52 Ancestors Week 6: Surprise

+12 votes
685 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.

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asked in The Tree House by Eowyn Langholf G2G Astronaut (1.3m 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.

72 Answers

+5 votes

Probably my most surprising ancestor is my 6th great grandmother Margarita Alberti, who was a nun at a convent on the Spanish island of Menorca in the mid-18th century when she was "rescued" by a British soldier, my 6th great-grandfather, whom she later married.

answered by Geoffrey Crofton G2G3 (3.4k points)
+5 votes

For the longest time, I believed that my 3rd great grandparents, Aaron Herdsman & Selina Savage were 1st cousins, the only instance of pedigree collapse that I had in my tree.  Selina was known as the daughter of Henry Savage & Ann Herdsman (Aaron's aunt)

I had looked for ages to find a birth record for Selina Savage in the town of Malton where she was supposedly born without any luck.  One day I was looking at Henry Savage's family in the 1841 census and noticed a girl by the name of Selina Wood living there.  I assumed she was a servant or other relative, but then it dawned on me and I searched for a Selina Wood born in Malton.  I found her immediately and discovered that she was the daughter of John Wood & Elizabeth Savage!  Later research has confirmed that she was Henry's niece, so she wasn't married to her cousin after all.  

The lack of pedigree collapse continues even now, much to my surprise.  I have many cousins that do have it and are related to me in several ways, but not in my own tree yet until way back, eg. the royals in the 1500s

answered by Susie O'Neil G2G2 (2.4k points)
+5 votes

My paternal grandmother

Elizabeth Florence "Lizbeth" Salvatore formerly Del Carlino

suffered from major depression and several psychotic episodes. Now I know she also had PTSD. Her mother died when she was around 12 years old. She went to live with her older sister Rose.

I had heard her talk very negatively about her father, mostly just how mean he was to her mother. And then I remembered her saying she had caught him in bed with another woman. I guess I forgot it and never believed it but now I'm pretty sure it happened.

What I discovered was that he was seeing a woman in Ohio and they had a son while he was married to his wife. Once

Maria Dominica (Mary) Delcarlino formerly Diodato aka Del Carlino
passed away at a the age of 39 her father went to Ohio and married this woman and moved her and their son to Philadelphia where they had a couple of more children. He left all of his children from his first marriage behind. They all ended up living with Rose, the oldest daughter and child. She was married when her mother died.
answered by Louise Halpin G2G6 Mach 2 (22.8k points)
+6 votes
Not many things surprise me today. At 75, I take most things in stride.

But, at the request of my daughter, I am scanning all my genealogical papers so that she won't have to deal with them. I came across and read a medical report that my mother had answered for her doctor. It was within five years of her death and many items in it surprised me because she had never talked about them. I learned that I had had three siblings lost through miscarriages, that she had horrible nightmare that kept her awake or woke her up, and that her migraine headaches were much worse than I realized. My mother and I talked often and over intensely private things, so I was surprise these were never brought up.

I also found that when she wanted to find out what my job as a programmer entailed, she didn't just take a short course in how to keypunch, she attended the Automation Institute of America and took a course from 5 July to 6 Sept, 1968, full time. She received no grades, but I was quite impressed by the effort and the nice notes she received from her instructors. It was so much effort to be able to talk to me about computers before personal computers were a part of everyday life.

Very few things in my genealogy have surprised me. I knew where my family came from on both sides and that misspellings were common. I knew most of them were farmers and the rest tended to be pastors. I found a few divorces, a few ran out on their wives, and a few participated in wars. It seemed that every other generation they would move from one state to another. In general, they weren't among the historically interesting people.
answered by Judy Bramlage G2G6 Mach 4 (40.1k points)
+4 votes
A bit behind, but I did my ancestor Mathew Lindsey (Lindsey-4172) who was a prominate tavern keeper in Wells Maine

https://genealogybyjanelle.blogspot.com/2019/02/surprise-matthew-lindsey-1774-1843.html
answered by Janelle Weir G2G6 Mach 1 (15.7k points)
+3 votes

Yesterday, I was following hints for my husband's ancestors.  Looking at the military records, it was draft registrations and wartime privates for nearly all of them.  Then a new one showed up.

"Did you know your great-grandfather attended West Point?" I asked my husband.    

"No," he replied.  

"He was appointed from Arkansas and accepted by the local medical office in June 1891 when he was seventeen," I continued.

"I don't know anything about it," he said.

Now, we have a new mystery to follow up on.  I'll phone Hubby's parents today and see what they know and then I'll trek to the Genealogical Library for whatever they have on Hilman Briton McMath (1869 - 1954).  I love surprises.

answered by Peggy McMath G2G6 Mach 1 (16.9k points)
+2 votes
My biggest surprise has been the lack of records from the early 19th Century in much of North America. I can find a decent amount for early settlements, and it tends to pick back up right around the tail end of the 19th Century. But for those 80 or so years, there just is not a whole lot and I will have an individual with plenty of sources, but their parent will have nothing beyond an obituary and maybe a land record (if I'm lucky). Their grandparents, however, will be fully sourced with town and church records.

I feel like this has caused the majority of my brick walls, too!

Another thing that surprised me was how much in-marrying happened within early American towns. Several generations of two or three family will intermarry and create some very complicated (and difficult to trace) family lines, often with naming conventions that even further confuse.
answered by Patricia Ferdig G2G5 (5.9k points)
+2 votes
I was surprised to find that I’m related to 17 Presidents. WT is a great place to find family. I’ve lost connected with many cousins.
answered ago by Bob Keniston G2G6 Pilot (166k points)
+1 vote
I can't publish this outside of WikiTree as there are members of the family that may not appreciate my candor, even though times have changed in the last 30 or so years. My "SURPRISE" was when I learned, at the age of 58, (two years ago) that my maternal grandmother and grandfather never married. That she had run off with an already married, older man, with four children. I found this out through a 2nd cousin once removed and had it confirmed by a first cousin. Totally blew my mind because my mother had never told me about this and she let me believe for all these years that they were married. Kind of rocked my world for a while, but that is a long story that has nothing to do with my response to this weeks challenge.
answered ago by T Counce G2G6 Mach 4 (42.9k points)
+1 vote
I was amazed to discover a few years ago that an ancestor on my father's side had married an ancestor on my mother's side and my father's line carried them down to me.  In around 1760 Charles Davis www.wikitree.com/wiki/Davis-21217 of Charles County, Maryland married Anne Dent  www.wikitree.com/wiki/Dent-1897 from the same place.  The Davises eventually produced my paternal Grandmother Marie Davis Middleton and the Dents, through Anne's brother eventually produced my maternal Grandmother Opal Dent Tunnell.  

It surprised me that such a close relationship could be repeated when my parents, one from Georgia and one from Oklahoma met each other in New Mexico and married!
answered ago by Kathryn Wenzel G2G3 (3.8k points)
0 votes
One of my largest genealogy surprise was finding Quakers in my kids' family lines through their Dad. His parents always said that they were 100 percent Irish Catholics but it's was not to be so. Not only did I trace some of their ancestry to Quakers in Philadelphia and West New Jersey but also to Englishmen who founded villages in New Jersey. Plus, a Hessian soldier in the American Revolution that defected from the army and then, became American (Upperman-6).
answered ago by Maggie N. G2G6 Pilot (546k points)
0 votes
I was surprised to learn that I'm not descended from three of the children of William Towne and Joanna Blessing.  I'm descended from four of them - Edmund Towne, Jacob Towne, Mary Estey and Rebecca Nurse.
answered ago by Bret Cantwell G2G3 (3.8k points)

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