We’ve all got a skeleton or two buried in our closets, but some families are hiding a whole graveyard in there. These dark family secrets were so disturbing, they destroyed everything from relationships to entire generations—but as we all know, the truth will out. Take a seat and read on for these dark family secrets exposed.
1. I Gotta Get Away
My step-grandfather had a completely hidden life in Australia before he met my grandmother. He had a family and kids in Australia, and then faked his own death by driving his car off a cliff then moving to America. His kids thought he was long gone until my grandmother found out about them and reached out years later.
His son actually became a famous comedian over there, and from what I know has a joke he does at his shows about his father faking his death to disconnect from them.
2. The Man In The Mirror
This happened around 2013—Instagram wasn’t totally new but it was still a much smaller platform and centered a lot around visual artists. Through Instagram, a friend of mine found a profile that was my gosh darn doppelganger. Like, this guy looked so much like me that I sent multiple photos of him to my mom and she was convinced it was me even after I told her it wasn’t.
Now, for the purpose of the story I’ll just say I am incredibly unique looking. Dark brown hair, fiery red beard, almost a full bodysuit of tattoos. Same for this guy. The brands of clothes I wore, even down to the gold and black Ray-Ban Clubmasters. I am a professional tattoo artist and he is a painter who owns an art gallery.
So, in keeping with how the internet worked back then, we said hey and joked about meeting and occasionally would call or FaceTime the other to prove a point. Then, I got an opportunity to travel to NYC for work. This guy lived in NYC as well, so we made plans to meet up! I bought plane tickets, made arrangements, and we even talked about how funny it would be to get a photo together.
Then we started talking about how funny it would be if we really were long lost brothers, and he goes: “That’s entirely possible! My dad was never in the picture. He was a traveling biker who just hooked up with my mom one night.” A chill ran through my body. This was REALLY weird because my dad was a tattoo artist and notorious biker who traveled in the area this guy lived when he was growing up.
I thought it was a long shot but I said, “Hey! Ask your mom if his name is James Jobin! Wouldn’t that be crazy if we are brothers?!” He laughed and agreed that would be funny, and said he’d ask his mom the next morning before I got into town. Then he blocked me on everything. Instagram, Facebook, text. Absolute radio silence.
I’ve made other accounts to check up on him and see how he’s doing, but I’ve never reached back out. The thought that I could really have a brother is bittersweet for me—I respect his right to have contact with me or not, but it does break my heart a little every time I think about him. Plus, I just don’t have a closure on what the truth really is.
3. Ancient History
One of my aunts raised another aunt’s baby as her own. My mom had four sisters and a brother, all of whom got married and had kids, so I have around 20 cousins. Unfortunately, three of my aunts got breast cancer in their 30s. All three recovered, but years later the youngest, Maria, got it again and it got worse. Maria needed a bone marrow transplant.
All her sisters and children got tested, but no one matched. The family then revealed the truth. Maria had had a teenage pregnancy, and her first child was actually my cousin John, who had been adopted and raised by my oldest aunt as her second child. None of the cousins knew about this, including John and his revealed-to-be adoptive siblings.
As a result, the family asked John to get tested and he was a match, so he agreed to donate bone marrow to his birth mom, Maria. John was in his late 20s at the time and had had very little contact with Maria over his life. The transplant took, but Maria eventually succumbed a year or so later. Luckily, none of my female (or male) cousins have gotten breast cancer since. We are all still vigilant and self-check ourselves regularly.
4. The Brotherhood
My brother Russell was 12 years older than me, and I cannot remember a day of my childhood without thinking of him. My earliest memories are of him and me at a park. We shared a room together and I remember the fun we used to have late at night playing pillow forts and telling stories. I loved Russell and still do. When I was seven, he perished in a car accident.
At his funeral, I found out that Russell was not my brother, but someone my parents took in because he had a bad home life. It messed my head up trying to grasp this, but I am happy that my parents had the compassion to take care of him and treat him as their own and that he was such a big part of my life. To this day, I still consider him my brother and miss him every day. I love you, Russell.
5. A Real Hero
My dad was born in rural Texas in 1915. He was the youngest of 10 kids, all a year apart, so his oldest sibling, Henry, was about 11 years older than him. My dad’s father passed in an accident not long after he was born, so Henry became the “man of the house” at about age 11. When my dad was about nine years old, in 1924, disaster struck.
