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Dark history in your family tree

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

  1. gerb

    gerb Serial Lurker

    My Gx5 Grandfather was one Stephen Edwards, who was hung in 1777 for spying for the British. He is supposedly descended from Stephen Hopkins, who came over on the Mayflower, but I haven't been able to trace the line yet.
  2. Bev Johnston

    Bev Johnston Well-Known Member

    One of my great (?) grandmothers was shot by her son-in-law. He was outside on the sidewalk, and shot her through a window. The reason he gave was because she was a nosey mother-in-law.

    There was an unwed mother in the German branch of our family back in the old country. Don't have much info on it, but I'm sure unwed mothers were quite scandalous in the 1800s.
  3. Cachoo

    Cachoo Well-Known Member

    Thank you for sharing that---it has been quite some time since I've been to DC and I want to visit many sites including the Holocaust Memorial Museum. I understand it is very moving. And God bless the survivors for their willingness to share their stories. I love this thread because we read history all of the time but we don't speak about our own family stories. This is so interesting.
  4. Cachoo

    Cachoo Well-Known Member

    Did you uncle write at all? It must have been frustrating to grow into adulthood and age knowing your country allowed slavery. I would have loved to talk to him about his views and if he believed war inevitable.
  5. Dave of the North

    Dave of the North Well-Known Member

    Where to begin?:p

    William Millman (2nd cousin twice removed on my mother's side) (allegedly) got Mary Tuplin pregnant in 1887. He solved the problem by shooting her. He was hanged April 10, 1888 in Charlottetown PEI.

    I did a presentation on "Black Sheep in the Family Tree" a few years back and included this story. Coincidentally one of the people in the audience was a distant relative of Mary Tuplin and brought a poem that had been written about the tragedy.

    There are a few more murderers and victims but Billy Millman is the most (in)famous.

    Minnie McGee, who poisoned her 6 children in 1912, was not a relative, but her lawyer was a relative on my father's side. She was sentenced to hang, but it was commuted to life in prison. She died in an insane asylum in 1953.

    My father's first cousin went to jail in the early 60's over some shady stock dealings.
  6. FGRSK8

    FGRSK8 In Search of a Lost Chord

    He did.

    Unfortunately it was all destroyed in the the great Boston fire of 1871....
  7. znachki

    znachki Active Member

    A couple that I know of.

    1) In the not too distant past my mom's mother had three kids from three different men, but was only married 2x, once to my Grandfather. This was in the 1920's. My uncle's father is unknown. We think that she got pregnant when she went to Hollywood to visit her brother, who was a silent film actor. Incidently, that uncle was adopted out to the neighbors as a baby because their mother died shortly after he was born. However, that was not uncommon in those days.

    2) More distantly, one of my Great, or Great Great Grandfather's brother on my dads side, so this would've been early to mid-1800's, was a crew member on a known slave ship, and is buried in the West Indies.
  8. Cachoo

    Cachoo Well-Known Member

    Oh that is frustrating but at least you know his role during such important events in our history.
  9. Susan1

    Susan1 Well-Known Member

    It's commonplace now, but to know my mom and her sisters as "saints" all their lives, it was quite a shock to a teenager to find out about that particular skeleton!!! And then to hear about him showing up later and she rejected him? Geez.

    And here's the funny thing that bothered me after that, this guy, my "cousin" would have been 6 years older than me. What if we met somewhere and fell in love or whatever. None of them knew his name or the people who adopted him, or that they were still in our city. Holy Moley!!!!! (I think I always had it in my mind that I would never date a guy who was 6 years older than me - just in case!!!!)

    We're all in our 40's and 50's now. My aunt (she's a great-grandmother) will go to her grave never telling her "kids" about him. I know they don't know, otherwise they would have looked him up long ago. And I'm sure not going to tell them.
  10. Susan1

    Susan1 Well-Known Member

    Reminded me of something else - my cousin's (son of aforementioned aunt 3 LOL) girlfriend followed him to a bar after he broke up with her and shot herself in the parking lot when he came out to get in his car. This was back in the 70's. (Hey, my family's more interesting than I thought-not!)
  11. numbers123

    numbers123 Well-Known Member

    I don't know that it would have been so scandalous unless your family had some means. I am sure that there was many unwed mothers who did not have anyone to speak up for them or defend them or do a shot-gun wedding for them.
  12. ballettmaus

    ballettmaus Well-Known Member

    Since you weren't supposed to be intimate before marriage, I would disagree. I'm sure there were unwed mothers but I'm sure no matter their status, they were frowned upon and talked about.
  13. Aussie Willy

