Any Black Sheep in the Family?

I just read Tainted Legacy: The Story of Alleged Serial Killer Bertha Gifford.  The author found out that her great-grandmother was accused of killing several people.  This came up in a conversation she was having with her sister.  She had never heard this story before.  She talked with her mother about it and her mother claimed they were mercy killings.  When her mother was a little girl she was sent to live with her grandmother who lived on a farm in Missouri.   Her mother remembered her grandmother as being kind and loving.  She was ten years old when the police came to arrest her grandmother.  She remembered visiting her grandmother once in jail.  She went back to live with her mother in Detroit.  After that no one talked about it.  She did not know what happened to her grandmother.  The author S. Kay Murphy takes the reader through researching her great- grandmother.  It was quite a story in 1928 so there were plenty of articles on her great-grandmother’s arrest and trail.  I won’t tell you the whole story here, but I found it fascinating.  I tried to image what it would be like to find out you have an ancestor that is a serial killer or for that matter an ancestor who killed someone.

I have some ancestors that I wonder about because they will seem to disappear for years at a time.  I can find no paper trail on them.  For some I have been unable to find marriage and divorce records which makes me wonder if they were ever really married or just lived together or if they ever really got divorced.

I have one ancestor that got into a fight with his neighbor and they ended up stabbing one another in the chest.  Both were taken to the hospital, but it being a small town it had a small hospital and they ended up sharing a room.  My ancestor wounds required surgery.  When he woke up and found out that he was in the same room with his neighbor he became upset.  He didn’t want to be in the same room so during the night he got up and walked out of the hospital toward his home two miles out-of-town.  He was found dead along the road the next day.  The newspaper article said that the neighbor was going to be charged with his murder when he recovered.  I’ve always wanted to investigate this more, and after reading this book, I now want to research it soon.

Do you have any black sheep in your family history?

Genealogy the Old-Fashion Way

I spent yesterday at Arlington Heights Library looking at microfilm.  I was able to take one of my family lines back another generation to 1757.  That’s 254 years!  It’s always fun when you have a successful day!

Four weeks ago I ordered microfilm from the Family History Library in Utah.  I wanted the baptism, marriage, and burial records for Terrington-St. Clements Parish in Norfolk, England.  I was especially interested in Eliza Bowers.  I have a picture of her grave stone, but unfortunately I could not read it beyond her name.  Somehow she was missed when they indexed the records.  I thought maybe the film was bad, but it was crystal clear and in good condition.  The handwriting was excellent.  So why she was missed, I don’t know.    I didn’t know if she was my Eliza Bowers or not, but I knew there was an Eliza Bowers buried there so she should be in the index.  I did find her and her daughter Eliza who was also missed in the index as well as other family members who were missed.  The records said son of. . . or daughter of. . . so I was able to make the family connections thus taking me back another generation. 

I always tell the students in my classes to look at the source yourself.  This held true yesterday.  On Eliza’s marriage record it listed her as widow.  All the rest of the information was also on the index record.  If  I went by the index record only, I would have missed this information.  Previous to this I had thought that Eliza’s maiden name was Linford, but it was probably her first husband’s name.   If  I didn’t look at the record, I could be barking up the wrong tree. 

Another thing I mention in my classes is that the Internet is not always right and indexing on some of these sites leaves a lot to be desired.   I have documents from when I did genealogy the old fashion way before the Internet.  When I type my ancestor’s name in it comes up with a zero.  I try different spellings and still no luck.  So it always pays to go to the source.  So much can be missed if you just depend on the Internet.  There is nothing like doing genealogy the old fashion way!    I spent many hours yesterday looking at the film and copying anyone that had the same surnames I was looking for.  I didn’t mind it, I enjoyed the hunt. 

I have more microfilm on order, and I’m looking forward to more hunting.

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