My ancestors, peasant farmers and craftsmen, came from small towns in Germany’s Rhineland. In the 19th century, like villagers all over Germany, they left their homeland to immigrate to America in search of better lives. This blog shares information I gathered since 2005 from all types of German sources. Traditions, home life, daily labor and political events create the backdrop for an eventual exodus. I wrote HOUSE OF JOHANN, a novel, imagining how my own family fit into this history.
A few weeks before Christmas, I received an e-mail from Ewald Meyer of Irsch, the author of Irsch/Saar; Geschichte eines Dorfes. He had read my November blog post in which I had written about a monument in Irsch which he had described in his history. Now he kindly made me aware of some new information about the motivation for the construction of the Tressel Cross or Tresselkreuz that had come to him.And I will share that information with you, hoping that some searcher will find a genealogical treasure by reading this post, not just a correction of a misinterpretation of a Latin inscription at the base of the monument.
Prior histories had guessed that the Tressel Cross monument had been erected by the school teacher of Irsch, Christopher Tressel and his wife because they were, to their sorrow, childless. For that reason, it was believed that they dedicated the cross to the Virgin Mary of the Seven Sorrows and the patient suffering of her Son, Jesus.
So in my last post, I wrote:
A Married Couple's Disappointment
"...This monument was erected by the school teacher, Christoph Tressel and his wife, Maria Elizabeth. Legend has it that the couple was childless and that this was a great sorrow to them. Herr Tressel was the teacher, sexton, and founder of the church choir in Irsch. He was also the teacher in Beurig and Ockfen. Thus the monument came to be called the Schulkreuz or "School Cross." It also served as a place where people, in times of trouble, often came to pray to the sorrowful Christ and to the virgin mother of the seven sorrows."
Herr Ewald Meyer had used many historical sources to write his history of Irsch. One was a narrative written by the pastor of the Catholic Church in Irsch in 1979, "Beitrag zur Heimatkunde." It described the Tressel Cross and sought to explain why it was built. Pastor Markus Laser pondered the inscription on the base of the Cross (noting that sometimes it became almost illegible) "Crux erecta Jesui Patienti a Christophero Tressel et Maria Elisabetha (conjugibus) solis in Irsch = Stat oblatas septem doloribus onera (munera) de Mariae (Virginis) voto. 1781. The word "solis" led the priest to conclude that the childless Tressels built the monument as a testament to living patiently with suffering or disappointment.
As so many of us who try to reconstruct a history - whether of a village or a family - know, the most likely explanation does not always turn out to be the right one. After the Irsch history was published, new information about the Tressel family tree emerged. Herr Meyer says it was very accurately researched. There were many descendants of Christoph Tressel, school teacher of Irsch and his wife Anna Maria. The supposed "childless couple" was not childless.
Christoph Tressel, who would become the schoolmaster in Irsch, was the sixth and youngest child of Melchior Tressel (Melchior Tressel was christened 1696 in St. Gervase in Trier and died in Trier in 05.06.1766.) and Anna Katharina Reiter. The family lived on the Neugasse or "new alley" in Trier.
Christoph was born on October 13, 1731 and was baptized on the same day in St. Gervaise Church in Trier. He studied at the former University of Trier in 1750 and passed his examination as a "bachelor of liberal arts". On May 5, 1757 he married a childlesswidow, Anna Maria Blasius, born Berling, in Pellingen. Her father was John Berling, a teacher and farmer in Pellingen.
The marriage of Christoph and Anna Maria Tressel was very fruitful according to the parish records of Irsch and Beurich. They had five children and Herr Tressel became the school teacher in Irsch where he and his family lived for approximately 50 years.
