My history as a Ancestral Search Detective – A TRUE STORY

I was thrown into a mystery many years ago when my wife approached me into helping to find her dad’s biological sperm donor, for lack of a better title as he was no father, leaving my wife’s grammy, my father-in-law’s mother, as a bratty grown up that the military knew he was.

He wanted the information for medical information; to help explain the medical issues he was going through, not to run up to this man and go, DADDY!!!

I joked that he owed my father-in-law a lot in back allowances.



We’d laugh.

James, the person in question, had left apparently before even knowing Grammy was pregnant.

My grammy-in-law’s dad, a high powered person in the county, had the marriage annulled and the records sealed tighter than the JFK Assassination records.

Course, that meant very few details and Grammy wasn’t talking,she took a lot of details to her grave when she passed away almost two years ago.

I had some names; James *last name held out for respect to any living relatives* born in 1924, possibly in Pennsylvania (Pittsburgh, I would discover later in my search).

He had been in the military.

What service, at the start, I had no idea.

I began my searches using and a big help and still free,

I discovered his parents; Louise and Noble.  When and where they married in 1920, some hints of things began to unfold, but still to this day haven’t revealed themselves.

I became semi-obsessed, tracking the family tree of this family better than my own.

His mother apparently disappeared off the face of the earth as did James.

It would be years later that I would discover any more about Louise; her records as a person in the world of databases and paper records disappearing in 1930, her last appearance in some records about her infant daughter’s death from influenza in 1926 .

Noble I kept tracking.  He was discovered in 1930, in a psychiatric hospital in Dayton, Ohio.

He would die there in 1967. And buried in a veteran’s cemetery in Dayton.

It was a complicated case.

James and Lulu(Louise’s apparent ‘short’ name) just disappeared, no records.


I did find Lulu’s family, her brothers, sisters, dad and mom.

Her mom had some rich blood in her limbs; founding fathers, etc.

Her dad passed away before 1920, another dead end ghost as no more could be found about him or his family.

Noble’s mother had passed away during his childhood, his father remarrying a woman back in the teens, bringing in a step brother to the picture, who tried to run for congress but failed.

But in the years following, I gathered enough information to request James’ military records which gave me a better picture of the man.

I told them I was a detective working for the family.

The lady at the VA laughed as I told her the real story.

I discovered that he was honorably discharged but with not so good reason; the military found him too immature, his temper getting him into much trouble, later, in civilian life, he served time in San Quentin for over drawn checks, got caught in Ohio wearing a military uniform that he wasn’t entitled to do under the conditions of his discharge.

In the 40s, he had tried to get back in the military but they told him to buzz off.

He had met another woman around that same time, not too much later after running away from Grammy, in Washington DC, he apparently had shown his true colors too soon as their was an application for a marriage license but which was withdrawn by the bride to be.

She never married.

James did, apparently, find another woman to marry him in the 1970s, where I rediscovered his tracks.

But then, he went cold again.

I kept my files though, telling the in-laws of things.

A few months after my father-in-law passed away, I found James once again.

He had passed away in 2003, buried somewhere out in California.

No children of record.

Also I discovered what had happened to Louise; she had passed away in an apartment over some bar in Pittsburgh in 1929 of Consumption.

James went off to live with his uncle Edward in Kentucky after that.

I had finally discovered what had happened for the most part; peeked behind a cloud of mystery and got most of the story…


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