Saturday, March 30, 2013

Hitting the Brick Wall

I’ve done an exhaustive search for good genealogical evidence for William Metzner (1807-1882) of Licking County, Ohio, and his wife Barbara Powell Metzner (1828-1908), and I think I’ve “hit a brick wall” – a phrase well-used among genealogists. It basically means I'm stuck – and for William and Barbara, the search has probably ended in America, or nearly so. 

Other than being documented in U.S. Census records, which contain a wealth of genealogical information, William and Barbara left land records of property purchased in Licking County ... and William left a will.  The will has great potential. I’ve only seen an extract which identifies his children and where they were living at the time of his death -- if it was known.  The will has helped me move forward, fleshing out each of the children—among them Louis (our ancestral grandfather) and his brother Jasper -- both of whom I've written about in earlier blog posts.

William's grave marker, Evans Cemetery, Licking Co.
Next step is to get a complete copy of the will and see if anything more can be discovered about William and Barbara.  In the meantime, a few other bits of information have been uncovered for both of them.

William’s death is recorded in the “Record of Deaths, Licking County, Ohio” as follows:

Male. Metzner, William. Died 1882 June 8. Married. Age 75 years 3 months. Died at St. Louisville. Born in Germany. Occupation Farmer. Cause of death “dropsy.” 

There was no newspaper notice at the time of his death, or at least not one that could be found.  Perhaps there was no fanfare when he died. Makes me wonder if he was well-liked.  Did he have a nice circle of friends that would have attended his funeral?  I wonder? 

What we do know is that in 1880 (according to the census) he had a ruptured scrotum. Two years later he was gone, having passed away from dropsy. In modern medical terms dropsy is edema, a condition where fluid collects under the skin.  It’s unlikely that William died from dropsy – dropsy was probably just a symptom of a bigger problem such as heart failure.

After William’s death on June 8, 1882, his wife Barbara disappears, in a sense.  She isn’t found in any public or private records until January 23, 1908 when this short notice is published in the Newark (Ohio) Advocate:

That is followed five days later with her obituary:

Source: The Newark Advocate, 28 January 1908

Barbara's obituary at least provides a clue to the year she and William were married (61 years ago, so about 1847). Unfortunately, it does not tell us where the marriage took place.  The obit does imply that she may have been Catholic before her marriage -- another clue!  We don't know the names of her parents or siblings and without those the brick wall has been hit again.  Ah, genealogy...

But there are plenty of other Metzner stories to tell and people to research, so the hunt goes on. 

Right: Barbara's grave marker at Evans Cemetery in Licking County. Her husband William is engraved on one side and their son John, who died in 1878, on the other.


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