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.
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.