Joseph T. Drees, of Peshtigo, Wis., and a member of G. A. R. Post No. 207, at Marinette, was born Aug. 15, 1841, in Aix-la-Chapelle, on the Rhine in Germany, and is the son of Joseph and Jane Catherine (Gerard) Drees. He is of French lineage and his forbears served in the continental wars. His grandfather was in the army of Napoleon. Mr. Drees was 15 years old when he came from "Der Faderland" to America and reached Chicago, Ill., in 1856, whence he came to Peshtigo the same year. Since residing in this country he has operated as a lumberman. He has been twice married. Elizabeth Kracts Drees, his first wife, died in 1872 from the effects of the suffering and exposure she under went in the, great fire at Peshtigo in the previous year. In 1873, Mr. Drees was again married to Augusta Sachs. From the first marriage there are two children - John B. and Edward A. Henry is deceased. From the second marriage there are seven children - Amelia, William G., Charles H., Martha, Bertha K., Augusta and Ida H. The oldest daughter is married to Etail Martin.
April 14, 1864, Mr. Drees enlisted in Company F, 12th Wisconsin Infantry at Green Bay for three years, and received honorable discharge at Louisville, Ky., July 12, 1865, the regiment being mustered out at the close of the war. He joined the regiment as a recruit, going to Cairo with the veteran of the regiment, returning to war from their veterans furlough and went successively to Clinton, Tenn., Huntsville and Decatur, Ala., and to Rome, Georgia, marching nearly 300 miles as all introduction to army pleasures. He was in the several fights known as Kennesaw Mountain where all the chances of active warfare were made known to him. For a month the fighting was carried on with little interruption and throughout July the regiment was in active service, and in the fights of the 19th and 22nd of July at Atlanta where he lost his left eye by falling on a sharp stick. In August Mr. Drees was engaged in tearing up railroads and in September was in the fight at Jonesboro.
He was in all the activities through the fall and marched to Savannah. In January he went to Beaufort, fought at Pocotaligo and on the Salkahatchie and at Fayetteville, was present at the close of affairs at Bentonville, went thence to Goldsboro and Raleigh and joined in the pursuit of Johnston, and went to Washington after the surrender to take part in the closing scenes at the National Capital and came to Louisville as stated. He was in hospital a short time at Marietta. The crowning trouble of the history of Mr. Drees was the fire at Peshtigo, in 1871, when he lost all of his property, having an insurance of $1,500 dollars which was not paid.