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Old 08-27-2012, 05:23 PM
 
Location: Kansas
21,174 posts, read 17,612,409 times
Reputation: 19999

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I have a 2nd cousin who is really in to this genealogy thing. I am one of the older family members that remembers Grandpa (died 1962) and Grandma (died 1968) or there abouts. I have provided her with copies of all the photos and documents I have. She told me that she is keeping the "history" of the family. I think she would probably like the documents/photos but I inquired of my older son (age 35) if he wanted them along with 3 or 4 items that I have that belonged to my grandparents (thimble, hedge clipper, nail clipper and a tiny pocket knife) and he wants all of these things to pass on to his daughter. She also asked me to write down everything I remembered about my grandparents (I was born in 1954 so was a child) and I don't mind doing this although the thoughts come randomly now and then. The thing that bothered me was that she asked me if I could verify some information about my grandfather and an incident which I found disturbing and not the story I was told - basically that grandma lost her hair after a fire where they lost everything because she found Grandpa in the barn trying to hang himself. Smoke came out of my ears when I read that. It has kind of soured me on the whole family history thing. We lived next door always to my grandparents and I was with them all the time both with my parents and alone with them. They were both Godly people and I could not believe where this story could have came from. I was probably someone that knew my grandparents better than anyone. So, I am still steaming months later and yes, I wrote and told her that would not be true and the reason it would not be true. Maybe it goes too far sometimes. I did write extensive family history about all relatives in a notebook for my son with all the recollections of stories and happening and I never had to leave anything out that might horrify someone and it was an honest account. Yes, I can say what Grandpa would and would not do under any circumstances. Sadly, my grandma's hair never grew back but she was always beautiful to me.
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Old 08-27-2012, 06:41 PM
 
Location: Cushing OK
14,545 posts, read 19,452,953 times
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You might be wrong too. Getting angry won't change whatever really happened. It sounds like something which would be made into a deep dark secret. And you knew your grandfather after the fire. If he changed his mind it would have meant he took a new road. You could well feel that he wouldn't, but his point of view might have changed. You'll never know until you ask more, especially if it was known by others in the family. You can't leave yourself where you are now. It doesn't change the time you had with your grandparents, or what they gave you. Maybe if he found how he wanted to live, it helped make him the grandfather you knew.

My mother in law discovered about ten years ago that her father had committed sucide. It was in the 40's and he was in England, in the time when the real possibility that the British would lose control of the air and face invasion existed. People were genuinly afraid if that happened that it would be all over. He grew so despondent that he took a jeep and crashed it in a fatal collision with a tree.

The offical notification said it had been an accident, but the commander had privately notified her mother of the circumstances. Her mother kept it secret until she and her stepfather were moving and she decided to share.

It was very hard for her. She never knew him, but she had always had a different picture. She was angry at her mother for never telling her. In reality sucide at the time was not that rare with troops since it was so hard to believe there was a chance. Most just got listed as accidents and the private note was unusual. She had to deal with wondering if she'd rather never have known. But she managed. She in the end was glad to know.

Its no doubt a shock, and you can't ask them why nobody told. But he didn't die and you got to grow up knowing him. It was strength to change his mind. Take the positive. I'm sure every family has 'secrets' which may die with them or be dredged up later. One of my ggrandfathers left work one day never came back, but she knew why and never told. Nobody ever figured it out. When you look at the past there are a lot of things you might find, and a lot of mysteries, and a lot of stories which were never true at all. But you'll also find amazing things you'd never know.

Don't be afraid to look. What you had with your grandparents is still real, and the more you learn about their lives the more you know about what made the people you knew.

Last edited by nightbird47; 08-27-2012 at 06:54 PM..
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Old 08-27-2012, 08:36 PM
 
Location: Little Rock AR USA
2,457 posts, read 6,777,920 times
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AnywhereElse, please listen to what nightbird is telling you. I suspect 90+% of the people who post here can relate an unexpected, unhappy, disturbing, and unknown for years, event in their family trees. Some can accept it and some never do, and some, like me, considers it just an interesting chapter in The Tree. You must decide which of these is you, then go on down the road. Take care.
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Old 08-27-2012, 11:11 PM
 
Location: Pacific NW
6,413 posts, read 11,197,825 times
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I remember sitting at the funeral of an aunt (not related by blood), listening to all the different people who got up and spoke. Friends, her blood family, family from my side. And what struck me was how differently each person spoke of her. Everyone's experience of her was different. And their "highlights" of her life were very different from mine. You put all those stories together, and you might get a glimpse of the whole person. I grew up living next door to her family, and was in and out of her house daily. But it struck me that I really only knew her from one perspective.
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Old 08-28-2012, 01:15 AM
 
