About PetersPioneersAdam and Theresa Knoche Berles Family

Nils Dolle, Marilyn Hamill, Mariana Kopacz, and Brother Thomas Smith, O.F.M., contributed to this family history.

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Adam Born in 1794

Unknown Berlars German Flag
Johann Matthäus Berlars
1744-1820
Unknown German Flag
Adam Berles
1794-1858
Unknown Kremer German Flag
Anna Eva Kremer
1760-1797
Unknown German Flag

German FlagLandenbeck, 1794-1824. Adam Berles was born on March 26, 1794 in Landenbeck, Westphalia, Germany.

Landenbeck is in a chain of hills called the Sauerland. It is in the Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia, or Nordrhein-Westfalen. North Rhine and Westphalia were combined into one state after World War II. The Sauerland is mostly Roman Catholic. Landenbeck is in the district of Hochsauerland, in postal code 59889.

Prussia acquired Westphalia at the Congress of Vienna in 1815.

Adam's parents were Johann Matthäus Berlars, farmer, and Anna Eva Kremer. Anna Eva Kremer was the second wife of Johann Matthäus Berlars. His first wife was Anna Maria Auffermann whom he married in 1771. They had a child, Anna Elisabeth in 1776. Anna Maria died in 1786 and his father married Adam's mother Anna Eva that same year. Adam's mother died in 1797 when Adam was only 3 years old. His father married a third time in 1798 to Maria Margarethe Evers.

Adam was raised by his father and stepmother and became a teacher and a farmer.

Theresa Born in 1802

Caspar Anton Knoche
1753-1829
German Flag
Johann Wilhelm Knoche
1774-1859
Maria Elisabeth Sievers
1752-1809
German Flag
Maria Theresa Knoche
1802-1882
Joseph Theodore Best
1744-1841
German Flag
Maria Elisabeth Beste
1775-1841
Maria Catharina Baust
1747-1822
German Flag

German FlagAltenilpe, 1802-1824. Maria Theresa Knoche was born April 2, 1802. Theresa was from Altenilpe, 4 miles south of Landenbeck.

Altenilpe is in a chain of hills called the Sauerland. It is in the Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia, or Nordrhein-Westfalen. North Rhine and Westphalia were combined into one state after World War II. The Sauerland is mostly Roman Catholic. Landenbeck is in the district of Hochsauerland, in postal code 57392.

Prussia acquired Westphalia at the Congress of Vienna in 1815.

Maria Theresa was the first child of Johann Wilhelm Knoche and Maria Elisabeth Beste. Her father Johann Wilhelm Knoche was born in Dorlar on October 3, 1774. Her mother Maria Elisabeth was born in Dorlar on October 5, 1775. They were married in Dorlar on January 27, 1801. Maria Theresa was born in Altenilpe, but the rest of their children were born in Dorlar.

Johann Wilhelm Knoche was born to Caspar Anton Knoche and Maria Elisabeth Sievers. Johann's father Caspar Anton Knoche was born in Wenholthausen on January 7, 1753. He was a farmer and innkeeper. Johann's mother Maria Elisabeth Sievers was born in Dorlar on December 24, 1752. They were married in Dorlar on July 10, 1774.

Maria Elisabeth Beste was born to Johann Theodor Beste and Maria Catharina Baust. Maria's father Johann Theodor Best was born in Dorlar on June 14, 1744. Maria's mother Maria Catharina Baust was born in Beisinghausen, Eslohe, on September 10, 1747. They were married in Dorlar on November 1, 1773.

St. Luzia Church
St. Luzia Church, Altenilpe, Germany.

Adam and Theresa Married in 1824, Have 9 Children

St. Hubertus Church
St. Hubertus Church, Dorlar, Germany.
Dorlar and Altenilpe
Map of Dorlar and Altenilpe, Germany. Source: Michelin.
Adam Berles, 30, and Theresa Knoche, 22, were married in Dorlar on November 9, 1824.

Dorlar, 1824-1858. Following their marriage, Adam and Theresa lived in Dorlar.

