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I am hopelessly addicted to genealogy and family history research. The first time I felt that rush of "Holy Schlamoly!" euphoria was when I decided, on a whim, to visit the register of deeds at the county courthouse near my father's home town. I was on a business trip and was on my way to another location. This was the first time I had ever visited this region and I was planning to meander through a couple of the towns that my father had talked about. I was thinking about the stories and names and places and was driving through the center of the county seat, saw the courthouse, and decided to see if I could learn something about some property that my father said he once owned in the area. I learned that the property was forfeited to the town for unpaid taxes. I also learned the ownership history of the property. That was my first fix and I became an addict that day.

I've had many fixes since that day. Most weren't very exciting. A few discoveries were just jump-for-joy awesome. Discovering that a 5th g-grandfather was killed at the Battle of Bunker Hill was like that.

The unbelievable discovery of my Great Aunt Ella's sex scandal is the mother lode for me. This is one of those "Holy S$%t" indescribable moments.

The salacious scandalous dirt is behind the great orange sinful slutty squiggle.

This shocking news report appeared in several newspapers in the region in the summer of 1894, 118 years ago. This clipping is from the Vermont Phoenix newspaper of Brattleboro, Vermont. This is the first of several reports that were published in many newspapers throughout the area. This was only the first report of a series of surprises and twists and turns that continued for more than three years. The notorious scandal was worthy of today's tabloids.

NewtonKeetAdulteryMasonArrest1894

Right up front, we have a fiction-worthy plot that happens to be the real deal.
We have a "cancer doctor", in reality a genuine fraud and a quack, Dr. Abbott M. Mason, who is a doctor in the same way that I'm a space alien from Mars. He's a piece of work, I must say. His story is worthy of another diary.

The woman, Mrs. Newton W. Keet, is my Great Aunt Ella Ann (Robbins) Keet. Hers and her mother's history is also worthy of its own diary.

The events that follow include a trial, an escape from justice, a prominent preacher, an appeal for a retrial, a state supreme court precedent-setting decision, a retrial, an award that never got paid, a divorce (that's what you expected, right?), and the end of their stories.

Years ago, I figured out that there were illegitimate children and children born 6 months after marriage in this limb of the family tree. I figured the this sort of thing was what the vague rumors of a family secret was all about. That was just ho-hum these days, but I'm sure that it was hush-hush back then.

Then I ran into a real honest-to-goodness tabloid scandal that went on for over three years.

That was just plain jump-up-and-down awesome crazy, don't you think?

But wait. There's more.

But I'm going to be really, really, mean. I'm going to make you wait for another installment of this twisty turny story.

(Mostly because I got a late start and wasn't able to find some of the pieces I saved somewhere...)

In the spirit of awesome discoveries in family histories, I want to hear about your family's dirty laundry.

I want to hear about your family's dirty little secrets. What's your most awesome surprise discovery. Did you discover that you're a descendent of someone you never could have imagined possible?

I finally found a direct link to a Mayflower passenger just last week. And surprise, surprise, it was just any random Mayflower passenger. I'm an 11th g-grandson of Governor William Bradford, the first Governor of Plymouth Colony. Wow. This was my "Holy Plymouth Rock" moment.

Go ahead and brag about your ancestors. Notorious or not.

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Comment Preferences

  •  hanging judge that founded Grapevine TX (15+ / 0-)

    is a rellie of mine and had a family at each end of his circuit.

    And we sail and we sail and we never see land, just the rum in the bottle and a pipe in my hand...

    by Mortifyd on Fri Jun 08, 2012 at 10:57:26 AM PDT

  •  Oh, that is mean (14+ / 0-)

    I was really excited when I saw you were writing about Aunt Ella's scandal.

    I don't know of any in my family - though through DNA tests, I did connect with someone who is 2nd-3rd cousins of my Dad. He was adopted and had finally found his birth mom just weeks after she died. So he was still looking for his birth father. He thinks his father was an older married man at the time. He would be the one related to my Dad since there was nothing in his mother's line that would connect that recently.

    Without testing my Dad's cousins (or their descendants) in various different lines, there's not really any way to further narrow down the possibilities.

    •  I thought I had some tough walls to knock down.... (10+ / 0-)

      I haven't done any DNA yet, but I'm getting there. My surname ancestry hits a wall where all I have is his death record and the parents' info is empty. If found his marriage record, but they didn't record the parents' info back then. So I'm stalled. DNA will probably just frustrate me more. Even if I know which line I'm connected to, I still won't know how I'm connected. There's a chance that he was raised by a relative or he was a foundling or adopted and his birth parents' are some other family altogether. Or a half-child or illegitimate.

      And even sources you would think were rock solid can be wrong. My step-mother screwed one up badly. Her brother raised two children. I assumed that he was the father of both, but that wasn't quite right. I commented to my step-mother one day that one of his children looked so very much like his mother. She insisted that this wasn't possible because he was adopted. She held her ground. She was wrong. Her brother adopted his second wife's child. So he was adopted, but she was his birth mother. But, then, my step-mother wasn't a rocket scientist...

      I don't have any male cousins or descendants in my surname line. I'm the one ( or my sons). At least, if you still have living male cousins, you have the DNA option. When there's unwed parents, getting at the records, if they exist at all, can be a hassle.

      "Never wrestle with a pig: you get dirty and the pig enjoys it"

      by GrumpyOldGeek on Fri Jun 08, 2012 at 11:50:13 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I Swear I Am Not Making This Up (17+ / 0-)

    I was at the funeral of my grandfather last year. He lived to be 93. I was outside of the church and somebody said to me, "your mom's first husband."

