Question of the Week: Who are the black sheep in your family?

+35 votes
Every family has them. Who are the black sheep in yours?

If they have a profile on WikiTree, be sure to share a link so we can check them out! :)
in The Tree House by Eowyn Walker G2G Astronaut (2.0m points)
You have company! :)
And stiiiiillllll waiting Ellen.  I'm going to be gray haired completely by the time I get those results back.  I'm about 1/4 of the way there already.
I have 2.  

My 2nd great uncle on my dad's side murdered his son-in-law because he was making his daughter miserable.  He went to prison for life

Then my 3rd great grandpa on my mom's side abandoned his wife and infant son and started a brand new family in a different state.  When his 2nd wife died he abandoned his youngest children with her.
Would love to read that story!
Maybe longer than you'd want but here is one and a good reason for it???

During the civil war my gg uncle was left alone to help the women tend the farms in his family. “Get Charlie to do this, send Charlie to fill in for so and so until” in two counties at the border of two states. Letters prove this.

R. C.  Hardworker eventually enlisted (self protection?)  He went awol twice and returned.  Then he was court martialed. After that they assigned him to an Engineer’s unit where he remained for the duration (??? no education at all).

 After the war Charlie  md a woman 6 yrs his senior and had a passel of kids by 1875.  In 1877 he and two sons took a wagon of cotton across the border to sell. He told the boys to go on home, he would return shortly.  Next thing we read in the newspaper “R. C. Hardworker  arrested for bigamy.” He had run away with another woman.  His wife filed charges and he went to prison. He was in prison in 1880 census, in the state across the border from home.

That same year, 1880, another local article, same paper:  “The bigamist, Charlie Hardworker shot and killed by guards while trying to escape on the road out of town.

Nearly 20 years later in a third county adjacent to his original home – is the family of his wife, remaining children all correct names  ages and genders, and the head of household  is Roscoe C. Hardworker, one and the same.

He true name was so unique as were his nickname and frequent use of initials that it was clear who he was.  His wife took him back and he died with community remembrances of a fine citizen.

Oh, why the court martial and Engineer’s unit?  Probably because when he enlisted he was only 15 years old.
1 Jesse Kirksey was convicted of Grand Larceny and served time in Shelby county Pen
2 His daughter Emiline Kirksey never married, and had 4 children, 3 who lived to adulthood.  One of her sons Albert Jesse Kirksey and his wife Mandy (Davis) Kirksey died and were buried in unmarked graves and were never spoken of, not sure what they did to deserve that.  they did have 2 children Elbert Benjamin and Mary A (Called Dora) Emiline raised her grandkids in the household of her daughter who married a Cary
3 Emiline Kirksey's grandson, Elbert Benjamin Kirksey attacked one of the Hatch boys (related to the Cary family who were his cousins)  in Yuma TN with an ax handle and left him unconscious.  He fled the state.  The Hatch boy recovered but Elbert (my great grandfather) never went back to TN
4.  Lorenzo Dow Edwards raped his daughter Elizabeth Argent Edwards and she bore a son Jesse.  she was hounded out of the community and state,  She did marry later but died of TB.  Lorenzo Dow Edwards was committed to the insane asylum.
5. Robert Love while escaping from British officers hid in a chicken coop and was accused of stealing the eggs or the Hens,  He did a runner and the British soliders shot him in the back.
LOL great question!

Answer would be my uncle, Steamtrain Maury Graham, King of the Hobos. Uncle Maurice walked away from his wife and grown daughters when he was 50. He moved off with his pregnant girlfriend and they had twin Candy and Andy then another son who died soon after birth. Not long after that he was off again. This time he became a hobo and rode the rails around the east coast and midwest. He attended Virgnia and Iowa Hobo conventions where he was voted king multiple times and finally Patriarch in Brit, Iowa. He was a lot of fun as an Uncle but I'd have shot him if I were married to him. He talked his way back into home again and spend his last years with my Aunt going to Hobo conventions, cooking Hobo Stew, teaching camp craft and wild foods at Scout Camps. He once invited my 14 year old son to go to a Girl Scout Camp with him.    :)

