A Real Grandpa

You've probably seen those Ancestry.com commercials where someone finds out something special about an ancestor. Well here's a true story about exactly that.

As a kid I was told almost nothing about my father's father. Babcia, -- that's Polish for grandma -- had been married to another man, my father's step-dad when she came to the U.S., bringing my 16-year old dad and his sister.

We were told a little about the step-dad. He seemed to be a good guy, but died shortly after they arrived in America. Heart problems, I think.

"But what about my real grandpa?" I asked somewhere around the age of seven or ten.

"He was in the Polish Resistance," Dad said. (They'd emigrated shortly after WW2.) "We never heard from him again."

I'm told my brother and sister each asked the same question and got completely different reports.

"What was grandma Babcia's last name before she got married?" I asked another time.

"The same as ours."

"Were they related?"

"No. It's just a very common last name."

I'm sure you've already guessed something fishy was going on...and it was.

Photo of my Dad at a Printing show possibly 1990s?, from Family Album

A Secret Revealed

On my 17th birthday, my mom decided I had the right to know something. By this time she and my dad were in the process of divorce. She was tired of keeping secrets and didn’t feel I should be kept in the dark about my grandfather.

“This is a picture of your grandfather.” And she showed me the same photo you see here. “I promised your dad I wouldn’t tell you till you were old enough.”

On the back of the photo was a name. Notably the last name was NOT the same as mine. It was 13 letters long and contained two z’s! Once I got over the surprise I was pretty grateful I hadn’t gotten stuck with it!

Babcia had never married my grandfather. Dad cried when he told my mom about going to meet his father:

Babcia had dressed him up in his Sunday best and taken him to a corner outside a printer’s shop. He was about four years old. “Now when the man comes out, I want you to say, ‘Good day, sir. It is a fine day isn’t it. No I have no need of anything.’ Can you do that?”

Looking at the photo, I knew it was my grandfather. He was the spitting image of my father.

“It’s why your dad became a printer,” Mom said.

I found it pretty funny that anyone would care if Babcia was married or not. But those were different times. Dad was a big one on keeping family secrets and seemed embarrassed by her indiscretions.

Mom made me promise not to discuss it with my brother or sister (both younger) until she was ready to tell them.

Photo from our family album – the one Dad didn’t want us to see!

Family Secrets

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Growing Up Printer

Dad got his first printing job in New York at age 16 thanks to the parish priest who helped them get here after the war.

He owned a shop for a few years, but the market was too competitive and he landed a job with a company who sold presses. He was both setup mechanic and salesman and pretty darn successful at both.

When I was a kid, he’d be gone weeks at a time. When he came back he always had a print they’d used as a sample which he’d frame for our walls. Sometimes they were the terribad big eyes kitten ones or poker dogs, sometimes they were gorgeous landscapes.

We had a disassembled printer we kept in the same shed that my pony lived in. Moveable type and all!Dad kept threatening to put it together and teach us to use it, Never happened!

He did get occasional private graphics and print set jobs, and would teach us how to help. My mom’s first book of poetry was published this way! Us kids helped type it on an ancient ball-type typewriter with changeable font balls, and paste it together.

Once, back when he had his shop the mob offered him a “very special printing job,” but he refused. Not that the money wasn’t tempting for a poor immigrant printer with kids to feed, but…who wanted to get involved in that?

The smell of printer’s glue and ink chemicals is ingrained on my memory. When I smell them it’s like being with Dad all over again.

Go figure, the man I am married to (besides being a laser physicist and ballroom dance instructor) just “happens” to be a graphic designer. Meanwhile all our female relatives on the mother line are writers, going back to Willa Cathers. I’m thinking there is a theme here.

Photo: Dad on a company flier, sometime in the 70′s. From our Family Album

A Few Family Photos

Click images for larger view

This is Babcia in the rose garden, in the back yard of the 200 year old house I grew up in, Staten Island, NY (Neighbor's workshop in background.)

Babcia as a baby with her parents and step-brother. 1904

Dad at age 1. 1937

Dad, his sister and Babcia, 1953, right about the time he had his first job as a printer's apprentice.

Family Jobs? Coincidence or not?

Dad was a printer.So was his dad and his new-found half brother! My brother, while not a printer, works in the communications industry. If you're reading the web or connecting via sattelite news, he might be involved!

