Monday, November 7, 2011

General Meeting 5 November "Family Skeletons" Program


Our main program on Saturday, November 5, 2011, consisted of members’ accounts of researching family skeletons. Thanks to Ginger Goodell for putting together the very-professional-looking Power Point and contributing the following recap of the individual presentations.   

John W. Davis
Cheryl Storton described how she discovered the truth about a family tradition claiming her grandfather, John W. Davis (see photo), went to prison for making moonshine, but walked away and never went back when he tired of being there.

Martha Crosley Graham read a family story her grandmother wrote, describing Martha’s Danish great-grandfather’s colorful background and death.  Martha’s research separated “truth from fiction.”

Greg PisaƱo described his discovery of a family skeleton while going through newspaper microfilm in Arizona’s Sedona/Prescott-area public libraries. His grandfather’s name appeared in headlines as having murdered his wife’s brother at the door of a local saloon.  Greg demonstrated how additional research led to more details about this family secret.

Jan Cannon told how she’d asked her grandmother about her great-grandmother, only to be told she’d died young and that her grandmother had no memory of her. After Jan enlisted the help of a professional researcher and another family member doing genealogical research, she learned her great-grandmother’s name and that she’d died in an “insane asylum,” having lived there the last 45 years of her life.  Jan described her visit to the institution where she was able to view her great-grandmother’s file, see the grave (a numbered brick), and arrange to have a proper grave marker installed.

Carole Ann Davis began seeking clues about when and how her grandfather came from Germany to the U.S. and eventually won medals for his Spanish-American War participation. Using both Ancestry.com and the LDS Family History Center in Utah, she documented his military service, but was taken aback to discover him on the 1900 US census as an inmate at San Quentin. From there, she tracked down his offense--burglary--and even found his mug shots.

Julia George’s research into collateral ancestors led to a family skeleton who appeared to be an adulterer and a counterfeiter.  Looking at censuses and several cities’ newspapers fleshed out more information on this black sheep’s criminal activities.

Lynn Storrs stumbled across news of her father’s previous marriage when her aunt shared with her a prized possession, Lynn’s great-grandfather’s Bible. In it Lynn read a strange woman’s name, a name not found in the family Bible. After talking over her discovery with her mother, Lynn made peace with this upsetting bit of family history, as most of us have likely learned to do with the family skeletons we’ve stumbled across.  

Janet Grummit shared the booklet she recently ordered from the Mason City, Illinois Area and Family Historical Society.  In it she found a three-and-a-half-page article on a great-uncle charged as an accessory to armed robbery. This was the first she’d heard of this family skeleton.  She’s doing further research to learn what became of him.


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