Family Mysteries

There are mysterious things about both my mother’s side of the family and my father’s side.

My mother is one of 11 kids. I only met half of the siblings in my life, since they had scattered to different parts of the country and a couple of the older ones had already passed away. My mom had a fair complexion with red hair, and a couple of the siblings looked like her. But the others had a darker complexion with black wavy or curly hair. And all of them had basicly the same facial features, large rounded eyes and full lips. I never met my grandparents, but from the pictures I saw, her father was fair with red hair, and her mother was the source of the other features, although I only saw one picture of her and her hair was already gray. I should also mention that my mom was born in 1918, and if there was any racial mixing in the family it would not have been mentioned EVER. Also my dad was a historian. He did everybody’s geneology, even people he just met. He loved that stuff. He NEVER did my mom’s geneolgy. My sister and half brother have inheirited the dark features, which brings me to the mystery from my dad’s side of the family…

The mystery is ME! My Dad was the oldest of 3 brothers. He was 57 when I was born, and my Mom was 44. My mom had 2 adult sons from a previous marriage, and a 7 yr old daughter from my dad. My dad’s second youngest brother was married with several kids and the youngest brother was never married and traveled the world. I didn’t meet him until I was about 5 or 6, when he had come back for a visit. There was alot of excitement in the family about his arrival. I remember my cousin bragging to me because he was going to stay at their house. When he came to our house, he had gifts for me and my sister. After we ate dinner, my parents and sister disappeared and left me alone with my uncle for a long time. I remember him being kind of uncomfortable around me. :dubious:
I didn’t see him again until I was 14. He had been diagnosed with cancer, and came to live with me and my dad. My mom was living in another town and my sister was married. Several of my adult cousins offered to take him in and care for him, but since he was still well enough to take care of himself he declined. Plus we had a huge house and he would have more privacy. I wasn’t crazy about the situation. Imagine a 14 yr old girl in a house with 2 old men. And he was still uncomfortable around me! After he started getting sicker he moved in with one of the cousins and died shortly after. Most of his money had been used for medical bills but there was still a pretty good amount left. My dad and uncle decided that half should go to the cousin that cared for him and the other half to me. :dubious: So for the last 20 years I’ve suspected he was my father, who knows who my mother was. He had a reputation as a lady’s man.
I don’t look like anybody from my mom’s side of the family, and just a little bit like my dad’s side. And judging by some things that were said to me at my mom’s funeral, I’m almost certain of it.

Your turn…

It’s not precisely a mystery, but it does make you go hmm - my aunt, uncle and mothers’ birth certificates were falsified by my grandmother, which was understandable as she wasn’t married to their father, she put down her maiden name as her married name and I think my grandfather’s first name and her maiden name as their father’s name. However, she then apparently lied to my aunt and consistently told my aunt that she was two years older than she actually is. My aunt has spent her entire life believing this and I guess it was a bit of a shock when she finally saw the birth certificate and it was dated two years later than she’d been told.

There is a lot of that kind of thing on my mother’s side of the family. That and my grandfather’s kids with his first wife were never told that my mother, aunt and uncle were their half-siblings, instead he told them that my grandmother was a divorcee with children of her own, one boy and one girl, he omitted to mention my aunt, and lied about my uncle and mothers’ ages, saying that they were teenagers when he married my grandmother, when in fact by the time his first wife died and he married my grandmother they were only four and two years old respectively.

It’s kind of weird how families can be.

After my grandmother died at 68, my grandfather married a woman whom he had dated before he met my grandma. The wierd part is, she (the old girlfriend/new wife) had a grown daughter who she had named Neila. My grandfather’s name was Neilan. I’ve always wondered about that.

When I grew up, I was often told this story about my great grandmother. My family on that side worked for a railroad, and in the 1880s, somewhere along the great plains, my great-great grandfather found a basket with an Indian baby left in it at a platform. They raised that girl , and she became my grandmother.

Anyway, not long ago, out of curiosity, I entered my great grandmother’s name into some genealogy boards. I found a query on her by someone from Oklahoma, and after we communicated, she related the exact same family story about her great-grandmother being found in a basket…however her great-grandmother was my great-grandmother’s sister.

She also claims that there was a falling out between two halves of the family around 1910…to make a long story short, me and some of my relatives plan on visiting Oklahoma this fall to heal a 90 year breach in the family -possibly caused by an argument over who was found in a basket or not.

There are a couple of mysteries.

First, my (maternal) grandmother was adopted. We did not find this out until a couple of years ago, and, for various reasons, we are now not able to find out where she came from.

The second mystery comes from my father’s side of the family. There was a relative of some importance named Thomas James, who purported to be an immigrant from Wales.

