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. 

The Paul Metz Mystery, Part III: George Metz Disappears

In my last post, I described how with my cousin Conrad’s help I had been able to track down Gertrude Cone Metz/Raymond Blumann/Smith Keller up to 1920 when she had been married to or at least living with George W. Keller as well as her son George Metz (named as George Elwood Keller on the 1920 census) and their daughter “Florence,” who Conrad and I decided was actually Ida Jane Keller, the daughter  of Gertrude and George W. Keller born in 1905.

I also noted that by 1925 it appeared that Gertrude and her third “husband” George W. Keller were separated as George W. was living with his parents and with his daughter Ida, who had married Eugene Merker in 1921 but from whom she must have been separated by 1925. Ida and Eugene’s daughter was also living with the Kellers in 1925.

But where were Gertrude and her son George Metz in the 1920s? Conrad found a series of newspaper articles revealing that his father George B. Metz had disappeared for some time in September 1923. The story ran in multiple newspapers throughout the United States as police all over the country were searching for the missing “G.B. Metz.” 1 The New York Times began its coverage on its front page on September 13, 1923, describing how George B. Metz had been hired by H. A. Ross of the Pittsburgh Lamp, Brass and Glass Company two weeks earlier to be their Colorado representative. Ross had received that day a letter from Metz mailed from Denver in which he acknowledged receipt of an expense check, but Ross had also been notified by the Denver police that same morning that Metz had disappeared.2

New York Times, September 13, 1923, p. 1

This same article also reported comments made by Russell B. Cressman, a friend and former co-worker of George Metz at the Gleason-Tiebout Company in New York, manufacturers of electrical appliances, where Metz had worked for seven years, or since about 1916. Cressman described Metz as having “an equable, quiet disposition and was very well liked by his business associates.” According to Cressman, Metz was a bachelor and lived with his mother, Mrs. G.A. Kellar [sic] at 2020 Honeywell Avenue in the Bronx, the same place that Gertrude and her son George and daughter “Florence” had been living with George W. Keller on the 1920 census. Cressman could not provide an explanation for Metz’s disappearance nor could his mother, when asked. According to the article, George’s mother had left for Denver when she heard of his disappearance.3

The paper also reported that George had a girlfriend in New York named Margaret A. Wiquest and that another friend, Eugene O’Donnell, estimated that George had a fortune worth about $50,000-$60,000 as well as a $75,000 life insurance policy.4

According to this and several other articles, the maid found a note in George’s hotel room in Denver, where he had been staying for two weeks. According to the Ogden (Utah) Standard Examiner of September 12, 1923 (p. 2) and many other newspapers, that note read as follows:

I am going on a dangerous mission tonight. If anything should happen that I do not return please forward the personal papers you will find in the small drawer to R.B. Cressman, 200 Fifth Avenue, New York City.

(Signed) G. B. Metz

Personal effects to Mrs. G.A. Keller, 2020 Honeywell avenue, New York City. Catalogue to Pittsburg Lamp, Brass and Glass company. Car to Saunders. [The car was a rental car.]

Detectives then proceeded to examine a will that George Metz had prepared on September 4, 1923, obviously either right before or right after departing New York for Denver. According to another New York Times article dated September 13, 1923,5 the will named Russell B. Cressman as the administrator and left one-third of the estate to Margaret A. Wiquest, his “dearest pal and sweetheart,” unless she was married at the time of George’s death; in that case she was to receive only $500. All of George’s personal belongings were bequeathed to his uncle Frank E. Cone, his jewelry was left to his “stepfather G.W. Kellar,” $1000 was left to his sister, Ida J. Merker, and another $1000 to a trust fund for the education of Ida’s daughter.

The police had two possible theories for George’s disappearance—foul play or suicide. By the next day the New York Times was reporting that the Denver police had developed a third theory—that George was suffering from a temporary mental illness. The Denver police also found a clue that George was on his way to Los Angeles.6

“Metz in California, Denver Police Think,” New York Times, September 14, 1923, p. 22.

The article is most interesting for what it reports “that bears out the theory of mental aberration.”7

One clue was a letter which Metz wrote to his mother in which he said: “I am losing my mind. Have faith in me.”

