52 Ancestors: Lucky or Unlucky in Love?

Posted by: Eileen A. Souza

Was my ancestor lucky or unlucky in love? I am speaking about my maternal great-grand uncle, William Theodore Meisberger.

He was born, the son of Theobald C. Meisberger and Mary Catherine Strausser, on 12 November 1869 in Brady, Coal Township, Northumberland County, Pennsylvania. In 1908, William was a prominent Northumberland county politician and a member of the Coal Township school board.

In 1908, Wm. T. Meisberger was sued for $10,000 for breach of promise. According to one article, a three-day honeymoon was disturbed when a Miss Rebecca Metz filed suit for breach of promise against her neighbor, William Meisberger, Miss Metz stated that he courted her over 20 years, that they were engaged and that he was the father of her son. Meanwhile, William had recently met and married a woman from Ashland, Schuylkill County, PA. William was apparently receiving guests in his home, congratulating him on his marriage, when he was arrested.

The first trial began in February of 1909 as there were several newspaper articles following this case. The articles ranged from the initial article I found published by the Richmond Times Dispatch on 10 August 1908 through the final settlement of the case, which was announced in the Mount Carmel Item on 23 March 1911. One of the 1910 articles presented William as a former Coal township school director. Another article stated that William was also a prominent physician, but the 1909 Boyd’s Shamokin city directory and his death certificate lists him as a laborer in the coal mines. The various articles listed the length of this courtship anywhere from 15 years to 28 years.

The final settlement was in favor of the plaintiff, Miss Metz. She was awarded $3,500 in 1911, which is the equivalent of $88,718.95 today. William was forced to sell all he owned in a Sheriff’s sale to insure she received her monies. This included a lot with house (which was the bulk of William’s estate) that William had inherited from his father in 1900. More on this will can be found in my post “52 Ancestors: The Lonely Will”.

The following deed that I acquired many years before I discovered why this sale occurred shows that this lot is sold by William at a Sheriff’s sale in 1910.

Northumberland County, Pennsylvania, Deed Books, Book 152, Page 727, Wm. T. Meisberger by William Taby Sheriff to John J. Roach, 10 May 1910; Recorder of Deeds, Northumberland County Courthouse, Sunbury, PA.

Northumberland County, Pennsylvania, Deed Books, Book 152, Page 727, Wm. T. Meisberger by William Taby Sheriff to John J. Roach, 10 May 1910; Recorder of Deeds, Northumberland County Courthouse, Sunbury, PA.

 

While the estate netted $3,300, there were two judgments against it totaling $2,500. In a strange twist of fate both parties to this suit suffered similarly. William lost everything in this suit, but Miss Metz essentially gained nothing since by the time she paid off the legal fees and judgements, she had nothing left.

Sadly, after the final settlement, William had only nineteen years of connubial bliss as he died at the age of 59 on 2 March 1929. He is buried in St. Edward’s Cemetery in Coal Township, Northumberland County, Pa.

So, was William lucky or unlucky in love?

 

The 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge, initiated by Amy Johnson Crow, is a series of weekly prompts to get you to think about an ancestor and share something about them. The guesswork of “who should I write about” is taken care of. This week’s theme is Lucky.

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