Tuesday, September 16, 2008

A Gift From a Stranger :: Dressler Family Photograph

A few days ago I received a pleasant surprise, delivered to my email inbox. Normally, I don't open email messages with attachments from someone I don't know but the subject of the email enticed me and I thought it would be okay. The subject? "Four Generation Picture of John Jr., John Gilbert, Joseph and Arthur Dressler."

The email was from Marla Duncan who is a great granddaughter of Anna Ellen Dressler. Anna was a sister to John Gilbert Dressler, who was the first husband of Ida Joslin. She had found my blog post on Ida Joslin Dressler Lewis and the letters Ida had written to her sister, Malissa Joslin Brubaker Bower, (May 1, 1899, November 1934, December 1934, January 1935, Fall of 1936). So, Marla isn't related to me in any way (at least, not that we know of). Even though the people in the picture aren't my ancestors (half of them are related though), I'm still excited to be able to add it to my family history documents.

Marla didn't have any information on Joseph, other than what was written on the back of the photograph. She was thrilled with the information I had posted and thought I'd enjoy having the photograph. Oh, yeah! She said, "I feel like a kid in a candy store!!" Marla has graciously given me permission to post the picture and include her name in this post. It is nice to be able to publicly acknowledge her. Thank you, Marla.

That is why I write about my family history and post it here and elsewhere on the Internet. Not just the ancestors, but about the siblings as well. If you don't put it "out there" no one is going to find it! And I firmly believe that descendants of siblings of our ancestors hold many of the clues we are missing in the search for our family history.

Four generations of Dressler men. Clockwise starting with the young man standing in the back: Joseph, John, Arthur, and John Dressler.

Written on the reverse:
Joseph Dressler son of John Dressler born at Dorrance Ks.
John Dressler son of of John & Sarah Dressler.
John Dressler - Mothers father, born in Pennsylvania, Dec. 3rd 1818. 92 I believe on this date of picture.
Arthur Dressler son of Joe & Belva Dressler, born in Dorrance Ks. Now of Mountainair, New Mexico.(In lower right corner): Gertrudes Picture


Joseph Gilbert Dressler, the young man standing in the center of the picture, is my 1st cousin 3 times removed. His mother, Ida Joslin, and my 2nd great grandmother, Malissa Joslin, were sisters and they were two of the 15 children of Lysander and Lydia (Robison) Joslin.

The only clue I had regarding the whereabouts of Joseph Dressler was in Ida's obituary which stated that a son, Joseph, lived in New Mexico. The letters written by Ida provided some clues as well. When the census indexes became available online it was a relatively simple task to locate him. In September 2004, a query to the webmaster of the Torrance County, New Mexico website put me in contact with a grandson of Joseph Dressler. I sent him the information I had found but never heard back from him. And then, as often happens, life got in the way of research, and I never followed up.

From my 2004 conversations with the grandson of Joe I learned:

Joe and Belva had two sons and a daughter: Chester, Arthur and Lola. Chester and his wife Pearl had one son, Eugene (Gene). Arthur had two daughters and Lola married Irvin Taylor and had two sons.

Joe Dressler's real mother left him and his Dad when Joe was about three years old and he never had any contact with her again until after his Dad died. The grandchildren do not know the name of either Joe's father or mother. After Joe's father died the mother came to see Joe and he thought maybe she even came to New Mexico at least once, maybe twice. When she died Joe went to Kansas and took care of the arrangements. Joe was the only child she ever had, but he never had much contact with her. Joe just never talked about his family. Belva talked about hers a lot and her maiden name was Roe. She was Republican and Joe was a very strong Democrat. Joe was the probate judge for Torrance County for several years.
A portion of a letter from Ida to Malissa in the fall of 1936:
...I guess it made you sadder to bid your boy goodbye forever. I don't know as I will ever see Joe again although he always says he will come when he can get away from his farm. I wrote him it would be too late if he kept putting it off but I know its hard to get away from the farm. He is not well. Neither is his wife. Just working themselves to death - children all worried. Still they don't seem to know how to let up. They always say - "just one more year" - but they keep right on. The youngest boy, with his family, lives on Joes farm. He built a house for him. The other one not far away but Lolo is the one Be--- wants near her but she is a long way off. Only comes every year but she seems happy with her husband and two boys. Guess she won't have any more. I hope not. The youngest is 3 ½ - the other one 6 - going to Kindergarten. Lolo gives them a good start as she taught school several terms before she married Ervin.


Joseph Gilbert Dressler was born February 24, 1885 in Kansas (in Dorrance, according to the photograph) and was the son of John Gilbert and Ida Blanch (Joslin) Dressler.

Joe is listed in the household of John G. Dressler in the 1880 census (Plymouth Township, Russell County, Kansas page 72): Joseph G. Dressler, son, 15 years old, born Feb. 1885 in Kansas. His father was born in Pennsylvania and his mother was born in Indiana.

In the 1910 census, Joseph G. Dressler was found in Dorrance City, Plymouth Township, Russell County, Kansas (page 80B/3B). He is 25 years old and has been married for 6 years. His wife, Belvie L., is 25 years old, has 2 children (both living). Residing with them are their 4 year old son Arthur and daughter Lola, who is 3 years old. Also in their household was his 36 year old brother-in-law William Roe and his 21 year old cousin (female) Ollie Mackle.

