The prompt for this week is: Surprise!
One of my early surprises in genealogy research involved my dad, Charles L. HEISER (1913-2001).
Not long after I became interested in family history, my parents took me on a road trip to York County, Pennsylvania to do some research. This was in the dark ages when we had to actually go to where the records were. LOL
Why York County?
My dad’s mother, Goldie Price HEISER (1893-1919), died in 1919 when my dad was five. You can read about it here. My widowed grandfather, Dan HEISER (1882-1974), took my dad’s sisters with him to York County where his own parents had relocated to several years before. Dan married a widow there with children of her own, Maria KERCHNER HESS HEISER (1880-1951), and a blended family was formed.
My dad didn’t go with them. Instead, he lived with his mother’s parents, Montgomery and Sallie PRICE, in Frederick, Maryland. It’s unclear why he stayed with his grandparents, but there are a few theories.
Back to the trip and the surprise
We went to the York County Historical Society, I believe. I was flipping through a folder of papers. I don’t know if it was a surname folder or what, but I came across a newspaper clipping of some kind.
Whatever it was, the clipping named an Elmer Heiser (1921-1925) along with my grandfather and Maria. Wait a minute, I thought to myself. I knew Dan and Maria had a son together named Ralph because I’d met Ralph a few times as a child. You can read about him here. I didn’t know about Elmer.
“Dad,” I said. “You didn’t tell me you had another brother.” My dad looked at me dumbfounded. “Elmer,” I said.
Dad looked like he was searching his mental filing cabinet for the information. “I guess I forgot about him. I never met him. He was born and died before I saw my father and sisters again.”
I honestly don’t remember what document I saw that day, but I remember seeing the names on the paper and the look on my dad’s face when I brought up Elmer. I’ve found documentation about Elmer since, and I wrote about him here.
Frankly, at the time I was stunned that a person could forget about a brother, but as I matured I understood it. My parents lost a premature son several years before I was born. He only lived a few hours. I often forget about him, probably because he wasn’t ever a part of my life.
What surprises have you come across in your family history?
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