The problem here is, we’ve been unable to find any evidence of his existence in Wales, or, for that matter, when he came over here.

One mystery is I can’t prove that my great-great-great grandfather existed in Ireland. I can prove he was FROM there, but there’s no evidence whatsoever in any Irish records I’ve found (which are few, admittedly). I think he came to America on a spaceship. We know he came here with brothers, and their names are lost to us forever. There’s no telling how many people are missing from my family tree because of this :frowning:

Another mystery is more ominous. My mother found a death certificate belonging to a little girl who turned out to be my grandfather’s (mom’s dad) sister. She was the firstborn and died before the other kids were even born. NOBODY on that side of the family has ever heard of this kid; my grandfather certainly never mentioned a dead older sister. When my mother asked her aunt (the last living kid out of the bunch) about it, she denied it and hasn’t spoken to my mother since.

My grandfather’s father was a sadistic man with a violent temper. He damn near killed one of his sons (not my grandfather) and just generally wailed on all the boys whenever he was pissed off. Yes, kids died a lot more often back in the early 1900’s but I really wonder if he didn’t kill the little girl. Since she was born and dead before the rest came on the scene, it would have been easy to keep it from them. It was easier for families to keep secrets back then.

We have a couple of family mysteries.

  1. On my dad’s side, my great-great-grandfather was married twice (producing something like 23 kids between the two marriages – yipes!), and his second wife was my grandmother’s grandmother. Shortly before my grandmother passed away, I discovered a photograph of my great-great-grandmother, and I would swear on a stack of Bibles that she is at least half Native American. (This all took place in Texas in the 1870s.) My grandmother, of course, vehemently denied it. I have no proof, and now there’s nobody alive who could tell me even if they knew.

  2. On my mom’s side, her father was left as a newborn baby on the steps of a foundling home in New York City with his name pinned to his clothing, in I believe around 1890. He was later sent off to live with a Nebraska farm family as an indentured orphan. We’ve never been able to come up with any trace of who his parents might have been or why he was abandoned. (But he had a good upbringing with his indentured family; he actually thought he’d been adopted until he turned 21 and they sent him off into the world with $100 and a new suit of clothes, obligation fulfilled.)

Our family has too many to list. I’ll just go with a couple of the real stumpers.

My great great grandmother was born in Tasmania in 1846. Her birth certificate doesn’t give her name so I have no “official” spelling to go by. The earliest mention I have seen is from when she was about 5 years old and is in a letter written by her brother, and he refers to her as Arlette. She married at age 16, but gave her age as 18, and was widowed within two years. She apparently remarried, but I can’t find a record of it. I just she may have just lived in sin. Her children were born with the surname Smith, and all their birth records say their father was William Smith - but some list Arlette by her middle name, Louisa.

Then, for whatever reason, she moved from Tasmania to Victoria and married William Turner, my (alleged) great great grandfather, and her name is given as Harlette or Harlettie. Her marriage certificate gives her real age (one of the only times), and says that she and William each had 10 children, so 20 between them. Only his are given by name - they overflow out of the box provided for their names and into the column, so I guess there wasn’t room for hers too - and so I have to just guess at who these children are. I have birth records for one child from her first marriage (child died young) and five children from her second marriage… so I’m short four kids. Anyway, within two weeks of marrying Turner (a widower of six months standing and 73 years old), she gave birth to my great grandfather, Sydney. I wonder what the deal was with that. Was Turner fooling around while his wife was dying? Did the old man marry a pregnant widow to help her out of a tough spot? I guess I’ll never know. They had two more children before he died in 1893, so Arlette-now-Harlettie had those three plus the ten she claimed on her first marriage, for a total of thirteen children with only nine actually documented with birth certificates.

Three years after William Turner’s death, Harlettie married a man who was nearly 10 years her junior, but shaved eight years off her age for the marriage certificate. Mysteriously, her tribe of children were whittled down too - she claimed to have four children, two living, two dead. I don’t know how she planned to get away with that, but I’m guessing she didn’t for two years later - without divorcing or being widowed - she remarried. On this certificate, she claimed to only have three children, two living one dead. Most mysterious. This man, her fourth or fifth husband, was to be her last. Although she outlived him for a decade and a half, her marrying years were over. She died in 1921.

Most curiously, her daughters seemed to want to add to the mystery. They began giving their names on official documents as Stapleton Smith, rather than Smith, and claimed that their father was a man named Robert Stapleton. I can’t find any records of a man who fits the bill in Victoria or Tasmania for the period, but three of Harlettie’s daughters list him as their father on marriage, birth and death certificates. Even weirder - I have in my possession a request for Robert Stapleton’s birth records, signed by William Turner’s daughter. Why would she want her half-sister’s father’s birth certificate? Why did someone keep the request form for half a century but nothing relating to a reply from the records office?