    Aussie Willy Hates both vegemite and peanut butter

    There were probably plenty. On my grandmothers side (my mother's mother) all of them got married about 6-7 months before the birth of their first child, including my grandmother. My mum was also pregnant with me when she got married. People definately didn't talk about sex education back then. One of the reasons why my mum had no problem with my and my sisters learning about it.
  14. topaz

    topaz Well-Known Member

    All On My Paternal side:

    My Great Great Grandmother was a gambling woman and was murdered in front my great grandfather in Harlem, KY. My Great Grandfather was orphaned at the age of 6 years and basically took care of himself and his brother from that point on. My dad said my great grandfather didn't talk much about his childhood and I can only wonder what he had to do take care of his brother and himself. I think for a while they were homeless and on the street or took shelter where they could.

    My great grandfather had many jobs in his lifetime: a shoe shine boy, a coal miner but he switched to bootlegging and being a body guard because "he didn't like shining shoes and hated the coal mine". So he switch to being a bootlegger when he was 17 years old. This was at the beginning of prohibition. He said he could make more money and he make his own hours. :lol:

    He was a bodyguard and possibly a "hit man":shuffle:

    This was in Harlem, KY during Jim Crow/segregation. My family is african american/black and my grandfather didn't want to rely on the employment from "whites" so he was very self sufficient and did what he felt he had to do to maintain that.

    He died when I was toddler so I don't remember him. But my dad says he was very generous, jovial, fun person. Down to earth and very direct.

    My Paternal Grandfather:

    He was married 5 times, twice to the same woman before he died in September of this year at the age of 84.
    He has 9 children with 4 different women; He left my grandmother in 1964 for a white woman(very big deal in 1964), he had 5 children with my grandmother and my dad was 15 years old when he left. My grandfather married the woman he left my grandmother for, but divorced 4 years later and moved to the St Croix, Virgin Islands. Where he met and married wife #3. I have an aunt who is 10 days older than me :)
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2011
  15. PDilemma

    PDilemma Well-Known Member

    One of my great grandfathers was a bootlegger. I have a copy of an awesome picture of him and his two cousins with their still that was in my great uncle's photo albums which my dad inherited. I used to show it to my history classes when we were doing the unit on the 1920s. It was taken before they ended up in jail for it!
  16. Cachoo

    Cachoo Well-Known Member

    My great grandfather was also a bootlegger. He was a Polish immigrant and lived in Camden, New Jersey and also spent time in Atlantic City. I didn't know this until a few years ago when I had asked how he had such a nice car during the early years of the Depression. A few years after Prohibition ended he died of natural causes. When I watched the HBO series "Boardwalk" the creator talked about the adage of sex, drugs and rock roll being sex, booze and jazz during Prohibition. My grandmom told me my ggd was very much a family man but I can see how his chosen career could be a dangerous one. I wish I knew more about him. The people closest to him are gone.
  17. Scintillation

    Scintillation New Member

    Aw thank you, he really is an amazing man. I hardly ever see him anymore, since I can't afford to visit Denver that much these days.
    So I decided to google his name at random, and lo and behold I came across an article about him: http://http://www-contendo.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1260181020506&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull
    His wife Dianne is my stepgrandmother. My maternal grandmother died from cancer when I was 6, although they divorced long before she died.
    It's funny, he never went into that much detail when I asked him about it, granted I was young and was doing research for a history project. My mother was also the one who told me he was Goering's translator, but here he says he couldn't face doing it, so he made his colonel give him other jobs. My mom's a damn liar.
    I should also mention that before he got his PhD in biochemistry, all he had was a bachelor's in animal husbandry. He set the record at the Univ of Chicago by getting his PhD in 5 years--a record that has probably since been broken countless times. Like I said, no one in my family has come close to his accomplishments--and no one has experienced that level of suffering either.
  18. taf2002

