52 Ancestors Week 34: Chosen Family

+10 votes

Time for the next 52 Ancestors challenge...

52 Photos and 52 Ancestors sharing bacgesPlease share with us a profile of an ancestor or relative who matches this week's theme:

Chosen Family

Share below.

You don't need to share every week to participate, but those who do will earn badges. If this is your first time participating and you don't have the participation badge, or if you pass a milestone (13 shared profiles in 13 weeks, 26 in 26, or 52 in 52) let us know here. For more about the challenge, click here.

in The Tree House by Eowyn Walker G2G Astronaut (2.0m points)

The Rev. Edmund James Bird was a Civil War Veteran who survived a potentially life-threatening injury, believed in God. He must have made a deal that if God chose him to survive the injury, he would become a minister. He emerged from the war minus his right arm, but with a new-found purpose in life. Because he believed that God chose him for the ministry, He continued to choose to do God's work throughout the rest of his life.

Great story! And cool pic.

27 Answers

+18 votes
Best answer

This question fell right into my lap. There are people whose profiles appear on Wikitree--people with wonderful stories waiting to be told, but people who may never have a DNA relative to tell the story to the Wiki community. So I will "adopt" one of them in order to tell you his story.

When I as a kid, one of the displays at the Berkshire Museum (Pittsfield, Mass.) was a fur suit worn by polar explorer Matthew Henson. I was fascinated. What would it be like to be at the top of the world, with nothing to see but snow? How would you know that you were actually at the North Pole? Would a fur suit keep you warm enough?

I did not then know the story of Matthew Henson. I have since learned it. The son of black sharecroppers, he became a ship's cabin boy at the age of 12. When he met explorer Robert Peary, his experiences as sea, as well as his intelligence, made him invaluable to Peary. For 20 years he served as Peary's "first man", navigator, and assistant. In their travels to northern regions, he learned the Intuit language well enough to serve as Peary's interpreter. When Henson, Peary, and four Inuits reached the North Pole, it was actually Henson who got there first, but Peary, as a white man, claimed the honor and received the acclaim.

Even now, at the Berkshire Museum, the fur suit is on display, but the story of a black man in a white society goes untold.

by Joyce Vander Bogart G2G6 Pilot (185k points)
selected by Lyn Sara Gulbransen
Thank you Joyce for sharing the photo and very informative story of Matthew Henson.

You're welcome, Alexis. Wikitree is very informative.  Here is an article about the Choctaw Nation and the Irish Potato Famine.

Joyce, thank you for the link to the very interesting article. I did not have any idea about the relationship between the Choctaws and the Irish. I live in eastern Oklahoma where the Trail of Tears ended. My husband’s golf buddy is Choctaw, and I will ask him if he knows about the relationship.
Today I learned further about Matthew Henson:

He was a skilled sled driver and made the sleds used in the expedition. He devised a special stove which could withstand arctic gales. He was the only one of the team who could construct an ice house.
+8 votes

My former pastor, Charles Lampman, and his wife, Rose, were like Grandparents to my siblings and I. They were definitely what I would call "Chosen Family". He died back in 2017,and I still miss him.

Charles Lampman

by Chandra Garrow G2G6 Mach 6 (62.6k points)
+5 votes
My maternal grandmother chose to the sister of her grandparent's children instead of living with her mother; her "adopted sister" was actually her biological mom. It was in the 1890's when families didn't have out-of-wedlock children.
by David Hughey G2G Astronaut (1.6m points)
Is her true relationship shown in census reports, or would the census data mislead someone who didn't know the whole situation?
+9 votes

This is an article about my grand uncle Ray Van Meter, who was chosen by Col. William B. Rogers and his daughter Carrie to be part of their family. Carrie had lost her husband and their son in 1893. My grand uncle was a newsboy for the newspaper business they owned. This completely changed my uncle's life. He took over running the newspaper after he returned from WWI, and he was a wonderful chosen son for Carrie.

by Alexis Nelson G2G6 Pilot (656k points)
Thank you Alexia for sharing this newspaper article
Thank you Susan. I had a wonderful photo of Carrie that I gave to a now deceased friend, because he loved old photos and they shared names. If I had known what I know now—I would have made a copy.
Oh a shame Alexis wonder have you talk with her relative someone has the photo

Hope you might get it back
I know where his daughter works. I should go by and ask her if she has it. Thank you Susan, you always encourage me to do things, and I love that about you.
Of course you should ask Alexia I can read you miss the photo so please go for it and tell me please how it is going
+10 votes
When my uncle was over in germany abt 1970 he met a girl over there and she was found to be pregnate. Not sure if he was the father or not. In eather case he chose to be the father to the child.
by Jennifer Robins G2G6 Pilot (162k points)
+9 votes

