Lionrhod profile image

How I Uncovered a Dirty Family Secret and Found My Uncle

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.

Dad at a Printing show possibly 1990s?
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Dad at a Printing show possibly 1990s?
Source: All photos from Lionrhod's family album

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.

The photo Dad didn't want us to see.
See all 9 photos
The photo Dad didn't want us to see.

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.

Family Secrets

Have you ever discovered a deep dark family secret?

  • Yes!
  • Nope, we're always up front and honest.
  • You don't have clearance. I would have to kill you if I told.
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Dad on a company flier, sometime in the 70's
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Dad on a company flier, sometime in the 70's

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.

A Few Family Photos

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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 The resemblance between my great-grandmother and my aunt is amazing.Dad, his sister and Babcia, 1953, right about the time he had his first job as a printer's apprentice. Dad at age 1. 1937 This is the only picture I have of Dad as a baby, and the only copy I have is digital. Sadly the original may have been lost in a housefire.
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.)
See all 9 photos
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 The resemblance between my great-grandmother and my aunt is amazing.
See all 9 photos
Babcia as a baby with her parents and step brother. 1904 The resemblance between my great-grandmother and my aunt is amazing.
Dad, his sister and Babcia, 1953, right about the time he had his first job as a printer's apprentice.
See all 9 photos
Dad, his sister and Babcia, 1953, right about the time he had his first job as a printer's apprentice.
 Dad at age 1. 1937 This is the only picture I have of Dad as a baby, and the only copy I have is digital. Sadly the original may have been lost in a housefire.
See all 9 photos
Dad at age 1. 1937 This is the only picture I have of Dad as a baby, and the only copy I have is digital. Sadly the original may have been lost in a housefire.

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,

jmchaconne 8 months ago

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.


MelRootsNWrites 8 months ago from California

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.


GrammieOlivia 8 months ago from Toronto

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......


Arachnea 7 months ago from Texas USA

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.

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

    Ruthi 8 months ago

    Although I believe it could be either , I'm choosing the side of "in the blood" not necessarily because we are compelled to follow previous generations of life work but maybe it is our destiny without us even knowing. And, it could well be a genetic disposition toward certain things and ways of thinking that lead us down similar professional paths.


    Lionrhod 8 months ago from Orlando, FL Hub Author

    @Ruthi: Hehe I agree!


    SingeBlue 8 months ago

    Especially with writing, living with people all my life who worship words it feels like its in our blood.


    tracy-arizmendi 8 months ago from Northern Virginia

    I don't really know for sure. My maternal grandmother worked in a bank, as a teller, and was a stay at home Mom the rest of her life. I am a nurse, so were both of here sisters, maybe there is something there... My paternal Grandmother worked for Blue Cross and Blue Shield and as a housewife. I don't know of any other caregivers in my family, but it would be interesting to explore.


    SingeBlue 8 months ago

    If it is blood, training, or experience, trades and talents do run in families.

    Writers are lovers of words, and play with them, understanding their power.

    A machinist cannot help but impart knowledge without even knowing, so too a master chef.


    HomeArtist1 8 months ago from Charlotte

    What a coincidence with my own family issue I learned about just this week regarding a personal ad, long distance and time. I've some digging to do today, as the newspaper publisher left me a message

    yesterday! I may be writing a story of my own, shortly. Thanks for sharing!


    Dressage Husband 8 months ago from Pine Grove, Nova Scotia, Canada

    Absolutely!


    Imhere2write 8 months ago

    Genes!!


    Brite-Ideas 8 months ago from Toronto, Canada

    absolutely in the blood!


    AnonymousC831 8 months ago from Kentucky

    Absolutely.


    Virginia Allain 8 months ago from Central Florida

    The women in my family are writers. I think it's something in the blood, though we see the role models in our daily lives too.


    MarcellaCarlton 8 months ago

    I'm somehow sure that it is in the blood. How else would twins, who are separated at birth, end up in the same field of work?


