Wednesday, February 10, 2016


Yes, the house must be inhabited, and we will see by whom; 
for imagination is a licensed trespasser; 
it has no fear of dogs, 
but may climb over walls and peep in at windows with impunity.
George Eliot

Yesterday I wrtote a little update about what has been happening over here and I mentioned that I've been scrounging around on again, digging up secrets about my family. For some reason I am completely fascinated with the stories of my family's past and when I find crime, intrigue, lost love, lies, and buried secrets, it makes the time and effort of digging worth it. 

So, during my research I came across a plea from a woman looking for her husband's paternal family. Apparently, her husband's father left his mother before he was born and never had any contact with him again. She had limited information about her husband's father, but the name caught my eye as being similar to a great-uncle that I didn't know very well but adored nonetheless. I didn't know him very well because he lived across the country in Oregon and so growing up I only saw him a few times. When I was around him, I remember always being in awe because I truly viewed him as a real-life cowboy. He was tall, wide, an imposing figure physically (to my young girl's mind), who always wore cowboy boots and a wide leather belt with a large belt buckle. Despite his hulking appearance, he was always kind, gentle, and in good spirits with me. In my mind he was a man of myth...a hero in a wild west novel. 

Intrigued with this message from 2008, I started digging through's records to see what I could find and piece together about this uncle I knew more in my child's imagination than in real life and wow...I was shocked at what I found. Apparently, this great uncle had quite a troubled past starting at an early age. The first clue I found was a 1946 arrest record and mugshot from New Mexico when he was just 16 years old. He had "taken a car without permission," according to the charging document, and plead guilty. The interesting part was he gave a fake birthday, perhaps to conceal the fact that he was only 16 at the time, to make it seem as if he were 18. I imagine he didn't want to be sent home as a minor to his mom and dad so he made it seem as if he were of legal age. What I couldn't get over was what in the world a 16 year old from West Virginia was doing in New Mexico at that age, half way across the country from his family? He was sentenced to a year in the penitentiary, but I have no idea how long he actually served.

After finding this document, I contacted my mother to ask what she remembered about this uncle of hers. She didn't know a lot of details about his life, but did remember there were many myths and stories floating around about his past. I collected some information from her and other family members who knew him and the stories just got crazier and more interesting.  bigamy...many kids left behind...FBI investigations...arrest...hiding from the law... etc. Wow. 

I am still researching to see if I can find any more proof of his scoundrel days and also to see if indeed my great uncle might perhaps be the father of this woman's husband. Many of the details of his story match dates, times, and locations of my great uncle's escapades, so the chance of this being one of his kids left behind might be true. 

Sometimes when I research my ancestry, I swear I am from a long line of criminals, scoundrels, and trouble makers...from BOTH sides of my family. It sure does make for interesting research!

Have a wonderful Wednesday.  

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