Family genealogist unearths ‘Buried Secrets’
, 2023-01-01 05:06:09,
Researching genealogy has many rewards. Discovering and preserving family history can be gratifying, but what if you look into your grandparents’ identities and find that they didn’t exist? That’s the puzzle that faced Anne Hanson, author of “Buried Secrets: Looking for Frank and Ida,” when her father finally allowed her access to his family photos.
Hanson’s father Harley had asked her decades before to research his parents, but any time Harley’s father Frank had been asked about his family, his response was “They’re all dead. They died.” Harley and his three brothers grew up with their parents, Frank and Ida Hanson, in Akron; there had been eight siblings in all.
Hanson and her sisters were able to elicit Frank and Ida’s wedding date and the names of their parents, but in the pre-internet 1970s without access to services like AncestryDNA or 23andMe, their regular trips to libraries and city record offices were unproductive. Even after genealogy sites became available in the late 1990s, Hanson and her sisters found not “the tiniest speck of evidence that the families of Frank Hanson and Ida Howe had ever existed.”
The photos that Harley provided included few immediate revelations. With the information that Ida and Frank had grown up in Prospect Park, a district in Brooklyn, New York, where Ida’s father owned a farm, Hanson asked for land records; a Brooklyn clerk told Hanson this was impossible, as there had been no farms there. Some photos…
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