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  1. #21
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    My great-grandfather on my mother's side showed up in the census as a three year old- bastard son of Matthew Donavan- mother unknown. We know that one of the daughters of a wealthy family in the nearby town was probably the mother, but I've always thought it was kind of romantic that his father took him and raised him.

  2. #22

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    Some of my ancestors on my dad's side of the family were involved in the Witch Hunts that occurred in Massachusetts in 1692. It was in Andover, which is in the same region as Salem, and is usually included as part of what we refer as the Salem Witch Trials. My ancestors were some of the accusers and a few were accused. No one was executed, as it was becoming clear at that point that it was just mass hysteria and a lot of bunk.

  3. #23
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    My maternal grandfather once hung a man... It's not as bad as it sounds. He was a prosecutor and someone he tried was sentenced to be hung for murder (this is a long time ago, when Turkey still had the death penalty). For some reason I can't remember, my grandfather did the hanging, rather than the state executioner. This isn't really something to be ashamed of, as I guess he was just doing his duty and the legal system was ok with the death penalty, but it still feels weird to think that someone in my family physically killed someone else.

  4. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by KHenry14 View Post
    I am a direct decendant of a survivor of the Donner Party. She was my fraternal grandmother's grandmother, and the rule around the house was, "that subject" was never to be mentioned. Also, evidently she never smiled, even to her many family members.
    I know Ken Burns deservedly gets the accolades for his documentaries but his brother Ric made "The Donner Party" which was shown on PBS' "The American Experience." Did you see that? It is one of the best but most chilling (no pun intended) documentaries I've watched. Your poor (many greats) granny...I can understand why she never smiled.

  5. #25

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    We're supposed to be 9th cousins to the Kennedys...I always say they got the money and we got the integrity.
    Give me one more quiet night, before this loud morning gets it right, and does me in.
    ~DC

  6. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ziggy View Post
    There isn't a single relatively sane, socialised and balanced person in my family but I guess you could tell that already.
    I hate to say it, but this really isn't that far off from much of my family tree. There's actually a lot of dark stuff in the not-to-distant past I don't care to go into.

    My mom was the product of a second marriage of her mom (so my grandmother) and it's a well known fact that the marriage was shotgun (literally gun point) as my maternal grandfather knocked her up (w my mom) and tried to avoid the marriage. He apparently carried on with another relationship through much of the 30+ year marriage and remarried her almost the minute my grandmother passed away.

    My paternal ancestors, back to my great-grandparents and before, were Gypsies from Bohemia, and there was always the implication that there were a lot of shady characters among them.
    Disclaimer: The post contained herein represents the opinions of a fan and may or may not bear any relation to reality.

  7. #27
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    My husband's ancestor was one of the last women hung in Salem as a supposed witch. She was also one of the oldest, a widow in her 70s.

    My great-grandfather was paid to get out and stay out of England - no one quite knows why. Apparently, he was not a very nice man and was planning to kidnap his grandchildren (my dad and uncle) after the death of his son. Someone in the family got word to my grandmother and the boys were officially adopted by their step-father.

  8. #28

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    One of my relatives - my dad's great-uncle, I think - was a Member of Parliament in Canada who introduced the first resolution in the House in the 1920s calling for the restriction of "Oriental immigration". :
    You should never write words with numbers. Unless you're seven. Or your name is Prince. - "Weird Al" Yankovic, "Word Crimes"

  9. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scintillation View Post
    Well my maternal grandfather and great-aunt escaped Germany in the 1930's--my grandfather was given the only family Visa by his mother, and my great-aunt was smuggled by nuns. The rest of the family was killed in concentration camps, including their then 9 year old brother. My grandfather came here, got his citizenship, joined the army, then went back to Europe to fight and free concentration camps. After the war was over he was Hermann Goering's translator during the Nuremberg Trials. Goering killed himself with a cyanide capsule rather than be executed. Once that was all over my grandfather came back and got his PhD in biochemistry. In conclusion, my grandfather makes us all feel like our accomplishments are insignificant. The man is now 91, sharp as a tack, and travels all over the world for pleasure. And he even resembles Albert Einstein. My great-aunt is a fun lady too, but she's been beset with health problems all her life and isn't doing as well.

    As for my dad's side, Millard Fillmore is a distant relative. Blergh.
    Wow that is fascinating---did your grandfather hate going to work each day because it was Goering he translated for? I'm so sorry about the family members you lost: I cannot reconcile the Germany that I love to that period when so much evil occurred.

  10. #30
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    I logged onto ancestry.com a few years ago, and someone posted a message on my family's site looking for info regarding my grandfather. He had apparently fathered a child outside of his marriage with a black woman and no one in the family knew about it. My father refused to believe it, but I kept in touch with the daughter's daughter, my cousin, and learned a great deal about her upbringing. My father is still convinced she's after the 'family money' (Huh? There is no family money anymore...) and refuses to accept that his hero father would step out on his family like that. But it is all true. My father hates the internet, because it creates rumors and falsehoods in his mind. I thought it was interesting.

  11. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by Louise View Post
    My father is still convinced she's after the 'family money' (Huh? There is no family money anymore...) and refuses to accept that his hero father would step out on his family like that. But it is all true. My father hates the internet, because it creates rumors and falsehoods in his mind. I thought it was interesting.
    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.

  12. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cachoo View Post
    I know Ken Burns deservedly gets the accolades for his documentaries but his brother Ric made "The Donner Party" which was shown on PBS' "The American Experience." Did you see that? It is one of the best but most chilling (no pun intended) documentaries I've watched. Your poor (many greats) granny...I can understand why she never smiled.
    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....

  13. #33

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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.)
    I'm not spoiled...I deserve all my stuff.

  14. #34
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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.

  15. #35

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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.

  16. #36
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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...")

  17. #37
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    ........
    Last edited by numbers123; 12-13-2011 at 09:16 AM.

  18. #38
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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.

  19. #39
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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..............

  20. #40

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    Quote Originally Posted by vesperholly View Post
    The German branch had money, but no large sums, which makes me wonder why they left (they were Christians, so not escaping persecution).
    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!

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