I love studying my family’s history. My mother’s uncle “Peek” spent years compiling the Andrews, Van Cleve, Patterson, Clapp, Stokes, Wright genealogies. His hard work is richly preserved in a red hardbound book that I keep as a cherished possession on my bookcase. I have read it cover to cover and have discovered myriad interesting characters ranging from inventors and soldiers to pioneers and statesmen.

Uncle Peek managed to delve a little into my father’s lineage so I know who my great-great grandparent’s are on his side. On both sides I’ve got a lot of French—which explains my adoration for all things cheese (and wine)—a good amount of Irish and Scots-Irish, all mixed in with a bit of German, Dutch, and English. An American mutt for sure.

(Okay, so weird segue here but keep going, you’ll get it.) One of my favorite shows to watch is the one where celebrities trace part of their family tree. It’s called, “Who do you think you are?” I’ve cried at the end of every episode. I love the history, the discovery of family you never knew—the story of your people and their struggles and triumphs. Good stuff.

Last weekend as I was purging my filing cabinets and watching the show, I came across some old family documents and decided to take a shot at ancestry.com. There has been one mystery that my immediate family has been wondering about for almost 50 years. Back in the 60’s my dad’s older brother disappeared. No reason for it at all. Friendly, warm letters were written home to their father from his travels and then nothing. My grandfather hired a detective agency to no avail. He just dropped off the face of the earth.

Last weekend I plugged Uncle John’s name and birthday into ancestry.com and found him! Yup. That’s right. It took some searching but I found enough information to go on and called some people in Florida where he had been living and where he passed away last year. All of the sudden, within a couple of days, I had compiled hard evidence and some background on John and felt it was time to call Dad to let him know.  

Right now we know that this brilliant Cornell graduate decided to spend the better part of his life as a migrant fruit picker. He was quiet, kind, and very religious. I was very glad to hear that he was right with God before he passed. My dad is going to get some of his things next week—maybe a diary! The story continues and yes, I think I’m going to cry. It’s too unbelievable not to. Tune in—maybe Dad will come back with some interesting stories to share. 

Share your interesting family history here. I want to hear your stories!

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