Saturday, April 21, 2018

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Week 16

The writing prompt Storms had me a little stumped this week. I don’t know of any storm survival stories or storm chasers in my family, nor does anyone have a name that has anything to do with bad weather. But then I remembered my 2nd cousin, twice removed, Elsie Lauretta Metz.

Elsie Metz 1902
Born in Cincinnati on 24 May 1880, Elsie was the second and final child born to John and Isabella (Drescher) Metz. Their son Daniel was born in 1873. Elsie entered the University of Cincinnati (UC) in 1899, one of the 141 entering freshmen at a university of 1,145 students. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 1902. She received a teaching fellowship in Modern Languages at the university for the 1903-1904 school year. She would later be awarded a Master of Arts degree from UC.

In December of 1911, 30-year-old Elsie applied for a U.S. passport, which was granted on 3 January 1912. This was in preparation for a 78 day cruise to the Orient aboard the steamship Cincinnati. As a single woman, she traveled with family friends Caroline Moerlein and her son William Moerlein. The Moerleins were part of the Christian Moerlein Brewing Company dynasty. Elsie kept a diary of her adventure, which surfaced a couple years ago and was donated to the Cincinnati History Museum. I was able to scan the pages of the diary before it passed on to the museum.

Cincinnati Enquirer article January 31, 1912

Vanderbilt Hotel
The beginning of the trip had a series of weather-related mishaps. The group first experienced ice and sleet on 28 January as they boarded a train in Cincinnati bound for New York City. There was more sleet when they arrived in New York on 29 January, and the Hudson River was frozen over as they made their way to the Vanderbilt Hotel. Newly opened on 10 January 1912, the hotel was built by Alfred Vanderbilt, great-grandson of railroad magnate Cornelius Vanderbilt. The sleet of the day turned into a blizzard by that night.

The Cincinnati left New York on 30 January, 1912. Elsie notes that they had “a rough stormy passage to Lisbon”, and that her female traveling companion was never able to appear on deck as she had “every disease known.” I’m sure that as First Class passengers, they were well taken care of, however. The ongoing storm was so bad that the ship was unable to land at Lisbon on 8 February, arriving the next day instead.

The ship traveled through more storms on its way to Cadiz, Spain. When they were finally able to dock, they found that their arranged trip to Seville was canceled because the railroads were washed away. Elsie records that “Spain suffering from worst floods known in sixty years.”

Eventually they made their way to more temperate weather, and she does not mention any other bad weather before returning to New York on 20 May 1912. But, at least at the beginning of the trip,  Elsie must have been wondering, what in the world have I gotten myself into?

Denver Post Story
April 17, 1912
On a side note, Captain Schulke of the Cincinnati reported that at midnight on 14 April he received a call for help from the ill-fated Titanic. While on the way to offer aid, the Captain was told that his help was not needed so he turned his ship back to its original course.

Elsie had many more traveling adventures in her life, including one where she had to get an emergency passport at the US Embassy in Berlin when WWI broke out in 1914 and she needed to get back to America. She died a spinster at the age of 93 on 21 March 1974.

Elsie Metz ~1954


Linda Austin said...

Yikes, what an adventure to Europe, and such an interesting tidbit about the Titanic. That's wonderful to have so much story about Elsie and to have seen her diary!

Kim Wolterman said...

Like many of the ancestors I have been researching, I wish I had been able to meet her. She certainly was adventuresome!