It seems that just about every female on my family tree line has writing blood. That's me, my sister, my cousin, my mother, aunt and grandmother.Maybe more! And way down the line I'm related to Willa Cathers - who was the inspiration for the character name of the protagonist of my Witches Gates Saga series of novels.

So is the idea that "jobs" run in families just wacky coincidence or fact?

Do jobs and trades run in families?


Coincidence! if anything it's just a matter of families passing their skill sets down,

Arachnea says:

they can, if there's a genetic propensity being passed along. these days there are so many options and opportunities for most people, relying on the family trade to make one's way in the world isn't a necessity. i think family lifestyles can also develop strengths in areas which are well used in particular occupations. a family of doctors will tend to pass on medical knowledge that say the basket weaver's family won't pass on. i think there are more contributing factors than just coincidence or "blood" which can determine the path one takes professionally.

grammieo says:

I think in those days families taught their children the skills that they could pass on. Some of the kids excelled and some chose other paths......

YourIslandRoutes says:

I'm going to give a no to maybe. I think if there is a special talent like writing or music, there may be something about it being passed down. But, I think for the most part jobs were handed down simply because being an apprentice to your father, uncle, etc. might have been the easiest way to earn a living.

jmchaconne says:

It did in mine. My family were stone carvers, and musicians. I'm not sure if it's passed down or hereditary, but it has been perpetuated, at least on the musician side.

Something in the blood! It compels us to follow a certain direction.

sierradawn says:

Artistic talent and a love for writing and painting run through the generations of my family. So I think that genetics play a definite part.

DeniseMcGill says:

I think so. But not always. One of my daughters is an artist like me but not the other. My mom and her mom were creative working in ceramics.

cravemycreative says:

I think we tend to stick with what we know. But I think a lot of times kids rebel against following their parents foot steps

marja79 says:

I did not know some of my relatives are/were authors. Some of them have passed away and some of them have moved to other side of the world. I have been writing ever since I was a kid. I wrote my first play at school and even directed it when I was 11 years old. That is not odd, but the fact I have exactly similar sarcastic style than my deceased relatives, whom I never met, and whose books I had never read. So I say it is something in the blood!

DebMartin says:

Don't know about jobs and trades, but hobbies and talents for sure. Music for instance. Sometimes it becomes an actual profession but often, even if you're working at another trade, you see music as a family history.

view all 24 comments

Confronting Dad

Many years later my brother got interested in genealogy.

He’d asked Dad about our grandfather on a few occasions, but Dad always blew him off.

“Maybe if we ask him together,” he said.

I’d moved to Florida years before and this was my first visit in a while. Dad, of course, wanted to talk about the Animal Planet channel which he’d just discovered. We sat through an hour or so of him replaying clips about tigers.

Both my brother and I are animal lovers but finally my brother turned off the sound. “There’s something we wanted to ask about…”

We gave him the name.

“Oh yeah, he was a family friend,” Dad said, getting that laugh in his voice that always told us he was lying or at least not giving the full story.

We drilled him for almost an hour, but he wouldn’t admit that it was his father. He did tell us a couple of super-vague details about the man.

Photo: Dad, sometime in the 80s? From our Family Album

Contact From Overseas

Years went by. Dad passed in 2007 and there are many funny stories about that, which might eventually make it into my writings. (Yes, they are actually funny as heck! Dad was always a prankster and he left several pranks behind when he left.) My brother continued the genealogy studies and started putting up a family tree on Ancestry.com

We found several new names to add to the tree, a photo of the ship my grandfather (a Danish sailor) had come to America on, and other fun items. Such as the fact that one of our direct ancestors was the town drunk of Massachusetts Bay Colony. Yep, they have record of his fines for rowdy behavior. Go figure.

Then one day I got an excited call from my brother. “Check your email! Check the site!”

As part of my brother’s research, he’d posted our grandfather’s name on one of ancestry’s boards. One day, against all probability, he got an answer.

Photo: Uncle Kaz from our Family Album — he looks just like my brother!

You've Got an Uncle!

Uncle Kaz sent a photo of grandpa. It was the same exact photo that we had. Except his copy didn’t have the bent corner.

