'Fritz' or 'Fred' Friedrich Wilhelm Trefzger
Known as "Fritz' when he was young and 'Fred' when he was older, Fritz was born on Feb.22,1871 in Germany during the Franco-Prussian War. His parents were visiting Germany and could not get back home. They were able to return to Peoria, Illinois late in 1871.
Fritz was the third child named 'Friedrick' by his parents. The first 'Friedrick' died when he was 9 months old. The second 'Frederick' lived only 3 months.
Fritz had a good Catholic grammer school education.
"Frederick began working for his father and brother being a clerk in 1887. In 1888 he bacame bookkeeper for brother, Adolph. That year he was secretary of the Germani Maennerchoir, which position he held for 3 years. This shows both his popularity and ability since he was serving in this manner at the young age of 17 years. He continued as bookkeeper for his brother until 1895 when he became a salesman for his brother, Adolph. In 1898 he joined his brother, Rudolph, in a plumbing partnership. After his marriage he lived at 111 Ellis Street, next door to his brother, Charles. In 1899 he was elected secretary of the Illinois Plumbers Association and served 3 years. In 1890 he served also as secretary of the Peoria Plumbers Association. In 1902 he moved to 505 Bryan St. In 1903 he again became solicitor for his brother's insurance business. He took part in dramatics and various programs show him as playing important roles. During the convention of the DRKCV (Deutsches-Roemisches-Katholisches-Central-Verein)
held in peoria in September 1900, he served on the entertainment and program committees. He married a daughter of John and Mary Berger, old time friends of his parents who visited each other on their arrival in this country."
by Paul Bourscheidt
Comments from Franz Trefzger's Autobiography
"By this time Simon Trefzger was an American citizen, well established and affluent enough to take his wife and family back to Germany for a visit. As it happened while they were there the Franco-Prussian War broke out. The Germans would not allow the Trefzgers to return to America. However, life must go on - so Pop was born over there, but he was a good 100% American. Each time Pop went to vote the representative of the Board of Elections gave him trouble for he insisted upon seeing Pop's citizenship papers. Naturally Pop had none. He was the son of an American citizen and just happened to be born in Germany."
“My mother was a beautiful, well built woman, 5 feet 7 inches tall. Dad was a roly-poly fellow, about 5 feet 5 inches tall, almost as round as he was tall. He told me that from the time he was thirteen years old he weighed as much as 200 pounds. Thank heavens he fell in love with a taller woman. I am 5 feet 7 inches tall, my brother Herbert (who was born when I was 18 months old) is 5 feet 7 1/2, and our sister Elsa who did not show up for quite a few years, about 5 feet 3.”
"My father who had had several jobs in Peoria was now a bookkeeper for a cigar making business called The Cuban Cigar Co., at 111 East 6th street. The company was owned by a man called J. Adam Schmidt , and his best cigar was called the Laughery Club Cigar. Mr. Schmidt was a sport and evidently belonged to the Laughery Club, a Republican political club down near Lawrenceburg, Indiana."
"Mr. J. Adam Schmidt, owner of the Cuban Cigar Company, man-about-town, sport, and my dad's boss, committed suicide. He was debt ridden and could not face the consequences. My mother, who was a very practical woman, cried and was emotionally upset over the incident. We were in precarious financial straits and needed the small amount of money Dad brought home every week. To add to mother's distress, Dad wanted to buy the business - which he did. I do not know where they got the money to buy it - perhaps from the Trefzgers, perhaps from Grandma Berger, or perhaps they borrowed it. My father, at this time, was experimenting in our basement with the manufacture of soap. I remember what the machine looked like in that he used in making the soap bars. It was hand operated and pressed down on the gooey soap to form an oval shaped bar. Too bad that dad didn't beat P & G at their own game, but he didn't!"
"During the period 1920-l923 I was working for my dad at The Cuban Cigar Company which had moved from 111 E. Sixth Street to 1421 Walnut Street. The cigar company occupied and rented the small building which had two floors in front, one floor in the rear. Our foreman, John Phennig and his wife lived on the second floor. I could probably write a number of pages about John who was a real character. He was an honest, hardworking immigrant from Germany, who really knew the tobacco and cigar business from A to Z. Simply by smoking a cigar he could tell just what kinds of tobacco it contained. When he spoke English he had a very peculiar accent which delighted me. I cannot possib1y illustrate it in writing, but he would say to my dad (they were both twenty-five cent betters on the horses), "Fritz, vy don't you put fifty cents on Belchen (Belgian) Queen for me in the second?"
"Dad was the president and treasurer of this little cigar company, and I was Secretary. We had only hand-rolled cigars and we used good tobacco from The John Berger & Sons Co. Our principle cigar brands were called "The Lauery Club" and the "Luke McLuke." The Laurey Club was an actual club out near Lawrenceburg, Indiana, and Luke McLuke was the pen name of a comic writer for the Cincinnati Enquirer. We had a rugged time with our business for it seemed that every time we would get a few orders ahead or just before Christmas when trade was good, the cigar makers union would call a strike and walk out. Even so, Dad was able to keep his head above water until prohibition, a period which was impossible for him to handle because our cigars were sold principally in saloons. When the saloons had no real beer or booze to sell, they folded - and so did we! During the years that I worked for dad I was in just about every saloon in the City of Cincinnati delivering cigars. I disliked the places because of the noise and the rough, drunken people, but above all, because of the latrines. Dad had a first, or innovation with his cigars, i.e., he packaged them individually in paper containers which we called "pouches." Since then of course almost all cigars have been wrapped in ce1lophane. Working for my father gave me the free time I needed for music lessons and for doing, a little daytime courting with Marie who had finished business school and was working in town."
