Stories of my Father

My dad lived a pretty colorful life prior to settling down to have a family. It’s a life I have had a great desire to map out and understand after his passing. My dad was a very sociable man, yet, as his daughter, I didn’t get to connect with him on the level that many others were able to. In fact, very little I know about my father is firsthand knowledge. I don’t know if either he thought I was too young, my mom would disprove of it, or he thought I didn’t care. No matter the reason, his passing has left a long perceptual list of questions—all unanswered. It is only posthumously that I have come to learn more about my father.


**Note that I am only recollecting these stories as I remember them. I’ve done my best to accurately embody the storytelling approach of each person.

My dad and his family lived in Riverside, CA, through the 1960’s. My dad was drummer during the time that surf-rock was the popular sound. I don’t think that my dad was a “hippie”per say, but I think he aligned himself with ideologies of experimenting with drugs and music all the same.


Before my Grandpa passed, my favorite thing to do was sit at the floor below this awesome (literally awe-some) man snoozing on and off all day in his mighty throne of a “lazy boy” recliner. I’d bide my time with my mom or photo albums until he would stir. When he was awake, I was showered with stories of my family. These cozy days with the man I deeply appreciated for giving me, and most of the people I loved, life are some of my fondest memories. My Grandpa was one of the best storytellers I’ve ever met. He had this way about him that would make anybody quiet down and turn to listen.

“I remember, one evening, hadn’t seen Dave for a week or so, and here is he walking up to the house with Dick Dale. If he didn’t have someone with him, I’d have laid into him. His mother was worried sick. We all knew about Dick because ‘Miserlou’ was on the radio a lot. He introduced us and I could see Dave’s eyes were bloodshot. But I didn’t do anything about it. We said grace, ate and Dave talked about how they’d been at the beach all day. I never saw him happier than he was hanging with those big name guys.”

I can’t remember where I had first heard of it, but it came to my attention that my dad had had a stay at the San Bernadino State Hospital and was treated with electroshock therapy. I asked my Grandpa about this and I remember him sighing and thinking of how to talk about it before speaking.

“Dave was playing those shows all night long and was taking classes all day. If he slept, I never saw it. I don’t know what he took to stay awake–I think it was those uppers. I’d try and tell him, ‘Take er easy, Dave—That music stuff isn’t worth your grades slipping.’ But he wouldn’t hear it. Your dad loved drumming. He loved it so much it made him crazy.”
“His mom was having a time with Colin and his accident, we couldn’t handle Dave and what he had goin’ on. He’d come home strung out talking about God-knows-what. He needed help, and not the kind he got from those friends of his.”

My Great-Aunt (my Grandpa’s sister) lived down the street from my Grandpa and she would pop over or babysit from time to time, so she had a good understanding of what was going on at the house. I asked her about my dad when they were living in California.

“Dave would come to the house for meals, but I don’t think he was living there. I was over one day and he came home with a few of his friends with him. He wasn’t looking too hot. While he was smoking a cigarette, he took his lighter, lit it, and held the flame under his hand. That’d make anyone scream, but not Dave. He just stood there, staring at his hand and letting it burn. He said it didn’t hurt, that he couldn’t feel anything.”

“One night I heard him outside howling at the moon in the pitch black.”

Not long after these occurrences, it sounds like my Grandparents decided to admit him to a hospital to get treatment. My Grandpa said it was one of the hardest things he had to do.

“These doctors seemed to think he was bad. They said he had a 50/50 chance of living or dying. He wasn’t eating, sleeping; he couldn’t even play drums. Sounded like the drugs were frying up his brain, that happened a lot with kids at that time. Someone turned him onto that stuff and walked away.”

Thankfully, the treatment worked and my dad (after I don’t know how long) was discharged, deemed fit for society again. But I don’t think he was ever as passionate about drumming again. He drummed small gigs, most recently in a polka band at the time that he met my mom, but nothing like he was doing at the peak of his drumming career. My dad used to sometimes share with me these little stories about his time as a drummer before the drugs really took hold of him.

I remember telling him about the new Johnny Cash movie that was coming out called “Walk the Line”. He said he’d have to check it out. He didn’t seem too taken with the movie; his review was pretty memorable though.

