Is there a Spanish connection to the Trares side of the Knapp clan?

I don’t know if you have had a chance to read some of the comments that Christoph TRARES has made concerning the series of postings I wrote about John Sebastian TRARES – but you should!

As you may recall, John Sebastian TRARES was the son of Matthias TRARES and Elizabeth HELMLING and was also the younger brother of Agnes TRARES, wife of Franz Adam KNAPP’s son, John KNAPP.

Agnes’s adventurous brother, John Sebastian TRARES, ventured west to the Edwardsville, Indiana and St. Louis, Missouri areas to make his fortune.

I have written a series of posts about my research into what happened to John Sebastian after his move to the west. He became a pharmacist and was quite a wealthy man for that time period. He was also very well known in the town of Edwardsville. His large home still stands (like so many large Victorian-era mansard-style mansions, it is now a funeral home!) and he is regarded as a local history figure there.

Thanks to the power of the internet to reconnect people, a gentleman from Germany has contacted me about the possibility of a Spanish connection to the TRARES side of the KNAPP clan.

Although I had always thought that TRARES was a very unusual name for a German family, I had never run across any evidence to suggest another origin for the name.

Not until Christoph TRARES shared with me that his grandfather’s family research had turned up a document dating to the 1600’s that indicates that a local girl from Heppenheim married a Spaniard named TRARES.

According to Christoph, his grandfather worked for the city hall there and after some research, found a document which says that a Spaniard named “TRARES” who was a member of the Spanish soldiers who conquered the Starkenburg castle which sits on the hill next to Heppenheim.

Note: Kirschausen is a suburb of Heppenheim, according to Christoph. He also added in his comment that the famous Formula 1 race car world champion, Sebastian Vettel, is also a Heppenheim native!

The Starkenburg castle was taken by Spanish troops during the Thirty Years War in 1621. You can read more about the history of the castle, the Thirty Years War and the history of Heppenheim at Wikipedia.

The soldier who married the gal from Heppenheim did so about 1635-1640 time period. This is the earliest recorded instance of the TRARES surname in the Heppenheim area of Germany, according to Christoph.

Christoph was told by his grandparents there was a TRARES who had emigrated to the United States, but no one back in Germany knew if he had made it here. After reading Knapp Notes, Christoph was delighted to discover that he did make it to America – and that there are still numerous descendants of Matthias TRARES still living in Ohio, Missouri and Illinois.

Christoph also mentioned that the German branch of the TRARES clan hosts a family reunion every two years. In fact, the most recent reunion was held just last month on May 13. Christoph is in the process of sending us a copy of the family tree diagram that was posted at the TRARES family reunion.

Thanks to Christoph for writing and being willing to share information between the U.S. and German branches of the family! Maybe we can learn more about where in Spain the TRARES family came from. I do write/speak some Spanish – those Spanish classes in high school and college may just come in handy at last!

And with Christoph’s help, maybe we can extend our family tree back a few generations in Germany, too. I look forward to hearing more from our TRARES cousin in Germany!

This entry was posted in Knapp, Trares and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Is there a Spanish connection to the Trares side of the Knapp clan?

  1. Jeffrey S. Trares says:

    I have a picture of my great great great grandfather John Sebastian Trares. I saw somewhere on your website you were looking for one. Shoot me an email and I can send you a copy. We are located in St. Louis. Great info here we should share what we know. We have a lot of old photos of the family but most of the elders are deceased or no able to help with identification.

    Jeff Trares

    Shocked about a Spanish connection. We speculated maybe French but believed ourselves to be German.


    • knappnotes says:


      Glad to hear from a fellow TRARES researcher!

      Yes, we are very surprised to hear about a Spanish connection, too. I will be in touch via email soon, but you can reach me at too. And any photos you are willing to share would be great!

      Happy ancestor hunting!


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