My great-grandmother was, I have been told, the very picture of late Victorian New England rectitude. She ruled her family (including her husband) with an iron hand, forbidding drinking, dating without a chaperone, loose talk, etc. My mother was terrified of her grandmother.
Some years ago I was looking for something else when I stumbled across a record that showed that my great-grandfather and great-grandmother had had a son four months after their marriage—and in Washington, D. C., hundreds of miles from their home in Massachusetts, and where they had no other known connections or events of their lives. The son was not named, but they were unquestionably his parents, since the birth record gave their full names and places of birth.
A newspaper account of their wedding says that the happy couple left immediately for an extended honeymoon. Now we know why—the bride was five months pregnant.
Whether my grandmother, born 11 months later, ever knew that she had an older brother I do not know. She left extensive family history notes that don’t mention him. I have no doubt that she could have known and kept her mother’s secret; in at least one other instance in those notes, a marriage date has been recorded one year earlier than it actually occurred, I think to mask a “too-soon” birth. I’m certain my mother never knew she had this uncle, for she would not have kept such a juicy secret.
I knew nothing about my newly discovered great uncle. I assumed that he had either died very young or been adopted out.
Then a couple of years ago, an Ancestry DNA match led to the revelations that this child had grown up, married, had two sons, and lived in Boston working as a pressman until be died in his 70s.
The curious thing is that he had the same last name as my great-grandfather, his birth father. Who raised him? I’ve searched for him in census records and do not find any until he was married and nearly 30. My great-grandfather had only one brother and one sister, and this child is not shown in either of their households in the census. He apparently lived as a young man in the Washington area; he married in Bethesda, Maryland, but the abstract of his marriage record that I’ve found reveals no further details. I’ve been in contact with his great-great-grandson, with whom I had the DNA match, but he knows no details.
Did this new great uncle ever know who his birth parents, whose name he carried, were, or ever have any contact with them? I do not know.