 Peter Grande is our chosen relative! My mom met him over the bridge table in 1990  after her husband and his husband both died. They made a connection and he became "Uncle Peter” to my children and grandchildren! His story is fascinating! He was a German Jew, whose parents fled Germany and were accepted by Peru, but during the boat trip, Peru reneged and at the last minute Bolivia said they would take the boatload of refugees and thus Peter was born in Bolivia. Go check him out!  Peter was severely injured in San Francisco in 1959. Here is a newspaper photo of the crowd that gathered as they tried to free him from the sidewalk elevator. 

by Lyn Sara Gulbransen G2G6 Mach 4 (44.4k points)
edited by Lyn Sara Gulbransen
What a wonderful story! (I would have chosen a different picture to accompany this story--one that makes him look like a person and not like a faceless accident victim.) Thanks for sharing.
+10 votes

This week it's my turn in the spotlight, apparently.  I walked away from my birth family 20+ years ago.  I wish them health and happiness far away from me.  I've chosen my husband's warm, quirky family and my delightful, loving, and wacky friends in their stead.  

by Dorothy O'Hare G2G6 Mach 7 (73.5k points)
+10 votes
Over 30 years ago, when I was a teenager, 2 new people  started attending my family's church. They turned out to be brother and sister who had moved to Dunedin, NZ in order to attend university.

They became very good family friends. Almost like family. And they still are as close as family,  even now 30+ years later.

My mother was adopted and did a DNA test in 2018. She had memories as a child of a family named Gaffney and she assumed that they were her biological family. This was back in the 1930s before and during WW2.

The DNA said differently. The Gaffneys are not my mothers biological family. Having done a LOT of research since then, we now believe that this Gaffney family were foster parents to my mother as a baby before she was adopted when she was 3 years old. She called him Poppa Gaffney. His name was Cyril.


It turns out that "poppa Gaffney" who fostered my mother as a baby (in the 1930s) was the Great-Uncle of the University students we met in the 1980s.

Cyrils brother does have a profile - his name was Hazel Mervyn Gaffney - but his children and grandchildren are still living, so no profiles for them yet.
by Robynne Lozier G2G Astronaut (1.1m points)
edited by Robynne Lozier
Robynne, that is the most mind-boggling story! Thank you for sharing.
+6 votes

When Amos Wren's parents divorced that wasn't his choice. And he most likely didn't have anything to say about moving to Iowa with his mother and living with her new husband. To make matters worse, his mother died of cancer. He was only eleven.

Fortunately Amos' half-sister Mary and her husband took him into their home; even though he probably didn't have any other options, this one proved to be rewarding. He and Mary's children (who were his nieces) attended school together and stayed close as siblings do. A chosen family.

by C Ryder G2G6 Mach 8 (83.0k points)
I'm guessing Mary was a step-sister, not a half-sister...
Why do you say that, Rob? I've concluded they have the same father but not the same mother. For one, when Amos was conceived, Mary's mother was no longer living. Two, John Wren  made both Mary Wren and Amos Wren beneficiaries of his pension.
+8 votes
Chosen family.  A thought provoking notion.  Those who are more of a spiritual frame of mind suggest that we choose the family we are born into.  Souls are eternal, and we reincarnate into the family we can either learn the most from, or with whom we have spent many lives.  

If one believes in reincarnation, as I do, and has pursued genealogy throughout one's life, as I have, there may seem to be a disconnect here.  Why learn everything about your biological family if next time you will be in a different country, or on a different continent, or in a different chosen family?  Because we learn from our ancestors.  The lessons they learned become lessons for us.  And perhaps we are reclaiming our own past, as we climb the ladder of knowledge.   I believe there are reasons why some of us are drawn to genealogy, as we recreate the history of our chosen family.
by Carolyn Adams G2G6 Mach 8 (82.2k points)
+5 votes
My great-great grandmother, Catherine Mumma-Omelia (1848-1935) went to live with her Uncle and Aunt Bowers ...  even though her parents lived in the same Ogle County, Illinois area.

Not sure exactly why? ... but she was young ... so most likely didn't choose the new family ... she stayed on their farm until she became a lady ...

Not sure who made the decision ... however, someone made the Bowers her "Chosen Family".
by Bill Sims G2G6 Pilot (120k points)
+6 votes

That would have to be Olga Weinhardt. My great-uncle was a life-long bachelor who lived on a farm a few miles outside of town in North Dakota. Olga was a widow who lived in town. They were close friends (?) for as long as I knew them. On occasion they both visited us in Minnesota, and every time we went to North Dakota we would visit both of them. They never lived together as far as I knew, but apparently some aunts still did not approve of the situation, and thought it was "improper".