    GuyB LM 8 months ago

    My families makes custom baseballs. Business has been in the family for generations.


    Tom Maybrier 8 months ago

    Definitely. There's social pressure, bias and simply exposure - we often want to do what we have seen our role models do.


    conniec123 8 months ago

    I think talent runs in families. Many in my family sing and play instruments.


    DebMartin 8 months ago

    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.


    Marja79 7 months ago

    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!


    Ashley Creative 7 months ago from United States

    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


    PAINTDRIPS 7 months ago from Fresno CA

    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.


    sierradawn lm 7 months ago

    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.


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      You Can Write Your Family History
      You Can Write Your Family History

      Bring your family history to life. From choosing a theme to adding suspense, drama and romance. This book will help you tell the stories of your ancestors.

       

      A Family of Historians

      As a family of writers, I probably shouldn't be surprised that collecting the stories of our ancestors has become such a passion for myself and my family.

      Family gatherings were a time for storytelling. We'd hear about Grandpa and the Bird-Shot Partridge, Capitalism (a Model-T Ford used in a May Day Parade) and the story of Babcia and the Apple Tree. I could sit around the dinner table or the fireplace for hours, listening to the older folks spin their yarns. "Just one more," I'd beg at bedtime.

      Mom usually read us bedtime stories, but these were even better. Tales with characters I knew. And most of them far quirkier than any book.

      One of my Mom's earliest major writing projects was a novel based on my Babcia's struggle to keep her children safe during the war. I remember that she showed me a chapter with the scene of Babcia taking Dad to visit his father at work. (At the time I assumed that was before he left to join the Resistance fighters.) Mom was never happy with that one. Now I know why.

      Sadly, that excellent project went by the wayside when my parents divorced.

      Decades later a good chunk of my family is writing our history. Mom's writing a novel about her divorce and the ensuing aftermath of dealing with three out-of control teenagers. She and her sister are also collaborating on a novel about their childhood growing up during the McCarthy Era. My own sister and I are working on a book about my sister's challenges with an abusive ex and a daughter with emotional disabilities.

      And that fireside story about Babcia and the Apple Tree? It made it into a chapter of my recently published novel.

      Dad. Sometime in the 80s?
      Dad. Sometime in the 80s?

      Confronting Dad

      Many years later my brother got interested in genealogy. Another family historian. go figure.

      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.

      Uncle Kaz  -- he looks just like my brother!
      See all 9 photos
      Uncle Kaz -- he looks just like my brother!

      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.

      Uncle Kaz on a printing press installation in Libya. OMG he's a printer too! It must be in the blood!
      See all 9 photos
      Uncle Kaz on a printing press installation in Libya. OMG he's a printer too! It must be in the blood!

      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.

      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!

      This page received the Purple Star award back on Squidoo. Thank you kindly to those who recommended it.

      © 2014 Lionrhod Last updated on October 20, 2014

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      Got a family secret or long lost relative story to share? - Or just say hi! 110 comments

      Elsie Hagley profile image

      Elsie Hagley 8 months ago from New Zealand Level 7 Commenter

      Hi, I do genealogy also, love it. I haven't found any secrets yet, but love finding new family members that are not on my family history yet. Looking forward to more news when you find it. Happy Days.


      Joanne Reid profile image

      Joanne Reid 8 months ago from Prince Edward Island/Arizona Level 1 Commenter

      I have a genealogy blog (geekgranny.com) and am doing the 52 ancestors challenge. One of my great great grand aunts turned out to have a very interesting story. She was in the family tree as being unmarried. But in her 40s she had a daughter. She and her daughter moved to the United States in the 1880s and the daughter married and had a large family. My aunt lived to be at least 100 -- she showed up in the 1920 census as living with her daughter and son-in-law and her age was listed then as being 100. I love this story you have here.


