One of the interesting topics raised on the Dreis mailing list has been the growing awareness that some descendants are also of Aboriginal Australian blood. The Dreis family initially intermarried with other Germans and fellow-Catholic Irish, but one, descendant, James Dries, married Eliza Tighe, both of whose parents were of half Aboriginal ethnicity, on 1898/10/28 at Gunnedah (marriage certificate seen).

Racism was probably stronger among Australian whites in the first half of the 20th century than it had been in the 19th, and there does seem to have been disapproval of this interracial marriage at the time. This is at least suggested by the fact that older members of the white side of the family "did not talk" about it. At one time, James and Eliza lived on Colley Blue, an Aboriginal mission and it would appear that they regularly interacted with the Tighes, according to Megan Dries. James and Eliza's children were identified as Aboriginal within the community. Their son Jimmy was interviewed by another correspondent in 1989 shortly before he died.

So far we have not discovered any other ethnicities among Dreis descendants. Another lead we received was investigated and found to be based on faulty information. In 2000, Gill Baker mentioned a letter from a correspondent, Joan McLean, who had researched her Grebert family in the 1980s and who had mentioned one Catherine Dreis, adding she had heard that "prior to the marriage she had an illegitimate daughter named Mary Ann in 1882 whose father was reputed to be of Indian blood." However it would seem the father was in fact William Dreis (whose ethnicity was definitely German) and the daughter was later legitimized.

(c) Jean-Baptiste Piggin
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