Dark history in your family tree

Discussion in 'Off The Beaten Track' started by Aussie Willy, Dec 12, 2011.

  1. Jenny

    Jenny From the Bloc

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    I can see that in a way - if you've always thought one thing and then find out something different, it makes you question everything else you held true. It's especially hard when it's someone as close as your own father.

    Conversely, one would think centuries would soften things - I did a little checking for a friend who has an interesting family history, and found out that an ancestor from the 1700s had spent time in jail. No record of why - could have been major, could have just as easily been as minor as taking a loaf of bread to feed his family in that timeframe. But my friend's father was very displeased when she told him, and refused to believe it.
     
  2. KHenry14

    KHenry14 Well-Known Member

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    Oh yes, I've seen it...and it scared the HECK out of me! Obviously it's more personal to us, but we all thought it was beautifully done. Less enthusiasm for the Crispin Glover film on the Party though. How they could make this story boring is beyond us....:rolleyes:
     
  3. skategal

    skategal Bunny slave

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    Let's see...from my distant past, we all share my paternal great-grandmother's last name as she and my paternal great grandfather were not married. Speculation is that he was married to someone else.

    In the not so distant past...We are pretty sure some of my first cousins are part of an organized crime ring (drugs.)
     
  4. Buzz

    Buzz Well-Known Member

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    There is some family lore that are hard to ignore but as to how truthfull I cannot say but here they are:

    1) There is a distant cousin who it was rumoured (when I was very small) would hire domestic workers and not only not pay them but physicall brutalise them as well. This cousin is known for being extremely rich so people just put up with her bad behaviour. I vaguely remember visiting her house at about 6 or 7 years of age and hearing a very thin young woman complain about her bad treatment. But nothing was ever done.

    2) My great grand mother was rumoured to have been born to very wealthy family of goldsmiths. And as per Indian tradition of the time she was married while still a child, but her husband turned out to be a drunk. Her family insisted that she stay at home but once she was of age she refused and left home to live with him. Her family then disowned her. As it turns out, they were right about him, and he died young leaving her to take care of her only child, a girl, all by herself. That child then died young while giving birth so she spent her old age alone because my grand father would not let her see her grand kids much.

    3) There is a distant cousin it was rumoured who ran away from home was she was young and was forced into prostitution. Her mother then paid a private detective to find and bring her daughter home.
     
  5. pamela95

    pamela95 Member

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    Not really a dark family secret, more a story of disgrace.

    My mother’s side of the family was some important member of the aristocracy in the Ukraine. Until my mom’s great-grandfather fancied himself a jack-of-all trades (even though he really wasn’t-he was a very inept lawyer), and volunteered to repair a neighbours malfunctioning gun. He botched the job and the neighbour accidentally lost a hand when the gun exploded in it. So he sued my great-great grandfather and ended up winning both all the family money and the land. My great-great grandfather, broke and humiliated, decided to move his family to Canada. I can only imagine the shock of having to go from important land owner in Europe to being dumped out in the middle of nowhere Saskatchewan to live in a sod hut.

    I’ve always wondered if they realised how lucky they were to leave Ukraine right before the start of World War One and the Russian Revolution. Had my ancestor not been an ‘arrogant fool’ (as my great-grandmother called him) who knows where I’d be.

    I also thought it was a sweet story that on the boat over to Canada, my 9 year old great-grandmother became best friends with a little boy. For the whole journey they played together, and then separated once the boat docked in Montreal. Twelve years later they met again, fell in love and got married.
     
  6. danceronice

    danceronice Corgi Wrangler

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    Well, if you go back REALLY REALLY REALLY far, thousands of years ago my father's ancestors domesticated the horse in Central Asia. (My parents did the National Geographic DNA kits. Told them there was a reason I had to have a pony.) Don't know if it's DARK...

    More recently, on my mother's father's side, HIS father and aunt were left in a tavern in Poland. (Though their last name is probably Ukrainian, and possibly Jewish, though said DNA traces don't suggest it on either side of the family. Not, at the time, there was a Polish state officially at all as it was oppressed and divided by the Russians, Prussians, and Austro-Hungarians.) He came over, but enough relatives stayed in that little town that we know they lost their home because the Germans bulldozed it to build the camp Birkenau.

    Slightly more recently still, my Australian cousins are Australians because when they escaped Ukraine in the confusion at the end of the war before the Red Army butchers came back (many Ukrainians viewed the Germans, SS death squads aside, as a liberator army because of the millions the Russians murdered in the 1930s) one member of the family was sick with some kind of fever, and the US authorities wouldn't allow them entry into the country. Australia, apparently, wasn't as selective and the whole family still lives in Sydney. (IIRC, the grandmother of the kids my age is MY maternal grandmother's cousins.)

