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Mama, wife, knitter, blogger, spinner, wannabe something or other. That's enough, right?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Genealogy Wednesday....

Today isn't a "Knitting WIP" type of day...but as for my genealogy research, it's been a good week.

My cousin, Richard, was here from Washington state for work. We're of the same "generation" of cousins, so to speak (we share a set of great-grandparents), though he's 18 years older than I am. For my entire life, he's always lived "away" from here though his father and step-mother live here in town. The first time I met him, I was maybe five or so. It was right after he graduated from college (which would have been 1985 - Facebook tells me wonderful things sometimes). I knew he lived in Washington state, and lived there for as long as I can remember.

Anyway, Richard's father, Jerry, is my maternal grandfather's nephew.

We talked of some of the family history last night and it was good. I have a bunch of photographs, things that neither Jerry or Richard have. We're planning to get them photographed (not scanned - scanning could damage the original photos) and digitized so that they can have copies of everything. We talked about how great-grandma Green (Margaret Mary Mikelbook/Michaelbook Green) didn't like anyone that took up with either of her boys (my great-uncle Vernon's first wife, my grandpa's first wife, Vernon's second wife, and my grandma) and she was always that way. We talked about how my grandparents were when they were younger.

But, the true gem of the evening...I learned about my grandpa's first wife. I knew he had been married and divorced before he met my grandma (and, consequently was kicked out of the Catholic church). I learned that when I was very young...I think my mother let it slip. When my grandpa was in the nursing home before he died in 2008, I started pressing him for information. He never told me anything about his first wife, only what transpired...

They got married young because, apparently, she was "pregnant." I use the term loosely. She skipped a period. She was 18...the whole "cycle" thing isn't perfect at that point. So, it was the 1940's and they were Catholic. So, they got married. Of course, she wasn't pregnant. She skipped a period. But, they were married. I don't know if my grandpa enlisted in the army willingly or if it was the thing to do or what...but he wound up in the army. I don't know if he was divorced before then or if he got divorced while he was in the army or what happened with that. What I do know is that he got divorced. I asked him why and he told me that he caught her with someone else. She tried to keep him by using the, "I'm pregnant" line again. Grandpa divorced her anyway (screw waiting for an annulment from the Pope!). He met my grandma while rollerskating with friends (Gil Zank, his army buddy, and Gil's girlfriend - whom he later married, Margaret). Grandpa was honorably discharged from the army in November 1946, he and grandma got married in December 1946, and my mother was born (premature) in May 1947. The rest is history, so to speak. But, back to the first wife and the divorce and all that...I asked grandpa if she really was pregnant and he told me, "I never knew."

Now, fast forward almost two years to last night when Richard and Jerry were here. They mentioned Muriel a few times. I finally asked, "and who's Muriel?" Jerry looked at me like I was crazy and said, "well, that was George's first wife." Okay, first gem of information: grandpa's first wife's name was Muriel. So, I started asking questions. Apparently she died about six or seven years ago. And she had a son named Michael, who died young (sometime in the late 1960's or early 1970's, by the sounds of it). I then asked the million dollar question: was Michael George's son? Yes. He was. But what happened was that Muriel married someone else and her second husband adopted Michael as his own. Apparently when that happened in the 1940's, any record of the birth father goes away...though it may be on the original birth certificate.

So, my gems of information: Muriel was my grandpa's first wife, Michael was their son. So, I had a half-uncle that I never knew about. I'm not sure if my mother ever knew of his existence, either. I'm not sure my grandmother knew about him. Now, if Jerry knows about it, then I'm sure my grandpa knew about it...but he never admitted it.

I guess that means I have more work to do. But it was a good start :)

According to Jerry, my great-grandmother is the reason that Muriel and my grandpa got divorced. That wouldn't surprise me but it also wouldn't surprise me that grandpa caught her with someone else. I'll never know the absolute truth because everyone involved has long since passed. Oh well.

Whether Michael had any children of his idea.

Oh, and if you're interested, Richard and I are related this way:

Me --> Shirley Ann (Green) Zerbel (Thomas George Zerbel) --> George Anton Green (Agnes Lucille Johnston Green) --> Anton Edward Green (Margaret Mary Michaelbook Green)

Richard Green --> Gerald Green (don't know his first wife's name) --> Vernon Green (Idelle Green) --> Anton Edward Green (Mary Margaret Michaelbook Green)

We share a set of great-grandparents.


  1. It's really frustrating, isn't it, when you find out about these mysteries long after the people involved have passed.

    At least you are lucky here that your cousin could fill you in on the stories - all of the documents we had relating to the fratricide that happened with my Great Uncles got burned by a cousin to keep the story buried. I'd love to know the truth!

  2. Good lord is it frustrating! I just wish my grandpa had owned up to it before he died. At least I have some of my family that knows something.

    It was strange, though. Last night, in my living room, all that was left of our line of the Green family was there...well, sort of. Jerry, Richard, Little Man, and I were there...but Jerry's sister Linda and Richard's sister Bekke and son Roman weren't there. But that's all that are left from our line. So small. And the family used to be HUGE. There are cousins from three or four generations back that are running around out there because my great-great grandpa (coincidentally also named Anton) had two full-siblings and five half-siblings.

  3. Interesting! There are so many things the older generations don't talk about that's part of our ohana history. I bought my grandfather this ohana history book so I hope he's filling it out.

  4. Isn't it surprising the things you learn.