The Descendants of Christoph Tressel and his wife, Anna Maria (note the male in each generation printed in bold type)
The children of Christoph Tressel and his wife, Anna Maria
*08/05/1756 in Pellingen, +11/10/1810 in Irsch, oo before 1790 to Margarethe Wagner, 1758 in Irsch, +March 21, 1818 in Irsch
2. Tressel, Matthias, farmer, Synod member, surveyor, * 22/08/1759 in Pellingen, + 05/02/1826 in Beurig, oo about 1791 in Beurig to Anna Elisabeth Reinert, * 1760 in Beurig, + 05/02/1836 in Pellingen
3. Tressel, Nikolaus, * 23/06/1761 in Pellingen, + 22.12.1838 in Irsch, oo I. 1782 to Magdalena Dawen,oo II. Margaretha Peters
4. Tressel, Bernhard, * 08.02.1763 in Pellingen, + as a little child
5. Tressel, Anton,* 1765 in Pellingen, + 21.09.1835, (he built the house that served as a school in Irsch, p. 145 of the Irsch History by Ewald Meyer), oo ca. 1817 Maria Britten.
The Children of Matthias Tressel und Anna Elisaberth Reinert:
1. Tressel, Michael, Farmer, Wine maker, Tailor, Teacher in Baldringen, *1793 in Beurig, + 09.04.1851 in Beurig
oo 17.02.1819 Anna Oberkirch from Beurig
2. Tressel, Johanna, * 1795/96, + in Beurig, oo 1817 Franz Schu
3. Tressel, Johann, *17.06.1797 in Beurig, immigrated with three of his sons to Illinois, USA, + 30.09.1871 in Galena, Illinois St. Mary Church, oo 08.06.1822 Anna Maria Morgen
4. Tressel, Anton, * in Beurig, + in Zewen, married at Brotdorf
The children of Michael Tressel und Anna Oberkirch (Nr.1):
1. Tressel, Susanna, * 1819 in Beurig, + 1889 in Irsch
2. Tressel, Michael, * 1823 in Beurig, farmer and linen weaver, + 1893 in Beurig
3. Tressel, Nikolaus, * 25.08.1825 in Beurig, farmer and winemaker, + 17,03.1891 in Beurig
4. Tressel, Johann, * 18.10.1827 in Beurig, spindle weaver, farmer, winemaker, + 24.07.1881 in Beurig,
oo 24.02.1862 in Beurig Margaretha Wallrich
5. Tressel, Peter, * 1830 in Beurig, + in the Ruhr in1857
6. Tressel, Anni, * 1833 in Beurig, + in the Ruhr in 1857
7. Tressel, Johann Peter, * 1836 in Beurig, Ackerer, wine maker, linen weaver,+ 1909 in Beurig, oo 1873 Katharina Baumann from Beurig (*1846, +1921)
Die Kinder von Johann Peter Tressel und Katharina Baumann ( Nr. 7):
1. Maria Margaretha, * 1873, + 1965, 1908 to 1916 housekeeper in the parish house in Haag for her brother, Matthias, oo 1918 Peter Palm of Irsch, Adopted child Katharina
2. Johann Josef, *1875, + 1877
3. Matthias Josef, *1878 + 1945, Since 1909 the priest and poet used the name, Ernst Thrasolt.
4. Maria Gertrud (1880 – 1966) stayed in her parents' home
5. Nikolaus Josef (1882 – 1915) was the farmer in his parents' home, killed in Russia in WWI.
6. Maria Susanna (1884 from1975) was a teacher, married 1919 to Josef Feiten (1888 – 1957), who later became the governmental school inspector.
7. Johannes (1889 – 1915), Doctorate in philosophy earned on June 5,1915. On September 27, 1915 he was killed in France during WWI.
Legends often have a grain of truth in them. Perhaps the word "solis" did not refer to sorrow of a second marriage of the the childless widow Anna Maria who married Christoph Tressel but rather to her first marriage. Ewald Meyer ventured a guess that the Tresselkruez was merely an indication of the prestige of the village school teacher, who was able to associate with the highest classes of the village and of the Kreis. The reason the Tressel Cross was erected can only be guessed at, but there is indisputable evidence that the monument had nothing to do with sorrow over childlessness.
There is no doubt, however, that the schoolmaster and founder of the church choir of Irsch was the great great grandfather of the priest/poet Ernst Thrasolt, whose writings in the old Irsch dialect had been translated by Ewald Meyer, who, at the time, did not know of Thrasolt's connection to the beloved Irsch schoolmaster and choir founder of the 18th century.