Albert Frederick Frank Drees, 1951 Albert Frederick Frank Drees
1906 - 1975

BORN: 03 Apr 1906 - Daykin, Nebraska
         01 Mar 1931
         Immanuel Lutheran Church parsonage
         Grand Forks, North Dakota
DIED: 19 Sep 1975
         United Hospital - St. Michael's Unit
         Grand Forks, North Dakota

Albert Drees, 1919

Albert Fredrick Frank Drees was a farmer who lived most of his life near Grand Forks, North Dakota, growing grains, potatoes, alfalfa and sugar beets. With his sons, he created the Drees Farming Association which was cultivating about 3000 acres at the time he retired. Albert is remembered by his ten children as being an honest, hard-working, religious man; a stoic who was not given to compliments or outward displays of affection. Work always came before play. Although he generously supported the church and served on various school, township and county boards, Albert had no real hobbies - farming and family was his life.

Albert was born near Daykin, Nebraska in 1906, the eldest child of Herman and Minnie Drees. At the time, Daykin was a community of mostly German Lutheran emigrants - German was spoken in the local schools and churches. It was not until the United States was drawn into World War I that the community felt presured to speak English, as an increasing number of outsiders began to question their loyalties.

In 1917 a tornado struck the Herman Drees farm, destroying all of the buildings except the house where the family slept. Albert's father, Herman, was heartbroken by all the destruction, as he had worked hard to have an attractive and productive farm and had probably built most of the farm buildings himself.

When Herman visited the Red River Valley of North Dakota a year or so later, he was so impressed by the quality of the soil and low prices that he decided to buy land and move the family. The family moved north in 1920 when Albert was about 14 years old. Albert graduated from the eighth grade either shortly before or shortly after the move and immediately went to work in his father's fields.

Ethel and Albert Drees, 1931

Albert met Ethel Kuster at a neighborhood barn dance. The Kuster family lived only a couple miles down the road on what would eventually become Grand Forks' 17th Avenue. Albert and Ethel were married in the parsonage of the Immanuel Lutheran Church on March 1st, 1931 with only two witnesses in attendance. Their wedding gifts included a team of horses and a family Bible.

The new couple rented the Tanneyhill Farm, located on the banks of the English Coolee for seven years, barely eaking out a living during the worst days of the Great Depression. Their first five children were born at that home with the assistance of a doctor or midwife.

In 1938, Albert purchased the "Art Gregoire" farm, located seven miles south of Grand Forks for $15,000 (320 acres at $46.80 and acre). The house was old and had probably never been painted but the farm came with a several farm buildings that were in good repair. Surrounding these buildings was a large grove of cottonwood and box elder trees which also served as a calf pasture. There was no electricity or running water until a new house was built in the 1940s. Ethel didn't want the new house to be square but Albert felt a square house was the best way to get the 4 bedrooms he thought his growing family needed. Between 1940 and 1946, five more children were born. Since doctors no longer made house calls, the final five were born in the hospital.

Albert Drees Family, 1951

The farm continued to prosper, most years the crops were good. After Albert's oldest two sons became farmers and married, they created the Drees Farming Association which divided farming responsibilities and provided for certain economies of scale. A climate controled potato house was built so that potatos could be sold when prices were at their best instead of during the harvest when prices could be lower. A third son, John, married and joined the Association and Albert sold his farm to him so that it could remain in the family upon his eventual death.

Albert was very proud of his family and wanted the best for them, but not in frivilous ways. He gave loans or gifts to several of his children so they could buy a home or start a business and he donated generously to the church.

Albert was diagnosed with Aplastic Anemia in the early 1970s. Doctors believed that exposure to pesticides over the course of several decades may have contributed to the disease. Albert died on September 21st, 1975 of pneumonia - Aplastic Anemia being the leading contributing factor. He was 69 years old.

Albert Frederick Frank Drees is buried in the Memorial Park Cemetary in Grand Forks, North Dakota.

WIFE of Albert Fredrick Frank Drees:
    Ethel Viola KUSTER

PARENTS of Albert Fredrick Frank Drees:
    Herman Heinrich DREES
    Catherine Wilhelmine "Minnie" BRINGEWATT

CHILDREN of Albert Fredrick Frank Drees:
   1. Albert Frank DREES Jr.

   2. Donna Jean (WIDENHOEFER)
   3. Doris June (RACHOW)

   4. Mary Louise (HOOEY)
   5. Donald Leroy DREES
   6. Violet Ruth (OKESON)
   7. Dorothy Anne (SCHROETER)

   8. Kathleen Karen (MILLER)
   9. Paul Robert DREES
   10. John Richard DREES



  A Genealogy and History for the Family of Albert and Ethel Drees, by Donna Widenhoefer
  1910 U.S. Federal Census for Jefferson Co., NE
  1920 U.S. Federal Census for Jefferson Co., NE
  1925 North Dakota State Census for Grand Forks ND
  1930 U.S. Federal Census for Grand Forks ND
  1940 U.S. Federal Census for Grand Forks ND
  U.S. Social Security Death Index