Saturday, August 6, 2016

Yes, We Promise Not To Tell

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN:  Pssst. Do you want to know a secret? Well, sure you do. But the influence and generosity and talent of Jim Jackson is no secret!  He's president of the Guppies (Yay!) and works tirelessly with Sisters in Crime and the Guppies and his flow sister and brother authors. He's cut quite a swath through mystery world--and the Reds are always delighted to host him! 

He's got a new book--yay! see below-- but first, he's exploring secrets.  And, even better, telling them. And even more fascinating--they're family secrets. His. 

Secrets

Do you want to hear a secret? Promise not to tell?

Of course you do. We all want to know other people’s secrets. The opening words to this post belong to Snow White as she breaks into the first song in the Disney version of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. I can hear George Harrison singing a rephrased version of these questions in the Beatle’s song “Do You Want to Know a Secret?” that was a track on their 1963 album Please Please Me.

Lean in with me and we can catch similar words as the start of a whispered conversation between two girls (or guys) of almost any age. We all have secrets.

Telling secrets starts soon after we learn to talk. We use small ones as currency to help develop friendships. We offer a small sliver of our hidden selves and judge how the person reacts. Will they still like us if they know . . . ?

We eagerly read the tabloids (or at least their headlines as we check out at the grocery store) to find out others’ secrets. Of course, when it’s ours, we don’t want people sharing. We hope to bury our big ones so deep that no one can find them. Ben Franklin’s “Three may keep a secret if two are dead,” reminds us that if we really want to keep a secret, we must keep it to ourselves.

How well do any of us know our relatives? Are they hiding secrets we should really know? I chose to explore those questions in DoubtfulRelations, the newest addition to the Seamus McCree series coming out August 23.

If you are like me, we often reference ancestors who did something of which we are proud. However, if we shake our family trees hard enough we’ll probably tumble out a passel of doubtful relations.
One of my early ancestors in North America died during a severe winter that wiped out a large percentage of the community. He was buried along with the other victims of starvation and disease. Well, that’s what they told the English authorities. Turns out the British crown was after him and with the community’s connivance, he “died” and was “resurrected” under an assumed name.

Not too many years later, in the mid-1600s, a Puritan minister relative on my father’s side forced a minister relative on my mother’s side to flee Massachusetts during the night—for religious purity reasons. That maternal relative found relief in the more religiously tolerant colony of Rhode Island.

Parts of my family have gone bankrupt; some divorced at a time when that was just not done; a great-grandfather abandoned his family and took off for the Alaska gold rush.

Those are the stories I do know. I wonder at the stories behind the names on my family tree that have no more details than a name and date of birth. What happened to them that we don’t even know when they died?

How about you? Any doubtful relations in your family tree?

HANK: Well, I had a really cool aunt named Portia. She was just like Grace Kelly, the way I remember it at least. Her very cool son had a Porsche. I just realized that. That's gotta be funny.  Hmm. Let me think. How about you, Reds?

***************

JamesM. Jackson authors the Seamus McCree mystery series. ANT FARM, BAD POLICY, CABIN FEVER, and DOUBTFUL RELATIONS (8/23/16). Jim is the president of the 600-member Guppy Chapter of Sisters in Crime. He splits his time between the deep woods of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and the open spaces of Georgia’s Lowcountry. Check out his website (http://jamesmjackson.com) for more information about him and his writing.

Financial crimes investigator Seamus McCree has wife problems, and Lizzie’s not even his wife anymore. Her current husband disappears on a business trip to Savannah. Has he been kidnapped? Dispatched by his hedge fund partners? Or run off with another woman? Police assume he’s AWOL, and Lizzie turns to Seamus for help.
Seamus has no desire to be sucked into Lizzie’s drama again, but her angst is also affecting their son, Paddy. Seamus agrees to help discover the truth, a quest that soon involves the entire extended family. Long buried secrets surface and each member must confront the question, “How far can you trust your family?”
Equal parts road trip, who done what, and domestic thriller, book four in the Seamus McCree series takes psychological suspense to a new level. Seamus McCree fans and newcomers alike will delight in this fast-paced novel that leaves no one in the family unchanged and keeps you guessing until the very end.