Another mystery answered. That of why Babcia might not have wanted her grandkids to know. And what embarrassed Dad. She wasn’t just unmarried. She was the other woman.

Uncle Kaz sent us a photo of himself as well. He looks so much like Dad!

Unfortunately, Kaz doesn’t speak much English and none of us speak Polish. We always thought Dad refused to teach us his language because he didn’t want us to know what Babcia and were saying. Maybe we were right. But the language barrier is workable.

My brother did get a translator and they exchanged a few emails.

Uncle Kaz on a printing press installation in Libya, from our Family Album. OMG he’s a printer too! It must be in the blood!

The Saga Might Continue

At first, my brother didn’t want to give up our uncle’s email address. I suspect he wanted to keep the contact “special” for a while. I decided to humor that. For a time.

Today, thinking of the photo for this article, I logged onto Ancestry.com again to download it. My brother has the original. Thank goodness! If I’d had it I’d have lost it in my house fire a few years back!

I discovered my brother hasn’t logged into the site in at least a year.

And there was another message from Uncle K dated 3 years ago — it looks like my brother may not have seen it! K lost all our contact info in a computer crash back around 2011.

So I wrote him today. I’m so excited to have found family and so amazed that a photo could confirm it.

If the saga continues, I’ll let you know.

I Met Him on Skype!

After waiting several days and not hearing back from Uncle K, I realized that I had a Skype address for him. I wrestled with it for several days because my computer had (and still has) something broken with it, and I couldn’t log in. Finally I figured it out and left him a message to please add me to his contacts. For several days I didn’t hear back. Then one day, I got buzzed with a message that he wanted to talk to me!

I still feel a little faint!

There he was, live and on my screen! As said, he doesn’t speak much English, but we each pulled up our translators and figured it out. Omigosh! I sent the whole family his contact info and I need to take some pics to send him. Like NOW!

Ancestry Links

Okay, we actually DO owe this all to these folks. Otherwise we wouldn't have met Uncle Kaz.

Got a family secret or long lost relative story to share?

Or just say hi!