2,990 posts, read 5,142,927 times
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Ask her where she got her information. Did someone tell her the story? Does she have some documentation, i.e. a hospital record, police report, or newspaper article?
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Old 08-28-2012, 01:38 AM
 
Location: Colorado (PA at heart)
9,751 posts, read 15,628,580 times
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Religious people have committed suicide before. My Catholic cousin committed suicide. The fact that they were Godly people does not necessarily mean the story isn't true. I'm sorry that you've had to hear about something that upsets you but you say yourself the information must have come from someone who knew your grandparents better than you did. Did you ask who/where the information came from before dismissing it? Or do you not want to hear the answer?
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Old 08-28-2012, 12:29 PM
 
Location: Kansas
21,174 posts, read 17,612,409 times
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I should have asked her and I may. No living person will know my grandparents better than I did. There just aren't people that are still alive. Everyone was always inhumanely curious about why my grandma lost her hair and she was so self-conscious about it. People have always been cruelly curious. I am guessing the 2nd cousin got the idea that I was irritated about being asked such a thing. I don't know, it seems like she is dissecting the family, doing an autopsy? This is something that would be easier for her to do since they are names and photographs to her. Thank you for your replies I did appreciate them very much.
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Old 08-28-2012, 06:56 PM
 
2,990 posts, read 5,142,927 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AnywhereElse View Post
I should have asked her and I may. No living person will know my grandparents better than I did. There just aren't people that are still alive. Everyone was always inhumanely curious about why my grandma lost her hair and she was so self-conscious about it. People have always been cruelly curious. I am guessing the 2nd cousin got the idea that I was irritated about being asked such a thing. I don't know, it seems like she is dissecting the family, doing an autopsy? This is something that would be easier for her to do since they are names and photographs to her. Thank you for your replies I did appreciate them very much.
You've said how you feel so nicely "they are names and photographs to her." Just explain your feelings to her that way.

In doing genealogy for two decades I've learned to keep some things to myself. For example, I had an uncle who had a first marriage and my Mom told me lots of stories about the marriage and the wife. I've never mentioned anything to my uncle's son. I don't even know if he knows there was a first wife, let alone the raunchy stories.

If you'd rather not have your relative delve into this aspect of your family, just gently explain your feelings. She probably doesn't realize how sensitive the subject is to you.
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Old 08-28-2012, 08:07 PM
 
Location: Cushing OK
14,545 posts, read 19,452,953 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by daliowa View Post
You've said how you feel so nicely "they are names and photographs to her." Just explain your feelings to her that way.

In doing genealogy for two decades I've learned to keep some things to myself. For example, I had an uncle who had a first marriage and my Mom told me lots of stories about the marriage and the wife. I've never mentioned anything to my uncle's son. I don't even know if he knows there was a first wife, let alone the raunchy stories.

If you'd rather not have your relative delve into this aspect of your family, just gently explain your feelings. She probably doesn't realize how sensitive the subject is to you.
Finally, with the 1940 census, with both names showing, my grandfather's second wife is going to show up on the family trees of those who share him, but as he was ignored after dumping my grandmother, was ignored afterwards by the family. I'm glad she officially exists now. I think that when there are other spouses, even if there weren't children, they belong there. Sometimes it shows where people lived as well. I would tell the son there was a first marriage. You don't have to pass on the details. But I would say he should know.

I think most people would welcome the information about family over being upset. Its part of their life and if you leave it off your creating a mystery. Oddly, both of my grandmothers were raised by their mothers after their fathers were gone. One died, but my mother and grandmother always have said it was her second husband. It's my goal to find Martin Smith who came from England. The others father mysteriously left one day for work and didn't come home, his wife knowing why. Dad's family has tried to get a clue but never found one, and she never said, but I won't feel my heritage is complete until I know who my great grandfather was.

Mom said my g grandfather married sisters. That was a bit off. He married the grand neice of his first wife. I started looking for sisters but none of them had the maiden name of his first wife so explored further. I find it interesting and am glad I know. Both a set of Irish and a set of Scots immigrants I didn't know about in the picture now.

Someone later one would appreciate knowing those things too.
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Old 08-28-2012, 08:30 PM
 
Location: near bears but at least no snakes
24,019 posts, read 23,471,828 times
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The advice given to you so far is good, I think. The relative simply wants to know the truth and isn't trying to be insensitive or to hurt you. You could let them know that it bothers you but please try to be neutral and not get so upset.

At my dad's funeral an uncle said he wished he knew where we came from and his grandfather's name. I said I'd try to find out. A cousin said I was opening a can of worms.

Well, I did it anyway, worms and all but I'm so glad I did it. Yes, something tragic was revealed and it does hurt because I knew and loved those people. But the truth is better and I have so much respect for the courage and strength of my grandparents now that I know.
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