Family Black Sheep

The vagaries of history can be fascinating. Sometimes at work I’m given glimpses of events in the Here and Now that appear in the media presented quite differently, and then later, usually years later, another way. Yesterday’s bad guy becomes today’s hero.

One of my uncles took part in the first Haitian uprising against Papa Doc Duvalier in 1957. He did not succeed or survive. At the time, the US was officially very upset (about the participation, not the death) and it was considered a Shame in/on the family- men in gray suits came to talk to my father, who had a high security clearance for the work he did. For years specific details were not known (grandma insisted he was working for the CIA, but then she also remembered going over the bridge to Hawaii). Uncle “provided” the boat…
Fast forward to 1998 and the attitude towards that initial disastrous small rebellion has changed- about 180 degrees- not only are detailed accounts available, but the legend of Uncle’s demise from GSW (rather than being hacked to death with a machete) was confirmed. Pasquet’s (the Haitian leader) attempt to overthrow Papa Doc is presented in a pretty positive light, overall.

Anyone else have a tale of historical revision that makes a family black sheep turn a paler shade of grey? (sorry)

On one hand, not only have several of the uprisings in which my paternal family took part during the 19th century disappeared from school history books (they already had 30+ years ago), but that one in which my father’s family enlisted almost completely, great-grandma being the only exception? Murderers and rapists every one of them, including the women (most of whom were nurses auxiliary who never left their town) and the doctor.

On the other hand, if you listen to official accounts, the other grandfather wasn’t forced to sign up or “take a walk” to a handy wall nearby, he volunteered. He didn’t spend a year as a guard in a prisoners’ camp and take a hike when someone tried to make him Comissar (something which he knew would spell his death sentence, as he was already sure his side would lose and knew his wife had no interest in leaving the country), I’m not sure what was he doing but trade benefits for sex with the female prisoners wasn’t it, no way.

My story is not finished yet.

I am waiting… :wink:

For those not famiilar with the OP’s story:

My immigrant grandfather was either striving for opportunity that was denied him in the land of his birth, or he knocked up his boss’ daughter and had to hightail it as far as he could go. We still haven’t figured out which story is true.

In Germany, when the peasants learned to read in the mid 1800s, they discovered they did not belong to the landgraf in person, and departed in droves. I don’t know about impregnating the boss’s daughter, but I think there was some hanky panky on board the ship;); my ggm and ggf met on board and the rest, as they say, is history. At least, mine. Their grandson was the mercenary rebel. We have all been reasonably conventional ever since, sadly quite boring. Sigh.

Well I guess it doesn’t meet most of the OP requirements but my maternal grandfather was a Nazi, not a neo-Nazi but a real one. Apparently after the war he assumed another identity and raised a second family, my mom tracked him down when she was in Germany once and when she tried visiting him a second time she found out he was dead. His daughters were super hostile thinking she was looking for inheritance the second time.

She hated for personal reasons and said she saw his grave and spat on it.

I had a picture of him with my maternal grandmother in full inform somewhere, I had actually meant to post it here and ask if anyone could identify the branch(long grey trench coat is all I remember aside from the medals and emblems).

Maternal grandmother went on to marry a US soldier and went to the USA taking my mom and uncle with her.

Meets the dark requirement for sure, at least from US POV. Tell your mom (maybe she knows this already) but some German POWs interned in US camps ( there was one in the Deep South, I think Alabama) were repatriated and then came right back to the States asap- member of the German Army, not necessarily Nazi by choice. I know a son of one such. He’s a Viet Nam vet…there’s the lighter side.

Nothing as grand as the OP, but I have a SiL who was dating a member of a street gang. He sold drugs, stole, carried a gun, had a few baby mamas, tons of tattoos, a rap sheet, the normal gang banger lifestyle. And he was proud of it
The inevitable happened and he was shot and killed during a drug deal in the middle of the night.
Now he is fondly remembered as a funny and friendly guy, somebody’s daddy, and a promising young man with a bright potential all cut short by a street thug.

My paternal Grandmother could speak German & there was a POW camp for Germans near Gainseville TX. She worked there as a translator.

Many first & second generation folks of German origin lived in that area.

Wonder why they were not treated as the Japanese Americans and herded into camps for the duration?

Mine too.

In the 1840s or 1850s, a young unmarried lady got herself pregnant.

Shame upon her, said the locals at the time. She was a temptress, indeed, a slut. The father ran away, and since abortion was not an option, the young lady gave birth. In spite of all the shame and opposition, she gave birth to a healthy son, who she raised and gave him her own surname, because Father was nowhere to be found, and (according to family lore) she felt he was an asshole anyway.

That baby boy became my great-grandfather, John. My family name is his, and his mother’s too. She may have been a slut and a temptress, but she was my great-great grandmother, and to this day, my relatives and myself revere her. She kept our family name going, in spite of contemporary mores.

My great-grandfather John was an interesting fellow. He travelled extensively, where work led him. He helped to build buildings in Seattle and Vancouver, and in Ontario. He married, and his children became my grandparents and great-uncles and great-aunts. I met a few, in my childhood, before they passed. (A family photo of Great-Grandfather John, taken in about 1895, looks surprisingly like me.)

I should raise a glass to Great-Grandfather John, and to his mother, Catherine. At a time when unmarried pregnant women were less than human, she threw it back in their face, and had the baby–to whom she gave her surname. It descended to me. Thank you for my name, Great-Great-Grandmother Catherine!

I LOVE family histories. Your GGM must have indeed been very strong:) in an era where the pregnancy was all her fault :dubious:. Seattle thanks her. Sounds like she passed her intelligence and strength down, as well.

My MGM did the similar, at 16 though her lover left for France in 1914 and didn’t come home…my aunt would be 100 this year, 12/13/14. My grandfather adopted her, and my mother was born a full two years after they wed. Auntie was a hoot. 5 husbands. No kids, and I could and did go out drinking with her.

Two of my ancestors got wrapped up in an attempt to overthrow the government by force. They plotted with secret gangs, used guns, the whole nine yards. They got involved in a gunfight, two actually, when the whole thing got exposed. These happened in Lexington and then Concord, both in Massachusetts. They got off without any punishment or family disgrace though. History is funny that way.

Probably got monuments, too:). I’ve a relative who died at Ticonderoga (Battle of) of dysentery rather than a GSW, but dead nonetheless…he had two small sons. His ancestors left Massachususetts when it got crowded after a few decades there, for the wilds of northern Vermont where they had to hack out their own roads.

Doesnt everyone have that one odd relative who decided to leave the family and was never heard from again because he/she wanted to be so different? My wife had an uncle who took off on a motorcycle after he graduated and wasnt heard from for about 10 years. My brother is kind of that way except he does keep in touch some.