Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Clutch the pearls: The family tree is a bit more rotten than first thought.

As many of you know, Cookie is very deep into genealogy.  So much so that I can spell it without even thinking about it.  Genealogy is the study of family relationships.

It has been my hobby since high school - 37 years to be exact - and I took it up because there were pictures in an album and no one was quite sure who the people in the pictures were.  I found that an astounding fact. We knew who some of the people were, but others were question marks.

So I dug in and over the years I have ID'd all those people in the album, which I now own, and I have knitted together more pictures my mothers family and extended family.  To a lesser degree, my father's family because they were more concerned with getting out of the old Country lest someone conscript them into the Czar's army.

Along the way I have a number of scandals, a rash of suicides in one family, and set the record straight on some of the other urban legends haunting the family.  Over all, just things you read up on, study, and see why it explains the way things worked out as they did.

However, this past week I stumbled across a real doozy - two bits of information that totally blindsided me. And they involve my mother's "surname" great great grandfather, who was a bit of stain on the good family name.  So much so, the family added an "e" to the end of their name to try and distance themselves from the messes he created.

And I thought I knew all of the messes, but this past weekend two new scandals from the 1890s emerged and left me dazed and confused.

The first is that "John" was not married twice as we knew and documented, but THREE times.  I missed the marriage because he was married in a county far from the homestead.  But thanks to "the internets" and OCR technology and the LDS Church, I found the third marriage.

It seems that "John" had traveled to the capital city on the newly opened interurban line (early high speed electric rail service) for a day of fun and came back that night married to a woman that we'll call "Trixie".  Why Trixie?  Well, despite her best efforts to convince people that she was a great actress, the newspaper said that she was apparently more of an "actorine" (a female who attempts acting, and attempts it poorly) than Sarah Bernhardt.

Said daily newspaper then went to great lengths to lampoon John and his misses, reporting every indignity that the gold-digger put John through.  We also know that after two weeks, "a man she identified as her brother" showed up on the doorstep.  Trixie packed up all her troubles in her old carpet bag, told John that they were going "west" and left.  We ALSO know that the marriage was consummated shortly after it occurred, but that since stepping over the threshold, she "refused to lay with him upon cupid's couch."

John filed for divorce, and a year later, after he was certain that "no babe was born of the union." a divorce was granted.  But did he learn his lesson? Nope.

Two weeks later the local daily rag reported that "Mrs. M******** and daughters of New Mexico have just returned home after some days visits at the home of John Cookie. They are relatives of Mr. Cookie by marriage. Mrs. M was a granddaughter of his wife's uncle's great grandfather's niece's cousin's half-sister, a relative of Polly Dugan of London." (#)

Now, I know, for a verified fact, that "Mrs. M" is no relation to John's first or second wives.  But its the sentence "Mrs. M was a granddaughter of his wife's uncle's great grandfather's niece's cousin's half-sister, a relative of Polly Dugan of London" that tells me that something not kosher is going on.

First of all, this paper got its facts correct.  Secondly, people back then loved having family from out of town visiting and they loved having the specific relationship printed clearly in the paper because if it was clear who these people were, then there was nothing make tongues wag.  So the part about "wife's uncle's great grandfather's niece's cousin's half-sister," make no sense at all, and that tell me that the nature of the relationship was asked, and that they got an unclear answer.

And then there is the bit about "Polly Dugan of London".  London England?  London, Ohio?  Or is Polly Dugan a literary allusion to character in a book, in popular culture or a theatre.

Maybe one day, I'll discover the true nature or maybe one day I'll simply plotz and not know what hit me. And who knows what or if someone a 100 years from now will look back and say "You'll never guess what Cookie found..."


  1. He added an "e" to the surname?

    So your name is actually Cooki?

  2. Goodness!

    And "actorine"!??
    I think this is a term that needs to be resurrected! I know I will soon be peppering my speech with it.

  3. No wonder your life is so eventful; it must be a hereditary trait.

  4. Are "actorine" and "chorine" distant cousins?

  5. Ooh! The "interurban line" runs deep!

  6. How do you document all your findings?

    In other words, do you have a family history website or is the info downloaded onto family history software?

    Is it available to all and sundry or only to select family members?

    1. Files, electronic files and Family Tree Maker.

      Honest to gosh, you find all sorts of stuff, and it ALL explains stuff.

  7. There was a response to this post from someone who thanked me for sharing this "valuable" information, and then went on to post a SPAM comment about boat slip time shares on the India Gold Coast. As a note to readers, Cookie does his best to mask things of a personal nature, lest anyone from India see value in a post and plan to exploit Cookie.

  8. I do not know enough about the literature of this time and region. But "Polly" can be in a ballad, like here for example. "Polly and Willie", "No sign of marriage" are seemingly alternative titles, or at least all this is related. So "Polly of London" could be an understandable insinuation. For the "Dugan" I have no clue.