A family secret that makes me see my childhood differently 3



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Just this week a query about a family photo of an uncle taken in 1903 has made me rethink some things I was told as a child. 

I spent my childhood from an early age living with my father’s parents. As it was wartime we’d moved back to the Midlands from Butler’s Gorge, where my grandfather and dad worked on the Hydro scheme.

Having a German name, complete with the very German ‘sch’ in it wasn’t without judgement, and we went back to where my grandmother came from – her maiden name was Irish. 

The accommodation offered was a very small railway house and it overflowed with my parents and brother and sister, hence  my relocation, which ensured my child hood was special…and I was cossetted, somewhat. My grandmother told me all about her family and we lived in the midst of them, and grew fond of them.

Now, the reason for the rethink. Through a site devoted to Tasmania’s history, I commented on a great uncle who was in the Oatlands football team. This uncle was especially close to my grandmother and I heard all about his interesting life from her and also him.

When I received the query from a person on the mainland, I was happy to share other details about him. To my great surprise her response was filled with mystery as she had access to a list of family members that said there were 3 brothers that I had never been told about.  

Now I am left to wonder why she chose not to mention them. As there were 11 and the property wasn’t huge, surely there would not be a reason for the estrangement. I’ve looked on Trove as I’ve got their complete names, but not even a death notice is shown.

Perhaps it’s best to not to delve too much as the truth might be unacceptable…who knows?

Do you have a family secret that you’ve recently discovered?

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Val Monaghan

I was born on the 21st January 1938. I am retired and widowed with 3 adult children and 5 lovely grandchildren I have lived in the same address for 58 years. I have had a varied working life, including ticket and showcard writing until 1973 when I changed to commercial cooking. I last cooked on the Windeward Bound, a brigantine around 6 years ago. I write a lot of verse about all sorts of subjects. I enjoy gardening, reading and having good friends visiting.

  1. Val, trying to pin down the facts when researching family history can sometimes be difficult. If I were you, I would ask myself how reliable is the information from the “person on the mainland”: if that person has not received the information first hand from a reliable close family member, then she may have come by the information from her own research.

    Unfortunately, in family research it’s not uncommon for people to make errors when trying to accurately identify offspring in ancestral families. Couples and their offspring with the same or similar names can be hard to separate and correctly identify in the records.

    I would suggest that you arrange for copies of the birth certificates of the brothers in question to try to determine if they truly are part of your family line.

  2. the 1911 British census revealed that my mother had 6 younger siblings who had died young. There were not 10 births in all, there had been 16 children in 22 years. Never mentioned, at any time, by any of my aunties and uncles, but there in the census as having been born and died.

    It is fascinating to dig through the family details, and find treasures of hidden knowledge that past generations hid, for various reasons. Give your own secrets a few generations to lose their pain, and your descendents will be interested, too.

  3. I found out that I was a twin when my daughter was pregnant with her first baby. (Apparently my twin didn’t grow in the womb and wasn’t viable) we were commenting how big my daughter was and she said she was sick of people asking if she was having twins. My Mother said it was very likely as I had been a twin! First I had ever heard of it and must admit it had a profound effect on me.

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