On May 12, 1825, Adam and Theresa had had the first of their nine children, Anton Franz, in Dorlar.

On January 8, 1827, Adam and Theresa had had the second of their nine children, Franz Joseph, in Dorlar.

In 1828, Adam and Theresa had had the third of their nine children, Johannes Franziscus. He was baptized June 28 in Dorlar. Witnesses were Franz Nollecke and Gertrut Knoche of Dorlar.

On May 4, 1831, Adam and Theresa had had the fourth of their nine children, Maria Catharina. She was baptized March 5 in Dorlar. Witnesses were Maria Catharina Knoche of Dorlar, Joseph Berles of Kirchilpe, and Franz Beste of Nierentrop.

On August 20, 1833, Adam and Theresa had had the fifth of their nine children, Lisetta Helena. She was baptized August 21 in Dorlar. Witnesses were Elisabeth Beste of Nierentrop and Theodor Jonnesmernn of Dorlar.

On March 12, 1836, Adam and Theresa christened the sixth of their nine children, Adam Conrad, in Dorlar.

On April 4, 1838, Adam and Theresa had had the seventh of their nine children, Theresa, in Dorlar.

On February 21, 1841, Adam and Theresa had had the eighth of their nine children, Joseph. He was baptized on February 23 in Dorlar. Witnesses were Joseph Schrage and Josephine Tonnes.

On March 31, 1843, Adam and Theresa had had the last of their nine children, Josephina. She was baptized April 7 in Dorlar. Witnesses were Josephine Knoche, Anton Schulte, and Johann Schulte

Bark Sophie
Bark Sophie, on which Franz Berles emigrated to America in 1844. Source: Deutsches Schiffahrtsmuseum (German Maritime Museum), Bremerhaven, Germany.
In 1844, at age 16, Adam and Theresa's son Franz immigrated to Detroit, Michigan in the United States. Franz arrived in Baltimore, Maryland, on September 2, 1844, aboard the bark Sophie. The ship had sailed from Bremen. He was listed on the passenger list as Francis Berels, age 17, a farmer, from Dorlar, destination Detroit. None of his family came with him. A biography of Franz Berles in the 1881 History of Kent County. Michigan, states that Franz worked as a printer in Detroit for two years and then as a harness maker.

On November 4, 1851, Adam and Theresa's son Franz, 23, married Regina Green, 19, in Detroit. Franz was a harness maker in Detroit.

On January 16, 1853, Adam and Theresa's son Anton, 27, married M. Wilhelmina Mette, 24, in Dorlar. Witnesses were Johann Knoche of Dorlar and Franzisca Voss Knoche of Altenilpe.

1874 Grand Rapids Directory
1874 Grand Rapids Directory ad for the grocery store owned by Franz Berles. The family lived over the store.
Franz Berles
Drawing of Franz Berles. Source: History of St. Mary's Church in Grand Rapids, Mich., 1907. One of 24 pictures of members of the various St. Mary's Church Committees from 1857 to 1907.
In 1853, Adam and Theresa's son Franz moved with his family to Grand Rapids from Detroit. Franz opened a grocery store in Grand Rapids. The grocery store was in a building on the west side of the Grand River that came to be known as the Berles Block, where the family also lived. The Berles Block was on the northeast corner of Bridge Street and Turner Street, at 57 W. Bridge Street (347 Bridge Street NW after 1912). The Berles Block was on the site of what is now an expressway, US 131.

On April 17, 1855, Adam and Theresa's daughter Lissetta Helena, 21, married Anton Knape, 43, in Dorlar.

St. Mary's Church, 1857
St. Mary's Church, 1857. Source: History of St. Mary's Church in Grand Rapids, Mich., 1907.

In 1857, St. Mary's Church was established to meet the spiritual needs of the German population in the Grand Rapids area. The first pastor was Father Mathias M. Marco. The 1907 History of St. Mary's Parish in Grand Rapids, Mich., lists Adam and Theresa's son Franz as one of the founding parishioners in 1857. The history also mentions that Franz was the first secretary of the church committee and founder and first president of St. Joseph's Mutual Aid Society.

