Bressler & Fair – Part One



john t bressler maybe 1880s smjulia fair bressler maybe 1880s smMy great-grandparents were John and Julia Bressler of Wayne, Nebraska.  They started out with very little, but became prominent citizens by the end of their lives.


John T.’s Story

John Tannehill Bressler was the son of Mary Ann Tannehill and Daniel Bressler.  Daniel had been married before to Margaret Ganoe and they had six children.  Margaret died when the youngest was two years old.  John was born 14 January 1849 in Warriors Mark, Huntingdon county, Pennsylvania – the third child and second son for Mary Ann and Daniel.  His older brother Lindley died in the Civil War in 1862.  There were nine children from this second marriage.  The family was poor and many of the children headed west.  Today there are several Bressler families in Nebraska.

john t bressler maybe 1880sJohn followed his brother, Hezekiah, to Cuming county, Nebraska only to find that all the homesteads had been taken.  He went north to Wayne county and settled near LaPorte the Spring of 1870.  Here he was county surveyor in 1875 and was elected to two terms as Treasurer of Wayne county in 1877 and 1879.  About 1880 he and D.C. Patterson started the Logan Valley Bank.

In an interview in the 1930s John said that while most of his neighbors built “soddies” – half buried homes of prairie sod, he made the mistake of building a board house.  That winter everything in his house froze, while his neighbors were well insulated in their homes.

In my notes I have that John Bressler held a “timber claim” in Nebraska which seems odd since there weren’t many trees.  An interview with him in 1931 (newspaper clipping dated 25 June 1931) explains this.  “Although lumber had to be hauled great distances at first, the pioneers were urged to plant trees and to forest the land as rapidly as possible.  In order to foster tree-growing, the government arranged for “timber claims,”  although they were not nearly so popular in this section as in some others.  In order to hold a tree claim of 160 acres, for example, the settler was obliged to plant about 10 acres of time; for 80 acres, about five acres in trees, and so on.  Mr. Bressler, who believed in making a farm country of the rich land, went to the river courses, dug up sturdy saplings, and planted them on his homestead.  The result of the planting activities of such pioneers as Mr Bressler is the transformation of the treeless, shrubless prairie into a land that looks like native woods.”  And this agrees with the family stories that I heard of them going to the Missouri River (about 35 or 40 miles) to get saplings.

julia fair bressler maybe 1880sJulia’s Story

Julia Fair was born on the same day, ten years after John Bressler – on 14 January 1859 in Indiana county, Pennsylvania.  Her middle name is sometimes recorded as DeForest, but I haven’t confirmed that or found that name anywhere else in the family.  She was the daughter of Salina Jane Cribbs and Mark Fair.  The family moved to Dakota City, Dakota county, Nebraska in 1867 when she was eight years old.  Salina had six children but at least two of them died very young.  Julia taught at Bell School in Dakota City in 1878 and 1879.

Their Marriage

Julia Fair and John Tannehill Bressler were married at Fair farm homestead, two miles west of Dakota City by Rev J. P Schmu, pastor of the Lutheran Church, Dakota City on 21 July 1880.  They lived in LaPorte, Nebraska.  In 1881 they moved to Wayne when it became the county seat.