BRIEF HISTORY OF THE DRESSEL
The Dressel family history begins
with Bernhard von Bernhardshausen who lived in the middle
of the 11th Century. He was a free noble vassal of the Abbot Herzberg Monastery
in Hessen. He gave his first name, Bernhard to his estate, which was originally called
Bernhardshausen and later called Bennenhus, Beinhausen, Benhausen, etc. Today it is
called Beenhausen. It is located in the hill and forest area of Northeastern Hessen,
between Fulda and Schwalm in the Gemeinde Ludwigsau on the stream called Rohrbach,
in the Rotenberg Kreis, p73.
The unbroken Dressel pedigree begins with Wigand von Beenhausen documented
between 1163-1187, gen. I.
The von Bennhausen sold their properties in the Bennhausen Kreis Rotenberg area at
the end of the 14th Century and moved east to Thuringia, p73. Thus,
beginning the Dressel Familys Drang nach Oesten. Then their name often appears in
documents from the Eisenach area, as having estates there, and serving as Burgmen,
(Castellans for the Dukes of Thuringia). The Benhausen line became extinct in Thuringia
toward the end of the 15th Century, p73.
THE BENNHAUSEN DRESSEL CONNECTION:
The von Bennhausen and the von der Dressel are considered to be the same family for
the following historical and sociological reasons:
In the 14th Century the Bennhausen and Dressel families had the same coat of arms. The earliest known example of the Bennhausen Arms is a seal dated 1314 (ex. 38.2)
The earliest known Dressel Arms is a seal dated 1361, (ex.
38.2a) The shields of both seals are identical.
Both the Bennhausen and Dressel occasionally used variations of their charge (shield figures) as their family Crest.
The family colors, black & gold (sometimes blue & gold) are the same for both
Both families during the 14th Century used similar first names:
Conrad de Bennhausen, doc. 1337
Conrad de Dressel, doc. 1323
Heinz de Beenhausen, doc. 1381
Heinz de Dressel, doc. 1380
Johanis de Bennhausen, doc. 1330
Johanis de Dressel, doc. 1376
Johanis de Bennhausen, doc. 1401
Johanis de Drossel, doc. 1408
Secondary evidence is:
Many if not most of the Saxon knights and vassals are known to have come from Hessen
and Thuringia to Saxony during the 12th, 13th, and 14th Centuries;p82.
Men coming to Saxon and receiving fiefs from the Saxon Dukes frequently took the names
of the properties they received, especially during the 12th, 13th Centuries; m7.
Men who changed their family name to the name of their property kept their original
Coat of Arms; p90.
Men who accepted Saxon fiefs and who did not change their names to the name of their
property, usually came from more prominent and richer families then those men who
changed their family names. Bennhausen, at the end of the 13th Century
were a relatively obscure family.
The Dressel Bennhausen relationship is accepted by all Historians consulted. In particular,
Dr. Ottfried-Neubecker, former President of Herold-Deutsche Heraldische-Gessellschaft
and member, Governing Board International Academy of Heraldry. ex 43.
It is the opinion of the Weimar Archive, in their letter dated April 4, 1992, that
the word dictus in the document dated Nov. 4th 1319 can be
translated that, Rule, who is now called de Drisulen, means that Rule was called
something else shortly before this date. None of the other witnesses in the same
document are referred to as dictus, ex. 3, pg.3; VI.4
Before 1319, no other documents are to be found in Saxony pertaining to the
von der Dressel family, therefore, it can be argued that they were not there,
but still in Thuringia, and came to Saxony shortly before that date.
There are no arguments to support the position that the Bennhausens and the Dressels are not the same families.
The Bennhausen and Dressel family
members were Hessen, Thuringian and Saxon Knights. The social history of this class
is therefore, also the social history of the Bennhausen- Dressel family. The documented
history of German Knighthood as a class begins with the death of Emperor Otto II in
983 AD, because, by this time, social customs and laws existed that defined this group.
However, some of their traditions date back not only to the court of Charlemagne the
Great, 742-814 AD, but also to the knightly class of the Roman Empire. Some
historians now believe that the early medieval German Knightly families originated from
the original German tribal nobility, p79
Rule, born circa 1270, was a member of the von Bennhausen family who immigrated to Saxony,
as did so many knights from Thuringia, p82, in the late part
of the 1200s. In the document dated 1319, ex.3, he
is referred to as dictus de Drysiule, which can be translated, who is now called de
Drysiule. He received the hereditary fief (estate) called Dreiseil from the Duke
of Saxony. His descendants took the name of the estate for their family name. Rule
de Drysule (Dresul, Drisule) begins the Dressel branch of the family pedigree, ex
3.; VI.4. Before 1376, the Dressels were also given the fiefs, Colochau, Gross
Roessen, and Klein Roessen, a5.6.
