“The Untold Story”

1948-50s 270

My paternal grandmother was not a particularly nice person. In fact, my grandchildren ask me when I am talking about my grandmother,”Was that the nice one or the mean one?” When I did my first years of genealogical research, I started with my maternal line since my grandfather had already done quite a lot on it. Only later did I begin to search for more information about my grandmother.

She was a tough cookie to research since she lied about her age, her background and her early life. Nonetheless, when reams of information became available in recent years, I was able to learn a great deal about her, most of which I am certain she didn’t want known. So it was no surprise to me when my DNA profile confirmed what I had already discovered. I am 29% Eastern European Jewish. Not only had she never shared this, but she was anti-Semitic.

I also learned that she had been married and had four children before she met my grandfather. She left them behind and ran off with my grandfather, and I was recently able to find the court case which granted her husband a divorce in 1918, the same year my father was born. Her husband had actually hired a private investigator to prove my grandparents were living together “as man and wife.” I don’t think they ever married, since I have never found a marriage record for them.

She was an actress, both professionally and, as it turns out, in real life. My research adds to my history, but gives me no clue about her personality. What led her to marry an older man and have four children? What led her to run off with my grandfather? Why did she speak so negatively about Jews? Why was she so unpleasant? No amount of online research will be able to answer these questions. She will remain an enigma. It turns out genealogy can only take you so far.

23 thoughts on ““The Untold Story”

  1. Funny thing about actors is you never know who your talking to. I had a Black Dr who worked for me for a while and he was prejudiced against Blacks he considered less educated which in Bridgeport was the majority Needless to say he did not last long. B >

  2. Her family may have forced her into marriages to get her off their hands, or for financial benefit, or to have her marry a fellow Jew, or for any kind of reason. Poor woman–since she turned out anti-Semitic, it might have been survival since Jews had a very hard time during the time between the wars and into WWII and beyond. Maybe she had PTSD, which can make people very cranky and fearful. My husband’s mother, in her late 80s, still pretends her parents were not Jewish and did not change their name on immigrating here–my husband on the other hand is proud of his heritage. People’s lives have such mysteries in them.

    1. I think she married an older man because of the money and ran off with my grandfather because of love(or lust!) I have been researching her family today and have an additional thought about her sour mood. I will blog about that.

      1. It is an interesting story. I am glad you have some other information about her. Is it possible the family pushed her to marry the older man for the money?

        1. It’s an incentive. I read a lot of Regency romances, so money and position etc. factor in a lot, plus family influence. It makes me look at everything from that perspective!

  3. That is soooo interesting. Did you ever meet her? In a way, thank goodness that your father was born due to her, otherwise, there is no YOU!. Finding family roots is quite interesting. My brother did it for a while until he found out more than necessary. I told its best to stay away from these people that are part of our DNA. Should I come from the lineage of Adolf Hitler, I don’t want to know. EEeekkk….

  4. That’s great that you were able to find more information on her. She sounds like a very unhappy person. I’m anxious to hear more about her “sour mood”, as you mention in your comment.

  5. Wow, that’s amazing how much you found out! It was certainly a different time and being Jewish came with persecution. Not to mention divorce. In 1918 women could not even vote yet in the U.S. What is must have been like to be a woman then…

      1. Oh wow. My mother in law was Jewish (from Russia) and her family immigrated tot he US in the late 1800’s or early 1900’s. They were Orthodox but when my husband was growing up, she never went to temple or talked about her faith. My husband identifies as Catholic but by blood line he is Jewish.

  6. This is so interesting, Elizabeth. I have a lot of Jewish friends and they are all such lovely people and very proud of their history and heritage. Many of them come from families which fled Europe during the war and lost many family members and friends.

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