    And...yeah, as you might tell, no one in my family is a big fan of the Russians, at least not from 1917 on (on Dad's side that's when his parents got out of Russian-occupied Poland.) Actually my grandmother and great-grandmother (both dead now) probably wouldn't even have been thrilled with some of my dance teachers being Hungarians, either. And really, my Russian roommate's mother told her and me both to stay away from Russian men, they were nothing but trouble. (She also said Polish boys were all charmers, and I was like "Yeah, so you met my uncles...")
     
  7. numbers123

    numbers123 Well-Known Member

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    ........
     
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2011
  8. vesperholly

    vesperholly Well-Known Member

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    This is all fascinating to read!

    My family is boooooring. The most interesting thing I can think of is that my maternal grandfather converted from Catholicism to Lutheranism to marry my grandmother, which apparently was unusual in the 1940s (usually the woman converted?).

    Most of my ancestors came to the US in the 1880s and early 1900s from Switzerland, France and Germany. The German branch had money, but no large sums, which makes me wonder why they left (they were Christians, so not escaping persecution). They fought in the wars and became shop owners and carpenters. I don't even think I'm related to anyone interesting or famous. :yawn:
     
  9. Susan1

    Susan1 Active Member

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    Not "dark" - just history. My uncle (my dad's sister's husband.....) was an aide to General Patton in WWII and was captured at the Battle of the Bulge and was starved and beaten in a POW camp. He was rescued and came home (of course). He has a POW license plate.

    And not a bit dark, but scandalous for the 50's, (no names, just numbered in order of birth) - my aunt (4) (my mom's younger sister) had a baby her senior year and put it up for adoption during the summer (no one at school knew). I have known this since the 70's. We were at my mom's (1) other sister's (2) house, and they were gossiping about her new neighbors. My cousin and I were talking about what saints the four girls were growing up and how the family didn't have any "skeletons in the closet". My aunt looked at my mom and my mom said "go ahead". So my aunt told us all this. We have never been allowed to mention it to the aunt (4) who had the baby. And it gets better..........

    In the late 80's, their other sister (3) called my mom and told her that Aunt 4 told her that the "baby" showed up at aunt 4's house out of the blue (duh) and said that he had been living in our city all this time and wanted to meet her!!!! She said she went on with her life (husband, three kids, divorce) and did not wish to have a relationship with him. (cold, huh?) Aunt 3 picked us up one Saturday half an hour before we were to pick up Aunt 4 and told us all about this and took us past where his parents lived and everything. Aunt 4 still does not know that I know any of this. I don't know if her three adult children ever knew any of it either.

    Just wanted to share my "secret" with somebody..............
     
  10. nerdycool

    nerdycool Well-Known Member

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    They could have been lured to the "land of promise" that the US was called during that time period. Because even if they were doing well in Germany, just imagine how much better they'd be off in America since all was golden!
     
  11. numbers123

    numbers123 Well-Known Member

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    Oh Susan - that is fascinating. It was a different time then, I guess I can see how aunt 4 would not want to acknowledge the son, especially if she hadn't told anyone about him.
    It is unfortunate that his 1/2 siblings don't know him, but maybe in the future it will be possible.
     
  12. Cachoo

    Cachoo Well-Known Member

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    My great great grandfather was one of five brothers sent from Prussia because their father wanted them to avoid serving for the Prussian military. I don't know why. But of course they came to America and ended up as soldiers on the Union side during the Civil War. Go figure.
     
  13. nerdycool

    nerdycool Well-Known Member

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    Prussia was a very heavily militarized country, and they weren't afraid to start/go to war to expand their borders. So maybe he wanted to avoid the eventuality of sending sons to war since military service was mandatory for men and gambled on only a possibility of it in a new country.
     
  14. Cachoo

    Cachoo Well-Known Member

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    Well that makes sense: And as a Union soldier his unit rarely fought but his closest buddies all died of typhoid fever. He survived it. He kept a diary but it wasn't detailed. Just a line or two each day when he was well. One thing that surprised me was when he used the N word. It was said once and seemed to be without malice. He said he met a N woman who traded him bread for apples and he said "God Bless you" and she repeated the same to him. The N word threw me because I find it so hateful. But I didn't glean any hate or spite in his diary entry. In fact this happened after the fever and I think he was lonely and grateful for the exchange. Maybe I'm wrong.
     
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2011
  15. smurfy

    smurfy Well-Known Member

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    Thanks everyone for sharing their families. I finally this year started doing some research. Nothing dark found. But still fascinating to do the research. I went to one cemetery and obtained key info. But the bonus was the employee of the cemetary spent 2 hours with me, walking around the cemetary and going through the internment books. Then I went to a church that had a cemetary and the pastor spent over an hour with me, and he showed me on his laptop his family tree.
    Such a bonus to be meeting such kind folks that are helpful. I knew finding information would be great, but the meetings/conversations have been wonderful. As I have time, I hope the journey will continue to be intriguing.

