THE LIVES AND TIMES OF THE SAMUEL B. METZ FAMILY
The following is an overview of what it was like to be part of the Samuel B. Metz family of Kishacoquillas Valley in south central Pennsylvania. This is a blending of the impressions, observations, and opinions of a variety of people including family members, relatives, and friends. Much of the information was obtained from personal interviews of family members in the 1970's and 80's. Its purpose is to provide an honest impression of this large, dynamic family as it strained to cope with a changing world.
Samuel Bennett Metz (12/8/1856---2/2/1932) married Laura McClintic (12/14/1854---1/9/1893)
on November 30, 1881.
THE FIRST FAMILY
I. Bruce Leroy (Roy B.) Metz
II. Thomas Clifton Metz
III. Merel Genevieve Metz
IV Harry McClintic Metz
V. Edna Francis Metz
THE SECOND FAMILY
Samuel B. Metz (12/8/1856---2/2/1932) married Lula Dachenbaugh (12/22/1871---2/5/1928)
on October 15, 1895.
I. Retta Mae Metz
II. Mary Jane Metz
III. Luther Charles Metz
IV. William Paul Metz (
V. Hazel Beatrice Metz
VI. Ruth Lorena (Ruth) Metz (
VII. Lula Catherine (Kay) Metz
VIII. Rose Elizabeth Metz
IX. Nellie Virginia Metz
X. John Bottiger Metz
Samuel B. Metz was an industrious farmer who believed strongly in the work ethic for all family members. He continued to operate the Metz homestead with the same dedication and drive that had marked his father, Samuel K. Metz, before him. Sam B., as he was called, was a rather thin, wiry man of medium height. He had a loud, shrill voice that could be heard for miles. As an old man, he was bald and very thin. He chewed tobacco all his life and occasionally had a little nip of whiskey for “medicinal purposes”. His greatest pleasure in life, especially when he was older, was to sit on his porch, prop his feet up on the railing, and discuss the events of the day with visitors.
The center of activity on the Metz homestead was the red brick farm house, situated on a sandstone foundation. It was during Sam B's father Samuel K. Metz's ownership of the farm that this brick colonial house was constructed. According to his daughter-in-law Eleanor Metz, Sam B. said he was eight years old when it was built. Born in December 1856, he would have been eight in the summer of 1865. So the house was most likely built sometime during that year. He remembered the construction of the house because he learned to chew tobacco from the workmen. The bricks were made and fired in the pasture between the barn and Saddlers Creek. The fancy outside woodwork designs and the quarter circle windows in the attic gave this home a distinct appearance. It was a bit of a status symbol to own a structure such as this in Big Valley at that time.
The house has two main stories, a big attic, a full basement and porches front and back. Upstairs there were four large bedrooms---one at each corner. A bathroom was added later. When Sam B.’s family lived in the house, there was a girls’ room, a boys’ room, Mom and Dad’s room, and a guest room. Downstairs there was a kitchen, a dining room, and a large two-room parlor. The basement included the summer kitchen with its old cookstove; and the cellar with its dirt floor where foodstuffs were stored. The basement was connected with the first floor by a well worn set of curved stairs.
In recent years the house has begun to show its age and is being remodeled by its current owner, Cindy Brown. Cindy is the great granddaughter of Edna Metz Brown who was the youngest child in the FIRST Samuel B. Metz family.
The house was complemented by the various outbuildings, the yard with its trees, and the large fertile garden. The small buildings near the house included the red brick smoke house at the edge of the yard, the large wash house near the creek where laundry was done, the wood house, and the outhouse located on the creek side of the hog pens. Reportedly, this two-seater privy was a favorite resting place for Retta when she wanted to read in peace and quiet. There was a small stone-lined room under the porch steps that had a small dug well for keeping the milk cool. It held two cans and was used by Luther and Eleanor until they bought an electric milk cooler. The dug well for drinking water was located in the backyard not far from the basement door. It had a crank contraption which turned a continuous cup-covered chain that scooped up water, dumped it in a spout, and returned to the well to repeat the process.
The farmstead has a large T-shaped wooden bank barn with a colorful, sturdy, sandstone foundation. The outbuildings included a chicken house, hog pens, corn cribs and a carriage house.
