Saturday, November 2, 2013

The Girls -- Delana

Great-grandpa Louis Metzner (1872-1930) had three sisters -- Delana Metzner Beeney (1859-1954), Caroline Metzner Hall (1866-1910), and Henrietta Metzner Ross (1868-1950), or better known in family circles as Lena, Callie, and Etta.  There are no photographs of them and no personal letters, diaries, or other family documents to help us piece together a life story for each of them, and I never remember anyone in the family talking about them.

Little has been found about them in public records, which isn’t unusual in the realm of genealogy.  Nineteenth century women often get short shrift in the public records departments. A preponderance of information for women during that time period is gathered through the records of the men in the family.  For the Metzner girls, it wasn’t much different. 

Lena is the oldest of the sisters, born in Bearcreek Township, Jay Co., Indiana in July 1859. By 1870, at about age 12, she is attending school irregularly because she is needed to “help at home,” at least according to the census (below). Same is true for her 9 year old sister Caroline.  

1870 Ohio Census, Licking County.  Delana is entered as Mary which may be her middle name.

By 1880 Lena is living and working as a servant in the home of farmer Felix Harris. 

1880 Ohio Census, Licking County

Working as a domestic was common practice for young women at that time. Most were encouraged to leave home, primarily to ease the financial burden on the family, but also as a way to earn some money and perhaps meet a husband.  Certainly Lena leaving the Metzner household could have eased their financial burden a bit, but there may have been other reasons for her leaving which we are not aware of. 

It’s probable that Lena met her future husband, John W. Beeney (1855-1927), while residing with the Harris family.  The Beeneys lived in the same township and John and Delana were close in age, so it wouldn’t have been unusual for them to connect at some point.  John was widowed in December of 1893, leaving him with three under-aged children.  His deceased wife's obituary is one of the saddest I've ever read from that time period.

Obituary for John W. Beeney's first wife, Martha Warthen Beeney.

Unlike today, where a man could manage as a single father, that wasn’t the norm for the 19th century.  A widower with children would have immediately begun looking for a new wife to marry at the end of a respectable mourning period.  And that John did.  Nine months after the death of his wife Martha, he and Delana married on September 5, 1894 in Licking County, Ohio. Delana was 35 years old and had never been married.  For her, this was a good opportunity -- women were looked on more highly if married -- and for John, he had a mother for his children and a housekeeper.  If there was love between them, we don't know.  I like to think there was.

Marriage Certificate for John W. Beeney and Lena Metzner, 5th day Sept. A.D. 1894.

They lived in the town of Newark, Ohio for the rest of their lives, raising his three children and a son they had together,  Edward  L. (1895-1969).  John died on June 30, 1927 and Lena remained in their home on Bolton Street in Newark until her death in 1954 at the age of 95. No obituary has been found for Delana.  John's obituary is below.

Newark Ohio newspaper, name and date are unidentified; provided by the Newark Public Library

Newark, Ohio ca. 1910

Next time we'll look at the life of Delana's sister, Caroline.

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