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  • sierradawn Apr 28, 2014 @ 5:39 pm
    My brother and I have found many amazing things about our family since joining Ancestry.com, and have got to meet cousins that we did not know we had. We both took the dna test as well. While we knew that we were mostly Irish, we had no idea just how very Irish we were until getting our results. I loved your story! Congrats on your Purple Star!
  • Lionrhod Apr 28, 2014 @ 7:05 pm
    It's an awesome site. I never guessed what kind of a difference it would make to my family. I'd love to do the DNA test one of these days. Of course I suspect it'd just tell me that I'm Heinz 57. Thanks so much!
  • Upon-Request Apr 24, 2014 @ 11:54 am
    What a great story! I'm sure I'll be uncovering layers of family history for years to come.
  • AtlantaGeorgia Apr 15, 2014 @ 11:52 pm
    Congratulations on your purple star! Thank you for sharing your story.
  • Lionrhod Apr 16, 2014 @ 7:17 am
    Ty much!
  • DeniseMcGill Apr 10, 2014 @ 2:21 pm
    Hi! I love this story. I had quite a time finding a direct link to my ancestors because the name is so common and because they didn't often use middle names. However, because of Ancestry.com I got contacted by a distant cousin and he helped put the pieces together for me. It was very cool to link the Scotts back to Scotland finally. And I am related to Sir Walter Scott, the writer and poet, but not directly. He was the nephew of my ancestor who came to America in the 1700's. I have to admit, it is cool to do the research and find things!
  • Lionrhod Apr 11, 2014 @ 3:58 am
    Nice! I especially like Scott's Ancient Gallic Melody. Very cool that you found your cousin!
  • OhMe Apr 04, 2014 @ 6:05 am
    This was such an interesting read and I certainly enjoyed it.
  • Lionrhod Apr 04, 2014 @ 8:05 am
  • Colonel2013 Apr 03, 2014 @ 7:22 pm
    What an amazing journey you have been on finding your Uncle! Thanks for sharing your story. Congrats on LoTD!
  • Lionrhod Apr 04, 2014 @ 12:40 am
    Thank you much! There's more to tell now! - I just have to take a moment to write it.
  • cravemycreative Apr 02, 2014 @ 2:02 pm
    What an interesting story and great pictures to commemorate it!
  • Arachnea Mar 31, 2014 @ 7:43 pm
    i think i popped in here previously but didn't realize it was also lotd. congrats!
  • Lionrhod Mar 31, 2014 @ 7:53 pm
    Yes, I believe you did! And thanks so much for back then AND returning now. LotD was one of the most astounding experiences of my life. Almost terrifying how many comments I had to field. And of course it felt wonderful all at once. I feel humble with the honor and whether it happens again or only this once, it will be something to remember for the rest of my life.
  • marja79 Mar 31, 2014 @ 10:47 am
    Great story! I discovered few quite dark secrets from my family, which I do not want to tell, but I can say that finally learning the truth feels good and bad at the same time.
  • Lionrhod Mar 31, 2014 @ 11:09 am
    Yeah! LOL I know that feeling.
  • DebMartin Mar 30, 2014 @ 6:43 pm
    You've got a fascinating story. Thanks for sharing.
  • Lionrhod Mar 30, 2014 @ 9:51 pm
  • sheilamarie Mar 30, 2014 @ 12:13 am
    It's funny, but I was just contacted by a family member in New Zealand yesterday. I look forward to learning more about that side of the family.
  • Lionrhod Mar 30, 2014 @ 8:42 am
    How cool!
  • grammieo Mar 27, 2014 @ 2:32 pm
    Family roots are difficult sometimes, especially when there are "secrets" that have caused "alienation" between members. Then there is the time factor, if you are not connected to your relatives, it is sometimes hard to make that connection later in life....
  • Lionrhod Mar 28, 2014 @ 1:29 am
    Yes, I agree. We tend to be a very close knit family fortunately, but you remind me I do have some cousins I need to get in touch with.
  • YourIslandRoutes Mar 26, 2014 @ 11:36 pm
    As a genealogist, I got chills reading your story. I'm so glad that you and your brother were able to piece it together. I have found a few secrets along the way. I think one of the biggest was looking up my grandmother's family in the 1920 US Census and finding out that her brother who was supposed to have died days after the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and Fire, was alive and well. I did approach my grandmother about it and got some vague answer like "oh, that was the other one". Other what? No, this was her brother. From talking to others I found out he was ousted from the family for some reason. I never learned why. But, my grandma and her siblings told everyone he was dead and to them I guess he was. I've only been able to find little bits about him in records. Hoping some day to find out what happened to his wife and kids.
  • Lionrhod Mar 27, 2014 @ 4:11 am
    Wow! Amazing story! Thanks so much for sharing it. My Great Grandma was a Spiritualist medium. They got out of San Francisco just before the quake because her spirit guide told her to leave.
  • Wednesday_Elf Mar 26, 2014 @ 11:13 pm
    I've thought for awhile that it would be fun to do a family genealogy. Who knows, maybe I'd find a long lost relative! Interesting story.
  • Lionrhod Mar 27, 2014 @ 4:12 am
    :) I'm having fun with it for sure!
  • Snakesmum Mar 26, 2014 @ 10:12 pm
    Great story, thanks for telling it. One thing though, you've made me feel old - way, way back, different font typewriters were the really latest thing!
  • Lionrhod Mar 26, 2014 @ 10:48 pm
    LOL Right!? It was "modern technology" when I was a kid! My first electronic typewriter still had a film cartridge and my second held all of 10 pages of memory! I started on a manual and used that for years, before the others.
  • conniec123 Mar 26, 2014 @ 9:12 pm
    I love a mystery! Thanks for sharing! My mom actually told me a family secret a couple of years ago -- not sure if anybody else knows it.
  • Lionrhod Mar 26, 2014 @ 9:19 pm
    Heheh secrets are so much fun!
  • TomMaybrier Mar 26, 2014 @ 8:34 pm
    Great lens! It's interesting to see how culture changes from generation to generation and this is a great way to preserve your discoveries.

