52 Ancestors: My Favorite Black Sheep

Posted by: Eileen A. Souza

I would like to highlight my favorite and only black sheep (so far), my maternal great-grand uncle, William T. Meisberger. He was born, the son of Theobald C. Meisberger and Mary Catherine Strausser, on November 12, 1869 in Brady, Coal Township, Northumberland County, Pennsylvania.

I have written previously about my 2nd great-grandfather, Theobald Meisberger and how during his lifetime he purchased four lots and built houses on them. On his death in 1900, he left these properties to four of his children. One of these properties was inherited by his son William.

I acquired copies of the deeds related to these properties and I noticed that the property inherited by William was sold at a Sheriff’s sale on 10 May 1910. At the time, I wondered why he lost his property and thought it may have been unpaid taxes. To my surprise several years later I uncovered the real story behind this Sheriff’s sale.

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

 

I was idly checking out historical newspaper sites to see if anything new popped up on my Meisberger line. I was entering just the surname Meisberger in my searches. To my astonishment I received many hits and they were almost all for William T. Meisberger. The results were both from newspapers in Pennsylvania and the area where he lived in Pennsylvania, and from Virginia, the District of Columbia, North Carolina, Indiana, Iowa, Texas, Kansas, Vermont, and California.

I found my first black sheep!

On August 8, 1908, Wm. T. Meisberger was sued for $10,000 for breach of promise. For William, the drama of this lawsuit spanned almost four years, beginning with being served, posting bail, testifying at the trial, hearing the losing verdict, fighting for an appeal (lost) and finally, ending with a forced Sheriff’s sale of his estate.

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, a prominent member of the Coal Township school board. 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, Pennsylvania. William was apparently receiving guests in his home, congratulating him on his marriage, when he was served the summons.

The articles are fascinating–telling the story of this lawsuit, which was finally settled in 1910. Miss Metz was awarded $3,000 forcing William to sell his lot in the Sheriff’s sale to insure she received her monies. In one of these later articles, William was now a former Coal Township school director. Another article stated that William was also a prominent physician, but the 1909 Boyd’s Shamokin city directory lists him as a laborer [in the coal mines]. The various articles listed the length of this courtship as anywhere from 15 years to 28 years.

Overall, in my favorite article, titled, “Gets Nothing for Wounded Feeling,” it was mentioned that William’s estate was seized and sold, but an audit revealed two judgements against it. By the time the judgements and legal fees were paid, there was nothing left of the $3000 that the jury awarded Miss Metz. The article ended with a caution to “perspective litigants in such affairs of blighted love.”

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

All the articles are under copyright, so I have not included any of the images in this post. Here is the chronology of the articles I’ve collected so far:

