Wednesday, June 26, 2024

Catching Clues from Collateral Lines


If it weren't for curiosity about collateral lines—the descendants of siblings of our great-greats—there would be a lot of useful information I'd miss entirely. Now that we've set aside time to explore a sibling of my mother-in-law's Metzger ancestors, I'm gathering a few encouraging clues pointing toward answers concerning those mystery relatives who had otherwise simply seemed to disappear.

Looking at Elizabeth Metzger, the youngest sister of my mother-in-law's great-grandfather Michael Metzger, we've already seen that she was married in 1852 in the same county in which she had been born: Perry County, Ohio. Digging a bit deeper into her family life, the very next census enumeration reveals the start of her eventually-large family—which included, by 1860, her three oldest children, Vincent, Cecelia, and Raymond—but it also helped tie that same Elizabeth Metzger Clouse with another Metzger relative.

In Bernard and Elizabeth Clouse's 1860 household was a fourteen year old boy named Charles "Metzgar." While Elizabeth had no brothers by that name, I wondered whether the connection between Elizabeth and Charles might have been one of aunt and nephew. After all, Elizabeth's older brother Joseph, whom we reviewed earlier this month, had a son by that name, who would have been about that age.

Charles' circumstances, by the time of the 1860 census, might have been somewhat like that of an orphaned child whose grandparents had also died: after the loss of his mother, by 1857 Charles' father had remarried. Long before that, he had lost both Metzger grandparents. Perhaps it was perceived as better for everyone if the youngest children in Joseph's family were cared for in other households. Thus, Charles showed up in Bernard and Elizabeth Clouse's household in 1860, and his siblings Henry and Catherine were raised by Elizabeth's older sisters, Joanna and Mary Ann in their unmarried brother Gregory's household.

All those would have been details missed if it hadn't been for expanding research to include collateral lines. And since it is impossible to know, ahead of time, just which important discoveries we would have missed by bypassing those collateral lines, I make the effort to pursue the lines of all siblings of direct ancestors.

There is another reason for that relentless pursuit: connecting DNA matches to the correct ancestor. In Elizabeth's case, my husband has seven DNA matches so far with her descendants. Four of those matches descend from Elizabeth's namesake daughter, and three others from daughter Cecelia. The challenge in working with those DNA matches is that both of Elizabeth's daughters married Snider men: brothers George and Richard. Because my mother-in-law also had Snider ancestors, you can see how those DNA matches become even more tangled—all the more reason to trace those collateral lines.

Speaking of collateral lines, this Metzger family had two more sons we've yet to review. We'll turn to them next as we wrap up this month's research project.

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