Question of the Week: What is something surprising you have found in your research?

+8 votes

What is something surprising you've found while researching your family history?

in The Tree House by Eowyn Langholf G2G Astronaut (1.3m points)
reshown by Chris Whitten
I learned that though my immediate family is from the southern and central part of the United States, that I have cousins from BOTH sides (mother and father) of the family in Washington State and they live about 40 miles from each other.
I found that two of my grandfathers, many generations back of course, were brothers and that their grandchildren married each other. Also their grandfather's sister was one brother's grandmother-in-law. Now how to a create a tree showing that????

34 Answers

+4 votes
I’ve discovered so much and finding a couple of skeletons here and there but my biggest surprise was discovering (and I’m still working on this to make sure I’m correct) but it looks like my maternal 21GGF is also Mary Queen of Scots 8GGF . From what I have so far, it seems our lines went down seperate paths from there (her 7GGF was my 20 GG Uncle)  but I’m so excited to dig more and see if I can confirm it or uncover anything else!
by Rebecca Kennedy G2G Crew (320 points)
This is a wonderful discovery !! I hope that you find out more information and can share it with us.
+4 votes
My daughter was visiting with my 90 some year old aunt who accidentally
mentioned the fact that my grandfather apparently deliberately suffocated his first grandchild, a boy.  She mentioned that the baby had been born alive because the household heard it crying.  My grandfather came in the house, talked to his wife and stalked upstairs where his daughter had given birth.  He came back downstairs with a body and went out and buried it in the rose garden, where several of his own stillborn children were already buried.  Later, Aunt Ruth (my father's sister) married the
baby's father, Uncle Bob, and they had three more children.  I talked to
a granddaughter of theirs and she said the family had some correspondence about it and supposed that was a true story from the
inferences made in the letters.  This same grandfather made the remark
after hearing I was a girl, after two sons, "It's too bad she isn't a dog so I could take her out and shoot her" like he had just done to my parents dog so no one spent money on a license.  He was a miserable person to my
family but a gracious community member.  I have no delightful grandfather memories from either of my blood grandfathers.  They were
very poor examples for their children to copy, but luckily my parents
didn't do so.
by Beulah Cramer G2G6 Pilot (165k points)

Oh, Beulah broken heartbroken heart

I am so glad your parents didn't copy their parents.  The expression "street angel, house devil" would seem to apply to the dog-killing grand-whatever (it's difficult to use the word "parent" for such a one).

I'm not sure how my life would have been with our paternal grandfather if my father had lived.  He married at 45, had four children in five years, living
with this grandfather, and died when my oldest brother was 3 months from his fifth birthday, one son had just turned 3, I was under 2 and my youngest brother was 6 months old.   Grandfather drove my mother out six months later and she had a struggle to raise us through the depression with very little money and no welfare nets available today.  I do know my mother always said they had been looking for a farm for themselves because of the conditions there.
+4 votes
I found out that the most recent great-great-grandfather in my family tree from England, Timothy Meads, was a rebel during the Cromwell era, and the King's court banished him and others to work as a prisoner in Barbados. When he finished his work term, they gave him 1000 acres in an unknown land called North Carolina. The land was eventually settled with farms and called Meads-town, and the area still remains with that name today, almost 400 years later, with a Meadstown Road, Meadstown Airstrip and the Meadstown Produce store today.
by Charles Meads G2G Crew (770 points)
+3 votes

The number of men in my direct paternal line named Elijah or a variant thereof. All of this I found out After I named one of my sons Elijah.

by Chuck Auld G2G4 (4.5k points)
+2 votes
While researching my paternal grandfather's family; his oldest sister was baptized Nathalie.  Along the way she changed her name to Cordellia, this was the surprise.  But, on her grave stone the mason made an engraving error and now she is forever being remembered as Cornclia.  Unfortunately this part is funny.
by Nicole Duchesne G2G6 Pilot (380k points)
+2 votes

I think it would have to be how many were Centenarians.  Not in my direct line, but the sisters, or grandchildren of the brothers/sisters of my direct line.  One 2nd cousin twice removed was 105 when she died in 2005.