    I didn't know that my mother married before I was born. In like 1964. My jaw hit the ground. I went to my dad to ask him about this and he said yes, it was true. He joked didn't I know this, I mean I had the pics of their wedding.

    tryjaywedding

    My mother wasn't wearing white.

    I am much. much closer with my mom but dad said I should NEVER bring this topic up to my mom.

    When opportunity calls pick up the phone and give it directions to your house.

    by webranding on Fri Jun 08, 2012 at 11:04:20 AM PDT

  •  What a fun post! (13+ / 0-)

    As for me, GFHC regulars know I have a polygamist or two. Aside from that, there are some more-or-less juicy family secrets I'm in the middle of exploring, like how and why my paternal grandfather ran away from home and changed his name. There's a future diary in that story so I won't go into it further right now (you're not the only one who can be mean!)

    ;-)

    There are, in every age, new errors to be rectified, and new prejudices to be opposed. ~Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)

    by slksfca on Fri Jun 08, 2012 at 11:09:56 AM PDT

    •  There Is Another Thing In My Family (13+ / 0-)

      I don't like to talk about. We owned slaves. Honestly not something I am really comfortable talking about.

      When opportunity calls pick up the phone and give it directions to your house.

      by webranding on Fri Jun 08, 2012 at 11:14:08 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I love family history research... (11+ / 0-)

        ...because it makes us look at things like slavery honestly and unflinchingly, and (for me, anyway) do some conscience-wrestling with my own feelings and assumptions.

        No excuse-making, but looking at the big picture, including the ugly parts, and trying to understand the real, flawed human beings that preceded us.

        There are, in every age, new errors to be rectified, and new prejudices to be opposed. ~Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)

        by slksfca on Fri Jun 08, 2012 at 11:19:45 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  My Family Has Our History (10+ / 0-)

          back to like 1500. A lot of it ain't pretty to be honest. We did some mean and rude things to others. I often think at times I over compensate to African American issues cause well, we owned other humans and I am so not "cool" with that.

          When opportunity calls pick up the phone and give it directions to your house.

          by webranding on Fri Jun 08, 2012 at 11:26:06 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  But this is something done so long ago (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Jim H, klompendanser

            That you didn't do. If anything, you are living, breathing proof that change is possible, that struggle and sacrifice and commitment to an ideal can bring about actual change to a society.  That is something to revel in, my friend.

            Slavery was an accepted human practice for thousands of years. It existed in every society and was sanctioned by the religion and people of those societies. It was everywhere. To expect modern, Western attitudes toward the value of the individual to apply, backwards, to 16th century England or 17th century America is to entertain an anachronism.

            Slavery actually existed in America. People in America owned slaves. Benjamin Franklin owned slaves. Franklin used slaves in his printing shop. Franklin grew to oppose slavery and actually founded one of the first anti-slavery societies in North America.  He changed. That change was an important milestone in history. It mattered. Should I be ashamed of Franklin the slave-owner or proud of Franklin the abolitionist and moral progressive?

            Your ancestors owned slaves.  You abhor even the thought that anyone connected to you ever owned another human.  What is that story? How did this change? What are the residual effects of this? How did something so common in human history become evil in about 200 or so years?

            You are also the descendant of those who brought this change into the world. Perhaps reluctantly, perhaps with severe qualms, perhaps without an acceptance of "equality of opportunity" that came much later in our history (and is still evolving.)  But you are clearly the child of those who won the moral argument. (Genetically related to you or not.)  Celebrate that.

            Your ancestors owned slaves. You fight for human freedom. Surely this is a tale of change that spans these times.

      •  i wrote about (13+ / 0-)

        how it feels to discover your family owned slaves in a previous Genealogy thread.  It is very disquieting.

      •  My husband's family owned slaves too. (11+ / 0-)

        They were also the slaves.

        Pretty common situation (slave owners having children with their slave women), but very uncommon that the slave owner publicly admitted it, and then left property for his children (he had 10 or 11 with her) in a trust.

        Anyway, I don't know that either me or my husband have ever quite figured out how to feel about him, so we pretty much just accept it for what it was.  We can't change the past, anyway, and so learn for the future.

      •  I have found two branches (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        edwardssl, slksfca, klompendanser, Jim H

        on my tree that did too. It's a terrible feeling. Karma, however, proved to catch up with one--the family's decedents ended up paupers in KY in 1850 with the county paying for their medical and burial costs. We are also Illinois people (Dad's family were pioneer families in Logan county) mostly central Illinois with a branch or two in Clay county.

    •  run-away-and-change-name -- we appear to have (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      edwardssl, klompendanser, Jim H

      several different cases of this, which we've only reached the "hmm, that's what it looks like, will have to do more research" stage.

      we also have what Himself is calling the "recursive Berrians": one of my lines where cousins cross-married, maybe more than once... including, first cousins Samuel & Sarah, ca. 1782? possibly NY State (Samuel's father was a Revolutionary war captain), possibly further west.

      Then there's Jane Jerusha Taylor (also mine) who married Moses Taylor Davis... part of her family SAYS she died young and with no issue, part of MY family says she had 9 kids! my DH who's doing the research says it looks like MAYBE there was a too-close cousinly connection between Jane & Moses??? (Moses' mother was a Taylor, whether or not connected to Jane's Taylors we don't yet know)

      I've always loved finding the JERUSHA, I remember when Michener's Hawaii first came out a million years ago, there was some criticism that he had made up the name "Jerusha", that it wasn't a real name and had never existed. Well, feh to that!