The police also learned, they said, that Metz’s father, Joseph Metz, disappeared in a similar fashion nearly 25 years ago, just before the son was born, and took his elder son Elwood with him. Nothing ever was heard of them, the police say.[^8]

That was a confirmation of much of what I had suspected: Paul Metz/Joseph Raymond (called Joseph Metz here) was the father of George Metz, and he had disappeared shortly before George was born, taking Elwood with him.

The newspaper also noted that Ida Keller Merker had confirmed these facts, although her report muddies the waters a bit:8

Mrs. Merker confirmed the statement that their father, Joseph Metz, had disappeared with an elder son, Elwood, twenty-five years ago. This had been while the family was living somewhere on the Boston Road in the Bronx, and the pair had never been heard from.

Of course, this can’t be completely right; Paul/Joseph Metz was not Ida’s father. Ida J. Keller was born five years after her half-brother George, and Paul/Joseph Metz could not have been her father if he disappeared five years before she was born. And on the 1900 census, Gertrude was living with Elwood not on Boston Road in the Bronx, but in Ho-ho-kus, New Jersey, and Paul was not in the household. But the important point from my perspective is that this confirmed that Paul Metz had disappeared and taken his son Elwood with him in 1900.

According to the article, George’s girlfriend Margaret A. Wiquest was “taken by surprise at the report of Metz’s mental condition. In their one-year acquaintance, she said, Metz had never shown sign of aberration. He had always been of a cheerful disposition and his last letters had all been in a cheerful key, she added.”9

Fortunately, this story has a happy ending. George was found a month later in Los Angeles, suffering from memory loss:

“Missing Pittsburgh Salesman Is Found,” New Castle (Pennsylvania) Herald, 12 Oct 1923, Fri, Page 20.

George apparently returned to New York, but perhaps not to Margaret A. Wiquest. On September 11, 1925, George Metz married Eunice Marian Brown in the Bronx.10 Conrad generously shared these stunning photographs of his parents:

Eunice Marian Brown Metz. Courtesy of Conrad Metz

George B. Metz, courtesy of Conrad Metz

In 1928, they were living in my old hometown, White Plains, New York, where George was working as a “brkman,” or a brakeman.11 According to Conrad, his maternal grandfather, John Brown, was a conductor on the Putnam Division of the New York Central Railroad and helped his son-in-law George get a job with the railroad when George had had difficulty obtaining employment after his disappearance in 1923.  Being a brakeman was a dangerous job, as described on this website:

To apply the brakes, the brakeman would turn a large brake control wheel located atop each freight car of the train. Every brakeman carried a thick brake “club” to help give them leverage in turning the wheel. This meant that they would have to run along the top of the railway cars and leap from one to another in order to apply or release the brakes on each car. Generally, the rear brakeman, or flagman as he was also known, would advance from the end of the train whilst the head brakeman or the conductor would advance from the engine to apply the brakes on each car, one by one. On a moving train, especially in bad weather, the application of brakes was a risky proposition, at best. Worse still, a stuck brake wheel might suddenly free up and throw the brakeman off balance. All too often this would result in the brakeman falling between the cars to his death. Riding in the open, frequently exposed to the bitter cold of winter, the brakeman’s job was fraught with danger.

Conrad told me that his father George himself suffered a broken leg on the job.

In 1930 George, Marian and their son Richard were living in Westwood, New Jersey, and George was once again in the electrical products business, now as a sales manager for the an electrical company. Conrad was born a couple of years later.

George Metz and family 1930 US census, Census Place: Westwood, Bergen, New Jersey; Page: 8B; Enumeration District: 0251; FHL microfilm: 2341052
Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census

But what about Paul Metz and Elwood Metz? Where had they gone? Who were they now? And would they ever reappear? More on that in my next post, the final chapter in the story of Paul Metz and his sons.

