Thursday, May 26, 2022

A Person of Interest


Let's just say that Joseph John Metzger of Knox County, Ohio, is simply a "suspect" in the lineup of possible missing children of Michael and Apollonia Metzger. I don't yet have any documentation to link Joseph as a son of Michael, but I do have one enticing discovery: Joseph's descendants' DNA matches up with my husband's DNA test results, and I know, at least, that my husband's line leads back to Michael as his third great-grandfather.

Now that Joseph has become a person of interest in my quest to discover all I can about the family of Michael Metzger, we need to tease out what documentation we can find on this "suspect." So, what can be found so far?

Starting with the 1850 census, we can see that Joseph was a family man, married and living on his farm in Mount Vernon, Ohio. Along with his wife Mary Ann, the census entry included five children, arrayed on the enumeration in stair step fashion: six year old John, five year old Henry, three year old Charles, two year old Mary, and baby Catherine, born just two months before the census worker came knocking at their door on July 24.

At that point, Joseph had declared his age as thirty, putting his birth at approximately 1820. He was off to a good start—but not for long. Before the family saw the next enumerator at their door, Joseph's wife Mary Ann had died, and he had quickly married a local widow, Rachel Walker Houck, and acquired a step-daughter, along with several more children with his second wife by 1871.

What is interesting in tracing the documents associated with this hypothetical son of Michael Metzger is to see the significant points in Joseph's own life trajectory. Of course, the hope is to move backward in time to where we can connect him on paper with his parents or known siblings. Yet, so far, the only hopeful sign I've been able to locate is the documentation for Joseph's first marriage to Mary Ann Bechtol. That 1842 document was drawn up in Muskingum County—a county neighboring Michael's home in Perry County, but yet another county removed from Joseph's home in Knox County. Could that proximity have been an indicator of Joseph's possible residence with Michael in Perry County before moving to Knox County?

More interesting than that discovery was considering Joseph's consistently-reported place of birth. Census records gave that location as the state of Pennsylvania. True, a broad category—try driving through that state, east to west, if you aren't sure what I mean here—so we'll need to narrow that report to something more specific. Once again, I'm going to play with the hypothetical on this instance. It so happens that another Ancestry subscriber gave Joseph's actual place of birth—though without any documentation—as Cambria County, Pennsylvania.

If that is indeed correct—and you know we'll need to ferret that out for ourselves—learning a bit more about that location may advance our quest successfully. Or at least rule out that report. It's worth a little exploration to see if we can pinpoint a correct place of birth for Joseph, which will then mean identifying the stopping place in the Metzger family's emigration from their original homeland in Europe to Michael Metzger's family settlement in Ohio. 

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