      "real" work : a job where you wash your hands BEFORE you use the bathroom...

      by chimene on Fri Jun 08, 2012 at 06:48:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  seconding JimH ... AAARGH!!!! (12+ / 0-)

    Although, serial diaries on such a subject is kinda fun! :) That newspaper clipping ... what a hoot! This definitely needs to be turned into a novel, or a Lifetime movie, or something!

    I've already aired dirty laundry in the cranky ancestors series, so I won't bring those up again. But wow, William Bradford! Now we have some more definite connections in both my mother's paternal and maternal lines ... all those marriages amongst my massive Alden and Carey clans makes me think the real reason their descendants kept moving on west was to keep the bloodlines fresh. ;)

    "If you are sure you understand everything that is going on around you, you are hopelessly confused." Walter Mondale

    by klompendanser on Fri Jun 08, 2012 at 11:12:14 AM PDT

    •  I'll be doing the next one soon. (9+ / 0-)

      I just flat couldn't get my act together after wasting too much time seaching for misfiled stuff.

      I wanted to collect the news reports from her home town, but my car died and I haven't gone to the Orange, MA library yet. I don't know if there's more details in that paper, but maybe. I even have a copy of her cemetery plot deed. Technicsally, I own the plot now. Apparently, the deed was never presented to the town cemetery dept.

      I've have tons of background stuff about these people. Too much. I even have a lead on someone who clains to have a picture of Newton Keet. It's with his second wife, unfortunately. But I haven't connected yet.

      I have a Newt in my family tree. Who knew?

      "Never wrestle with a pig: you get dirty and the pig enjoys it"

      by GrumpyOldGeek on Fri Jun 08, 2012 at 12:36:12 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I think the only kinds of scandals I came across (13+ / 0-)

    in my line were those involving full-term babies born to ancestors who were only married a few months earlier.

    One set of g-g-grandparents made quite the effort to hide this fact, stating in all the U.S. records that they were married one year earlier then they really were.  Once I finally located them in their German village of origin, I discovered their little secret in the church records.  Afterwards, I paid a visit to their gravesite in Iowa, made an apology to them for what I had to do, and then published the truth in my family tree.

    My husband's side is much more interesting.  For example, there was one great uncle who married the widow of his brother only a couple of months after his brother's death.  The newlyweds were accused of "incest" and literally driven out of town.  The couple ended up divorced, the only child had to go live with relatives, and the great uncle ended up in an asylum.  I don't know what happened to the wife yet, but that was some really ugly stuff.

    Another incident involved another great uncle of the same branch who shot his brother in the leg, who then bled to death.  This was 1937 deep-woods North Carolina, and the law at that time and place preferred to let incidents like this be resolved within the family, so no arrest was made.  The g-uncle fled to South Carolina and changed his name.  I'm still trying to find out what happened after that.

    In this same branch, I've been told there was an incredible amount of intrigue, back-stabbing and fighting.  My husband's grandfather, who was actually a very nice man (explaining why he moved away from the main family), said he couldn't even attend funerals of other family members without taking a gun or a knife with him as protection - even against his own brothers!

    Yikes!!

    •  How do you feel... (12+ / 0-)

      ...about disclosing such things while close relatives (like siblings or children) are still living? I wrestle with that, but am inclined to respect the privacy of the living. It's sometimes muddy, though.

      There are, in every age, new errors to be rectified, and new prejudices to be opposed. ~Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)

      by slksfca on Fri Jun 08, 2012 at 11:24:09 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'm wrestling with that issue right now, too. (9+ / 0-)

        And it's not like this one particular issue isn't publicly known.  But I haven't included it in the official tree yet (this tree gets published as a booklet for the family-reunion fundraiser).

        Thinking about it more, I am reminded that I also have left out something about my grandfather, something my mom once told me in confidence, something that even he didn't know my mom knew about.  There's only one aunt still alive that this information could affect.  She's in her early 70s, so I don't think it's something I will put out there until she's gone - if I ever do.  It's really ugly.

        So I'd have to agree with you, that sometimes you have to use discretion.

      •  we had a situation in our family recently (8+ / 0-)

        involving a self-published family history narrative and a pre-marital pregnancy.  The couple in question were engaged when the bride-to-be got pregnant, but sin being sin and all that, they had to make a public confession to their congregation in order to remain in good standing and be married in the church.  I believe their situation was the last time such was ever required in that particular congregation.  The story started out being included in the book, but the couple got a chance to review it before publication, were horrified to find the story included, and requested it be removed.  This is something that some of their friends apparently don't know, and said "friends" would supposedly think less of them if they found out.  So privacy was respected.

        The dates are accurate in the family-tree if gets nosy enough to do the math...

        Will we lose the more interesting part of the story now, though (the forced confession and where it fits into church history)?  And is it better to lose it, or not?

        If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality. - Bishop Desmond Tutu

        by AnnieJo on Fri Jun 08, 2012 at 12:06:26 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  The sex scandal is too touchy for close relatives (9+ / 0-)

        who are living. Even out of respect for close deceased relatives, I woud think.

        This is an excellent point and thought provoking.

        I did take the time to search for living relatives. I didn't consciously do this to decide whether to write this up, but I think I would have dropped the idea if I found any close living relatives. I already knew that there are only 3 living cousins of my generation related to anyone in her family tree.

        But I also looked for living relatives of the other parties. I was seeking pictures, iirc. I confirmed that there were no living descendants. The lines from the Dr. and Ella's husband were extinct.

        Ella was born in 1856 so any descendants wouldn't be close relatives. There are always plenty of distant cousins, but living cousins would be at least 3rd cousins, not very close. You might be a distant cousin of Ella.