      Lionrhod profile image

      Lionrhod 8 months ago from Orlando, FL Hub Author

      @Joanne Reid: Sounds like it's going to be an interesting blog. Will check it out. :)


      Lionrhod profile image

      Lionrhod 8 months ago from Orlando, FL Hub Author

      @Elsie Hagley: Thanks! Genealogy is fun, but right now I'm letting my brother do all the hard work. He's so much more efficient than I am at it. He's found a bucketload of new ancestors and may have even nailed down my Great Grandmother - a famous changer of both her names and spellings.


      Ruthi 8 months ago

      I think it awesome that you are getting to the truth of your ancestors. I envy you that, in a way, as with my situation the secrets died with the elders.


      Lionrhod profile image

      Lionrhod 8 months ago from Orlando, FL Hub Author

      @Ruthi: Just very lucky that we knew it was bull and that we searched further, but the actual revelation was pure miracle.


      Erin Mellor profile image

      Erin Mellor 8 months ago from Europe Level 2 Commenter

      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!


      MarathonRunning profile image

      MarathonRunning 8 months ago from Croatia, Europe

      Hi Lionrhod! Thank you for sharing this interesting personal story! :)


      RobertConnorIII profile image

      RobertConnorIII 8 months ago from Michigan

      We like this lens!


      Lionrhod profile image

      Lionrhod 8 months ago from Orlando, FL Hub Author

      @RobertConnorIII: :) TY!


      Lionrhod profile image

      Lionrhod 8 months ago from Orlando, FL Hub Author

      @MarathonRunning: Thanks! It was fun to do so!


      StrongMay 8 months ago

      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 profile image

      Lionrhod 8 months ago from Orlando, FL Hub Author

      @Erin Mellor: LOL! Awesome story! TY! With Dad often away at different conventions, we sometimes expected he'd do something like that! Great Grandpa on Mom's side (also a seafarer) admitted to having a girlfriend before he met my Great Grandma. Allegedly pregnant, but also diagnosed with TB so no clue if she made it and he didn't go back to check :(.


      Lionrhod profile image

      Lionrhod 8 months ago from Orlando, FL Hub Author

      @StrongMay: 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 8 months ago

      @Lionrhod: I totally agree about writing. I love to write! :)

      Maybe the family profession is connected to the subconscious exposure as kids?


      Lionrhod profile image

      Lionrhod 8 months ago from Orlando, FL Hub Author

      @StrongMay: 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.


      tonyleather 8 months ago

      What a very interesting and entertaining lens!


      rainykua profile image

      rainykua 8 months ago Level 1 Commenter

      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 profile image

      Lionrhod 8 months ago from Orlando, FL Hub Author

      @tonyleather: Thank you!


      Lionrhod profile image

      Lionrhod 8 months ago from Orlando, FL Hub Author

      @rainykua: 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.


      tracy-arizmendi profile image

      tracy-arizmendi 8 months ago from Northern Virginia Level 4 Commenter

      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!!!


      Merrci profile image

      Merrci 8 months ago from Oregon's Southern Coast Level 7 Commenter

      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!


      Dressage Husband profile image

      Dressage Husband 8 months ago from Pine Grove, Nova Scotia, Canada Level 5 Commenter

      Hi great LOTD, but no real secrets to share.


      delia-delia profile image

      delia-delia 8 months ago Level 4 Commenter

      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."


      Diana Wenzel profile image

      Diana Wenzel 8 months ago from Colorado Level 6 Commenter

      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!


      Imhere2write profile image

      Imhere2write 8 months ago

      One of the best lens!!


      Brite-Ideas profile image

      Brite-Ideas 8 months ago from Toronto, Canada Level 7 Commenter

      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 profile image

      Lionrhod 8 months ago from Orlando, FL Hub Author

      @tracy-arizmendi: 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.


      Lionrhod profile image

      Lionrhod 8 months ago from Orlando, FL Hub Author

      @Merrci: TY - I am astonished! LOL All the way around.