    taf2002 zexy demon

    My grandmother made "bathtub gin" during prohibition but she wasn't involved in the selling process so technically she wasn't a bootlegger. My dad's father died when he was 8 yrs old in 1925. My gm had 6 kids, 2 even younger than my father so she had to support them any way she could. She even laid track for the railroad during WWI. Even before he died, my gf had poor health & often couldn't work. I think my gm was an amazing woman.
  19. julieann

    julieann Well-Known Member

    WOW :eek: We just watched 'American Experience' on the Donner Party not too long ago, what a sad story.
  20. barbk

    barbk Well-Known Member

    My g-g-grandfather wrote a notable book on cheating (ahem, "Advantage Playing") at cards, was the primary gambling supplies dealer in post-Civil War NYC, and was ultimately arrested by Anthony Comstock of the NY Society for the Suppression of Vice (aka YMCA) for selling pornography, and sent off to federal prison.

    Sometimes the black sheep really are the interesting ones.
  21. Moka-Ananas

    Moka-Ananas Man's Ruin

    My father hails from Russian nobility. Some of his ancestors were working for the Tzar and apparently Alexander II. even died in the arms of one of my ancestors on the spot where the Church of the Savior on Blood was built later.
  22. kylet3

    kylet3 Well-Known Member

    This was way before I was born, but one of my mom's cousins (distant, no closer than a 2nd or 3rd cousin) who came from a real hot-to-trot hoity toity family, who was married with 1 or 2 kids ended up committing murder... How and who you ask? He strangled a hooker with her own panty-hose... He's out of prison now, but lets just say that family got knocked off their high horse real quick...
  23. oleada

    oleada Well-Known Member

    I find this thread fascinating. There's no dark history in my family tree, that I'm aware of. Well, except my father's grandfather was in the Colombian senate, which is embarrassing enough. :p (and I happen to know this is actually true as opposed to my father's family' compulsive lying). But there's some very interesting characters.

    My oldest paternal uncle is definitely one of them. When he was younger, he participated in the Bogotazo riots. He served in the Colombian navy but went AWOL and was eventually arrested and sent to prison. My grandmother bailed him out and got him a job on some ship. Well, one time while it was docked in New York City, he stayed out too late drinking and missed his ship :lol: He then met some Puerto Rican lady and married her, the first of his many wives. :p She is the mother of his two oldest daughters. Needless to say, that marriage did not end well. He sued for custody (and won). Not loo long after, he met a woman on a plane, they started a long distance relationship and then got married by proxy - she was in Colombia, he in the US. That was actually the love of his life. They were married for 20 or so years, had twin daughters and were very happy until she passed away from cancer very young :(. He's been living in Mexico for many years now.

    He's been married about 6 times since the death of his second wife. He's also a compulsive liar, so he told one of his wives that he'd served in the Colombia air force and retired as a pilot from Delta (he's retired from Delta, but he's definitely not a pilot). So, if we called him, we had to ask to speak with "The Captain". He told another of his wives that his family in Colombia was very rich (NOT), and that we all dressed up in gloves and expensive dresses. So she shows up in all these fancy clothes, and of course, my dad showed up at the airport wearing shorts and a t-shirt :lol:

    He's also missing a finger, but no one knows what happened. He's said the following:
    a. He lost his finger because a North Korean shot it off while he served in the Korean War (not true)
    b. He lost it while hunting tapirs in the Amazon :lol:
    c. He started an illicit affair with an Indian girl, and her father shot him when he found out. :lol:

    No one knows and nobody probably ever will.
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2011
  24. Cachoo

    Cachoo Well-Known Member

    That was a wonderful article and I like his humor (the remark about milk for coffee.) People like him are the reason I have such a favorable opinion regarding immigration. He was so young and alone and look at what he accomplished.
  25. Wiery

    Wiery Well-Known Member

    Letsee, I am a Trail of Tears descendant on my mother's side, and I married a man who is supposedly related to Andrew Jackson...so, I guess an argument could be made that I"m sleeping with the enemy... :saint:
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2011
  26. pilgrimsoul

    pilgrimsoul Active Member

    My mom's side of the family is supposedly distantly related to Dr. Samuel A. Mudd (the doctor that treated John Wilkes Booth after he assassinated Lincoln). It's probably BS though because nobody seems to know anything about how they're related to him.
  27. Tinami Amori

    Tinami Amori Well-Known Member

    Ha!.:) interesting-s...
    When Alexander II was knocked down by the 2nd blast, and layed down bleeding, the person who attended him on the ground was Police Chief Dvorjitsky. Then bleeding Alexander was carried to the Winter Palace, his private study-room, where he was attended by Dr. Sergey Petrovich Botkin until death which came 12 minutes later.