The 1907 History of St. Mary's Church in Grand Rapids, Mich. also cites Caspar, Eberhard, and William Cordes as "loyal German Catholics from Alpine who came regularly, either on foot or with ox-teams, to the Sunday Mass and took an active part in the establishment of the congregation." Alpine is about 10 miles north of St. Mary's. Adam and Theresa's daughter Theresa would marry Eberhard Cordes in 1858. Eberhard and Theresa's great great great grandchild, Father Dick Host, would become pastor of St. Mary's Church in 1994.

Adam Dies in 1858 at age 64

Adam Berles died on June 1, 1858, at age 64. He was buried June 4 in Dorlar. He was survived by his wife Theresa and eight children.


Theresa Berles Cordes
Theresa Berles Cordes, daughter of Adam and Theresa Knoche Berles. Circa 1915. Source: Brother Thomas Smith, O.F.M.
Eberhard Cordes
Eberhard Cordes, husband of Theresa Berles Cordes. Alpine, Michigan. Circa 1905. Source: Brother Thomas Smith, O.F.M.
Cordes Homestead
Cordes Homestead on Cordes Road in Alpine, Michigan. Built in 1844, burned in 1910. Source: Brother Thomas Smith, O.F.M.

Theresa Widowed at Age 56

Dorlar, 1858-1874. With Adam's death in 1858, Theresa was widowed at age 56 after 33 years of marriage.

In 1858, Theresa's daughter Theresa, 18, and son Joseph, 16, emigrated from Dorlar to Grand Rapids. They sailed on the ship Clio, from Bremen to Castle Garden.

On September 28, 1858, Theresa's daughter Theresa married Eberhard Cordes, a farmer in Alpine Township, Kent County, Michigan. Eberhard had emigrated with his parents, Anton and Elizabeth Platte Cordes, from Helden, Westphalia, Germany, to Westphalia, Michigan, in 1836 and then to Alpine in 1844. Theresa had emigrated from Dorlar to America in 1846. Eberhard had married Elizabeth Schlick in 1853. They had one child, Joseph Peter, born in 1855. Elizabeth died in 1857. Theresa and Eberhard had 11 children between the years 1859 and 1884, all of them living into adulthood. Cordes Road in Alpine was named for their farm. The History of Holy Trinity Parish indicates that Eberhard and his brothers Caspar and William were actively involved in the establishment of Holy Trinity Church in Alpine. Eberhard donated land needed to expand the parish in 1882.

In 1865, the widow Theresa's son Joseph Berles, 23, who had immigrated to Grand Rapids nine years earlier, married Theresa Cordes, a niece of Eberhard Cordes. Joseph was a hardware merchant in Grand Rapids. He was with the Gunn Hardware Co. from 1867 to 1881. He had his own store at 48 Canal from 1982 to 1901. From 1886 to 1894, the family lived at 135 Mt. Vernon Street (103 Mt. Vernon Avenue NW after 1912). After that, the family lived at 91 Mt. Vernon Street (207 Mt. Vernon Avenue NW after 1912). Joseph and Theresa had three children.

Around 1867, Theresa's daughter Josephine married Regina's brother John Green. So, a Green sister and brother were married to a Berles brother and sister. The year of marriage is based on the year their child Anna was born. In the 1870 census, they were living with John's widower father, John Green.

The 1870 History of Grand Rapids says that the Eberhard Cordes farm is among the largest and best farms in Alpine Township.

In 1873, the original St. Mary's Church building was replaced by the current building, a Gothic-style structure. It was built by Father John George Ehrenstrasser, who became pastor in 1870.

37-Star US Flag 1867-1877Grand Rapids, 1874-1882. On September 5, 1874, Theresa Knoche Berles, 72, immigrated to Grand Rapids from Dorlar. In 1874, there were 37 states in the Union. Ulysses S. Grant was President of the United States. Nebraska was the last state admitted to the Union, in 1867.

