died in 1906 and George was likely becoming senile by that point.  Louisa remarried to Theodore Busse or Bosse in May 1908, just three months after her father died. Sadly, Louise’s daughter, Nettie, would died in September of the same year and then Bosse would die in 1912 as well, so poor Louisa had her hands full for a few years.

I’m glad to know that George helped Louisa and she helped him as well. Both Louisa and Barbara were very close, both to each other and to their parents, emotionally and geographically, and I’m sure they both provided their parents with a sheltering presence in their final years.

George’s Death and Funeral

George died of senility and “weakness.” His obituary reads as follows:

The death of George Drexler occurred on last Wed. from pneumonia at the age of 85 years 5 mos. and 17 days. Mr. Drexler was a respected citizen of Aurora for many years and leaves 1 son and 3 daughters to mourn his loss.  Funeral services took place from the German Lutheran Church of this city, Rev. Fisher officiating on last Fri. Feb. 27 and the remains were interred at Riverview.

The church records say that he died on the 26th, not the 25th and indicate that he died of weakness. They also give his age as 84 years, 5 mos and 18 days.  They indicate that he had 4 daughters, 17 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren. Does this indicate that George’s son is dead?

In both George and Barbara’s obituaries, they refer to 4 married children, or 4 married daughters. This suggests that their son and one of their daughters has died, or perhaps two daughters, but everyone who is living is married.

It’s not very often we get to visit the funeral from a distance of more than 100 years, but because the church recorded the passages read at George’s funeral, in a sense, we too can be there. German Lutherans really didn’t discuss death much, until it happened.  They viewed death not as an end, but as a new beginning in an eternal life with God.

It was here, in the beautiful church George helped to found, 52 years later, that his funeral was held.

Drechsel St, John postcard crop

What a fitting tribute.

The passage read at George’s funeral was II Kor.5, 8, 9, taken below from the King James Bible, the Protestant English speaking standard Bible of the time. I wonder why this selection was made – if it reflected something about George,  was something the preacher thought appropriate or was simply standard funeral fare.

2 Corinthians 5

1 For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

2 For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven:

3 If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked.

4 For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life.

5 Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit.

6 Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord:

7 (For we walk by faith, not by sight:)

8 We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.

9 Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him.

10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.

11 Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences.

12 For we commend not ourselves again unto you, but give you occasion to glory on our behalf, that ye may have somewhat to answer them which glory in appearance, and not in heart.

13 For whether we be beside ourselves, it is to God: or whether we be sober, it is for your cause.

14 For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead:

15 And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.

16 Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more.

17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;

19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.

20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.

21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

2 Corinthians 8

1 Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia;

2 How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality.

3 For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves;

4 Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints.

5 And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God.

6 Insomuch that we desired Titus, that as he had begun, so he would also finish in you the same grace also.

7 Therefore, as ye abound in every thing, in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love to us, see that ye abound in this grace also.

8 I speak not by commandment, but by occasion of the forwardness of others, and to prove the sincerity of your love.

9 For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.

10 And herein I give my advice: for this is expedient for you, who have begun before, not only to do, but also to be forward a year ago.

11 Now therefore perform the doing of it; that as there was a readiness to will, so there may be a performance also out of that which ye have.

12 For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not.

13 For I mean not that other men be eased, and ye burdened:

14 But by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may be a supply for their want, that their abundance also may be a supply for your want: that there may be equality:

15 As it is written, He that had gathered much had nothing over; and he that had gathered little had no lack.

16 But thanks be to God, which put the same earnest care into the heart of Titus for you.

17 For indeed he accepted the exhortation; but being more forward, of his own accord he went unto you.

18 And we have sent with him the brother, whose praise is in the gospel throughout all the churches;

19 And not that only, but who was also chosen of the churches to travel with us with this grace, which is administered by us to the glory of the same Lord, and declaration of your ready mind:

20 Avoiding this, that no man should blame us in this abundance which is administered by us:

21 Providing for honest things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men.

22 And we have sent with them our brother, whom we have oftentimes proved diligent in many things, but now much more diligent, upon the great confidence which I have in you.