Nitsche von Droessel, continued the Dressel families Drang nach Oesten by immigrating
to Silesia, where he is documented in 1365, n3.1, VIII.10.
Later the family acquired other properties
in Saxony, Nieder Lausitz, Silesia, Brandenburg, East Prussia, Lithuania, and Poland, n3.
For many generations the Dressels served as knights and vassals to the Dukes of Saxony, n3.1;
fighting in their wars, witnessing their proclamations, acting as advisors, and representing
them at councils, e.g. in 1361, Ritter Guntherus de Drosule was
the Kommissar for Duke Rudolph II of Saxony in the Muhlberg Conference, m7; VIII.8. Dressels
were also found in other places. In 1468, Hans von der Drosele
was an officer in the army of the Order of the Teutonic Knights, p90; XII.4. In
1565, Wolff von der Drossel called Droseler, was the Court Master,
(Hofmeister) to the Duke (Kurfuerst) Joachim II von Brandenburg. He was rewarded with a house and property, (Haus und Burglehen) in
, on Klostergasse, (which today would be a large section of the center of
), XIV.1. Georg von der Drössel, 1579-1642, attended the
funeral of Queen Elizabeth I of England and the Coronation of King James I of England
and Scotland; ex.6; XIX.4.
The Dressel family suffered great financial damage during the Thirty Year War, 1618-1648, ex.7 When
the brothers Georg Ernst b. 1620, XVII.11 and Heinrich Wilhelm (b. 1622, XVII.12) von der Droessel returned
from fighting in the war in 1651, after a 10 - 12 year absence, they found that
their family thinking them long dead, made no inheritance provisions for them; n7; ex.7(2/4/2005 we are seeking the correct exhibt this is incorrect) Being
without property and having no prospects of obtaining any; Georg Ernst became involved
in the Textile Industry in the Herzberg area, a known cloth manufacturing center, p3, which was close to the Colochau, Gross Roessen, and Klein Roessen
Droessel Estates, by marrying a daughter of a cloth manufacturer; n8.
In 1715, a Polish Lutheran nobleman name Ostrowski, (whose granddaughter Anna Maria
Ostrowski married Martin Dressel, XI.10, in Willenberg, in 1761; n13.1. was
sent as an emissary by the King of Prussia to Saxony, to persuade industry people
to emigrate to East Prussia and to help reorganize industry and to encourage landowners
to purchase estates for development in economically depressed areas, n13.1; n13.4.
Frederick Droessel 1692-1761, born in Colochau, Saxony, XIX.1, son of Peter Droessel I, born in Colochau, Saxony, XVIII.1; and grandson of Georg Ernst von der Droessel, XVII.11 was one of the Saxons convinced to emigrate. In 1717, he left for Rasternburg, East Prussia, thus continuing the families
"Drang nach Oesten." There he leased a textile factory; and
purchased the Gross Dobnicken and Klein Dobnicken Estates in the Eylau province, East
Prussia; ex.8.1, 8.2, nr.4, in 1722.
In 1732, Frederick was joined by his brother Peter II 1695-1769, born in Gross Roessen, Saxony, XIX.2.
Peter II established an Iron and Steel Foundry, n13.1.
In 1735, Frederick and Peter II moved their factories to Willenberg, East Prussia for economic reasons. Later they were joined by their father Peter I who was born in Colochau, Saxony, XVIII.1 and their younger brother Johann, 1718-91, born in
Neuendorff, Saxony, XIX.3. Frederick, Peter, and their father joined together to assist Johann in establishing a cloth dyeing factory, n13.