A gang of men came through their small town, kidnapping children to work picking cotton about 400 miles away. Apparently this was not an unusual occurrence at the time. My dad and two of his siblings were taken. Henry, who was now 18, came home from working on a cattle drive about a week later, and found his mother in pieces about the kidnapping of three of her children.
Being the man of the house, Henry strapped on his father’s six guns—dual holsters, one on each hip—and set out to get his three siblings back. He gathered clues about the gang from other townsfolk who also had children who were taken. He headed east to where he was pretty certain the kids were taken, riding in empty train boxcars and even on the roofs of moving trains.
It took him several weeks, but through talking to locals along the way who heard rumors of child abductions, he finally narrowed it down to a few cotton farms where he thought the kids were. My dad had tears in his eyes when he told me this part of the story. He and two of his brothers, along with about a dozen other kidnapped kids, had been held captive on this cotton ranch for over two months.
They had given up ever seeing home or the rest of their family again. They were kept locked in a barn, fed scraps, and forced to pick cotton in the hot Texas sun. They were beaten if they cried or refused to work. One day, working in the fields, they heard a miraculous sound. It was Henry’s voice calling their names. They looked up and saw my uncle Henry walking towards them.
They started running toward him when one of their captors rode up on a horse and started yelling. Henry pulled one of his pistols and shot the man. My dad wasn’t even sure if the man had a weapon, and it didn’t matter. The shot drew a couple more of the rancher/captors over, and Henry shot them both as well. My dad ran up and hugged my uncle, and he told them “let’s go home.”
My dad tells me they rode on and in train boxcars all the way back west to their little Texas town, along with a couple other kids who were taken from the town. When they got back to their small farm, my dad said his mom fainted when she saw them. He said Henry put the six guns away, and never touched them again. Not ever.
There was no law enforcement, no investigation about what had happened, no mention in town that my uncle had taken the lives of three men to get his siblings back. It was basically still the “Wild West” in Texas in the 1920s. The boys eventually all served and survived WWII. My dad didn’t tell me this story until after Henry had passed.
I had always known my uncle Henry as a sweet, soft-spoken, diminutive (he was about five foot four, and maybe 100 pounds) man who went on to own a printing shop. I would never have imagined him capable of the feats of heroics he performed, at age 18, to bring his family back together. Obviously, I’m so grateful he found it in himself.
6. Friends In High Places
My biological grandfather threatened to kill my grandmother while she was very young and pregnant with my uncle. Long story short, my grandfather was engaged to someone else at the time. My grandmother became a nervous wreck while pregnant and wouldn’t leave the house, and my grandfather used to throw bricks through her window.
Eventually, she told some of her friends about what he’d threatened to do to her. Shortly after that he went missing, never to be seen or heard from again. We always kind of laughed and joked that one of her friends must have threatened him or “ran him out of town.” We would even go as far as to say someone might have offed him for her.
It wasn’t until we were going through her boxes of photos and “love letters” that we realized she was actually friends with the infamous British mobsters the Kray twins…
7. Sibling Rivalry
My uncle tells the story that when he was a kid, his older brother wanted him to go out hunting with him in the woods near their house. They woke up really early and started walking much deeper into the woods than they usually did, and way off the normal trails they used. Then my uncle realized his brother was letting him get further and further ahead.
He stopped and turned around—and witnessed a horrific sight. He saw his brother starting to bring the shotgun up in his direction. He asked him what the heck was he doing, and his brother said, “Oh, I thought I saw something.” My uncle decided to go back at that point. Later that week, he went back and found a pit that someone had dug a bit further off the trail.
He never went anywhere with his brother alone again. Both of them are my mother’s brothers, and the wannabe Cain was a narcissist of the “not letting a silly thing like being married get in the way of his dating life” variety. He actually decided he had big dreams and bailed on his family when I was a kid, then proceeded to fatally overdose.
I usually don’t think of him as my uncle because I didn’t have a real relationship with him. I’m not sure why he didn’t shoot my uncle—sometimes I think he might have wanted it to look more like an accident, or didn’t want to look his brother in the eye. I obviously can’t prove the story, but the way that my other uncle described it, he was really afraid of his brother and thought he was capable of fratricide.
