Family History Mysteries

11 Feb Family History Mysteries

There are mysteries in almost everyone’s family tree. Here’s an especially interesting and difficult one that a man from another state told me about at a social event. He said he didn’t know who his paternal grandfather is. That’s a close relation in family trees! I didn’t ask for permission to relate this, so names are not mentioned.

This is some semblance of the story. His paternal grandmother came to the U.S. from Belgium in December of 1914 when she was around 20. She came with a family she was working for as a servant. She said her family had severed ties with her because she had left the Catholic religion. On the ship, she became friendly with the captain. At some point she also might have said that she was pregnant before arriving in the U.S. Nine months later in September, she gave birth to a boy, the man’s father. When the man would question his grandmother about his grandfather, she would tell him things that research showed were not true. She said that she took her mother’s maiden name as her last name because she didn’t want to be associated with her family. The name turned out to be her own last name and she did keep in contact with a sister. When she told facts about her husband, it turned out that she was actually telling facts about her father. The middle name that the man’s father used was not the middle name on his birth certificate. That middle name was the ship captain’s name. A photo from around 1950 of the Christmas tree in her apartment also shows that she had a picture of the captain on the wall by the tree. The man has gotten his DNA tested with 2 companies, but has not found any unknown relatives. Through research, he found a grandson of the captain who is about his age and is hoping to convince him to get his DNA tested at some point.

So what do you think? Is this man going to find who the real grandfather is? Are some mysteries impossible to solve or better left unsolved? Regardless, I hope this man continues to get information to help him come to terms with his identity.

Do you want to know more about your family history? Check out the genealogy page on the website to see all the services that are available. If you are needing more in-depth assistance, every Friday from 1:00pm – 3:00pm in the Indiana Room at the Main Library, a local genealogy volunteer is on site to assist you. And, as always, librarians are available during open hours or 24/7 at