Their youngest brother Georg, XIX.4, who is believed to have been born
in Gross Roessen (Rössen), Saxony, did not immigrate to East
Prussia but continued the families Drang nach Oesten by joining the Polish Lithuanian
Army. For this service, King Stanislaus August of Poland granted him the Polish Indigenat
in 1775, under the name of Georg Dressel of Roszewo,(Roessen/Rössen), After
his retirement from the army, he was the administrator for many years of the huge
Kujdanow Estate in Lithuania, which belonged to Princes Radzivill, gen. XIX.4
Frederick Droessel, 1692-1761, gen. XIX.1, married Rosina Graffenberg von Unterhoellenberg, 1690-1761,
in Neuendorf near Merseburg, Saxony in 1716. Rosina
was a member of an old family of fief landowners of Wagrain, Salzburg, Austria. Frederick
met her when she accompanied a relative in 1712 on a business trip to the Herzberg
area of Saxony, where the Graffenberg family had Textile business interests, n13.1.
Through this marriage, the Dressels came into contact with other similar families
from Salzburg especially, after the 1732 expulsion of the Salzburg Lutherans from
Austria and their emigration to East Prussia. Frederick's brother Peter married into
the Stranger von Puersing family; his brother Johann married into the Kronberg von
Loeflechen family; Frederick's son Johann married into the Steiner von Strolehen family. Subsequently,
many of their descendants, for three generations married into the families of these
former Salzburg landowners, (Erbgut Besitzer), ex.10; n.13.1; see charts
The other Dressel descendants married frequently into families from the lower Polish
nobility; e.g. Makowka (Makowski), Brzezinski, Drwenski, Pawlowski, and Paluka etc., n13.1; see charts. Fredericks
brother Georg married Anna Dabrowa Janiszewski, a member of the East Prussian Lithuanian
branch of an ancient noble Polish Mazovian family, p77; XIX.4. The
Dressel and the Janiszweski families lived in the same Chicago parish and continued a social relationship in America until
the second World War.
In 1778, three grandsons of Frederic Droessel 1692-1761, Gottlieb, born 1743, gen. XXI.1, Wit
born 1745, gen. XXI.2, and Hans, born 1747, gen. XXI.3, with their wives and children left Koenigsburg, East
Prussia, with passports to emigrate to North America, n13.1
. No trace of them has ever been found in the USA.
However, it is possible that they were not able to go to North America because of
the American Revolutionary War and the British blockade of American ports and remained
The three Dressel brothers from Saxony, Frederick, Peter II, and Johann, founded three
East Prussian family branches, the fourth brother, Georg, had one son, Peter III, XX.24.
But after 1801, nothing more was heard of him. The
descendants of the three brothers played a role in the development of the Textile,
Iron and Steel, Glass, Porcelain, and Munitions Industries in East Prussia. The Frederick
branch, the senior line has been fairly well identified. The Peter II and the Johann
lines have only been researched for three generations in East Prussia, n13.1, see charts.
In 1793-4, the Dressel family with their Willenberg business associates supported
and gave credit for uniforms and munitions to General Kosciusko, the Polish patriot,
for his uprising against the Russian Czar. General Kosciusko after losing, his fight
was not able to pay his debts to the Dressels and their associates, n13.1, n13.4. In
the early 1800s, the Dressels and their Willenberg associates supported Napoleons
campaigns by granting credit to his agents for uniforms and munitions. Because Napoleon
lost his war, the new government in France did not pay his debts. The support of these two grand
causes did not help the Dressel family's financial position, n13.1. The
family factories were closed and the Willenberg Dressels emigrated to
where they hoped to be able to reestablish themselves in textiles. They also entered
the fur export and leather businesses. Some members of the family returned
to farming, n13.1. Frederick Franz Drossel, 1803-(1868),(GENERATION ?)
of Rennbach, East Prussia, (see Kaczan in the appendix section 6) was asked by his friend Count Karol Brzostowski to work
as a consultant for the development Iron and Steel factories in Northeastern Poland.
Subsequently, Frederick Franz became one of the Counts closest advisors and one of
his heirs. For several generations, Frederick Franz's relatives played a role in
the development of the Iron and Steel industry in Northeastern Poland, n9.1, n9.2.
The Dressel family in partitioned Poland was frequently involved in various political
activities against the Russian government. For his political actions, Dam (Thomas) Jozef Dreszel,
1848-(1890), was killed by the Russian Secret Police and his grave was never found, XXIII.5.
