August 29th, 2012

Google at Own Risk

It is a common place to warn new genealogists that they may discover things which evoke strong and uncomfortable emotions. I've been through a bunch of these already: discovering my grandmother was the product of a first cousin marriage, that two of her children were born "too early", the numerous oddball religions (over and above the two I grew up knowing about), ancestors who owned slaves, etc.

Someone commented on a photograph of one of my Mennonite ancestors, which caused me to get out the family register, identify the commenter and generally rummage around in that section of my tree. Along the way, I spotted a great name: Ethelbert Doerksen. Surely I'd be able to find something about him, with a great name like that.

Well, he went by Bert. Here are some things I found out about him and his wife Susan. To be clear: I'm not judging anyone here. But what a freaking tragedy, to feel compelled to do what he did, and then to spend one's declining years fending off prosecutions pushed for, in part, by a not-that-distant relative who was heading up the local justice department (Susan shared a last name with him, altho I'd be hard pressed to define the relationship and it might be undefinable).

If I did my work right, Susan was one of my mother's first cousins.

ETA: Nope, screwed it up. Bert was one of my mother's first cousins. *sigh* This is what happens when you marry someone whose last name is the same as your mother's maiden name. Confusing.