8. Loose Lips
My parents had a nasty divorce, which was often accompanied by a lot of trash talking about each other. There was a lot of “well your mother blah blah blah” and “your dad is such and such,” most of which I would just ignore because it was incredibly immature and embarrassing, until one day my mom broke out an enormous revelation.
My siblings and I were just watching TV in the living room one day and the conversation moved to my dad coming to town to visit, and my mom overheard. The mere mention of dad prompted this woman to stop whatever she was doing, come into the living room, and say something along the lines of: “Talking about your dad again, huh? Did you know that he was molested?”
My dad had never mentioned anything about this in the 18 years that I lived with him, which is understandable. To this day, I have no idea why my mom felt the need to blurt that out to the three of us, or why it is she thought that being a victim was a stain on someone’s character, but it was a really weird way to find out something so deeply personal about my dad.
Just to ease my conscience, my mom was actually a great mom. She practically raised us on her own, and the divorce wasn’t her fault in the slightest. She got hit with the passing of both of her parents and a divorce all within a two-year time span, on top of losing the house. This was completely out of character for her, which is part of why it caught all of us off guard.
She’s a good woman who said something awful that she now regrets, but it’s out there now.
9. The Truth Will Out
My great uncle was slain along with his wife. Meanwhile, the suspect was run down and got stuck in a swamp before shooting himself in the head. The strange particulars: My uncle, his wife, and the suspect were all deaf/mute, and the suspect was renting a room from them. This happened in the 40s, and no one ever found the motive…until recently.
A few years ago, I took a DNA test, and found that I had cousins who were descended from the suspect’s wife. Yep, turns out my great uncle was cuckolding the guy.
10. Daddy Issues
My father tried to kill my mother while she was pregnant with me. He never got charged, and I found out about this when I was 20, after my mom told me in private. She said back then, my father had a drinking problem and he would get really violent sometimes. She said something to him one time so he grabbed a knife, pushed her next to an open window, and put the knife at her throat.
He then made her choose between jumping from the fourth floor or getting her throat slit. My mom said she cried and begged him to think of the unborn baby (me). Some neighbors heard the noise and intervened. They managed to take the knife away from him, and she was safe. But here’s the brutal kicker. My mom is religious and doesn’t believe in divorce, and they’re still together after 45 years.
His violent tendencies toned down after me and my brothers were old enough to knock him out if he tried that again. However, I’m the only one in my family, besides my mom, who knows this happened. I’ve always had problems with him, but I hated him bitterly after my mom told me what happened then and other times as well.
11. Unsolved Mysteries
There is strong debate in our family as to whether my aunt fell out of the window of her apartment, whether she jumped, or whether someone pushed her. She survived, but with brain damage, and says she can’t remember.
12. Past Lives
Two years ago, I found out that my dad had a wife before my mom, and she perished in a freak accident on their wedding night. She was sleepwalking and fell to her death over the balcony.
13. Don’t Go Digging Around
A somewhat distant cousin of mine came home from WWI completely shell-shocked and was institutionalized. One day, he turned up at home, saying he was cured and released. Nothing could be further from the truth. He then took his family to a cliff-side park to celebrate with a picnic. About halfway through the picnic, he took their two older children to the edge of the cliff and pushed them over.
He then took his baby from his wife’s arms and threw the child over the side. His wife fell over the cliff trying to get to the children. He then jumped over after all of them. As you can imagine, it was all over the national papers. I only found all of this out one day when I thought I’d take a little break during my lunch to do some genealogy stuff. It was not the lunch break I had planned.
14. Father Of Mine
I’m the only child between my mom and dad, but they both had children from previous relationships. All of my siblings were 15+ years older than me. When I was seven, everything unraveled in the most brutal way. My mom and dad split because my dad “had feelings” for my mom’s oldest daughter, who actually already had four kids.
Ok, gross, but both adults, so whatever. Cut to 13 years or so later and my dad is suddenly all involved in the life of one of the kids of that sister. 20-year-old me was oblivious as to why this was happening. It took me another seven years to put all the pieces together that my dad was actually the father of that kid. I had grown up thinking she was just my niece, but she was in reality my half-sister-niece.