“I didn’t care for that movie—it’s not how it all happened. They really romanticized him. He left his wife and left his kids, to be with June. They were all over the magazines, no one cared that he did that. It wasn’t pretty. They didn’t touch on his drinking and drugging nearly as much as they should have. That’s the only way he could play—loaded. I played with him on American Bandstand and he was late. When we were standing there waiting for him and going over the set, he laid down his guitar case, popped it open, and he had two bottles of vodka in it. He opened one of ’em and drank almost the whole bottle before we went on.”
“That part about him being so loaded that he jumped on the TV trolley was true. I saw him do it. He was absolutely an alcoholic.”

My dad had apparently played drums for a lot of famous musicians. It’s my understanding that he was essentially a “drummer for hire”, one of the ones that do a one-time gig for a show when they don’t have anyone else to do it. He told me about the first time he met Cher—he didn’t like her very much.

“I went to their house to meet them and set up some time to practice. Sonny answered the door and shook my hand. He was real nice—I always liked him. But Cher was a real bitch. She was there in the room and turned and ran up the stairs the second I stepped in, ‘no pictures without my make-up!’ Like I was some papanazzi. What a bitch. But I always liked Sonny. He was too good for her and she ruined him.”

I can’t remember if it was American Bandstand or what that he played with them. I probably asked but have forgotten. He said he also played for Chuck Berry, too, but again, no idea where or when. I really wish I did. I’d assume that, especially with being on American Bandstand, that there would be a recording of it somewhere. Nothing would make me happier than seeing him doing what he loved best.

My dad’s first wife, and the mother of my half-brothers, wasn’t well liked by our family. But my dad was pretty smitten with her and they got married in the early ‘70’s. My Grandpa had his reservations about it, but not much he could do. After my brothers were born, things went south pretty quickly. She moved with them to Arkansas, and my dad followed, trying his best to keep his family together. But it didn’t work out. He gave up and moved up to Iowa with his sister while he got back on his feet. He did, however, have to go back down a couple of times to get his things and visit the boys. My Grandpa remembered one of these times pretty vividly.

“I went with Dave down there. I didn’t trust them to do the right thing and let him get his stuff. It had been three months and they’d already sold most of it. He had a few sets of drums but he only made it out with one of ‘em. She was living with his parents with the boys at the time so that’s where we went. We get there and Dave goes up and out comes her dad with a shotgun to his chest, pushing him back. He’s threatening him while I’m standing there. He doesn’t care. Dave clears his throat and says, ‘If you think shooting me is going to solve your problems, you’re wrong.’ After some talking, we got his things and had to leave. She wouldn’t let him see those boys and he blamed himself.”

The next time my dad went down there to get a few other things, my Aunt had him take her son, my cousin. I was surprised learning that since his ex-wife’s family was so nuts. But she seemed pretty sure they wouldn’t have the audacity to do anything to my dad if a kid was involved.  And she was right, it didn’t sound to be nearly as eventful.

I struggle finding out anymore about my dad. It’s been almost ten years since he died. Many people that would know a lot about his early life have since passed or aren’t able to accurately recollect what I’m asking. I blame myself for not inquiring about it more when he was alive. I feel like everyone else is tired of me asking about him. Or they just want to let it be. My inquisitiveness eats at me, though. I try not live my life in the past, but with my father, it’s all I can do.

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Recent Travels.. Modern History

Truth be told, if you ever see my name on any jail’s inmate registry it will be for one thing and one thing only—urban exploration. [Urban exploration is the exploration of man-made structures; usually abandoned ruins or unseen components of the man-made environment.] Charges may vary—anything from “trespassing” to “breaking and entering” to “public intoxication” (for the liquid courage, of course). While I’m not particularly trying to spend time in jail anytime soon, I accept that it’s consequentially conducive to the endeavor. The way I see it, it’s a silly thing for someone to charge a person for—unless of course the property isn’t actually abandoned.  I don’t think it’s hurting anyone for these places to be visited from time to time. For life to be banned from returning to these once bustling man-made structures is truly shameful and rather self-defeating, might I add.

Silly as it is to have these juvenile tendencies, I find the risk to fall short of reward—the sights, the smells, the quiet, and the discoveries. There are so many abandoned places that have been left untouched for years, decades, even sometimes a century. Could you imagine the feels walking into a place that was once cared for deeply, for people that have likely passed? Like taking a step into the past, quietly. Iowa is a gold mine for dilapidated barns, houses, elevators, consolidated schools and the like. My personal favorites are schools and houses. Sometimes there are things left behind that don’t even compare to gifts on Christmas. You can’t buy old mementos. OK, you can from places like thrift stores and antique shops, but you have to buy them versus rescuing them from their return to the dirt.