    The pastor (at an Episcopol church) was so funny, I was looking for my great great grandparents, with a German name. Besides researching his own geneaology he is looking into the history of the cemetery for his church. He said he had not heard/seen the name and we could not find any stones. He said he had not seen many German names in the records and was wondering why -- I told him the wife was born in England, so she got him to convert - and he just laughed.

    I love that so many here are interested in this. One of my friends asked me why I wanted to learn about dead people, they are gone. Even just finding out the name of a great great relative I find fascinating.
     
  16. nerdycool

    nerdycool Well-Known Member

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    The N term was super common then, and it wasn't seen as racist (well, to white people anyway). It was more akin to us saying "black woman" the way we do now. The N word was common probably up until the Civil Rights movement, and when people started to object to it, it became one of those things that people don't say anymore.

    I know, right? Some of my friends don't understand, but being an American who loves history, I'm so curious about how all branches of my family came to America and when. When they came and where they came from can be a history lesson in and of itself because you wonder, okay, what was going on in Poland in the early 1900's that made my great-great grandparents immigrate? And then you find out that there really wasn't a Poland then, but a region divided up by Russia, Austria-Hungary and Prussia. Then you find yourself absorbed in all the politics & wars that happened because of it, and learn a little about living conditions of the average person & motivations to uproot entire families. It's really enlightening. :)
     
  17. Andrushka

    Andrushka New Member

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    I can do that with mine as well.

    ... let me see...I'm related to the lady who built the Winchester house but only by marriage,not by blood.We are very careful to point out that she is not a Winchester by blood.:lol: Hence her crazy is not part of our family :D

    My Great-great-grandpa was a guard at Alcatraz.

    My great-great 7x Lynn McGhee (who was half Scot and half Creek)carried out a blood revenge by joining the US forces after the massacre at Ft.Mim's.Someone who was siding with the hostile Creeks killed someone in our family who was taking refuge in the fort after our plantation was burned down.

    On the other side of the ocean...They say our clan is descended from one of the sons of King Malcolm III of Scotland,who killed MacBeth.

    Also,my paternal Grandma was a McLaine..now the McLean/Laine's are a interesting clan.The variation in spelling is because there were 2 brothers who got into it and so one changed the spelling of his last name. One brother got into a battle with his nephew and beheaded him thus leaving his brother childless.It is said the McLaine's have their very own headless horseman that ferries the McLaine's into the next world. The childless brother was banished to an island with only an old hag as a neighbor...look up the rest yourself LOL
     
  18. Scintillation

    Scintillation New Member

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    I think he did, because he will not talk about it. It took him many many years to go back to Munich with my great-aunt, and after he visited that one time he has never gone back.

    This is a pretty cool story: When my grandfather came down for my sister's bat mitzvah in 1995 my mother gave him a tour of the synagogue, which included going through the kitchens. At the time there was a man named Max working as a cook, and he was a Holocaust survivor. He used to come to my hebrew school to show us his tattoo and talk about his experiences. Anyways, my mom was showing him the kitchen and introduced him to Max. Max recognized my grandfather and burst into tears, then my grandfather began to cry, and they started speaking in rapid Yiddish. Turned out my grandfather freed Max from Auschwitz in 1945--and they met again 50 years later. Max died 2 days before my bat mitzvah in 1999 so that was the last time they saw each other.
     
  19. Civic

    Civic New Member

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    If you want to find more information about your uncle's death look in the local newspaper shortly after it happened. The local police department or sheriff might still have a case file if it was never solved.
     
  20. victoriajh

    victoriajh Well-Known Member

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    Fasinating read.
    That gave me goosebumps reading it...
    You all make my family history seem so uninteresting!!!
     
  21. skateboy

    skateboy Well-Known Member

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    I don't know of any "darkness" in my family's history, but there probably is some. :)

    But of course, there's always Nobunari Oda's great (x17) grandfather, the famous Nobunaga Oda:

    "Nobunaga is remembered in Japan as one of the most brutal figures of the Sengoku period. Nobunaga was the first of three unifiers during the Sengoku period. These unifiers were (in order) Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi (also called Hashiba Hideyoshi above) and Tokugawa Ieyasu. Oda Nobunaga was well on his way to the complete conquest and unification of Japan when Akechi Mitsuhide, one of his generals, forced Nobunaga into committing suicide in Honnō-ji in Kyoto."
     