I’ve never discussed it with anyone in my family. My mom passed before I put all the pieces together. But wait…there’s more! My family and I are all from Mississippi. Cue Deliverance banjo music. My dad was born in 1945, so unsurprisingly, he’s super prejudiced. Well, that sister-niece of mine? She ended up having two kids with a Black man.
Anyway, karma’s a witch. Cheat on my mom with your step-daughter, get her knocked up, basically have nothing to do with said child’s life, then the child goes and commits, in his eyes, probably the biggest betrayal possible. I would throw a chef’s kiss right here except all I really care about from this story is the pain it must have put my mom through, and I was too young or oblivious to be there for her. Miss you, Cotty.
15. Kissing Cousins
A few years before he passed, my dad and I had a long heart-to-heart, at the end of which he told me he wasn’t the one to first sleep with my mom on their honeymoon. And the plot thickens. Apparently, he caught her in bed with her cousin, who she had been in love with for a long time. He spoke with their pastor, who told him to forgive and forget.
That worked…until six years later, when he caught her again with the same cousin. He told me he wanted to leave with me but ultimately decided to stay, because he wanted me to have a family. With all that happened in my childhood, and to him (workaholic, diabetes, heart attack), I wish he’d left that day and been happy instead.
16. Too Young To Go
Oof. When she was only nine or 10 years old, my mom saw her friend get into a fatal accident when a bus ran her over. After she told me about that, I never questioned her again about her past because who knows what else she went through! I may think she is frustrating, but seeing her sad is not my goal at all. I felt terrible for her, and for the kid.
17. The One You Gave Away
My great uncle told his wife that their son passed right after being born. But that was a huge lie. Instead, he gave him up to the state because he had Down’s Syndrome. They had twins, a boy and a girl, and he somehow hid it from the whole family for about 40 years that both of them had actually survived, but they’d only brought the girl home.
We only found out when the family lawyer had terminal cancer and, overwrought with guilt, he contacted the twin sister to tell her she has a living brother who lives in a home run by the state. I guess the lawyer had helped my great uncle with the whole thing and still felt terrible about it. Also, for some added context, my great uncle was extremely wealthy. He could have easily paid for multiple caregivers to help his son, and it wouldn’t have affected his life at all.
18. A Little White Lie
I found out from my dad that one of my cousins isn’t related to anyone in the family. My aunt and her mother used to work at a hospital maternity ward, and apparently, a woman came in one day and gave birth to him and then left the next day without him. My aunt decided to adopt him, but a few months later the woman showed up again asking where he was…
They both lied and said that he was given up and that they didn’t have a clue where he was. They still haven’t told my cousin anything.
19. Tough Love
I found out that my grandfather’s first wife, who he married before my grandma, passed of botulism from eating some tomatoes she had canned at home. But that’s not even the worst part. She could have been saved, but my grandfather refused to take her to the doctor because the botulism was her “fault.” He let her perish to teach her a lesson. They had two kids who he left motherless.
20. Sowing His Wild Oats
My mother is the youngest of four kids by a hefty gap—about 11 years—and she looks distinctly different from her siblings. They’re all brown while she is a very light tan. Turns out my grandfather (while married to my grandmother) seduced and impregnated the daughter of a white officer who stayed back after the officer’s country ended their colonial occupation.
My grandpa was in his early 40s, and the girl was 15 when he knocked her up. The agreement was he would take the child home and raise it as his own so the officer wouldn’t rip him a new one. So my mom is 1/2 white European and I’m 1/4, which explains why my brother and I have always had the lightest skin and sharpest features in the family.
My mom found out when she was 16; I found out when I was 21. My grandmother was a gosh darn saint.
21. The Fugitive
1990, I was five years old. I’m at my dad’s house after he left for four months to Tennessee. He frequently did that because he supposedly loved the state. My mom is watching America’s Most Wanted, and a segment involved a man in Tennessee being slain, with a sketch of the last person to see the victim alive. When I saw it, my blood ran cold.
The sketch was an exact image of my dad. Supposedly, a mutual friend of my parents went to the local law enforcement on other business and the deputy asked, “Hey, have you seen Rich lately?” The friend responded, “Sure, a couple of weeks ago I saw him downtown.” They insisted that if anyone saw my dad, they needed to talk to him.
If he did do it, he’s an extremely good liar because he was never brought on charges to my knowledge. I’ve been estranged from him since I was eight.