He'd been a cement finisher in Ohio. There are bridges and other cement projects he worked on that are marked with a maple leaf. He'd also started a union school for guys starting out as cement finishers.
Hey, there's good in everyone!.  Thanks for sharing!
We thought the same.  Terrible man ran off, left wife and children.  Son raised his family, my branch in different state. Bitter. I found a second family. Would love to tell all but long. In short he met a girl whose family owned an inn passed by during r.r work.  She young , he had family.  She married another.  Many yrs before they were together.  Did not break up family.  I am very close to the cousins I found. So glad!  Black sheep aren't always black. We were told a family member had left her kids joined circus as seamstress. The first wife was a seamstress. Kids being raised by grandma on census. Hmm.  

I also had a grt uncle who was drunk, told by a friend 'if I had a wife like that I'd shoot her'.  Yep.
I had added my uncle the Hobo King here but his baby sister was as much of a black sheep as he was. She was a gangsters girlfriend. She was a life long member of Chicago's old gang, Purple. They took care of her to her dying day. Aunt Lu was also known as Sweet Lu by old time gangsters and Hollywood notables of the 1930's-late 40's

33 Answers

+15 votes
Best answer
I am related to some notable Mafia figures from Corleone: Dr. Michele Navarra (, Giuseppe Morello (, and Captain Angelo di Carlo (, to name a few. I blog about some of my mafia relations at
by Justin Cascio G2G5 (5.4k points)
selected by Deborah Collier
I'm gonna make you an offer you can't refuse - I'm gonna give you our Blogger badge. Since you're a blogger. If you would like to have it. :)
Leave the gun, take the blogger badge!
+16 votes

Anthony Jansen van Salee, or will be, once the final merging and sorting of all the Eva Van Salee's and Ferdinand van Sycklin's get worked out.

by Michael Stills G2G6 Pilot (471k points)
Ooh. A tall, dark, muscular rogue. Intriguing.
+18 votes

This is one of mine - Philip Babb the Ghost!  

by Eowyn Walker G2G Astronaut (2.0m points)
You know last week while I was working on the Lang questions here in G2G I noted a connection to this ole Phillip - though I haven't worked it enough to know if there is a connection to me yet. Mags
+12 votes

I haven't found any black sheep yet -- or at least not anything as interesting as pirates and ghosts!! ;-)

I have one -- a great uncle -- who may not have been a black sheep, but he certainly seemed to be troubled. His first wife died when his children were young, and he married three additional times. At various times, his children were living with aunts and uncles. It sounds like a sad, sad situation, but perhaps not a "black sheep" situation.

Elias Fiscus

by Julie Ricketts G2G6 Pilot (425k points)
That would be tough! My grandmother's father had a really hard time after his wife died.  My grandmother and the younger siblings ended up in orphanages.   Don't you wish you could know more of the story?
I *do* wish I knew more of the story. My dad doesn't really have a recollection of this particular uncle, unfortunately. I'd love to track down some of his grandchildren to see if they could share anything, but I haven't gotten that far yet.
+10 votes
Me? Black Sheep? He he.

Maybe my ggrandfather who, according to my grandmother had two family's - so Bigamist. This is a completely unproven thing - she also says when the first wife showed up to claim him his second wife had to farm all the kids out to other places. A living cousin of my mothers generation says that my grandmother was the only one sent away. She was also an...interesting person...alienated many, many people. Loved by many, many people...maybe she is a black sheep too.

Now on another side of the family we have a murderer that was hung. Part of this same family, but a different line, lived in what was called Dark Corner. Well, you can imagine this area would be a hot bed of black sheep.

by Mags Gaulden G2G6 Pilot (579k points)
Dark Corner? I'm intrigued!
+12 votes
A cousin, he was arrested for attempted murder, this on my father's side. On my mother's side, it's a cousin who stole whenever she visited your house, and she had her first child at 12 which rocked the family at the time.
by Lynnette Dovy G2G6 Mach 2 (21.3k points)
12?! Wow.
+9 votes
I am. Most definitely.