My hometown doesn’t even come close to how much urban dilapidation there is in bigger cities or slowly dissolving townships, but I’ve still always managed to satisfy my drive to explore there nonetheless. There are some tunnels under campus, which are gross most of the time, but the graffiti art makes it worth it. Then there’s the de-commissioned grain elevator on the west side of town. There’s also this bridge tucked away in the campus woods that Joey took me to not long after we started dating. There are abandoned lab buildings on the outskirts of college property. Joey also knew about a playground that was abandoned in the middle of some woods that once held housing developments for the college (but have since been removed and converted into administration buildings). Unfortunately, the city deconstruction got to it before I could. There are also random tucked away places inside city limits that not many people besides the locals know about (like any place).

For the record, no place I am talking about is anything of significant importance. Every town, city, etc. has their own hidden local gems; it’s just the matter of finding them. These are only my experiences and findings.

I have frequented the abandoned elevator a lot over the years. I think I’m drawn to how large and empty it is. The eeriest thing about that place is that, because it’s an elevator, there’s a deep basement that’s retained water over the years. The smell isn’t pungent or anything, it’s actually a quite natural smell. Mixed with all of the dust and eroding cement and it doesn’t smell far off from the wet dust of farming season. But walking through, I’ve been close to mistaking the water level for the floor. All I can enjoy of the building anymore is the gusts of wind that whip through all the floors and down to the boarded up window we used to use to gain access. I still go and stand with my body up against the side of the building and look up at the great height of the white walls. One drunken encounter resulted in a summit to the top. I wish I had taken my camera with me—I could see the whole town and the surrounding smaller towns from that high up.  Aside from a blurred recollection for that adventure, I remember the chill of the wind coming from the lights of the town as I looked out.  I will never forget that.

That last time I walked through the tunnels under campus was right after our final VIESHEA. I found a wad of cash that had fallen through some of the storm drains lining the stretch of bars. I reveled at the progress on a wall mural in the tunnel that is simply one of the most beautiful pieces of half-assed art I’ve ever seen. The lyrical words of Pink Floyd painted near it. The light at the end of the tunnels opens up to a perspective of Friley Hall that hardly anyone sees. There are rumors that the tunnels once transported parts of the A-bomb through town without drawing a lot of attention of the townspeople. Not sure that I believe that one unless they happened to take the time and effort in re-routing the tunnels to function as a sewer system. Of course, they may also be referring to the steam tunnels.
Joey and I have made the trek to the hidden train bridge in the woods a number of times. Joey finds the place quite nostalgic, as he used to make the stop with his friends on his way to or from school. It’s nothing more than a tunnel bridge under some train tracks. But it’s quite secluded and obvious that people (college students, surely) take advantage of the proximity and we always find chairs, cans, and a charred heap of wood. This place isn’t far from where the old (now gone) playground used to be. Once on the outskirts of Pammel Court, the woods have all but swallowed up the empty lot yet to be taken up by new buildings.

The riskiest and most memorable of my explorations, however, was the return to my old school. Glad I did it too, after being torn down, where the school sat is now being built up into student housing. It was quite eerie returning to a place that I fought so hard to get out of. (Like most pre-teen/teenagers, Middle School was a majority of unpleasant experiences and awkward discoveries as to who I am and where I fit in in the world.) The building was built partly underground which is why, now, I have little difficulty understanding why the building was voted inadequate and retired. Returning after almost a decade of it sitting without the amenities of habitation left the building tattered and gutted. Mold, peeling paint, water leaks, and vandalism cast out any chance of making mindful connections from present to past (as well as any hope of saving the building). Or maybe I was simply successful at suppressing most of my memories from 2003-2005.

Having a family and “adulting” supersede these risky excursions. I think I might evolve to be more of a photographer and documenter of the abandoned rather than a explorer of it. Nonetheless, I look forward to Sylvia walking and taking interest in the outdoors, I cannot wait to show her the world; past and present. I look forward to living vicariously through her innocent discoveries and experiences.

Deinstitutionalization: It’s not all good

Deinstitutionalization is the term coined for the movement that began in the 1950’s to close down psychiatric institutional facilities and shift services to the community for persons with varying degrees of disabilities (but specifically intellectual and psychological). To this day, there is still a push (spawned by the movement) for the modern state-funded care facilities to close and for the remaining individuals to be placed in community housing; falling within the parameters of the home and community-based housing (HCBS) waiver (Iowa).

