I was asked by a client to find out whatever happened to a cousin of his named Bud, who he had been very fond of. No one had seen or heard of Bud since about 1940. That sure perked up the ole ancestry detective in me, so I got to work. While doing my research, I found that Bud had a son named Conrad. Conrad was not known about by my client.
The flip-side of this story is that Bud was a father that Conrad knew virtually nothing about. He was told as a very little boy that his father had died. His mother and step-father took him one day to downtown Los Angeles and told him that he was changing his name. He was around 6 years old at the time and this was in 1941. This seems to have been an effort to keep him hidden from his real father.
He was told his name would be changed from Conrad Max to Larry Conrad (I am leaving last names out of this). He did not think Larry sounded very tough and protested this. In an effort to appease, he was asked what name did he want. He thought a moment and said “Jack”. So, he became Jack Conrad with a new last name.
A sad thing is that he grew up within a few miles of a whole family on his real father’s side that he never knew about – including my client. Both sides went about their lives for over 75 years not knowing each other, but yet, could very likely have crossed paths, as they were so close.
Last year while searching for Bud, I discovered Jack by noticing an obscure reference that he existed in an unpublished book by someone who was writing about some ancestors of that family. I tracked Jack down through his birth date and other pieces of information and found that he lived within 45 miles of my house.
How nice it was to talk to him and go meet he and his wife. I was able to put together a little ancestry book for him that had photos of his grandfather (his real dad’s dad), newspaper articles about his real father, pictures of his father and stories of past and present relations. I introduced him to my client and my client was able to tell him things he remembered about his father – my client and Jack are actually 1st cousins.
I do not know where his real father ended up. The trail ran cold after he disappeared and assumed a new identity once he had escaped from the prison road camp in Trinity County, which was run out of the prison he was assigned to – San Quentin. No one had seen or heard of him since 1940 or so. Maybe one day, I will find out what happened to him.
It was with a sense of accomplishment that I was able to fill in some of the lifetime questions that Jack had about who his real father was, what he looked like and what really happened to him. He proudly keeps his ancestry book in his home and shares it with others.
Solving the little mysteries in life is a good thing…
WORDS FOR THOUGHT
“The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitudes of mind.”
“Know the rules well, so you can break them effectively.”
“One determined person can make a significant difference; a small group of determined people can change the course of