Who’s your daddy?

By far the strangest thing that happened last week was finding out who Paul’s dad is.

A couple months back, a relative on Ancestry emailed asking how Paul and him were related. I replied back that I didn’t know and gave him what info I had.

Last week I got a message on Ancestry from this man stating that he thought he knew who Paul’s father is. There were some things that added up and some things that didn’t. Then I saw the man’s picture and was convinced that he was Paul’s dad.

My mom and I were working on our genealogy project but had to leave before I could show her the picture. I promised I would login and show her when we got back.

When we got back, I logged into Ancestry preparing to show my mom the picture of who we thought was Paul’s dad when I noticed I got another message stating that the mystery was solved. Paul’s relative found out who Paul’s dad is and it wasn’t the first guy. He left me his phone number to call for more info. I was debating whether or not to call him right away since it was after 10 PM his time. But I figured I would give it a try.

I found out that Paul is this man’s second half cousin. His cousin only met Paul’s dad once when he was little and didn’t know him well. We talked for an hour, then I decided to do some more digging. Paul’s dad passed away in 2010 at the age of 62. I haven’t been able to figure out the cause of death yet, but I did find out that his dad has 4 other children.

Paul has 4 siblings! He has nieces and nephews. He has a whole family that he didn’t even know about. So I did what any average person would do in 2019. I stalked them on Facebook. I tried to gather as much info as I could about their lives.

From what I gathered, one of the siblings seems to be doing fairly well. The rest seem to struggle. His youngest sibling had some trouble with the law. I think that Paul was probably better off not knowing his dad. At his funeral, they didn’t want flowers. They just wanted money to put towards the cost of his funeral expenses.

I only saw 3 pictures of his dad. In his obituary photo, he was wearing a tux and in a church maybe for a wedding. Paul looks nothing like his dad. There was a picture of his dad holding a fish. There was a picture of his dad hooked up to machines in a hospital bed. I didn’t get the feeling of a tight close knit family. There weren’t any smiling family photos. He didn’t leave behind a grieving wife.

When Paul got home later that evening, I had big news to share. I found your dad. He is dead. By the way, you have 4 siblings. As you can imagine, it was all very overwhelming. But a couple of days later, Paul said he felt closure. The mystery has been solved.

I’m not sure what we will do with the information, but now we know.

What’s in my genes

You may remember a couple months back when I told you that my son took the AncestryDNA test…He found out that he was only 7% German and I concluded that he probably wasn’t my son.

After all, my genealogy records put me at approximately 75% German…Mecklenberg…Bremen…Pommern…Germany…Germany…Germany!

People comment all the time that I look German. I love beer and sauerkraut.

Imagine my surprise when my results came back as 10% German. Really??

I am almost a three way tie of British, Eastern European (Polish, Czech…), and Scandinavian.

I am also more confused than ever. Could my genealogy records be inaccurate? It seems like all the research I did was a waste of time.

I knew I was English and EE, but had no clue about the Scandinavian.

Several years back someone asked me if I was Swedish. I laughed it off and said I was German. How did they know?

I was so pumped to dig into genealogy again. I wanted to learn the language of my forefathers. I wanted to travel to the land of my heritage. I wanted to dig up dirt and find my roots. But now I totally lost interest. Things don’t mesh up.

I hate it when one plus one doesn’t equal two!

Something appears to be rotten in the state of Denmark.

I used to know so much before I had so much knowledge.

Now everyone wants to take the DNA test. My mom took it and she has a large percentage of Scandinavian too. I know where I got it from, but where did she get it from??

It does change the way I think about things…I didn’t think it would. Do some of the things I like just reflect who I thought I was?

It’s not a bad thing, just different from what I was expecting.

I thought I would find confirmation, but instead I have more questions..

 

 

 

Grace uncommon, part 8

Aunt Grace was way ahead of her times. Aunt Grace was the Vice President of the local bank.

Aunt Grace earned what would be equivalent of an Associate Degree in Business in a time when most young ladies like my grandma only received an 8th grade education. She loved money and finance. She was most likely the richest woman in our small town. But she was never greedy. There once was a bank employee whose husband left her with several kids at home. One day an anonymous letter arrived at the bank with money in it for that woman. We all knew it was Aunt Grace because that was the kind of thing she would do. Another family had a tragedy where their house burned down. Aunt Grace took the children shopping to buy them new winter coats and clothes.

When it was our birthday, she would give us $50 in an envelope marked love always, Aunt Grace. At Halloween, she didn’t give out candy. She gave out rolls of nickels and dimes. At Christmas, we all received $10 worth of McDonald’s gift cards. If she ever gave someone a gift, she would wrap it in the comics section of the newspaper. Grace herself was a miser, it was sad to see how destitute she lived when she could afford to take better care of herself. Her washer didn’t wring out her clothes and her dryer took 2 hours to dry a load of clothes. Her clothes were old and worn. I didn’t find out how cheap she lived until I stayed with her at the end.

