52 Ancestors Week 6: Surprise

+14 votes
1.0k views

imageReady for Week 6 of the 52 Ancestors challenge?

You're encouraged to share a profile of an ancestor or relative who matches the week's theme. This week's sharing prompt:

SURPRISE

From Amy Johnson Crow:

What is something surprising that you've found in your research? What is a surprise that one of your ancestor's had? Have you found something in a surprising place?

Share below!

Participants who share every week can earn badges. Click here for more about the challenge and how to participate.

If this is your first time participating, or you don't have the participation badge, please post here.

in The Tree House by Eowyn Walker G2G Astronaut (1.7m points)
Sorry...I meant to answer rather than comment. I will paste into an answer below.
I think the biggest surprise I have found so far is that my g-g-g-g-Grandfather William Herbert Bridges, created tapestries that were works of Art, and that one of them is still in existence today in a collection held by the Sovereign Hill Gold Museum of Ballarat.

Needlecraft has always been a big thing in our family, my mother, her mother, and her mothers mothers were all excellent at embroidery, and my sister has inherited the talent - I just never imagined it may have been passed down from a male, and it struck me as unusual that a male who had migrated to Australia during the Gold Rush had found time to DO tapestry, let alone a work of art the size of the one in the collection.

84 Answers

+8 votes
My greatest surprise was receiving a digital copy of a photo of my 3rd great-grandfather, David Day, born January (my birth month, too!) 17th, 1818 and died Dec. 12th, 1906. This photo shows his second bride and other family members as well. He is white-haired and has a goatee.
by Tina Hall G2G6 Mach 1 (15.0k points)
+6 votes

I have two surprises to put on this prompt.

  1.  is about Jonathan David King https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/King-29197 . I found around June of last year when I lived in Loudon, Tennessee that Jonathan was married before he married Amanda Fine Leonard. He married Rachel Collins https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Collins-19424 first. How I found out was on Ancestry, in Family Tree Maker and on Wikitree I had put a photo of him on the profile and his relative from where he married Rachel first contacted me last year and sent me a picture of them and then I did research and found out that he was married before he married Amanda Fine Leonard https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Fine-248. That was very surprising to me. They gave me a GEDCOM information that I have add to wikitree and need to work on also.
  2.  After I moved to Jonesborough, Tennessee in November 6th and I got my new email address on December 17 last year I got an email from my great grandfather Herbert Barnett https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Barnett-3528 great grandson  Audy Barnett https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Barnett-8451 which I add his profile tonight to Wiki Tree. He wanted information on the Barnetts starting with Jason Barnett https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Barnett-3529 which is Herbert Barnett father. He gave me information on Spencer Barnett https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Barnett-3530 which is Jason Barnett father from some one else gave them saying that he immigrated from Londonberry, Ireland. Then I find out that Audy wife Karen Lynn Arwood Barnett https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Arwood-111 is related to my mother side from my moms surname Leonard which is very interesting. Plus what he gave me was very interesting I am going to email him what I can to him and he is going to talk to his wife mother because that is how he and his wife is connected to my mother side of the family under the surname Leonard. This was all a surprise. So I even have a lot more to put on wikitree from what he gave me. He gave me four family excel charts to have and to use. I add his father and his wife profile to wikitree tonight also.

by Anonymous Barnett G2G6 Pilot (465k points)
edited by Anonymous Barnett
+8 votes
When I first started on WT I was under the assumption that I was named for my grandfather's brother. But in no time at all I learned that I was named after my gg grandfather, Bartholomeaus Schlader. This was the first of many surprises that I've experienced on Wilitree.
by Bart Triesch G2G6 Pilot (252k points)
+9 votes

I think the biggest surprise for me in exploring my ancestors has been that they aren't German, full-stop. Because if you're lucky enough to go far enough back, no one is purely anything. Big lesson, and not one my family wanted to hear. There has been a heavy emphasis on German pride, and to learn that we can source ancestors into a time that the region was defined differently changed the identity of who they thought they were. Some were not happy with me. Our furthest origins along that line at this point is Czech.

So, at least at the point of Paulus Hoffman, who seems to be pretty much the ancestor of any Hoffman/Huffman that crossed the Atlantic in the early 1700s. It's not a big thing, though it has expanded my understanding of who I think my family was, where they came from, and how they got here. 

Curiously, the DNA testing I've done encompasses that side of the family, and has shown Ashkenazi Jewish ancestors. Again, not at all surprising given region and timeframe, yet it was an unknown in my family.

