Unfortunately, this little story is 3rd hand to a point.
Dad always told me that Grandpa (who died when I was 2) would love to get my Grandma's dander up by calling her a "Black Frenchie", at which point she would explode and have a fit, saying she wasn't French, she was English & German. Okay. We all believe Grandma, right?
Her name was Nancy Ann Hill. Her father was David Donaldson Hill and her mother was Julia Hosler (pick your favorite spelling of this!). His parents were Samuel J. Hill and Nancy Ann Deuthman (Grandma's spelling). They were from Ohio, and David was born in Kentucky. That's all the information she could give me.
That sure looked English & German to me! So I started looking. For 40 years I looked. Ever try to locate a Hill in Ohio in the 1850's? Way too many Sam Hills. No Hill marrying a Deuthman to be found. Maybe they were figments of Grandma's imagination?
Then - in 2002, the LDS came out with the 1880 census on disk. We bought it with the intention of using the heck out of it and then donating it to the local history & genealogy library (which we did). Out of frustration, or maybe on a hunch, I did a global search for that elusive Hill family. And found them!
In Michigan, of all places - they weren't supposed to be there then (at least from what Grandma said).
One thing led to another. David and his brother Sam were married in 1882 in Muskegon Co. MI. Sam listed his birthplace as Clermont County, Ohio. I had a place!!! Onward!
Here're the Hill's!!! Samuel, his father Thomas, grandfather Samuel, etc. But wait a minute..... Who's this Sam married? Nancy Ann DuChemin?!? Not Deuthman? Her folks are Daniel DuChemin & Elizabeth DuTot? Where are they from? The Isle of Jersey, in the Channel Islands, off Normandy? The family came from France originally?
Grandpa was right!! But why did Grandma not want to admit it? Why did she have the name of her Grandmother so close, but just enough off to be taken for another nationality? I'll never know - she died in 1972 at age 86.
Later I'll tell you about the hoop snake that chased her home one day and Grandpa falling off the wagon when the family crossed a river......