        I have no qualms about using the newspaper sources. I won't publish anything from court records or transcripts. That's nobody's business. Painful testimony is off limits.

        I think that this kind of scrutiny is just common sense. And if you're having trouble making a decision, don't share the information. Or choose a different topic. .

        "Never wrestle with a pig: you get dirty and the pig enjoys it"

        by GrumpyOldGeek on Fri Jun 08, 2012 at 02:50:18 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  oh yes - shotgun weddings (10+ / 0-)

      That reminds me of my recent discovery that my wife's great-grandfather's parents were married just two months prior to his birth.

      •  Yeah, I have another set of g-grandparents (11+ / 0-)

        that did the same thing.

        Only difference was that they told everyone their first son was born a year later than he was (which they were successful in getting away with since that son died at 3 and then they had moved from Wisconsin to Iowa a couple of years later).

        But then I came along and found all the original marriage/birth records, and ... well ...  

        Sorry g-grandpa Peter and Josephine!

        •  Heck, I have a story like that from the early 60s (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          edwardssl, klompendanser, Jim H

          Don't even want to say who this in my family (as some people here know who I am), but it was someone in my generation, and he was reading some old letters his mother had written to her mother, and there was a note dated six months before he was born explaining that she was going to get married within the week (while her mother was out of the country and obviously would not be attending).

          And all this time he thought his parents had been married a year earlier, and he realized they'd always sort of skipped over just when they got married, or what anniversary they were celebrating.  He was in his early 20s when he read this letter, and furthermore, his mom had handed him a bunch of letters to read when they were visiting Grandma.  When mom saw the look on his face, she realized just WHAT letter he had read.

          It was like being told both Santa and the Easter Bunny weren't real and there would never be any more presents.

          In capitalist America, bank robs you!

          by madhaus on Fri Jun 08, 2012 at 06:52:17 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  speaking of backwoods family dramas, (8+ / 0-)

      I've been slogging through the Hatfields-McCoy mini-series on the not-much-History channel (onDemand) ... fairly gory, and most of the dialog is mumbled (I gave up after 40 minutes and started over with close captioning turned on). Talk about taking shotguns wherever you go, even though you are related to everyone you see.

      "If you are sure you understand everything that is going on around you, you are hopelessly confused." Walter Mondale

      by klompendanser on Fri Jun 08, 2012 at 11:55:59 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  One of my direct (12+ / 0-)

    ancestors was tried for murdering her husband. That's as juicy as we get.

  •  The best one I know of (9+ / 0-)

    for my family is that of one of my dad's grandfathers (his mom's dad).  Seems he left the family in the mid to late 1920's to go work on a large public works project (Bagnell Dam at Lake of the Ozarks, for you Missouri Kossacks).  He never returned to the family, but instead, moved down to West Plains, MO and started a new family.  I found him in when the 1930 Census files came out, and he told the Census officials that he was a widower.  Thing was, his wife was still very much alive, and I believe she filed for divorce after the time of the census.  

    Santorum 2012: When Satan isn't enough to scare the crap out of you.

    by Philpm on Fri Jun 08, 2012 at 11:23:46 AM PDT

  •  I'm in Providence now (10+ / 0-)

    andnow and met a Kossak who had paid an attorney to help her find her birth mother, whose full name she had. The attorney checked the legal records and said that othe than the full name and state, the records were sealed.

    I asked her if she'd tried a genealogist and she said that had never occurred to her. And her birth mom was born more than 93 years ago.

    Think we're up to the challenge?  I'm going to give it a shot and let you all know how it goes, particularly when I hit a brick wall.

  •  My several-times-great grandfather (7+ / 0-)

    founded Johnstown, PA.

    On the more salacious side of things, there is a not-particularly-believable rumor in some quarters of my family that another great-great-grandfather of mine was an illegitimate son of Otto Von Bismarck and a chambermaid.

    Heh.

    Will have to follow you for more of the story on Great Aunt Ella!

     

    If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality. - Bishop Desmond Tutu

    by AnnieJo on Fri Jun 08, 2012 at 11:33:10 AM PDT

  •  Not feeling up to snuff today is my excuse (10+ / 0-)

    for being late and for not being too chatty. I'm sorry about that because I really like GrumpyOldGeek's diary and would love to read more of the salacious details NOW.

    I've revealed stories of some of my greats' not-so-usual goings on already. I expect to be spending some in-depth genealogy time with my kissin' cousin larmos once she gets re-settled in Illinois this summer.

    There is a great-great grandfather about whom much mystery swirls. I'm convinced he was a ne'er-do-well who left his wife with two small children to raise during the Civil War. Once I've uncovered his secrets with some on-site research in Springfield and/or Vandalia IL, I'll sign up for an Open Thread and fill you in on the gor(e)y details.

    Thanks for weaving a good tale for us, GOG. I've no NE ancestors. Mine, for the most part, arrived in Virginia and Maryland from whence to spread out along the Louisiana Purchase Frontier.

    Happy genealogying all y'all.

    Inspiration is hard to come by. You have to take it where you find it. --- Bob Dylan.

    by figbash on Fri Jun 08, 2012 at 11:40:09 AM PDT

    •  Be careful. You might have too much fun. (6+ / 0-)

      I don't think that's possible, but there is a risk of getting kicked out of the research area if you jump up and down yelling "Holy ^$%#" too often.

      I hope you get kicked out. More than once.

      It's been a bunch of years since I've hung with the folks in this part of the World. My wife and I used to work and travel throughout the area. It seems like a forever ago.

