The Paul Metz Story: The Brick Wall Tumbles Down

Finally, the brick wall hiding Paul Metz came (mostly) down.

One of the newspaper articles about the disappearance of George B. Metz in 1923 had revealed an important bit of information about the mysterious disappearance of George’s father, Paul Metz, 23 years before. According to statements made by the family quoted in that article, Paul (referred to as Joseph Metz in the news story) had disappeared with his son Elwood around the time that George Metz was born in 1900. According to that same article, no one in the family had heard from either of them since.1

I decided to focus my next search on Elwood. The first name is unusual enough that I thought I had a better chance of finding him than his father Paul Metz/Joseph Raymond. But I also worried that Paul might have changed Elwood’s name to avoid being found.

Fortunately, Paul Metz was not that devious. After much searching, I found an obituary for an Elwood Raymond who died at age 82 on June 26, 1980, in Florida.2 Why did I think this might be the right person? Well, not only did the age match up (my Elwood was born in 1898), this Elwood had come to Florida 65 years earlier from his “native New York City,” meaning he was born in New York, just as my Elwood had been. And Paul Metz had once used the alias Joseph Raymond.

That led me to search for more information about Elwood Raymond in Florida. What I learned was that by 1916, Elwood had attained a degree of fame in Florida—he was reputedly the roller skating champion of the South, according to this article from the Orlando Sentinel of October 20, 1916 (p. 6):

Conrad located this photograph of Elwood as a skater:

Elwood Raymond

Elwood also served as a sergeant in the US Army in World War I and was seriously injured in June, 1918, at the Battle of Chateau Thievry in France, as reported in this article about his bravery and his injury; the article also revealed that Elwood Raymond had a father still living in Ocala, Florida.:

The Ocala Evening Star, 15 Oct 1918, Tue, Page 4

And this article revealed the name of that father:

The Ocala Evening Star, 04 Sep 1919, Thu, Page 3

George Raymond! So Paul Metz had gone from Joseph Raymond to George Raymond! Did he select the name George in some way to connect to the son he had abandoned as an infant, Conrad’s father George? Was it just coincidence that the man who next partnered with Gertrude was also named George—George W. Keller? It all seemed just a bit strange.

On September 1, 1919, the Ocala Evening Star reported that Elwood Raymond was returning home and intending to stay in Ocala:

The Ocala Evening Star, 01 Sep 1919, Mon, Page 3

In 1920, Elwood was lodging with two other men in Ocala, working as a skater at the fire station. I am not sure what that means, but the other two men were also working at the fire station, one as an electrician and one as a laborer.

Elwood Raymond’s occupation (in yellow) on the 1920 US census, Census Place: Ocala Ward 2, Marion, Florida; Roll: T625_226; Page: 1A; Enumeration District: 116
Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census

On April 20, 1921, the Ocala Evening Star published this little news item (p.4):

The Ocala Evening Star, 20 Apr 1921, Wed, Page 4

So Elwood was now the chief of the fire department (not just a skater!). And his father George Raymond was staying with him in Ocala and making it his headquarters while traveling—for work? What kind of work?

On January 26, 1922, the Ocala paper reported on Elwood Raymond’s marriage to Ethelyn Adams:

The Ocala Evening Star, 26 Jan 1922, Thu, Page 1

Ethelyn was the daughter of George and Rosa Adam; she was born on January 27, 1904, in Oklahoma, and was living with her parents in Alma, Kansas, in 1910 where her father was a farmer; in 1920, they were living in Kansas City, Missouri, and her father was retired.  According to the wedding announcement, they had moved to Ocala during 1921, having previously lived in Orlando, Florida.3

The wedding announcement is also interesting in that it describes Elwood as “the only son of Mr. George Raymond.” It would thus appear that at least as of 1922, Elwood was unaware of his brother George B. Metz.

There were a number of other articles in the Ocala newspaper about Elwood in his role as fire chief, and then on March 8, 1922 the Ocala Evening Star reported that Elwood had resigned as chief of the fire department. 4 And this news item revealed why—Elwood and Ethelyn were moving to Orlando:

The Ocala Evening Star, 27 Apr 1922, Thu, Page 4

On September 4, 1922, the Ocala Evening Star reported that Ethelyn and Elwood had a new baby, a son.5 Two years later they had a daughter.

In 1930 Elwood, Ethelyn, and their two children were living in Oneco, Florida, where Elwood was employed as a letter carrier for the US Post Office.  Ethelyn’s mother Rosa was also living with them and operating a fruit farm.