      Lionrhod profile image

      Lionrhod 8 months ago from Orlando, FL Hub Author

      @Dressage Husband: :)


      Lionrhod profile image

      Lionrhod 8 months ago from Orlando, FL Hub Author

      @delia-delia: Nice! Will check it out!


      Lionrhod profile image

      Lionrhod 8 months ago from Orlando, FL Hub Author

      @Diana Wenzel: 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.


      Lionrhod profile image

      Lionrhod 8 months ago from Orlando, FL Hub Author

      @Brite-Ideas: LOL right!? TY!


      angliterario profile image

      angliterario 8 months ago

      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 profile image

      Lionrhod 8 months ago from Orlando, FL Hub Author

      @angliterario: 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.


      esmonaco profile image

      esmonaco 8 months ago from Lakewood New York Level 7 Commenter

      Congratulations on your LOTD!! Amazing story, I'm glad you're getting some answers!!!


      Faye Rutledge profile image

      Faye Rutledge 8 months ago from Concord VA Level 4 Commenter

      If I have a long lost relative, I don't know about it yet. Thanks for sharing your story. Congratulations on LotD!


      Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 8 months ago from Central Florida Level 5 Commenter

      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.


      MarcellaCarlton 8 months ago

      We have discovered many, many ties to the aristocracy, especially in Scotland, England, and Ireland. What a surprise.


      donchichi 8 months ago

      Pretty interesting!!! Got me thinking.........


      Lionrhod profile image

      Lionrhod 8 months ago from Orlando, FL Hub Author

      @MarcellaCarlton: 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.


      Lionrhod profile image

      Lionrhod 8 months ago from Orlando, FL Hub Author

      @Virginia Allain: It's a blast. Just spent an hour or three on the ancestry site.


      Lionrhod profile image

      Lionrhod 8 months ago from Orlando, FL Hub Author

      @Faye Rutledge: Thanks so much!


      Lionrhod profile image

      Lionrhod 8 months ago from Orlando, FL Hub Author

      @esmonaco: Thank you!


      Cari Kay 11 profile image

      Cari Kay 11 8 months ago Level 4 Commenter

      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?


      CassandraCae profile image

      CassandraCae 8 months ago from Ohio Level 1 Commenter

      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 profile image

      Lionrhod 8 months ago from Orlando, FL Hub Author

      @Cari Kay 11: 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.


      Lionrhod profile image

      Lionrhod 8 months ago from Orlando, FL Hub Author

      @CassandraCae: 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.


      Essy K profile image

      Essy K 8 months ago

      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.


      writerkath profile image

      writerkath 8 months ago Level 3 Commenter

      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!


      SingeBlue 8 months ago

      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!


      LiteraryMind profile image

      LiteraryMind 8 months ago from Connecticut, USA Level 1 Commenter

      It's more like, there are things in my family I wish I didn't know.


      jetfuelforthemind 8 months ago

      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.


      Cari Kay 11 profile image

      Cari Kay 11 8 months ago Level 4 Commenter

      @Lionrhod: I would love to read her memoir! Just out of curiosity, was your family from the Cleveland area?


      MariaMontgomery profile image

      MariaMontgomery 8 months ago from Central Florida, USA Level 5 Commenter

      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.


      Halloween Cosplay profile image

      Halloween Cosplay 8 months ago

      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 profile image

      Lionrhod 8 months ago from Orlando, FL Hub Author

      @Halloween Cosplay: Yup. We waited in expectation of Dad doing exactly this! Oh please write about it! I'm dying to read your story!


      Lionrhod profile image

      Lionrhod 8 months ago from Orlando, FL Hub Author

      @MariaMontgomery: 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.


      Lionrhod profile image

      Lionrhod 8 months ago from Orlando, FL Hub Author

      @Cari Kay 11: 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!


      anonymous 8 months ago

      Very cool stroy. Family stuff is always stranger and more entertaining than fiction. Congratulations on getting LotD!