S.S. Neckar
The S.S. Neckar leaving the Weser. Maiden voyage: April 18, 1874. Length: 350 feet. Breadth: 40 feet. Source: Arnold Kludas, Die Seeschiffe des Norddeutschen Lloyd, Bd. 1: 1857 bis 1919 (Herford: Koehler, c1991), p. 27.

Theresa arrived with her son Anton Berles, 49, his wife Wilhelmina, 46, and three of their five children: Theresa, 16, Elizabeth, 9, and Joseph, 7. They arrived in Castle Garden from Bremen aboard the steamship Neckar.

Theresa lived with Anton and Wilhelmina at 15 Broadway, then at 321 Straight Street (153 Straight Avenue NW after 1912).

Anton and Wilhelmina's older sons, Frank W. and Anton, also immigrated to Grand Rapids around this time. The 1875 Grand Rapids directory shows Frank W. working as a clerk for Gunn Hardware Co. He was bookkeeper after a couple years there. In 1895, he became bookkeeper at William Peter Drueke's wholesale liquor business, becoming Secretary and Treasurer a couple years later. The 1875 directory shows Anton working as a porter at the department store owned by Frederick W. Wurzburg, a native of Helden, Germany, and husband of Anna Sophia Drueke. Anna Sophia was William Peter Drueke's sister. In 1882, William Peter Drueke married a daughter of Franz and Regina Green Berles, Elizabeth.

On July 4, 1879, Theresa's daughter Josephine Berles Green, died at age 36 of heart disease. Josephine was married to Regina's brother John Green. She was survived by her husband and their child Anna, 11. In the 1880 census, John and Anna were living with Theresa's son Anton and his family at 321 Straight Street.

In 1881, Anton and Wilhelmina's daughter Theresa married John Droste, a farmer.

Theresa Dies in 1882 at Age 80

Theresa Knoche Berles died at age 80 on September 12, 1882. Theresa was buried at Mount Calvary Cemetery. She had been a widow for 24 years. She had been living with her son Anton since they came to America in 1875.

Theresa Berles tombstone
Theresa Knoche Berles tombstone, Mount Calvary Cemetery.

In 1885, Anton and Wilhelmina's daughter Elizabeth married Matthew Schmidt, who became a marble monument dealer.

In 1890, Anton and Wilhelmina's son Joseph married Anna Dozeman. From 1882 to 1896, Joseph worked as a tinner for his uncle Joseph Berles, a hardware merchant in Grand Rapids. From 1897 to 1900, he worked as an assembler for the Grand Rapids Cycle Company. From 1901 to 1903, he worked as a repairer for the Rapid Rifle Company. From 1904 to retirement, he worked as a machinist for Knape and Vogt. Joseph's godmother in Dorlar was Lisette Knape. Knape & Vogt was founded by a son and son-in-law of Charlotte Drueke Vogt, sister of William Peter Drueke.