52 comments:

Joan Emerson said...

If there are doubtful relations hiding in the branches of our family tree, I haven’t yet discovered them.
I'm so excited to hear there’s a new Seamus McCree book on the way. I’m looking forward to reading it.

Grace Koshida said...

Our family tree is pretty limited (as far as I know). Most of my relatives live outside of North America, so I have only met them a few times and have had little interest in using online tools such as Ancestry.com to find out more. Nice to learn more about James M. Jackson, his link with the Guppies and JRW, as well as his Seamus McCree series.

Kait said...

How wonderful that you can trace your family tree back to colonial America! My grandfather definitely had a story. He never talked about where he came from, or why. We managed to piece together that he came to the US at the age of 13, didn't pass through Ellis Island and was from the Bavaria section of Germany. He died before my grandmother and she, dutifully following his directions, destroyed all of his records following his death. Somewhere, back in the old country, there's a story. Now, if we could just find out what his real name was, we'd have a leg up in figuring it out!

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Do you think ancestry dot com works?? I don't see how it could...

Edith Maxwell said...

Welcome, Jim! I love your series and can't wait for the new book. I do know of family feuds on the Irish side, and I suspect my great-aunt Ruth Maxwell (who taught Hemmingway French in high school!) might have been a lesbian. She never married and lived with "Miss Lacey" for most of her adult life.

Hallie Ephron said...

Love the book title and the topic: doubtful relations.
My husband's father had 2 sisters and a brother, and the youngest sister found out when she was in her 20s that she didn't have the same mother as her sibs. Their mother had died in childbirth (that child had died, too, which no one talked about) and the kids were farmed out to relatives and an orphanage for a year or so. They reunited when the father remarried and had another child. It was a secret that none of her sibs shared with her.

Jim Jackson said...

Hi JOAN -- If your family tree is clear of doubtful relations, then the pressure is on YOU to keep up the perfect record! Pre-orders for Doubtful Relations are starting to populate the various online sites. I'm posting links on my website as I learn of them.

GRACE -- Genealogy can be a great and interesting challenge or become a huge time suck depending on your perspective. Fortunately, my father was quite interested as was a great-grandfather on one branch and a three-greats on another. That helps,

And HANK -- Ancestory.com does work -- think of it as an online library of geanological information to help make connections. I'm also fond of http://www.findagrave.com/ which has links to cemeteries, individual graves (often with pictures of the stone) Were you thinking of 23andme.com that tests your DNA and tells you about your ethnic background?

Jim Jackson said...

KAIT -- Changing names becomes a real family tree killer, as sometimes is the creative spelling employed by immigration agents at Ellis Island and elsewhere. They wrote what they heard, or especially with Eastern European names, only as many letters as they felt like. Also, depending on when your ancestors arrived from Germany -- there were pressures at various times to Americanize names. [During WWI many US town names changed to hide their German heritage. I once lived in Oldwick, New Jersey, which had been called New Germantown.]

Jim Jackson said...

Hi EDITH (waves) -- Those Irish do know how to feud, and a lot of families have a maiden aunt (fill in the blank) who had a roommate who was a "good friend."

HALLIE -- Very interesting that no one shared that information with her, especially since it was a fairly common practice when a wife died to have a family member come and stay until the father remarried, parcel the kids out to family (if available) or to orphanages. My understanding is that fathers generally kept the kids only if the oldest girl was old enough to take over the house duties. Often the economic burden was too much, which is why the children were parceled out.

In my family tree (1700s) a Jackson married, lost the wife in childbirth and ended up marrying her sister. [Between the two women they had 21 kids, if I recall. Tough life in those early farming families.)

Lucy Burdette aka Roberta Isleib said...

welcome Jim, congrats on the new book, and thanks for the great job you're doing with Guppies!

My brain cells aren't really firing yet, but I know my mother's side was related to Kit Carson. (There was a bad guy too, but I'm hunting for his name.)

On my father's side, we had West Point grad John Brerton, who fought the Indians in the west and later shot himself. PSTD? Guilty conscience? who knows?

