2. Henry Metzler and Esther Bowman   2 comments

Henry, Valentine and Anna’s 6th child and 4th son was born 15 June 1762. Little is yet known of Henry’s early years but it is believed he continued to live on his father’s farm until 1791 when he married Mary Landis. With Mary he fathered three children. On 1 January 1803 Mary died and five years later, on 18 October 1808, he was married to Esther Bowman who was 19 years his junior. This marriage was performed by a minister of Trinity Lutheran Church , Lancaster, PA.

Esther was the daughter of Abraham Bowman and Elizabeth Wagner Bowman. She was born 27 June 1781 and was the 4th generation of Bowmans in America, preceeded by her father Abraham, Grandfather John Jr. and her great-grandfather John Bowman Sr. John Sr. settled in Strasburg sometime around 1712 and obtained an early immigrant land patent in 1716. He was naturalized 14 October 1729.

Henry and Esther apparently lived all their married life in the Strasburg area where they raised ten children: three from Henry’s first marriage to Mary Landis — John L., Ann, wife of Martin Andrews, and Elizabeth, wife of Henry Kreider; seven from his marriage to Esther — Henry B. who married Elizabeth Eby, Barbara who never married, Mary wife of Daniel Ressler, Esther wife of George Gartner (Gardner), Susan who married Henry Spiehlman, Christian, and Abraham who married Anna Warren.

Henry was a farmer, miller, and in the late 1700’s or early 1800’s he became a Mennonite minister.

The Hans Herr House, Willow Street, c. 1719

The early Mennonites of Lancaster County worshiped in private homes. The Hans Herr house was the first meeting place for members of Strasburg and the surrounding areas. As time passed and the membership grew, it became necessary to divide the congregation. The members of the Western section of the district continued to meet at the Hans Herr house and the members in the Eastern section began meeting at the home of John Herr, grandson of Hans. John Herr’s house was a two story stone dwelling with a large attic where the congregation met regularly for 64 years.

The John Herr House, S. of Strasburg, c. 1740

Heading south out of Strasburg via Jackson Street, which becomes Bunker Hill Road, you will come to Twin Elm Road. Turning right and traveling about a mile or so down Twin Elm Road, you will see, on the right, a beautiful stone house, the front encircled with a stone wall and iris. This house is now owned and occupied by Dr. John Rutt, his lovely wife Rebecca and their children. The Rutt home, originally built by John Herr dates back to 1740. It is in this house that Henry worshiped regularly and possibly preached.

In 1804 a church with an adjoining burial ground was built on the outskirts of Strasburg. This building was used until 1925 when the present church was erected on the same site.

Henry served as preacher for more that 30 years in the Strasburg district. He lived retired in Strasburg Borough at the time of his death on 20 November 1837. His remains repose in the Strasburg Mennonite Church burial grounds beside his beloved wife Esther who died 17 June 1862.

Joanne with tombstones of Henry Metzler Esther and Henry B.

Also buried in this cemetery are his children Henry, Barbara, Mary and her husband Daniel Ressler and four of their children, and grandchildren, Abraham and Anna Warren Metzler and four of their children, Lawrence Leroy, James Warren and Nora Bell. Henry’s will speaks of his love of God, his beloved wife, his two plantations in Strasburg and one plantation in Martic Township, and of his ten children, to whom he bequeathed equal shares of his estate.

This will makes for fascinating reading and gives insight into Henry’s personality. The following are some lengthy excerpts from his will:

“In the name of God amen! I, Henry Metzler being advanced in years, and in feeble health of body, but of sound mind, memory and understanding, and calling on the uncertainty of human life, and that it is ordained for all men to die, make this my last will and testament.

I recommend my immortal soul into the hands of God who gave it, and my body to the Earth from whence it came in the hope of glorious resurrection through the merits of our Redeemer Jesus Christ, and an happy admission into the legion of bliss and immortality; and as touching such worldly estate where it hath pleased God to bless me I give, devise and bequeath the same in manner followiing.

I give my beloved wife Esther all the pewter, Delph and chinaware in my corner cupboard.

Fireplace, H.H. house

Cupboard, H.H. house

table, H.H. house

It is my will that my wife shall keep, enjoy and possess the plantation whereon I now reside for the term of three years, the rent and profits, after paying taxes and defraying expenses shall inure to her for the purpose of maintaining and educating my children as may be minors at my decease; and my son John shall keep, enjoy and possess the plantation whereon he now resides for the term of three years, the rent and profits, after paying taxes and defraying expenses shall inure to him, for his proper use, provided that the plantations shall be used and managed with proper care, to prevent unnecessary waste or misuse or abuse, so the plantations be kept in as good order and condition as they are at the time of my decease, causalities by fire excepted.

It is my will that my wife and my son John be permitted to cut, and take as many rails from my plantation in Martic Township for keeping up the fences on the plantations they possess and wood for fuel as may be necessary.

It is further my will that my Executors shall at the expiration of three years purchase for the use of my wife a lot of ground, containing one, two or three acres with comfortable and convenient house thereon erected provided one can be procured for a sum not exceeding One Thousand Dollars which said house and lot she shall be permitted to possess and enjoy for her natural life or while she remains my widow. If a house and  lot cannot be obtained then my Executors are directed to erect a suitable and comfortable house on the South side of the run which passes through the meadow near to a spring at the West end of the meadow in which shall be attached a lot of ground not exceeding one and a half acres including said spring; my Executors are also to erect a stable, pigstye and bake oven and enclose the lot with a good fence and also enclose a garden convenient to the house. After her decease the house and lot shall be sold and the proceeds distributed in the same manner as the rest of my estate.

At the expiration of three years my Executors are authorized to sell all my real estate except the lot of ground bequeathed to my wife during her natural life. I empower the said Executors to make, sign, seal, execute and deliver good and sufficient deed or deeds to the purchaser or purchasers — subject however to the conditions and restrictions hereinafter specified.

The purchaser of the mansion tract shall be bound to deliver for my wife’s use one ton of good hay well and sufficiently cured yearly and every year during her natural life and shall also permit her to take all the fruit on the half of the trees in the orchard. Said trees to be selected, designated and marked previous to the sale.

Bed, H.H. house

All those articles, rights privileges bequeathed to my wife, except those contained in the first item, she shall receive, hold,occupy and possess during the term of her natural life, if she remains my widow, but in case she should marry again, then all the bequests shall fall back and cease and be no more, and in lieu thereof I give and bequeath unto her Two Hundred Dollars, one chest, one feather bed, bedstead, bed clothes and furniture thereto belonging.

The remainder of my estate I order to be divided into ten equal parts and shares to and amongst my children.”

Henry’s organization and meticulous preoccupation with detail made him appear very cold. He was probably a good person, good provider, but hardly a father that would be seen playing with or hugging his children.

Former Plantation of Henry Metzler (photo:2013). Farm is still operated using mules.

Former Plantation of Henry Metzler (Photo: 2013)
Farm is in use today and operated with mules.


Posted February 10, 2012 by wmetzler

2 responses to “2. Henry Metzler and Esther Bowman

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  1. Nice info. Does anyone have info on Henry’s son Abraham’s service in the civil war? Enjoyed my time at the reunion learning more family history.

    • Yes, the reunion was great!
      My sister Joanne obtained all the information and documents found in the next chapter on Abraham Metzler chapter by writing to the Department of the Army records, giving his birth and death records. I have them in her files, but I do not know exactly where they are. Warren Metzler

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