We think. Over six years ago one of my hubby’s high school friends asked for help in finding out who her grandfather was. Her father was adopted, and he let the family know that he never wanted to know who is birth parents were. Years after his death, his children did want to know.
Our friend’s brother had a couple of documents that got us started, but it took a number of months (years) and much searching to figure out that the mother – Lena Stanley of Trumansburg, New York, but we could never be sure who the father was. We found out that Lena married Cornell prep school student Joseph Myers of Des Moines, IA, and that they had took a steamer to Texas for their honeymoon. These events were reported in the newspapers.
When Joseph’s father found out he had married, Joseph was pulled out of Cornell in Ithaca, NY and sent to Harvard. A year and a half later Lena had a child – our friend’s father.
The adoption situation of this child created questions. But the bigger question was – Who was the father of the baby born in 1906? We developed a number of scenarios.
The baby was born in February 1906; Lena and Joseph’s annulment proceedings were in the fall of that year. The annulment documents state nothing about a child. Instead, Joseph agreed that the marriage had never been consummated (remember the newspaper articles about their honeymoon cruise), and the reason was he was being treated for venereal disease at the time of their marriage. The annulment took place in a county away from where the couple would have been known. So many twists and turns to this story.
The mystery continued all these years, until recently when our friend’s brother had his DNA tested through Ancestry.com and someone contacted him with a close match. Our friend received an email recently with a photo attached – Here is your grandfather!
The man identified as the father is Gonzalo Martinez-Fortun, a Cuban, possibly in the area attending Cornell University. The census shows him living in Trumansburg, New York a couple of blocks from Lena’s residence. Gonzalo returned to Cuba 1 July 1905, eight months before the baby was born. His family suspects he never knew Lena was pregnant.
Our friend sent a photo of her father, and a photo of Gonzalo, and we can see the similarities.
And so another mystery solved. It took years of research and the miracle of DNA to finally five our friend the closure she desired.When Gonzalo's eldest grandchild was told of the story, she now wants to come to New York and meet everybody. What fun that would be.
For more on this story, scroll down and click on the links to Lena Stanley of blogs written In February and April 2011.