Kait, love the story of the wife destroying all the records. But what if she had held some back that no one knew about?

thanks for the topic Jim, it's perfect for mystery writers!

Jim Jackson said...

Hi LUCY -- Wow Kit Carson -- one of my childhood heroes when I thought being a scout was the coolest thing.

I think your West Point Grad is maybe spelled Brereton. Born in NJ, he graduated in 1877 was posted first to Oklahoma territory. He served as head of the Indian Scouts (another scout link!) there and eventually served in Cuba and the Philippines during the "Spanish-American" War, where he perished. Check out this link for his military history.

Mary Sutton said...

Hi Jim. Congrats on the new book!

I'm not one for major genealogy projects (my aunt is, though - wow). I do know that in my grandfather's family, they were mostly drunks who couldn't keep jobs. They bought a bar (yeah, not a good idea for a family of alcoholics) and lost it less than 2 years later because they kept drinking the stock - and profits. One of my grandfather's brothers fell into a lock near the Buffalo grain mills and drowned - and when they fished him out and tested, he'd been drunk when he fell in. My great-grandmother was reportedly not only a drunk but a mean drunk.

Ah, family. No wonder my grandfather rarely talked about his. He was the only one who made something of himself (worked at Bethlehem Steel for 30 years, served in WWII, married, and had two kids).

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

You are all making me so curious! I think everyone in my family history changed Russian and Eastern European names to more "American" names --and as you said Jim, that makes it difficult.
I'm loving these stories!

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Jim! How did you find that about Lucy's relative? Very impressive!

Jim Jackson said...

Hey MARY -- You are certainly not alone in having a family with alcohol issues. My great-grandfather Jackson was an alcoholic, probably becoming one because he was forced by his father to enter the family business as a doctor when what he really wanted was to be an accountant! He did "take the cure" and was sober for the last years of his life, but died in his 50s, so it took its toll.

And I'm with you. I'm glad I had relatives who did the genealogy heavy lifting for me.

Jim Jackson said...

HANK -- Google is my friend. I searched on John Brerton West Point and Google corrected the name (did you mean????). Then it was clicking a few links and I found the history.

I had a high school friend who's last name was Tschorke. His father had the same last name, but his grandfather had several more letters in the name, his grandfather (who was the one to emigrate to the US from Eastern Europe) had several more & HIS name was shortened by the immigration agents.

Susan Elia MacNeal said...

Several years ago, my husband Noel found out that his father—whom he thought had died in 1963—had actually lived, remarried, and had another son before he really died in 2001. We found out through a MacNeal Family page on Facebook. It's been a lot to process, to say the least...

Deborah Romano said...

Jim, I'm happy to hear just how many of your books there are for me to read. I won Bad Policy a couple of years ago and l thought there was only one other book. I enjoyed it so much that I've reread it. I need to get my hands on the others.

There were enough "unusual" relatives on my dad's side of the family to people a village. Many were alcoholics, which was why my dad chose NOT to drink.

When I was a young adult- I think it was the year I graduated from college- my dad found out from a stranger that his grandmother ( my grandfather's mother, who died young) did NOT die of natural causes. My great-grandfather accidentally shot her. My dad had eight siblings; some knew about it and some didn't. Apparently it was "sort of" a secret. My dad died a few years after getting this information. Not long ago, decades after my father's death, some cousins and one of my sisters and I pooled our information, one cousin did research in newspaper archives, and we found out that my great- grandfather was probably drunk at the time. It was Christmas. And there's more to the story.

Deb Romano

Jim Jackson said...

SUSAN -- That would be a great shock. It's interesting to me that parents often choose to hide the truth to protect the children (Seamus McCree's mother is doing that as well throughout the series), and yet, often the hiding is more difficult for the children to deal with than the truth would have been at the time.

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Well, I know my mom's father was Miller. Who knows what it was originally, right? ANd a simple name is probably harder to trace. So do you do it by the relatives? Even though in this case, not much help--her mother's last name was Wise. Again, who knows what it originally was.

ANd Google! Who'd a thought. So funny, Jim!