In 1920, Joe and family were found in Precinct 17, Jaramillo, Torrance County, New Mexico (page 268/1A). Joseph G. Dressler, owns his home, is 35 years old and married. Also in the household were his wife Belva L., 35; son Arthur G., 14 6/12; daughter Lola L., 12; and son Chester E., 10 7/12.

They were still living in Torrance County in 1930 (Ewing Precinct 17, page 84) but by now the children were out on their own. Joe was 45 years old, he was first married at age 19. He was born in Kansas, his father was born in Pennsylvania, and his mother was born in Indiana. His occupation was listed as a general farm laborer. Listed with him was his wife Belva R., age 45.

Joseph and Belva are buried in Mountainair Cemetery, Torrance County, New Mexico. According to the tombstone picture, Joseph was born February 24, 1885 and died December 15, 1961. Belva was born March 21, 1885 and died January 9, 1967.


Arthur has not been found in the 1930 census. There is a record on the SSDI that shows an Arthur Dressler whose social security card was issued in New Mexico. He was born July 26, 1905 [probably Dorrance, Russell County, Kansas] and died in March 1976. His last residence was listed as Thousand Oaks, Ventura County, California. A search of the California Death Index, 1940-1997 on ancestry shows that Arthur G Dressler was born July 26, 1905 in Kansas and died March 20, 1976 in Los Angeles.

The California Marriage Index, 1960-1985 on ancestry has an entry for Arthur G Dressler, age 56, born about 1905. Married on November 11, 1961 in Los Angeles to Viola M, age 47, born about 1914. Her surname is given as Clark on one page and Hucke on another.


Lola Dressler and Irvin Taylor were found in the 1930 census in Township 5, Inyo County, California (page 288): He rents their home for $12.50, they own a Radio. He is 28 years old and was married at age 28. He was born in Texas and works as a laborer at a Clay Mill. His wife, Lola E., is 23 years old, was married at age 22, and was born in Kansas. No occupation is given.

The family listed just before Lola and Irvin was that of 26 year old Cyrus O. Taylor who was born in Texas. Presumably a brother of Irvin.

A search of the California Death Index, 1940-1997 on ancestry resulted in a match for Lola Elnore Taylor, born January 20, 1907 in Kansas. She died March 1, 1983 in Los Angeles. Her mother's maiden name was Roe and her father's surname was Dressler.

In the letter, mentioned above, from the fall of 1936 we find that Lola has two boys: the youngest is 3 ½ and the other one was 6 years old.

A check on WorldConnect found Lola Dressler born January 20, 1907 in Kansas and died March 1, 1983 in Los Angeles, California. She married Samuel Irvin Taylor. He was born May 4, 1901 in Edwards County, Texas and died April 18, 1975 in Kern County, California. His parents were Arris Samuel Taylor and Laura Clazona Roberts. No sources were given.


Chester Dressler was located in the 1930 census in Ewing Precinct 17, Torrance County, New Mexico (page 84). He was 20 years old, was married at age 19, born in Kansas, and was a general farm laborer. His wife, Pearl, was 20 years old and born in Oklahoma.

The SSDI shows that Chester was born June 6, 1910 and died in April 1983. His last residence and last benefit was listed as Mountainair, Torrance County, New Mexico. His social security card was issued in New Mexico. Chester lived on the family farm and it was his son with whom I made a brief contact back in 2004.



Sheri Fenley said...

I am firm in the same belief - if you post it, they will come. Some one has to make the first step but if you don't, you don't stand a snowball's chance in hell of them finding you!

Great family reports, I am enjoying them very much and learning at the same time.

Sheri Fenley

Taylorstales-Genealogy said...

What a wonderful picture! Thank goodness for people who use the internet and blog! Keep up the great work with your most wonderful posts. I love reading your blog!

Travis LeMaster said...

Becky -

This is so true. So many leads come from just putting the information out there.

Thomas MacEntee said...

What a great story. This is why as mundane as my daily "On This Date" posting has been, I do it to get those names out there on the Internets.

Anonymous said...

I believe that Arthur Dressler was the biological father to my mother-in-law. An Arthur Dressler, age 20 in 1925 from Kansas was listed on her birth record. He lived in San Pedro, Ca and was listed as a laborer. The family has no information for Arthur. If anyone knows of any additional information I would appreciate it. My email is monkeynuts2009@hotmail.com

Anonymous said...

Hi, I am a Dressler, know little of my family back ground and live in England, my grandfathers name was Robert Leonard Dressler, I dont suppose youve come across any Brittish Dresslers have you?
Claire Dressler

Becky Wiseman said...

Sorry Claire, but no, I haven't come across any British Dresslers but then I'm not really researching Dresslers - they were a link to my Joslin family...

Anonymous said...

Hello...My name is Cory Arthur Dressler...my middle name came from a great grandpa I'm told. My grandpa's name was Delbert Dressler from MN.

Becky Wiseman said...

Anonymous - The Arthur Dressler that is in my database was born 26 Jul 1905 in Kansas and died 20 Mar 1976 in Los Angeles. Sorry, but I do not have any information on his children.

There were other Dressler families in New Mexico, but this is one is the only one for which I have any information.

Cory said...

Thanks Becky! I'll have to check with some family and see what I can find out.