Sign in to follow this  
Vort

Fun family history stories

Recommended Posts

I thought a thread like this might be a lot of fun. I think it's a pity that great family history stories die with the family members that know them but didn't write them down. I'll start out with a couple of items I picked up talking to my mother on the phone yesterday.

I

My grandfather was a reactor operator at the Hanford site in eastern Washington, where plutonium was made for the Fat Man bombs (one of which was dropped on Nagasaki). He was a Salt Lake City shopkeeper, married with children, so he didn't get drafted into World War II. But he did end up volunteering to go work on some secret project out in Washington state somewhere. The group of men that he was a part of had heard people using terms like "reactor" and such. At one point early in the process, he was taken with some other men into a classroom for a lecture. The lecturer started out by showing the men an ambiguous photograph of what looked like a giant white sphere, and asked them, "What do you think this is?" My grandfather, wanting to be a little bit funny and answer something other than the obvious "I haven't the faintest clue" instead replied, "It looks like a 'reactor' to me." Because of that offhand humorous answer, my grandpa was made a supervising operator (Mom said something about an 'A' designation).

II

So the reactor operators were to be trained in the basics of nuclear physics and how to operate these extremely complex reactors. Grandpa's main teacher was a man they called "Dr. Farmer". Mom said that later, after the war, they found out he was someone famous, and his first name was something like Eric.

Eric...

So I asked her, "You mean Enrico Fermi?" She said, "Yes, that's it! 'Doctor Farmer' was Enrico Fermi."

So my grandpa was taught nuclear physics by Enrico Fermi. That's even better than "my dad can beat up your dad".

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The stories I hear about my great grandpa Sol are of a typical nature for someone growing up in the hills. Sol was firmly against any form of education and felt children who went to school were wasting their time. Sol was a trapper and had made a good living for his family without any public education. He believed firmly that any trade employment would be suitable for all families. When his son Henry (grandpa) decided to send his children to school Sol was furious with his son. Here's the story:

My uncle on his first day of school had a very important discussion with grandpa Sol. Sol took my uncle aside and said, "Let me tell you how to make sure your teacher loves you. The first thing you will do is sit right next to a window. When your teacher starts speaking I want you to rattle the window blinds. This way your teacher will notice you.

"When your teacher asks you to stop, she really isn't asking you to stop. She is messing with you and you mess with her back. So rattle the window blinds again. This time though when she tells you to stop I want to to say, 'Shut up you S.O.B'!

"Now, your teacher is going to "act" really upset and probably warn you. When that happens I want you to tell her again, 'Shut up you S.O.B'! At this moment, you have got her attention and she is going to love you even more."

Well, needless to say grandpa Henry and great grandpa Sol had a very serious conversation between son and father. And all of Henry's other children learned from experience not to trust grandpa Sol and his helpful counsel when it came to school.

Edited by Anddenex

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Not quite so far back but a good story. When my parents got married my dad joined the police department. One day as he was sitting on the side of the road he watched a car go by with my mom in the passenger seat and some guy he didn't know driving the car. Well he wasn't going to take that lying down so he flipped his sirens on and chased them down. When they pulled over he approached the car not quite knowing what to expect. When my mom saw it was my dad she smiled and said "Meet my brother Ivan who just returned home from his mission." 

Edited by laronius

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My grandfather was a fighter pilot during WWII; he flew a P-52 Mustang.  One day, while in battle over Germany, his plane was shot down, forcing him to crash land into a hidden German military bunker. Obviously, the Germans were not happy with him, as his crash exposed their location to the other American pilots still in the air. They surrounded his plane with their weapons aimed at him. He thought they were going to shoot him. However, as he climbed out of his plane, he lost his footing, and fell flat faced into a huge puddle of mud. The situation in which he found himself suddenly seemed so ridiculous to him that he started to laugh.  His laughing then caused the german soldiers to laugh.  This laughing broke the tension, thus saving his life as the soldiers decided to take him prisoner instead of executing him. He spent the following two months as a POW until General Patten came and liberated the camp where he was being held prisoner.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My grandfather was orphaned very young. His sister was adopted and he was kicked out of foster care at 13. He got a cabin in the mountains and trapped animals for fur. He found bob cat kittens. Their mom was dead. He raised them and they were his pets. I thought it was a joke until I saw a picture of him and his kitties.

His town got snowed in and the people were hungry. He fed the town deer and elk for a month. 

  He was old when I was born. He always seemed mean and grumpy. It amazes me to see this side of him. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I love this Family History story from President Nelson.

But before I post the video I'll tell a story from my great grandfather as well -

I am a descendant of 2 lines (both my father's and my mother's) of great feminists (the real kind).  My great grandmother was a business woman before businesswoman was even a word in the Philippines.  She was always out and about selling something to the embarrassment of my great grandfather who keeps on getting teased for having a "wild woman" for a wife.  One day, the teasings turned into "you have a promiscuous wife, visiting all these men in their houses..." and it started to bother my great grandpa.  So one night, he told my great grandma he is going out and will not be home until well past midnight.  Then, he waited outside their 2nd-floor bedroom window for my great grandma to turn out the lights and go to sleep.  Right when the lamp was blown out, my great grandpa climbed the side of the house, over the 2nd-floor bedroom window and crawled onto the bed and whispered to my great grandma, "It's your lover come to visit"  My great grandma leapt out of bed yelled at my great grandpa with full knowledge of who he is, "Why do you tease me like that!" and threw my great grandpa out the window...

