52 Weeks--Finding a relative in Colombia, South America
One of the most memorable events in my genealogy history is when I sent a letter addressed simply: Del Castillo Family, Cartagena, Colombia, South America. My mother's maiden name was Del Castillo, and her grandfather had emigrated from South America many years before, so we didn't know much about her (and my) relatives.
Several weeks later, I received a response to my letter. It was from a cousin of my grandfather who said that he was 69 years old and very ill. He described my grandfather as an honest man and his business partner as a scoundrel. Unfortunately, the scoundrel also belonged to the family, so he was able to take advantage of his family ties and swindle my grandfather. This caused such a rift in the family that my grandfather left the business and made his fortune in America.
Receiving this letter from a previously unknown relative impacted me greatly. I tried to write to him again, but I think he probably succombed to his illness because I never heard from him again.
Another event that really impacted me was when I was about 11 and my mother sat me down and told me that my "grandmother" was really her stepmother, hence my step-grandmother.
My grandparents divorced when my mother was 5 years old (unheard of in the early 1930s), and my grandfather got custody of the 6 children. One night about a year later, he took the children and moved to a different state. My mother grew up without ever knowing where her mother was. She and her sisters managed to track her down, living in the Virgin Islands. She had never known what happened to her children, either. It may seem that my grandfather was cruel to do this, but none of us was there and don't know why he did what he did.
We had a nice reunion at my aunt's house in Salt Lake City, and I corresponded with her for many years.
I think every family has its secrets and interesting stories, and these are 2 of mine.