Any Black Sheep in the Family?

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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?

About Gail Grunst Genealogy

Gail has been researching her own family since 1979. Her research has taken her back to 1800 Belgium and 1800 England. Gail has worked in a library for the last 20 years and has answered genealogy questions for patrons and helped patrons with their research. In addition to her degree in Library Media Technology, Gail has a two degree in Basic American Genealogy Research from the National Genealogy Society. She has done volunteer work for various Genealogy Societies. Gail teaches several Classes in Genealogy for the Round Lake Area Library, and would be happy to conduct a class for your organization. If interested in a class or if you would like a one-on-one consultation, please contact Gail. Please enjoy Gail's family History Blog

2 responses »

  1. Gail, thanks for telling the story of Tainted Legacy on your blog–and special thanks for reading the book! Last summer, I started a Tainted Legacy page on Facebook to keep folks updated on my recent trips back to Missouri and also adventures I continue to have–including cousins I’m meeting for the first time–because of the book. The story still fascinates me, and I’m the author!

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