      Lionrhod profile image

      Lionrhod 8 months ago from Orlando, FL Hub Author

      @jetfuelforthemind: 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.


      Lionrhod profile image

      Lionrhod 8 months ago from Orlando, FL Hub Author

      @anonymous: Thanks and yeah - fact way weirder and more fun than fiction, even for a fiction writer!


      Lionrhod profile image

      Lionrhod 8 months ago from Orlando, FL Hub Author

      @LiteraryMind: 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.


      Zodiacimmortal profile image

      Zodiacimmortal 8 months ago from Yonkers, NY Level 2 Commenter

      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 profile image

      Lionrhod 8 months ago from Orlando, FL Hub Author

      @writerkath: If your Auntie is still around please do interview her! Family history is often revealing in understanding who WE are ourselves.


      Lionrhod profile image

      Lionrhod 8 months ago from Orlando, FL Hub Author

      @Zodiacimmortal: Oh neat! thank you! Dad refused to teach me a single word!


      Lionrhod profile image

      Lionrhod 8 months ago from Orlando, FL Hub Author

      @Essy K: 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.


      Lee Hansen profile image

      Lee Hansen 8 months ago from Vermont Level 3 Commenter

      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!


      GuyB LM profile image

      GuyB LM 8 months ago Level 1 Commenter

      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!


      jmchaconne profile image

      jmchaconne 8 months ago Level 3 Commenter

      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 profile image

      Lionrhod 8 months ago from Orlando, FL Hub Author

      @jmchaconne: Wow. So glad for you that you at least had that year and found your other family.


      Lionrhod profile image

      Lionrhod 8 months ago from Orlando, FL Hub Author

      @GuyB LM: LOL! Okay my friend, try not to get into any more bar fights and work on dealing with your temper!


      Lionrhod profile image

      Lionrhod 8 months ago from Orlando, FL Hub Author

      @Lee Hansen: 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?


      ItayaLightbourne profile image

      ItayaLightbourne 8 months ago from Topeka, KS Level 2 Commenter

      Very interesting family story! :)


      Tom Maybrier profile image

      Tom Maybrier 8 months ago Level 1 Commenter

      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 profile image

      Lionrhod 8 months ago from Orlando, FL Hub Author

      @Tom Maybrier: TY so much. Yes. Hopefully years ago I wouldn't have condemned her choices!


      Lionrhod profile image

      Lionrhod 8 months ago from Orlando, FL Hub Author

      @ItayaLightbourne: :)


      conniec123 profile image

      conniec123 8 months ago

      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 profile image

      Lionrhod 8 months ago from Orlando, FL Hub Author

      @conniec123: Heheh secrets are so much fun!


      Snakesmum profile image

      Snakesmum 8 months ago from Victoria, Australia Level 5 Commenter

      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 profile image

      Lionrhod 8 months ago from Orlando, FL Hub Author

      @Snakesmum: 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.


      Wednesday-Elf profile image

      Wednesday-Elf 8 months ago from Savannah, Georgia Level 6 Commenter

      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.


      MelRootsNWrites profile image

      MelRootsNWrites 8 months ago from California Level 5 Commenter

      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 profile image

      Lionrhod 8 months ago from Orlando, FL Hub Author

      @MelRootsNWrites: 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.


      Lionrhod profile image

      Lionrhod 8 months ago from Orlando, FL Hub Author

      @Wednesday-Elf: :) I'm having fun with it for sure!


      GrammieOlivia profile image

      GrammieOlivia 8 months ago from Toronto Level 6 Commenter

      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 profile image

      Lionrhod 8 months ago from Orlando, FL Hub Author

      @GrammieOlivia: 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.


      sheilamarie78 profile image

      sheilamarie78 8 months ago Level 1 Commenter

      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 profile image

      Lionrhod 8 months ago from Orlando, FL Hub Author

      @sheilamarie78: How cool!


