Written by Amy Johnson Crow’s Challenge 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks
Week 6: Surprise What is something surprising that you’ve found in your research? What is a surprise that one of your ancestor’s had? Have you found something in a surprising place?
I sometimes feel my whole tree has been a huge surprise. To pick one was tough. I boiled it down to our most recent surprise.
You have probably seen those tv shows that help you find your roots or ancestors. Thinking back now, I should’ve called the news station or newspaper but I think I got too caught up in the excitement.
Around 7 years ago, I bought my father, Mark, one of those Ancestry DNA kits. He’s a ‘hard to buy for’ type and this seemed to be something he might take part in. When he got his DNA results and it was as we expected. He’s 45% Norwegian, 45% Northern Europe (England & Germany) and 10% Swedish. The DNA matches were as we assumed. A lot of Anderson and Mollers cousins. A LOT
Over the years, the excitement about the test quieted down. We barely checked on it. Every once in a while my dad would bring his DNA test up in conversation and he would share what he hoped to find. He shared a story of his mother having a child before she married his father. The story goes that his grandmother would not allow any of her five girls having children out of wedlock. So the babies needed to be given up. All my dad ever wanted was to find that child, now a grown adult.
- Mark’s father, Kenny, and mother, Mary, met about 1943. Kenny’s parent’s owned the meat market in town. Kenny would’ve been 18 yrs old. Mary’s parents ran the restaurant. Mary would’ve been about 15 yrs old. I remember being 15.
- In 1944, Kenny enlisted in the Marion Corp to fight in WWII.
- Around 1945, Mary’s parent’s sold the restaurant and moved to the Twin Cities. Mary quit school and started working at the Northern State Power Company.
- In May of 1945, something happened to Mary. Our family is unsure of all the details. There’s stories of rape, jail time and ultimatums. What is for certain is that nine months later a beautiful baby was born. Neither parents signed parentage papers. Mary did not want to know the sex of the baby, as well. As years went by the story went from; it was a baby to it was a baby girl.
- In 1946, Kenny arrived back home from the war. He reconnected with Mary.
- They were married Aug 1947. Kenneth knew of the baby and always, without hesitation, told his children and family that if he would’ve been home, he would’ve married her then and they would’ve claimed the baby as his own.
My father is 70 yrs old and all he ever wanted was to find that baby. Last year, his wish came true. Unfortunately, both Kenny and Mary have passed but I am sure they were both looking down from heaven. With the help of the DNA test that we were able to connect with a very high match. This person was a man, not a girl. He is married and lives in Washington State. The amount of joy that we all felt is beyond words.
Uncle Mike, as we know him today, came to visit all of us last year. We contacted all of relatives and gave him the biggest ‘Welcome to the Family’ party that we could think of. We spent the whole day listening to his life stories and revisiting our own history. I’m not sure if he knows that finding him was like the best ending of the greatest story. Life now feels complete. We have so much love for him and his family.
Again – Welcome to the Family Uncle Mike.