      "Never wrestle with a pig: you get dirty and the pig enjoys it"

      by GrumpyOldGeek on Fri Jun 08, 2012 at 06:28:36 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  oh, one more... (9+ / 0-)

    According to my Dad, his Aunt Katie (his mother's sister) handed two of her sons a shotgun one day and told them if my grandfather ever stepped foot on the farm again, they were to shoot him.

    Needless to say, this created a rift between the two sisters. I've been meaning to track down Aunt Katie's grandkids and see if they know the story behind this. Dad doesn't know the "why", just that it happened.

  •  Seems grumpy's got to volunteer to host (7+ / 0-)

    another Friday Open Thread to tell the other scandal story

    Here's the current schedule

    June 15  mayim
    June 22  Jim H
    June 29  klompendanser
    July 6     open for adoption
    July 13   open for adoption
    July 20   open for adoption
    July 27   larmos
    Aug 3 (already?  Geez!)  open for adoption

    Who's up for a date?

  •  boatload of scandals (10+ / 0-)

    Well, just a couple I can mention here: One Civil War widow had a child some time after husband died in war, with the husband of her sister. That child never married, died young.

    My great uncle George married a woman and was tried for trying to poison her. He escaped jail, went to Mexico(rumored to have ridden with Pancho Villa/ came back with gold nuggets) - went off to Canada and died under an assumed name. I understand his grave in Manitoba has his correct name, but danged if he is hidden from view in the recently released Canadian census records! I might have to go to Canada to research. Since I live in North Carolina, I am thinking, August. Definitely August.

    I wrote a book about my grandfather, Texas sheriff, so I collected all kinds of scandalous and/or funny drunken stories,too.

    Also, anyone with Cajun ancestors will note that a man who lost his wife pretty much stopped on the way home from the funeral to propose to a new wife. That was said about my great-grandfather, at least.

    George W. Bush: the worst Republican president SO FAR.

    by Chun Yang on Fri Jun 08, 2012 at 12:06:01 PM PDT

    •  Hi, good to see you! (7+ / 0-)

      And wow about George. From Mexico to Manitoba, he really got around!

      There are, in every age, new errors to be rectified, and new prejudices to be opposed. ~Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)

      by slksfca on Fri Jun 08, 2012 at 12:23:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Wish I knew more (8+ / 0-)

        He had a daughter who lived to be in her 90s but I never met her(another one who never married - the kids of scandal had a hard time). His face was scratched out of the family portrait so I don't even know what he looked like. My grandmother, his sister, was the youngest of 13 children, so we just did not get the stories from her than we did when there were more living relatives around. Of course, it took some decades before anyone even got the stories out of her.

        Oh, my grandfather fathered a child in France in World War I. No idea who. And in my husband's family, several generations of men in Mexico had second "families".

        George W. Bush: the worst Republican president SO FAR.

        by Chun Yang on Fri Jun 08, 2012 at 12:41:47 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  re: definitely August (5+ / 0-)

      Check your Kosmail when you get a chance.

      I enjoy the stories - I have to wait 'til everyone involved is dead before my family will tell any scandalous stories but as time goes by they are told.  

      One relative of mine died of an abortion in the 1920s.  It was a tragic loss for her husband and family, and the reason for her death was kept secret except to close medical types in the family.  Recently, I came across her death certificate proudly posted by a descendant, not directly related to me.  The underlying reason for her cause of death - peritonitis wouldn't be obvious in that pre-antibiotic era.  I'm not close enough to know how they would handle the true story - being one of those red-states and all.  (For my part it always seemed a very personal example of the reason to support the right to choose and to have access to safe abortion procedures

      Never separate the life you live from the words you speak - Paul Wellstone

      by meralda on Fri Jun 08, 2012 at 04:58:23 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  My grandmother claimed... (7+ / 0-)

    ...that we were related to Jesse James. I think she was assuming that because her grandmother was a James from Missouri, we must be related. No actual link documented.

    "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

    by HeyMikey on Fri Jun 08, 2012 at 01:28:11 PM PDT

    •  Links to famous people is a guilty pleasure (6+ / 0-)

      Ancestry has a feature that tries to come up with a list of famous people related to someone you choose in your tree. And this sucks up a few hours of my time once in a while.

      You gotta admit that it's kind of fun to say you're related to [famous name here].

      You might be pleasantly surprised. You've got two things going for you. Your 2nd g-grandmother's information and Jesse James, who's famous. There has to be a lot of trees with Jesse James somewhere. You can find a lot of detail about James, family, and locations from simple Google searches. Your James family in Missouri might take more work. It's not easy to find connections between different trees by hand. It's luck, mostly.

      But you might get lucky. Someone might have published a tree online that has both Jesse and members of your James family. That would be one of those "Holy Jesse" moments for me.

      My addiction is driven by such moments. I'll spend way to much time looking for obscure connections. The moment that I stumble across the one that solves the puzzle, then all that time isn't too much time.

      "Never wrestle with a pig: you get dirty and the pig enjoys it"

      by GrumpyOldGeek on Fri Jun 08, 2012 at 03:51:22 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I've tried to use that feature (6+ / 0-)

        but I always get this rude message:

        The find famous relatives feature is only available to users who previously connected an individual in their tree with an individual in OneWorldTree. The connection feature is no longer available. If you have not previously created the connection between your tree and OneWorldTree, you will not be able to use the "find famous relatives" feature.

        If you have connected your tree previously and you're viewing this message, it's possible we haven't found any connections for the person you're viewing.

        Which pretty much sounds like it will never be available if you didn't happen to connect to OneWorldTree in the past.
    •  My story about (not) being related (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Jim H

      to someone famous:

      My paternal grandmother claimed a "connection" to John Quincy Adams. When my mother got interested in genealogy, Grammy was long dead, so Mom decided to try and trace the Adams connection. Turns out, Grammy was connected to John Quincy Adams--a lawyer in Shamokin, Pennsylvania. Mr. Adams' sister was married to my grandmother's uncle, making even the connection to him pretty tenuous.

