Alt Metten in Bohemia

My second great grand uncle (by marriage), Joseph Zimmerman, died in 1908 in Los Angeles. I had his death certificate and brief death notice from Los Angeles to establish the details around that event, but I knew there were obituaries for him in Iowa, where he’d resided for many years before removing to Los Angeles. I’d seen a transcription for one from the Guttenberg Press on a GenWeb site. Last week I remembered that, like a lot of other Iowa county libraries, the local library probably had a web site hosting digitized versions of their old newspapers. And the Guttenberg Library does have a newspaper site!

In addition to the Guttenberg Press obituary, the site also has one from the Clayton County Journal (only the first portion shown):

Obituary for Joseph Zimmerman from the Clayton County Journal
Obituary for Joseph Zimmerman from the Clayton County Journal, 11 Dec 1908, page 8

Unlike other evidence which listed either Austria or Baden as his place of birth, this obituary gives a fairly precise location: Alt Metten in Bohemia.

Being the curious and detailed person that I am, I want to know where Alt Metten was. I know there are gazetteers for historical Germany, but I didn’t know offhand if any such things cover the Austrian Empire or Bohemia in particular. And I like maps. So I perused the David Rumsey map collection web site to see if it had any for Bohemia. It does, and the approximate date is 1838, which is really close to Joseph Zimmerman’s year of birth.

Unfortunately, Alt Metten was not immediately apparent. So I made a copy of the map and, using GIMP, started crossing off place names that were not Alt Metten. Below you will see my handiwork, which is still not complete. The red marks tick off places that are within the Kingdom of Bohemia according to the map. Then I started with yellow marks for places outside the borders shown but which could conceivably be considered Bohemia. A couple of places I circled in green for further checking in case I can’t find better candidates. I still have some places to check.

Map of Kingdom of Bohemia  from Allgemeiner Hand Atlas der Ganzen Erde
Map of Kingdom of Bohemia from Allgemeiner Hand Atlas der Ganzen Erde

So far, nothing that is clearly Alt Metten.

4 thoughts on “Alt Metten in Bohemia”

  1. WOW! This is on par with my crazy language studies 😉 Nice work. I honestly didn’t know Bohemia was a place until I read this post. TIL!

      1. Nah. I also looked in a database of historical place names for Germany. I don’t know how much that database covers Bohemia, so it may not be in there.

        There are a couple of places called Metten in Bavaria, which isn’t so far from Bohemia. It could be once of them is the reference. For instance, he knew he was born in Bohemia, and he remembers being in Metten for a while before coming to the US. Decades later, with declining age and garbled retellings remembered by his children, the places are conflated.

        1. I have a buddy with friends in former-Bavaria. Wanna see if the Germans can find something relevant in their archives, or have you already hit a ton of German-language sources?

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