  22. Lanie

    Lanie Well-Known Member

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    My father's mother was schizophrenic and killed herself when my dad was 17. That's all I can think of. Oh. My mother's mother had an affair with the governor of Louisiana in the 50s, apparently, but I think that's just rumor. She was a writer. And my dad's great uncle Tommy was a member of the IRA. He was somehow involved in assassinating Lord Mountbatten. He ran off to Australia for awhile then moved to the States where he died.
     
  23. Civic

    Civic New Member

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    Your family certainly has had its colorful members. Your paternal grandmother's mental illness and suicide are tragic. However, the other stuff...possible adultery with a governor, IRA terrorist...this is the stuff of potboiler novels and TV mini-series.:)
     
  24. loulou

    loulou Well-Known Member

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    Dark indeed.
    But got the lucky side.
     
  25. Aimless

    Aimless New Member

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    My mother's father's mother's father was a self made millionaire in the early 1880s. Not quite a robber baron, but nearly. He was president of a bank in NYC. Got involved with an unscrupulous business partner who started a brokerage firm involving Ulysses Grant and his son. The bank made loans to the brokerage, which was basically a Ponzi scheme. Eventually the brokerage fell and brought the bank down with it. Great great grand pappy went to jail. US Grant was financially ruined and so finally decided to write a memoir of the Civil War. As soon as he started writing, he was diagnosed with throat cancer. He wrote hard and fast to finish the memoir in about 9 months, just a few days before he died of the cancer. The memoir is still in print, and it rehabilitated Grant's reputation in a huge way. Proceeds from it also supported his large family after his death. If my great great grandfather and the unscrupulous business partner hadn't ruined Grant, the memoir would never have been written.

    There's a lot more to the story (a young actress, a love child, a mysterious trunk, etc.). The unscrupulous business partner is an ancestor of Geoffrey Ward, distinguished historian who has been the first author on many of the books that accompanied the Ken Burns series on PBS. Ward has now written an account of this scandal, "A Disposition to Be Rich" which will be published next spring. I contributed some photographs to it.
     
  26. taf2002

    taf2002 flower lady

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    When I was in high school it was popular for a while to wear a kilt, in your family's tartan if possible. My grandfather had said his grandmother had immigrated from Scotland (she is where the red hair in my family came from) but he never could remember her maiden name. About 15-20 yrs ago I had a cousin who researched & found out she was a Campbell. If you know anything about Scotland's history, that wasn't what I was wanting to hear since apparently they were traitors. Of course that was the mid-1600's. I hope that's all been forgiven now in Scotland.
     
  27. milanessa

    milanessa engaged to dupa

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    I've never been able to verify any of the whispered deep, dark "secrets" in my maternal family so I put them down to imagination and embellishment through the years. I'm sure there were scandals in the hills of Alabama but nothing particularly noteworthy.

    Since I was only 15 the last time I saw anyone on the fraternal side (except for my grandmother) I don't remember anything much. They are French-Canadian, though. Must be some scandal in there. :lol:
     
  28. Cachoo

    Cachoo Well-Known Member

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    It gave me goosebumps as well: Compared to this my family history is uninteresting too. But think of how much pain Scintillation's grandfather endured. Maybe he would prefer being uninteresting and still have loved ones rather than have lost so many to the camps. I'm glad to read about the happy reunions. And I'm glad to read of his remarkable life. And triumphant in a way---Hitler did not get what he wanted after all. Surviving is victory.
     
  29. PDilemma

    PDilemma Well-Known Member

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    This brings to mind two memories of mine:

    1--At a conference for teachers on the Holocaust in Washington D.C., a survivor spoke to us. She brought a photo of all of her 18 grandchildren together. She had taken the same photo with her when she visited the camp she was held in a few years before. She told us she held that photo up to the sky at the camp and yelled at Hitler that he had lost. Because that was her proof.

    2--Summer before last, I helped with a community service event at the State Holocaust memorial with over 2500 Jewish teens from all over the country and around the world. At the end of the day, all of them and their sponsors were sitting on the hillside facing the memorial at this cemetery listening to a survivor speak. As an organizer of the event, I was near the front and able to look out at this huge crowd of amazing Jewish kids from everywhere--and I remembered the woman in D.C.'s words--"You lost, Hitler! You truly and really lost".
     
  30. FGRSK8

    FGRSK8 In Search of a Lost Chord

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    Lady Figureskates' great Uncle is Stanford White, the architect.

    He was murderd by the husband of Evelyn Nesbit with whom White had had an affair with...the Girl on the Red Velvet Swing.

    This event was covered in the movie, "Ragtime".

    My great great uncle was the chief financier of the Society of the Secret Six which funded John Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry. If any of the participants in the raid had ratted out the secret six, they would have hung as well.