Fremont County, Iowa

"The Metelman Family"
by Sandra Folkes Bengtson

View from the Attic ~ A Weekly Series
Fremont County Historical Society
Week of September 01, 2013

As soon as you enter the Sidney Cemetery, the first thing you notice is the Metelman Mausoleum. It cannot help but stand out, as it is the only mausoleum in the cemetery and towers over every other monument.

Growing up in Sidney, it held a fascination for me as it did for other children who grew up here. Every young person who ever walked or rode their bike through the cemetery stopped at least one time to peer in the doors or sit on the steps with their friends.

Over the years I often wondered about the Metelmans. Who were these people and what did they do? I was sure they had to have been prominent people in the community to leave behind such a magnificent memorial. I asked my elders about them from time to time, but few people are left who remember the family. Finally, my curiosity led me to find out something about these citizens from our past.

Adolphus F. Metelman (A.F.) was born in the duchy, Mecklenburg, Germany June 30, 1833. At the age of 19, he boarded a ship for America seeking opportunities in the new world, arriving in New York City in 1852. He moved westward locating in Cleveland, Ohio for a time, but eventually emigrated to Fremont County, the newly constituted county seat, in 1856.

Upon his arrival in Sidney, he secured a position as a clerk in a mercantile establishment. By 1862, he had became a partner in that business. In 1875, he ventured into another business, becoming partners with Henry Brown and W. T. Frazer. The three organized a bank. By 1876, he bought out his partner's interest in the mercantile business changing the name of the firm to A. F. Metelman & Company. He sold his mercantile business to Hodges & Goy in 1882, so he could devote his time to the bank. At that time the bank, was known as, Metelman & Frazer Bank of Sidney, but by 1900 was called The National Bank of Sidney. The bank was located on the west side of the square where B & C Chaps is today.

He was married in 1868, to Mary D. Brown of Illinois. A. F. and Mary were the parents of four children, two of whom died in infancy. Daughter, Maud “Ella”, was born in 1869 and son, Charles Adolphus, in 1878. Mary died in 1881, when Ella and Charles were quite young.

At the time of A.F.'s death in 1913, he was still serving as President of The National Bank of Sidney. His obituary noted that he was one of Sidney's most highly respected, influential and beloved pioneer citizens and was also rated as one of the wealthiest citizens of the county.

Charles owned the first automobile in Sidney, purchasing it in 1903. Charles worked in the bank with his father, and became the Vice President and acting manager after A.F.'s death. Charles was married to Zona Nichols in 1916, but died unexpectedly in 1920 at the age of 42. His only child, Charles A., Jr. was born five months after his death.

Ella married Albert Wildberger, who owned a furniture store and funeral home in Sidney. They had one daughter, Mary, Ella died in 1938.

A. F. and Mary Metelman, their children and spouses are all buried within the mausoleum.

Below is Adolf Metelman and the family mausoleum.

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Page updated on November 1, 2020 by Karyn Techau