 

 

 


  1. E.g., “Note Left by Missing Man,” The Ogden (Utah) Standard-Examiner, 12 Sep 1923, Wed, Page 2; “Goes on ‘Danger Mission’ And Has Not Come Back,” The (Wilmington, Delaware) Morning News, 13 Sep 1923, Thu, Page 1; “Missing Pittsburgh Salesman Is Found,” New Castle (Pennsylvania) Herald, 12 Oct 1923, Fri, Page 20. 
  2. The New York Times, September 13, 1923, p. 1. 
  3. Ibid. 
  4. Ibid. 
  5. “Missing Man Left Will, Fearing Death,” The New York Times, September 13, p.1. 
  6. “Metz in California, Denver Police Think,” The New York Times, September 14, 1923, p. 22. 
  7. Ibid. 
  8. Ibid. 
  9. Ibid. 
  10. The New York City (Bronx) Marriage Index, Certificate Number 5272 (could be 5273), found at https://archive.org/details/NYC_Marriage_Index_Bronx_1925 
  11. White Plains city directory, 1928, Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 

The Paul Metz Mystery, Part II

As seen in my last post, my cousin Conrad and I came to the conclusion that his grandfather, Paul Metz, had used a false name (Joseph Raymond) on his marriage certificate when he married Gertrude Cone and thus that Paul Metz was in fact the first husband of Gertrude Amelia Cone and the father of their two sons, Elwood, born February 19, 1898, and George, born July 6, 1900.

But Paul Metz/Joseph Raymond was not on the 1900 census with Gertrude and Elwood (George was born after the census enumeration). Where was he? I thought that if we searched for information about Gertrude, Elwood, and George, we might find the answer to what happened to Paul.

According to Conrad, Gertrude next appeared on the 1905 New York State census; she was living in Mount Vernon, New York, with a man named George W. Keller, who was 26. Gertrude is listed as his mother, but she was only 25, so that cannot be right. Apparently that enumerator listed all the wives as “mothers” on that particular census report. There were two children living with them: a son named George, who was five, and a daughter named Ida J., who was two months old.

Gertrude Keller and family 1905 NYS census, New York State Archives; Albany, New York; State Population Census Schedules, 1905; Election District: E.D. 01; City: Mount Vernon Ward 04; County: Westchester. Ancestry.com. New York, State Census, 1905

At first I wasn’t sure why Conrad thought this was his grandmother Gertrude. The New York State census does not identify the state where the individuals were born or much else about them, so I was uncertain. But Conrad knew that his grandmother had at one time been married to George Washington Keller; in fact, he knew of her only with the surname Keller. And he knew he had an “aunt” named Ida Jane. So this had to be Gertrude and her son George (Metz) and daughter Ida on the 1905 NYS census living with George W. Keller.

But neither Conrad nor I could locate a marriage record for Gertrude and George W. Keller. Nor could we find a birth record for Ida. Was she in fact the daughter of George Keller and Gertrude Cone? Could Paul Metz have been her father? Well, I found Ida on the 1910 census living with her grandparents—George Keller and Ida Keller, who were George W. Keller’s parents.1  From that I concluded that Ida was in fact the daughter of George W. Keller. But why was she living with her grandparents? Where was her father George? And where was her mother Gertrude?

Ida Keller, 1910 US census, Census Place: Bronx Assembly District 34, New York, New York; Roll: T624_1002; Page: 8A; Enumeration District: 1583; FHL microfilm: 1375015
Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census

Well, on January 26, 1910, Gertrude had obtained a license to marry another man, William Blumann.2 But on the 1910 census, she was living with a man named William T. Smith. He was a “railroad man.” Living with them was George B. Metz, Paul Metz’s son. The census record reported that it was a second marriage for both William and Gertrude and that Gertrude had three living children, though only George was living with her. It also reported that Gertrude and William Smith had been married for less than a year.

William Smith and family, 1910 US census, Census Place: Manhattan Ward 12, New York, New York; Roll: T624_1014; Page: 6A; Enumeration District: 0311; FHL microfilm: 1375027
Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census

Was William Smith the same person as William Blumann? Was William Blumann/William T. Smith another alias for Paul Metz? And what had happened to George W. Keller? To answer the first question first, there is this horrifying news article that reveals that in fact William Blumann was the same person as William T. Smith:

“Mother Saved by Son, Madman Ends Own Life,” Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania Evening-News, January 20, 1914, p. 2.