22. The Whacky Aunt
We once found a “family photo album” in my whacky aunt’s house. We started flipping through the plastic pages and BOOM! Photos of my aunt at a very graphic swinger’s party. There had to be like 20-30 people in these photos. It was back in the 80s, I’d imagine, and everyone was so hairy and ugly. I guess Aunt Jan has some specific tastes.
It’s a funny story that only me and my brothers know. We’ve always considered our Aunt Jan to be very weird, but after seeing that album it all kind of all made sense. Nice lady, though.
23. What Happens In North Carolina
My dad’s grandfather and his friends took the life of a Fish and Wildlife ranger, more or less openly, and got away with it. They would go on an annual hunting trip, and this was long enough ago that they did this by taking a train of pack mules out into the wilderness in rural Northern California. They would spend a couple of weeks at least nominally hunting, but mostly drinking really heavily.
One year, a ranger shot one of my great-grandpa’s friends. The ranger (who I’m inclined to believe, for what it’s worth) said it was an accident. What certainly wasn’t an accident, although they maintained in their story that it was, was that on the next year’s trip, they encountered the same ranger, and that time the ranger was the one who was shot and perished.
It was ruled accidental, no charges were ever filed, but I’ve heard enough other stories about what kind of man my great-grandfather was to know that what he did to that man was 100% on purpose. I never met him, but my dad knew him well and believes the same thing as me. To me, it’s a really frightening example of the kinds of things people got away with in small towns and in rural areas back then.
It was an extremely isolated area…there were hardly any roads even. My dad says he remembers my great-grandfather bragging in the bar about it, and nothing ever came of it.
24. Divine Intervention
I had some family move to Las Vegas with a local church’s money—it was close to a million dollars—to open a new church for them in Sin City. Well, they gambled it all away. They came back and, unsurprisingly, the church told them to screw off. Instead of thinking about their choices, they started their own church that allowed them to buy multi-million dollar houses, brand new cars for them and their kids, basically a luxury lifestyle.
They now sell merchandise at the front door to their church, and members are required to provide bank information. These family members tithe 10% of the monthly household income from all families. If you don’t pay up, they kick you out. They also tell you how to eat and exercise. If you don’t follow these rules, guess what? They kick you out.
They put the church in an old movie theatre, so they have multiple stages, full lighting, and AV crews. They do love offerings when they need extra cash. God tells them to take trips—like, apparently they told their congregation God told them to ride motorcycles through the Grand Canyon. One of my relatives even claimed he had healing powers for a short amount of time and got SAINT tattooed down his arm.
The whole nine yards. They’ve cut contact with all our family because we won’t be part of their church. Also, their church is well known in our city and local area, but no one has stepped foot in it.
25. Early Trauma
My dad’s friend shot himself in the head in front of my dad and some other friends when he was 15 years old. They were all hanging out at the friend’s house having a good time when the friend went upstairs, grabbed his father’s pistol, and came back down, calling everyone’s attention as he did so. He then put the pistol to his head, squeezed the trigger, and collapsed behind a couch.
They all thought it was some sort of sick joke at first, until they looked over the couch and saw his body and the blood. I first heard this story from my mom when I was 18, which explained some of my dad’s behavior toward toy guns when I was a kid, but I never brought it up with him. I just hoped that one day he would open up to me about it. Eventually he did, but we haven’t talked about it since then.
I’m amazed at how my dad turned out to be such a great man after having to experience something awful like that at such a young age. According to him, it’s something that never left him, either. He still has nightmares about it and gets really uneasy in movies and television shows when they show someone getting shot in the head.
26. Double Trouble
My mother supposedly has a fraternal twin. My grandmother couldn’t handle the thought of two kids, so she gave the male child away to someone she knew who was moving away. My mom found this out in the worst way. In a rage one night way back when, my grandmother screamed at my mom that she kept the wrong child; this event was never mentioned before or after that moment.
My mom was roughly 12 at the time. She asked my great-grandmother about it, and she knew the boy’s name but not where they moved to or who he was living with. My mom actually had met him once but didn’t know who he actually was. My grandmother now denies it ever happened and my grandfather felt that “surely they’d have had to tell me.” I doubt they would have, though.
When she was pregnant with me, my mom asked my great-grandmother what my middle name should be: My middle name is actually her long-lost brother’s middle name.
