Etzel Family Connections: Reading, PA

This month, I have been spending the majority of my research time working through one particular family unit from my mother's side of the family - John (Johann) ETZEL (1826-1904) and wife Maria (Schumacher) ETZEL (1837-1894).  Here are quick links to previous installments -part I (from 2013), part II, part III, part IV, and part V, and part VI.
Research Goal: To locate information about John ETZEL (1826-1904) and wife Maria SCHUMACHER (1837-1894) prior to their listing in the 1860 US Federal Census in Reading, Berks County, Pennsylvania.

Context: John Etzel  is my 3rd great-grandfather on my mother's maternal side of the family.

Happy New Year!  In my last installment of ETZEL research, I outlined the discovery I made concerning the hometown of Johannes Etzel and wife, Maria Schumacher.  A breakthrough!  Just before I stumbled upon the couple's immigration and marriage records, I made another discovery that enabled me to start to link Johannes (John) with another Etzel family in the Reading, Pennsylvania area.

I had always wondered WHY and HOW Mr. and Mrs. Etzel ever ended up in Reading, PA of all places.  It turns out that they had family there all along, potentially encouraging their move from Cincinnati to Reading sometime between 1856 and 1858.

Here is what I know:

Johannes Etzel had a nephew - Jacob Etzel (1853-1903).  According to his obituary, as well as census records, Jacob Etzel was also born in Bavaria.  He was married to a woman named Mary LEYER (1855-1941).  From his obituary in the Reading Eagle:

Mr. Etzel was a native of Bavaria, Germany, and lived in this country since boyhood.  When still a young man, he came to Reading and secured a position in the brewery of the late Frederick Lauder, where he remained a number of years, succeeding by meritorious work in rising to a responsibility position.  Leaving the employ of Mr. Lauer, Mr. Etzel went to New York, where for some years he conducted a hotel in the historic building that had been Washington’s headquarters during the revolutionary war, at Broad and Pearl.  After relinquishing the hotel, Mr. Etzel returned to Reading and engaged in the saloon business at 10th and Green, which he conducted up to the time of his appointment as first sergeant of the police department under Mayor Weidel in April 1896.  In May 1897, he became chief of police, succeeding John Albrech, resigned, a position he  filled with credit until the close of the administration.  Mr. Etzel again went into the saloon business at his old stand, 10th and Green, where he remained until April of last year, when on account of ill health, he retired and entered private life…Mr. Etzel was a member of St. Paul’s Catholic Church and leaves his widow and one son, Jacob C. Etzel (Reading Eagle, 15 July 1903).

SO - what clue did I have to his relationship with my relative, Johannes ETZEL (1837-1894)?  Here I present the obituary for his wife, Maria (Schumacher) Etzel printed in the Reading Eagle:

Reading Eagle, 15 December 1894 - Via
 SEVERAL clues in this obituary to explore.  First, you'll see the link to Jacob Etzel near the end.  "She was also an aunt of Jacob Etzel, of the New York House, Tenth and Green streets".  The New York House was the name of Jacob Etzel's saloon.  Second - and this is for further research - you'll see the names of her living siblings listed in the obituary (love these little gems!).  Brother - Adam Schumacher of Kansas City; brother, John Schumacher of Hamilton, Ohio; sister "Mrs. Merkel" of Reading, PA.  Going back to the original passenger list in my previous post HERE, Adam and John (Johannes) are both listed.  Two sisters - Rosina and Asila - are listed.  More digging for the "Merkel" surname in Reading will lead me to the identity of this particular sister. 

I could go on with even more evidence here...but you get the picture.  Johannes' nephew was Jacob Etzel.  I can assume that Jacob's father was a sibling of Johannes.  Working on identifying his name.  A project for 2015! and Google Newspapers (FREE!) score again!  Love these resources and the extra detail they help provide.

Happy Hunting!


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