Johann Friedrich Metzger – Weible Family History
After months of attention devoted to my father’s branches in the family tree, it’s time to get back to the buds and boughs on Mom’s side. Specifically, the Weibles.
July is a month with more than its share of Weible milestones, including my grandmother’s (Sue Weible Ley, July 6), great-grandmother’s (Beatrice Morgan Weible, July 27) and great-great grandmother’s (Esther Bliss Goddard Weible, July 4) birthdays, as well as the birthdays (Andrea, Sam) and anniversaries (Dan & Laura) of a few descendants.
So it’s as good a time as any to wrap up our look at the latest pictures, documents and newspaper clippings I’ve collected over the last few months, since two brief visits home and a stay over at my parents’.
We begin with a look at the life of my fifth great-grandfather, Johann Friedrich Metzger, and a boyhood that was partially occupied with serving our fledgling nation during its fight for independence.
For the Record: Sons of the American Revolution Membership
My ties to Frederick, as he is commonly known in our family, run this way: He was the father of Anna Metzger Weible, who was mother to Frederick Weible, who was father to Franklin Eli Weible, who was father to Robert Ohio Weible, who was father to Suzanne Abbott Weible, who was mother to Janet Ley Foutz, who is better known as Mom to me.
Anna Nancy Metzger, remember, is an ancestor we have in common with Ella Metzker Milligan, whose 1940s history recounts the exploits of generation after generation of Metzgers, Weibles and the like.
One story shared by Ella Milligan is the time Anna and her parents were honored in 1894 or 1895 by a visit from George Washington. As the story went, Anna, then merely 4, was face to face with the President and father of our country when “He laid his hand on her head, in departing, and said, ‘Sei ein gutes Kind!’ (Be a good girl.)”
This probably took place in the family’s Lehigh River Valley home in Pennsylvania, near Northhampton, where Anna and her father were born. By the time Anna was 10, the family was on the move, bound for Westmoreland, Pennsylvania, where Anna would eventually meet an adventurous Swiss immigrant named Hans Jakob Weible, marry him, and head for Ohio, where the family’s fate awaited.
Anna’s parents, Johann Frederick and Anna (Schliefer) Metzger, would remain in Barren Run, PA, where Frederick died in Oct. 1842 at age 83, and Anna would outlive him another 14 years, ripening to age 97 before her passing on July 4, 1856 (incidentally, the fourth birthday, in Vermont, of her great-grandson Franklin Eli Weible’s eventual wife, Esther Bliss Goddard).
I don’t know anything, yet, of how Johann made his trade, or why the family moved from that part of Pennsylvania where his father, Christian Metzger, settled after emigrating from Wuerttemberg, Germany in the early 1750s. (And there’s another of our family from Wuerttemberg, predating the Foutzes, Weibles, Leys and Zeiglers in roughly that order.) But we do know what he was up to from about age 17 to 23, as he served in various militias connected to Northampton.
This month, Ancestry.com published several hundred pages of applications to the Sons of the American Revolution from various chapters around the United States. Information on our ancestor is culled from three applications:
* January, 1940 — Robert Ohio Weible (second great-grandson of Frederick Metzger, through Frederick Weible’s son, Franklin Eli) to the Benjamin Franklin chapter, Ohio
* May, 1951 — John Richard Wible (third great-grandson of Frederick Metzger, through Frederick Weible’s son, David) to the John Stark chapter, Ohio
* Dec., 1952 — Glen Roy Metzker, Sr. (second great-grandson of Frederick Metzger, through his son Christian Metzger and grandson Christian Frederick Metsker and great-grandson Louis Alexander Metsker) to the Oregon Society, Oregon
Served at Valley Forge under Washington’s Generalship
Glen Metsker’s application traces the family’s roots most thoroughly, stretching back three generations beyond the relevant Revolutionary connection (as noted by a checkmark in the reviewer’s hand) to my eighth great-grandparents Johann Georg and Anna Maria Hubner Metzger, born in Germany in the 1650s. But his application is studded with incorrect or missing sources, as indicated by “not there” and “not in this paper”, among other notations. (All three applications I’m referencing were ultimately approved.)
My great-grandfather Robert Weible’s application is the most thoroughly sourced, citing no fewer than eight references to Pennsylvania archives, tax rolls and muster records of the militia, but not Ella Milligan’s book, which had not yet made its way into his hands. Helpfully, R.O. does list his children on the application (no grandchildren, not yet); so Arry, Sue and Bill’s descendants should be able to reference his application, if that ever becomes necessary for anyone’s aspirations.
John Wible’s application does quote from Ella Milligan’s book, which saves me a trip to the Newberry Library in Chicago to dig up the winning text on or about page 88, which I’ll share below.
What we learn is that Johann Frederick Metzger was living on about 113 acres of land with his family in Northampton, Pa. In November, 1776, he enlisted in Heidelberg Company — the first company of the second battalion in the Northampton Militia, under the command of Col. Henry Geiger, according to all three applications.
He enlisted as a private and drummer. He was 17 years old. There were six other men with him in Class 4 of his company.
Frederick was active as a soldier in campaigns throughout 1777-78 and 1778-89. According to muster rolls and a letter from Frederick to his family, he was with the battalion in 1777 when they wintered at Valley Forge. The letter, dated Feb. 14, 1777, reads:
“We are at Valley Forge. I am in the First Company, 4th Class. We are in the Second Battalion. Philip (no sibling of his matches this name — Colt) and four other men are in my class. We have a little log cabin, and we eat together. General George Washington rode by our hut today. He stopped and spoke to us. He saw the warm coat you made for me, and was glad.
When it gets too cold I play the drum and we march around past the other huts. As soon as it warms up we are going south around Philadelphia. Some apple and peach brandy, or some cherry bounce would taste good.
John Wible’s application notes that Frederick appeared on muster rolls until 1781, the year before his marriage to Anna Schleiffer in Zionsville, Lehigh, Pa. R.O.’s application reports that the Battalion saw action as late as 1783, but doesn’t say whether Frederick was still among them.
They would go on to raise 10 children, and apparently enjoy an audience with George Washington again, long after the freezing winter in Valley Forge, as the nation they fought to establish was enjoying its first flourish of independence and democratic self-rule.