Calling all Knapp clan members – It’s family reunion time again!

Florence Cora Kline Knapp and John L. Knapp

It’s family reunion time again! Don’t forget to check the Reunion page for an update from Uncle Gary. Looking forward to seeing everyone there!

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War Tales Mileski-Style

mileski_mackMy husband Mark came home from a visit with his family and began telling me about a story written about his uncle, Mack Mileski, and his experiences during the Battle of Leyte Gulf.

I was surprised to learn that Uncle Mack had survived not only the war’s first kamikaze attack on a U.S. naval vessel, but a torpedo hit as well!

Spoiler alert: Yes, I know this is a blog focused on the Knapp family, but my father-in-law happens to be married to a Mileski.  And I also can’t resist thanking veterans for their service, especially our WWII vets. They don’t call these guys (and gals!) the greatest generation for nothing. These folks are tough!

When I was a newspaper reporter, part of my beat was the Ohio Veterans’ Home (OVH) in Sandusky, Ohio. I have interviewed my fair share of veterans, but I never tired of listening to them talk about their experiences. One of them remarked to me that “…every time a veteran dies, it’s like a book that is lost to history forever.”

That’s why I am so glad people are recording these stories – before they are lost forever.

The article recounts Mack’s experiences as an aviation machinist’s mate 1st class who repaired torpedo bombers and kept them flying off the deck of the carrier USS Santee.

According to the article, Leyte Gulf was the largest naval battle of WWII, involving hundreds of ships. The battle lasted four days and when it was over, the Japanese had lost more than 12,000 sailors, a fleet carrier, 3 light carriers, 3 battleships, 10 cruisers, 11 destroyers and 300 planes. The U.S. Navy suffered 3,000 casualties and lost a light carrier, 2 carrier escorts, 3 destroyers, a destroyer escort and 200 airplanes.

Mack’s quick reflexes allowed him to dive out of harm’s way when an enemy plane strafed the ship and then crashed onto the carrier’s deck. Luckily, Mack lived to recount the experience some 70 years later at age 90 in this article. Mack and his buddies were told that their carrier was the first American ship hit by a Japanese suicide plane in the war.

But the Japanese Navy wasn’t done with the USS Santee yet because just 15 minutes later the Santee was hit by a torpedo. Fortunately, no one was killed and the ship was not seriously damaged thanks to the torpedo hitting a steel beam instead of the more fragile hull.

A special thanks to Don Moore, who has been a reporter, editor and publisher in West Florida for more than 50 years. Moore has written thousands of articles about veterans and their war time experiences, including this one about our very own Uncle Mackie. Don has published these accounts on a blog called War Tales.

Read all of Uncle Mackie’s stirring account of his war time experiences here on Don Moore’s wonderful blog, War Tales. There also are some great photos of Mack when he was in the Navy, so be sure to check it out.

Click here to view the War Tales fan page on Facebook.


Posted in Mileski, Military Service, WWII | Leave a comment

We want you!

MC900436222We want you – at the 2017 Knapp Family Reunion!

Calling all members of the Knapp clan! Check out the Reunion News tab for the Save the Date announcement from Uncle Gary Knapp!

Watch the Reunion News tab for the date and time of the next reunion planning meeting. We need help and volunteers for a variety of tasks, including food, set up, clean up, games and activities, etc.

Also, you’re invited to submit family recipes to Knapp Notes as well. If we get enough submissions, we could print a Knapp Family Cookbook.

Looking forward to seeing you all in 2017!


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From Heppenheim to Hawaii – the life of Marianne Cope

Sister Marianne Cope in her youth. From Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository

Sister Marianne Cope in her youth. From Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository

Last week I heard from a Knapp cousin who recently discovered Knapp Notes while doing family history research. Barb Brown had an intriguing story to share with us.

It’s an amazing story of how a young girl from Heppenheim sailed from Germany on the same ship that carried one of our ancestors to America – and grew up to do incredible things. Here is Barb’s letter below:

Dear Ann:

I recently stumbled upon “Knapp Notes” in researching my family history.  Johann Klein (1801-1883) and Elizabetha Knapp (1803-1841) are my 3rd great grandparents.

Do you have any information on Elizabeth’s grandparents and earlier?  I would appreciate any assistance you can give me.  I noticed in the “Notes” references to the Moledor’s.  My 2nd great-grandfather is Johann Moledor (1816-1876).  I have a copy of his Reisepass a cousin generously shared with me if you are interested.

I also noted the name Trares listed on your website.  I am not related to the Trares, but researching genealogy often leads to tangents.  One of these side investigations led me to the following, which you may find interesting.

