What is your biggest surprise/shock about your ancestors?

+17 votes

Hi everyone,

Being the project coordinator of Tennessee, I was working on adding Tennessee notables. Timothy Demonbreun is famous for being the first citizen of Nashville,Tennessee (my hometown). I went to digging for more information on him and SURPRISE...he's my six great grandfather, born "Jacqués Timothé Boucher, Sieur De Montbrun" - French Canadian nobility (born in Quebec) , hosted the French General Marquis de Lafayette in Nashville!  I had absolutely NO idea we had any French or Canadian heritage at all.   

What's YOUR biggest surprise???  

in The Tree House by Summer Orman G2G6 Mach 9 (96.8k points)

My family includes Christopher Bechtler of the gold mining, gold coin producing family of North Carolina.

I still think I should get a free Bechtler coin.

at those prices, I can see why you want a free one!!!!

Heres my biggest surprise, That Im related to Barack Obama.

Creepy Surprise: that I'm related to Lizzie Borden but here's the scary part she died on my Birthday, June 2 in 1929 I wasn't born until 1966 but it still creepy.

I have had so many surprises I had to make a freespace page just to list them all.


Corinne that is a fascinating list!!!  I'm going to link it on my page, if that's okay with you???
I really am hoping that others will share some of their stories. I have made a number of discoveries that surprised me, and I'm certain that many of you have, too. I'd be very interested in hearing from more of you, if you're comfortable sharing the stories.
Well, I got all excited and then had to remove a whole branch! For a brief time, I was descended from James I of Scotland. Seems the Bates Folk loved the name John. Generations of John!
Share and share alike, thats how I feel about my written material and artwork, Creative Commons... have at it!
My great-great grandfather was a Baptist minister in Texas who was married to two different women at the same time.
Wow that is surprising. I wonder if the women had a problem with that?

6 Answers

+5 votes
As a category, my biggest surprises are in finding relatives who are descendents of families I thought had died out.  For instance my 2ggrandparent's oldest child, Jacob Dardinger (Born Switzerland) was married and had a daughter who married and had a son,but I hadn't found a family for him and assumed the line had died out.  But then I got an email from a descendant who was part of I think 13 previously unknown descendents of Jacob. I probably haven't entered the line here yet so maybe I'll go and enter a couple of more generations of that tree.
by Living Dardinger G2G6 Pilot (449k points)
wow!!  13 unknowns!
+5 votes
I discovered that I had a great-uncle named "Tina," which immediately brought to mind the old Johnny Cash song, "a Boy Named Sue." He died at about 5 years of age, so my father didn't know him., and probably didn't even know about him.

My hypothesis: "he" actually was a "she," but had ambiguous genitalia at birth, due to abnormal levels of prenatal sex hormones. Although the birth record and the federal census performed one month after birth list the child as a male, there is no first name on either, which suggests that the doctor and family were uncertain. Tina appears on the death certificate five years later. Over time, the actual sex may have become apparent (e.g., X-rays, which had been discovered several years earlier, may have been in use in the Boston area).
by Jeffry Ricker G2G4 (4.5k points)
Interesting!  And I LOVE that song, and Johnny Cash too!
Personal surprises:

I found out my grandfather, or should i call him my dad's birth father, was  married at the time my father and uncle were born.  Also that my dad had two half sisters he knew nothing about. And that my grandmother was married before she married my (step) grandfather (I have my step-grandfather's last name because he addopted my dad )

Very interesting stuff.
+2 votes
If no one minds, I have made other discoveries that surprised me. I am most surprised when I discover relatives that I didn’t know I had because they were never mentioned (one wonders why they weren’t mentioned). This was the case with my “Uncle” Tina, whom I mentioned earlier.

My grandmother, born in 1895 in Brooklyn, claimed almost her entire life—beginning at 16 years of age—that she was born in 1898. Even her gravestone has 1898 as her birth year. She had a younger brother who actually was born in 1898. Did he believe that she was his twin sister?

Even more surprising was my discovery that he really did have a twin sister. She “disappeared” soon after her birth in 1898. I suspect my great-grandmother put her up for adoption, but I can’t be sure. I could speculate even more about these events, but I won’t do so in a public forum.
by Jeffry Ricker G2G4 (4.5k points)
reshown by Eowyn Walker
My great grandmother, for YEARS, didn't know whether she was born in 1912 or 1913.  Back then, especially in the poor country areas of Tennessee (and probably most other places too), they didn't keep records as much except for the family Bibles.  Even up until when she died, she didn't know for sure.  I found her birth certificate online a few years ago.  It was 1913.  :D

My grandmother knew the date and year she was born. She was sent to live with a relative in Ireland in 1898, and stayed until 1912, when she came back to Brooklyn. Throughout those 14 years, she used the correct birth year (the 1911 Irish Census shows this). Plus, her mother knew she wasn't the twin sister: they knew that he was born in 1898.

tt was only after my grandmother's return that she started using 1898 rather than 1895. She also changed the spelling of her first and last names. "Something" was going on, but I don't think we will ever know for sure.

If anyone is interested, my grandmother's profile is here: Brew-76  I used the name on her birth certificate, not the name she used when she came back to the United States (Brue).

But this does raise the possibility that, when she returned to Brooklyn in 1912, her mother told both her brother and her that she was born in 1898.

This is what I have loved most ever since starting on genealogical research. We uncover many mysteries, and discover that our families have many secrets. It also makes me realize that, in the future, when it becomes even easier to search records, my descendants may discover things about me that I wish they hadn't  :-)

+4 votes
I'm Aussie so... four convicts (maybe five!), but they weren't really rotten scoundrels. These days they'd have gotten probation. LOL

James Schofield of Ipswich, Suffolk- 14 years for stealing a pig

Mary Connors of Ballina Co. Mayo Ireland- 7 years for stealing

Arthur Tole of Manchester, Lancashire- 14 years for stealing

Janet Angus of Perth Scotland- life for theft

They all turned out fine-landowners the lot of them!!!
by Susan Scarcella G2G6 Mach 8 (81.6k points)
+3 votes
I was shocked when I found out that my great-grandfather was illegitimate and was actually the biological child of his mother's cousin once removed.   His paternal grandfather and his maternal  great-grandfather were brothers.

He lived his entire life  with the surname of a man that his mother was married to years before he was born.  The same man died six years before he was born.     

His biological parents had the same last name which their son never shared.
by Amy W G2G6 Mach 1 (18.8k points)
+2 votes
When I was in second grade a new kid named Augustine came to our school and was in my class.  I was fascinated with the name Augustine .  I even told my teacher I had a grandfather named Augustine.  She told me "" You don't know that ."  I didn't . But it turns out I have quite a few grandfathers named Augustine. It could be I heard my father mention the name.  She was also the teacher who could not stand to look at me. On the day President Kennedy was shot , I asked when would would be going home early. She said. " And now why would we do that? "  and me being a red head said " Because the President is dead ." And a minute after she called me a horrible child the school principal came to the door told us the President was dead. And we were going home. Sorry I got off topic. But for some reason when ever I think of Augustine I think of President Kennedy. And Abraham Lincoln .  Just weird.
by Anonymous Roach G2G6 Pilot (201k points)

Related questions

+9 votes
10 answers
254 views asked Sep 1, 2021 in The Tree House by anonymous G2G6 Mach 1 (12.4k points)
+5 votes
0 answers
+12 votes
3 answers
+12 votes
1 answer
+4 votes
0 answers
+6 votes
0 answers
+12 votes
2 answers
+9 votes
2 answers

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

disclaimer - terms - copyright