Now - if we're talking genealogically: I'm still searching for the black sheep! My maternal grandmother always told me "You don't want to find out about my family...they're all horse thieves." So - we shall see what I rustle up.
by Living Bouffard G2G1 (1.6k points)
Nice! My father's grandfather was a horse thief.
My paternal grandfather was an egg thief! I've even noted it on his profile. He was really good at it.
+12 votes

My "favorite" family black sheep is my 4G grandfather William Stubblebine, who in the 1840s got involved with a "free love" religious cult and abandoned his wife and six children to move in with a younger woman, with whom he remained for the rest of his life. A story that I sure never heard about from family members!

The version of his life reported in the biography here is fairly tame compared with some of the stories I've read about the cult.

by Ellen Smith G2G Astronaut (1.3m points)
Wow!  That's quite a story!
+10 votes

John Gregory is my 3rd great grandfather. He was charged with murder in Georgia in 1835, fled the country with his younger brother, and they settled in the Republic of Texas. His brother went back to Georgia and convinced the entire extended family, including John's wife and father, to move to Texas. John lived for another 15 years after Texas became part of the US in 1845, but I don't think that he was ever apprehended.

I just found out about John last year, and I'm still working to get more info on the case. There was a bounty of $200 for his "body", which I think means dead or alive. The Georgia Black Book says that he was 4' 6" tall, which I don't really believe; I think it's a typo. The author sounded a bit irritated when I emailed him to ask, and told me I'd have to check it out myself at the Georgia State Archives in Atlanta.

by Carole Partridge G2G6 Mach 7 (71.0k points)
Dang. You'd think the author would want to make sure it was right.
+15 votes
Robert Smythe ( was married to my grandmother's sister, Addie, but fell in love with their younger sister, Lucy.  She spurned his advances so he shot and killed her when she was walking home with her father one evening. He tried to kill her father too, but the gun jammed. He ran away and killed himself.  I found the newspaper articles but can't find anything else about him.
by Carolyn Martin G2G6 Pilot (226k points)
Wow Carolyn, this would make a great movie!
Deborah, what makes it even more interesting is that his wife, Addie, ended up marrying seven more times!  What's sad though is his five year old son lost his father and his aunt and probably received a lot of rejection or teasing being a murderer's son.
+9 votes
I'm not sure I would call them black sheep, but reportedly the wife & two children of Clark Woodruff, former owner of Myrtles Plantation, are ghosts:

They are 4th cousins of my wife.


On my side, a horrible murderous blacksheep:

My 1st cousin 3x removed....I haven't brought myself to add all the gory details to his profile.
by Doug Lockwood G2G Astronaut (2.5m points)
+11 votes
My Great-grandmother, Minna Augusta Graul Benedix

She had two illegitimate daughters, Lucie and Elsa, born to her in Germany, father or fathers unknown. She emigrated to America with Lucie in 1891. We don't know what happened to Elsa since she was never spoken of. In 1892, she gave birth to an illegitimate son, father unknown. That's 3 illegitimate children with different fathers. Whoever they were, she never told her children. In 1892, she married my great-grandfather, a widower with three children and they went on to have 6 more together, including my grandmother.

My 4th great-grandfather, Peter McGrew, was disowned by the Quakers for getting drunk, swearing and hitting his wife.

We also had a cousin several generations back, Samuel Flaugher, who burned down his barn and died of "nervous prostration" in jail while he was waiting to be taken to the insane asylum.
by Alison Andrus G2G6 Mach 4 (46.7k points)
Oh Alison, how sad for those 3 children to not have any knowledge of their paternal families but amazing that you've got this much information on your Great-Grandmother who, by the way, sounds very colorful!
+9 votes

I haven't built out his biography much yet, but my great uncle, Henry Furlong, had some issues with solicitation, on both sides of the transaction, after moving to California from Iowa. All his siblings were industrious, upstanding entrepreneurs in Iowa, but he decided to make a name for himself an entirely different way :-) 

There are a pair of murderous brothers from Oklahoma at the turn of the century who are cousins, too. They went down in a blaze of bullets. I am still gathering what I need for profiles for them, but they were quite the pair.