She made the best strudel I've had - she would roll out the dough on an oak dining table until you could see the wood grain through the dough. Then layer on butter, sugar, fruit and roll it up for the oven. One of the things we did as a family was play a lot of pinochle, and she also enjoyed playing, but she would apologize when she won, she was such a sweet lady.

She had a German accent, but apparently spoke a dialect that was no longer used in Germany, because she couldn't understand German on TV. And it turns out we were actually 3rd cousins (it was a small town) with her, but not on my uncle's side. After my uncle died, we continued to visit her. She had a 1950's car in the garage that she literally just drove to church on Sundays, it was in pristine condition.

Thanks to this reminder, I see her page is pretty empty, I need to fill out her bio and put up a picture.

by Rob Neff G2G6 Mach 9 (94.9k points)
+7 votes

My great-grandfather Jasper Vincent lost his first wife in April 1896, leaving him with three daughters, ages 2 to 5, whom he was ill-equipped to raise on his own. It wasn't easy for him to find a new wife who would be willing to raise his children. About a year later, he did find such a loving, selfless woman, my great grandmother, Mary Jane "Janie" Meredith, who at the age of 19 willingly chose to be a mother to his 3 children.

Family members told him of an unmarried 19-year-old woman named Janie Meredith, who might be interested in marrying him. Janie wasn't the most beautiful woman in the area. Nor did she come from a wealthy family. She was taller than many of her potential suitors, perhaps making her appear a bit gawky, but she was known for her wonderful, kind, and loving personality. 

The story goes that Jasper went to see Janie at her family home early one Sunday morning and spent the day with her. By the end of the day, Jasper had asked Janie to marry him and raise his children. She accepted his invitation on the spot and returned home with him that same evening to help with his daughters. They were married a few days later. Janie gave Jasper five more daughters and one son (my grandfather), with two of them dying as infants. She raised each of Jasper's six children, choosing to care for each of them as if they were her own. 

Beyond that, she chose even more family, willingly accepting several nephews or hers and her husband's into their household over the years, especially during the depression era. She chose to care for those nephews as her own as well.

My great grandmother Janie (Meredith) Vincent was by all accounts a wonderful, kind, loving, giving, selfless woman who chose to care for many children who were not her own. She was certainly a remarkable woman.

by Bill Vincent G2G6 Pilot (157k points)
edited by Bill Vincent
Thanks Bill, a beautifully told story.
Bill,  Sometimes I read a post several times until it flows in my memory.....and, in this case her memory was sharp in my mind when I realized, moments ago, that I was commenting on her son, Hilery, on "Unforgettable" ......You can certainly be proud to have her as a great grandmother.
+5 votes

This week, I talk about a third set of grandparents my brother and I had: https://allroadhaverhill.blogspot.com/2020/08/52-ancestors-week-34-chosen-family.html Better bring some grape leaves!

by Chris Ferraiolo G2G6 Pilot (589k points)
+6 votes
My great-grandfather, Ernest Wintermute, lost his mother at birth and his father four years later.  He was then raised by a neighbor, Charles Clark, who he honored when he named his sons: the first had the middle name Charles, the second Clark.
by K. Anonymous G2G6 Pilot (137k points)
+4 votes

Chosen is a difficult choice. Generally we think of persons with strong religious beliefs, or feel 'chosen' by God. 

This week's choice, for me is going to be a 4x great uncle, Zebediah (Zeeb) Green, who was the 3rd of 4 brothers. 

Why Zeeb? Of the four brothers, he was the only one 'chosen' to live during the Revolution despite engaging in every major battle during that war! All four were Massachusetts 'Minute Men' who fought at Lexignton and Concord. His eldest brother, Major James Green and his younges brother Lucas Green (18-years-old) died of wounds sustained at the Bunker Hill. His 2nd oldest brother, Lieut. Nathan Green, died at the Battle of Monmouth. 

Zeeb went on to fight in the following Revolutionary War battles:

Zeeb Participated in these Revolutionary War Battles and survived them. Definitely 'chosen.'

by Carol Baldwin G2G6 Pilot (727k points)
+6 votes
Week 34 - Chosen Family. When Prince Charles was to marry, one of the important factors, was Royal descent, and so Diana was chosen from a family with Royal descent. Later Sophie Rhys Jones, was selected from the same family, to marry Prince Charles' brother Edward. The family they both descend from, is that of Robert Molesworth-131, 1st Viscount of Swords.