Grace worked as a bookkeeper for the family business. She also worked at the local bank. When I was a young girl, she was the VP of the bank. She would give me suckers and take me into her private office. She was so excited, she wanted to be President of the bank but women just didn’t do that in her day. Everybody knew her and respected her.

She always told me that I could do anything that a man could do. She went to a conference and brought a duffle bag back for me that read never underestimate the power of a woman. She was very upset that I didn’t go to college for business.

There were some things though that she thought that women shouldn’t do. She frowned upon me hanging out in the garage with the men. I didn’t hear the end of it if I went in there with shorts on. I loved the smell of rubber from the tires that were on sale there and even the scent of gasoline brought me comfort. But I never even learned basic things about cars.

One day while I was in college, I had car trouble. It happened on the day of a snow storm. I flooded my car. Today things are so easy, I step on the brake and push a button to start my car. Back then, I had to push the gas pedal to the floor once. Then while I had the key in the ignition I had to pump the gas to get the car to start. The day of the storm, I flooded my car. I knew that there was a way to pop open my hood and pull up on something to ease this problem, but I didn’t know how. I ran back inside to find a pay phone to call my grandpa who spent his whole life as a mechanic. It was all a fool’s errand because all I needed to do was pop the hood and about 10 guys offered assistance. I miss calling Grace or my grandparents for guidance. Now somehow I am supposed to be an adult with all of the answers. 

Last night all of these memories came back to me like a flood. Stupid things. Silly things. I felt overwhelmed by nostalgia, a longing for my loved ones long gone. I asked myself why I seem to be so plagued by these memories. Then I reminded myself that I opened the door by thinking and writing of these things. I feel very compelled to write everything that happened down so someday it won’t be forgotten. While I was studying genealogy, I searched to understand, to really know, the people that came before me. All I found were names and dates scratched on a piece of paper. It really meant nothing. Aunt Grace kept our family geneaology. The funny thing was that after she was gone I continued it for her. But with the internet and all of modern technology, I did not get any further than she did.

My childhood has been gone for a long time now. Now the childhood years of my children are coming to an end. It has been a difficult transition for me. I struggle with accepting change, even if it is for the better.

I have to keep writing.

 

Treasure or trash?

While cleaning out my grandma’s house a couple days back, I thought I stumbled upon treasure sitting next to the dumpster. This is always a bad assumption. It was a pretty cross necklace that had an ugly charm of a surfer attached to it. The ugly charm went in the trash and the necklace went around my neck. I imagined it to be a priceless family heirloom. The necklace contained the letter W and a crown. Since my grandma’s maiden name started with a W and her family came from England, I imagined a remarkable family crest. Since it also had a couple of dates on it, I checked my genealogy records for a match seeing nothing but the year of death in common for a great great grandpa with the last name W. 

About eight years ago, I started scouring genealogy records when they first came online. I got as far back as I could. But the information did not give me the answers I was seeking. I wanted to know these people, my people. What were their personalities like? Who were they? Who am I? I trudged around libraries, archives, and cemeteries with my grandma. I did find that her great grandpa was a settler in the area. He cleared out his own land and became a part of small town politics. Pictures show him as a wealthy man. He loved cats and his family was involved in theater and art. And that was about it. 

When I was young, only two great grandparents were alive. My dad’s grandma and my mom’s grandma. My dad’s grandma used to be a school teacher. She was a harsh, hard working woman that tolerated no play or sass. Any bad behavior would result in an ass whipping out in the wood shed from her. Even though she passed away when I was about five, stories of her put fear into me.  My mom’s grandma was a different story altogether. She was a chain smoking alcoholic. It is rumored that she drove a taxi cab in Chicago and smoked cigars. She passed away when I was in middle school. I remember her having a cigarette in one hand and a drink in the other.  You could hear her coming when the ice rattled in her glass. She hated kids, if we didn’t get out of her way she would holler. I only have one great aunt left. Soon these memories will be gone. 

Yesterday I decided to research the necklace I found. With the help of Google, I found I was in possession of a Prussian iron cross that was handed out to military personnel in the beginning of WWI. Hmmm, I even found out that this was the third iron cross issued by the Prussian government. It was a cross received by Adolf Hitler. The fourth edition of the iron cross had a swastika on it. I was beginning to feel very uneasy about my new treasure. This was not what I was expecting to find. Although my family heritage is German, I was really confused because they immigrated to America before 1914 the year on the cross. 

I called my mom to tell her about the iron cross. She said, “That old thing?” “Your dad said he won that at the fair when he was a kid.” Mystery solved. I held a gum ball machine treasure. Too bad it didn’t make it into the dumpster after all. I learned another lesson, sometimes trash is really just trash even when you want it to be treasure. Who knows, maybe someday my great great grandchildren will stumble along this blog in the internet archives and find treasure. I wish my children would know how wonderful my grandparents were. I wish genealogy was a search were you find more than dates of birth and death. Maybe someday it will be.