Past

In the latter half of the 19th century, psychiatric institutions were popping up all over the nation. Prior to this time, individuals with intellectual disability (ID) or mental illness (MI) lived out their lives at home with their families, were abandoned and left to orphanages, or wound up within the prison system. Post-civil war era political, professional, and social views regarding care for persons with disabilities were changing. The general consensus was that this population would be better cared for living where all of their needs could be met under the same roof—assuring that all persons had the access to modern treatment and medicine. Staffed with doctors, nurses, and homemakers, these institutions sought a holistic approach to address the needs of these individuals with disabilities.

By the turn of the century and into WWII, these facilities were met with great success. Families were no longer burdened with caring for disabled family members, as state governments allotted funds to these populations. Most persons with disabilities could expect to find themselves within these walls and spend the remainder of their lifetime there. “Out of sight, out of mind” evolved to be the adage for admitting people to these institutions. As WWII raged on and the U.S. became more involved, admissions to these facilities continued at a steady rate but employment was continually falling. The demand for war nurses, doctors, wartime manufacturers, and soldiers left these large institutions poorly staffed. Following WWII, it was coming to light just how badly understaffed and overcrowded these institutions had become. The conditions were conducive to high rates of neglect and abuse; patients were falling ill and dying at questionable quantities.

Present

Currently, persons with disabilities have much better care options as our understanding of how to best meet the needs of their adversities has evolved. We still have state-funded housing facilities (but they are much more modern than what people think of when they think back to the institutions of the 19th-20th centuries) and we have community-based housing options (circa the 1960’s-70’s). However, the sociopolitical consensus (at least in my home state of Iowa) is that all housing, care, and treatment services for persons with MI and ID ought to be privatized and provided by our local communities. While I think the general population has the best of intentions, to make this the only option is simply unjust and ill plotted.
Allow me to take the time now to say that I am in no way opposed to community-based housing and community-based services for persons with MI or ID. Having HCBS services as the first option for housing and care is the right thing and it should’ve always been the primary option. I am in great agreement with the general public that the institutions of latter years were ethically immoral—that the environment was conducive to exploitation. What I AM opposed to, however, is the belief that modern state-funded facilities fail persons with ID and MI and should be shut down—leaving this population to seek shelter and services in the community. This sort of “out with the old, in with the new” solution is just about the worst thing for persons with ID and MI.

My brother is a prime example as to why these initiatives fail this vulnerable population and their families. Since the passing of the Olmstead Act of 1996 (essentially a bill that requires the state to transition out clients into the community, not allowing them permanent placement in state-funded facilities), we have had a tumultuous time finding my brother a community home that can meet his needs. In addition to severe mental retardation and autism spectrum disorder, emotional volatility that can escalate to physical aggressions complicate matters even further.

He has been in a variety of HCBS waiver homes in communities since he was preteen. But none were a lasting fit for him. However, his placement at a state-funded facility has been, frankly, a breath of fresh air for my mom and I. We don’t worry about him nearly as much as we do when we try placing him in community housing. You might wonder why. I have a couple ideas..

1. State-funded facilities pay their employees higher wages (as well as the most coveted health benefits in the state) which results in less turnover, stress, and a great deal of employee satisfaction and dedication. As opposed to community housing, employees at the state facility stay for years. This allows a great bond to be forged between my brother and his caregivers.  My brother, being the emotionally attuned man that he is, wants to befriend as many people as he can.  In being at this facility, he has made HUGE strides—things doctors have told us might not ever happen.  I know that this is because he has a team of caregivers that reciprocate the attention he needs.

2.  I don’t know if it’s all state facilities, but all of the ones I am familiar with are certified to use physical restraint if absolutely necessary. My brother has a history of self-harm and physical aggression toward women, so this is of high importance for everyone involved. I have also noticed that the facility he is at employs more men than community housing does (which is a huge deterrent for these behaviors). All community homes my brother has resided at aren’t certified in physical restraint, are primarily staffed by women, and have high turnover rates.

3.  State-funded facilities, due to their larger housing populations, are much more structured. I think my brother’s anxieties are best at bay by routine. The unknown and unplanned, much like my own anxieties (yay genes), welcome a great amount of stress. For my brother, stress is highly correlated with emotional transgressions, and therefore, physical aggressions. Most HCBS places have stipulations regarding unsafe behaviors, which has led to every failed placement. Furthermore, much lower staff to client ratio allows community facilities to give clients freedom to choose activities and make their own plans. Which is great, for some people.  Not so much for people with similar needs to my brother’s.