So George Metz, just thirteen years old, had saved his mother Gertrude’s life.  This poor young man had witnessed the attempted murder of his mother and the suicide of his stepfather. And also it appears he had been abandoned by his own father, Paul Metz, and another stepfather as well, George W. Keller. He also had lost two siblings somewhere along the way—Elwood and Ida. In thirteen years he had suffered more trauma and loss than most of us experience in a lifetime.

Meanwhile, in 1909 George’s stepfather George W. Keller had married Laurie Ellis Fredette,3 and in 1910 they were living in Mount Vernon, the same town where George W. Keller had previously lived with Gertrude, George Metz, and Ida.4 But Laurie Fredette died on January 27, 1918, in the Bronx,5 leaving George W. Keller a widower. And thus both George W. Keller and Gertrude Cone Raymond/Metz Blumann/Smith were widowed and unmarried as of January 27, 1918.

In 1920 George W. Keller and Gertrude were living together again, listed this time as husband and wife on the census, although we’ve yet to find a marriage record for George W. Keller and Gertrude. They were living at 2020 Honeywell Avenue in the Bronx. George was working for the railroad just as William Blumann Smith had been.

George W Keller and household, 1920 US census, Census Place: Bronx Assembly District 7, Bronx, New York; Roll: T625_1140; Page: 9B; Enumeration District: 373
Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census

Living with George and Gertrude as their son was “George Elwood Keller,” a nineteen-year-old born in New Jersey who was working in a glass factory. The census record states that both his parents were born in New York.So who was this? Was it Elwood “Raymond,” who would have been 22 in 1920, or was it George Metz, who would have been turning 20 in 1920? Only George was born in New Jersey, and his father—Paul Metz—was born in Pennsylvania, not New York. Conrad and I concluded that this had to be George, not Elwood—in large part because Conrad knew that his father had been living with Gertrude at that time whereas Elwood’s whereabouts during that time were unknown.

Why then would this young man have been listed as George Elwood? It looks like the census enumerator first wrote Elwood and then squeezed in George. Strange… Perhaps Gertrude had her two sons confused.

Even more confusing to me was the fact that this same census record also listed a daughter in the household named Florence, fourteen years old, also born in New Jersey with parents both born in New York. Who in the world was Florence?? Ida Jane Keller would have been fourteen, going on fifteen in 1920. But she was born in New York. Since neither Conrad nor I could find any child of George and/or Gertrude who was named Florence or born in New Jersey in 1905-1906 nor could we find any later record for a Florence Keller of that age who fit, we concluded that “Florence” was really Ida. But why would she be listed as Florence, not Ida? Those names aren’t even close.

You can imagine that by now I was ready to throw a brick at the computer. My head was spinning, and I was drawing more timelines and charts than I’d ever had to before. And things did not get much clearer as I moved forward in time.

In 1921 Ida J. Keller married Eugene Merker in the Bronx.6 But that marriage did not last long because by 1925 Ida was apparently separated from Eugene Merker and living at 1976 Honeywell Avenue in the Bronx with her grandparents George and Ida Keller, her father George W. Keller, and her daughter from her marriage to Eugene; they were living down the block from where Gertrude and George had been living with her son George Metz and their daughter Ida in 1920. Ida was eventually divorced from Eugene in 1930.7 It also appears that by 1925 her father George W. Keller was no longer living with Gertrude. I could not find him on the 1930 census, but I did find that he died in 1936.8

Keller family, 1920 US census, New York State Archives; Albany, New York; State Population Census Schedules, 1925; Election District: 21; Assembly District: 07; City: New York; County: Bronx; Page: 12. Ancestry.com. New York, State Census, 1925

So I had gotten this far, but I still had no answers for the whereabouts of Paul Metz/Joseph Raymond or Elwood Metz/Raymond. Neither Gertrude nor William Blumann Smith nor George W. Keller nor Ida Jane were related to me in anyway except through a chain of marriages. I had researched them and gone in all those circles to try and find Paul Metz and Elwood to no avail.

And then things got stranger. And finally, the brick wall started to fall.

