Discovering Family Secrets - A Real Case

Treasure ChestParents don’t necessarily discuss with their children every aspect of their life, figuring the youngsters might not comprehend some adult issues.  However, once those children are adults, in charge of their own lives would seem to be the perfect time to discuss earlier events covering the parent’s life.  When that is not done, the parent’s early years can take on a family mystique all its own.  The parent might relate just minuscule personal items leaving out whole sections of what really occurred.  This was the situation with Edwin and his family.

This Massachusetts man was a U.S. military career soldier, having served during World War II and the Korean War.  He was married and raised a family of four children.  For decades the children only knew that their father served in the military, worked at other occupations after retiring from the service while providing for his family.  Edwin was a loyal dependable husband and father all those years.  As is always asked by curious children, they were told by their mother that she was their father’s only wife and nothing else out of the ordinary.

Not until 2003 when a family cousin was conducting some family history research did a public record from 1940 come to light.  It involved Edwin and an earlier marriage previous unknown to anyone else in the family, especially Edwin‘s adult children.  Edwin had since passed away in 1968 and the children’s mother, Laura died in 1985.

This newly discovered official marriage record from Rockingham County, New Hampshire was proof that Edwin had married a divorced woman named, Anna, in November 9, 1940.  This was while he was in the U.S. Army stationed in Nassau County in New York. Both Edwin and Anna were originally from Lynn, Massachusetts, as was stated on the license.  Edwin even stated he was two years older than he actually was because Anna was already several years older in age than Edwin.  Everything was accurate (other than a couple years added to his age) on the license; their parents’ names, residences and occupations, so there was no doubt this was the correct individual.

Learning of this new aspect in their Edwin’s early life, a time period before they were born, was a bit unnerving for Edwin’s adult offspring.  Even after their father’s death, there were many years that their mother, Laura, could have spoken of this first marriage, but she never disclosed any information.  There is the distinct possibly Laura may not have known of Edwin’s first marriage herself.

As the children thought back over the years they couldn’t even remember when their parents celebrated a wedding anniversary, they actually had no idea when Edwin and Laura married.  With some further investigation by the family cousin the date and place was eventually located.  Checking with the surrounding counties of the U.S. Army Air Corps base, Mitchel Field, a marriage record was located. Edwin married a second time in Suffolk County, New York on February 15, 1941 to Laura. The couple had four children over the next twelve years.

That brought into question, what became of Anna, the first wife?  Examining divorce records of the 1940s in New York and Massachusetts finally produced the final divorce degree for Anna and Edwin.  In Anna’s hometown of Essex County, Massachusetts was found the Probate and Family Court, Case # 17674 for the divorce of Anna and Edwin.  Based on those records, it appears this first marriage for Edwin only lasted 52 days, possibly explaining why Edwin never bothered to inform anyone in the family or place this on his military papers.   With Edwin’s passing in 1968, Laura’s death in 1985 and the inability to locate Anna in later years, the real reason for their very short marriage may never be known. The only guess might be that Edwin met Laura and knew he wanted to marry her.  It was only a short time from the end of the first marriage until his marriage to Laura.

Many family secrets can eventually be uncovered, if only partially, especially if such knowledge won’t embarrass or disturb anyone living. Take the chance and don’t be afraid to discover some truths. In this case, the adult children now have a more accurate picture of their father’s earlier life.

< Return To Blog Laura and her family are frineds of ours as well as neighbors. These photos beautifully capture the essence of what is truly a special family and will remind them that they are each other's rocks and that with the Lord's love and strength they will get through this storm and safely reach the other side.
NiyAzi 28/08/11

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