23 Whether any do enquire of Titus, he is my partner and fellowhelper concerning you: or our brethren be enquired of, they are the messengers of the churches, and the glory of Christ.

24 Wherefore shew ye to them, and before the churches, the proof of your love, and of our boasting on your behalf.

2 Corinthians 9

1 For as touching the ministering to the saints, it is superfluous for me to write to you:

2 For I know the forwardness of your mind, for which I boast of you to them of Macedonia, that Achaia was ready a year ago; and your zeal hath provoked very many.

3 Yet have I sent the brethren, lest our boasting of you should be in vain in this behalf; that, as I said, ye may be ready:

4 Lest haply if they of Macedonia come with me, and find you unprepared, we (that we say not, ye) should be ashamed in this same confident boasting.

5 Therefore I thought it necessary to exhort the brethren, that they would go before unto you, and make up beforehand your bounty, whereof ye had notice before, that the same might be ready, as a matter of bounty, and not as of covetousness.

6 But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.

7 Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.

8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:

9 (As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth for ever.

10 Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness;)

11 Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God.

12 For the administration of this service not only supplieth the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God;

13 Whiles by the experiment of this ministration they glorify God for your professed subjection unto the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal distribution unto them, and unto all men;

14 And by their prayer for you, which long after you for the exceeding grace of God in you.

15 Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.

I don’t know what hymns were sung at George’s funeral, but I do know that in other parts of the country, one hymn in particular was much requested at German funerals, apparently in reflection of the wars, immigration and trials faced by the German immigrants. In English, it is called, “Lord, Take my Hand and Lead Me” and it was written by Julie Katharina von Hausman who was born in 1826.  One German descendant said “there is no funeral without this hymn.”

1. God, take my hand and lead me
upon life’s way;
direct, protect, and feed me
from day to day.
Without your grace and favour
I go astray,
so take my hand, O Saviour,
and lead the way.

2. God, when the tempest rages,
I need not fear;
for you, the Rock of Ages,
are always near.
Close by your side abiding,
I fear no foe,
for when your hand is guiding,
in peace I go.

3. God, when the shadows lengthen
and night has come,
I know that you will strengthen
my steps toward home,
and nothing can impede me,
O blessed Friend!
So, take my hand and lead me
unto the end.

Please enjoy this beautiful hymn in German:

And in English:

Thank you for attending George’s funeral with the family.  Now let’s go to the Riverview Cemetery.

The Riverview Cemetery

When George Drechsel passed away, he joined his wife and other friends and family in the Riverview Cemetery overlooking Laughery Creek where it joins the Ohio River, just a couple of miles south of Aurora.

Riverview flyer

Riverview flyer 2

George and Barbara are buried on an Indian Mound in the cemetery in Section Q lot 56, tier 1 grave 2 and 3, marked near the top of the brochure, above.

Drechsel riverview mound

They weren’t kidding when they said he was buried on a mound. It’s a terraced mound no less.  I’m terribly curious about what is beneath that mound, but I’m sure I’m not the first to ask and since there is no answer today, there isn’t likely to be either.  The Indiana Department of Natural Resources recognizes the cemetery as a historic site and says the “two” burial mounds at the site have never been excavated and were intentionally incorporated into the cemetery plan.  Mounds are common along the Ohio River and like the well known Angel Mounds, may be from the Mississippian culture.

Drechsel riverview terracing

Looking at the hill, George and Barbara’s tombstones are located just to the right of the middle tree with the flower basket hanging.

Drechsel Riverview closer

George and Barbara’s stones are identical. These were difficult for me to find, so I’m “walking” you there.

Dechsel Riverview tree

The cemetery information lists George Drechsel as a cooper and says he died of senility and was buried in Section Q, lot 56-1, Grave 2.

