Saturday, January 27, 2018

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Week 4

Week 4 of the challenge asked the question, "Which ancestor would I most like to invite to dinner?" My answer is Barbara Karch Metz, my maternal second great-grandmother. I’ve had a great admiration for her ever since I learned that following the death of her husband in Germany, she boarded a ship with 6 of her children and headed to America. Here is her story.
Insheim, Germany
Insheim Catholic Church
Born in Insheim, Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany to Johann Joseph March and Maria Barbara Pfalzer on 29 March 1820, Barbara was the oldest of four girls. At the age of 21, she married Joseph Henry Metz on 16 February 1842 at the Catholic church in Insheim.

Barbara and Joseph had nine children, all of whom were born in Insheim: Nicholas b. 1842, Anna Maria b. 1843, Barbara b. 1846, Elizabeth b. 1849, Magdalena b. 1852 and died 1852, Joseph b. 1853, Rosina b. 1856, Johannes b. 1859, and Peter b. 1862. On 27 September 1862 Joseph Henry Metz died, reportedly from a bee sting. He was only 43, and my great-grandfather Peter was just four months old.

SS Borussia
By the next year the two oldest daughters, Anna Maria and Barbara, emigrated to the United States on the SS Borussia, a sailing vessel in the Hamburg-American Line. The ship arrived in New York on 15 July 1863. The sisters then made their way to Cincinnati, Ohio, possibly because their father’s brother, Adam Metz, was living there with his family.

SS Arago, sister ship to the SS Fulton
photo from US National Archives
In 1866, Barbara and her remaining 6 children traveled from Insheim to Le Havre to board the SS Fulton, a paddle-steamer in the New York & Havre Company line. The journey would have taken around 14 days. Barbara was 47 at that time, and her children were the following ages: Nicolas-24, Elizabeth-18, Joseph-9, Rosina-7, Johannes-5, and Peter-3. From New York, Barbara and the children made their way to Cincinnati.

Family lore has it that once Barbara and her family arrived in Cincinnati, they did not know where to go. So they all gathered around a Metz meat truck, hoping to get assistance. This Metz was not related to her deceased husband, but it was a name she recognized. I’m not sure if there is any fact to the story, but it is a fun one nonetheless.

Barbara was 73 when she died in Cincinnati on 29 April 1893.

If I had an opportunity to dine with Barbara, I would ask her about her husband Joseph’s death, and how the family survived in Insheim for nearly four years without him. I would want to know what it was like to leave the only town she had ever known, and what relatives were left behind. What was the voyage by ship like? How did they get to Cincinnati from New York - train? What did she think of her new country when she arrived in Cincinnati? Did they really sit by a Metz’s meat truck hoping someone could direct them in their new city? And finally, I would want to tell her how amazing I think she was for giving up her life in Germany to hopefully provide her children with a better life in the United States.

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