Marilyn Hamill, Mariana Kopacz, and Brother Thomas Smith, O.F.M., contributed to this family history.
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Adam Born in 1794
Landenbeck, 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
Altenilpe, 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.
Adam and Theresa Married in 1824, Have 9 Children
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
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.
On April 17, 1855, Adam and Theresa's daughter Lissetta Helena, 21, married Anton Knape, 43, in Dorlar.
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 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.
Grand 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.
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.
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
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