Ok, the title may be a little misleading. My Dad never led a secret life but he never spoke about the one he did have. I don’t remember him ever telling me about his life before I was born. So, to me, it was a secret.
By doing Genealogy and speaking with cousins I had lost track of 50 years ago, I was able to learn a lot about my Dad’s upbringing, previous marriages, and the things he had done. I discovered that he had married the first time when he was 22 years old. His wife was 17. They had a son who only lived for 2 months and his wife died 2 months after that. I never knew until about 7 years ago that I had a ½ brother by my Dad. I also found out that he never had 2 daughters that died of scarlet fever with a second wife. He never had any other children with her.
I found out from a cousin that my Dad had always been a “ladies’ man”. I thought that was odd. My Dad always seemed shy and insecure around women. I decided to look through the stack of old photos that my Aunt gave me years ago! Sure enough, over the course of about 12 years, there were pictures of him with about 10 different women. My Aunt had marked on the back of each photo “Dougie and his girlfriend “the girls’ name”. Wow, I had no idea.
The most interesting thing I learned was about some of the occupations that he had. He had been a farmer, a horse trainer, a coal miner, a railroad worker, and a butcher. However, for most of his life, he had been a carpenter and a bricklayer. These jobs I knew about. I just didn’t know where he had acquired the skills to do them. When the 1940 Census came out, I saw that he had listed his place of residence in 1935 as the CCC Camp in Lake Tahoe, California. I began to research the Civilian Conservation Corps in that area. I found that that is where my Dad learned those skills and many more. He never spoke of being there nor the fact he had participated in such a wonderful program.
I know it is too late to find much more information about his life as it has been 46 years ago that he died. I know I am going to keep searching and asking questions of my relatives in hopes that they will remember something.
I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.