Skeleton in Your Family’s Closet? What are the Odds?

If you’ve been tracing your family history for any length of time, there’s a good chance you’ve run across a shady character or two. But what are the odds? Apparently someone has been checking into it. According to a Yorkshire Post article,

An estimated 1.4 million people have made contact with previously unknown family members, whose existence comes to light via the 730 million UK records held online and five billion international records.

The most common discoveries are illegitimate children (19 per cent of researchers discover one), family members whose names have changed (14 per cent), family members who were secretly convicted criminals (7 per cent).

One woman, Shirley Griffin of York, has discovered that her forebear, Frederick Parker, was 27 when he became the last man to be hanged at York Prison in April 1868.

Many people discover a secret adoption within their family (6 per cent), missing family members (6 per cent) and royal blood connections (4 per cent). Around 23 per cent have confirmed connections to the aristocracy, famous historical figures or rich landowners.

What kind of stories have you found? Share them in the comments section below.

8 thoughts on “Skeleton in Your Family’s Closet? What are the Odds?

  1. I read an obituary of my gggrandfather, and it said he was a member of the P.O.S.of A. I am a googler, so googled POS of A. The I.N.S. (the Immigration and Naturalization Service) sent me an email. Evidently, the POS of A, though now a very respected organization that preserves historical sites, was at one time a white, violent anti immigrant organization, most associated with Nativists, and the Know Nothing Party.

  2. Re: FREDERICK PARKER, hanged York Prison April 1868. In fact he will have been the last hanged IN PUBLIC. Thereafter hangings took place within the prison walls, but continued for almost a century.

  3. My mother in laws grand father may have been hanged for stealing a horse. They lived near Castaic CA. In the area of Hasley Canyon. She was born around Oct. 1892. Her parents had a land grand in Castaic. Her mother was Leovalhilda Del Campo Martinez, she maried Thomas Marple March 10, 1891. In Castaic, CA. He was a widower from England, had 2 sons by his first wife. The hanging story was kept a secret, I only heard rumors. some cousins told a story very close to what Helen Hunt wrote about in her story about Romona. Helen Hunt lived near Castaic, on Pico’s land, where Magic Nountain now is.

  4. When Grandma Jo met Al Marshall she was was 21 but said she was 18 because that is how old she thought he was. After their elopement, she learned that he was only 16. He had lied about his age because he knew she was older. Grandma’s family was sworn to secrecy about her true age and for 75 years everyone believed she was born in 1902. Even her delayed birth certificate confirmed it. However, before she died I discovered the 1900 census clearly shows Josie as born in Jun 1899 and 1910 shows that she is 11. Therefore she was 21 when she married a 16 year old! Although I revealed the secret to her only daughter, we never let grandma know that we knew her secret.

  5. A cousin, Rex Beard, Jr. (aka. “The Paper Sack Bandit”), was the last person to be sent to the electric chair in Taylor County, TX in 1943 after shooting and killing Deputy Willis in an attempt to break out of jail. Rex was 20 years old when he died.

  6. I made contact with a cousin of my Father-in-law. She said I should ask him if he knew anything about “Arkansas Dan” in reference to another family member during the same time range as Billy the Kid (Probably in Arizona or New Mexico) Does anyone have any info on this?

  7. In 1861 brothers John & George Taylor went to Illinois from Ohio to settle new land and lived there about 2 year before George went back to Ohio and his branch of the family literally seemed to disappear for about 130 years. Around 1992 an Illinois cousin searched the family in Ohio about George and what happened to him and found he had about 200 descentdents in Indiana. The family story had always been that the brothers had a falling out about a gun. Well, I found in the Illinois records that George’s sudden departure from Illinois back to Ohio was by agreement with the sherriff to avoid prosecution for murder in a bar fight in Illinois! He was asked to simply disappear to avoid jail time.

  8. Would like to discover a Rev. James Leach Yeadon/Pool in Warfedale. I was too young in 1938 to know the origins of my father. I have what I think is his birthplace as being around Bradford. I have been looking for the town of Cullingsworth but have only and ancient postcard showing the scene. Thank you William James Leach Hays Kansas, USA.

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