Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Pardon Me, But
Haven't I Seen that Surname Before?

Perusing the surnames in my mother-in-law's maternal line brings on a severe case of déjà vu. This is the branch of the Flowers family where people realize they might be their own seventh cousin. Yes, literally.

My mother-in-law's mother was a Metzger. As many times as I've run across that surname in everyday life, it apparently is not as common as one would suppose. It didn't, for instance, make the Top One Thousand list of surnames at the U.S. Census Bureau.

The trail ran cold for me on our particular Metzger line about 1850. Granted, that was still in Perry County, Ohio—the same place where my mother-in-law was born eighty years later.

Well, that is not entirely correct. The trail ran cold prior to the February 18, 1849, marriage of Michael Metzger and Catharine Mutter in Perry County—the earliest documentation I've found for either of them, so far. Depending on which census enumeration you care to believe, Michael and Catharine were born in either Germany or Switzerland. Did their families know each other before arrival in Perry County? I have no way of knowing—yet.

My mother-in-law's maternal grandmother was a Gordon. This is a line which has been documented quite a way back in time—although even there, you can find genealogical disputes over whether our original Gordon was truly one of the Gordons of Scotland, or an immigrant originating in Germany. I have no way to even quip, "The jury is out," for I can't replicate the documentation confirming such assertions.

"But wait a minute," you might be thinking. "Didn't we talk about that surname yesterday, in the post about the Flowers paternal line?"

The answer is yes. Your eyes were not deceiving you. Your memory served you right. There are Gordons in that paternal line, too. And they are related to the maternal-side Gordons. This is Perry County, remember? Where everyone is related. They take that warning seriously.

If I were to continue with the rest of this maternal side of our Flowers line—moving on to the Sniders—you would find yourself repeating that exclamation. Yes, there were Sniders—or Snyders or Schneiders—on that paternal side of the Flowers tree as well. Despite all the spelling variations, that family was related to those on the other side of the family tree, as well.

That leaves me with only one other surname on this maternal—actually, matrilineal—line for which I have information for additional generations: Jackson. Nancy Jackson, who married Simon Snider, claimed a heritage which not only included Revolutionary War Patriots on her father's side, but on her mother's Ijams and Howard lines. Howard also becomes my last stop, so far, in the matrilineal express for my mother-in-law's family.

Though that tidbit stretches my mother-in-law's genealogy back a few more generations into colonial America, I'm still left with three mysteries at the level of my husband's third great grandparents.

First is the empty name tags for Michael Metzger's parents—back in Germany or Switzerland or wherever they once lived.

The second involves the maiden name for Michael Metzger's wife's mother. I have documents indicating she was called Mary Ann. But as for her maiden name, I've yet to stumble upon any confirmation.

And the final mystery lies with the fate of William H. Gordon's wife, Lidia Miller, who supposedly suffered an early demise. As for the documentation of what became of her—or where she came from or who her family was—I have yet to make that discovery, even after on-site visits to Perry County. Even though I have documents stating it is so, I'm not even sure that was the woman's name. There are times, with all the tangles in this story, when I even wonder whether I have the right William Gordon as her husband.

Sometimes, there seems to be so much more to a family's story than those brief documents are willing to divulge. 


  1. The only Metzger I know went to grade school with me. His family was from Saarbrucken, Germany, not all that far from the town of Metz (France). I dimly recall him doing a class presentation on the area - take about war-strife ridden!

    1. Yes, that was definitely a land that switched national designation frequently!

      It was interesting reading about the city of Metz, Iggy. Thanks for sharing that note!


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