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For many years there has been a rumor in my family that my grandmother had been adopted from her father's cousin's family in New Mexico. My grandmother wrote a letter to my uncle in 1976 which mentioned this rumor (she never believed that it was true), and the family was discussing the rumor at my mother's Fourth of July barbecue this past summer, so this is something that has been speculated about for more than thirty years, possibly longer. Long ago, when my grandmother needed to get a passport, she had to get a copy of her birth certificate, and it said that she had died at birth. Her mother told her that the doctor drank a lot and had mixed up her and another baby. My great-grandparents' oldest child had died of spinal meningitis at age 6, and there was speculation that when another child died at birth, they couldn't take it and went to visit family in New Mexico (my great-grandfather's first cousin and his family) and adopted a baby of theirs and had taken it home. Some people thought that my grandmother looked like she could be Native American (her parents were German immigrants).

Tonight at my local Family History Center I looked at baptismal records from the family's church in St. Louis, Missouri. My grandmother was baptized on March 17, 1911...one day after she had been born. The family story was just that, a story. My grandmother always said it wasn't true; she was right!

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Comment by Beth Gatlin on October 14, 2009 at 10:00pm
I just sent a copy of the baptismal record to my mother, aunts, and uncle, and took another look at it. It looks like I misread the record a bit; it actually says that she was born March 17, 1911. I must have made the mistake because as far as we all knew her birthday was March 16 (a mistake could have been made in the record) and it is written in Latin. She was actually baptized on March 26, 1911. But that is still pretty close to when she was born, and looking at other baptismal records from that church at that time, that was a very typical length of time between birth and baptism. So maybe the evidence isn't quite as convincing as I thought, but I still don't think the family story is true.
Comment by Margot Cahalane Hayes on October 14, 2009 at 6:10pm
I, too, found a family story to be inaccurate. "Greatuncle John was murdered on the streets of Brooklyn by a footpad". Dug & dug & found his 1904 death record. He'd fallen downstairs & broke his neck. Occupation: bartender. A family letter referred to "his problem." Lived separately from his mother in the 1900 census.

This was how the family dealt with a loved one's terminal alcohol problem. What can I say?!

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