Monday, October 3, 2011

Washington County Historical Society Volunteer.

Friday was my first day volunteering with the organization.  They are headquartered in the Warden’s house of the Stillwater Prison along North Main Street. 

Stillwater’s tagline is the birthplace of Minnesota because the initial petitions and meetings to make MN a state were organized there.  Henry Sibley and Joseph Brown were key contributors to the Stillwater Convention.  Minnesota became a state August 26, 1848.

To learn more about these topics go to the Washington County Historical Society web page. (

I’m working on the biographical index.  I’m clipping articles from the Stillwater Gazette and Stillwater Messenger, and adding them to scrapbooks.  The names are then added to the index that is available on-line.

I came across many stories that were intriguing that deserve their own story, but one jumped out at me that deserved to be researched for this entry.

William Drechsler (Bill) passed away on February 6th 1901 as posted by the Stillwater Gazette.  He ran the rope ferry across the St Croix until the Pontoon Bridge was installed.  It cost about $1 to have the rope ferry pull you across the river by horse and cart.

 Bill was born in Germany on November 29, 1834.  He arrived in Stillwater in 1857.  There were no family members mentioned in the obituary by name.

Bill Drechsler is also mentioned in the Polk’s Stillwater city Directory of 1890-1891.

The Minnesota Territorial and State Census of 1875 list William by himself.  The significant information here is that William and both his parents were born in Hessia.  I take this to be Hessen, Germany since the obituary states he was born in Germany.  The largest city in Hessen is Frankfurt, Germany. 

The other thing that comes to mind is that Hessians were the German people that helped the British in the Revolutionary War.  I remember during a public TV broadcast that there were Hessians that chose to stay in America even after the Revolutionary War was over. 

Bill’s family didn’t leave Germany until after his birth in 1834, arriving in MN, in 1857, long after the Revolutionary War.  War may have been a good reason to leave Germany because there were wars occurring in Frankfurt at the time. 

That plan didn’t work very well since William is listed in the US Civil War Draft Registration Records. He is 28 yrs. old and listed as a married laborer. has one member that lists him as married to a Catherine Racher with a daughter Anna Mary.  The location listing is for Houlton, Wisconsin, which would be the other side of the river from Stillwater.  I was unable to find records to verify this information.

Stay tuned for more.


  1. Cool entry. Arrived here via Ravelry (looking for that ripple blanket you posted about on the ripple thread) and landed on your main page and read this article. Small world. I grew up (fourth? generation) in Hudson, WI so I love this historical stuff about the area... Still doing the volunteer work?

  2. Thank you Keri,
    Yes, I'm attending school for Historic Preservation. I plan to post a couple of entries about the JJ Hill house in the next month or so. One about the man and the house, and the other about restoring the organ in the art gallery. Enjoy the ripple.