Sunday, June 18, 2017

Seeking a Father's Fathers

The other day, my brother posted a family picture on his Facebook page, asking if anyone knew the identity of one particular ancestor. The photo showed a family grouping of my father and his sister when they were kids. It was a dress-up photo, and my father was the only male in the group—thus the likely explanation for the iron grip my grandmother must have had on his shoulders.

My grandmother and the only other woman in the photo were wearing outlandish hats, likely the type in style during that early 1900s era. Everyone was looking quite smart, including my father—the poor little guy who probably couldn't help it, anyhow.

There was only one problem with that picture: who was the other woman? According to the cousin who long ago shared the photo with the rest of our family, the woman standing behind my aunt was someone known to the family as "Aunt Rose." A designation like this prompted both surges of interest and simultaneous groans of frustration; this Aunt Rose was connected to the paternal side of the family, and yet my paternal grandfather always insisted he was a lone orphan. So how did he manage to come up with a sister?

It's been years since I last tackled the question of just who Aunt Rose was. It's also been years since I made any progress with that pursuit.

Since today is Father's Day, I thought I would do penance and try to work on my father's family line, since I've made near-zero progress on it for longer than I care to remember. I tried my hand at it for days leading up to today, yet made little more headway than I had done in prior years. His is an immovable brick wall, it seems.

Still, there are corollary lines which did yield some slight movement, so I've been able to add to the number on my dad's family tree. I'll take any progress I can—even if it is only seven additional names. With that improvement, I celebrate a miserable 410 people on my paternal family tree. Perhaps today would be the ideal moment to work on that situation further.

Equal time for my father-in-law's tree: that one has had zero progress in the last two weeks, still holding at a count of 1,187.

Worse, as far as the mothers' lines are concerned, I've been trying to artificially control the research race by concentrating on my mother's line, since it is so easy to make progress on my mother-in-law's line. For my mother's tree, the count is now 10,358—an improvement of 157 individuals' new records in the past two weeks' work.

Still, it pales when comparing to my mother-in-law's tree, where the count is 11,511. I couldn't help myself; without even trying, I found thirty nine extra people to add to her tree. It's just so easy to research this woman's heritage. It seems as if all those ancestors just knew I'd come looking for them. Who knows? Perhaps they were all just naturally cooperative people.

The men in our family's life, though, do not seem to follow that favorable pattern. Either following the most circuitous of immigration patterns or wishing to cultivate an aura of mystery, the men in my father's and my father-in-law's lines have certainly put me through my research paces. Still, it sure would be nice to honor these fathers of centuries past for Father's Day—if only I could figure out who they were!

Photograph, above: Providing a glimpse of the mysterious "Aunt Rose," this family grouping sporting their outrageous fashionable hats included my father as a young boy, at some time between 1910 and 1915, along with his younger sister and their mother. Aunt Rose is the woman on the left.


  1. Here in the South, "aunt" is not a term reserved for family. Aunt Rose could be a close family friend - if your family observed this tradition.

  2. Yes she could be a much loved friend or even a cousin. I am known to a cousins child as Auntie Connie.
    It is a wonderful photo I wonder where they are going ? I love the hats! Your Dad is wearing knickers! :)


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