There is a small 2 story wooden frame house next to the main homestead. It was built sometime in the middle 1800's for Dr. John Metz and his wife Fannie when their son, Samuel K. Metz married and took over the family farm. Later, Samuel B.'s brother Harry Metz (Uncle) lived in this house and worked on the farm until Luther took over operations in 1929. The smaller one story structure next door was reportedly Dr. John's office when he was still living on the farm.
Sam B. ran a general farming operation growing hay, corn and small grains; and raised dairy cows, steers, hogs, chickens, ducks and sometimes turkeys. The milk was separated and the cream was made into butter or sold to a milkman. The whey was fed to the hogs. Pigs, chickens and ducks were usually raised for food, while the fattened steers, turkeys and eggs were sold. His biggest money makers were his wheat crop and the steers he fed. Sam B. expected that eggs would keep the family in needed groceries. He took the eggs to the store in Allensville and exchanged them for items such as sugar, salt, baking powder, pepper, etc. Rosie remembers her father crossing off crackers and adding chewing tobacco with the comment, “You can make crackers at home”. The family never ate eggs except on Easter, when they could have them prepared any way they wanted.
Laura McClintic most likely met Samuel B. Metz shortly after she came to Allensville to work for her sister and brother-in-law, Tom and Jennie Hazlett. Jennie and Laura’s parents, Matthew and Mary McClintic, lived on a farm near Vira outside Lewistown, PA. Laura has been described as a very stylish woman who was fun loving and easy going. In a letter dated November ll, l88l, just three weeks before her marriage to Sam B., she expresses humor and an intense excitement as she anticipates seeing him in the near future. After her marriage she devoted herself to caring for her home and family. Her death at age 38 was a tragic blow to her children and husband who had loved her dearly. According to McClintic family members, Laura was pregnant with a sixth child when she died of a respiratory ailment on January 9, l893.
For more than two years the five small children, ages 1 through 9 at Laura’s death, had no real mother, only relatives and hired girls to take care of their needs. Mary Metz, Eleanor Huey Metz’s mother, worked for Sam B. for about six weeks immediately after Laura’s death.
Later Lula Dachenbach came to work for Sam B. as a hired girl. On October l5, l895, Lula became Sam B.’s second wife and thus the second family began. The transition of Lula’s role from hired girl to mother was hard for the older children of the first family to accept. They reportedly gave Lula a hard time by refusing to help around the house and by worrying the cows when she was milking. Roy, the oldest, told his daughter, Marian, several times that he was sorry he had not been nicer and more understanding of his stepmother when he was still at home. Lula weathered the storm with characteristic good nature and did not complain.
Lula tried to be a good mother to the first five children; but her life was almost immediately complicated by her own pregnancy; and the birth of Retta in August, l896. This was followed by nine more pregnancies and new babies over the following l8 years. Through it all Lula maintained a positive attitude toward her home and her family. She cooked good meals, kept the house clean, washed the clothes, planted and maintained a large garden, and did some of the barn work. Yet she never openly complained about her extremely strenuous workload.
Sam B. was very strict with his children and did not believe in sparing the rod if events required its use. Mary Jane recalls a time when she, Paul and Lou broke a window while playing ball and they were paddled for it. He was not openly affectionate, but he did treat his family in ways that showed he really cared for them.
Sam B. traveled away from home for three main reasons---to go to church, to attend his bank meetings in Belleville, and to pay his respects at funerals. He was a faithful member of the Lutheran Church in Allensville and was generous in its support. Lula and some of the children often went along to bank meetings so they could visit with friends and relatives. He had stock in the bank and was considered a wealthy man during his time.
Sam B. was very social and liked to entertain. He would sit in his brown, leather-covered Morris chair and prop his feet up on the porch railing. In the morning he would sit on the front porch, and in the afternoon he would move to the back porch to avoid the heat of the day. He delighted in sitting with friends and relatives while discussing current events. Unfortunately, Sam B.’s great urge to entertain often meant more work for Lula and the children as they tried to fulfill his expectations of a clean house and large meals. Lula rarely had time to join Sam B. on the porch when he was entertaining. The burden of company was greatest during the summer months when many friends and relatives came to visit. The annual summer visits of the Bistlines [Merel's family] to Big Valley was thoroughly enjoyed by all the younger children, but, meant added work for Lula and the older children.
