Saturday’s Dilemma ~ Just Stating The Facts

dilemmaI wrote a blog a few weeks ago concerning how much detail should be included in a personal story for future generations. I know I would love to have more information like this, good or bad, on the personal lives of my ancestors. The consensus of the replies to the blog reinforced my belief that we should include some of the “hard” stories in our genealogy writings. Now I have a new dilemma kind of along the same line.

A few years ago, I asked some of my cousins if they knew any stories about anyone in our family. I specifically asked for those of my Grandparents or ancestors further back in the line. I did state that if the person were deceased I would also like stories of those in our generation. I got a few short stories about my paternal Grandfather, a couple of Aunts, one Great Uncle, and one of my deceased 1st cousins. They are all great stories, but I have reservations about writing the one about my cousin.

Society has changed a lot in the last 50 years. What was accepted or tolerated then, is stop-racism-1taboo today. People are easily offended, and, in most cases, they have every right to be. However, we can’t change history nor whitewash things that happened back in the 60’s that we would find abhorrent today. The story about my cousin would be considered racist, and it is! However, it did happen, the world was in a different place than it is today, and it is a fact that it happened.

My dilemma is do I just write it as a fact, or should I include some historical detail and explanation of the times in which the event happened? Perhaps I could go into a little detail of how my cousin grew up and his family’s outlook on the situation that was happening?

 

Any input or suggestions would be appreciated.

 

 

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.

Saturday’s Dilemma ~ What Was She Thinking?

question markAbout 6 months ago I completed an 8-generation chart for a client. She was thrilled with the results. Several times since then she has emailed me to tell me how pleased she was. Do not get me wrong, I was glad she was satisfied with the work and was excited over some of the documents I had found. I have just never had anyone contact me about the chart this many months out. Then this happened….

Yesterday I received an email from a gentleman who said he was referred to me by this Surprise_Surprise_2015woman. He shared her 3x Great Grandfather and he wanted to know more about him. Apparently, this client would not share the information she paid for, so she told him to contact me. Then he wrote, “______ mentioned that since she owned the chart that you were to provide me with the information at no charge”. No, you read that right!

Ok, I have to admit I felt like hitting my head against the wall. Never in all my years of working with clients, I have never come across something like this. I am interested in how you would handle this situation. Have you ever encountered any situation like this?

 

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.

Saturday’s Dilemma ~ Secrets Kept

mom & bro 1943One of the best parts about Genealogy is finding the truth about your ancestors. This includes the family that is close to you. Growing up my parents were very tight-lipped about their pasts. My sister and I weren’t raised around family so, we didn’t have anyone we could talk to in order to find out information on them. When we did live near family I was aged 12 to 14 and the last thing I was thinking about was my parents’ past.

Mom & Dad ML 1948

My dad, Douglas Hughes was born on August 18, 1915, and my mother, Emmajane Smith, was born on April 25, 1919. They didn’t get married until December 13, 1948. So, a lot of living happened before they tied the knot. My dad died on June 24, 1974, when I was 19 years old. The only information I knew for a fact was that my brother, who was 18 years older than I, was not my dad’s son. This, of course, means my mother had been married before.

Dad, Mildred 2 and LolaAfter my dad died my mother told us that my dad had been married once before and he had two daughters. These girls and their mom died of scarlet fever. She then confessed that she had been married twice before. Her first husband had died of a heart attack in 1937. The second one was killed in a house explosion in 1948. She had been left a widow twice. She said she had wished them dead and they died! She refused to answer any more questions so we finally gave up asking. My mother died on June 16, 1999. This is when I started my Genealogy journey.

Over the next few years, I was able to piece together some of the missing pieces. I found a photo of my dad and his wife Mildred and their daughter Lola. My mother had written their names on the back of the photo. I found some very interesting things about my dad and his life, all of which were nothing like my mother had told us. These stories I will keep till another time.

Mom & Earl ML aged 17 1936

I found my mother’s marriage license to her first husband online. She and Earl Wilson got married on September 4, 1936. My brother, Gordon arrived 8 months later. I searched the newspapers for obits for Earl but I couldn’t find one. I searched for a death certificate but none was to be found. I got desperate and looked for divorce papers, no luck there either. I did find Earl in the 1940 Census along with a new wife, 2 more kids, and my brother! I then traced him down and found he died in 1980.