Susan Elia MacNeal said...

Jim, thank you. We actually don't know if his father faked his death to Noel's mother and she legitimately thought he died or if he left and he was "dead to her" and so she explained his absence with "death." Noel's mom mantained, to the end of her life, that she received a phone call telling her that Noel's father died. So, who knows? In good news, we are having fun getting to know his cousins and aunts and uncles.

Pat D said...

Mom (who is 96) tells the tales she heard about her family. One in-law was a pedophile who killed himself after the men in the family found out and confronted him. His wife was angry and never spoke to her family again. My paternal uncle's only son abandoned his family and was never heard of again until he applied for social security many years later. He had a new wife and family and suicided when he was caught out. My husband's paternal family is French Catholic from Louisiana. I'm sure they have many stories. I only know of one relative who was spoiled and lived with his mother. Everytime he was in trouble, mainly from losing at gambling, he'd go out in the fields, eat raw beans, and act crazy. Another aunt married a man who had been adopted from the orphan train by the Coco family. My mother-in-law was from Mississippi and was in the DAR and the Daughters of the Confederacy. So she traced her roots back pretty far. I do know that one of my distant relatives was Sam Houston. And no, he did not recuperate in a whore house in N.O. after the Battle of San Jacinto. Please disregard everything you heard and saw in Texas Rising. My mother and I were watching that series to see how bad it was. We just about died laughing.

Deborah Crombie said...

Hank, Miller was often substituted for Mueller (I know this because I had a character in a book who Anglicised his German name to Miller.

Jim, this is so interesting. Some friends and I were all talking about having our DNA tested just a couple of weeks ago. I really am going to do this one day. I know nothing about either side of my family. I knew one aunt well on my dad's side, and my mom's siblings, but neither of them had any interest in exploring family history.

I only learned as an adult that my father (who was fourteen years older than my mom) had been married, very unhappily, before. Apparently his first wife had mental health problems. I also learned as an adult that my father had suffered episodes of severe depression. Now I won't what I didn't find out!!

Polly Iyer said...

I've been following your trip and all your stops on your way to reconnecting to your past. About ten or fifteen years ago, my cousin received a call from a man who identified himself at the husband of my grandmother's sister's granddaughter. He lives in Israel and had made it his personal quest to put together the history of that side of the family, and he traveled to Lithuania, Great Britain, South Africa, and the States to follow the family tree. (Fortunately, he worked for a British airline.) He supplied us with a picture of the ship my grandmother came to this country on, the manifest, other photos, and stories about a family we didn't know anything about. It's something I've passed down to my kids, my cousin to hers, etc. It certainly gave us a mirror into the family's past. Wish we had some info of our grandfather, but we don't.

Nancy said...

I spent a couple of months putting together a family history for my mother, mostly using Ancestry, which is AMAZING. I traced my dad's family back to 1420. It's astonishing what you can find there. I have a relative who played the fife in the Revolutionary army, so every time I look at that famous painting of the wounded soldiers marching with the flag I think it's my ggggggg grandfather! But I could not solve the family secret (yet) concerning an Irish grandfather who came here and made his fortune in lumber. His family completely disappears. We think he was probably a Catholic (gasp!) who was keeping his religion a secret from all the WASPs. His son was one of the "Pinkertons" who shot striking Steelworkers in Pittsburgh at a famous riot. That's been the big family secret. Nobody shoots Steelworkers in Pittsburgh.

Jim Jackson said...

PAT-- My grandmother Jackson (nee Hitchock) was also a DAR member and you have to prove your ancestral links to join. I don't know for sure, but my recollection is that you can check their records to see the lineage she used -- if you are ever interested.

DEBORAH -- You are so correct that many Germans Anglicized their names or used the English translation. Weiss became White; Grun --> Greeen, etc. and some would drop letters Hesse becomes Hess.

I'm curious about my DNA profile as well, but haven't gotten around to it. My mother is adopted (had she not, she would have also been on the orphan train, she was born in the New York Foundling Hospital where many of the children came from). She looks to me like a little Italian mommma -- but who knows since she was registered as "Baby girl Carter"

Jim Jackson said...

