Jake and Annie Drees

Mary Anna Heckenbach was married to Matthew Jacob Drees. Jake's parents were John Drees and Mary Francis Heilig. Mary was from Wisconsin, possibly Dodge County where Christian himself had lived earlier. Jake had two sisters, Anna and Clara. He was born Sep 19, 1880.

At first Christian was skeptical of Jake, whose father John liked to drink. (John Drees had lost everything in the Chicago fire among other disappointments in his life.) Jake himself was a magician without a real trade. However, Jake had many redeeming qualities and in time Christian came to respect and love him. They lived at 1027 Oakton, Evanston, in the 1910s. He tried his hand at magic and show biz, but settled for a calmer life. Later he became an athletic director. He loved children and spent much of his life among them. He died in 1932 just before his 52nd birthday. Annie lived until 1947.

The following was written by Valeare Breitzman Schleuter about her uncle. She was the only daughter of Jake's sister Clara Breitzman.

 

Jake married Anna (I don't know her maiden name.) {Heckenbach} They had one daughter named Irene. Irene married Clarence Bennett. I think that the Bennetts had three sons. Uncle Jake was a wonderful person. He loved to entertain people and was a great magician. He also taught boxing at the YMCA and at St. George's High School. He always wanted a son, but Aunt Anna was sickly and didn't want any more children. He always wanted to adopt Ollie [Hjerstedt] (His sister Anna's son) as his son. When Uncle Jake was young he did his magic on the stage and wanted my mother Clara as a little girl helper. She had to bring things to him or move things when he wasn't looking and then the trick would work anyway. Clara hated it. She cried every time she had to help him. She had a nice voice and a few times she had to sing. It almost made her sick to be on the stage. Finally, later on, Uncle Jake's wife would help him. They really were quite good. I loved to go there because he would always take a quarter out of my nose or from behind my ear and give it to me. He would make things disappear, and he would show one card in his right hand and then there would be five and then ten and then all 52 cards would be there. To show you what kind of determined person he was, he was showing some young boys how the men in the army handle their guns and he hit a light bulb in the overhead light and a piece of glass cut his index finger on his right hand. The finger became stiff and he could not bend it very much. He learned all his tricks over again with his left hand. It took a lot of work and determination to do that. He was a wonderful person and was so generous with his time and talents. All I can remember about his wife Anna was that she was a beautiful person, but I never felt she was good for him. She was always sick and he would take her to so many doctors, and they could never find anything wrong, but she would always get her way when she was sick. "Jake do this" or Jake do that" and he would do it. Uncle Jake always said he would die with his gloves on. He liked to box and taught at the YMCA and at St. George's High School. Well, he got his wish. He was teaching at the high school and was boxing with a student when he had his heart attack ... and, he died with his gloves on.

 

Jake in his magician role.


 

Playbill for Jake Drees' Magic Show. The date is unknown. "Professor Matthews" was his stage name. Among his assistants were his sisters Clara and Anna Drees, and Anna's future husband Gus Hjertstedt. The captions read:

Gus H. Hjertstedt -- Vocalist in Illustrated Songs

Miss Anna Drees -- Pianist

S. E. Wright -- Stereopticon and Moving Pictures

Max Jacob -- Assistant

Prof. Matthews -- Prestidigitator

Miss Clara Drees -- Songs and Dances

 

Jake also provided entertainment for the Luxemburg Schobermesse Festival in Chicago on Labor Day 1910. The German text said:

Appearance by the famous Professor Drees, magician and his troupe on both days. With Professor La Deur, juggler and acrobat, and Miss Rosa performing her amazing achievements.


Wedding picture of Franz X. Heckenbach and Katherine Hubrich, who were my grandparents.

In back are Jake Drees and his future wife Annie Heckenbach. From 1900.

 


Jake can also be seen in the "Ice Cream" picture on another page.

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Jim Heckenbach
Apr 30, 2001
updated
Jun 3 2017