Valentine Metzler and Anna Nissley
Among 349 Palatines, many Swiss Mennonites, imported aboard the ‘Ship Glasgow’, appears the name of Joob Mittsler, aged 45, arriving in Philadelphia, 9 September 1738. Jost Metzler, as the name later appears, is supposed to have been the father of Valti Metzler, who also came to America in 1738, at the age of 12 years. It was not then customary to list the names of women, or children under 16 years of age, so it is not surprising that Valentine’s (Valti) name does not appear in this list.
Little is known of Jost Metzler, except that he apparently died in 1743. ( Note: Jost’s wife Anna Marie, nee Schollenberger, born about January 1700 in Switzerland, also died six months before him in Lancaster. WM) leaving Valentine an orphan at 18.
Valentine was born in Europe 14 February 1726. Sometime after arriving in Philadelphia he traveled to Lancaster County where he met Anna Nissley, the 7th and youngest child of Jacob and Mary Funk Nissley of Rossmere, Lancaster County. Anna is supposed to have been the granddaughter of Ulrich Nussli, born in Zell in 1639 and Elsbeth, his wife, born in Zell in 1645. Jacob, Anna’s father, and his brother John (Hans) are believed to have immigrated to America in 1710 on the ‘Ship Mary Hope’.
The following article appeared in the Pennsylvania Gazette, 2 January 1772:
“Henry Funk of Manor Township sent his wagon with flour to Newport and gave the wagoner an order to bring 50 pounds of the price in cash back to him, a neighbor Jacob Genter also gave him an order to bring 100 pounds cash from a Philadelphia banking house for him. He received the cash but bought a horse at Newport, left the wagon at Newport and absconded. He was a 30 year old Dutch servant named Phillip Jacobs.”
Henry Funk, referred to in the article, was Anna Nissley’s maternal grandfather.
Anna and Valentine were married 19 December 1749 and set up housekeeping on the outskirts of Lancaster where the Pennsylvania Railroad crossed the Conestoga Creek. When Jacob Nissley, Valentine’s father-in-law died, sometime around 1750, Jacob’s eldest son, Jacob II, refused to take the 211 acre Nissley property, even though inheriting a double share. After an Orphan’s Court appraisal, Jacob II accepted their price of 645 pounds, and on 19 June 1752 Valentine bought 60 acres for 145 pounds.
Valentine bought an additional 30 adjoining acres from a Mr. Jacob Mayer,and so, on the 30 May 1767 Valentine owned 90 acres, thus making the Metzler farm in Manheim Township, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Here on the border of a city of 600 they raised an exemplary family of nine: Maria, Abraham, Jacob, John, Anna, Henry, Christian, Martin and Elizabeth.
Maria, born 5 November 1750, married Bishop Jacob Hostetter III, also known as ‘the Miller of Manheim’, on 24 June 1770. She died 27 December 1822 and is buried along with her husband and some of their children in Kauffman Mennonite Church Cemetery on Route #72 south of Manheim, Lancaster County Pa.
Abraham married Christina Groff, granddaughter of Hans Groff, one of the original settlers of Lancaster County. Abraham, born 24 February 1753 was the eldest son and therefore inherited Valentine’s farm. He appears in the first census of the United States (1790) living in Manheim Township, Lancaster County. In 1791 he split the farm into 5 acre plots and sold them to people living in the borough of Lancaster for pasture land. Each plot was sold for 85 pounds. He and his wife then moved to Canaervon Township, Lancaster County. Four of his children traveled by conestoga wagon to Beaver Township, Columbiana County, Ohio and were instrumental in organizing the Metzler Meetinghouse there. Descendants of the Columbiana, Ohio Metzlers then traveled to Goshen, Indiana, which is today the home of the Mennonite Headquarters for the United States.
Jacob, born 31 May 1755, married Maria Hess. He and Maria moved to a 70 acre farm in 1786. They buried a small child on the family plot and in 1827, their son Jacob II sold this plot to trustees for a church and burial grounds. On this ground stands the present Metzler Mennonite Church and burial ground. It is located on Metzler Road, West Earl Township, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Jacob, his wife, and many of their descendants are buried in this cemetery.
John, born 7 November 1757, married Anna Hess, sister of Maria. Some of their descendants settled in Erie County, Pennsylvania.
Anna Metzler, born 10 January 1760, married Christian Hess, brother of Maria and Anna. Christian was a Salisbury miller and a leading minister for the section. They are buried in the Salisbury private cemetery.
Henry, born 15 June 1762, was the grandfather of Emerson Bennett Metzler. Details of his life appear on later pages.
