Most families have their dark, little “secrets.” Those scandals that they want to keep hidden from themselves and the rest of the world. Did an ancestor make his fortune from slave labor, did one go AWOL in the war or was there one accused of killing a man? The list of family “secrets” goes on and on.
Many genealogists find the same “secrets” while searching their family trees. Should you publish this information to the family tree or not? Does the world need to know this unsavory detail in your relatives’ life? Some people will even omit this person altogether from their family tree.
My opinion is that every ancestor has the right to their family history. If you omit someone from your tree, and he had children, you are erasing their legacy. It would be like that part of your family never existed.
I have found several examples of these “secrets” in my family tree. One was in the 1880’s about a widower who took his three small children to the country fair and left them there. Another in 1944 was an incidence including a young couple who stole a car and ended up in jail for kidnapping. I also had one man in 1855 who was a career criminal and sent to Australia.
Did I include these facts in their family history? Yes, I did. In each instance, these individuals married and had children. These children married and had children of their own. And, on down the line.
I included all documentation such as shipping manifests, newspaper articles, and police reports. I also added a notation to this person’s biography explaining what had happened.
If you have a “secret” in your family tree, you must have the records to prove it happened. You cannot claim that a person committed a lewd or horrendous act without actual proof. You are creating your family tree for future generations to view and cherish.
Two articles that may be of interest include:
“Uncovering Family Secrets in Genealogy Records” on FamilyTreeMagazine.com
“Uncovering Dark Secrets in Your Family Trees” on OnceUponATreeBlog.Wordpress.com
If there is a website you want me to include in this article, please send me a comment. Thank you, Donna.