When he was 14, John Lewis Trares (1825-1904)  arrived in the U.S. on the ship Ariosta on October 16, 1839 (per New York Passenger List , 1824-1957).

Turning to the next page of this same passenger list (traveling on the same ship), you will find the Peter Koob family.  Note that the youngest of the family, Barbara, was 1 1/2 years old.  The Koob family was from Heppenheim, Hesse.  Upon reaching the U.S., the Koob family moved to Utica, NY where the family name became Americanized as Cope.

Barbara became a nun  and taught in the schools in the area and also became a principal.  She established two Catholic hospitals in the area and acted as administrator.  In 1883, the king of Hawaii pleaded with religious orders asking for help in caring for lepers.  Over 50 religious orders were contacted.  Only Barbara responded with enthusiasm. She and six other sisters went to Hawaii to care for those devastated by this disease.  She cared for Father Damien , also known as St. Damien of Molokai, in his last months.

By the way, upon entering her order, Barbara became Sister Marianne.  She was canonized in 2012 by Pope Benedict as St. Marianne Cope.

Had the Koob family traveled west with the Trares, instead of heading north, we may have had a saint from our parish of St. Joseph, Randolph.

I hope you enjoyed this bit of information.


Barb Brown

(A distant Knapp cousin)

Thanks, Barb, for sharing this fascinating bit of history with the other members of the Knapp clan. Please note Barb’s request for assistance with learning more about her Knapp, Klein and Moledor connections. If anyone has any information to share, please contact me at Knapp Notes and I’ll pass along the information to Barb.


Wish to learn more about Marianne Cope and her work with the lepers in Hawaii?



Posted in Catholic Church, Germany, Heppenheim, Hessen, St. Joseph Randolph, Trares | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Trares brothers die within hours of each other

While researching the background of Henry Trares in my previous post, I learned of an odd coincidence concerning the deaths of two of Henry’s sons, Florian and Roman Trares.

Roman J. Trares was born 30 March 1893 in Edwardsville, Madison, Illinois. He died 8 May 1959 in Taylorsville, Christian County, Illinois.

When I reviewed Find-A-Grave, I found a reference to an article about the two brothers which was printed in the Edwardsville Intelligencer newspaper on Tuesday, May 12, 1959, on page 2:

Former residents Florian and Roman Trares, sons of the late Mr. and Mrs. Henry Trares, Sr., of Edwardsville, died, apparently within a short time of each other, relatives here learned Tuesday morning.

Florian, husband of the former Edna M. Motz of Edwardsville, died of a heart attack at 6:20 p.m. Monday at a hospital in Danville, where he resided. He was associated with the Sugar Creek Creamery Co. there. The body of Roman Trares was discovered about 7 o’clock Monday evening at his home in Taylorville when relatives sought to notify him of the death of his brother. The exact time of death has not yet been established.

Florian Trares, who would have observed his 58th birthday anniversary Tuesday, was born May 12, 1901 in Edwardsville and had been associated with his father in the old Palace Store Co.  He was married here June 18, 1924 by the Rev. E.J. Eckhard. Surviving in addition to his wife and one sister, Mrs. John (Daisy) Keshner of Edwardsville; are a son, Edward, of Hartford, Conn., and two daughters, Mrs. Mary Ann Allen and Mrs. Mildred Schaefer, both of New York City. Mrs. Schaefer is the wife of George Schaefer, producer of the award-winning TV play, “Little Moon of Alban.”

 Roman Trares was born here March 30, 1893, the son of the late Henry and Frances Heddergott Trares. His only survivors are the sister, Mrs. Keshner, and a number of nieces and nephews. The body will be returned to Edwardsville for burial in the family plot in St. Mary’s cemetery.

No other plans for either funeral were available. 

The Find-A-Grave entry also said that Roman Trares was a World War I veteran, serving with the Arkansas CFR 1 CL 668 Aero Squadron. In addition, I found a number of ads and announcements in the Edwardsville Intelligencer which touted “Roman Trares and his Novelty Orchestra” as playing in the area during the 1920’s. Apparently, Roman was a noted pianist with his own orchestra.





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Henry Trares

TRARES_HenryHenry Trares was born 20 April 1855 in Randolph, Portage, Ohio. He was the son of John Lewis Trares and Nancy Mary Ann Knapp. Nancy was the daughter of John Adam Knapp and Elizabeth Andes. John Adam was the brother of our immigrant ancestor, Franz Adam Knapp.