Drechsel Riverview me

George and Barbara, ran away to America together for a better life…and found one. Now they rest together for eternity.

There is one last difference between what their life, and death, in Germany versus America would have been like as well.  In Germany, as in most of Europe. The graves are “reused,” as in recycled, after a few years.  That’s normal there and no one thinks anything about it.  When it’s time to bury the next person, the bones, if any are left, are removed and put anonymously in an ossuary to finish decomposing, and the new person is buried in the same location.  Sometimes other family members utilize the plot, and sometimes, complete strangers.  In Germany, graves are not a final resting place, but more of a decomposition pit stop.

Here, your grave is your grave is your grave, forever.  Well…except in the very rare case, and I mean chicken’s teeth rare, when you are buried on an Indian Mound, and then you may well have an unanticipated buddy, or several.  As long as you have a marker, your descendants can find you and visit and we’ll just say hello to your nameless buddies too.  Somehow, I just find this the ultimate irony.

Dechsel Riverview Georg and Barbara

The Family Line and DNA

George and Barbara had six children, two born in Germany and the rest in Aurora, Indiana. Among those children, only one boy, Johann Edward Drechsel, later written Drexler, is the only possible candidate for us to be able to obtain the Y DNA of George Dreschel.  Males pass their Y chromosome only to sons.  In fact, the Y chromosome is what makes males male.

We don’t know if George had any siblings in Germany, or if his father had siblings or uncles. There are other Drechsel, Drexler and Drexel families that immigrated to other places in the US.

Drechsel 1880 names Drechsel 1920 names

Some of those other Drechsel’s may indeed be from the same family line. Drechsel is from the Old High German word drasil, or “turner,” as in wood turner, a person who makes hand-made wooden items, such as bowls, using a lathe, so there could certainly be turners from different regions that are unrelated.

But without finding a male Drechsel, by whatever spelling, that descends from George’s line, we’ll never know.

Ironically, the Drechsel surname is still found in that part of Germany, near Crussen, because in a military newsletter from April of 2015, it gives the name of one Barbara Drechsel as a contact for a “volkesmarche” or people’s walk, a health event. So, they are still there and still named Barbara.

Children of George Drechsel and Barbara Mehlheimer

In total, George and Barbara had 6 children, 5 girls and one boy.

The girls were:

  1. Barbara Drechsel was born October 8, 1848 in Goppmannsbuhl, Germany and baptized in Wirbenz, the closest village, on October 22, 1851. In Aurora, Indiana she married Jacob Kirsch and died in 1930.
  2. Margaretha Drechsel was born May 13, 1851 in Goppmannsbuhl, Germany. In Aurora, she married Herm Rabe and died in 1889.
  3. Carolina “Lina” Drechsel was born January 8, 1854. She married Gotfried Heinke in Cincinatti, Ohio and died in 1938.
  4. Emma Louise “Lou” Drechsel born on July 18, 1859 and died in Aurora in 1949. She was married three times, first to Johann George Giegoldt, second to Theodore Bosse and third to Valentine Dietz.
  5. Teresa Maria “Mary” Drechsel born December 28, 1862. She’s living at the Kirsch House with the her sister Barbara in 1880 and is shown in the Aurora church records as living in Cincinnati in 1881, but after that, she’s a mystery.  She may have been the other child to die before 1900.

Son John, or Edward, or Johann Edward, or Whatever

George and Barbara’s fourth child and only son was Johann Edward Drechsel born on August 16, 1856.  In 1871 he was the godfather of Johann Edward Kirsch, his sister’s child.  By 1877, he was living in Cincinnati, according to church records.  In his father George’s obituary in 1908 he is listed as living along with 3 of George’s daughters, but in George’s church death records, 4 daughters are listed as living.

