The Simon Trefzger, Sr. Story
Our story begins with Simon Trefzger, Sr.
We know very little about Simonís parents other than the following: Simonís fatherís name was Franz Joseph Trefzger and his motherís maiden name was Anna Multner. Both lived in the little town of Wehr, Baden. They married in 1783, and had a son named Fidelis who was born and died in 1784.
Simon, their second son, was born in 1788.
When Simon was a boy 11 years old Napoleon Bonaparte seized power in France just about 30 miles away to the west. Badenís Charles Frederick didnít oppose Napoleon. Early in the 1800s French forces crossed the Rhine and occupied Baden as they started east.
In 1813, when Simon was 25 years old, he married Julianna Gruny. By this time Simon had completed his schooling and apprenticeship and had become a Master Potter.
We believe that Simon and Julianna owned a small farm near Wehr and that they went to church at St. Martinís Catholic Church in Wehr (the only Catholic Church in Wehr).
Simonís Potterís Shop was probably in the barn on the farm. They undoubtedly cut wood on the farm to fire the kiln for the pottery. They may have even been able to dig clay for the pottery on the farm.
In 1814 the children started to come. Joseph, their first child was born. Between 1815 and 1822, Simon and Julianna had 4 daughters. Theresia, Julianna, Franziska, and Catharina. Johann was born in 1824. Two years later Maria Anna, another daughter, was born in 1826. Franz Anton was born in 1828. Simon, Jr. was born in 1831. The last of 10 children, Felix, was born in 1834.
It must have been hard for Simon and Julianna to feed, cloth, and house 10 children. There couldnít have been a big market for pottery in the very small village of Wehr. But Simon and Julianna saw to it that their children were prepared for life. Simon made sure that each on of his boys had a trade. Joseph, who had grown up playing around the pottery shop became a Master Potter. Johann, the second son became a Master Shoemaker. Anton learned the plastering trade and became a Master Plasterer. Simon, Jr. became a Master Baker, and Felix became a lumberman.
During the 1830s and 1840s while the children were growing up there were crop failures, a lack of industrial employment, overpopulation, social discontent and political repression. The industrial revolution which had started in England and was moving into north Europe did not help southern Baden.
The people had heard about the American Revolution, about the tremendous size of the United States, all of the cheap land, and all of the opportunities in America, the turmoil in France, and the changes in the world. Liberal and nationalist ideas became more popular. The political discontent grew along with a movement to create a republic in Baden.
Finally there was a revolution. In September 1848 the reigning grand duke Leopold had to flee from Baden.
The revolutionaries held Baden until May of 1849 when Leopold with the help of Prussian troops was restored to power. The revolutionaries had to flee across the Rhine to Switzerland.
Shortly after the revolution Simonís friend Meinrad Berger and his wife Catharina Trefzger (Simonís distant cousin) sold their textile mill, and took their family to America.
Saturday April 11, 1853 was a special day for the Trefzgers. For months the whole family had been planning. Johann had proposed to Maria Weber, and Simon, Jr. had proposed to Katharina Scherr. Finally the big day came. Almost the whole town turned out. They all met at Saint Martinís Church. What a ceremony, Johann married Maria and Simon, Jr. married Katharina. And what a reception they had.
Only nine months later Simon (Sr.) died just after he was 66 years old.
By the spring of 1855 young Simon and Katharina had 2 children. They along with older sister Maria Anna and older brother Anton had said their good byes. The six of them left for the long journey to America.
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