    Congrats on LOTD!
  • Lionrhod Mar 26, 2014 @ 9:07 pm
    TY so much. Yes. Hopefully years ago I wouldn't have condemned her choices!
  • ItayasDesigns Mar 26, 2014 @ 8:28 pm
    Very interesting family story! :)
  • Lionrhod Mar 26, 2014 @ 9:07 pm
  • jmchaconne Mar 26, 2014 @ 7:06 pm
    My dad left when I was nine. I finally found him when I was 20 birthday. He died the following year on my 21first birthday. He left me with a wonderful British stepmother, two brothers and a sister. I introduced the two family's and we became as one. My two mothers became friends In the end, all is well that ends well.
  • Lionrhod Mar 26, 2014 @ 7:51 pm
    Wow. So glad for you that you at least had that year and found your other family.
  • GuyB Mar 26, 2014 @ 7:05 pm
    In my late 20's I got into a bar fight and me and the guy I was fighting went to jail. We later come to find that we both have the same father. I guess we each inherited his nasty temper and drinking problem-ha!
  • Lionrhod Mar 26, 2014 @ 7:52 pm
    LOL! Okay my friend, try not to get into any more bar fights and work on dealing with your temper!
  • Pastiche Mar 26, 2014 @ 7:04 pm
    My mother was an only child of German immigrants. Her father passed when she was only 15, and her maternal aunt had no children. She knew she must have cousins from her father's side of the family but had not seen them since her childhood visit to Germany just before WWII. One day I got email from my website asking me who the people in an old photo were. It was my grandparents - and this lady had the same photo, with the right names, as her aunt and uncle. WOW! Mom found a cousin she never knew about, and that cousin has traced most of the family tree. What a blessing for my mother to connect with other cousins whom Bobby had located. Family secret, not really - just lost relatives. Love stories like this!
  • Lionrhod Mar 26, 2014 @ 7:55 pm
    Oh how wonderful! There's nothing like finding/connecting with family. LOL I realized today (thanks to my brother's exhaustive notes) that me and one of my students might even be related. Of course it's a common name, but wouldn't it be funny?
  • ZodiacImmortal Mar 26, 2014 @ 6:28 pm
    If you want to ask how are you in Polish its Jak se mas
    like Yak SHe (as in a soft 'em') mash (a pronunced like Father)