"One day, in l923, perhaps, dad left the books (vital records of the business) open on his desk inadvertently, and took off for the afternoon. Although I was nominally secretary of the firm, I had never seen his profit and loss page. That afternoon I took a good look at it - a shocking experience for me - to see that our business was $7,000.00 in debt to the John Berger Co.! Realizing that Mom knew nothing about this debt, I had a big decision to make. I guess dad who was by nature a soft-spoken and soft-hearted individual did not have the courage to tell her, each day hoping, for a miracle. I felt that it was my duty to tell her - and so I did. Her heart was broken; she cried for days. Dad was so furious with me that he did not speak to me for months. Things happened, however - I found another job, and dad sold the business for whatever he could get. Mom paid the $7,000 indebtedness to her brother George from some money Grandma Berger had given her. Dad, who was an excellent bookkeeper, went to work for his friend Joe Boehnlein who had a flourishing chicken business on Findlay Marketplace."
He married Otillia J. Berger "Tillie" when he was 28 years old.
Fritz loved people, stamp collecting, and his home brew. "My dad was soft-spoken and soft-hearted." by Franz Trefzger
He died when he was 86 years old.
'Tillie' Ottilia Jossepha Berger
Tillie was a beautiful woman, a high school graduate, good pianist, good singer, and real dancer. She loved her family and people.
"My sister Ottilia, (our Tilllie) Grandfather called her "Tillilie mit Roelele" (littleTillie with curls) was the only one of the four of us who had long black curls. Fifty years later, her granddaughter was brushing the same type of curls. Ottilia was my senior by 3 1/2 years, she was a beautiful young lady when she attended Hughes High School, and accordingly had many admirers. When two men came home with her, Mama recognized one of the names and upon questioning, learned that he was her own cousin's son, Charles Lammers. He remained a devoted friend to the family throughout his long life. Papa was ill much of that time, and left us for his Heavenly home the day she was eighteen. It seemed as if he waited until she 'became of age'. She had celebrated her birthday on the previous Sunday, and he still enjoyed meeting her young friends. Without insulin, diabetes was a fatal illness, and when peritonitis complicated the condition, a few days of intense suffering was all that Papa could take. He died July 13, 1894, not yet fifty-seven,, having been born 10/19/1837. Tillie became very depressed, so when the Trefzger's invited her to come to Peoria for a visit, Mama advised her to go. It did not take long for Fred, the young son of the family, to realize that he loved her (she was quite lovable) and he wooed her ardently. That I can vouch for, because whenever he came to Cincinnati, I found myself in the way, the unwanted. If I did not absent myself, Fred would say "Teresa, don't you hear your mother calling? I think she needs help." They later became engaged and were married October 18, 1899." by Teresa Berger Sheblessy
"Again, there was much excitement. The upstairs had to be readied for the expected houseguests. Sister Anna was a pillar of strength upon which Mama depended. Allie Metz, the son of Mama's brother George, had previously moved to Peoria, so he came on with Fred to act as his best man . Both were houseguests. Toni Metz and Robert Bauer, the two cousins, who were also in Amanda's wedding party, and John Bauer, brother of Robert, were the ushers. I in a beautiful shade of green crepe de chine and Ida Wetterer, my girlhood chum, who wore a dress in pink of the same material and pattern, were the girls in the party. Ida was a vocalist, a pianist, and all around musician, obliging with her talent. We attended the Conservatory of Music together and were usually the hub of the gathering of our friends. Fred took Tillie to Peoria where they made their home for many years and were returned there to be buried in the large Simon Trefzger plot. Francis and Herbert were born in Peoria, but Elsa Marie, found her welcome in Cincinnati." by Teresa Berger Sheblessy
"My mother was a beautiful, well built woman, 5 feet 7 inches tall. Dad was a roly-poly fellow, about 5 feet 5 inches tall, almost as round as he was tall. He told me that from the time he was thirteen years old he weighed as much as 200 pounds. Thank heavens he fell in love with a taller woman. I am 5 feet 7 inches tall, my brother Herbert (who was born when I was 18 months old) is 5 feet 7 inches, and our sister Elsa who did not show up for quite a few years, about 5 feet 3." by Franz Trefzger
Tillie lived with a digestive tract disorder (possibly Crohn's disease) for at least 15 years before she died. She died on 7/13/1946 on her 70th birthday. She died in Cincinnati. She is buried in the Trefzger plot in Peoria, IL.
Fred died in September 1957 in Cincinnat. He is also buried in the Trefzger plot in Peoria, IL.
In 1891 and 1892 Frederick W. works as a bookkeeper for Anton, living at 108 S. Monroe in the Peoria Directory.
In the 1900 census Fred and Otillia are in Ward 5, Peoria, IL.
In the 1920 census Fred and Ottilia are in Cincnnati Ward 24. Francis is 9, Herb is 7.
In 1930 Elsa is still home with Fred and Otillia in Cincinnati, Hamilton County, OH.
Fred Berger has written an excellent book 'Stories from The Berger History'.
For information about 'the Bergers and the Trefzgers join hands again' see the link to "Fred's 'Stories'p.53".