More than a decade of failed placements has left us discouraged that community housing is what is best–for him, for us, for society. Societal views do not take my brother’s not-so-uncommon situation into account (most of the individuals still living in state-funded facilities have higher, more complicated needs like his). But due to politics, we are put in a position of fixing something that’s not broken. So, you see, I am not against providing more housing opportunities, I’m against eliminating one option and replacing it with another. This is not the place for a “one size fits all” initiative. This “institution” the government is working so hard to close is what my brother calls home. No joke, he says, “[I want to] go home” when he’s been home (where we grew up) and has had his fill of my mom and I. He misses it when he’s gone for more than a day. He loves it there. We love that he loves it there. When it comes to this issue, it shouldn’t be about money—it should be about allowing my brother the same liberties as everybody else. It’s about giving him and others with ID and MI the greatest quality of life. Who are we to tell them it’s not the best thing for them when everything says otherwise?

Our biggest fear is that my brother might someday end up having to be at home with my mom or myself again.  If it were a good fit for him, we would never have sought to remove him in the first place. If these facilities shut down, community housing is going to have to evolve to meet the needs of the more aggressive, anxious clients.  Lest we see this cycle continue.

 

Disclaimer: I’ve been working on this all week. Because it’s a matter that I hold dear to my heart, I wanted to be sure my execution was near perfection. Not sure that it can be without writing a whole damn novel. Oh well.

outside
This is the image most people have when they think of state institutions. This is an example of the elaborate victorian architecture common of the late 1800’s psychiatric institutions. These are no longer used to house persons with ID or MI. I have seen them converted into detention facilities and prisons.

Have I mentioned I’m into genealogy?

Researching family history is another way I spend my time. It came to be a passion of mine byway of a general interest in US history. The passion magnified after my dad passed away in 2007. Unfortunately, his untimely death coupled with the deaths of my grandpa, aunt, and uncle, (all on my paternal side) has made my appetite for family history all the more difficult to appease. I’ve had very little to go off of that I could’ve gotten straight from their mouths. It is quite possibly for this reason why it has developed into the full-blown interest it is now. The hunts and discoveries literally give me feel-goods deep down to my bones.

Family history is really cool stuff. I’m surprised more people aren’t interested in it. Anyone that hasn’t done the research could very well be a direct ancestor of some kind of emperor or royalty and not even know it. What bad comes of knowing something cool like that? You’re right, not a damn thing—unless perhaps it’s like the time’s equivalent to Hitler. I guess that wouldn’t be GREAT news, but I would still be intrigued to know. It goes without saying, but I’m going to say it anyway: most people should be aware that finding out you are of relation to royalty or people of prestige doesn’t mean you are entitled to that family’s estate or anything like that. So don’t get any ulterior motives here. Seriously though, wouldn’t you want to know anyway? I’m not saying that everyone should become family history nuts like me, but there should be some kind of innate curiosity to know more about your ancestors. You wouldn’t be here if not for them.

Tips: To Begin
I’ve gotten a lot of the vital information like names, birthdates, and locations on my maternal side in the late 19th-20th centuries straight from my mom. That’s pretty much the basic of what you need to know to search ancestry.com (and I’m assuming sites like it, but I’m an ancestry member so I will only speak for them). Entering basic information will get you records like census, marriage, death, military, and sometime my personal favorite—newspaper articles. From much of the census records (which are pretty consistently released every 10 years from 1850 and on) you can obtain information on household members; usually giving names of their parents, their parents ages and origins, and so on and so forth.

I have had a much, much harder time getting information on my dad’s side. Hawkins is too common a last name to search without very specific information. Luckily, the family is large enough that I have distant relatives who’ve done our genealogy as well, so I’ve gotten some information from them over the years. So, utilize the older family members if you are lucky enough to have them. They are the family backbone and would have much more vast information than public archives. Otherwise, I have done a lot of asking around at our family reunion each year for any gaps in information. But if your family is anything like mine, you’ll have to be able to differentiate folklore from fact. For much of my life, I thought the Hawkins’ got here by stealing the Queen’s gold and pirating a ship, illegally entering the U.S. Not true, but I definitely thought my family was cooler than yours ‘cause of it.