NANCY -- fascinating stuff & if you ever manage to touch European royalty -- well, they're all connected. (Let's see I have King John (which not Richard?) and one of those Russians, not Ivan the Terrible, but somebody or the other The Simple -- can't imagine why I can't remember that one.

And you can look up where your Revolutionary War served. The official records are online. What regiment he served in, often battles participated in -- or at least campaigns. He would have been quite young and probably have brothers or his father serving in the same company.

Your Irish grandfather could also have come over under an assumed name because he was wanted for some infraction against the British. Fairly common, particularly during the potato blight.

Jim Jackson said...

POLLY -- What a fun surprise when someone shows up with information you didn't have and fills in some new pieces. Yes, I had a good time tracking down the burial sites of most of my direct Jackson ancestors starting with the first of them buried in Cambridge, MA 1709.

Ann in Rochester said...

What fun, airing out the family laundry!

My great aunt Vera Holding was Poet Laureate of Oklahoma prior to her death many decades ago. She wrote a lovely poem about our ancestor, Jacob Zumwalt, how he and his dark-eyed bride plied the rivers of Missouri with bread and wine, bringing "communion to the Indians, from the Father Divine." She was very proud that this heroic blood ran in her veins.

Much later there appeared an article in the Missouri Historical Review about this self-same man. Except they referred to him as Lyin' Jake Zumwalt. He bought whiskey by the barrel and watered it down so much that it froze in winter. Then he chopped of blocks to sell to the Indians. With one of these blocks, he traded for that dark-eyed bride.

Probably only one of the family skeletons, but we have fewer now that I am out of the closet.

Lucy Burdette aka Roberta Isleib said...

You are totally right about the spelling of his name, Jim. I see at the bottom of the link you added in tiny letters "died by his own hand while temporarily insane." So there's a family secret for me!

Karen in Ohio said...

Hiya, Jim! Nice to see you here, and I can't believe yor forth book is coming out already. Seems I'm behind a bit.

Divorce was such a stigma at one time, and I wonder if that had something to do with some family members being considered dead? I believe that is what happened to some family on my husband's side, since the family member in question actually died years after he was supposed to have.

My maternal grandmother's father, a West Virginia coalminer, may or may not have lived through a tunnel collapse. They never found out whether he died in the accident, lived and wandered off in a daze, or lived and used the accident as cover. Either way, my very practical great grandmother remarried and moved to Ohio. Just in case, maybe?

Celia Fowler said...

Wow, Jim, how quickly you found out the details on Lucy's relative -- what an interesting site! My father went to West Point, Class of 1946, could I use that site to find out all of his postings before he left the military?

Marian Stanley said...

Oh, so looking forward to your next Seamus McCree book, Jim! Love the title.
Secrets. Saddest one - an aunt who ran off to Alaska with a merchant marine and left a never-claimed grand piano in storage and an also never-claimed small sickly son, who later died, with her mother.
Not sad, but illegal, my grandfather, an Irishman who joined the British Navy and promptly jumped ship in Boston, disappearing into the heavily Irish neighborhoods in Charlestown.

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

It does make it all the more important that we ask our relatives to tell all they now..I just reentry learned why I was named Harriet. And it matters!

Reine said...

When Lady Penelope Dixey came to Marblehead, Massachusetts looking for a male heir to the Dixey title, I learned that my family history went back to English nobility through that Dixey line. That lead to a surprise direct link to the Howard who arranged the marriages of Howard nieces to Tudors. That cleared up a family mystery of how two Howard ancestors died in the Battle of Bosworth Field. It seemed like someone's wild imagination but is apparently true, because of my Dixey ancestors settling Marblehead.

Jim Jackson said...

Hi KAREN -- The grandkids were picking raspberries today. How's the farm?

And yes, I do suspect there were a lot bigamists in the not too distant past who didn't realize they were, or couldn't get a divorce so declared the loser dead and took matters into their own hands. Perhaps Cincinnati was the Vegas of the day for the folks in W. Va. and KY?

CELIA - I'd try two quick things to find out about your father's service. Here's a link to a place where you can research anyone's military record. There is a lot that is online and you can request other information.