      "I belong to no organized party. I am a Democrat."--Will Rogers

      by vgranucci on Sat Jun 09, 2012 at 01:20:47 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  the dark side of the immmigrant story... (6+ / 0-)

    my paternal great-grandfather arrived in the early 19-teens from Russia- when his daughter and wife arrived about 6 years later (his sons had come about three years after he did)- they discovered he had taken up with his landlady, and had started a new family- he had a son...

    on my paternal grandmothers side- she and her mother came over from Russia searching for her father, who had left the family in the early 19-teens as well.  They found him, a year or so after they arrived- he had started a new family as well.

    my grandparents met on the subway in the twenties in New York. Apparently Pop was winking and hitting on Mom, and in an effort to express her disinterest in him, she raised a newspaper as if to read it and block his eyes from hers- it was a Jewish newspaper, which made my grandfather even more determined to meet her. On their first date, she gave him the address across the street from her.  He apparently arrived several hours early, with flowers, and walked up and down the street he was so nervous.

    "When you're skating on thin ice, you might as well dance." Jesse Winchester

    by The Poet Deploreate on Fri Jun 08, 2012 at 02:20:07 PM PDT

  •  Closed communities lead to interesting stories (6+ / 0-)

    My mother's family name is Lindsey, and around 1860 her branch moved from Chautauqua County, NY, to Erie County, PA, just south of Corry. The patriarch, Eliakim (my 3rd ggfather), took his wife, her sister, and three boys and settled in an area over the hill from Corry. It's known as Lindsey Hollow, and and still has Lindseys living there, six generations later.

    A lack of males is thinning the herd by name, but the DNA still lives on. One of the last (my 3rd cousin) just passed away a week ago.

    One of the hazards of a closed community is limited talent. By that, I mean not only a small pool of potential mates, but a small pool of acceptable sexual partners. Cousins marrying cousins is common enough not to raise an eyebrow, but unwed mothers led to several "placements" of newborns with a married relative of the teenage bearer. Knowing of at least three of those circumstances from my mother's testimony, I am a witness to how difficult that information can be to discern just looking at the charts.

    I cast no aspersions on any one of those folks, because not for nothing do we chuckle about raging hormones, and when every single opposite sex potential partner within a buggy ride is a relative, well, oops. There are a lot of haymows in the Hollow.

    I don't want to give the impression we were all inbred. My grandmother, for instance, came from a town some fifteen miles away, and the two closest towns, although small, were actually closer (and not over a hill) than Corry. Several Lindsey mates came from them, including the parents of Martha and Janey below.

    My favorite story from our family isn't even scandalous—in fact there's a significant element of tragedy and charity in it. My grandfather (Claude, and his twin sister) were born in 1896 and their mother (Janey) died as a result. Their father, already with young children and a farm to run, managed to get the newborns into his wife's sister's (Martha) home and she adopted them and raised them along with her own two daughters.

    Eventually Martha divorced her husband and she wound up marrying Janey's widower, thus Claude and his two cousin/step sisters and whom was already able to call his aunt his step-mom continued his childhood calling her Mom, and his cousin/step sisters went back to being cousins, sort of.

    Martha was Grandma Lindsey to my mother and her sisters (Great Grandma to me and my cousins, of course) and to my grandfather (and his twin), really the only mother he ever knew.

    An interesting aside (if you managed to wade through all that), is that I come from a family of long livers. My mother is 93 (her older sister is 94, her next younger is 91, and she has two others in their 80s). Their mother lived to 95. Martha was in her 90s when she died, as was her own (and Janey's) mother. There are tons of other 90 year olds in my family history, as well as one centenarian. I have big dreams…

  •  Don't get me started. (5+ / 0-)

    My father never talked about his family -- parents were immigrants from Switzerland.  By searching the Ellis Island records I discovered that my paternal grandfather:
    -- Made three trips between the States and Switzerland; staying here after the last one in 1910.
    -- Was married in 1906 to a Swiss woman who came to the US in 1900 with another man whom she married then divorced because he "treated me with no respect and in an indecent manner."
    -- He had a daughter by the first wife.  The three of them returned to Switzerland then, two years later, he popped up back in the States with my paternal grandmother.  Who was five months pregnant when they were married.
    -- He had two brothers, both of whom came to the States.  One lived in Long Island, died of TB, and is buried there.  The other brother went to Georgia, died of yellow fever, and is buried there.  My brother and I recently visited both graves and have ordered new headstones for the one in GA.

    On my mother's side:
    -- Most of my maternal great-great-grandparents were slave owners.  One owned 6,000 acres and 86 slaves in Wilkinson County, MS.  We recently restored and put a fence around the old family cemetery containing 20 marked graves and what we believe to be a number of slave graves.
    -- One of my maternal g-g-g-grandfathers was listed in the 1850 census as "insane."  He died in a Louisiana asylum and is buried on the grounds there.
    -- One of my maternal grandfather's cousins married into a family the head of which was a pirate with Jean Lafitte; one of his sons was the consort of a famous New Orleans madam until he shot and killed the madam's brother; and, a grandson of the family maintained a white wife and children and a black mistress and children -- I have met three of the eight mixed-race children who are my distant cousins.
    -- Granddad's younger sister was a "maiden lady" who was the head nurse at our local rural hospital.  She was in an accident that crushed one hip and left her in great pain.  Because she had access to the narc cabinet, she maintained herself with daily doses of morphine. After it caught up with her, she went away on an extended "vacation" and, when she returned all dried out, she could never nurse again.