This is my first week participating in these prompts, and I hope time and availability permits me to continue to do so.

by Kelley Harrell G2G6 Mach 1 (13.7k points)
They could still be Germans (ethnicity and language), just living in a different country as borders shifted.  Germans have diasporas in many countries, Russia, Hungary, etc.
+6 votes

I think the biggest surprise for me in exploring my ancestors has been that they aren't German, full-stop. Because if you're lucky enough to go far enough back, no one is purely anything. Big lesson, and not one my family wanted to hear. There has been a heavy emphasis on German pride, and to learn that we can source ancestors into a time that the region was defined differently changed the identity of who they thought they were. Some were not happy with me. Our furthest origins along that line at this point is Czech.

So, at least at the point of Paulus Hoffman, who seems to be pretty much the ancestor of any Hoffman/Huffman that crossed the Atlantic in the early 1700s. It's not a big thing, though it has expanded my understanding of who I think my family was, where they came from, and how they got here. 

Curiously, the DNA testing I've done encompasses that side of the family, and has shown Ashkenazi Jewish ancestors. Again, not at all surprising given region and timeframe, yet it was an unknown in my family.

This is my first week participating in these prompts, and I hope time and availability permits me to continue to do so.

by Kelley Harrell G2G6 Mach 1 (13.7k points)
+8 votes
One of an intended surprise was a 100th Birthday party for my grandmother, Oma M Allison-Rammel (1895-1995).  Oma spent the last year in a nursing home in Pana, IL.  This is about 10 limes south of her hometown of Assumption, IL.  

Oma had been the first grade teacher in the small commiunitu for many years.  By the time she retired, she had taught several generations of town kids.  They were all now adults, but seemed everyone knew Oma.

As her 100th birthday approached, an arrangement was made to use an empty building on Main Street for a birthday party.  There was a smaller group of family and close friends who met with her part of the time.  Then there was an open house for those who wish to drop in and say hello.

Every one of her living descendants (kids, grandkids, great grandkids & great-great grandkids) came to the celebration.  They came from as far as NM, SD & WI.

Since she lived out of town it was not hard to keep the party a surprise.  This was true until someone went to transport her to Assumption.  

Anyway it was a big surprise.  And a good time was had by all.  Lots of family quality time for visiting.
by Bill Sims G2G6 Mach 9 (95.5k points)
+5 votes
I haven't found any real suprises yet.  I will continue to research and see what I find.
by Sally Mahoney G2G6 Mach 2 (28.9k points)
+7 votes

I have discovered a "surprise" this year regarding my second great grandfather,  William David Smith Smith-144700. Family legend states he abandoned his family once they were in Canada. But Canadian census records show he continued to list his family at least two successive censuses as living with him. Meanwhile, wife Margaret  Doris Robson Robson-1571, and their children are also listed each time as living with the man who would eventually become Margaret's second husband.  

Now I am wondering where the truth lies between the two and what became of David. Did he have any other children etc. Hopefully, records will eventually lead to some answers. 

by Jennifer Turner G2G6 Mach 1 (14.2k points)
+7 votes

It was never discussed, and my Dad probably never knew. I was SURPRISED to learn that my great-grandfather, Murray Wilson TAYLOR was widowed after the death of his first wife in 1888, and then married Martha Eloise CAMPBELL who was the daughter of his first cousin, my 2nd Great Grandfather, John Wallace CAMPBELL . Both sets of parents objected to the marriage, but that didn't dissuade the couple. They had five children, including my grandfather, Gerald Howard Taylor.

by Sheri Taylor G2G6 Mach 2 (24.6k points)
+8 votes
I just started today with a new familysearch.org site and what a surprise to find my 12xggm is Matoaka Powhatan....Pocahontas!
by Carol Sullivan G2G6 Mach 2 (24.7k points)
+7 votes

Surprise! My maternal great grandfather, Edward "Eddie" SANDERS (born LEGGETT) was divorced from my great grandmother, Gelona Lonie" soon after the birth of my Grandmother's baby sister in 1899. He then married Nancy Lorena WATSON on 29 March 1903 - Nancy Lorena Watson and Eddie Sanders are FIRST COUSINS. They share grandparents: including Asa Cornelius WATSON and Margaret Ann TRAWICK
Eddie's mother Josephine "Josie" WATSON is sister to Nancy's father William Abner Watson.
Eddie SANDERS and Nancy WATSON SANDERS had nine children: four daughters and five sons. 

by Sheri Taylor G2G6 Mach 2 (24.6k points)
+7 votes
I was surprised to find my grandmother had a half sister that died very young that I hadn't previously heard of (Billings-2346).    I ran across a birth record a couple counties away with a similar surname and decided to ask grandma if she had any other siblings and she told me about her sister (who was not the child I found the records for, that child was unrelated)
by Brandi Morgan G2G6 Mach 1 (18.6k points)
+7 votes