Tips: Spelling/Human Error
As opposed to these days, most censuses were done freehand. Interestingly, many modern-day last names with spelling variations (such as Peterson versus Petersen) are to the fault of misspelling within vital documents like censuses. This is super frustrating in contrast to the tech savvy, foolproof data collection processes we have now. I’ve found some pretty crazy interpretations of names and it can get really messy when information like birth and death dates don’t add up. Especially prior to the mid 1800’s, it was common for individuals to only have a year (or about) for their birthdate. A rule of thumb: the further back you search, the less accurate information is potentially going to be. The most accurate documents are going to be obituaries, death certificates, and cemetery records. Seek those out for accuracy and base any following information on those. They will save your life in terms of hours!

AncestryDNA
A little advice on DNA testing: you could be unearthing some skeletons in the ol’ family closet. I have read about other users that have discovered an ancestral product of an out of wedlock pregnancy—things the whole family was in the dark on. Go forward in knowing some things might be “better left unknown”. Not for me, I want to know the bad and ugly as much as the good. I want the truth.

The boyfrand gifted me the AncestryDNA kit for my birthday this past year. It’s all I wanted; the best gift ever. So I spit in the tube, sent it back, and anxiously waited for my results over the course of a couple of weeks. Before I tell you my results, I will first tell you the affirmations I sought after in testing my DNA. Well, I knew I was a great deal Swedish, so I was sure to find that in the results. I assumed some German but suspected I was generally English, as that’s where the surname “Hawkins” originated. I had also been holding out hope to find out what Native American tribe a paternal ancestor originated from. My family has hinted at a Cherokee tribe ancestor for years. I’ve even found out who it was and have a picture of her! However, through ancestry, I have found little promising information and no paper trail in regard to finding tribe origin (not surprising for the time period; a white man marrying a “squaw” was extremely disapproved of), so I held out hope that DNA testing would crack the case. Even just an acknowledgement that there’s some Native bloodline would be a step in the right direction. Essentially, I just wanted some science to back up my family tree.

My results were both affirming and disappointing at the same time. According to AncestryDNA, I’m a boring 99% English. About half of my ancestors originated from Great Britain. I’m something like 14% Scandinavian (that’ll appease my boyfriend’s VERY Norwegian family), and trace amounts are shown from West Asia (that’s the only real surprise). Not even a trace of Native American. I’ve done some research through the blogs of other family history nuts (like myself—only worse) to gauge the accuracy in these tests. They are constantly evolving, as they increase the amount of participants, they too increase the accuracy of matching people with others that have similar strands of DNA. While they are getting more and more accurate every day, I’m still not convinced that my results are exact. There’s got to be some Native American in there somewhere!

I did some more research in other testing options and found out there are something like 4 notable DNA testing sites that provide results on origin and ethnicity. I read that ancestry users can transfer their results to another company to obtain results through their pool of participants and potentially get a better read that way. Furthermore, giving them my DNA results increases their pool and will help to expand and exact results with other participants, so I paid to use their site too. The results varied only minimally. Even still, Native American wasn’t picked up through them, either. However, I am still glad to be a member of their site (FamilytreeDNA) in addition to ancestry because a 4th cousin found me on their site (we had matches in our DNA) and gave me an irreplaceable amount of information on our common relatives in Sweden! He lives in Sweden not far from where my Dad’s maternal side came from. Thanks to this other site, I have also recently gotten a break in researching my surname and that was a very exciting venture. I was able to affirm that my distant paternal relatives were among some of the first settles to the new land from Plymouth, England. Pretty cool!!

I’m still holding out hope that as either site’s DNA pools expand, I will get word that there was a match in my DNA to Native ancestry. Then, with those results, an area in North America will be distinguished as origin and I can go searching independently from there. Until that day comes, these little discoveries (like finding a 4th cousin) will keep me busy. That in and of itself is why I find the time and money well worth the search!

Below you can find just a few discoveries I’ve made while researching my family history.

Leah and Nathaniel Afflerbaugh
Nathaniel & Leah Afflerbaugh. Leah is my third great-grandmother. She is the Native American ancestor with questionable tribe ties.
Rear Admiral E W hanson
Edward Wilhiem Hanson. 1st cousin 2x removed. Rear Admiral stationed at Pearl Harbor during WWII. Close friends with General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower

Hanson w Eisenhower

Peter H Peterson obit
Article regarding my second great-grandfather. I was so excited when I found this! Note how specific the small town newspaper was regarding the manner of death.