27. All Mine
In the late 1960s, my maternal grandmother’s husband divorced her and gave her partial custody of their two boys. During one of the visits, she took off with her two kids and moved them from North Dakota to California. Her entire family was Seventh Day Adventist, which is a tight-knit community. So when she moved to California, she found an area that was very Seventh Day Adventist and sort of waited, knowing that the community would protect her from the authorities.
Keep in mind that her previous husband had not been accused of anything and she was just mad that she did not get full custody of the children. This arrangement lasted from about 1968 until 1971, until finally she had a falling out between either her adopted mother or her cousin and they called up her husband, who then came and got the kids.
My grandmother did not receive any real charges for the kidnapping but was not permitted to see the kids again. As far as I know, she has not seen either child since 1971. The Seventh Day Adventist Church later paired her with another parishioner who would become my grandfather. Neither my mom nor my aunts have ever met their half-brothers.
This was never kept secret from the family, it’s just not something that we bring up a lot. Also, my grandmother continued to talk about them obsessively right into her old age. According to my mom, she had a framed picture of them walking away from her. The story behind the picture is that they did not like living with her and so when their dad came for them, they walked away from her and did not look back for the last photo.
28. About Time
My parents told us they were “married in secret” until they found out my mom was expecting, and then they told their families about the marriage. It later came to light that they actually married on the same day that they found out my mom was pregnant, and lied to both their parents and to us to cover up that they had been having pre-marital relations. But that wasn’t the doozy.
My father was an only child and his parents absolutely idolized him. They were very strict Catholics and very strict with my dad, never allowing him to play sports because they feared losing him or whatnot. My paternal grandmother had like five miscarriages. Anyway, after my dad’s parents passed, he was going through their documents and he learned THEY had to get married in the same way, too.
Their wedding license was dated two months AFTER the date he had always been told! A very Catholic secret in a very Catholic family…
My stepfather was cheating on my mother. We didn’t find out because he was caught cheating; we found out because he and his mistress were drinking, got in a fight, and he punched her so hard that she fell over and died. We found out about the whole thing during the investigation, the trial, and the conviction. It was so bizarre.
It was weird to have a lawyer want to call 12-year-old me to the stand to defend the character of a man I already had very little interaction with, and certainly had a fear of—and that was before the manslaughter charge.
30. Everybody’s Got A Story
My favorite aunt and uncle, who were together for 15 years but never married, lived in a trailer park. Growing up, they were the funniest to be around. We would bake cookies, do paintings together, etc. Then my uncle passed in his sleep one day. I was told as a child, when I was maybe 10, that he passed from his diabetes; I’d seen him inject his stomach before, so I believed them.
Fast forward about six years. My aunt lived with my grandma at that point and was diagnosed with lung cancer. Now, I knew my aunt always smoked and drank a lot, but my mom decided to tell me then that she was also an addict, and up until my uncle passed they did a lot of hard substances together. That’s when it dawned on me. My uncle most likely overdosed.
This still didn’t change the fact that I loved my aunt. She got sicker and sicker with cancer, and it even spread to her throat. She went into remission, but once it came back she gave up. I miss her so much.
31. In Cold Blood
I found out that my great-grandpa got away with murder. He thought that my great-grandma was cheating on him with her dentist, so he went into his office and shot him. And yes, he really got away with it. They didn’t find out that he did it until he told everybody right before he passed. As for if my great-grandma actually cheated on him…I don’t know.
But, considering he was a jerk who she was afraid to leave and he ended up being capable of chilling acts…probably.
32. The Modern World
I found out two years ago that my mother had a baby she gave up for adoption 18 months before she had me, and then had another baby when I was three that she also gave up for adoption. All three of us have different fathers, and I think the only reason she kept me was that my father married her, even though that marriage only lasted a year.
My mother remarried when I was five and my half-brother was born when I was seven. As far as I knew for 59 years, he and I were our mother’s only children. I never saw her pregnant with the second baby either, because she sent me to live with my great-grandparents across the country during her pregnancy. My mother and grandmother were the only people who knew about this, and they both took the secret to their graves.