 


  1. Ancestry.com. New York, County Marriage Records, 1847-1849, 1907-1936. Film Number: 001031478. 
  2.  New York City Municipal Archives; New York, New York; Volume Number: 1. Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Marriage License Indexes, 1907-1995. License Number: 2449. 
  3. Ancestry.com. New York, County Marriage Records, 1847-1849, 1907-1936. Film Number: 001031478. 
  4. George W. Keller household, 1910 US census, Census Place: MT Vernon Ward 2, Westchester, New York; Roll: T624_1089; Page: 10B; Enumeration District: 0062; FHL microfilm: 1375102. Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census. 
  5.  Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Extracted Death Index, 1862-1948, Certificate Number: 766. 
  6.  New York City Municipal Archives; New York, New York. Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Marriage License Indexes, 1907-1995. License Number: 5510. 
  7. Ancestry.com. Bronx County, New York, Divorce and Civil Case Records, 1914-1995. Volume Number: 2, Page Number: 485, File Number: 1969 
  8. Ancestry.com. New York, New York, Extracted Death Index, 1862-1948. Certificate Number: 1374. 

The Mystery of Paul Metz, Part I

I cannot tell the story of Paul Metz without some introduction of my third cousin, once removed, Conrad Metz, Paul’s grandson. Without Conrad’s help, this story would never have come to light. We collaborated on the research, shared our thoughts about what we found, and ultimately reached the same conclusion about his elusive grandfather.

The story began on June 14, 2018, when I received a message on Ancestry from Conrad, asking me to share my tree because he’d been told I might be a cousin and that I had his grandfather Paul Metz on my Ancestry tree. He said he’d been searching for information about Paul Metz for many years, but all he had was the name on his father’s birth certificate.  I responded that I was delighted to hear from him and more than happy to share my tree and to work with him on searching for more information about his grandfather.

The last official record I had for Paul Metz before Conrad contacted me was the 1880 census when Paul was a teenager living with his parents Rosa and Bernhard in Philadelphia.1 As noted in my last post, Paul was not living with his parents and siblings on the 1900 census. Conrad knew that his grandmother’s name was Gertrude Amelia Cone, but we could not find a marriage record for Gertrude Cone and Paul Metz.

But Conrad had a marriage record for his grandmother Gertrude and a man named Joseph C. Raymond. According to their New Jersey marriage record, they had married on December 10, 1895, in Ramsey, New Jersey.  That record said that Joseph was the son of Albert F. Raymond, born in Michigan, and Rose Weldon, born in England, and that Joseph was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was 28 years old, giving him a birth date of 1867.  Gertrude was only seventeen, born in Brooklyn to Edward Cone, born in Maryland, and Jennie Pool, born in Schraalenberg, New Jersey, and Gertrude was then residing in Ramsey, New Jersey, where the wedding took place.

We could not find any records for Joseph Raymond’s parents, Albert Raymond and Rose Weldon. The only other record naming Joseph Raymond that we could find was the birth record for an unnamed son of Joseph Charles Raymond and Gertrude Amelia Cone born on February 19, 1898. According to this record, both Joseph and Gertrude were born in New Jersey, contrary to their marriage record.  Joseph was 29 so born in 1867; Gertrude was 18 so born in 1880, not 1878 as the marriage record suggested.

New York, New York City Births, 1846-1909,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:2WWM-5R9 : 11 February 2018), Gertrude Amelia Cone in entry for Raymond, 19 Feb 1898; citing Manhattan, New York, New York, United States, reference cn 7239 New York Municipal Archives, New York; FHL microfilm 1,953,125.

On the 1900 census we found a Gertrude Metz living in Ho-ho-kus, New Jersey with a two-year-old son named “Ellwood,” born in February 1898. That Gertrude was born in 1879 in New York whereas the Gertrude on the marriage and birth records was born in New York (or New Jersey) in 1878 (or 1880). That Gertrude’s father was born in Maryland and mother in Schraalenberg, New Jersey, whereas the Gertrude on the 1900 census had a father born in Virginia and a mother born in New Jersey.  Certainly a close but not an exact match. But there was enough—the name, the age and birth place, the son’s birth date—to make Conrad and I believe it possible that this was his grandmother Gertrude and that the child was the baby born to Gertrude Cone and Joseph Charles Raymond on February 19, 1898.