I did wonder at a few others .. if they received the "telegram from the Queen" (or King) that was a thing done back in the last century.  (Some of them may have been deceased before that WAS a thing.)

by Melanie Paul G2G6 Pilot (139k points)
+2 votes

My biggest surprise was when I discovered that my recently deceased parents had been living in a house built on the copper mine workings in St Austell, Cornwall, where my father's 3X great grandfather's family worked. There was even a mine shaft in their garden!

My GGGG Grandfather Thomas Trethewy died from the results of  an accident in a mine in 1841. He (or at least his widow - he died before the 1841 census) lived very close to my parents' house, so the accident could have been in the mine under their house. But his son Richard almost definitely worked at that mine, as his residence mentioned in the 1851 census is exactly where the mine was, and he is a copper miner.

What makes this such a surprise is that the line came back to this place via Singapore (where Thomas's grandson went to work) and my GG grandmother was born), Borneo (where my grandfather was born), Kent, London (where my father was born), Manchester, and Southampton (and several others in between). I was the first one in the line since 1868 to be born in Cornwall - and even then, nowhere near where Thomas Trethewy and his family lived.

I just wish my parents had known this before they died!

by Sally Douglas G2G4 (4.8k points)
+4 votes
As an adopted person researching my natural family with little information is difficult but I have been very surprised to find a considerable number of ancestors living past 100 years including a great Aunt who died in 2011 at the age of 108.  She never married  was born and died in the same house. I note that several other 100+ also did not marry or have children.. + seemed to live in the same place throughout their long lives...
by Anon Cormack G2G Crew (670 points)
+3 votes
My ancestor, Marie Crocheron, had siblings, Antoine & Adrienne in that order.

My niece named 2 of her children Anthony, then the youngest, Adrianna.

She did not know about our ancestor.
+3 votes
I had no information about my Maternal Great Grandmother's family, only that her father had been born in Germany. After wading through German records - which I had to translate - I discovered that my third Great Grandparents and their ancestors had been Jewish. In the early 1800s, my Great Great Greats had been baptized into the Lutheran church at the age of 5yrs. and 14yrs. years of age - in an effort to become "more German" and attain citizenship, and better education. This was a completely unknown part of my Family History as we had been raised Catholic and is a tremendous treasure for me.
by Catherine Christensen G2G Crew (570 points)
+3 votes
I was extremely surprised to find that I am descended from John Alden & Priscilla Mullins AND Richard Warren (Mayflower). I was also Margaret of Scotland (an Anglo-Saxon princess who married King Malcolm III of Scotland). So many stories from centuries and even just decades back! Loving this new "hobby" of mine!!
Hi Shelly,  

VERY distant cousins.  Did you know Queen Margaret was also a saint?  She was known for her work with the poor. I visited her chapel in Scotland.  She also was the ancestor of Henry Filmer, son of Sir Edward  Filmer, from whom I descend.
Yes, I did know that. I am Catholic and actually purchased a medal. I consider her my patron saint since she is in the family!!
+2 votes
A few years ago I discovered  a direct ancestor (my third great grandmother) who came from a predominate Protestant line, her parents were Baptists.  That was a real surprise since going back three or four generations my family was Catholic.  This was an exciting discovery because it opened up a whole  new dimension to my family tree, ( I love variety) and led to some new Colonial states I could add  to my tree and also new Quaker ancestry.
by James Stratman G2G6 Mach 6 (69.2k points)
+2 votes
I was surprised to learn that several of my ancestors have been in America for about 400 years.  One of them was Henry Filmer from whom I descend on my Green Family line.  He was a burgess in early Virginia.  I was shocked to find that he was a descendant of the kings and queens of England, Scotland, and most of Europe. This information had been researched by the Virginia Genealogical Society.
ago by
0 votes
I knew my family were early colonists but didn't know my great great grandmother has a family member or marriage  connection with every recent  famous person of the week and almost every us president , ,Winston Churchill, and several British Kings. She seems to be the common ancestor  in all of their trees.
ago by Anonymous Closson G2G Rookie (200 points)

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