In fact, the only reason any of it was found out is because of all of the DNA testing people do now. This discovery really impacted my sense of identity for a while, my view of my mother, and our relationship. I’ve met my half-siblings, an older sister and younger brother. I like them and I’m glad I’ve been able to answer some of their questions, but the initial discovery really messed with me for a bit.
This all happened in the mid-late 1950s with my mother. Condoms weren’t available to teenagers at the time, and there wasn’t really abortion available, only homes for unwed mothers. She went to one when she got pregnant with my older sister because she was only 16. I don’t know how my mother managed her pregnancy with my brother.
She would have been around 21 years old and probably made up some story about a long-gone husband or divorce or something with the help of her mother. I have never done DNA testing, but the half-siblings have done it, including the one I grew up with. The siblings found other relatives first and made their way to me eventually.
I don’t think I will ever do DNA testing, because I’m done with surprises. The other relatives were the ones who told me about the siblings. Still, the story gets even wackier. The relatives were actually my mother’s half-sisters, from the father she never met, who she never knew existed. They found me eight years ago after extensive genealogy research.
I also have a half-brother from my biological dad, whom I met for the first time a couple of months ago. I’ve known he existed since I was 19 but wasn’t able to find him, and he finally found me. I’m 62 now. Quite frankly though, my adopted siblings were better off. Both my parents and my stepfather are now gone, though I don’t believe my stepfather ever knew about the adopted babies. I think the only other person who knew was my grandmother.
33. Giving It All Up
My uncle didn’t actually have a stroke spontaneously. Rather, he deliberately stopped taking his blood thinners. He was 63 years old with a wife, four kids, and 15 grandkids, the oldest of which was 13 and the youngest was not even a year. But he was just done. His wife doesn’t know, his kids don’t know. I only know because I overheard the family doctor telling my dad.
As far as I know, only myself, the doctor, and my dad know what really happened.
34. An Old Grudge
When I was growing up, my grandfather hated anything Russian. If there were any news about them, he turned off the TV. If they played against any other team in hockey or something, he didn’t watch it, even though he loved ice hockey and even if it was a World Cup Final or something. When I was a kid, I didn’t understand why.
To me, he was just a retired carpenter and grandfather. When he passed, my uncle told me everything. How he served as a foreign volunteer for Finland in the winter war against the Soviet Union; my great-grandfather was from Finland. How his friends were taken as POWs and executed. He was even wounded and almost perished in the battle of Ilomansti, the last big battle.
35. Lost At Sea
My great-grandmother had a child just after WWI and put it up for adoption. The birth dates we found indicate that the child was conceived while my great-grandfather was in France fighting, and where he perished in combat. We know almost nothing about this child, other than the birth date and birth name, and we only found out a couple of years ago, when one of my cousins was putting together an extensive family tree.
36. About Schmidt
My husband’s name wasn’t actually his name. To be honest, he didn’t know about this either. It was when we went to get his birth certificate for our marriage license that it all hit the fan. So lets say my husband’s name is John Schmidt. Well, his birth certificate said John Jones. Our license says John Schmidt, and my husband swears when he got the license 20+ years ago, the birth certificate said John Schmidt.
The clerk’s office states that this was impossible. The only person they have on file is Jones. So, after calling and researching and digging around, the conclusion that I came to was this. Back in the 80s, he was “adopted” by his stepdad Papa Schmidt. But since it was the 80s and nobody cared about anything, instead of doing a proper name change, they just started using the last name Schmidt.
So my husband had to do an official name change, but it still doesn’t explain how he had a birth certificate at one point that says Schmidt on it and not Jones. He swears up and down that’s what it said. So either it’s a fake memory or we are living in an alternate universe. Either way, $300 later and his name is officially Schmidt, which makes me one too…
37. You Can’t Handle The Truth
My dad told me that before he and my mom had divorced, he hadn’t been happy with her for several years. My mother even had a miscarriage at one point, which destroyed the both of them, but he couldn’t leave her because he was afraid that she would hurt herself. So his only thought was to have another kid with her—me—so that motherly instinct would hopefully prevent her from hurting herself. Not a fun thing to find out.
38. Gone Too Soon
When I was very young, my oldest cousin passed at the age of 23. I really liked him because he would take to me this local lake and we’d throw rocks into the water. I remember not understanding what was going on other than watching everyone be sadder than I ever knew was possible at the time, but I wasn’t told why. Years later, I found out he took his own life. But that wasn’t the end of the story.