    So-s are we-s talking-s to M-mselle Dvorjitsky or M-mselle Botkin?...:D
  28. PrincessLeppard

    PrincessLeppard Holding Alex Johnson's Pineapple

    Except Auschwitz was liberated by the Soviets, not the Americans. Is it possible they met at another camp? A lot of Auschwitz prisoners were moved to other camps which were liberated by Americans.
  29. Marilou

    Marilou Well-Known Member

    I have been researching our family for the past three years, and one of the most fascinating things I have learned, is to take everything I have heard from family members with a grain of salt. My grandmother was convinced that her grandparents (William & Margaret) met on the boat from Ireland. One was supposedly Catholic, the other Protestant. Makes for a rather romantic story, but the truth is Margaret's family had been in North America since the 1700s. I have a copy of William & Margarets's marriage registration and she was definitely born in Canada. William did come from Ireland and was a member of the Orange Order, but I can find no evidence that Margaret's family was Catholic. No one was ever able to convince my grandmother though. She clung to the story she had heard as a child.

    On the other hand, there have been other family legends that have proven to be quite plausible. On a recent family history research trip to Southern Ontario, we learned that it is quite likely that my husband's ancestors assisted the black slaves arriving in Canada by the Underground Railroad.

    For me personally, learning about a family member's role in historical events, makes those events so much more meaningful, i.e. The War of 1812, the American Revolution, the birth of Canada, just to name a few.
  30. Holley Calmes

    Holley Calmes Well-Known Member

    On the Holley side, we come from a line that did NOT include the Holley Carburator folks, unfortunately. We come from the poor redneck upstate South Carolina Holleys. Some of them, in 1760-ish, took the law into their own hands when they couldn't get a British judge to come upstate for their legal needs. They called themselves "The Regulators" and did a bit of hangin' because some folks just needed hanging. They were acquitted though.

    This branch also includes my uncle who was a decorated Army aviator who flew out 3 times over Normandy on DDay, or something to that effect.

    On the Baugh side (my maiden name) I have people from Texas. Before they moved west, the first Baugh of my branch immigrated in 1865 to Tennessee from Manchester, England, where he had married a Butterworth. He was originally from Wales. I think it was one of "the" Butterworths he married, because we have old, faded photos of them standing in front of a huge house with all their servants. I am sure by the time they arrived in post-war Tennessee, it was a culture shock. I can only suppose their travel had to do with the textile industry.

    However, for the "dark" side...one of my Baugh GGGuncles was hanged for stealing horses in Texas. This is also the branch that includes the legendary football player Sammy Baugh.

    Also on the Baugh side are Freemans and Boones, and yes, Daniel lurks there but only by marriage. However, my snobbiest factoid is that my dear grandmother on my Dad's side, Berta Lee Freeman, was named after her GAunt who was one of Robert E. Lee's aunts. Or something. I have it written down. I like to joke that I am vaguely related to Robert E Lee...I did have two great-great grandfathers die as Confederate soldiers. (No, none of my family ever had slaves.) One of these was named Rufus Freeman, and he and I share the same birthday, so I kind of feel close to him somehow. He died at the Battle of Atlanta up around Rome, Ga.

    The other GGGrandfather who died in a Virginia Prisoner of War Camp run by the North had a daughter whom I love to tell about. Her name was Laura. They were from Kennesaw, GA. After the war, she and her invalid mother and young brother came to live in Atlanta. My Atlanta roots go back that far. She fell in love with a 35 year old parolled captain of Confederate Cavalry named John Hawkins, and she eloped with him one night by climbing out of the kitchen window. Her mother would not approved of the age difference. She was 15. They had 8 children, and every son was named after an American President.

    History is always so much more fun than fiction!
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2011