Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Family Skeleton?

I was nudged back into doing some research into my family yesterday. It had been a while, which is good in a way because Ancestry has added in a lot of new sources, so there's more information available. Plus, I'm finally getting a little better at searching things out. I have two trees going, one for my dad's side of the family and one for my mom's. The one on my dad's side is more of a poking-around hobby because there are a number of other researchers working on both of his parents' sides, at least sporadically.

My mom's side is a mystery, and there's no one else working on it, mostly because there's no one else to work on it. Her family tree is full of dead ends. She was an only child, and she had one first cousin and that's it. That probably doesn't seem that bad, aside from having no comrades-in-arms with whom to exchange information. However, there is the matter of her father.

She had told me that her father was killed in a car accident when she was a child. I remember one day when I was a teenager, we sat in my room talking and I asked her what it had been like for her to lose her father so young. I was pressing for details, and she finally just said, "Okay, I have to tell you the truth. He wasn't killed in a car accident. I never knew him." She knew his name - Roy Weimann - and that he had been a sailor, but that was it. I have no idea if he even knew my mom existed.

Looking into that part of the family has been completely unexplored territory. Finding him was pretty easy, actually. It's not a terribly common name, and he lived in Oakland (my mom and her mother lived in San Francisco), and of course there were Navy records. He died in 1979. Last night while browsing around, I found a member who had some photos of his family, including his mother and some of his siblings. I worked up the courage to send her a message and ask if she had any photos of Roy. It felt weird to tell her he was my mother's father, although I'm guessing from what I saw that her focus isn't on that part of the family so it was probably a non-issue to her. Nevertheless, it feels strange to be looking into family that no one even knew I was a part of. It's possible I'm the skeleton in the family closet.

She said she thinks she has some photos of Roy, so I'm anxious to see what she can find. She also had the single greatest family photo I've seen so far. This is Sophie, who was Roy's aunt. (That makes her my ... greater-than-great aunt, right? That's how it works? ... Yes, I'm joking.)

Seriously, isn't this the most amazing thing? (c. 1910)
Sophie here was born in the Hawaiian Islands in 1890. Very cool to find that the family was there at that time. It seemed completely random for a German family to be in the middle of the Pacific Ocean in the late 19th century, but as it turns out, German settlers came there and were notable as the only sugar plantation owners to import labor from their own country. So as it turns out, at one time there were kind of a lot of Germans in Hawaii.

In any event, I never thought that researching any branch of my family would take me to Hawaii. Fascinating stuff - I guess that family history is all about expecting the unexpected.

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