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Family History and stuff

Posted 11-14-2011 at 01:00 PM by

A recent thread on heritage and family History reopened a personal can of worms that i had to shut a couple of years ago. Family history has always been a strange subject for me because I didnít have one. iíve never met anyone with my last name and I couldnít trace my family tree passed my Dad.

My father has lived an interesting life. Starting with his birth in prison. He was raised by his maternal aunts and grandmother. He never had any contact with his fathers family. He didnít even know his real last name until he was 13 and his aunt had to produce his birth certificate to enroll him in military boarding school. He stayed in that school until he graduated then he enlisted in the navy and never went back to his home town. As a boy he was told some terrible lies about his father to discourage his interest. It worked.

The first time my father met his father I was standing beside him. I was 5 years old. I shook his hand first. I was too young to understand the tension, all I remember is that grandpa really loved me and Mom really didnít like grandpa. He visited a couple of times and then we never heard from him again.

My grandmother told us that he died in the 70s, drunk, broke and wanted for debts. Every word was a lie. He didnít die until 1998 and had quite an estate but, we didnít learn that until 2005.

The first thing Dad did when he got a computer was sign up at ancestry dot com and start looking for family. It didnít take him long to find a couple of cousins and start corresponding with them.

They told dad this crazy story about his father and grandfather. That they had been cops who shot and killed another cop on a busy downtown sidewalk and got away with it. Dad had been told as a child that his father would never come back to Georgia because he was wanted for shooting a man in the back. This new story gave me the idea that there had to be a record of such a thing. I started my search with google. I found enough to pique my interest for real so I paid for access to the NY TIMES and ATLANTA CONSTITUTION JOURNAL archives and what I found was 30+ articles and a History book that tell a fascinating story of bootleggers and politics and domestic terrorism. Prohibition was splitting the entire Country apart and corruption was every where. The man my grandfather killed had been a deputy, then busted for running a blind tiger (a bootleg bar) then hired by a local judge to be his court bailif, then busted for bootlegging again.

I felt like this was a story worth telling for my family so, I spent about a 1 Ĺ years and quite a bit of money researching and writing. And I must confess I sought out pro editing help. I tried hard to stay neutral and keep a ďjust the factsĒ style.

What Iíve written is a summary of the news reports of the time. It was never meant to be a finished product. It was a first draft of what I hoped would be a bigger project for me and dad to work on together.

Sadly, I was too late. By the time I presented this to dad on his birthday, Alzheimer's had stolen him from me. He canít read it, forget about helping to write it. So, it has sat untouched for 3 years now. I suppose itís still a work in progress but, Iíve decided to publish it as a web page here. If you decide to read it please let me know what you think.
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Total Comments 5


    Good writing oldie. Really enjoued it.
    Posted 11-14-2011 at 02:49 PM by Rusty Rusty is offline
    Budhisten's Avatar
    Budhisten approves of this

    All I can brag about is my grandad being part of the resistance during WW2 here in Denmark nad being a pimp as well. He's been married soooo many times :P

    It's really interesting to dig into who you are and where you come from, everybody has a story to tell, you just have to do a little digging
    Posted 11-21-2011 at 05:42 PM by Budhisten Budhisten is offline
    BrianRClover's Avatar
    Hey man,
    Sorry it took me so long to read this, but better late than never right?

    As far as litterary skills go, the points are presented smoothly and easily. I would call this very well written for sure!

    As far as the story goes, to say it is an interesting one is a understatment. It sounds to me like your grandfather and/or great grandfather might have been involved in some scandals in the middle of a political war. Which side of the fence they were on seems to be unclear part. Either way, I personally think the history of one's descent is very important. It should be perfectly legal to smack children in the back of the head who say "who cares about history, it's in the past".

    My opinion, keep digging man. Good or bad, we can all learn from the past.

    You have inspired me, I'll pull up my sheets from when me and my father did our trace back and throw up some cliff notes.
    Posted 12-26-2011 at 01:35 PM by BrianRClover BrianRClover is offline
    rul3z's Avatar
    Good writing oldfan, this problem "how I see it" of not knowing anything about family is the western version of LIFE! Knowing your roots, knowing family, knowing your ancecters, cousins, etc; always gives life another taste. Today I see the world like a Jungle, the strong eating the weak! But imagine if you and your family were together walking in this jungle. It will be very hard for the jungle's nature or anyone in it to do something wrong to you!

    Not sure if I managed to show the point or not, sore mate!
    Posted 08-04-2012 at 06:28 AM by rul3z rul3z is offline
    Cool story, short film material. Find a budding filmmaker in film school. Powers Booth as Clements, James Woods as Huling! :-)
    Posted 02-05-2015 at 11:00 AM by DonRifle DonRifle is offline
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