John is particularly difficult to track for a couple of reasons. First, he could have used either John or Edward.  Edward would have been the more traditional German name to use, but traditions were changing and the one record that may be him uses John.  The surname has been misspelled and mis-indexed about 100 ways to Sunday.  The most common are Drexler and Drexel, but in some places and cases, it’s simply unrecognizable.  Had I not gone through the 1870 census page by page, knowing the family was living in Aurora at that time, I would never have found them.  I suspect this same issue applies to many other records pertaining to this family, and since John’s surname is Drechsel, his records could well be obscured by this issue.

I may have found John in the 1880 census in Cincinnatti, Ohio, but I cannot find him later and I have no way to confirm the 1880 record is our John. He could also be listed under Edward or Drexler could be spelled any number of ways.  I could find no burial or other records for this John or his wife either.

John Drexler in the 1880 census is married to Lizzie Theisinger. They are living with her parents.  John is a tailor and was born in 1856 in Indiana and his parents were born in Prussia.  That fits.

Drechsel 1880 Cincy census

Philip Theisinger, who would have been John’s father-in-law, died in 1884 with no will or probate apparently.

I chased the Theisinger family through cemeteries in the Cincinnati area. If something happened to John or Lizzie, one would think they would be buried with the rest of the Theisingers, but I came up completely empty handed.  I also don’t find them in the 1900 census, but then again, the name could be misspelled, and they could have moved to a different part of the country.  Furthermore, Lizzie, probably short for Elizabeth, isn’t exactly a unique name either.  I also checked Ancestry’s trees in the hopes that someone in the Theisinger family dove into genealogy, but that hasn’t happened.  I’m striking out here!

Probably the most frustrating part of not being able to find John is that he is the only candidate for Y DNA testing. He has no male siblings and his father has no known siblings either, although there could certainly be siblings in Germany for his father that I’m unaware of.  However, without a male Drechsel to test, we’ll never know anything about George’s Y line DNA which means we’ll never know anything about his ancient history, before the advent of surnames.  Searching for John has been like searching for a needle in a haystack, being uncertain of which first name he used and unsure of how his last name was going to be spelled at that minute and place in time.

Does anyone know anything about John Drexler and Lizzie Theisinger?

If you are a male Drechsel or Drexler, spelled in whatever way, descended from George’s line, in the US or in Germany, there is a DNA testing scholarship with your name on it!!!

On Faith Alone

George’s story is one of faith. He was a quiet, unsung hero.  A man who began life as the illegitimate son of servants who could not afford to marry and ended his life having broken that chain.  He became a successful tradesman, a cooper, owned property and risked everything, including his life, crossing two continents and an ocean to break the legacy of generational servitude and impoverishment for himself, the woman who would be his wife and his children.

George came on faith alone, because he had nothing but faith and a prayer. One could call it brave.  One might call it foolhardy.  Bravery is moving beyond fear.  George could either reach out to a terribly uncertain future, embrace his only opportunity, and risk failure, or he could never reach out.  Instead of focusing on failure, he spread his wings to fly.  And fly he did.  George soared, and in doing do, became the wind beneath the wings of his descendants.  I would not be here today were in not for George’s flight of faith to marry the women he loved.

Happy Valentines Day George and Barbara!

wedding rings



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20 thoughts on “George Drechsel (1823-1908), Flight of Faith, 52 Ancestors #111

  1. Pingback: What is a DNA Scholarship and How Do I Get One? | DNAeXplained – Genetic Genealogy

  2. Hi Roberta,
    I just want to point out that “senility” alone and “senile weakness” as medical terms simply mean old age. If he suffered from Alzheimer’s, it would have been referred to as Senile Dementia.


  3. Don’t give up just yet on river transport to Bremen for your emigrant ancestors.
    The map of rivers leaves out canals, by which many of my family made the connection between Frankfurt on der Oder and the Spree River. And if the Spree does not naturally eventually join with the Elbe, there was a connecting canal there too. And this was over the period 1838-1855 and maybe a decade more, although by the time the last came, we have no direct witness, and railways had been built. My emigrant ancestors (or their fellow passengers) often left diary entries, letters or memoirs that they came via canals. Granted, they often had an initial overland journey to reach a river port, but that was short compared with the portion on inland waterways. This link maps a typical journey.

