I Hired A Genealogist

It’s difficult to start a conversation about things you aren’t supposed to know.

Did you ever have so many leads to a puzzle that you don’t know which way to proceed? That’s how I’m feeling after getting some info from a genealogist. I have so many possible avenues to check about my father’s birth that I have no idea which one to pursue.

There was something called the Susquehanna Valley Home for Orphans and Industrial School for Indigent Children in Binghamton, NY. Then again, as late as 1938, 50% of births in the US were home births according to Wikipedia.

If my grandmother Agatha was sent away from home for the birth of my father, she might have gone back to Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne County, PA where she was born and where she lived until she was about 11 years old. Specifically she may have gone to the home of her uncle: Aaron J. Morris. In the 1900 census, Samuel E and his wife Mary Eugene, my great-grandparents, were living in Wilkes-Barre, PA with Aaron J. Morris.

Samuel E Walker lived in Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne County, PA from 1900 through 1913. He and his family moved to Binghamton probably around 1914. By 1915 Samuel E Walker is found in Binghamton at 3 Emerson Place.

Aaron J. Morris in 1900 lived at 162 N Main, Wilkes Barre Ward 4, Luzerne, PA and was a butler. By 1910 he had moved to 113 Hickory St., Wilkes-Barre, Ward 13, Luzerne, Pennsylvania and he remained there at least through 1930.
He was evidently connected to Mount Zion Baptist Church in Wilkes Barre, according to a genealogy website Genealogy of Patience, Mccloe, Tillman Family by LeRoy C Patience. That website was last updated in 2007.

Mount Zion Baptist Church in 1925 was located at 191 South Welles St. That is about 0.7 miles away from Aaron Morris’s house at 113 Hickory. Today Mount Zion Baptist church is located at 105 Hill Street; Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania 18702. According to the 1925 Wilkes-Barre directory, the pastor there at the time was Rev. R. E. Thomas.

I have a request in with the vital records folks for state of Pennsylvania, but they aren’t finding anything.

According to the Binghamton city directory, Agatha is listed next to McKinley, indicating that they were married already by 1932, yet were living separately through at least 1940.

And there is WAY more than this.

Someone suggested that I should have asked my father, now deceased 12 years today, about his history. It’s difficult to start a conversation about things you aren’t supposed to know. His surviving cousins, who are younger than he in any case, are concerned that “digging up dirt” about our father is somehow dishonoring him. Obviously, I don’t believe that to be the case.

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. i hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

9 thoughts on “I Hired A Genealogist”

  1. I want to know, specifically, where my father was born, who his biological father was, why the person I knew as my grandfather didn’t marry my grandmother until 1932 and didn’t live with her until well after 1940. This is not remote history; this involves people I remember.
    Haven’t even gotten into another family secret, which I’ll mention here someday. Or not.

  2. I can understand your curiosity about your origins. I don’t think that it’s a matter of digging up dirt. It is a matter of history and the facts connected with this history. You are entitled to know the facts.
    Have a great weekend! Good luck with your quest.

  3. Well… okay then. I suppose I’m different because every time I learn a new truth about my family history it’s pretty devastating.

    And it’s not little stuff. Example: my mom told me when I was 14 that my dad had died. When I was 21 I got a phone call from my dad’s most recent wife: “Your dad is dead.” “Yeah, I know,” I said, “He died when I was 14.” “No, he died three days ago…” Finding out he had been alive all that time and never even wanted to contact me – obviously he could – and that my mom had lied… not cool.

    So, be careful. Finding out that all the people who love you lied to you can screw with your head pretty bad. It can get pretty intense – read up on Ted Bundy’s “finding out about his family history.” That was just before he totally snapped and started raping and killing women.

  4. I understand the interest in your personal history. I never knew my biological father. He was away in the military at the time of my birth, which is where he met the woman he ultimately left my mom for, so no big family reunion for us upon his homecoming. At any rate, I’ve often wondered about him and his family. I think it would be even more compelling to find out the history about close family that you actually knew. Good luck in your search.

  5. Having spent over ten years researching my own family and that of Mrs P I think I can understand your fascination. But there are skeletons to be found in cupboards you didn’t even know existed!

  6. It’s no easy task to track down roots unless there are living relatives or friends of theirs who might know. We’ve pretty much dug up all the skeletons from our family past. But you need to remember, some things back then were not talked about openly or to even family. Oh and one more thing that might help. During the depression it was not uncommon for parents who could not afford to support their children to send them to live with relatives.
    Also you didn’t mention what your grandfather did for a living.

  7. Demeur- the trick is that I don’t know who my bio grandfather is, though he MAY have been a minister. The grandfather I knew was a custodian.

  8. Chris wrote: “Huh. Never understood the interest in genealogy… Can I ask what the appeal is?”

    When I was ten years old I wanted some answers to certain questions that were being ignored by my elders. So I drew up a genealogical chart on a big piece of white cardboard stock and proceeded to fill in the blanks, interviewing relatives and such. But then I hit a wall.

    That’s when it was explained to me that Dad was illegitimate and furthermore, his biological father was, shall we say, of mixed racial heritage. (You sure wouldn’t know that looking at me.)

    I was not “devastated” by this knowledge, rather I was fascinated and today I am delighted that I am a mutt rather than a purebred cur. But the knowledge that so many people worked so hard suppressing “dirty secrets” to protect ME from the truth… well, I still haven’t gotten over that.

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