And you can try the same google technique I used for Lucy's relative. Click on a few links and you may find something like I found for John Bereton.

MARIAN -- I'm delighted you like the title! Alaska (and the California gold fields) fired a lot of imaginations and claimed a lot of victims. The Irish have learned how to hide everything from the British over the years. Did your grandfather change his name?

Jim Jackson said...

REINE -- Fascinating -- you know, most of those "family tales" have roots in historical fact, although over generations they can morph beyond recognition.

HANK -- Yeah, you need to ask the older generations while they're around. I have not found a lot of useful information is gained through seances.

Sheila Connolly said...

Jim, we must be related somewhere up the line. I've got a couple of ancestors who had illegitimate children (one proved because the one he wasn't marrying sued him publicly, one unproved), one who was told "join the army or you're going to jail," one who was such a jerk even his own mother wouldn't live with him, even if the town was paying her keep, one who blew through a fortune, one who ran for mayor of a New Jersey town but was so drunk his wife locked him in the bedroom (but he crawled out the window anyway--and lost the election)--the list goes on. Genealogy is so much fun! I was a professional genealogist for a time, and got to dig up other people's dirt, in case I couldn't find enough of my own. (And as an added bonus, I get to use all the stories I find in one book or another.)

Jim Jackson said...

Hi SHEILA -- Colorful stories indeed. Curious minds want to know -- what were clients' reactions when your turned up coal instead of gold in their ancestors' lives?

Jim Jackson said...

Hi ANN -- somehow I missed your comment earlier. Which Rochester -- Minnesota or New York (I was born in Rochester, NY and grew up in one of the suburbs)? And about that poem -- poetry and fiction can be "based on facts" but with a unique take in this case on the holy water!

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Yes, Sheila, Jim has a great question! what if you found bad guys? Rogues and scoundrels?

Ann in Rochester said...

New York of course. Is there another one? Lol. Live in the city, Cobbs Hill and S Winton. But not from here. It's the home of my partner. What suburb? And what school?

Jim Jackson said...

ANN -- Greece Arcadia, class of 1968 (the third graduating class), but I started my academic "career" at PS 42 on Lake Avenue in Charlotte. Dad was a 35-year Kodak man.

Anonymous said...

Genealogy is a fascinating topic!

Jim, several relatives and I took the Ancestry DNA. A Jewish relative was surprised to learn that she is only 88 percent Jewish. The biggest surprise was the 2 percent Irish DNA so I am guessing that means one of her 4 times great grandparents was Irish?

My genealogy research has been quite a challenge. A Scandinavian friend told me a long time ago that there are parish records for the monarch in the old days to collect taxes. that would be through Catholic and Protestant churches. Meanwhile, it is more difficult to trace Jewish ancestors. Yes, I tried the Jewish Gen and it is more confusing. According to Henry Louis Gates on finding your roots TV show, they are more likely to be found through US census records and other vital records.

Congratulations on your novel! I just put it on my TBR list. I look forward to reading your book.

Diana



Anonymous said...

HANK - It's funny because I thought that you were "black Irish" with a name like Ryan.

SUSAN - Is MacNeal an Irish or Scottish name? When I saw a photo of your husband, Noel, he looked Irish to me.

EDITH - Through my genealogy research, it looks like I have an ancestor who was born in Northern Ireland, though I am not sure. Many people have asked me if I was Irish because of my freckles :-)

KAIT - you may want to try a German translation of your grandfather's last name? Like Mueller was changed to Miller.

PAT D - How wonderful it that you and your mother laughed at this series, getting it wrong about Sam Houston. Having a sense of humor helps!

DEBORAH - I remember your character Mueller changed the name to Miller. I do not want to spoil the story for other readers. I remember which novel it was too! I think that was one of my favorites in your series.
Is Crombie a Scottish name?

POLLY - Amazing that your grandmother's sister's granddaughter's husband traced the family from Israel!

NANCY - Interesting about your family history. I recently learned that there were also Irish Protestants. Some were Anglo-Irish and some were already Protestants in Ireland before the King sent over Scottish people to Ireland. I read a book about this in the library.

