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Your Story: Twisted Branches

When I first got Family Tree Maker, I was just checking to make sure the “How is this person related to me?” button would actually work. To test it out, I clicked on my mother’s name in my tree. As expected it said she was my mother, but I was flabbergasted to learn she was also my fifth cousin. That sent me scrambling up all branches of my tree to see where they crossed. Low and behold, on my mother’s paternal side, my great-great-grandparents William King Laughlin (1805-1861) and his wife Margaret King (1808-1870) are related on two sides. His maternal great grandfather Edward King (1720-1790) is her paternal grandfather. Her maternal great-grandparents John Laughlin and Jane Mathews are his paternal great grandparents. 

The intrigue doesn’t stop there. My maternal grandmother, Carrie Harper in order to escape the confines of her home in West Virginia became a mail order bride.  She wrote to a man far away in Illinois. He came and whisked her away to the surprise of her father and step-mother. While tracing both branches of my grandparent’s trees, I discovered their families had already met 177 years prior. On Ancestry.com I found court records of my grandfather’s ancestors suing my grandmother’s ancestors for false advertising. In 1740 they purchased land in the Shenandoah River Valley.  Thinking they were settling into an established community, they felt defrauded when discovering it was inhabited by “wild savages.” The judge dismissed the case under “caveat emptor” - buyer beware.

Molly Burke