Thursday, June 20, 2024

Saint Clinton?


Clinton Metzger may have finally made his appearance somewhere within the radar of Joseph Metzger's family circle, but just how was he connected to that family? Just because he was mentioned in a legal document naming him along with others concerning the estate of the late Joseph Metzger doesn't necessarily mean he was Joseph's son. He could have been a legatee for other reasons—or perhaps merely a creditor who coincidentally possessed the same surname. To try to resolve this question, let's return to the census records for both Clinton Metzger and his supposed father, Joseph Metzger.

Keeping in mind that Joseph Metzger's second wife, Rachel, was a devout Catholic—at least judging by the care she took to specifically set aside a gift in her will for Saint Paul's Catholic Church of Mount Vernon, Ohio—it is no surprise to see that she named each of her children after saints. Thus, it would be expected to see names like James or Joseph, or even an otherwise unusual given name like Cornelius, who was indeed considered a saint. But Clinton? Saint Clinton? Never heard of him.

We can see from the 1880 census the ages of each child of Joseph and Rachel Metzger. Switching our attention to the earliest census in which I can find Clinton Metzger, his statement in that 1900 census declared his birth to have been in June of 1860. Despite there never having been a Saint Clinton—at least that I can find—what are the chances that a son of Joseph and Rachel might have been born at the same time?

Back at that point in 1880, the closest in ages in the Metzger family would have been either son Joseph, aged twenty one, or Cornelius, aged nineteen. Of course, ages in census records were often rounded to the next year, depending on both the month of birth and the month of enumeration. Indeed, Joseph's age in the much later 1910 census suggests a birth in 1859, and his 1926 headstone bears out that date. As for Cornelius though, after the 1880 census he simply disappears. Could Cornelius have become "Clinton"?

Before we settle such an unsupported conjecture, let's first look at all the other names listed in that legal notice published in the 1886 Mount Vernon Republican. It would be helpful to know the relationships—if any—of the other Metzgers named in that claim. 

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