  4. This was the first time I looked at this site and was shocked to see the name Georg Drechsel! My father’s adopted father was Andrew Drechsel, born 1891 in Chicago, Ill. His father was one of five Drechsel brothers who emigrated around 1880 from Bad Steben, Bayern, Germany. Two lived in Chicago, the other three became farmers in the Grundy, Illinois area. I don’t believe any branch of that family have done DNA testing. I have had testing done, but don’t have a blood connection with that family. The family all kept the original spelling of the name, Drechsel. The male lines of the Chicago families have all died out, but it is my understanding that there are still Drechsel’s in the Grundy, Illinois area.

    Thank you for a fascinating article on the Drechsel family in Indiana.

      • It would indeed be interesting. Unfortunately, I don’t know much more about the family’s origins that what I have found online. My father’s adopted parents, Andrew and Eleanore Drechsel, lived in Wisconsin and had limited contact with the Chicago Drechsel families and – as far as I know – no contact with the the families in Grundy county. There is a similar faith thread with Andrew’s brother Henry Christ Drechsel in Chicago. He was a major contributor and fundraiser for the Lutheran church he attended in Chicago. Henry’s unmarried daughter Lorraine, died last year and left most of her estate to the same church.

  5. The fact that babies were baptized the day of birth or the next was not necessarily due to sickliness, at least for my Breton & French Canadian lines. The fathers took the child to church while the new mother stayed in bed resting… Only if the midwife or other attendant had baptized the child at the home (with a later church blessing) would there have been some questions about the health of the newborn.

    • That’s very true in the Catholic church, but not so universally for protestants. One of the two daughters, for example wasn’t baptized until she was three and then it was done when her month old sister was baptized.

  6. “I have no idea how his surname is indexed, but it’s not Drechsel nor does it look anything like that, but based on the names and ages of the family members, it’s clearly the correct family.”

    The family were indexed as “Trasler” in 1870 on both Ancestry and Findmypast 🙂 It does look like that is what is written, so I think the mistake was made by the enumerator. German “dr” sounds very much like English “tr” and I’m sure whoever it was didn’t even want to mess with the velar fricative spelled “ch” in German!!

    • On Ancestry, I had tried looking for just the first name and birth years too, but didn’t get those results. Thank you for checking. The enumerator wasn’t the only one with an issue. That names is spelled differently almost every time I see it:)

  7. Roberta, Do you have a Blog or a Forum or know of one that might answer questions about FTDNA TiP comparisons. I searched the FTDNA website (I am a long time participant) and sent the question to the FTDNA help desk but no answer yet. Thanks – Dave McCracken Kit 272614

    On Sun, Feb 14, 2016 at 12:43 PM, DNAeXplained – Genetic Genealogy wrote:

    > robertajestes posted: ” Happy Valentine’s Day! Today, you’re going to meet > a real cupid and Valentine’s Day hero! Georg’s story is remarkable. I > never understood the subtleties and what they meant until I really delved > into the history and customs of the Germany where and w” >

    • I don’t think I’ve written about tip specifically. They calculate likely distance based on the number of mutations and known mutations rates per marker. These are averages, and you know how averages work. Kind of like “one size fits all” clothes which means “most people are unhappy.” 🙂 I think they are as accurate as they can be for something that has to use averaging.

  8. you probably have already thought of this but if George had any brothers that used the haering surname would that be an option for testing descendants? i am new to this so i am just beginning to get the basics. Thank you for your info.

  9. Pingback: Barbara Mehlheimer (1823-1906), Floods, Flames and Celebrations, 52 Ancestors #112 | DNAeXplained – Genetic Genealogy

  10. Pingback: Longevity Pedigree Chart | DNAeXplained – Genetic Genealogy

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