If you’ve been following Linnea’s Legacy posts, you’ve read some tall tales of our Metzner ancestors along with “real” life events, beginning with the first generation that arrived in the U.S. to the generation that includes my grandfather, Albert Louis Metzner (1902-1970), and his sister Helen Metzner Kramer McCarthy Kramer (1897-1984). For the most part, that’s where we’ll end our journey of Metzner American roots. Next stop Germany…but before we traipse back further, let’s take one more look at our Metzner lineage in the U.S.:
1st Generation: William Metzner (1811-1882)
2nd Generation: Louis N. Metzner (1872-1930)
|Louis N. Metzner, ca. 1890|
3rd Generation: Albert L. Metzner (1902-1970)
|Albert L. Metzner, ca. 1920|
4th Generation: Gordon L. Metzner (1930-1970)
Albert J. Metzner (1932-1984)
5th-7th Generation: All the rest of us!
One question remains, what is our German legacy? This blog (and perhaps one or two more) will be devoted to getting to my theory on our German heritage.
I’ve found a few enticing clues within U.S. records, along with a published county history. Let’s begin with an excerpt from the county history. It contains a brief biography of John Metzner (Source: Biographical & Historical Record of Jay & Blackford Counties, Indiana, 1887, pp. 585-586).
John Metzner, one of the old and respected pioneers of Noble Township [Jay County], residing on section 7, was born in Saxony Germany, October 2, 1805. His parents, Jasper and Hannah (Risanburg) Metzner, were born, reared and married in Saxony, Germany, his mother dying there. His father died in 1838 on the ocean while crossing to America. They [Jasper & Hannah] were the parents of the following children—Rachel, John, William, George, Hannah, Andrew, Nicholas and Mary. John Metzner was reared to manhood in his native country, and there learned the wagonmaker’s trade. In the spring of 1838 he immigrated to America, landing at Baltimore, Maryland, where he worked at his trade a year. After living in Baltimore eighteen months he visited Canada, where he lived a short time. He then returned to the United States, stopping at Cleveland, Ohio, where he met his future wife, Miss Catherine Young, to whom he married at Newark, Ohio, November 4, 1839 … For twelve years after his marriage Mr. Metzner lived at Louisville, Ohio, working at his trade, and making a comfortable home for his family.
John is the brother of our William Metzner (1811-1882). John's brief biography provides a wealth of clues:
- First, their parents’ names are Jasper Metzner and Hannah Risanburg;
- Their siblings are Rachel, George, Hannah, Andrew, Nicholas, and Mary;
- John’s birthdate is Oct. 2, 1805;
- John arrived in America through the Port of Baltimore in the spring of 1838 (and his father apparently died on that voyage – more on that later because I suspect that’s not the case);
- John married in Newark, Ohio in 1839 and for a number of years resided in St. Louisville, Ohio (both are in Licking County where our direct ancestors lived; in fact, our ancestral grandfather, Louis Metzner, was born in St. Louisville); and finally,
- There is a possible family tradition of wagonmaking.
Based on these clues I began a search in the U.S. for each of John and William's siblings, hoping to discover if any of them also came to America. I only found evidence of a George Metzner arriving in 1841. Records associated with him have, surprisingly, been the most helpful in guiding me back to Germany.
George arrived through the Port of Baltimore -- the date was June 22, 1841. The ship’s manifest identifies George as a coach maker from Coburg.
|The Clementine's passenger manifest lists Georg Metzner, age 28, a Coach Maker from Coburg. Based on his age in this record, George was born about 1813.|
Alone, this information is not that telling, so let’s keep going. Remember, in John’s biography it said he was a wagon maker – now, here is George, possibly his brother, who is a coach maker. Similarly, brother William (our direct ancestor) is listed in the 1870 U.S. census as a harness maker.
|Metzer[sic] Wm, 55, w (i.e., white), Harnessmaker|
It’s not unusual for sons to learn the trades of their fathers. We might guess then, that if these three are brothers, the Metzners in Germany were likely in the business of making horse-drawn vehicles and/or related accessories, such as harnesses.
John, William, and George are each found in the 1850, 1860 and 1870 U.S. Censuses. Their birthplaces are listed as Saxony (occasionally Germany); each has worked in an occupation related to horse-drawn transportation; and all have lived in Licking County, Ohio for at least a period of time. These are all very compelling coincidences to link them together.
Then I find the clue that I believe leads us to our ancestors in Germany. The 1870 Ohio Census of Putnam County identifies George Metzner as being born in Hillburgh, Saxony. Coincidentally, in 1880, William Metzner of Licking County, Ohio identifies his mother’s birthplace as Helbourg, Saxony.
|1870 U.S. Census, Ohio, Putnam County. Mertzner[sic] George, 57, male, white, farmer, real estate value $5000, personal property value $627; his birthplace Hillburgh Germany|
Okay, Hillburgh – Helbourg. Big difference, right? Well, I’m not so sure. There are too many similarities between these three presumed brothers, and now to find two of them claiming a connection to German towns that sound incredibly alike – well, it’s mind-blowing! -- at least to a genealogist. And knowing that census takers were notorious for spelling phonetically, it only makes sense that Hillburgh and Helbourg could be the same place.
The next step is to find a town of a similar name in Saxony – and perhaps near Coburg, which was listed on George’s passenger record. That’ll be for another blog.
Oh, by-the-way, finding clues to our Germany heritage in U.S. records essentially ended with the deaths of John, William, and George.
The first of the men to die was George on June 19, 1875 in Putnam County, Ohio. According to History of Northwest Ohio: A Narrative Account of its Historical Progress and Development…. Vol. 2, page 884…
Mr. Metzner settled on a farm in Putnam County and lived there for a number of years, his death resulting from a quarrel with a neighbor during which he was struck down without a chance to defend himself.
Next was William, our direct ancestor. He died on June 8, 1882 in Licking County, Ohio from a condition called dropsy.
And lastly, John, of Jay County, Indiana died on January 10, 1888. The cause of his death is unknown. Travis LeMaster, cousin and fellow genealogist, found this obituary in the Evangelical Messenger for Jan. 24, 1888. It contradicts some of the facts in John's Jay County biography -- I'll examine those facts in a future blog:
METZNER. — John Metzner was born in Germany, October 21, 1805, came to America in 1837, located in Licking Co., O., where he continued to live until 1850, when he with his family came to Jay Co. He was married to Catharine Young, Nov. 3, 1839, and to them were born six sons and five daughters, of whom 2 sons and one daughter have gone before him over the river of death. He embraced the Christian religion in 1840, in which he continued to live until his death, and died in the triumphs of a living Redeemer, Jan. 10, 1888. Father Metzner was a member of the Ev Association, and in his death we lose a brother and a father, but that which is our loss is his gain. Funeral services by the writer, assisted by Bro. H. E. Moser.
J. B. FISHER.
Stayed tuned! Next time we’ll go to Germany!