Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Exploring More Collateral Lines


The beauty of applying DNA testing to genealogy puzzles is that it can help a family history researcher discover missing branches of one's family tree. After reading so many stories asserting the usefulness of such techniques, there are quite a number of us who have cast our lots in with the powers of genetic genealogy.

Here I am, stuck on the research trail of discovering my husband's third great-grandfather's origin, so I turn to the sixty four other subscribers at AncestryDNA who match that same Metzger line. In the process, I discover that ThruLines® thinks there are more children of Michael and Apollonia Metzger than the four I've confirmed. And I'm not surprised to learn that.

I've already solidly documented our line's second great-grandfather, a son whom Michael named after himself. Besides the younger Michael, I've thoroughly researched three other Metzger children: Elizabeth, Jacob, and Henry. The only problem is that ThruLines® thinks there are two other children I know nothing about, whom Ancestry reports were named Joseph and Johann. Neither of them have shown up in my own explorations through records of Perry County, Ohio, where our Metzger line settled.

In the meanwhile, though nothing of the sort shows up in the ThruLines® results, I have found a next door neighbor to the younger Michael, a man by the name of Gregory Metzger. Could this Metzger also have been a relative? It seems odd that he would have settled so close to Michael in Ohio, so far away from their native home in Germany, or Switzerland, or wherever they originally lived—especially since there is no mention of any descendants of Gregory in the ThruLines® results at Ancestry.

I realize the way Ancestry's ThruLines® works is through comparing the family trees posted by subscribers on Ancestry by our genetic matches. That, however, means if every one of those DNA matches who didn't have Elizabeth, Jacob, or Henry in their direct line—but did include the same other given name—then Ancestry would include them as a match descending from that other name.

But what if that name were incorrect? If enough people copied the tree of one person guessing that ancestral name, Ancestry would still pick that up in their comparisons. And we might be left with a ThruLines® entry for someone named Joseph, or Johann.

One task, of course, could be to double check the work of those DNA matches supposedly descending from Joseph or Johann. And that I did, for a few test runs. One thing I noticed: no confirmation given through documentation; just referrals back to other trees posted at Ancestry.

In the meantime, there is another approach we can take: build a tentative tree for the other Metzger man living next door in Perry County—and pursue any other records before that point for the senior Michael in Ohio before his 1844 death.

Here's one clue why this might be a productive approach. Michael junior was born about 1815, before the family arrived in North America. There is a significant gap of time between son Michael's birth and the next child, Elizabeth, born in 1828. The other two sons followed Elizabeth in stair step fashion, with Jacob born in 1831 and Henry in 1833. Who could have been part of that family between immigrant son Michael and his Ohio-born younger siblings? Would it have been Joseph and Johann? Anyone else?

We'll take the remainder of this week to track down the arrival date in Ohio for parents Michael and Apollonia Metzger. Then, we'll take a look at their suspected son Gregory, building a possible tree for him and examining his relationships in Perry County. And, of course, we'll keep an eye open for any sign of the two proposed other Metzger sons, Joseph and Johann. Perhaps one of these other, tentative, lines will lead us to some documentation revealing more information on these Metzgers in Perry County, Ohio.

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