    Hello (not sure how to ll but something like ) CHesht
  • Lionrhod Mar 26, 2014 @ 6:30 pm
    Oh neat! thank you! Dad refused to teach me a single word!
  • Mar 26, 2014 @ 6:18 pm
    Very cool stroy. Family stuff is always stranger and more entertaining than fiction. Congratulations on getting LotD!
  • Lionrhod Mar 26, 2014 @ 6:25 pm
    Thanks and yeah - fact way weirder and more fun than fiction, even for a fiction writer!
  • halloweencosplay Mar 26, 2014 @ 5:45 pm
    My grandfather might have had another family at the same time as he was raising my mother and aunt. Apparently my aunt met a woman who said she was her half-sister! But I haven't heard much about it, I'm not sure what became of that. How could someone have two families at once? I'd go mad!
  • Lionrhod Mar 26, 2014 @ 6:08 pm
    Yup. We waited in expectation of Dad doing exactly this! Oh please write about it! I'm dying to read your story!
  • Mia-Mia Mar 26, 2014 @ 4:24 pm
    What an interesting story. I've been wanting to research my own family history for some time, but just haven't had the time to devote to it. Your story makes me want to get busy. Congrats on LOTD. Isn't it exciting? Thanks for a nice story.
  • Lionrhod Mar 26, 2014 @ 6:10 pm
    Exciting isn't the word for LOTD. Almost terrifying. Been fielding comments all day long and I feel so humbled and appreciated and loved and overwhelmed all at once.
  • jetfuelforthemind Mar 26, 2014 @ 4:03 pm
    I am Lionrhod's sister. I just opened up this article and saw a photo of my father and cried my eyes out. Wasn't expecting it. I wanted to add that there was a huge secrecy about who our grandfather was and our father did tell each of us three completely different very colorful stories of who his father was and how his mother met him. The funny thing is we compared stories only after my dad had passed away. We were all at his house, going through his things and we began comparing notes and it was then that we all shared what we thought we knew. I guess I was the only one of us that had ever been told the real name of our grandfather. My father was once visiting me when I had a baby. He and I got into a discussion about his father. He told me another one of his colorful stories about his father, but then he did let me know his name. It was due to this that our brother was able to track down our real family. So I guess the lesson for all of us out there who have families that keep secrets is write down the names you are told, ask a lot of questions and keep in communication with your siblings.... and most importantly, don't wait until someone's death to learn the truth. Just think of where their relationships might have gone if we were in communication years before. Our father might have developed a great bond with his father and brother and we with our grandfather, uncle and cousins. Don't wait until people are gone to get to know them or you might never know what you have lost until it is too late.
  • Lionrhod Mar 26, 2014 @ 6:24 pm
    Dearest sister, I love you beyond all belief and your wisdom is ever vivid and personal and helpful. You have always been a godsend in my life. Don't know how else to categorize it. I am forever grateful that we were born together into such a strange family. (Wouldn't otherwise have been boring in comparison?) Yes, do not wait. Again I love you. Honor you, Respect you. Always have always will. You are one of my heroes.
  • LiteraryMind Mar 26, 2014 @ 3:48 pm
    It's more like, there are things in my family I wish I didn't know.
  • Lionrhod Mar 26, 2014 @ 6:28 pm
    That happens. Remember that every single step and encounter and bit of knowledge makes us who we are -- and that is a beautiful thing. I've had many experiences in my life that could have been termed as WAY less than ideal. Like a LOT less. Taken for what they are, I am grateful they helped shape me into the whole person that I am.
  • SingeBlue Mar 26, 2014 @ 3:44 pm
    Wonderful story of finding a relative, and of a brother and sister teaming up to confront their father.
    Glad to hear how you and your brother followed the threads of this story!
  • KathyT Mar 26, 2014 @ 3:42 pm
    Congratulations on your LOTD! Wow... I would love to learn about my relatives in Poland and Russia - but wouldn't know where to start. I know from just my Russian Auntie's stories about some tough times before they came over here to the US, but almost zero about anything regarding my dad's family in Poland. It would be interesting though!
  • Lionrhod Mar 26, 2014 @ 6:30 pm
    If your Auntie is still around please do interview her! Family history is often revealing in understanding who WE are ourselves.
  • EssyK101 Mar 26, 2014 @ 3:32 pm
    My grandpa was a famous blood donor and even donated to blood to President Nixon! It's not too often my family shares that with anyone. But the catch is, there are NO records of any story about him on the internet.
  • Lionrhod Mar 26, 2014 @ 6:44 pm
    Ohh very interesting. I am so much a believer in blood donation. Hmmm...I really need to go again soon! On 9/11 I spent about 5 hours at the blood bank. We later found out that much of the donated blood rotted on the docks :( Because I have a congenital heart problem (seems to be okay now) I have had many transfusions during my life and wouldn't be alive without them.
  • CassandraCae Mar 26, 2014 @ 3:22 pm
    My great great grandfather was murdered for his work to unionized coal miners in West Virginia, we did find out until after my grandfather died. I am assuming he was still worried about our safety. My great great uncle also fled for safety in Mexico during the time.
  • Lionrhod Mar 26, 2014 @ 3:31 pm
    Oh wow! I am so sorry! My grandpa was a union organizer/worker too. He was crazy brave (It's likely crazy runs in my family!) Your gg grandpa obviously was too! (Brave, that is, not necessarily crazy.) I'm still amazed that my family managed to live through the McCarthy era, and will be writing about that soon.
  • Cari_Kay Mar 26, 2014 @ 2:03 pm
    How amazing that our family mystery is also on our Polish side. We can't find any record of my great grandfather except on my grandfather's birth certificate. There's a family mystery there and the people who know the answer have passed on. Rumor has it the man ended up in prison or run over by a train. All I know is he (supposedly) married my 12 year old great grandmother when he was 27 and disappears after three kids. I could go on but, those Polish, eh?
  • Lionrhod Mar 26, 2014 @ 3:27 pm
    LOL how wacky! I hope you'll write a lens about it! 12 years old, that IS a bit crazy. Oh well, we get to tell Polish jokes, right? (Dad used to love them!) Dad & Mom married when they were 26 and 18 respectively. They started dating when she was about 13 or 15 (and trying to pass for older) darn it now I have to double check! :) She got freaked by the age difference and told him to go away. He stayed away for a year and then they dated till she was out of high school and legal. (Within 2 months of her 18th birthday.) I was born about a year later. She's writing a biographical novel/memoir about all this and more.
  • Cari_Kay Mar 26, 2014 @ 4:24 pm
    I would love to read her memoir! Just out of curiosity, was your family from the Cleveland area?
  • Lionrhod Mar 26, 2014 @ 6:16 pm
    Nope, not Cleveland, New York/New England. Though our family stretches across IL, KS, CA and more. But you never know. Cleveland could show up any moment. Mostly my mom''s family is from Syracuse NY and somewhere in IL/Kansas maybe. Great grandma was cagey about her personal history. And Poland, Norway, Denmark, the British Isles, Native American, potentially Rom Gypsy and Magyar Hun and Cathar Albegensian. You name it, I'm probably it.