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have some great  (x6ish) grandparents that were individually taking the missionary discussions in secret. Both accepted baptism and showed up at the baptism location only to run into each other. I can’t imagine the happiness they both felt when they saw each other.

I also have a grandfather who was quite adventurous. He ran a large steam boat between South America and Africa for some years. He has two interesting hunting stories. Once he was I. The jungle and his guide yelled “Run Johannes!”, my grandfather turned and saw a massive snake chasing his guide and they had to sprint out of the jungle, I think he ended up killing the snake. Another time he was hunting chimps. He shot one out of a tree and immediately a dozen other monkeys appeared and just stared him down as if they were all about to attack,  it nothing happened.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My grandfather was famous for his hearing damage. One day at the dinner table, someone asked him,"Granddad, can you please pass the ketchup?"

He looked befuddled and looked around for about 1/2 a second and responded,"What?  Trailer tire?"

Years later, my oldest sister was married with a child and we were reminiscing about dead relatives. Someone brought up trailer tire.  We had a mild laugh about it.  Then my sister said, "Speaking of trailer tire, could you pass the ketchup?"

Her husband literally froze with his fork 1/2" from his mouth, then looked around with the most confused look on his face.  The table erupted with laughter.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Scott

This is my family member:

https://www.google.com/search?gs_ssp=eJzj4tbP1TcwNDBNzk7JNWD04knOySxLzVNIKs1LqQQAbNUIkA&q=cliven+bundy&oq=cliven+&aqs=chrome.1.69i57j46j0.5129j0j4&client=ms-android-verizon&s

Our family has an interesting history. 

Cliven Bundy does know how to lie about our family history though.  He's also a self proclaimed prophet and still a member of the church.

Anyway, my family in my dad's side were some of the survivors of the Willy Martin Handcard Company.

On my mom's side, they were some of the earliest settlers to Mapleton, Kanab, and Delta, all in Utah.

My great, great, great Grandfather was Arza Adam's who settled Mapleton before it was Mapleton).  When he was in his 50's he married my great, great, great Grandmother who was 14? (she was 15 when when she gave birth) and whom was one of his several polygamists wives.

The Adams settled Kanab early on and then the brothers split up.  My great grandfather headed for Delta Utah, becoming one of the earliest settlers there. 

My grandparents then made a living on their farm in the Sevier Desert north of Delta, where they spent the test of their lives.  They had no plumbing, electricity, or heating until much later.  When we were kids, we used to use an outhouse when visiting.

Of course our current generation is pretty boring (except for the Bundy wackos).   I'm the only cool one left.

Edited by Scott

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
13 hours ago, Scott said:

This is my family member:

https://www.google.com/search?gs_ssp=eJzj4tbP1TcwNDBNzk7JNWD04knOySxLzVNIKs1LqQQAbNUIkA&q=cliven+bundy&oq=cliven+&aqs=chrome.1.69i57j46j0.5129j0j4&client=ms-android-verizon&s

Our family has an interesting history. 

Cliven Bundy does know how to lie about our family history though.  He's also a self proclaimed prophet and still a member of the church.

Now we know where you get your raving political extremism from . . . ;) 

The main figure in my family history who comes to mind at the moment, is a great grandfather who was made a bishop back east in the 1900s while in his early twenties and unmarried.  During the course of his tenure he impregnated my great-grandmother (one of his congregation), eloped with her to the Salt Lake Temple, and then settled on the West Coast without his eastern ward having any idea where he was.  Fast forward ten years and he became the bishop of his new ward on the West Coast and impregnated another young lady church member.  He was released (can’t tell if he was exed, Church Archives won’t give me access to the relevant records), and about fifteen years later was given a calling in the stake Sunday school.  Around the start of the Great Depression, he was giving a Sunday talk at a branch he was visiting and dropped dead at the pulpit.

Edited by Just_A_Guy
Removed a “great”. We’re messed up, but not THAT messed up!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 minute ago, Colirio said:

Either you forgot to type a “great” or this story is more twisted than you let on.... 

I was in the family history lab before the quarantine and we were talking about family skeletons.  And one family took the trophy when they found out that this was exactly the case.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I like to tell my children they are descended from warriors on both sides of his family.  Their mother is descended from one of the tribal leaders that killed Magellan and their father is descended from the Bruce that waged war with England.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 minutes ago, anatess2 said:

I like to tell my children they are descended from warriors on both sides of his family.  Their mother is descended from one of the tribal leaders that killed Magellan and their father is descended from the Bruce that waged war with England.