His wife Julianna, 1852-1911, a disciple of Count Leo Tolstoy, fearing for the safety
of her two sons, Anton, 1876-1927, XXIV.1, and Stanislaus, 1881-1911, XXIV.3, apprenticed them at
an early age, in Przansnysz, the county seat. They were apprenticed in the Textile
and Leather Guilds, under the protection of the nobleman and burger of Przasnysz,
Andrej Grzymala Grudzinski, an18, a family friend, (whose daughter subsequently married
Anton), with the idea that her sons would some day emigrate to Chicago and establish
factories in the Textile and Leather business. Soon after her oldest son, Anton was
21 years old, she sold Dreszel farm, and divided the money equally between her sons
with the instructions to go to Chicago and establish small factories. (In 1911, during
the Mazovian famine, she gave away all her food to the hungry children in the village,
after which she only drank tea until she died. Until the 2nd World War, the children whom she fed brought flowers to her grave on the anniversary of her death.) In 1903, her sons Anton and Stanislaus;
arrived in Chicago, Anton partially achieved his mothers goal. Stanislaus died tragically,
he was asphyxiated, it was never determined whether his death was accidental or deliberate.
During the 18th and 19th Centuries, the Saxon Dressel cousins
frequently served in the Saxon and Prussian armies, e.g., General August Frederick
von der Droessel, 1736-1803, XXI.69; held Saxon court and government positions, e.g.; Heinrich
Adolf von der Droessel, 1702-1763, XX.32, was the President of the Spremberg District Council,
Landaltensten des Kreises Spremberg; and mangaged their estates. They did not multiply.
Frederick von der Droessel, b 1770 - 1836, XX.75, owner of Drahnsdorf, was the last Saxon Dressel
male. The last Saxon Dressel female, Eleonore von Hanow, born 1818,
died in Dresden, 1909, XXIII.26.
Between the two World Wars, social circles in Warsaw and Chicago assumed that
the famouse General Gustave Orlisz-Dreszer, 1894-1936, his brother General Rudolph Dreszel, 1891-(1955),
and their very politically active families were members of the Dressel family. It
is documented that their grandfather Johann Dreszer, b circa 1810, was active in the
Textile Industry, and it is true that the Dressel pedigree shows a Jan Dreszel who
was born in 1810 was the son of Michael Dressel, a Textile manufacturer, but there
is no further information about him and the Dreszer family does not produce any documents
to support this relationship to the Dressels.
Nor is there any evidence at
this time supporting the claim that the American Military Governor of Germany, after
WWI, Ellis Dressel, 1865-1925, was a descendant of one of the three Dressel brothers,
who were supposed to emigrate to North America in 1778.
WWII, the Polish Dressels continued their tradition of political involvement; Jadwiga
Drossel, 1903-41, XXIV ?, was shot by a firing squad two months after she gave birth to her child, n9.1, n9.2,
Stefan Dreszel, 1912-81, XXV.10, was sent to a Concentration
Camp. Georg Dryszel, 1925-1980; n15.1 was sent to a slave
labor camp. Franciszek Dryszel, 1928-48, XXIV.14, he died of
injuries he received because of his political activities against the occupation.
still living in
belong primarily to the Polish intelligentsia. The most prominent, being
Andrzej Dryszel, b 1955, XXVI.15, a distinguished economics editor who won the ? prize for his articles on Polish economics on ? date.
The Polish Dressels usually married into Polish Catholic families of
noble or burger origins. Without exception, they all backed
Lech Walensa and his Solidarity movement during the 1980s, some lost
their jobs because of this support.
first generation of American Dressels married primarily into Polish Roman
Catholic emigrant families of noble origin, e.g., Janowicz, Kopczynski, Kozlowski,
Dlugoscz. The second generation married both into families of noble origin and other ethnic and religious groups. The third and fourth generations,
are primarily well educated professionals and business people, e.g., Anna Dressel Luczak
, b 1910 -, daughter Dr. Barbara McFarland is founder and director of the
Eating Disorder Recovery Center in Cincinnati, Ohio and popular author of several
books; Joseph Dressel, b 1927, owner of the Kenmore Properties company since 1975; XXVI.2
; Geraldine Driscoe Howard, born 1935, vice-president,
Lenhardt & Amp; Tucker, Corp., NY; Jan Dressel, b 1958, gen #, owner of the rainbow construction company; Steven Dressel, b 1966, junior executive,
Northern Trust Co.; Chicago, IL, XXVII.6; Gosia Dreszel, b 1980, is the Anchorperson for the Polish TV station channel 34 in Chicago.
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