Sir Robert, sat in Parliament, but was chosen by the King (from recollection), to go to Denmark as an Embassory, where he wrote a report on the Parliament of Denmark, which was brought back to England.

Other descendants of Robert Molesworth, were Olivia de Havilland (who died recently), her sister Joan de Havilland, both actresses, John Oxley, who was a famous explorer in Australia, and Sir Robert Molesworth, Judge in the Supreme Court of Melbourne, through whom I have descended.

Robert had about 21 children, from different available records, with about 11 surviving childhood. And so has a great many descendants.

1st Viscount Robert Molesworth's ancestors, were also chosen by Kings of England in the past, to ride with the King on Crusades, as knights, so our this branch of my family, has certainly been the most notable "chosen family" that I have traced.
by Ben Molesworth G2G6 Pilot (146k points)
edited by Ben Molesworth
+6 votes

My Grandfather Rev. Sven Albert Laurin was chosen to spread the word of Jesus. In 1937 he was ordained into the United Methodist Church. He served Tenney Memorial Church in Salem, N.H. and served churches in Hinsdale, N.H., Lisbon, N.H., Landaff, N.H., Exeter, N.H., Woodsville, N.H. and Peterborough, N.H. Rev. Sven Albert Laurin, also served churches in Ayers Village, M.A., Amesbury, M.A. and Merrimacport, M.A.

During WWII, in 1944, my grandfather received a letter choosing him to join the Army:

My grandfather wrote in response:

by Keith Cook G2G6 Mach 4 (41.2k points)
+4 votes

Chosen Family........after reading the answers, some thoughts came to mind and my memory brought back the 1957 movie of which my first cousin, Rex , played a part.  All mine to Give.....(Wikipedia).....or, The Day They Gave Babies Away,  was based on a true story, whereupon, the oldest son was instructed, by his mother, to find suitable homes for all the surviving children. If somebody, would be so kind as to link this to Wikipedia, for me, the resulting narrative and videos, would, much better tell the touching story that it was.

by John Thompson G2G6 Pilot (258k points)
edited by John Thompson
John, I looked up Rex, and I remember him. He played Deborah Kerr’s son Louis in The King And I, a movie I have probably watched a dozen times. Looks like he is 77 now. “The King and I” would also be a chosen big family. Thanks for letting us know about your cousin Rex Thompson.
Thankyou Alexis......I have lost contact with Rex, since my father passed away, and only have a letter from his father, posted from the Players Club, in New York City, to start looking for him.

To link your text to a website, like Wikipedia, first type all the text. Then highlight the word where you wish the link to appear. (Wikipedia). Then click on the icon above. It is supposed to be a chain link, though I think it looks like a band-aid. It will open a dialogue where you can paste the URL you have copied from your source. Click OK. Try it.

Joyce!    I did itsurprise.......Thankyouheart

You're welcome. Lyn Sara Gulbrandsen was the one who taught me. We have some very helpful folks here on Wikitree.

Thanks to Lyn toolaugh......I've spent the last four hours linking everything in sight to Wikipedia and (YouTube)devil

+4 votes
It takes a few days to answer these 52 Ancestors questions.  I wait for an inspiration.

Today I know: the branches I happened to be working on this past week seem to have chosen me.  

First there was the email last Sunday morning from a distant cousin.  She saw the profiles I had created only a few days before.  Apparently she just happened to find them soon after I created them.  I have been working on her grandmother and other relatives.  It's not often that I get an email query about what I've recently done.

Second, last night I went to my Shields line and added [[Shields-5189|Joanna Shields]] I checked to see if there was a profile for her husband [[Lea-1169|Harmon G. Lea]] and there was.  When I added him, voila, I found a tree that goes so far back I don't know where it stops.  

These are signs that these family branches chose me to work on them.
by Margaret Summitt G2G6 Pilot (224k points)

Related questions

+8 votes
6 answers
+16 votes
71 answers
1.8k views asked Aug 19, 2019 in The Tree House by Eowyn Walker G2G Astronaut (2.0m points)
+6 votes
15 answers
348 views asked Aug 23, 2018 in The Tree House by Robynne Lozier G2G Astronaut (1.1m points)
+16 votes
14 answers
+14 votes
14 answers
+14 votes
18 answers
+20 votes
13 answers
+25 votes
30 answers
+12 votes
6 answers
206 views asked Dec 27, 2022 in The Tree House by Chris Ferraiolo G2G6 Pilot (589k points)
+9 votes
5 answers

WikiTree  ~  About  ~  Help Help  ~  Search Person Search  ~  Surname:

disclaimer - terms - copyright