 

Mom & lierman ml

Next, she married George Lierman on July 19, 1940. Again I tried to find information about him and the house explosion. Believe it or not, I found a newspaper article about it dated May 17, 1948. Apparently, he tried to light a stove and it started a fire. So there was some truth in her story. What was left out was that in May 1947 George had married a woman named Georgia and she had 2 boys. So sometime before then my mother and he had to have gotten a divorce.

Nellie 1 obit 2

 

Now to my dilemma. Have you ever had a newspaper clipping or document that you believe you had read all there was written in it? Well, that happened to me. I found an obituary for my mother’s stepmother who died on February 4, 1948. I had read through it several times however, a couple of years ago I discovered something I had overlooked. As was the custom of the day the surviving stepchildren for Nellie Smith were listed. The two stepsons were listed as Raymond Eugene Smith and John Pleasant Smith Jr. Then came the two stepdaughters listed as Mrs. Otto Claxton and Mrs. Ike Cook. It had never dawned on me that Mrs. Cook was my mother. I can’t find any marriage documents for them. I even searched the surrounding states because my parents had gotten married in Arkansas. I also tried all the variations of the “nickname” Ike.

So it appears that my mother was married 4 times not 3. She was also never a widow until my dad passed away. All of my mothers’ family who may have known about her and her life have passed away. I have run out of ideas as to how I can find more information about the married to Ike. Any suggestions?

 

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.

Saturday’s Dilemma ~ John Pleasant Smith’s Death

shockedThis dilemma is a little different from the previous ones I have written about. With this one, I would really appreciate your advice or input into what to do. Let me start at the beginning.

 

John Pleasant Smith was born on September 8, 1882, in Hazel Hill, Missouri. He first married my Grandmother Ella McGowan on September 17, 1904. They had 6 children, 2 of them died at a young age. My mother was their youngest child. Ella died 2 years after my mother was born from heart disease.  He then married a widow named Nellie Jane Barrett on May 26, 1926. They never had children and Nellie raised his children. She passed away on February 4, 1948. Grandpa then married another widow, Nellie Robinson on February 15, 1949.

Dad and Grandpa colorized
1962

My parents moved us from Missouri to Arizona when I was 11 months old. My mother and sister had asthma and was told we should move to a drier climate. John was the only Grandparent that I ever met. All the rest had died long before I was born. He came to visit us in Arizona once in about 1962. In 1967 my family moved back to Missouri and we first lived in the same small town that Grandpa did. I was able to get to spend time with him and got to know him pretty well. After a few months, we moved into Independence, Missouri.

About a year later my Grandpa died at the age of 85. Now here is where my dilemma begins. The day he died he was out in his large yard with a push mower, mowing the lawn. This was nothing new. Although he was older, he still stood straight and tall. He dug graves at the local cemetery, and he managed a small farm on his own. He was in exceptional health for his age. He had gone to the doctor a couple of months earlier and he was given a prescription. I don’t know what it was for, but he hated the way the medicine made him feel. On this day, Nellie brought his pill out to him as he was mowing, insisting that he take it. He stumbled and fell backward over the mower. He broke his neck but lived for 6 days before dying.

Grandpas HSAfter the funeral, my Aunt Mae who was married to my mother’s brother Gene told us this story. Nellie and Grandpa had been having marital problems for years. On the day of the accident, she was at the house helping Nellie with some baking. When she went out to give Grandpa the pill she was irritated because she knew he wouldn’t want to take it. Aunt Mae heard loud voices, so she went to the back door and saw Nellie trying to force Grandpa to take the medicine. When he refused Nellie pushed him, HARD, and that caused him to stumble back over the push mower. Nellie told Aunt Mae if she tells what she saw the same could happen to her.

As far as I know, Aunt Mae never told anyone except my mother, dad, sister, and I. By the next year we moved away and never saw Nellie again. Because I wasn’t raised around family it has been easy to keep this secret. Over the last 10 plus years, I have “found” a lot of my mother’s family online. So, here is my dilemma.  The cousins have enjoyed reading my blogs about the Smith family and I have told them how I like to be as factual as possible, etc. What I am wondering is should I ask them what they have heard about Grandpas’ death? If they don’t know what really happened should I mention it to them? I do know that once Grandpa died no one in the family saw Nellie again as she sold the farm and left. What would you do?

 

cropped-blog-pic1.jpg

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.