    The memoirs are in progress!
  • donchichi Mar 26, 2014 @ 1:12 pm
    Pretty interesting!!! Got me thinking.........
  • MarcellaCarlton Mar 26, 2014 @ 12:44 pm
    We have discovered many, many ties to the aristocracy, especially in Scotland, England, and Ireland. What a surprise.
  • Lionrhod Mar 26, 2014 @ 1:28 pm
    Digging around in my brother's research so far I'm finding ties so far to Ireland, Wales and England. Glad he keeps such great notes.
  • vallain Mar 26, 2014 @ 11:59 am
    I'm gung-ho on genealogy and loving the tidbits I'm finding out about our family. Nothing as startling as you found, but I'll keep looking.
  • Lionrhod Mar 26, 2014 @ 1:29 pm
    It's a blast. Just spent an hour or three on the ancestry site.
  • partybuzz Mar 26, 2014 @ 11:46 am
    If I have a long lost relative, I don't know about it yet. Thanks for sharing your story. Congratulations on LotD!
  • Lionrhod Mar 26, 2014 @ 1:30 pm
    Thanks so much!
  • esmonaco Mar 26, 2014 @ 11:17 am
    Congratulations on your LOTD!! Amazing story, I'm glad you're getting some answers!!!
  • Lionrhod Mar 26, 2014 @ 1:30 pm
    Thank you!
  • angliterario Mar 26, 2014 @ 10:34 am
    I'm sure a lot of people can relate to this lens. I don't know of any secret in the family but there are interesting stories about our greatgrandfathers that are really interesting to know. For example I look very asian, but somewhere on top of that ancestral tree, I was told, was a spanish adventurer that progenated all the people in the Philippines with the last name of Grueso. We thought it was just the few of us in a province in Bicol but there were rumors that there were others with a slightly different spelling of their last names but they are also relatives, well distant relatives. Recently we found more of those relatives via facebook. Thanks to modern technology, lol!
  • Lionrhod Mar 26, 2014 @ 11:03 am
    Awesome! And yeah, modern technology rocks for this kind of thing. If it wasn't for the internet we'd never have known about Uncle Kaz.
  • Brite-Ideas Mar 26, 2014 @ 9:52 am
    amazing story - it's like our own personal family movie discovering this stuff! - I love ancestry research and spend a good deal of time on it (yes I some amazing things in our family background as well) - Congrats on LOTD!
  • Lionrhod Mar 26, 2014 @ 10:02 am
    LOL right!? TY!
  • Imhere2write Mar 26, 2014 @ 9:33 am
    One of the best lens!!
  • RenaissanceWoman2010 Mar 26, 2014 @ 8:56 am
    The closest I ever came to a family secret involved my maternal grandmother. I knew she was adopted, so I thought my genealogy quest would end there (with a sealed file). Turns out she was raised by family because of a birth that took place out of marriage. I was able to get enough facts to continue filling in my family tree. Congrats on your Lens of the Day!
  • Lionrhod Mar 26, 2014 @ 10:01 am
    Very cool - yeah hubby is adopted, and we already know his genealogy ends with a sealed file. However he considers his mom and dad his true parents anyway.
  • d-artist Mar 26, 2014 @ 8:51 am
    Congratulations on LOTD! Amazing story and unique in it's own rights! Europeans never disclosed information to their children. Coincidently I just finished a lens on a certain subject I've been researching in my genealogy. Because of Squidoo I have found answers to questions from contacts of distant family members....I love your story...hope you drop by my newest lens "Heritage & Traditions."
  • Lionrhod Mar 26, 2014 @ 9:59 am
    Nice! Will check it out!
  • StephenJParkin Mar 26, 2014 @ 8:33 am
    Hi great LOTD, but no real secrets to share.
  • Lionrhod Mar 26, 2014 @ 9:56 am
  • Merrci Mar 26, 2014 @ 7:34 am
    Congratulations on Lens of the Day! Your lens is great--so interesting. I hope you now find out more about him. It must be a fascinating journey!
  • Lionrhod Mar 26, 2014 @ 9:56 am
    TY - I am astonished! LOL All the way around.
  • Tracy1973 Mar 26, 2014 @ 6:57 am