Going back to the Tasmanian records, I found a death record of a child named Stapleton Smith, but it doesn’t include information about who his parents were. Was he one of the missing children? All I know for sure is that Harlettie had at least nine children, but only three of them were still living when she died. What happened to all the rest?

When my great uncle was married, he was listed as a “colored” man on the marriage certificate (I have a copy). There was also a note, written by the officiating minster, in the County Clerk’s Office with the file that asks the Clerk to correct the certificate to read “white,” “as I’ve known this man for quite some time and he passes for white.” Ah, so that explains the extraordinary size of my genitals.

Additionally, my great aunt (man above’s sister) stabbed her husband and spent 28 years in a State mental hospital (I have her medical records). Unfortunately, I can’t figure out why she stabbed him. Relatives that knew him as an old man said that he was meaner than cat shit and I know he had a least one illegitimate child, so it could have been related to all that.

The only real family mystery for me was always why I don’t look much like my sibs. I always figured I was either adopted, found under the front steps, just wondered up one day and my folks kept me or something. Of course there was always my favorite theory, I just got all the good looks. :smiley:

Then, one fateful day about ten years ago, I saw a picture of my great grandfather for the first time. Except for the way long beard he had, it was me! :eek: Guess that proved my favorite theory. I really did get all the family good looks. :wink:

None of us know exactly how old my (step) grandma was or even what her real name was.
We know she was one of 14 children born to her family just out of Kiev. She was born somewhere in the middle. She told me that as a young teen she married an older, wealthy man to come to the US right before the revolution. That would have put her at being born in 1902-1904. Her death certificate states she was born in 1909. She remembered too much about living in NYC during the 20’s, as an adult. She was a seamstress in the theaters.
Her second (?) husband, also Ukrainian, is unknown. She did have a child by him, my uncle who has always lived in another state. Her second husband did have a brother who I remember from when I was little. He was a dear, flamboyant, little man.
Having supposedly come to America in 1916-1917, she did not obtain a Social Security Card until she was in Minnesota, which we think was around 1955-1960.
Also, her death certificate names her Mary. I always knew her as Marie. She stated her name was Maria.
All I know is that she was the only grandma I had, and I thought her wonderful. I still miss hearing her butcher my name (her accent never left her, was always fairly strong). I miss her pieroghis. I miss her fiesty-ness. She bought me my first silk pajamas when I was 16. She said all young women should desire luxury, much to my mothers dismay.

My story involves my Mom’s side of the family. Mom told her kids about this, but I’m -still- uncertain if anyone else on her side of the family knows the “real” story. It has been a source of wondering for many years …

Back in 1934, when my Mom was about 6 (and a precocious 6 at that!), her mother’s youngest sister apparently became pregnant out of wedlock. She gave birth in the house that my Mom’s family lived in (they shared the house with her mother’s mother & younger brother as well as the mother’s sister and her husband, who actually were the true owners of the house). I guess they decided that the oldest sister would take and raise the baby, and they told my Mom that they had found the baby abandoned on the banks of a nearby creek. My mother didn’t believe it for one minute; she had heard the baby being born, and could figure it out, even though she was only six. My great aunt subsequently married, but never had another child; her only child was raised by her sister and brother-in-law, and to my knowledge never knew that her “aunt” was her real mother. Oh yes, after my mother told her kids about this, she made us swear to secrecy! I always wanted to call her cousin and tell her, especially when my great Aunt became sick and was dying, but never did–the possibility of it being such a huge shock, especially after all those years, was just too much of a risk. Perhaps she may have suspected anyway through the years, because she looks just like her real mother.

After reading everybody else’s mysteries, mine just sound like I’m being paranoid.

My mother’s uncle disappeared around 1930…nobdy in the family knows why he took it on the lam, except that it was rumored that he had been engaged to one of the daughters of John Wanamaker (of the Philadelphia department store chain). Anyway, these are the facts as we know them:
-he was born in Ireland in 1892, was naturalized as a US citizen in 1909. Served in the US Navy in WWI, re-entered the Navy as an officer candidate (Ensign) in 1922, was discharged in 1924. His last known address was a veteran’s home in Chicago, CA 1932.
WE have contacted the US NAVY Bureau of Personnel, all they have is his service record. And, as he took off before SS numbers were assigned, we have no way of tracing him.
Alas, my aunts and uncles are all getting on in years, and when they passon, this secret will probably die with them.
All that is left are a few yellowed photos from the 1920’s and a Navy officer’s cap. :confused: