Silly me. Here I was, thinking I had a brilliant idea for tackling the brick wall of my husband's third great-grandfather, Michael Metzger. I would love to settle the dispute over his actual homeland. Which place was it that he left behind in 1804: Germany or Switzerland? After all, there were just as many documents, in retrospect, reporting either one for Michael and his wife Apollonia Rheyman.
My idea was to compare notes by turning to the sixty four DNA matches showing on my husband's ThruLines® readout at Ancestry.com. While sixty four matches can mean a stack of work, verifying that many connections to the most recent common ancestor—in this case, Michael Metzger—I was game to devote a weekend to wrapping up the work.
In the process, I discovered something funny about the Metzgers of Perry County, Ohio, my mother-in-law's stomping grounds: there was a lot of pedigree collapse happening over the past two hundred years. As it turns out, I had already done most of the work verifying these sixty four Metzger DNA matches because—surprise, surprise—a large percentage of them also happened to have Schneider roots as well. And the Schneider line—or Snider, as the name evolved, once that immigrant family arrived in Pennsylvania and then Ohio—was my research project for last month.
All along the way, looking at the trees of the sixty four Ancestry.com subscribers who happen to be my husband's DNA match, thanks to those Metzger roots, I kept my eyes open for that one sure-fire document that would settle, for once and for all, the discrepancy over Michael Metzger's origin. Did looking through all those trees find any confirmation for me? Nope.
While this exercise did provide an excellent reminder that pedigree collapse—and intermarriage between several large families over multiple generations—can introduce unexpected results into genealogical pursuits, it really didn't do much more for my research question than confirm that all those matches did indeed share Michael Metzger (and some Sniders and even Gordons) in their ancestry.
What I need to do next is put on the brakes and take this research journey a bit slower. I've yet to determine just where Michael Metzger might have been before his arrival in Perry County—and who else might have come along on his journey. After all, I've only found four of his children, but there were obviously other Metzgers in early Perry County besides the four I had found.