Or just family secrets in general…
Was reading an article about people’s family secrets that individuals had just found out, and I thought it would make for a fun little topic here! So what’s your family’s secret? I’ll start.
My several times great-aunt or cousin (about six generations back on my mother’s side), I forget which she is, was Cynthia Ann Parker, a girl who was kidnapped by the Comanche during the Fort Parker massacre in 1836. Cynthia was raised by the Comanche and eventually married one of them and had three children with him. Of those children, the most famous is Quanah Parker, who was known as the “Last Chief of the Comanche”, although that title was actually conferred on him by the U.S. government and not the Comanche themselves. He is, if I have the genealogy terms right, my second cousin five times removed.
I was doing my Ancestry a while back and found that out this way. What’s funny is, there was a family legend that my great-grandmother on my father’s side was full-blood Native American, but according to Ancestry she was Irish, not Native American. Go figure; I do have Native American ancestors, but the only way I’m related to them is through the Caucasian side of the family.
I’m apparently descendant from the Vikings. My dad used Ancestry dot com and traced his family lineage to Scandinavia. Our last name is from Holland were our descendants were kicked out of for being horse thieves. My mom’s side of the family has been traced back to the Campbell clan of Scotland in the 1200-1300s and she’s also related (distantly) to Queen Elizabeth.
My grandmother on my mom’s side came to the United States in the late 1910s from Nova Scotia illegally entering through Boston and she also apparently lied about her age to get in.
So there’s that
Oh no, I am not about to give you something to blackmail me with.
Some old and quite distant relative on my dads side of the family committed vehicular manslaughter. Had no idea until a few years ago.
My great-grandparents walked across Europe from Hungary, sailed to America and immediately joined the Hungarian branch of the American Communist Party.
Bonus story: The treasurer of their group was Bela Lugosi, who stole all of their money and ran off to Hollywood.
Bonus story 2: My grandmother was quite a looker and so was Bela and the group believed in free love, so they almost definitely went to bonetown. My grandmother looks like my great-grandfather, however.
Well if we’re going back many generations, my family (a) was in the US before the civil war and (b) is from Mississippi and (c) is white, so I don’t know if you’d call their history secret but it was certainly dirty!
Thankfully my grandmother escaped to Colorado before my mom was born so we’ve just relegated that whole history to the trash bin.
I’ll have to see if I can think of a less depressing family secret.
We found out recently that my great-grandfather was a Depression-era hoodlum, complete with jaunty hat and little moustache. He spent some time in Leavenworth, where he shivved some guy in the line for breakfast, apparently because he was hungry. Now my dad knows why his mom only allowed limited contact with him.
Also, I don’t know if this counts because I don’t blame him and it’s not really a secret, but my uncle was a draft dodger in Vietnam. He fled to Canada and eventually gained citizenship. He did move back to the U.S. for a few years after that particular crime was forgiven (I think by Clinton?) He still carries his draft card in his wallet.
He knocked Critter off the FBI’s Most Wanted list!
The man I called my grandfather was actually my dad’s stepdad. I found this out by asking the innocuous “How did you and Grandpa meet?” to my grandma during a boring road trip when I was 20 or so. She proceeded spill the tale of divorcing her first husband. Meanwhile, my dad (who never spoke a word about this before, during or after) was driving.
My mom found out later in life that her grandparents adopted their niece (her mom) during the Depression. She grew up thinking her mom was an only child until she saw a birthday card from her mom’s sister show up one year.
Ancestry.com has revealed my lineage goes back to William Brewster (as in the Mayflower - believable) and further back all the way to Charlemagne (less believable - not too often children are born before their parents in a family tree…).
Well, it took me about 20 minutes on Ancestry.com to discover that I’m black (1/64th black, actually). This was the BIG secret in my mom’s family, apparently. My gg-grandfather -who was 1/2 Cherokee and 1/4 black - lied his way out of the Confederate army, moved the family to Kentucky and joined the Union army. From then on, that branch of the family was ‘white’ while the part that stayed in Tennessee was ‘black’. (He had 19 kids so there are a LOT of us now)
On my dad’s side, the gene testing swab my uncle did shows that we’re apparently descended from King Brian Boru.
King Bwian Bowoo, you say?
Speaking of genetic testing – and I have doubts about all of it – apparently my blonde, blue-eyed, very white nephew is (drum roll) 0.4% Egyptian.
Sure, why not.
Thought of a good secret; it’s not secret anymore, which is why I can tell you, because when it was secret it was actually Classified so I’d have to kill you etc. My mother was a US Army Captain working in military intelligence (oxymoron) in Germany in 1983, and she was involved in Able Archer 83, the military exercise that almost set off a nuclear war. I only learned about this years later after it was declassified, of course.
I know a few Ancient DNA experts and they… do not have good things to say about those tests.
Yeah, I know it’s all kinda wishy washy (which is why I don’t ‘own’ the Brian Boru thing) We only did the swab because we know practically nothing about my grandfather who, although he lived more than half of his life in the 20th century, left a very meager paper trail. And part of what we have is not traceable beyond the few bits he left. We don’t even know who his parents were.
I do know about my gg-grandfather and his family because there’s actually a very clear paper trail for all of that, going back to the 18th century.
Well, my family history has a man by the name of John Damaron marrying a Cherokee woman named Aggie Grey Owl, and when I did my DNA testing, I was found to have 0.2% Native American ancestry. That would be about right for the number of generations back.
We don’t have any dirty family secrets that I’m aware of (my family is fairly boring), but the first of my ancestors to come to the U.S. did so in about 1692 (so before it was the U.S.) and settled in Lyme, Connecticut. However, the story is that he was actually a stowaway on the ship that brought him here.
My 9th-great-grandpa was Roger Williams, puritain minister man who advocated for religious freedom, separation of church and state, and fair dealings with Native Americans. For this he was driven from the Massachusetts Bay colony for “sedition and heresy” (yeah go Gramps!), so he founded Providence Plantations, which became Rhode Island.
So I got that goin’ for me, which is nice.
Supposedly, I’m related to Ike and Billy Clanton, who faced off against Wyatt Earp at the O.K. Corral.
If Ancestry and 23 & Me are to be believed, I’m functionally almost 100% Caucasian European. There’s like, a tenth of a percent unidentified. Which seems accurate to me, based on what few family photos I have going back that far.
The Quanah Parker thing I can verify outside of Ancestry though; my aunt had a genealogist do the family history and that verified the Quanah Parker connection independently.
I will say that I am somewhat annoyed that apparently Germany’s records are very thin, shall we say. I can go back to the 1600s, almost, on my mom’s side, but my dad’s side I can’t get much past my great-great-grandparents, all of whom were apparently from Germany and immigrated either to the US or Canada (my paternal grandfather was actually born in Canada and immigrated, a fact I never knew; he passed away in the early 90’s so I’d never asked him about any family history before he died). Past that I have very little clue for the paternal side of things. Guess two World Wars destroyed most of the records or something.
I can prove participation in both the Union and Confederate sides of the Civil War, and in the Revolutionary War on my mom’s side though. And interestingly enough, a house that belonged to one of my direct ancestors (I think he was my fourth or fifth great-grandfather) is currently in use by a museum of early Americana somewhere in North Carolina. I kind of want to visit it just to say “hey, this house was my ancestor’s; I’m taking it back!” Just to mess with them.
I am also eligible for membership in both the DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) and the DOC (Daughters of the Confederacy). I said no thanks to the first the HARD NO to the second