Bad Grandpa

I have to start this post with a big thank you to Alison, my co-conspirator in this whole ancestry search. There seems to be an obvious reason that she found archaeology to be one of her interests. She has an amazing ability to dig through layers of history, some of which is covered in dirt and grime, and sift out information.

I really didn’t plan to post again on this topic so soon. I figured we were at a dead-end of sorts, ready to fill in small details, perhaps uncover a few more tidbits in the coming months or years, but not really expecting much else. Then Alison went to work again and now the puzzles continue, along with so many contradictions.

My newly discovered Grandpa seems to have been a bit of a scoundrel, or if you prefer, a rogue, a rascal, a miscreant, a reprobate, a good-for-nothing, a cad, a blackguard – dare I even use SOB. Although, to be fair, we can only speculate as grandpa is not here to defend himself, nor are mom and grandma present to accuse him. Here’s some of the new information:

-Mother was born in 1926 in Montana. In a US-Canada border crossing record, dated August 1926 – 1 month before my mother was born – my grandfather attempted to enter into Vancouver, British Columbia but was rejected. The rejection fell under Section 33-7, which states: “…trying to enter by force, misrepresentation, or stealth…” It also listed him as single.

Hmmm…running away from responsibility…running toward or away from criminal activity…running booze over the border…single, when you’ve been married since 1923 and you will soon be listed as father and current husband on a birth certificate…??

-Then we have the 1927 and 1929 city directory here in Washington. Grandpa is listed as back living with my grandmother and mother again, and probably with her parents as they all show the same address. So Canada rejects him and then we have a birth certificate dated September 15 1926 from Montana. What circumstances lead a man to be rejected by Canada, then return to his pregnant wife and travel with her to Montana where she births his daughter while all the while stating he is single.

Hmmm…was he really in Montana when mother was born…if not, was he in trouble in Canada, or the United States, for that Section 33-7 issue…who might have convinced him to then remain with my grandma and mom for another 2 1/2 years as the city directory indicates…??

-Between 1929 and 1930 things seem to fall apart. The 1930 census lists grandpa as a ‘lodger’ and living back in Nebraska once more, in the city where he was born. He indicates ‘married’ on the form, but does not list a spouse or child. We assume he is alone.

Hmmm…have he and my grandmother divorced at this point…has he gone on the lam again…run out and left them high and dry back in Washington…??

Then we find these bits, and more confusion:

-Coincidentally, during what we assume to be the ‘marriage break-up’ time period of late ’29-early ’30, the 1929 Indian Census records list him as widowed. Odd, as the state records have him living here in Washington with my grandmother, his wife, for at least part of 1929, and grandma didn’t die until 1991…

Hmmm…who died to allow him to list widowed? Wait, could it be another fabrication, or little white lie? Did one of his other wives pass away, so technically listing widower wasn’t too far-fetched…??

-Then, that same census documenting the years 1930-1934 and 1937 list him as married.

Hmmm…married to whom at that point…and we don’t know what state he was in. However, my mom, because she would also have had the Native American bloodline (1/16th I believe) was listed on these census records as well right along with him.

Hmmm…grandpa appears to have no problem listing his daughter, who he apparently no longer lives with, nor likely supports, yet he can’t seem to make up his mind regarding his marital status, or even if his wife is still alive…??

Totally confused at this point? If so, you’re not alone. It appears that grandpa was following the trend of the times – invention of information to suit the mood and circumstances, just like many of my female relatives did with their names. Single, then married, then widowed with a living wife, then married still to grandma or someone else, perhaps divorced, or a polygamist with two wives in different states…grandpa covered just about every base, and then we’ve lost track of him after 1937, until his death in 1952.

My brain is whirling with possible options at this point, along with the realization that much of this story will always remain unknown. I can accept that.

Do you know your own history? Does all this craziness I’ve been posting entice you to dig into your own past? Are you worried about what you might find?

I dare you, go ahead…start digging and tell me what you find. I can’t possibly be the only one with such a clearly unsettled past.



2 thoughts on “Bad Grandpa”

  1. You are not the only one with some “interesting” relatives. I have a couple through the ages who seem to forget they are married or have children… the ones who go off to war or to prospect and are thought dead by their families, only to appear in census data somewhere else. Don’t you just want to reach back through the ages, smack them in the back of the head, and ask: “What WERE you thinking?”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for commenting on this crazy mess that is ancestry and heritage and familial weirdness. And yes, a few smacks here and there would entirely make my day. I just wonder what oddball answers I would get…

      Liked by 1 person

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