Ever research the meaning and history of a name?
When it comes to researching my mother-in-law's messy Metzger line, my primary goal is to learn where the founding immigrant settlers originated. In the process, I've run across a problem: that founding couple appeared to have not one, but two sons who went by the name Jacob.
I can't help but recall the biblical Jacob, whose name meant "supplanter." Someone among the sons of Michael and Apollonia Metzger must have been the real Jacob Metzger. But which one?
This question becomes important for this month's research goal when we realize that Michael Metzger, their father, died long before death records provided the type of personal history we are seeking. Thus, to find any guidance on Michael's origin, we must rely on reports given in his children's records to point us in the right genealogical direction.
Enter Jacob. And Jacob. We saw yesterday that each was born in the early 1830s. Each had a wife named Mary. Both of them lived in Perry County, Ohio, the same place where each of them was born. It's time to untangle this tale of two Jacobs and see which one was which, especially since one of them reported having parents born in Germany, while the other one claimed the location was in Switzerland.
The younger of the two Jacobs, according to his biographical sketch in a local history book, was born on August 2, 1833, in Perry County. In 1863, he married Mary Elizabeth, daughter of another local couple—also kin to my mother-in-law—Simon and Nancy (Jackson) Snider. Over the course of their twenty-two year marriage, he and Mary were parents of more than the nine children listed in his biographical sketch. From eldest daughter Manaleta Rose to youngest son Simon Carl, whose 1885 birth precipitated his mother's untimely death that same month in May, all were born in the same county in which their parents had been raised.
However, if you look closely at the headstone of this wife of "Jacob," you can discern the faint letter "H" before the name Metzger, signifying whose wife she actually was. And checking the 1910 headstone for Mary's husband, we see not a given name of Jacob, but that of Henry—hence the "H." Where did the "Jacob" come from?
This is an important question to ask, for Henry's parents—the same Michael and Apollonia we are seeking—had another son whom they named Jacob. When we look for the Metzger who died in Perry County in 1910, his death certificate is filed under the given name Henry, not Jacob. In that record, we see his parents listed as Michael and "Appolonia" and we are gifted with his mother's maiden name, as well: Rheyman. Most pertinent to my research goal this month, Henry's parents were listed as having been born in Switzerland.
This, however, does not agree with the information published in the biographical sketch for "Jacob" Metzger. Despite identifying all Henry's children by name in that book, plus confirming the maiden name of his wife, there is nothing showing in any of his other records to identify him as Jacob. Indeed, information on his death certificate was provided by "Miss Leta Metzger" of Junction City, undoubtedly Henry's daughter Manaleta Rose.
So why would this man's biographical sketch in a Perry County history book report that his parents were "natives of Germany"? Could the accounts of the two Metzger men have been conflated? Or could this puzzle merely be the result of the wrong name having been appended to Henry's biographical entry in the book? After all, the "real" Jacob Metzger's wife—at least, according to that Jacob's death certificate—was also named Mary. Let's take some time tomorrow to compare details with the other Jacob Metzger.