At least you can cite individuals with some credentials.  Korea has been invaded and conquered so many times, that it is impossible for any Korean to NOT be descended from some warrior or other.  But it was most likely a warrior who got killed on the front lines -- after having sired a child.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 minute ago, Carborendum said:

At least you can cite individuals with some credentials.  Korea has been invaded and conquered so many times, that it is impossible for any Korean to NOT be descended from some warrior or other.  But it was most likely a warrior who got killed on the front lines -- after having sired a child.

During my first tour in Iraq, one of my colleagues asked a Mongolian soldier if they consider themselves Oriental. An ignorant question, perhaps, but I'll never forget the answer he received. "Mongolians are not Oriental, but all Orientals are a little bit Mongolian".

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
18 minutes ago, anatess2 said:

I like to tell my children they are descended from warriors on both sides of his family.  Their mother is descended from one of the tribal leaders that killed Magellan and their father is descended from the Bruce that waged war with England.

778F48AA-596D-4CF8-9D1A-C5FBE60BEE0C.thumb.jpeg.941b1ff3daafecb4527f805403bfcb38.jpeg

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
54 minutes ago, Colirio said:

 


Either you forgot to type a “great” or this story is more twisted than you let on.... 

D’oh!  It was my grandmother’s father—so yes, my great-grandfather.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I come from a long line of printers, generation after generation, until the entire millenia-old trade was obsoleted (as my dad used to say) by a gum-chewing blonde and an F7 key. This is my great-great grandfather, in 1902. 

697464226_1909CharlieA.thumb.jpg.c4ac1517eff9b54f76954540cd9afad3.jpg
 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would have to dig through all of my family history stuff but somewhere I have the story of an ancestor who was 16 at the time that Joseph Smith was killed.  It basically was his thoughts on paper how he felt when the prophet was killed.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My great grandparents on my dad's side lived in Idaho.  They owned thousands of acres and had a cattle ranch.  My great grandfather was an Idaho state senator at some point.  I can never remember if it was in 1928 or 1948.  My great grandmother made and canned THE best pickles you have ever had.  We used to go to the ranch about every other summer for vacation.  Enough that my great grandfather said that a palomino horse that I was in love with was mine.  

My dad was born out on the ranch.  When he was born they couldn't just put "ranch" as place of birth.   So they had to put Winchester, Idaho as that was the closest town to the ranch.  

Nothing exciting but it's my family.  :)   

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@Vort,

I noticed your "confused" reaction to my comment re: the family history lab.

1. We don't actually have a "family history center."  We just meet once a week on activity night utilizing any free room we can find.  So, I call it a "lab".

2. The family skeletons was just a topic I brought up because it was a way of getting excited about family history.  You find that we're not just boring people.  We find both the heroic and the depraved.  I found out that the great grandfather that our whole family admired for so long was married twice (not polygamous).  And he had a baby with a third woman in between the first and second wife (out of wedlock).  Someone else countered with the story that a great grandfather committed incest with his daughter who gave birth to a child.  That child was this person's ancestor.

This was in response to @Colirio's question to JAG re: the great vs. great great.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 minutes ago, Carborendum said:

@Vort,

I noticed your "confused" reaction to my comment re: the family history lab.

1. We don't actually have a "family history center."  We just meet once a week on activity night utilizing any free room we can find.  So, I call it a "lab".

2. The family skeletons was just a topic I brought up because it was a way of getting excited about family history.  You find that we're not just boring people.  We find both the heroic and the depraved.  I found out that the great grandfather that our whole family admired for so long was married twice (not polygamous).  And he had a baby with a third woman in between the first and second wife (out of wedlock).  Someone else countered with the story that a great grandfather committed incest with his daughter who gave birth to a child.  That child was this person's ancestor.

This was in response to @Colirio's question to JAG re: the great vs. great great.

My "confusion" was more like astonishment that this would happen (and that a family would talk about it).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As for the astonishment, that was why they took the trophy.  We were all astonished in the lab.

The family was ok talking about it because they were removed several generations from it happening.  This person told of when they first discovered the discrepancy in names, birthdates, etc.  She told her mother who referred her to her grandmother. "This must be a mistake, right?"  the grandmother simply stiffened up and gave the "hush" finger-to-lips motion and shook her head.  "We don't talk about that."  So, I wasn't exactly clear on how many generations had passed.  But apparently the level of anathema had decreased each generation until this woman's grandmother didn't speak of it.  But this woman, herself, was ok talking about it.  Still shocking.  Yes.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My family history is a little more modern. 

My dad was born and raised in Bulgaria. He hated being under Communist regime and longed to go to America so he could have freedom to worship. He and a couple of his cousins decided to run away together and make it to America. They were about 13 years old. Upon the time and place previously agreed, dad showed up but the others didn't. So, he took off alone. He crossed the Greek border (about a 5-7 mile walk) and was placed in a refuge camp. He lived in Greek refuge camps until he was able to get a sponsor for America. That took about 5 years. He said that if he had gone to Western Europe or Australia, he would have left sooner, but he wanted to go to America. He came to America and couldn't speak a word of English. His sponsor helped him find a room to rent and a job. So, he arrived in his new country on a Thursday and by Monday he was working and paying his own way. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this