Adam and Theresa: 9 children, 31 grandchildren, 83 great grandchildren

Anton Franz Berles 1825-1905  m. 1853 Wilhelmina Mette 1830-1892
  • Frank William Berles 1854-1904   m. 1881 Louise Sauer 1853-1896
    • Anna Wilhelmina Berles 1882-1883
    • Charlotte W. Berles 1884-1980  m. 1908 John F. Hormuth b. 1883
    • Elizabeth Alvina Berles 1885-1973  m. 1916 Emil J. Hermann b. 1882
    • Franz Joseph Berles 1888-1891
    • Carl William Berles b. 1891  m. 1922 Anna Marie Schulte 1896-1976
        m. 1900 Katherine Elizabeth Welte 1866-1943
    • Mary Berles 1903-1903
  • Anthony Berles b. 1857  m. 1881 Mary Elizabeth Hall b. 1860
  • Maria Theresa Berles 1859-1939   m. 1881 John Droste 1852-1920
    • Wilhelmina T. Droste 1882-1939
    • Anthony Francis Droste 1885-1956  m. 1920 Anna Katherine Herr 1895-1965
    • Frank William Droste 1887-1961  m. 1918 Hildegarde C. Trierweiler
    • Louise Elisabeth Droste 1890-1976  m. 1913 Joseph Frank Goeddeke 1885-1966
    • Theodore Joseph Droste 1892-1964  m. 1924 Anna M. Hufnagel 1903-1983
    • Anna A. Droste 1895-1932  m. 1923 George William Hauses 1891-1977
    • Aloysius J. Droste 1898-1969  m. 1922 Elizabeth Ann Fandel 1900-1983
    • Alfred Joseph Droste 1900-1974  m. 1937 Lillian E. Spitzley 1907-1997
  • Maria Elizabeth Berles 1862-1952   m. 1885 Matthew Schmidt 1857-1923
    • Robert Anthony Schmidt 1887-1962
    • Minnie J. Schmidt b. 1890  m. 1917 Louis W. Kirchoff b. 1894
    • Frank W. Schmidt 1892-1971
    • Florence A. Schmidt 1898-1979
    • Vincent A. Schmidt 1906-1978
  • Joseph Albert Berles 1866-1956  m. 1890 Anna Dozeman 1868-1938
    • Joseph Albert Berles 1891-1926  m. 1912 Charlotte Hikade b. 1889
    • Elisabeth F. Berles b. 1894  m. 1918 Perry E. Askins b. 1886
    • Madeleine Loretta Berles b. 1902  m. 1924 Albert Steinberg b. 1900
    • Maria Berles b. 1906
  • Maria Wilhelmina Berles b. 1870
Franz Joseph Berles b. 1827
Johann Franz Berles 1828-1884  m. 1851 Regina Green 1831-1906
  • Frank Berles 1852-1926  m. Mary Schenkelberg 1855-1877  m. 1882 Mary C. Bock 1856-1918
    • Louis H. Berles b. 1883   m. 1905 Ethel DeGroot b. 1884
    • Caroline A. Berles b. 1885
    • Henry B. Berles b. 1887   m. 1909 Margaret Buche Brose b. 1885
    • Gertrude Berles b. 1890   m. 1908 Fred Chester Watrous
    • Eugene A. Berles b. 1895   m. 1923 Julie M. Butler b. 1895
  • John A. Berles 1855-1892  m. 1878 Catherine Rademacher 1857-1937
    • Antoinette Berles 1889-1963
  • Elizabeth Berles 1858-1941  m. 1882 William Peter Drueke 1853-1926
    • William Francis Drueke 1883-1956  m. 1906 Rose Viola Smith 1882-1973
    • Antoinette Regina Drueke 1885-1963  m. 1909 George Alphonse Matthews 1884-1963
    • Francis Xavier Drueke 1886-1949  m. 1919 Bertha Reidel 1896-1972
    • Louise A. Drueke 1889-1965  m. 1913 Joseph John Hesse 1888-1975
    • Bernice Drueke 1893-1981  m. 1924 Claude Russel Cheney 1895-1894
    • Richard Karl Drueke 1894-1923
    • Edwin Drueke 1897-1906
    • Clarence Anthony Drueke 1898-1963  m. 1931 Elizabeth A.
  • Anna Berles b. 1861  m. 1883 Anthony Buessemann b. 1861
  • Theresa Berles b. 1863  m. 1883 Adelbert Hydorn b. 1855
    • Adelbert Hydorn b. 1887  m. Mary 1884-1978
         m. 1895 William Harry Wetzell b. 1857
         m. 1906 William Fitzpatrick b. 1880

  • Josephine Berles 1866-1945  m. 1887 Charles Drueke 1859-1928
    • Arthur Karl Drueke 1890-1948  m. 1917 Annette L. Kubiak 1893-1975
    • Mary Rose Drueke 1903-1977  m. 1924 Harry Langhoff 1901-1990
  • Caroline Berles 1869-1945  m. 1892 Gustave Adolph Bodenstein b. 1868
    • Helen Bodenstein b. 1898
    • Carl E. Bodenstein 1905-1989  m. 1930 Catherine b. 1907
  • Appolonia "Abbie" Berles 1872-1948  m. 1903 Paul J. Hake 1875-1952
    • Paul William Hake 1906-1987
    • Robert Francis Hake 1908-1986
    • William Hake 1916-1998  m. 1941 Margaret Ann Voss 1919-1986
Maria Catharina Berles b. 1831

