Stories of the ancestors of Dan Babish and Irene Stoppiello

Sunday, May 5, 2013

A House in Elizabeth

This is a story for those who have ever wondered how their grandparents or great grandparents could possibly have met. What if they were of completely different backgrounds, one the child of German immigrants and one of Irish immigrants at a time when mixing of such groups was more rare? Did they know each other because they attended the same church, or because family members worked in the same factory, or because their mothers shopped at the same market? Maybe a simple explanation is the most likely. Perhaps they lived in the same house. At some point in the 1890s two such families came to live in one house at 413 East Jersey Street, in the Elizabethport section of Elizabeth, New Jersey. One family was headed by an Irish immigrant, Thomas Hamill, my great grandfather, and the other by a German immigrant, Margaret Metzler, my great grandmother.

The two story frame dwelling at 413 E. Jersey Street was located near the corner of Fourth Street only blocks from the immense Singer sewing machine factory and the coal docks. It was set off by itself with open lots on either side and across the street. The 1889 Sanborn Fire Insurance maps of Elizabeth show the house and also show E. Jersey Street in relation to the Singer factory and the coal docks (see below).[1]

The 1895 New Jersey State census shows the Hammill and Metzler families living in the house, dwelling number 171 in the census. [2] The 1895-96 Elizabeth City Directory confirms that the address was 413 E. Jersey Street. [3] The first family (number 249) was the family of Thomas Hamill (spelled Hammill), born in Ireland, which also included Thomas' second wife Ann, also born there, his sons Richard (my grandfather) and Robert and his daughter Lillian. Son Robert and daughter Lillian were the children of Ann Fulton Hamill, but Richard was the son of Thomas' first wife, Elizabeth (Fulton) Hamill (my great grandmother). (See the census and city directory images below.)

1895 N.J. census, Elizabeth, Ward 3, p. 41
1895-6 Elizabeth City Directory, p. 186
The second family was that of Anna Margaret (Weimar) (Metzler) Bettinger (number 250). Anna Margaret, listed as Margaret Metzler, an immigrant from Germany, was living with her sons, John and Walter and daughter Sophie Bettinger (my grandmother). Sophie was listed as Sophia Metzler on the top of the next census page. Curiously, Anna Margaret, seemingly married at the time to Daniel Bettinger (my great grandfather) since no divorce records have been found, was evidently using the last name of her first husband, John Adam Metzler, who had died in 1872. Sophie was the daughter of Anna Margaret and Daniel. (See the census and city directory images below.)

1895 N.J. census, Elizabeth, Ward 3, p. 41
1895 N.J. census, Elizabeth, Ward 3, p. 42
1895-6 Elizabeth City Directory, p. 286

It appears the two families, the Hamills and Metzlers, lived in the same house only for a short time. Two years after the 1895 census, when Sophie Bettinger and Robert Hamill married, he was still living at 413 E. Jersey, but Sophie's family had moved to 242 Franklin, only blocks away. [4] In 1908, after Robert’s death in 1903, Sophie married his older half-brother, Richard. [5] [6]

Perhaps Sophie, Robert, and Richard first met on the day one of their families moved into the house on East Jersey Street in Elizabethport, New Jersey.

[1] Sanborn Map Company, Elizabeth & Elizabethport, New Jersey (New York, N.Y.: Sanborn Map & Publishing Co., Limited, 1889), sheets 1 & 43, accessed 13 August 2011; digital images, Princeton University Library (
[2] 1895 census, New Jersey State Census, 1895 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc.; Original data: New Jersey Department of State. 1895 State Census of New Jersey. Trenton, NJ, USA: New Jersey State Archives. 54 reels schedule, Elizabeth, Union County, New Jersey, Thomas Hammill and Margaret Metzler households; Elizabeth Ward 3, Roll: V227_105, Page: 41, dwelling 171, families
249 and 250; digital image, (
[3] Cook & Hall, Compilers and Publishers, Cook & Hall's Elizabeth City Directory (Elizabeth, N.J.: Cook & Hall's, 1895), p. 186 Richard, Robert, and Thomas Hamill entries; p. 286 John and Walter Metzler entries, accessed 31 December 2008; digital images, (U.S. City Directories) (
[4] Marriage Records, New Jersey State Archives (Trenton, New Jersey, Division of Archives and Records Management), Robert Hamill and Sophie Bettinger marriage return; 23 September 1897; no. H75.
[5] Division of Archives and Records Management, Death Certificates, New Jersey State Archives (Trenton, New Jersey, New Jersey State Archives), Robert Hamill; Rahway, Union County, New Jersey; State of New Jersey, Certificate of Death; 6 September 1903.
[6] Thomas Whittaker, Our Marriage Vow: The Service and Minister's Certificate (New York: 2 and 3 Bible House, 1877), Richard Hamill and Sophie Bettinger Hamill marriage record, 19 January 1908; Original copy in Daniel Babish household, 2011.

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