It would seem that what I initially thought could have been semi-scandalous and involved star-crossed lovers running away together, was probably more likely that her father was at his sister’s deathbed and sent the brother Jacob in his stead to sign her marriage application.
I read a super interesting article this week called “Grandma’s Experiences Leave a Mark on Your Genes” by Dan Hurley of Discover magazine and in the article, it talks about how our ancestor’s experiences, both positive and negative, have made their mark in our DNA. Scientists have experimented on rats and observed behaviors – such as how if humans handled the pups, the mothers began to groom their babies more and were therefore, more “hands on”. Those pups would then turn around and be more “hands on” with their own brood later on. But beyond mothering traits, when males rats who were “bullied” were mated with females, and even though the babies were never exposed to their father, the babies were highly prone to stress as opposed to those babies who were not fathered by bullied rats, indicating that the probability that the stress the father experienced passed on through his DNA to his pups.
If you read my very first post here talking about Uncovering Dark Secrets in Your Family Tree, I ended it with “to be continued” and I finally received the paperwork I was waiting for to finish my sorrowful tale of my great-great grandmother Esther (Archer) Stewart and her family.
Esther’s son, Dale Walton Stewart, had been a near ghost on my tree for some time. I couldn’t find hardly anything on him at all. I only had 2 census records, an Ohio birth index listing and a listing from the Ohio Boy’s Industrial School where he was placed after his parent’s murder/suicide in 1914. No phone numbers, no addresses, no military listings that I could positively identify as “him”….just a phantom floating through my tree.
Sometimes there are dark things in your family tree that aren’t talked about – things that when you stumble upon them positively blow you away. Such a thing happened to me about a month ago when I was meandering down the Archer branch of my tree. The deeper I dig, the more enthralled I become.
As a child, I knew “something bad” had happened to my great-grandfather, Glenn Archer Stewart. My great-grandma Rosa May Stewart had lived with a man named Leonard Hochmuth for eons and while he loved me as a grandchild, I never called him grandpa as I just knew he wasn’t my “real” grandpa but I usually never gave it much thought. When I was in my teens, I heard a relative talking about how my real great-grandfather killed himself. It’s stuck with me all these years but I knew better than to ask further. Naturally, when I began researching my tree, he was one of the very first I searched after. I found him mentioned a record from the Ohio Boy’s Industrial School along with the name of his mother, Esther Iona Stewart. I promptly sent away for a copy of his record and when it came, the details were scant at best but I saw a notation that he was “homeless”. I saw his younger brother was also placed in the Boy’s Industrial School at the same time. So I began digging into why they were homeless….