1. August 9, 1908, The Philadelphia Inquirer (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), Page 19
2. August 10, 1908, Mount Carmel Item (Mount Carmel, Pennsylvania), Page 4
3. August 10, 1908, Richmond Times Dispatch (Richmond, Virginia), Page 1
4. August 10, 1908, The Washington Herald (Washington, District of Columbia), Page 9
5. August 11, 1908, The Twin-City Daily Sentinel (Winston-Salem, North Carolina), Page 1
6. August 14, 1908, Muncie Evening Press (Muncie, Indiana), Page 3
7. August 19, 1908, The Davenport Democrat or Quad-City Times (Davenport, Iowa), Page 1
8. February 24, 1909, Harrisburg Telegraph (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania), Page 7
9. February 24, 1909, Pittston Gazette (Pittston, Pennsylvania), Page 5
10. February 24, 1909, Philadelphia Inquirer (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), Page 3
11. February 24, 1909, Wilkes-Barre Times Leader (Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania), Page 5
12. February 25, 1909, Mount Carmel Item (Mount Carmel, Pennsylvania), Page 1
13. February 25, 1909, The Daily News (Mount Carmel, Pennsylvania), Page 1
14. February 25, 1909, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania), Page 1
15. February 25, 1909, The Danville Morning News (Danville, Pennsylvania), Page 1
16. February 25, 1909, Montour American (Danville, Pennsylvania), Page 4
17. February 25, 1909, Richmond Times Dispatch (Richmond, Virginia), Page 8
18. Feb 25, 1909, Williamsport Sun-Gazette (Williamsport, Pennsylvania), Page 4
19. February 26, 1909, Lebanon Daily News (Lebanon, Pennsylvania), Page 3
20. February 26, 1909, The Philadelphia Inquirer (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), Page 3
21. February 26, 1909, Pittston Gazette (Pittston, Pennsylvania), Page 6
22. February 26, 1909, Harrisburg Daily Independent (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania), Page 2
23. February 26, 1909, Harrisburg Telegraph (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania), Page 5
24. February 26, 1909, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania), Page 1
25. February 26, 1909, The Danville Morning News (Danville, Pennsylvania), Page 3
26. February 27, 1909, The Western Sentinel (Winston-Salem, North Carolina), Page 3
27. March 2, 1909, Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Fort Worth, Texas), Page 8
28. March 3, 1909, Mount Carmel Item (Mount Carmel, Pennsylvania), Page 2
29. March 4, 1909, Montour American (Danville, Pennsylvania), Page 1
30. March 4, 1909, Oakland Tribune (Oakland, California), Page 12
31. March 4, 1909, The Danville Morning News (Danville, Pennsylvania), Page 1
32. March 4, 1909, The News (Newport, Pennsylvania), Page 2
33. March 5, 1909, Mount Union Times (Mount Union, Pennsylvania), Page 7
34. March 5, 1909, The Atchison Daily Champion (Atchison, Kansas), Page 1
35. March 5, 1909, The Press Herald (Pine Grove, Pennsylvania), Page 3
36. March 12, 1909, Lewisburg Journal (Lewisburg, Pennsylvania), Page 3
37. March 12, 1909, Montpelier Evening Argus (Montpelier, Vermont), Page 6
38. March 17, 1909, The Perry County Democrat (Bloomfield, Pennsylvania), Page 4
39. March 18, 1909, Cherryvale Journal (Cherryvale, Kansas), Page 2
40. August 5, 1909, Wilkes-Barre Times Leader (Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania), Page 3
41. Saturday, August 7, 1909, The Daily News (Mount Carmel, Pennsylvania), Page 1
42. October 22, 1909, Pittston Gazette (Pittston, Pennsylvania), Page 8
43. October 23, 1909, Mount Carmel Item (Mount Carmel, Pennsylvania), Page 1
44. October 23, 1909, The Daily News (Mount Carmel, Pennsylvania), Page 1
45. May 19, 1910, Philadelphia Inquirer (Philadelphia, PA), Page 3
46. May 19, 1910, Harrisburg Telegraph (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania), Page 12
47. May 19, 1910, Mount Carmel Item (Mount Carmel, Pennsylvania), Page 4
48. June 21, 1910, The Philadelphia Inquirer (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), Page 3
49. March 23, 1911, Mount Carmel Item (Mount Carmel, Pennsylvania), Page 1
50. March 24, 1911, The Daily News (Mount Carmel, Pennsylvania), Page 4

I am so happy I viewed each article (take home lesson your ancestor may appear in non-local papers—even out-of-state).

 

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 Black Sheep.

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4 Responses to 52 Ancestors: My Favorite Black Sheep

  1. Cathy L'Altrelli says:

    LOL. Goes to show it’s always the black sheep that make the news and leave the widest trail documenting their activities. Hard to find records sometimes on the ones coloring inside the lines. Loved the phrase ‘blighted love ‘.

  2. Barbara Scherer says:

    I thoroughly enjoy your family escapades. As my mom was a Strausser, I am trying to connect the dots with yours somewhere along the line.

    • Thank you. I hope we can connect. That would be wonderful. There are a whole lot of Strausser families in Northumberland and surrounding Counties, but I have not been able to connect to any of them at this time. I think my Peter may be related to a Levi Strausser, son of David Strausser. This family migrated to Columbia County. Levi came to Northumberland County with Peter but later moved to Columbia County. This family migrated to Columbia County. As you can tell by my posts, I am still trying to find out were my Peter fits into these lines. There are a lot of Peters. I emailed you a descendant narrative for Peter Strausser, my 3rd great grandfather. The parentage it shows for his spouse, Sarah Mumma is unproven.

      Eileen

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