Gertrude Metz 1900 census, Census Place: Hohokus, Bergen, New Jersey; Page: 6; Enumeration District: 0022; FHL microfilm: 1240955
Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census

But why was she using the surname Metz? The census report listed Gertrude as married, but there was no husband living with her, and we could not find Joseph Raymond  anywhere on the 1900 census. Had she married Paul Metz after Joseph Raymond and given Joseph Raymond’s son the surname of her second husband? If so, where was Paul Metz? We couldn’t find him anywhere on the 1900 census either.  We were confused.

So I did what I always do when I hit a dead end on official records; I searched the newspaper databases. And I found some stories that were disturbing: Paul Metz had been arrested and convicted in New Jersey in the fall of 1898 for theft; in fact, he had committed multiple thefts.

First, I found this article from the September 29, 1998, the Bridgewater (NJ) Courier-News, which reported that Paul Metz had been arrested for the theft of several articles from the home of William Stansbery after Metz had obtained entrance to the home by saying he was there to tune the piano.

“Alleged Piano Tuner Arrested,” (Bridgewater, NJ) Courier-News, September 29, 1898, p. 8

The following day, the same paper reported in more detail how the police had identified Metz as the thief and how they had captured him. The part of the article I found most interesting was this description of Metz: “a perfect gentleman in his manners and a smooth talker.” Also, this article revealed that Metz may have earlier that month used the same “piano tuner” con to steal a silver sugar sifter from a Mrs. Pendleton N. Rogers of Bridgewater.

“Piano Tuner Arrested for Sneak Thieving,” (Bridgewater, NJ) Courier News, September 30, 1898, p. 1

Then on October 4, 1898, the Bridgewater newspaper reported more alleged misconduct by Paul Metz.  According to the Plainfield Bicycle Company in Plainfield, New Jersey, Metz had rented a bicycle from them for one day, but had not returned the bike for six weeks. When they sought action against him, he sent the bicycle back by express delivery. The bike company claimed that they had to pay for the delivery charges as well as repairs on the bike, which came back damaged.

“Metz Was A Wheelman,” (Bridgeton, NJ) Courier News, October 4, 1898, p. 5

The paper also reported that day and the following day that Paul Metz’s wife had come to New Jersey with her baby in her arms to plead with William Stansbery not to press charges against her husband. But the case was already before the grand jury by that time, so it was too late, and Paul was convicted.2

“Mrs. Metz’ Plea for Her Husband,” (Bridgewater, NJ) Courier News, October 4, 1898, p. 5

Yet Paul Metz managed to escape with only a short sentence of six months after his trial. The Courier-News reported on November 4, 1898, that the reason for the light sentence was that Metz had “turned evidence against Wilson and other prisoners in their recent attempt to escape from jail.”

“Metz Gets An Easy Sentence,” (Bridgewater, NJ) Courier-News, November 2, 1898, p. 1

You might ask how I could be sure that this was the same Paul Metz, son of Rosa and Bernhard Metz. In this clipping from the Philadelphia Inquirer, it states that he gave his address as 209 East 61st Street in New York City, which, as I mentioned in my last post, is where Rosa and Bernhard and their three other children were living in 1900.3

Philadelphia Inquirer, September 30, 1898, p.6

Then I found another article, this time from the Port Chester (New York) Journal of September 1, 1898:

As described in this article, a man named Paul Metz was accused of stealing a woman’s purse after gaining entry to her home by claiming to be a piano tuner. This article is rather lengthy, so I will transcribe some of it and summarize the rest:

On Monday, a fellow called at the residence of Mrs. Henry Bailey…for the ostensible purpose of making inquiry for someone. Miss Daisy, daughter of Mrs. Bailey, who had just came [sic] in from the street had laid [sic] her pocket book on a chair. When the fellow walked in the house, the young lady asked him what he wanted. He said he was a piano tunder and was looking for a Mrs. Wilson. …When the fellow was told that no such person lived there he started to walk out. Of course, not suspecting that the fellow was a thief he was not watched. Mrs. Bailey…noticed that as he passed out of the door he picked up the pocket book and thrust it in his pocket.

[Then the article describes how the Deputy Sheriff located the man who had taken the pocket book from Mrs. Bailey’s house, but Mrs. Bailey did not want to press charges.]