Lula’s work was not limited to her own family in Metztown. She regularly went up to her brother Carey Dachenbach's home along Stone Mountain to bake, cook and clean. Often some of the children would go along to help their mother care for Grandpa Dave Dachenbach who lived with his son Carey. Later some of the older girls acquired the job of caring for the old man who was almost blind. They usually went in pairs because they were afraid to go alone. Nellie remembers making her first pies there. Grandpa Dachenbach once remarked to her, that “I was too long on the water and too short on the shortening”. She also recalls one of her return trips to Metztown. “Mother and I took a short cut through John Byler’s pasture. We didn’t know there was a dangerous bull in the pasture who took off after us. Mother and I just got to the fence in time”. Lula also helped Minnie, Virgie, Edna and Merel when they had their babies. Merel came back from Pittsburgh to the Valley to give birth to her children.
In the Summer the meals were prepared over an old cookstove in the basement and carried upstairs so the upper part of the house would stay cool. When the weather was cooler, the cooking and baking were done in the main kitchen upstairs.
Since there was no refrigeration, foods were kept cold in the spring near the wash house or preserved in some way. Meats were salt cured or canned in glass jars. Sausage and pan pudding were stored under lard in the cellar. Rosie remembered collecting apples from the large orchard in the fall. “We kept them in the carriage house and then put them in the cellar, Oh, they smelled so good!”. Lula spent a lot of time canning fruits, vegetables and meats to keep her large family going during the long winter months.
The following are quotes from Nellie Metz Strayer: “Among my earliest recollections is the memory of my youngest half-brother Mac’s death. His sufferings were so great that we younger members of the family were taken from the sounds of his intense suffering. He must have been a very special son and brother." [Harry (Mac) Metz died in 1919 at the age of 30].
"Life before school gave me happy memories. Memories of husking corn, gathering in the pumpkins and ‘nubbins’, picking apples, visiting neighbors with Mother, sharing butchering day with Edna and Roy B., enjoying Laura’s tricycle, car and swing, making mud pies, sledding, playing tag with a boom sock on a rainy day, [This was done in the barn.] having a taffy pull, going on long hikes in the woods, and having family get-togethers. These and many more made happy times with a degree of simplicity, but it created strong bonds in the family. Going to school in a one-room school was an education in itself. When one had his or her own work done, then one could listen to the others reciting their lessons.”.
The following are quotes from Genevieve Bistline Stoops [a summer visitor from the city]: “I remember Grandfather as a tall, thin, kind, quiet man – a comfortable person to be near. I have no recollectionnn of a cross word, never saw him hurry. He enjoyed the fresh air and the view from his big porch. Leaning back in his chair, feet up on the porch rail, he would sit by the hour. If a fly bothered him, he would catch or swat it in a single motion.”
“In his bedroom was a large wooden bed with a bulky fat straw mattress. Under the bed was a sizeable chamber pot that was emptied each morning. The antique pump organ that sat in the living room was a delight. It kept hands and feet busy. The massive slant top chest on the closed back porch was a great place to sit or crawl into and play house. The enormous shade tree in the back yard with its sturdy lower limbs was perfect for a swing or a climb. The barn, the creek, the ancient metal water pump and even the smelly outhouse with its Sears catalogue were a lark. Picking cherries, gathering berries, going for the cows were not work but the greatest of fun. The walk up the lane, past the tiny school house where Mother had gone to school, with the wild strawberries along the side of the road and the occasional animals and birds made the trip to pick up the mail something to enjoy. In the basement, bread would be rising in large bowls and in the kitchen, baked pies would be giving off luscious smells. The old wash house was quite a place with its massive fireplace, the immense blackened pot to heat water, the ancient wooden washing machine with the pump handle, the wash board, and the homemade soap. The smoke house seemed a cave-like place, with bulky pieces of meat hanging, full of the earthy smell of curing meat. The huge hams were moldy and looked unappetizing but had a delicious flavor. A big box of meat from Uncle Luther after butchering time was always a welcomed treat. The canned meats were different, too. We canned vegetables and fruit in the city, but never meat.”