    Then, there was my maternal great-grandmother's Cousin Bob (Great-grandmother died when I was 12.)  Bob was a sure 'nuff hobo.  Every so often, one of the black men who worked at the railroad station would come to the back door of our house and tell our cook who would tell Great-grandmother "Mister Bob done got off the train this mawnin'."  This news would send her into a low hover.  Bob was a disgrace but he was family so she had to take him in.  He refused to come into the house; he took his meals in the back yard, on the picnic table with the black yard man and he slept on a straw mattress we fixed up in the barn.  He drank a bit.  Bob's toes on his right foot had been frostbitten one winter out west somewhere and were amputated and if we great-grandchildren asked nicely, Bob would take off his shoe and show us his foot without the toes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  All of which gave Great-grandma a case of the vapors but we loved it.

    And there was Aunt Myrtle, grandmother's niece who came to live with us in hopes that Granddad and Momma (grandmother) could "straighten her out."  They couldn't.  She had lots of gentleman callers.  One evening, two of them met down at the end of the driveway, shots were exchanged, and one of them was killed!!!!  We grandchildren were the hit at school for a week as we told and re-told the story, complete with action and some words we didn't understand!!  Myrtle died ten years ago, single.  I visited her up until her last day -- she had a nightly toddy right up to the end.  I know.  I was one of two grandchildren who smuggled it into the nursing home every day.

    Some old Southern families keep their funny uncles, crazy aunts, and twisted sisters locked in an upstairs bedroom.  We paraded ours around town.

  •  Murder, A second family, Org Crime & an Orange (4+ / 0-)

    I've got an ancestor who did the have-one-family, get driven out of town, move to another country, and have a second family thing.  But I believe he was driven out of the community in England for murder.  My cousin did a lot of genealogy of our Polish/Jewish family and found a whole branch of third cousins we didn't know about in Manchester, UK.  He and I and our moms flew there to meet most of the extended family in 2006.  One of the local tabloid papers even wrote up the reunion.

    Several of that group shortened the family name because it's difficult to spell; amazingly, some of the younger generation changed it back.  Guess ethnic became "in" even in the UK.

    My cousin's research also discovered that our g2grandfather married a first cousin.  I was having a heck of a time reading the computer-generated charts for that reason, but I guess living in Eastern Poland, there weren't always a lot of appropriate people to choose from.

    I am positive I heard my mother telling a story to someone else when I was fairly young about some older relatives of hers who were in the "Jewish mafia."  Everyone in my mom's family, both sides, had some involvement in the clothing/tailoring business in Brooklyn.  Something about one of them being an enforcer who threw acid in people's faces (hi there Jay Townsend and Nan Hayworth!)  Unfortunately, my mother has always had a memory like swiss cheese and can't even remember that I skipped a grade, let alone some random story she didn't know I was actually listening to when I was probably "too young" to "understand" what she was talking about.

    Here's one of the few stories I got about the Old Country; not from my mom but from her much younger sister.  She in turn got this from her mother, who was born in Poland and moved to the US at age 9.  Grandma never wanted to discuss life before the US and this was the only story she shared with her younger daughter.

    The wealthiest man in town was dying. His last request was that he wanted an orange.  This may seem like a trivial request now, but it wasn't so in Lomza.  The orange had to be sent for and came in at the Port of Odessa.  From there it would be taken to Lomza via horse-drawn carriage.  When the orange arrived, everyone knew it, and everyone in town went to see it.  This may have been the most exciting thing that happened in that city all year.

    I can't remember if the dying man ate the whole orange or shared any of it with his family, but the fruit was extremely expensive (when you think about how difficult it was to deliver it from somewhere that could grow orange trees, to Odessa, and from there overland to Lomza) and almost everyone else in town had never seen an orange before.  I'm not even sure the rich man had ever had one, or even seen one before; this was his dying request.

    This Incident of the Dying Man's Orange would have happened sometime before 1909 when my grandmother came to the US.

    In capitalist America, bank robs you!

    by madhaus on Fri Jun 08, 2012 at 07:15:30 PM PDT

  •  Hard to kill ancestor (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    klompendanser, edwardssl, Jim H

    I have six brothers. This is, so far, their favorite genealogical story that I have unearthed.  

    It is true that one Simon Stone being here Wounded with Shot in Nine several places lay for Dead as it was time among the Dead. The Indians coming to Strip him attempted with Two several Blows of an Hatchet at his Neck to cut off his Head which Blows added you may be sure more Enormous Wounds unto those Port holes of Death at which the Life of the Poor Man was already running out as fast as it could. Being charged hard by Lieutenant Bancroft they left the Man without Scalping him and the English now coming to Bury the Dead one of the Soldiers perceived this poor Man to fetch a Gasp whereupon an Irish Fellow then present advised em to give him another Dab with an Hatchet and so Bury him with the rest. The English detesting this Barbarous Advice lifted up the Wounded Man and poured a little Fair Water [plain water] into his Mouth at which he Coughed then they poured a little Strong Water [alcoholic spirits]after it at which he opened his Eyes. The Irish Fellow was ordered now to hale a Canoo ashore to carry the Wounded Men up the River unto a Chirurgeon and as Teague was foolishly pulling the Canoo ashore with the Cock of his Gun while he held the Muzzle in his Hand his Gun went off and broke his Arm whereof he remains a Cripple to this Day

    But Simon Stone was thorougly Cured and is at this Day a very Lusty Man and as he was Born with Two Thumbs on one Hand his Neighbours have thought him to have at least as many Hearts as Thumbs

    Cotton Mather Magnalis, Eccesiastical Histoyr of New England .I Book vii page 74

    Needless to say, we will be serving some strong water at the next family gathering to honor my 6th g-grandfather and his hard to kill nature.  (and his two thumbs on one hand curiosity.)
    •  TayTay, I helped a friend out with her genealogy (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Jim H, TayTay, GrumpyOldGeek

      and she has 2 Simon Stone in her family history.

