Lake Erie Islanders: Fred Bretz of Middle Bass Island
Sketches from the 1917 History of Northwest Ohio
(reference 4a in the Bibliography)
FRED BRETZ is the oldest living settler on Middle Bass Island. What he has accomplished is even more important than his length of residence. He was one of the pioneers in the growing of fruit and the improvement of the agricultural resources of the islands, and the farm and home he has developed there, recognized far and wide as the finest place on the island, has served as a model and inspiration for the efforts of others.
Mr. Bretz is a native of Germany, having been born in Mecklenburg February 8, 1843. His father, John Bretz, came to America about 1860, locating at Sandusky and subsequently on Middle Bass Island. He was a plasterer by trade and followed that occupation on Middle Bass Island when there were only five or six houses.
Fred Bretz received his early education in Germany and was a young man of twenty-two when in 1865 he bought his present place Middle Bass. He was one of the pioneers in the development of the vineyard interests, put out a large vineyard himself, and has probably raised more grapes than any other individual grower on the island. From time to time he has added to his original purchase until he now has a large estate, and though well able to retire he is still giving it his active supervision.
Bretz married Caroline Burggraf, a sister of Mathias Burggraf, member of a well
known family of these islands elsewhere mentioned. Mr. and Mrs. Bretz have four
children. Fred is a carpenter living at Cleveland; Julia is the wife of John
Rehberg of Put-in-Bay; Edward is connected with the Bell Telephone Company of
Cleveland; Howard is still at home. Mr. Bretz has lived uprightly, has proved an
excellent neighbor and enjoys a splendid share of community esteem. For many
years he served as a director of the public schools and also as a trustee. He
votes the republican ticket, which party he has supported for many years, and he
and his family are active members of the Lutheran Church.
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