Henry’s uncle, John Sebastian Trares, whom I have already written extensively about in previous posts, had established a drug store in Edwardsville, Illinois. When John Sebastian went home to Ohio for a visit, his nephew, Henry, then 14 years old, decided he wanted to “go west” when his uncle returned. Henry did and soon became a clerk in his uncle’s Edwardsville, Illinois store.

He continued to work for his uncle until 1882, when he and a partner, E.A. Keller, opened a hardware store called Trares & Keller. In 1892, he purchased the business of A. Gerber & Son, a general store housed in the Gerber Building at Main Street and Hillsboro Avenue in downtown Edwardsville.

Henry Trares became a successful and well-known businessman in Edwardsville. For 18 years his store prospered  in the Gerber Building. Then, in 1909, a new building was erected  which became the largest department store in southern Illinois in the Schwarz Building.

Henry Trares was elected president of the First National Bank. When the bank was consolidated with the Bank of Edwardsville, he was elected chairman of the board of directors, a position he held for many years.

Henry also was active in the Edwardsville Home Building & Loan and was an organizer of the People’s Loan Association. He also was active in other civic activities, including being a member of St. Boniface’s Catholic Church, the St. Boniface Benevolent Society and the Holy Name Society. He was a member of the Catholic Knights of Illinois and the Knights of Columbus.

On May 20, 1879, Henry married Frances Heddergott, a member of an old Edwardsville family. Frances died June 26, 1933, four years after celebrating their golden (50th) wedding anniversary.

Henry and Frances had eight children, including:

  • Henry Jacob Trares (1880-1955), who, like his father, became a merchant and took over the family mercantile business.
  • Theresa M. Trares Keshner (1883-1963)
  • Clemens Raymond Trares (1885-1918)
  • Wilbur Alvin Trares (1891-1952), who became a Madison County, Illinois court judge for more than 24 years.
  • Roman J. Trares (1893-1959)
  • Julius August Trares (1896-1927)
  • Florian E. Trares (1901-1959)

Henry Trares died at his home in Edwardsville on June 14, 1935, and was buried in St. Mary Catholic Cemetery in Edwardsville.



Posted in Heddergott, Knapp, Trares | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Can you identify Uncle Gary?


1st Communion 1954 St. Patrick’s Kent, Ohio

Tim De Frange kindly shared this vintage photo with us. Thanks, Tim!

As you may remember from a previous post, Tim shares some common ancestors with us via the Eichler connection. If you don’t remember the post I wrote about the Eichler connection, you can review it here.

I thought it might be fun if we try to identify the little boy in the photo who we all know and love now as Uncle Gary Knapp. Vote for your choice and we’ll announce the results on Knapp Notes on the day when we announce the date of the next Knapp Family Reunion.

Can you pick out Gary in this picture? Vote for you choice by clicking the appropriate number below.


Posted in DeFrange, Eichler, Knapp, Local History, Ohio Churches, Polls, Reunion | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Towner’s Woods, a burial mound and a Hopewell princess


Esch Mound Effigy Pipe – Hopewell – Found near Sandusky, Ohio.

While surfing the net doing some genealogy research this morning, I ran across a Kent State University student’s thesis about the archaeological find in a Portage County Metropark. Chloe E. Bragg’s Towner Mound: Creating Content and Sparking Curiosity for the Portage County Parks answered some questions for me.

As many of you know, I am not a Portage county native, so whenever someone starts talking about Portage county local history, my ears perk up. Such was the case when on one of our dates, my husband took me to Towner’s Woods for a hiking excursion. One of the things he pointed out to me while we were hiking was the Hopewell burial mound that had been found there.

Of course, as soon as I heard about that, I wanted to know more. Just like the newspaper reporter I used to be, I had a hundred questions:

  • What did they find when the site was excavated in the 1930’s?
  • What happened to the artifacts they unearthed?
  • Who created the mound?
  • Who was buried there?
  • How old is the burial mound?

Well, if you’re as curious about that as I was, you can click the link to Chloe Bragg’s thesis and read more about Towner’s Mound. You can also visit the WordPress site that Chloe built to give park visitors more information about Towner Mound. I hope the Portage County Parks folks incorporate Chloe’s work into their website soon. It’s a significant improvement on what they have posted on their site now.

When the Towner Mound site was excavated, one of the burials was reported to be that of a Hopewell princess. It is said that a guardian spirit watches over her tomb and will harm anyone who disturbs her rest.  One supposed incident occurred in the 1950′s, when the guardian left strange claw marks on the car of some teenagers who camped on this mound. It is also said that the spirit of a pioneer widow, who was murdered by neighbors over a land dispute, wanders these trails along the outskirts of the park.