June 8, l922 was a memorable day in the lives of the Samuel B. Metz family. Nellie comments on this important day: “Perhaps the biggest event ever held in Kishacoquillas Valley was the ox roast sponsored by the local Grange. We spent weeks cleaning the barn and the surrounding buildings and apple orchard. People came from all over Pennsylvania. Mother made new dresses for us and we felt important as we shared our farm with so many people". The Big Valley Grange sponsored a picnic and ox roast for the meeting of the State Grange. The ox was roasted in a large metal oven placed in a dug pit full of hot coals. There was much singing, and the main speaker was John A. McSparran, Master of the State Grange. Rosie and Kay remembered the event vividly because they had to change from their fancy dresses into barn clothes and milk the cows.
Lula’s children had an intense love for their mother. John said “She was a saint. She showed affection to all – no favoritism”. Hazel said “Mother was kind, loving and very good to us – a wonderful mother. We all loved her so much. Winter evenings she always mended or darned socks and stockings. She made all our clothes and was very good at it.”. Her death on February 5, l928, after many years of hard work and a losing battle with toxic goiter, was a great loss to her family and friends.
Sam B’s son, Luther L. Metz, took over full operation of the farm in l929 after he married Eleanor Huey. Sam B. moved his family to the small wood-frame "Granny" house next door where his brother, Harry, had been living. Harry moved about a mile to a small house on the Roy B. Metz farm. After Sam B’s death on February 2, l932, Harry returned to the house to live with the remaining family members. Nellie recalls: “Father had asked Uncle Harry to move in with Ruth, Kay, John and me. ‘Uncle’ as he was known to all, was a very special person. He was a student of the Bible, an excellent Sunday School teacher and a very faithful member of the church. He was a wise counselor, considerate, thoughtful, kind and a wonderful father substitute. Our loss, when pneumonia took him, was great. It was the end of our family as a unit.”. Harry died on February l9, l939.
Ray W. Brown, in an interview in 2000, said "Mother [Edna Metz Brown] never spoke of friction between the first family and the second family. [Edna was the youngest of the 5 members of the First Family]
Ray remembered “Sam B. Metz as a little, dried up old man who sat on an old Morris chair next to the stove, chewing tobacco. He retired at 45 years of age" and turned over farm operations to his children. "Mother [Edna] wanted to stop to see 'Father' after church on Sunday. He [Sam B.] liked to talk---always had something to say.” Ray was 7 or 8 at the time.
The Bistlines [Merel’s family] usually stayed with Edna and Ray Sr. [Ray’s parents] for a week or 10 days at a time. “Mother and Merel were closer in age than to Sam B.’s other children."
“One time while they [Sam B. and Lula] still lived in the main house Lula came up the stairs from the basement and handed me a black cast iron toy car. That was in 1927. I sure was proud of that car. I was really upset when the MacAlster boys banged the car against another metal toy.”
In January of 1932 Ray F. Brown and his wife Edna took their family to Florida.The group included Nellie Metz and Anna Brown as well. They were staying in St. Cloud, FL. when word came of Sam B. Metz’s death [on February 2nd]. The family headed home [in 2 cars]. While traveling north one of the automobiles was involved in an accident with a bus in Virginia. After the accident Ray Sr., Edna, Nellie and Ray, Jr. took the undamaged car on to Pennsylvania. They arrived at the Allensville Lutheran Church after Sam B.'s funeral service had begun. The other family members, along with Elmer Hamilton, came home later after the damaged car was repaired.
Hazel Metz Supplee sums up the lives and times of the Samuel B. Metz family with the following quote: “We worked, but not the terrific rush as nowadays, more of an even pace, with fun throughout. We had all kinds of security in every way. Our parents always loving and kind. Never any want for anything. Always plenty of food. Mother was a good cook – not the rich foods of today, but good for you. Then there was Uncle – a very kind, gentle person helping to guide the way. A very wonderful background. Honesty was a big thing in our early life. We may have missed some of the niceties of life, but we had all the essentials. Father read to us out of the Bible so often, and especially in winter; we had family prayer together. So, I feel I got the most important things in life to the fullest.”