Drefs (Drews) Bessarabian Research


I am Reuben Drefs and I am involved in research of the Drefs (Drews) family name. As the graphic of a church indicates, my ancesters were faithful to the Lutheran faith, the faith of northern Germany. They carried this faith with them as they moved into the eastern provinces of Germany into Poland and the Ukraine and finally to the USA frontier in South Dakota.

My grandfather Frederick Drefs immigrated from Bessarabia/Urkaine in 1876. Bessarabia had been claimed by Russia in 1812 and except for the years 1920-40, which was the Rumania time, remained part of Russia until the breakup of the Soviet Union in the 1990's. I am the village coordinator for Neu Arcis, Bessarabia, the village from which the Drefs originated in Bessarabia.

I welcome any assistance, questions, comments, and especially new insights into finding our family lines in Germany and Poland. However, before that can happen new research especially during the 1780-1815 interlude in Poland needs to clarify the place of birth for strategic years, e.g. 1797,1800, 1803 and marriages about 1795 and 1814.


  Family History

My key ancestor John (Johann) Drews is documented for birth data in church books for the year 1800. Indications point to his father Jacob Drews, born 1771, although no hard documentation has been discovered at this point. John Drews name was altered to John Drefs about 1835 and since that time the family has used the "f" rather than the "w". The family of Jacob Drews/Drefs immigrated to south Russia (Ukraine) in 1814 and was part of the original colonists of Arcis, Bessarabia, not far from the Black Sea and some 50-60 miles west of Odessa. John Drefs married Anna Elisabeth Wenzlaff in 1826. They had nine children between 1828 and 1842. In the year 1839 my great grandfather John was born. John had twin brothers that were born in 1842 and in 1844 the mother Anna Elisabeth died. My great great grandfather John (1800 birthyear) never remarried. In 1860 John Drefs, born 1839 married Christina Tschritter of the village of Alt Elft, Bessarabia. To this union my grandfather Frederick was born in 1862. At about age eight his mother died, 1870, and John his father remarried to Christina Zeitner. A few years later, as threats to russify became more pronounced, John took his family to America in 1876.My ancesters were farmers, so they homesteaded southeast of Tripp, S.D. where my father was born in 1898, over one hundred years ago.
About 1900 our family moved from southwest of Tripp, S.D. to twelve miles north of Delmont, S.D. I was born and raised on a farm there. This is a picture of my sister Anna milking a cow and my sister Malinda and myself playing  on an unusual  cow. 
My research efforts have largely been completed in Neu Arcis, Bessarabia. At the present time I am searching for the Drews famiy in their sojorn in Poland between the years 1770-1815. This time frame covers the birth of Jakob Drews(1771), Johann Drefs (1800), Rosina Drews birth,(1797) daughter of Jakob, and the marriage of Rosina Drews to Andreas Schulz, in Warsaw, 1814. Recent research has confirmed the Drews family originated in the Bromberg, West Prussia area. Precisely this was the Netze District in 1772. Dialect research conducted in 1941 suggested Neu Arcis colonists originated in the Bromberg area. Precise maping of the dialect spoken in Neu Arcis, Bessarabia which was also spoken in Bromberg area is available through the research book of Albert Eckert. I welcome any comments and suggestion you may have to searching for ancesters in Poland in the late 18th century and early 19th century.


Links to Other Research of Germans From Russia

  • GRHS Homepage - A great site for Black Seas Germans from Russia.
  • AHSGR Homepage - Visit this site for more coverage of Germans from Russa with specialization in Volga German research.
  • Feefhs Frontpage - Federation of Eastern European Family History Societies includes German as well as all other European ethnic groups. The German site includes Germans from Russia as well as general German genealogical sources.

    Homepage constructed by R. Reuben Drefs, August 18, 1997
    2053 Woonsocket, Toledo, OH 43615
    Graphics on this page provided by Chris Stern at Cherished Memories