Elwood Raymond, 1930 US census, Census Place: Oneco, Manatee, Florida; Page: 12A; Enumeration District: 0031; FHL microfilm: 2340059
Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census

Where was Elwood’s father “George Raymond” in the 1920s? Or for that matter any time between 1900 and 1930? In 1905 he was in Augusta, Georgia:

Augusta (Georgia) Chronicle of December 12, 1905 (p. 10)

So in 1905 George was still a piano tuner and possibly still conning—a graduate of a Boston conservatory? Eight years with Steinway & Sons in New York? I’ve seen no evidence of that, but I suppose it is possible. It looks like George and Elwood had been heading south and eventually ended up in Florida.

Conrad found this 1916 article, which also seems of doubtful truth:

“Skater Inherits Big Fortune; Show is Off,” The Tampa Tribune (Tampa, Florida) · 27 Jan 1916, Thu · Page 13

Who is this “uncle” who left George Raymond (or is it Elwood Raymond) a fortune? None of George’s known uncles or Elwood’s known uncles died in 1915; Bernhard Metz died in 1914, however. Was Paul/George somehow trying to claim a share of the estate? Or was this just an excuse to get out of the Clearwater performance?

And this advertisement reveals that George was still tuning pianos in 1920 in Florida:

The Ocala Evening Star (Ocala, Florida) · 10 Mar 1920, Wed · Page 1

Aside from the mentions in the news clippings above, I have no other information about Paul Metz/George Raymond’s whereabouts, his job, his life. He was living in Georgia in 1905 and in Florida at least from 1915 until 1922, given the newspaper articles. But before or after? I don’t know. I found no other trace of him as Paul Metz or Joseph Raymond or George Raymond. If he used another name, I have no idea what that might have been. And I have no idea why he had kidnapped his son Elwood and abandoned his wife and newborn son George in 1900.

But what I did find was this obituary dated June 26, 1934:

 

The Tampa Tribune, 27 Jun 1934, Wed, Page 2

The obituary states that George Raymond had been living in Manatee County, Florida, for six years, and had previously been in Philadelphia. My guess is that the reporter confused the birth place with his prior residence. I found no evidence that Paul/George had returned to Philadelphia in the 1920s.

More importantly, the obituary reveals that by the time Paul Metz/George Raymond died in 1934, he had either revealed to Elwood that he had another son, or Elwood had discovered it on his own. Interestingly, the obituary refers to this son as “George Raymond,” as if he were his father’s namesake. And as if they had an actual relationship.

When I shared all this with Conrad, he revealed to me for the first time that Elwood had contacted George B. Metz sometime after 1934. We don’t know how Elwood learned about his brother George—did his father have a deathbed confession? How did Elwood even find him if he thought his brother’s name was George Raymond? Neither Conrad nor I know the answers, but Conrad shared this photograph of Elwood Raymond and George Metz together, showing that after their father died, the two brothers who had been separated since George Metz’s birth in 1900 had eventually gotten together many years later:

Elwood Raymond and George Metz

Conrad also learned from a cousin that Paul Metz/George Raymond died in the state hospital in Chattahoochee, Florida, in Gadsden County; this is consistent with the listing in the Florida Death Index. The cousin also told him that George Raymond (Paul Metz) had been in the state hospital for several years for psychiatric treatment and for drug and alcohol abuse. That seems credible, given Paul’s earlier history as an opium user and his long history of lying and stealing.

Thus, together Conrad and I had pieced together the long and twisting path of his grandfather’s life, the man who was born Paul Metz and died as George Raymond. There are still gaps in the story, but at least we know the beginning, a bigger part of the middle, and the end. It was one wild roller coaster ride, and I never could have done it without Conrad’s collaboration.

 

 

 

 


  1. “Metz in California, Denver Police Think,” The New York Times, September 14, 1923, p. 22. 
  2. Tampa Bay Times, 28 Jun 1980, Sat, Main Edition, Page 29. 
  3.  Ancestry.com. North Carolina, Death Indexes, 1908-2004. George Adam and family, 1910 US census, Census Place: Alma, Wabaunsee, Kansas; Roll: T624_459; Page: 13A; Enumeration District: 0132; FHL microfilm: 1374472. Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census. George Adam and family 1920 US census, Census Place: Kansas City Ward 16, Jackson, Missouri; Roll: T625_928; Page: 10A; Enumeration District: 264. Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census. 
  4.  The Ocala Evening Star, 08 Mar 1922, Wed, Page 1. 
  5. The Ocala Evening Star, 04 Sep 1922, Mon, Page 4. 