Christian, born 23 September 1764, married Esther Charles. They lived in the Landis Valley area of Lancaster and were active church workers at Roseville. They had no children and are buried in the cemetery adjacent to the Pennsylvania Farm Museum, Lancaster County.
Martin, born 8 February 1767, married Susanna Huber on the 17th of March 1792. Their son John was know as ‘the Merchant of Sporting Hill’. John’s grand-nephew, C. E. Metzler, later wrote of him, “He was a little peculiar. So different from the rest of us. He was always known as ‘Honest John Metzler’.
Elizabeth, born 7 October 1769, married Jacob Frey and lived in the Landisville area of Lancaster County.
Valentine was a weaver, farmer, and in the 1760’s he was ordained a minister in the Mennonite Church. About this time he purchased a Bible. This Bible was printed in Zurich, Switzerland in 1571, a large heavy bound volume with brass hinges, clasps and mountings. Among other inscriptions on the front blank page is written in German, “This Bible belongs to me, Valti Metzler. I bought it for 40 shillings, 27 April 1767”. Much of the information contained in this family history has come from articles written about Valentine Metzler’s Bible.
With Lancaster a prison center during the Revolutionary War, the Mennonite people were looked upon with suspicion by both Patriot and Tory. Valentine, while being non-combatant was evidently in sympathy with the patriots, as the Colonial Records of Pennsylvania show that he donated horses and wagons to the American Army. (Note: By presenting evidence of this, in 2009 Joanne Metzler Docherty was admitted as a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, Queen Aliquippa Council, McKeesport, PA. WM)
The Pennsylvania Published Archives, 3rd Series, Vol. 17 shows that he owned 90 acres in Manheim Township, 3 horses, 3 cattle, 0 sheep and 0 negroes.
In 1778 Valentine Metzler was ordained a Bishop in the Mennonite Church.
After serving God and his Church for about 20 years, Valentine died 24 July 1783 at the age of 57 years, 5 months and 10 days. His wife, Anna died 10 years later 29 March 1793. Bishop Metzler and Anna Nissley Metzler, along with the Nissley family, were buried on the farm. The burial plot was destroyed when the Pennsylvania Railroad was built in 1832 and its location is now unknown.
Valentine and Anna appear to have been hard working, stern but loving parents, taking advantage of the vast opportunities in a very young America.
The Bishop Metzler Bible
Upon the death of Bishop Metzler the Bible was lost for about 50 years until a tramp named Philip Le Millar came to the house of Christian Hersey near Manheim, Pa., carrying something heavy in a bag. Mr. Hershey said, “Was hast du?” (What do you have?) The tramp replied, “Die Heilige Schrift” (The Holy Writ). Mr. Hershey asked to see it, and on opening it, he said in German, “This is old Bishop Metzler’s Bible,” and bought it from La Millar for $5.00.
After Christian Hershey’s death, his son David and his wife, not knowing at the time that Bishop Metzler was Mrs. David Hershey’s great-grandfather, gave the Bible to Preacher Jacob N. Brubaker.
In 1891, Christian E. Metzler invited Mr. Brubaker to preach for him in Germantown, Philadelphia, PA. and discovered that Mr. Brubaker had his great-grandfather’s Bible of which he had been hunting many years.
Mr. Brubaker said that it had been his rule never to give away a gift without first consulting the person he had received it from, and that he would call on Mrs. Hershey and get her consent to present the Bible to Christian.
Mrs. Hersey, by this time having realized she had given away her great-grandfather’s Bible, told Mr. Brubaker that if he wanted to part with it she would like it back. Arrangements were made for Christian and Mrs. Hershey to meet and decide who was to have the Bishop Metzler Bible. During this meeting Mrs. Hershey, with tears in her eyes, said, “You take the Bible. It is yours, you still bear the name Metzler, and with me it had died out three generations ago.”
Christian Eby Metzler was in possession of the Bible until shortly before his death, 21 November 1936. When he learned that his own family was not interested in it, he deposited it, for safe keeping, with Albert F. Hostetter, then president of the Lancaster County Historical Society and a descendant of Maria Metzler Hostetter, oldest child of Valentine and Anna Metzler. It was kept by the Hostetters until their deaths and it then descended to their son Harry of Eden, Lancaster County. When Harry and his wife died, it was placed in the Hostetter Room of the North Museum, Franklin and Marshall College, Lancaster. (Note: Most recently it is preserved in the archives of the Martin Library of Sciences at F & M College, where anyone who is a descendant of Bishop Valentine Metzler can call ahead and make arrangements for the Bible to be brought out of its climate-controlled resting place to view it and take photographs of it. My sister Joanne and I did just that in August of 2011. WM). The Bible at this writing (2012) is 441 years old and this coming 27 April will mark 245 years since Valentine purchased it for 40 shillings.