The fellow when searched did not have the pocket book nor a cent in money, although it is positive that he stole both in the Bailey house….He carried a satchel, which on opening was found to contain a lot of miscellaneous things, among them a formidable dirk knife…. There were also six bottles of opium and a syringe used for injecting the drug.  From all indications the fellow seemed to be an opium fiend of the first water. ….[Could this have been “of the first order,” not “water”?]

It is known that the fellow has been around town for some days begging for money where he could not work in his piano tuning racket. ….The fellow told such contrary stories, that it is hard to trace him up closely. ….When he was arrested, the fellow who gave his name as Paul Metz said that he lived in New York City and was going there that day…. In his satchel were found a number of checks drawn to the order of bearer, on a Jersey bank, and the fellow later admitted having made out the checks on fictitious persons. …..

Ascertaining the man’s address in New York City, Deputy Sheriff Fitz Roy was sent in search of his pedigree. He found the father of the fellow who said that his son had been a general bad one of years, but within a few years he had married and had seemed to be leading a better life. The fellow’s wife and child arrived here on Tuesday morning, and was in Court when the case was called by the Prosecuting Attorney Walsh before Judge Burns….The case was, therefore, adjourned until this morning, when an effort will be made to hold the man. The belief is general that he must have had the money and managed to hide or throw it away to exculpate himself.

I found no follow-up to this story; Mrs. Bailey had been reluctant to get involved, and there was no money or pocket book found on Paul, so perhaps the matter was dropped. But obviously Paul did not learn his lesson and then committed the same type of fraud in Bridgewater, New Jersey, a few weeks later, as described in the articles above. And it appeared that he was not only a con man and a thief, but also a drug addict.

I was a bit reluctant to share these news clippings with Conrad for fear of upsetting him. But I knew he wanted to have some answers to what had happened to his grandfather, and so I did. Conrad was not the least bit upset, but, as I had hoped, was just glad to have some answers after all his years of searching.

We both reached the same conclusion: Paul Metz had married Gertrude Cone under the assumed name of Joseph Charles Raymond. The biggest clues were right on the marriage record of Joseph Raymond and Gertrude Cone.  “Joseph Raymond” had listed his occupation on the marriage license as a piano tuner, the same occupation that Paul Metz used to con his way into homes where he stole jewelry and other valuables. He had given his address as 209 East 16th Street, a reversal of the numerals of the street in his actual address, 209 East 61st Street. This had to be Paul Metz using a false identity:

In addition, there were no records for a Joseph Charles Raymond born in Philadelphia in about 1867 (the same place and time period when Paul Metz was born) nor for the parents he listed on the marriage certificate. The final clue was that the news stories made it obvious that Paul Metz was a con man—a charming but dishonest con man.

But why had he used an assumed name to marry Gertrude? You would think he would have used an assumed name when he was arrested, not when he married, but perhaps even then he was a man in some kind of trouble and was hiding his true identity.  Did Gertrude know this wasn’t his real name, or was she duped also? Obviously by 1898 she must have known his name was Metz since he was arrested under that name, and by 1900 she was using that surname both for herself and her son Elwood, as seen on the 1900 census.

Assuming that Paul Metz served his full six month sentence, he would have been released from prison in about May 1899. He must have then returned for at least some time to Gertrude because on July 6, 1900, Gertrude gave birth to Conrad’s father George Burt Metz, and Paul Metz was named as his father on the birth certificate with his occupation as piano tuner.

The certificate also stated that this was the second child born of this marriage. That meant that Elwood “Raymond,” the child born to “Joseph Raymond” and Gertrude Cone on February 19, 1898, and who was living with Gertrude on the 1900 census, was likely also the child of Paul Metz and thus George Metz’s full brother and Conrad’s uncle.

But where was Paul when Gertrude gave birth to this second son, George? And why isn’t he listed with Gertrude and Elwood on the 1900 census? More on that in my next post.


  1. Metz family, 1880 US census, Census Place: Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: 1186; Page: 290C; Enumeration District: 589. Ancestry.com and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1880 United States Federal Census 
  2. “Metz Must Abide The Law’s Decree,” (Bridgewater, NJ) Courier News, October 5, 1898, p. 1. 
  3. Bernhard Metz family 1900 US census, Census Place: Manhattan, New York, New York; Page: 19; Enumeration District: 0661; FHL microfilm: 1241110. Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census.