Friday, January 15, 2010

Family Secrets

My grandmother Posie told my aunt Carolyn that there were some things she was taking with her to the grave. And there goes a treasure full of information or does it?

One of my arguments about full disclosure is that while the interested parties may be sheltered from the truth, uninterested parties are walking around talking about other people's business. So the family is actually being an ostrich with its head in the sand while everybody else sees the butt.

This became my argument because of another family scandal I became privy to. This scandal happened decades and decades ago and the people are only names to me. It was a matter of incest (most secrets seem to be of a sexual nature since criminal acts are usually in the public domain). I was told about it over 10 years ago by a distant cousin. The thing is, she was told by an elderly lady in a nursing home. This elderly lady relished reporting the juicy details to her. So how many times had the lady told this story? How many others knew?

I still don't know if I will tell my relatives about the current piece of information. I mentioned it casually in very general terms to my sister whose interest in genealogy is casual at best. She wonderered what was so important about telling the story.

That struck me. That is the question at the root of every genealogical pursuit. And I heard the answer today on television when George Stephanopoulos was discussing how many Haitians would just disappear into history as if they never existed because of this tragic earthquake. Bodies would be shoveled into empty graves with no markers like the participants in a horrid magic trick. This is what happened to my black ancestors hundreds of years ago. I can't allow this to happen to my people if I can help it. I must mark their existence and record that they mattered to someone once upon a time.


Gini said...

Happy Blogiversary to you!

Sherry - Family Tree Writer said...

I found this very interesting. And brought home something that I know that makes me ask: should I? or shouldn't I?

I would suggest to you that you tell the children of the child that died, IF you feel it's important to them that they know their true ancestry, their father's true father.

But then, I've not done that with what I know. In my case, this isn't my own family but I was told it in confidence, and there are actually court records that back it up. Hmmm.

The DNA genealogy has had me wondering. You go, you do the DNA, and you find out you don't match any other of that surname, so you have to ask youself if spousal infidelities are why. I'd like to have my brother do the DNA, but we've not done it yet.

I'll be interested to know what you think about what I know, as well.

By the way, great post, great dilemna...

Carol said...

Great post, enjoy your blog, very insightful stuff! Thanks for sharing.

Ohh, and Happy Blogiversary! Tis a good thing.