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Be careful what you research

July 23rd, 2018 at 06:09 am

About six weeks ago, I started researching my mother's family. I knew my paternal grandfather divorced my grandmother and allowed her second husband (who I always considered my grandfather) to adopt the kids. As I have taken care of grandma, one of my aunts and I have become very close. She filled in a couple of missing names for me. I ran with it and found out more than I bargained for. Apparently, I have a knack for this. For less confusion, biological grandfather is H. from this point, and the man I knew as my grandfather is E.

-My mom and her siblings have a half brother and sister via H. There was a rumor he might have more kids, but no one knew for sure or where to look. It took four weeks but after I finally found out their mother's maiden name, I found them. There is no doubt. I have seen their photos and have solid proof H. is their father. They live in the south.

-H. who was a jerk, was also a narcissist. He named his second son a Jr. My uncle (from first marriage, my mom's full brother) was also a jr. (although they renamed him during the adoption). Who names two kids the same name?

-H. died in the 70s of cancer. His second wife never divorced him. I wonder what she knew. I assume nothing. She seemed pretty religious.

-I am pretty sure my grandma and H. were never legally married. I can find no records, but I found his record of signing up for the service. He is listed as single, yet this was just a few months before my uncle was born. The marriages of the year they were supposedly married are public in our state, but there is nothing.

-Onto my grandfather, E. He had two kids too. There was a rumor of this but we were all told he was sterile and figured their mother lied about it. However, I found them too and I have seen photos. I would bet money they are E.'s biological kids.

-E.'s two biological kids were born during his marriage to my grandmother. They live locally.

-Yesterday, I was quite upset to find E. married the biological kids mom FOUR weeks before he married my grandma (This is via the actual county record). So, my grandfather who I idolized was a bigamist. He married them in two different states which I guess is why it was never found out.

So here I am full of info and not sure what to share and not share with my family. My aunt feels it is a dishonor to my grandma to say anything while she is living even though she has dementia. She wants to share after she passes. I feel my mom and other siblings have a right to know there is another brother and sister via H.. However, I don't know if I want everyone to know E. was a bigamist. Was the adoption even legal for that matter if he married the other wife a month before my grandma? The adoption was two years later. And who the hell adopts four kids, treats them like gold and has two biological kids he doesn't bother with for the most part? On a side note, my aunt said there was rumor he used to eat breakfast once a month with the biological daughter.

My aunt has the marriage certificate of grandma and E. and it looks fake. It probably was. I am so sad. My poor grandma was duped twice.

What would you want to know if this was your history? I am struggling with this info and what to keep between me and my aunt and what to share. I will probably delete this post in a couple of days to be on the safe side, but I felt I needed unbiased opinions.





9 Responses to “Be careful what you research”

  1. Trying to get ahead Says:

    WOW! It all depends on how the rest of the family view "E". This revelation may not be palatable to them right now. It may be a good idea to wait and see when the time is right to reveal his double life to the family.

  2. Smallsteps Says:

    I had a very good friend whom found a half sibling and the fact her dad was living two lives/ with two families. She was all excited to meet half sibling but her sisters were NOT. It depends on the person but others see things differently and this kind of news can cause hurt and anger. It is hard to have your memories and feelings for someone challenged.

  3. Jenn Says:

    Is E still alive? You're assuming that your Grandma didn't know about it all. That could be true, but maybe not. She may have known but not shared. They could even have had an agreement between them - after all, she did benefit: her kids got a loving father.

    We have drama in our family history too. It's interesting to know, especially looking at the stern formal black & white family portraits and imagining the shenanigans. But at the end of the day, we're thankful for our family relationships with the ones biologically related and the ones that aren't.

  4. Laura Says:

    E. has been dead for thirty years. My grandma can be private, so maybe she did have an agreement? Not sure it is worthwhile sharing the E. information as nothing positive can be gained. However, the half siblings via H., I tend to think they have the right to know. I am sure my mom and her other siblings will not be surprised. However, I seriously doubt these half siblings have any clue my mom and siblings exist.

  5. StressLess Says:

    There was at least accused bigamy back in my family, too. We found out that two women were fighting over an ancestor's Civil War widow's pension, both claiming to be his wife.

    I guess that what makes me wonder about the legal/financial aspect of your situation. Is anyone in any of the families apt to raise a ruckus and dispute a will, if they find out?

  6. laura Says:


    Not unique at all. My great uncle had at least three families (one abandoned in St. Louis) and then had two sons by his wife and sister-in-law born six months apart and bot with the same name. One was my Godfather (whose 75) who attended high school with his 1/2 brother (his father ended up staying with the SIL).

    My own father had a child born three months after me who was placed for adoption. I've always known about her and was actually contacted by her 1/2 sister on her mother's side (with me being the 1/2 sister on the father's side). The person who contacted me wondered if child placed for adoption had ever contacted me; I haven't been contacted by anyone.

    And there are relatives who are married too, some by blood and other related by marriage.

    So as much as we like to think that everyone else is Beaver Cleaver-ish, I think most families have secrets and dysfunctions. I don't think that disseminating knowledge is particularly helpful unless someone specifically asks a question.

  7. Laura Says:

    Thanks all. The comments have been helpful. I know for sure I am not going to share the info on E. I will see how it goes on the half siblings, but I am thinking there is no reason to "rock the boat."

  8. Tabs Says:

    Ooh! I can't say that I have any particular advice on such a sensitive and personal topic, but for what it's worth, my own family is now without its own dramas. Like big ones, such as my grandfather having married two women at the same time kind of drama.

    They have all since passed away though, and no, it's honestly not my own business so I never tried to get into it. All I know is that they all treated me very well, and that's what I took away from it anyway; that I should try to treat others as well as I can as well. In the end, I think that's what matters most....

  9. ceejay74 Says:

    My partner AS had a similar thing happen...her grandpa whom everyone idolized passed away, and two "illegitimate" offspring showed up. The truth came out: He'd had two affairs early in his marriage and a kid by each woman. They lived in the same town and he provided some support and had at least some contact with them. AS's straitlaced grandma was the only other person who knew. Apparently one of AS's aunts or uncles was once interested in dating someone in the town and the grandparents shut it down...they now know it was because they were half-siblings and didn't know it!!

    AS's mom was shocked but accepted it. AS's aunt was not cool with it, or the half-siblings. Apparently she caused lots of drama.

    Anyway, just to say there are lots of stories like this and people are complicated especially in their love lives. AS still thinks her grandpa was a wonderful person. So was yours, probably.

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