Saturday, June 8, 2024

Where They Came From


Anyone who is researching immigrant ancestors eventually wants to know where they came from. Naturally, since I've been working on my mother-in-law's Metzger line, I'd like to know, too. But even though Michael Metzger and his wife Apollonia were only her second great-grandparents—so close!—that detail is tantalizingly just outside my reach. And out of the reach of others, too, apparently.

Since I'm the nosy type, I thought I'd hop over to the universal-tree website to see if anyone there had come up with the magic answer which seems to evade me. There was a spot in their tree for Michael Metzger, of course, but whether that entry included any pertinent documentation was another matter.

Like my own approach, I see on the FamilySearch entry that apparently others have also depended on the information provided by Michael's children. His son Henry's death certificate—with information provided by Henry's daughter Manaleta—claims that Henry's parents were born in Switzerland. No city provided, I noted, though inexplicably, the FamilySearch tree also identifies a specific location in Switzerland: Möhlin in the canton of Aargau. No documentation is there to back up that assertion, though a quick peek at the FamilySearch catalog shows several entries for records and information from that canton.

Of course, many of those library holdings are in German, not English—but what would you expect? This might be more of a challenge to research than I was anticipating. If, that is, Michael and Apollonia really did come from the Aargau canton in Switzerland. Maybe they didn't.

Thinking of any other way to determine whether Michael Metzger and his family traveled with any others from their hometown to Ohio, I recalled that Perry County tax records were available online for the time period around their arrival. The Metzgers were in Perry County in time for the birth of their son John in the summer of 1824. The closest tax record I can find to that date is the county's listing of personal property from 1831. Michael is the only Metzger listed in that year's alphabetical entries. If he did travel with neighbors to Ohio, they did not share his surname.

While records from that early time period may be few or incomplete, I'm holding out hope that there is a way to verify those statements about Michael's ancestral home—or at least the names of his parents. His marriage and the birth of at least three of his children should also carry the marks of his origin—somewhere. It's just a matter of continuing the search in more directions.

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