I have some living ones, too, but I should probably keep those on the DL for now.

by Abby Glann G2G6 Pilot (558k points)
+7 votes
Butch Casity -Robert Leroy Parker. Not related by blood but connected thru marriage. My step father's father Six Lamb Parker 's father's brother was Robert Leroy Parker. So Butch Casity was my step dad's great Uncle. My step dad was contacted years ago to have DNA taken in an effort to identify the body in Bolivia. I just found out there is a profile for him here on wikitree. I don't know if he is A Notable , but that would be my closest connection to one. I need to get my step dad's profile connected to him while I'm thinking about it.
by Anonymous Roach G2G6 Pilot (186k points)
+6 votes

Eowyn, you're dangerous, enticing people in to rabbit holes with you *giggle*

The only real black sheep I've found so far is Dr. R. E.Watts who married my great-grandmother's sister. Wanted for murder in 1925, he disappeared. So far, I've not been able to find any record saying he was apprehended.

I think my Dad, who proudly claimed "he was arrested twenty-one times on miscellaneous charges related to drinking" between Oct 1957 and Sept 1958, would like to have been a black sheep.

by Debi Hoag G2G6 Pilot (343k points)
+7 votes

My grandfather's last name was "Wüstling" which in English it translates to "fornicator". He actually seemed to have been a nice guy. But his wife and some of his children took the name as an assignement ...

by Ronnie Grindle G2G6 Mach 1 (17.3k points)
+6 votes
Well... there are at least two. My father, who was always looking for the "get-rich-quick" scheme, but also tried to take care of his family using less-than-lawful means. He spent time in Leavenworth, and not know where else. He had multiple affairs. "He skipped out on overdue rents and utilities, so moving around – in the middle of the night, without notice – was common. He wrote checks that were either forged or would be returned unpaid. He shop-lifted, but may never have been caught for that. He rented a car for vacation in 1969, but never returned it; he spent jail time for that offense. He quite possibly committed fraud in his employment duties: he was often in managerial positions, handling money. He had an obsession with guns, and had a security officer’s badge." See the story on my Grandfather's profile:
by Sheri Taylor G2G6 Mach 2 (25.0k points)
+6 votes
Another was my Great Grandmother's brother,

Roy Allison Campbell worked on the railroad, traveling west, learning mining. In Nevada, he was employed by the Mogul Mining Company, and while renting a room, met another lodger, a young lady. The two became involved, but the woman engaged in nightly affairs, of which Roy disapproved. She planned to move to San Francisco, and he followed, gaining work there. However, she was still in the business; one night her so-called “manager” came calling when Roy was at her place.

The encounter turned loud and to-blows, moving to the street outside. Police on the street were “on the take” by this individual, and when gunshots rang out, Roy Campbell was arrested for assault and murder. On December 3, 1908, he was convicted and sentenced to San Quentin; after receiving a new defense attorney, Roy was paroled in 1911, and his conviction overturned in 1912. He never married.
by Sheri Taylor G2G6 Mach 2 (25.0k points)
Sheri - this is another one of those stories that would make a great movie!
Thank you!!! I appreciate that!
+5 votes
My ggggrandfather Gould-2742 of New Hampshire married Sophia Payne in Nova Scotia.  They bapt. four kids.  Then in 1811 a Nova Scotia Census says, "his wife left for another man; married young"

He returned to New Hampshire to apply for a Rev. War pension.  Two family letters ind. he remarried and/or he had a baby in New Hampshire upon his death in 1842.  Who was she?  Her daughter qualifies for the DAR if she can be found.  Yipes!
by Janine Barber G2G6 Pilot (196k points)
+7 votes

This would be 6 generations back, but I think Edward Prigg is my ancestor, (father of Margaret Prigg)


He traveled to another state (PA), capturing a woman who was never formally emancipated along with her free children and selling them all into slavery. He's known for the supreme court case with his name, a case which allowed him to walk free for his heinous actions.

by Russ Dill G2G2 (2.8k points)
That U.S. Supreme Court case imparts a special kind of infamy!
My grandfather's sister went out to live with her sister and her husband in South Dakota. She ended up having two children by her sister's husband!

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