43 thoughts on “The Paul Metz Story: The Brick Wall Tumbles Down

  1. Congratulations on tumbling this brick wall with the help of your cousin Conrad. You always do such good research but I’m sure you would have been stumped without his input. I know I would have been. It also makes me wonder about my most frustrating brick wall and if the surname may be the problem.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Paul followed a pattern of the same behaviors no matter where he lived. He had to have been a good Dad, though, to Elwood. He grew up to be responsible as shown by how well he did at the Fire Department and when he was younger he had to adhere to what I think was quite a demanding schedule between practicing and performing for his skating appeareances.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s hard to know both how Elwood was raised or how happy and well-balanced he really was. What stories had his father told him about the family left behind? Did he ever meet his mother? He must have thought she died or deserted him. I am certain there were scars. We only know a tiny part of his story, that which was in the newspapers.

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  3. What you say is true. I know I’m responding to what was in the newspapers. Still it was positive and his actions and the way other people viewed him and his wife give me a good impression. People can go through many difficulties and suffer much and they can still develop strong character and not let their personal sadness hold them back in other spheres of life.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Wow, what a story, Amy! Well done for piecing it together, really enjoyed reading it! And it prompted me to revisit those newspapers again for clues

        I have a similar story where an ancestor changed his surname from McNulty to Raymond (must have been a popular surname at the time!!). Only I haven’t been able to find 100% proof it’s him. He was still with his family and death certs for the children list them as Raymond.

        And to make it more complicated, his wife’s sister (who is a direct ancestor) did run away with her infant child, leaving the older three behind, only to re-marry later claiming she was never married and has no children. I’m still trying to find out what happened to her after, but her youngest was brought up by the grandparents in Boston, and in his will the father states 15 years later he is unaware of the whereabouts of his wife and/or his child whose name he doesn’t know.

        Some of those stories are hard to research!

        (sorry for posting here, not allowing me to post a separate comment for some reason)

        Liked by 1 person

      • Wow, so many parallels and similarities. It does make me wonder how common these things were—people changing their names, kidnapping children and abandoning others. So sad.

        What do you mean it wouldn’t let you post a separate comment?

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      • For some reason I couldn’t see the comment box, could only click on reply to previous comments.

        Could be me, has been a long day

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Outstanding researching revealing an amazing story of their lives. I was so shocked and thrilled to see the picture of the two brothers together…if only to have knowledge of their conversation. Again outstanding post Amy. Curious the story of the inheritance too ~ Sharon

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This is amazing detective work, but I was surprised to hear that only after you unraveled the whole thing did Conrad tell you that his father and uncle had been in contact and that he had a picture. To be honest, I’d be livid. I have collaborated with newfound relatives and I expect them to be as forthcoming as they can.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was a bit surprised myself. I don’t know why he held back that information. I didn’t question him about it. The subject is obviously a sensitive one for him, and I was just grateful that he shared what he knew. After all, this was his grandfather and his father, not some distant long ago fifth cousin.

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  6. Hi Amy, a fabulous and admirable account of the issues the family faced in their lives. I want it to continue! Thank goodness Conrad was able to help. A poignant photo of Elwood and George. Every picture tells a story.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Another terrific story Amy! It has some parallels to my great grandfather Sally Bernheim/Charles Blume. He was also a con man, but he left his kids with their mothers.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Pingback: The Search for Edwin Metz | Brotmanblog: A Family Journey

  9. What a great absorbing mystery – I’ve caught up with posts after having a busy few weeks. It was so nice to see the two brothers together and how families are never straightforward!! Great bit of research by you both.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Yes thanks. Just been a bit busy with holiday and work. Also got a new cat at the weekend – my lovely boy Sam had to be put to sleep back in June. We picked up a rescue cat – a lovely 1 year old black shorthair. He is called Moss and is adorable!

        Liked by 1 person

      • I am so sorry about Sam. You know I am a crazy cat lady, right? We have three—Smokey, Zoe and Chloe. Moss sounds wonderful! And good for you getting a rescue cat. Most of our cats over the years have been rescues, including Zoe and Chloe. Smokey came from an ad in the paper.

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  10. Pingback: Rosa Goldschmidt and Her Family: The Final Chapter | Brotmanblog: A Family Journey

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