Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Looking for the "F.A.N. Club"


Where are those family and friends, associates, and neighbors when you need them? 

I'm referring to those genealogically-supportive clues, collectively appearing as the "F.A.N. Club" of our elusive ancestors. These were the family members and other friends and associates who traveled with that hard-to-trace immigrant ancestor from their homeland to their new life in America. In the case of my mother-in-law's second great-grandfather Michael Metzger, it appears that his F.A.N. Club numbered, um, zero.

I tried an experiment to see if any other family members might have traveled with him from the Old Country, wherever that might have been. Since Michael, according to later census records of his children, must have arrived in Ohio before the birth of his son John (a.k.a. Johann) in 1824, I thought I'd look for signs of other Metzgers in the subsequent census.

Try as I might, I could not find one Metzger in the 1830 census in Ohio. Not even our Michael and his own family. The reason? Apparently even in German-speaking Ohio, nobody knew just how to spell a surname like Metzger. This gives me pause to consider the supposed German "native tongue" of his son John who, if you remember, ended up moving away from family to settle in a German-speaking town in Indiana. Perhaps his wasn't such a familiar-sounding dialect of German, after all.

As it turns out, Michael was indeed in the 1830 census, under spelling that looks more like "Meichar" than Metzger. Granted, I'm looking at a digitized version of a nearly two-hundred-year-old document, faded ink and all. Some of the lighter strokes of the handwriting likely have faded into oblivion. Perhaps the original was written more like "Metchar." Granted, that was close...sort of.

But what about looking for any other Metzgers in 1830 Ohio? If we can trust that the rest of the state got the spelling right, there were seventeen other families that I could find, at least at Ancestry.com—but none of them living close enough to Michael's Perry County for me to be confident of a connection.

Perhaps that supposed F.A.N. Club that Michael traveled with on his journey to America might have been the relatives and acquaintances that settled with him at his first stop in Pennsylvania. After all, two of Michael's children—Joseph and Mary Ann—were born somewhere in Pennsylvania before the family's final stop in Ohio.

I tried the same approach, looking at the 1820 census for mentions of Metzgers in Pennsylvania. This time, there were thirty nine Metzger possibilities according to Ancestry.com, including one named Michael in Lancaster County—but not so fast here: this Michael remained in Pennsylvania, buried in the Mennonite Cemetery. Definitely not our Catholic Michael Metzger, for sure.

Granted, many documents from that era may not have been included in records online. Some may not even be in existence anymore. Learning more about church records in Pennsylvania will be helpful to identify just where in Pennsylvania the family had briefly settled. Perhaps, along the way, it will become clearer just who the Metzger family's traveling companions might have been—and where they all came from.

In the meantime, it will be back to building out the Metzger family lines for DNA that I'll continue working on. I've still got to figure out how our Catholic line crossed paths with that mystery Clinton Metzger of those DNA matches. 

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