    Awsome article! We definitely have a different perspective on babies born outside of wedlock nowadays and I am glad. Super exciting you found out about the Uncle you never knew. When we clearing out my paternal Grandmother's home, after she died, I came across an old photo of a handsome young man in a WWII uniform and it was not PawPaw!! Needless, to say I was astounded! Of course, right away I called for my Aunt and my cousins to come and look at the photo. My Aunt told us casually that it was our Grandmother's first husband!! Imagine our surprise!! She divorced him not long after they married and did not want people know due to her strict Baptist upbringing!!!
  • Lionrhod Mar 26, 2014 @ 9:55 am
    Oh wow! How funny she never gave a hint. I know my grandma had a secreet lover she met on vacation in Puerto Rico, but never married.
  • cheerfulnuts Mar 26, 2014 @ 1:28 am
    Discovering about the truths in our families has always been interesting. I have never met my maternal grandpa, and my mom never told us about him. When we asked her, she would just tell us that it was really sad and she didn't want to talk about it. I wish I'll eventually know who he was, and how he died.
  • Lionrhod Mar 26, 2014 @ 3:12 am
    Oh wow. how sad. I do hope you find out! My family on my mom's side has a bad habit of having family wars and disownments. A Gilette ancestor was divorced -- the horror -- and the children broken apart, some went with the mom and others with the dad. On the Willa Cather line, her side of the family dropped the "s" on the end of their name to dissociate from the other half of the family tree.
  • tonyleather Mar 25, 2014 @ 11:22 am
    What a very interesting and entertaining lens!
  • Lionrhod Mar 26, 2014 @ 3:05 am
    Thank you!
  • StrongMay Mar 21, 2014 @ 10:26 am
    Wow. I definitely want to keep tabs on this story.
    My family on my mother's side are all wood-house builders or carpenters. All the fathers, brothers, uncles, husbands (yup, my grandmother married a builder, and he built my family's house), everyone, for at least 5 generations. And now my brother is going to study architecture - not far from the family tree, either. And he's doing it because it interests him, not because it is tradition!
  • Lionrhod Mar 21, 2014 @ 10:32 am
    Nifty! I think we do it not because it's tradition but because something in our beginning, whether genetic or learned predisposes us. LOL I know that my passion for the written word is at least partly learned, But no matter what, I wouldn't do it if it wasn't the greatest "high" in the world to write.
  • StrongMay Mar 22, 2014 @ 2:11 pm
    I totally agree about writing. I love to write! :)
    Maybe the family profession is connected to the subconscious exposure as kids?
  • Lionrhod Mar 22, 2014 @ 4:42 pm
    I wouldn't be surprised. And conscious exposure too! Mom used to share her writing with me as a kid, and I've edited her work and that of several writer friends since I was about 8 or so. She even took me to a writing class she was taking and let me join the local Writer's Guild with her at age 12.

    Teaching is another profession that runs in my family, and my grandmother was a remedial reading teacher for many years while I was growing up, so I got exposed to reading very early - Phonics first! My aunt is also an English teacher, my sister homeschools and I've taught remedial reading and am a metaphysics teacher.
  • rconnor111 Mar 21, 2014 @ 9:51 am
    We like this lens!
  • Lionrhod Mar 21, 2014 @ 10:24 am
    :) TY!
  • MarathonRunning Mar 21, 2014 @ 8:57 am
    Hi Lionrhod! Thank you for sharing this interesting personal story! :)
  • Lionrhod Mar 21, 2014 @ 10:25 am
    Thanks! It was fun to do so!
  • ErinMellor Mar 21, 2014 @ 5:15 am
    My family is a bit boring, but we do have one great -great grandfather in the tree (not my branch) who was a sea captain, and it seems he had at least three wives in different cities at one time. We're not even sure that he ever actually went to sea!

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