      Was this Simon Stone in MA, and if so, any idea of the parents/spouse?

      •  The Simon Stone I mentioned above (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        edwardssl, GrumpyOldGeek

        Was in MA.  He was a grandson of the original Simon Stone who came to the Massachusetts Bay Commonwealth (MBC) in 1635 aboard the good-ship Increase.  Simon (1) spelled his name Symon as did his son.  Symon (2) married into the Whipple clan in Ipswich.  He had the 3rd Simon Stone who is the subject of this story.  (That Simon is my direct paternal 6th grandfather.)

        There are probably dozens, if not hundreds of Simon Stone's in the 1600 and 1700's in New England who have descent from either the original Simon Stone or from his brother Gregory who emigrated from Great Bromley, Essex, East Anglia, England at the same time.

        Let me point you to three very good resources on Stones in the New World, and, of course, I remain at your disposal at any time as a "Chief Sorter and Polisher of Stones" should the occasion arise.  (LOL!)

        1:  The Winthrop Society.  Awesome resource for tracing back anyone you suspect might have come over with the original MBC players. This is a resource par excellence for figuring when all these English blokes came over and who came with them and where they settled.  For Context, of course and because they have some "wicked awesome" textual resources which my Nerdy self can't do without.
        http://www.winthropsociety.com/...

        2:  The Mother-lode of Stone info.  The Stone Family Association pages.  Oh, heck, just dig in and read about the Deacons, Rev's, farmers and murderers who came here in "ye olden days."  (ye pronounced, of course, as "the" back then.)  
        http://www.stonefamilyassociation.org/...

        3:  Gregory Stone Genealogy:  There are two genealogies for the Stone brothers Simon (Symon) and Gregory who were Great Migration immigrants.  Gregory's is now a free ebook on google books:
         http://books.google.com/...

        I need some town info to tell you where the Simon Stone's you have are from.  These folks were basically tribal for about 250 years.  They moved in packs and settled in packs.  If you can tell me what town or general vicinity they were from in New England, we can probably trace back the actual Simon Stone you have to his family origins in the Great and Noble Commonwealth of Massachusetts. (LOL!)

        •  More history than anyone needs to know (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          edwardssl, GrumpyOldGeek

          but I couldn't resist.  The following passage is from The Winthrop Society and, in it's own way, is an excellent setup for the next 250 years of New England history. It is dated April 30, 1629 and deals with the establishment of a Constitution for the MBC:

          This document is the seed from which sprang the future government of the Massachusetts Bay Commonwealth. Adhering to the guidelines set up in the Royal Charter, it establishes the offices of Governor, with a Deputy Governor and eleven others to be governing Council, to be selected by the Company once a year from among the residents of the plantation. All powers of government belonged to the majority of the said office-holders, with veto power to the Governor or, in his absence, the Deputy. It is notable that any Council-members finding themselves in the minority on a critical issue could, in theory at least, be removed from the Council by the Governor and majority of the Council for unspecified "unfitness." This left the door open to the possibility of an unpopular clique, with approval or apathy of the Company permitting, voting themselves into absolute power for an indefinite series of terms. This may have contributed to the reluctance of many to swear loyalty to the Governor and Council, as has been noted elsewhere in this issue of the Quarterly.
          I have several great-grandsires who quickly moved away from Winthrop, Endecott and the rest of the governing elites of the early MBC because, dammit, I'm not swearing an oath to those SOB's. This passage, in my mind, deserves to be made into a Ben Affleck/Matt Damon type of "everyone in MA is a gangster, bank-robber" type movie.

          Scene 1:  Everything looks great, we are going to have a nice "City on a hill" and everything will be hunky-dory.

          Scene 2: I'm not swearing any friggin oath to some dude in a pointy hat just because he thinks he's better than me.  Bite me, Johnny boy.

          Scene 3: Winthrop, Endecott and the Establishment are infiltrated by gritty MBC worker bees who quickly find a way to both support and upend the governing of the colony.  And, surprise, both sides are using each other.

          and so it goes.  These little hidden nuggets are the "why" of history.

        •  Yes, it's the same family. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          TayTay, GrumpyOldGeek

          I actually have 3 Simon Stones (one mis-indexed with the title "Deacon" first), including the Simon of this story, who I show was married to Sarah Farnsworth.  One of their kids was Benjamin Stone, who married Emma Parker, which are my friends ancestors.

          So you're distant cousins.

          Not surprising at all.  I'm finding that just about anyone with deep roots in New England stand a good chance of being related at some point.

          Anyway, interesting story.  I'll have to let her know about this and the other information you've linked to.  She'll be thrilled.

          Thanks!

      •  We are multiply related (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        GrumpyOldGeek, edwardssl

        as in not uncommon in New England history.

        We have several common great-grandparents on the tree. We have Prescott grandmothers and Parkers and so forth.  (So far, I haven't found the Wheelers, but I know they are there.  I think it is some sort of cosmic law that everyone in NE is multiply related to the vast Wheeler Empire.)

        I was thinking of posting this as a separate diary.  Would that be okay?  There are some poignant things in that line of descent and I think it's a good story.  Would your friend mind?

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