      DebMartin profile image

      DebMartin 8 months ago Level 2 Commenter

      You've got a fascinating story. Thanks for sharing.


      Lionrhod profile image

      Lionrhod 8 months ago from Orlando, FL Hub Author

      @DebMartin: :)


      Marja79 profile image

      Marja79 7 months ago

      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 profile image

      Lionrhod 7 months ago from Orlando, FL Hub Author

      @Marja79: Yeah! LOL I know that feeling.


      Arachnea profile image

      Arachnea 7 months ago from Texas USA

      i think i popped in here previously but didn't realize it was also lotd. congrats!


      Lionrhod profile image

      Lionrhod 7 months ago from Orlando, FL Hub Author

      @Arachnea: 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.


      Ashley Creative profile image

      Ashley Creative 7 months ago from United States

      What an interesting story and great pictures to commemorate it!


      Colonel2013 7 months ago

      What an amazing journey you have been on finding your Uncle! Thanks for sharing your story. Congrats on LoTD!


      Lionrhod profile image

      Lionrhod 7 months ago from Orlando, FL Hub Author

      @Colonel2013: Thank you much! There's more to tell now! - I just have to take a moment to write it.


      OhMe profile image

      OhMe 7 months ago from Pendleton, SC Level 6 Commenter

      This was such an interesting read and I certainly enjoyed it.


      Lionrhod profile image

      Lionrhod 7 months ago from Orlando, FL Hub Author

      @OhMe: ty!


      PAINTDRIPS profile image

      PAINTDRIPS 7 months ago from Fresno CA Level 4 Commenter

      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 profile image

      Lionrhod 7 months ago from Orlando, FL Hub Author

      @PAINTDRIPS: Nice! I especially like Scott's Ancient Gallic Melody. Very cool that you found your cousin!


      AtlantaGeorgia LM profile image

      AtlantaGeorgia LM 7 months ago Level 1 Commenter

      Congratulations on your purple star! Thank you for sharing your story.


      Lionrhod profile image

      Lionrhod 7 months ago from Orlando, FL Hub Author

      @AtlantaGeorgia LM: Ty much!


      SheGetsCreative profile image

      SheGetsCreative 7 months ago from Seattle, WA Level 5 Commenter

      What a great story! I'm sure I'll be uncovering layers of family history for years to come.


      sierradawn lm profile image

      sierradawn lm 7 months ago Level 1 Commenter

      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 profile image

      Lionrhod 7 months ago from Orlando, FL Hub Author

      @sierradawn lm: 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!


       
      Millionaire Tips profile image

      Millionaire Tips 2 months ago from USA

      Genealogy, family secrets, genealogical breakthroughs! What's not to love? You have an interesting story and I'm glad that you were able to meet your uncle and bridge the distance between the families. This is my first time seeing that dual capsule - I really like it! Welcome to HubPages.


      Lorelei Cohen profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 3 weeks ago from Canada Level 5 Commenter

      Loved your story. Back in the old days a lot of family secrets were hushed up or just not discussed at all. Our family does have a very fascinating tale as well that one day I may tell. I do not have many photographs though as it involves a child who is stolen and then found again years later. It turns out that it is most likely the child's real mother who stole back her child from a violent adoption situation.


      Lionrhod profile image

      Lionrhod 3 weeks ago from Orlando, FL Hub Author

      That sounds like a fascinating story and I hope you'll write about it. Two of my other "family secret" stories that I want to dig into involve splits that happened between parts of my family. In one case, there was a divorce - in the Victorian era - Gasp! - and the kids were divided between the parents. The other case involves half the family dropping the S on the end of our surname (I'm a distant relative of Willa Cather - our side of the family is Cathers) and what got their knickers so twisted that it happened. Some of the facts may be lost to time, but I still hope to find more.

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