ANN in Rochester - Did Vera Holding write Silent Wing poetry?

KAREN - my great grandmother was married and divorced by the time she was 16! She eloped with her tutor (in Czarist Russia, women did not go to school though my great grandmother's parents thought women should be educated too). Her husband left for America, saying he would work to save money to send for her. Instead, after several years in the USA, he sent her divorce papers. A matchmaker found a new husband for my great grandmother. My great grandfather married my great grandmother and they emigrated to Chicago.

So there were divorces in my family tree too. I think another ancestor had parents who divorced because one parent was living in Colorado when he died while the other parent remained in Indiana and remarried.

REINE - Do you have a book about Lady Penelope Dixey or are you writing about the Dixey family? Sounds fascinating!

SHEILA - genealogy can be fun!

JIM - ancestry dot com and find a grave dot com are great. before the Internet, I was fortunate to visit the DAR library in Washington DC. I found the names of my great grandparents through the Workers Progress Administration Records (birth, marriage, death).

Everyone, what a fascinating discussion!

Diana

Ann in Rochester said...

OMG Diana, Aunt Vera did write a book called Love has Silent Wings.

Ann in Rochester said...

Jim, so you're from Greece. We have cousins living there, but they all went to McQuaid and Mercy. The family originally lived on the west side, but most moved to the east. Did you know Kodak has almost vanished? Xerox too. Now the largest employers are U of R and Weggies.

Come on by next time you are in town

Jim Jackson said...

DIANA -- I'm not exactly sure how the Ancestry DNA works, but if you had a single pure Irish ancestor, your math is good that it would be a 4-greats. However, if there is more than one Irish guy or gal in your tree, they would be even further back, each supplying a bit of the 2%.

Parish records in Europe are a prime source if the church didn't get destroyed in one of the wars. Also worth keeping in mind as long as we are talking about religions is the work Mormons (Church of the Latter Day Saints) do on genealogy driven by a tenet in their belief system about saving ancestors.

Unfortunately, even where there were good Jewish records kept in Europe much was destroyed during the various pogroms culminating in the Holocaust.

ANN -- I grew up down by the lake in North Greece where I was one of the few protestants in the neighborhood, so knew some folks who went to Cardinal Mooney, which I closed around 1990. I do know about Kodak's decline. My mother (still living in Greece) lost her health insurance in the bankruptcy. The building my father worked in is now a field. Sad to see when I'm back in town. Actually heading there next week to see my mother.

EVERYONE Thanks for your comments. I had a wonderful time chatting with everyone. And thanks again to HANK for inviting me to join you for the day.

Ellen Byron said...

Wonderful post, Jim. My grandfather, who was low-level Jewish mob, disappeared in 1933. We have no idea whatever happened to him, although when my grandmother went to look for him, her associates told her she'd "be best off looking in the bottom of the river."

Jim Jackson said...

ELLEN -- Sometimes it is best not to know exactly what happened, especially when someone is on the wrong side of the law -- but no knowing has to be hard on the family. Seamus McCree's mother has indicated not knowing what happened to her husband the night he disappeared was worse than finding out he had been killed while on duty as a Boston cop.

Mia @ Killer Appetite (Murder is Delicious) said...

What a coincidence! I was recently talking to a friend about how she's tracing her family tree and plans on writing a book on her great-grandfather, which gave me the idea of the doing the same for my family. We're fairly scattered across the globe, but the majority of my family is still in the Philippines.

As for family skeletons, I always knew my father's side of the family were politicians, which automatically screams "Shady!" to me. I had no idea how shady it was until my boyfriend and I visited my uncle in New York a couple of years ago, and he told us a bit about the family. Seems that my great-uncle was cronies with Ferdinand Marcos (the dictator of the Philippines in the 70s and early 80s) and got his position as governor through questionable means...

Jessica Ferguson said...

Your new book sounds great, Jim. I love family secrets, ancestry.com and all the new cousins I've discovered through my DNA testing. Yes! I've learned some secrets my family should probably keep secret! ��
Heading to Amazon to check your book!