Two of the surprises I found concerned the wife of my Grandmother's Uncle Bill Sanders, Irena Pearl Soule

The first surprise was related to the book he wrote: "Genealogy of the Sanders, Alison and Collateral Families Sullivan & Washington Counties Tennessee" compiled and published by him and printed in September 1972. He was quite detailed about some of the relatives he wrote about and some of the stories he included in the book. Then I read the section on him - he declined to write anything about himself instead my Uncle Clifford Ford did the write-up. Then I realized there was nothing included about Uncle Bill's wife, Pearl - not even her name was mentioned.

So, of course, then I had to attempt to find information on her. I had her basic information - birth place, birth date and death date from her obituary in the Kingsport Press. I found them in the 1920 Census living in Michigan - her widowed sister, Elsie Snow, was living in the same household as was my Uncle Clifford. I then found Pearl in the 1919 City Directory as Pearl Edgerton.  So I started looking for a Pearl and Elsie Edgerton - assuming that was her maiden name. Well, I was wrong - I posted a message looking for information - and got the lead for Pearl Soule.

Turns out, the marriage to my Uncle Bill was her second marriage. Her first marriage was to Arthur Edgerton Christmas Day of 1903 in Georgetown, New York. Their son, Luman D. Edgerton was born October 5, 1907 and died on July 15, 1910. I haven't found a cause of death yet, but I can only imagine that the death of a three year old must be hard on a marriage. 

In 1916, she was living in Detroit and working as a manicurist. She filed for divorce in MIchigan alleging extreme cruelty and desertion. Both of them re-married soon after the divorce was finalized in May of 1919. Aunt Pearl & Uncle Bill married in June 1919 and Arthur Edgerton married Alice Gilbert in February 1920 in Susquehanna, Pennsylvania. 

by Emily Holmberg G2G6 Mach 9 (94.6k points)
edited by Emily Holmberg
+7 votes
We have had a number of surprises

Grandparent you married just before the family threw a Golden Wedding party! All my aunts and uncles and dad have two birth certificates.

The finding of two brothers or uncles on my mum's side that she knew nothing about but when asking her elder sister aged 91 was told oh those are the missing boys, they died young...
by Janet Wild G2G6 Pilot (172k points)
+7 votes
I was surprised that my Grandfather had a full sister who died as a child, even though his parents never married. It validates the rumour that his parents were not allowed to marry
by Lynlee OKeeffe G2G6 Mach 1 (16.5k points)
+9 votes

Biggest surprise was after tracing my kids' Wood family for many years through records, they ended up being descendants of a Quaker in England that was actually thrown in the "gaols" for his religious beliefs! - https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Wood-17540

After serving prison term, he immigrated as an 80 years old man and founded the town of Woodbury, New Jersey, with his sons.

by Maggie N. G2G6 Pilot (821k points)
+8 votes

Whilst clearing out a back room in my grandmother's house, I came across a pair of framed portraits. When asked, my gran casually states that this is Josiah Andrews and his wife - my 2x great grandfather. I had no idea that there were pictures of these two, but was so pleasantly surprised to see them!

To think, if I'd never had uncovered them just then, would I ever have known about them or who was captured in those precious frames. The treasures hidden just out of sight...

by Toni Andrews G2G6 (6.7k points)
+7 votes

My mother told us her parents both died in a car accident. Told all her kids that. Her sister told her kids that. Turns out to not be true. My grandfather died a year before my grandmother who did die in a car accident. Very bizarre. Why would they lie about that?  Don’t know if I’ll ever discover what that is about 

My grandma Maimie Lou https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Abernathy-912

Grandfather Henry Crawford https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Crawford-6947

by Joelle Colville-Hanson G2G6 Pilot (112k points)
+7 votes

I discovered that my grandfather Frederick Aurich had married a woman in Pennsylvania, had a child and then left her with no notice to start another family in New Jersey. I spent a lot of time trying to disprove the newspaper article that detailed his disappearance, but there are vital few men with his name, history and circumstance for it to be a coincidence. 

by Shanna Leeland G2G6 Mach 5 (54.6k points)
+7 votes

A Bigamist?

I think the marriage was strained because His wife was back with her Parents, I assumed he had died, but more children appeared, so I started to look for him elsewhere 

I couldn't find him in 1901  BUT in 1911 surprise

Matthew Whalley

by Heather Jenkinson G2G6 Mach 2 (28.3k points)

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