Thursday, March 7, 2013

Funeral Card Friday - Elizabeth Melzer

Ah, Melzer!  A German family name on my mother-in-law's side.  Katherine Melzer is the Melzer I am familiar with.  She married William Boegel Sr on 13OCT1874, but this isn't Katherine so who is she? Katherine is the only Melzer in my tree.  She is the root Melzer, or as many would say, the brick wall.  I have no one farther back in her line.  Her funeral card was in a large box filled with family funeral cards, so she's someone.  Let's get to work.

Elizabeth Melzer, born 17APR1903...died 06FEB1962.  Not old at all by today's standards.  Beyond that, the funeral card tells me little apart from that and the fact that she was Catholic (note the "indulgences" at the bottom of the card.  Does any other faith do that?).

I did a search on for "Elizabeth Melzer" born in 1903 +/- 2 years and got a hit in the 1930 census.  If this is my Elizabeth (and I believe it is) she was married to Joseph Melzer.  At the time of the census they had only been married for 2 years and had no children, but had Frank's parents, Frank and Mary, living with them.  This still doesn't tell me everything I need to know about Elizabeth, but it's a start.  We know that she was married and that Melzer was not her birth name.  Another hint in this census that leads me to believe that this is the right Elizabeth?....they live right next door to John and Dora mother-in-law's grandfather.

1930 US Federal Census

That's certainly not proof, but we do know that our ancestors tended to live near one another.  They frequently stayed in family and ethnic groups.  Of course, my parents generation through to the current one pretty much threw that out the window.  Good for them...harder for future genealogists!

Looking through the rest of the search results there was one other Elizabeth Melzer that could have fit into this puzzle, but she was in Cook county, IL.  It's possible, but not as likely so I ruled that one out.  As I continued scanning through the results I came across another funeral card...the same funeral card I have.  The Elizabeth in this family tree was also listed as married to Joseph Melzer.  So while online family trees can be filled with holes big enough to drive a bus through, they can at least help to point us in the right direction and according to this, Elizabeth's maiden name was Batzler.  Another surname familiar to me, but not directly in our line.  There could be something to this!

I will be pulling Elizabeth's obituary when I go home to Wisconsin, but until then I continued...the 1940 census had Elizabeth and Joseph with a son, Robert, and Joseph's mom still living with them as a widow (rest in peace Frank Melzer).  The Kuehls are still living nearby too.  Good news.  Then I look one page ahead for "Batzler"...nothing.  Then one page!  Page 18 of the census for Wayne, Washington, Wisconsin was Joseph and Marcella Batzler.  Her parents?  Nope.  This Joseph is only 35.  Her brother?  Don't know.  According to the family tree I found, it's possible that this could be her brother.  Her father's name was allegedly Joseph so this could be his namesake...or not.  Again, I'll be looking for that obit when I get home.

So who is Elizabeth Melzer?  Not a Melzer by birth, so if I want to see if there is a connection to the Melzers in my husband's tree I need to know exactly who is Joseph Melzer?

Searching for "Joseph Melzer" born around 1903 +/- 2 years (taken from his age in the census) with a father named "Frank" gave me three hits.  The 1930 census that I had already found, a 1920 census for a Joseph Melger/Melzer born in 1910 (nope...probably not), and a hit for the Wisconsin state census for 1905.  Bingo!

Frank and Mary Melzer and their son, Joseph, were in Wayne, Washington, Wisconsin for the 1905 census, and living with Frank is none other than his parents, Joseph and Mary Melzer!  Again, looking good for the home team, but still lots to do, because I don't have a Joseph and Mary Melzer in my tree! Just keep swimming, just keep swimming....

So I didn't get hits for Frank Melzer in the 1910 and 1920 census so I took out his first name and just searched based on his last name and estimated date of birth...and I got the 1910 census.  Yay!  Frank (here listed as Franz) and Mary now have Joseph and Sophia as children.  Frank's parents are still living with him as Joseph and KATHERINE!?!?!  Don't you love it when that happens!  She went from Mary in the Wisconsin 1905 census to Katherine in the 1910 US census.  Not to fear, because it really depends on who is giving the information and it is more than possible that her name was Mary Katherine (a fine Catholic name).  It's not proof, but I've seen names change soooooo many times that I'm not concerned....yet.

Then we get to the 1920 census and Joseph Melzer has turned into Herman J. Melzer.  My Joseph? Probably.  Age is spot on and everyone else in the household checks out from his parents, to his sister to Joseph and Katherine.  Not deterred, but BOY does it explain why people are hard to find in the census records!  Sheesh!

So it looks like Joseph's (aka Herman J., aka the future husband of Elizabeth where this all started) father Franz/Frank was born sometime around 1871.  Since Joey wasn't born in 1900 and that's our next census, we'll have to search for someone else...Franz!  Of course knowing the variations of his name I did a search for Melzer born in 1871 +/- 2 years and found my man (still in Wayne, Washington, Wisconsin)!  Joseph and Katherine (yes she's still Katherine here) have 3 children living with them.  Their children are Franz, Katie, and Julia.  Still no gold as my Katie/Katherine married William Boegel in 1874 and this Katherine was born around 1877.  Still, I'm encouraged that my mother-in-law's great grandparents, George and Margaret Rosbeck, are on this page.  Keep those relatives close!

Now Joseph Melzer (husband to Katie) was born around 1841 in Austria, Bohemia according to the census and came to America in 1867.  Can this bit of information help me?  Perhaps, but nothing firm jumped out at me.  A lot of possibilities but nothing that screams, "This is him!"

Back to the 1880 census..they're in there, and with additional children (Margaretha, Barbara, Franz and Katharina), but nothing helpful.  There was a hit for Joseph Melzer, b. 1841 on FindAGrave and he was married to a Katherine (nee Wondra) but that doesn't help too terribly much to go back.  He died on 15APR1926.  I suppose I'll be pulling that obit too.  Maybe a nugget of gold mentioning his parents or siblings.  Maybe.

So it's time to put this Melzer journey to rest.  Sadly, without a connection made, but some backward progress. I need to review my unfiled research on the Melzer family, because something tells me I have something that I'm missing here.  Some have made connections that Joseph (the one born in 1841) and my Katherine (born 1846) had the same Wenzel and Ursula Melzer nee Christoph...but I haven't found those connections yet and with Wenzel Melzer passing in 1884 there is little chance to find a good obituary (genealogically-speaking, that is).

So it's time to take a breather and then return later with a clear head.