Lisetta Helena Berles 1833-1917  m. 1855 Anton Knape 1808-1879
  • Johann Anton Knape 1859-1924  m. 1882 Catharina Schulte
    • Dr. Anton Knape 1883-1953  m. Liesel Schulte 1916-1990
    • Paul Josef Knape 1895-1943  m. Maria Schauerte b. 1896
Adam Conrad Berles b. 1836

Theresa Berles 1838-1923  m. 1858 Eberhard Cordes 1827-1908
  • Joseph P. Cordes 1855-1923 (child of 1853 marriage between Eberhard and Elizabeth Schlick 1837-1857)   m. 1883 Augusta M. Meyer 1859-1934
    • Otto Cordes 1884-1885
    • Edwina Cordes 1886-1928
    • Eugenia Cordes 1889-1898
    • Caroline Cordes 1892-1971   m. 1917 Clarence Lamoreaux
    • Clarence Cordes 1896-1958   m. Mary Abraham
    • August F. Cordes 1902-1975   m. 1923 Mildred Krantz
  • Mary Ann Cordes 1859-1881  m. 1880 Anthony Hammerschmidt 1854-1908
  • Ann Cordes 1861-1925  m. 1881 Frederick Host 1853-1928
    • Julia Host 1882-1906
    • Arthur E. Host 1884-1968  m. 1908 Wilhelmina Frances Hammerschmidt 1884-1958
    • Frederick Host 1886-1953  m. Anna Paas
    • Lena Host 1888-1911
    • Eleanor Host 1890-1959  m. 1911 Frank Thiel
    • Emily Host 1892-1920
    • Louise Host 1894-1895
    • Clarence Host 1896-1969  m. 1919 Mae Morrissey 1895-1953
    • Edwin Host 1898-1963  m. 1923 Mae Williams
    • Verna Host 1901-1991
    • Theresa Host 1904-1964  m. Sidney Meeter 1902-1968
  • Edward P. Cordes 1862-1939
  • Julia L. Cordes 1865-1954  m. 1884 Joseph Thome 1855-1927
    • Mildred Thome 1908-2000
    • Edward J. Thome 1886-1970  m. 1918 Frances Thesien 1894-1971
    • Otto H. Thome 1887-1968  m. 1933 Josephine Kilmartin 1894-1983
    • Richard M. Thome 1889-1984  m. 1917 Bernadine Diane Brechting 1889-1982
    • Emily Thome
    • Viola E. Thome 1893-1906
    • Bert Thome 1894-1985  m. 1919 Irene Antor 1897-1944
    • Irene Thome 1896-1995
    • Alfred Thome b. 1900
  • Caroline Cordes 1868-1934  m. 1901 Frank Jost 1862-1945
    • Raymond Jost 1902-1958
    • Leona Jost 1905-1997
    • Bernice Jost 1907-1999
    • Lillian Jost b. 1913
  • Henry Nicholaus Cordes 1870-1898
  • Clement J. Cordes 1872-1952  m. 1901 Mary Thiel 1882-1943
    • Edwin Cordes 1906-1947
    • Eva Cordes 1908-1998
    • Theresa Cordes 1914-2000
    • Alfred Cordes 1917-1980
  • William Cordes 1876-1943
  • Louis Cordes 1879-1945
  • Richard Cordes 1881-1881
  • Alfred Cordes 1884-1957  m. 1847 Helen Rauser 1917-1997
Joseph Berles 1841-1922  m. 1865 Theresa Cordes 1845-1925
  • Josephine Berles b. 1873  m. 1902 Albert W. Hake 1871-1941
    • Louise M. Hake b. 1903  m. Floyd Patrick b. 1901
    • Florence T. Hake b. 1914
  • William Frederick Berles 1877-1963
  • Edward Berles 1880-1963  m. Marie b. 1886
Josephine Berles 1843-1879  m. John Green b. 1846
  • Anna Green

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