Not having been there at night, I can’t say whether those stories are true or not. And since the park closes at dusk (if you’re caught there after dark, it’s considered trespassing), it doesn’t look like I will be verifying those stories anytime soon. However, my husband used to go mountain biking at night through Towner’s Woods — but nothing unusual ever happened to him or his cousin, Tom.

There is also talk of some tunnels in the area. If you know anything about the tunnels or just have an interesting story to tell about one of your own visits to Towner’s Woods, please share it with us.


Bragg, C. (2015). Towner Mound: Creating Content and Sparking Curiosity for the Portage County Parks. (Electronic Thesis or Dissertation). Retrieved from

Towner Mound WordPress site created by Chloe Bragg to share her research findings about Towner Mound.

For more about Ohio’s Hopewell, visit Ohio History Connection. The photo of the pipe above is a Hopewell pipe found near Sandusky, Ohio, at the Esch mound.

Portage County Parks District website about Towner’s Woods.

DeadOhio has a discussion about Towner’s Woods being haunted. Scroll down to read the comments to learn more about those tunnels.

Ohio Exploration Society. Founded in the summer of 2000, the OES is a group of urban explorers who visit both well-known historical locations and those forgotten with time. OES members research and photograph locations and share their research and photos online. This group has documented some interesting sites. They have a section on Portage County sites, including Towner’s Woods, as well as a host of other interesting sites.

Posted in Archaeology, Local History, Portage County, Preservation, Towner Mound, Towner's Woods | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

The results are in!

Not long ago, I succeeded in convincing my better half to submit a DNA sample to for testing. We were pretty certain that the results would confirm what we knew about the Knapp-Mileski heritage. My father-in-law has always said he was 100% German. And we knew that the Mileski/Milewski side had emigrated from Poland to the U.S.

Well, the results are in… and we were surprised to learn that our Knapp/Mileski ancestry is a little more varied than we thought.

Here’s the breakdown according to


Just as we expected, Mark is of 99% European heritage, with 50% coming from Eastern Europe and 40% coming from Western Europe.

Here’s what that means according to Ancestry about the Mileski/Milewski side:


Mark’s 40% Western European heritage came from the Knapp side, and includes these countries:


The real surprise came in looking at the trace regions.


Like a lot of people with roots in Europe (myself included), we learned that there is some Scandinavian influence. Those Vikings really got around in the old days!

Long an admirer of all things British (Dr. Who, James Bond, Monty Python and George Harrison) he was DELIGHTED to learn he has some British heritage in there somewhere – a whopping 3%!

The most intriguing part for me was finding out there was 1% from the Iberian Peninsula (Spain or Portugal). This confirmed what a gentleman from Germany, our cousin, Christoph Trares, told me about the origins of the Trares family in Germany.

You can read Christoph’s comments and my posting  about a Trares Spanish connection by clicking the link. Scroll down the page to read Christoph’s comments.

In any case, it is always wonderful when DNA results confirm an oral tradition handed down in the family. And thanks again to our German cousin Christoph for sharing that nugget of information with us.

Cousin Christoph, please feel free to get in touch with us and share anything else you may know about our mysterious Spanish ancestor!


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Counting the days!

Just a quick post to let you know I have posted a reminder note on the Reunion News tab about the organizational meeting happening in June.

Please take a moment to go there, jot down the date/time and PLAN TO ATTEND!

We need and welcome any/all input, help and contributions you are willing to make! That could include:

  • Volunteering your time (for set-up, clean-up, children’s games, etc.)
  • Your ideas (food, games, family history activities, displays, pictures, heirlooms, funny stories for Knapp Notes)
  • Chef’s skills (Knapp Family Association will provide main entrees) but everyone is invited to bring a dish to share. Attend the organizational meeting to stake your claim to your “signature” dish!
  • Share/bring sporting equipment (bats, balls, gloves, nets, rackets, etc.)
  • Artistic skills (signage, banners, name tags, etc.)
  • Family research contributions (I know I can’t be the only one who has caught the genealogy bug in the family!) Email digital copies to and I will post them.
  • NOTE: If you send me your recipes, we could publish a Knapp Family Cookbook! I am dying to do an e-book version and would gladly volunteer to do that. But I need your help: SEND ME YOUR RECIPES!!! Cookbook sales could help defer costs.
  • And the good old stand-by: financial support (i.e., money!)

In short, there are many ways  you can choose to help. We welcome anyone who is interested to attend the organizational meeting.

Uncle Gary and I look forward to seeing you all there! Have a great weekend, gang!

Posted in Knapp, Reunion | Tagged | 2 Comments