Thursday, December 6, 2012


"William Abresch, aged 35 years, died at St. Mary's Hospital in Racine, on Wednesday afternoon after a lingering illness of consumption.  The deceased leaves a wife and two little children.  The funeral was held on Friday afternoon from the Holy Innocent's Church in Racine."
(Source:  Racine Journal Feb. 21, 1901)

Abresch family of Somers - more information here
I have some information on the Racine-Kenosha, Wisconsin, Abresch family I would like to contribute. First of all, my grandmother, Mary Maude McFarland (2/2/1870 – 8/15/1974) married William Abresch (12/3/1869 – 2/13/1901) in Racine, Wisconsin, on 8/20/1894. William had a brother John (1871 - ?) and a sister Mary. After William died in 1901, his widow, Mary Maude, married Peter Mueller who was my grandfather. So Mary Maude McFarland is the common link between the Abresch and the Mueller families.

William Abresch and Mary Maude McFarland had two sons that I am aware of -- John William Abresch (9/12/1895 – May 1977) and, your grandfather, Samuel Claude Abresch (8/21/1897 – 8/18/1983). John never married, and lived all his life in Racine as a tile setter for the Peterson Tile Co. and died of cancer in his 80’s. Sam enlisted in the US Navy during WWI, probably early in 1918.

During the1950’s and early 60’s when I was a youngster, Sam lived with my parents and his mother, Mary Maude, on our farm, the Mueller farm, (on the county line between Racine and Kenosha Counties) in the Town of Somers, Kenosha County, Wisconsin. I can recall him telling stories about his ship being torpedoed off the coast of Spain, and him being rescued and taken to Portugal by fishermen. Based on research I’ve done, I believe the ship that was sunk may well have been the USS Buenaventura, built in 1913 at Howden-on-Tyne, England. During the first year of World War I she was employed by the U.S. Army and, in July 1918, was transferred to the U.S. Navy and assigned to the Naval Overseas Transportation Service (NOTS). On 14 September, after unloading her cargo at Bordeaux, France, she sailed in a convoy bound for Philadelphia. Two days out of Bordeaux, the convoy was attacked by the German submarine U-46 off the northwest coast of Spain. The Buenaventura was hit by two torpedoes at 2045 hours, was abandoned and sank a few minutes later with the loss of 19 men. I think Sam got out of the Navy after the war but reenlisted sometime later. I recall him telling stories about serving aboard the battleship USS Oklahoma during the late 1920's and the 1930's when it was home-ported on the west coast. Sam married Della Simmons (4/16/1911 - ?) of Blanchard, Idaho, on 9/21/1928 in Everett, Washington. According to my father, they lived in either Garden Grove or Gardena, California, and had two children – Anna Mae Abresch (b. 3/13/1930) and William Bert Abresch (b. 8/13/1931) who I believe is your father. It appears that Della disappeared, leaving Sam alone in California with the children. In February 1938, Sam came back to the Racine area with his two children; his mother (Mary Maude McFarland Abresch Mueller) took care of them on the Mueller farm.

Anna Mae Abresch married Glenn Heide on 8/4/1951 and they had three children – Bruce (b. 3/6/1953), Patrick (b. 4/25/57) and Scott (b. 12/13/1958). Anna Mae later married David Borger on 4/29/1978; they had no children. William Bert Abresch married Lena (last name ?) and they had two children – William Abresch, your brother, and you, John Abresch. That’s all the information I have on the Abresch side of the family.

As for the Mueller side, William Abresch’s widow, Mary Maude McFarland, married Peter Mueller (8/1/1869 – 5/20/1946) on 9/6/1905 in Racine, Wisconsin. Together they had seven children:
Ethel Mueller (1906 – 1986) m. James Wayne
Francis Mueller (1908 – 1965) m. Germaine Raguth
Frank Mueller (1910 – 1993) m. Luella Everette
Frederick Mueller ( 1913 - ) m. Beatrice Hall
Henry Mueller (1915 – 2002) m. (1) Josephine Carlson, (2) Erica Dumas
Edwin Mueller (1918 - ) m. Marcella Thomas
Josephine Mueller (1920 - ) m. Francis Karls

My father is Edwin Mueller who is still living (as of 12/24/2005) on the same farm in Kenosha County where he was born, and which his father, Peter Mueller, owned before him.

Your tale of old family lore differs from the story I was told. In the version I am familiar with, it was Harriet McFarland, born on the Island of Guernsey in the English Channel, who worked as a stewardess on Great Lakes sailing vessels and drowned in a storm on Lake Erie in 1848. That event orphaned her son, Edwin P. McFarland (4/14/1846 – 8/220/1922) who was taken in by the Andersons who lived at the corner of Petrifying Springs Park on the Green Bay Trail near Kenosha, Wisconsin. Edwin P. married Josephine Seeley (3/27/1856 – 12/25/1932) on 3/30/1874 in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin, and in 1890, after separating from his wife Josephine, he bought the Anderson house and brought his daughter, Mary Maude McFarland, there to live, where she grew up in the care of “Grandma” Anderson. Edwin McFarland took off for points south and eventually ended up in a Veterans Home in Johnson City, Tennessee, where he died. My father has his original Union Army discharge papers dated July 18, 1865. No farms that I know of were given to any of these people as wedding presents by wealthy landowners. Had that been the case with Mary Maude McFarland, she would not have had to scratch to eke out a living on her own between the time she was widowed with two young children, after William Abresch died in 1901, and when she married Peter Mueller in 1905.

I hope this helps. It gets confusing when there are many different individuals named John Abresch and William Abresch. I would appreciate any additional information about the Abresch family from the Racine/Kenosha area so I can fill in the blanks.
Mary (Mueller) Reinhart, De Pere, Wisconsin


  1. My great grandmother Mary Mueller Gehring may have had a niece Gertrude Mueller(brothers daughter).Her father may have been Gerhard,Theodore ,Frank or Mathias.Gertrude's grandparents were Michael and Gertrude Gruen Mueller.Gertrude Mueller was my grandfather's first cousin.He was John Michael Gehring.

  2. to Mary Mueller Reinhart, I would be a cousin of yours. your grandfather Peter Mueller was the younger brother of my great grandfather Frank (Franciscus) Joseph Mueller born in Ormund Germany 2/1/1856. Lynn Thompson Powell