Years after that, I found out what happened. My aunt found him hanging in the shed with a note saying he was gay, and based on how he heard the family talk about homosexuals, he thought they’d never accept him. To this day, they hold opinions I would deem hateful toward others, so honestly, I’m not sure he was completely wrong. Today he would be in his 50s.
39. Wrong Place, Wrong Time
My great-grandma passed when my grandma was four, and her father remarried a woman who had kids of her own. Well, my step-great-grandma used to beat my grandma and her siblings horrifically as soon as their father left the house. She also locked them in the basement all day, horrible stuff like that. Obviously, this had a negative effect on them.
My grandma grew up to do this to her own kids, for instance. More to the point, one of my great-uncles became an alcoholic. He also robbed graves. Apparently, he had kind of a thing for gold teeth, but he also took jewelry and stuff that he could sell to buy booze. My mom says she could remember him showing up at the backdoor when she was a kid, covered in dirt, and her mom would always take him in for a while, feed him, clothe him, etc.
Then he’d go right back out to drinking and doing the same stuff. Anyway, my mom always told me that this uncle passed in an accident. Several years ago, though, one of my uncles informed me that what really happened was that he was found passed out on someone’s front lawn. They had called the authorities and when they arrived and tried to detain him, he woke up and started resisting, fighting the officers. So they used fatal force.
40. Until The Bitter End
When I was young, I was told my grandpa was murdered by an ex-convict, and that the man hit him in the head or something. When I got older, I was told that he didn’t go that easily. Apparently, some guys broke into his house and tied him up. They told him he must give them the documents for the house as a present or something akin to that.
When he didn’t do that, they started tormenting him. But they didn’t know my grandpa. He was a strong man, and he never gave in. Although he passed, they never got those house documents.
41. Our Little Secret
This involves my father-in-law, who is a very active member and local leader of the Church Of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormon). He’s somewhat of a genius, and he built a distillery in his garage to make his own hand sanitizer. Within a few months in, he started acting a little strange. One day while explaining the distilling process to me, he gave me one of the bloated pieces of corn in the batch, and ate one himself.
That’s when I realized he wasn’t just making sanitizer, he was also making and drinking some pretty stout moonshine. This is the same guy who continues to look down on his kids for simply drinking coffee. His wife and adult kids have no clue and continue to blame it on other things like exhaustion, internal imbalance, etc. Nope.
42. Jekyll, Meet Hyde
I recently found out that my grand-uncle was a mob boss back in his days. I remember him from my early childhood. He was always kind, soft and smiling, willing to play with me or do anything whenever we asked for it. At the same time, he was doing some pretty nasty stuff in his “other” life. It’s still hard for me to reconcile the two sides of him.
43. Boxing Clever
I recently found out that my great-grandpa wasn’t actually my great-grandpa. My great-grandma had conceived my grandma (her daughter) with a famous boxer who was extremely abusive. She divorced him after having kids with him, and then met my great-grandpa while she was supervising the manufacturing of munitions during WWII.
My mom and I are the only ones besides my grandparents who know the true story. I talked to my mom more about the story and it turns out that when my great-grandma’s first husband (the boxer) passed on, she wore a red dress to his funeral.
44. This Rocks
My mother was a groupie for Credence Clearwater. There are five kids in my family, and none of us know who my older sister’s biological father is. We all like to speculate about it…except for my mother and older sister, that is.
45. All In The Family
My grandparents swapped spouses. My grandmother on my mother’s side had an affair with my grandfather on my father’s side. Everyone got divorced, and then my grandfather on my mother’s side fell in love and married my grandmother on my father’s side. Family reunions were fun.
46. Twisted Family Tree
Here goes: My two remaining grandparents, my father’s father and my mother’s mother, married each other when they were 75. This made my mother and father step-brother and step-sister. Since the son of my father’s sister (my aunt) is my cousin, and the son of my mother’s brother (my uncle) is also my cousin, I became both cousins. I am, therefore, my own cousin. I’ll never be alone…
47. Double Standards
Both of my mother’s parents had affairs behind each other’s backs. However, my grandmother eventually had Parkinson’s, and in one of her confused states she told my grandfather that she had an affair. Suffice to say, my grandfather was not happy—and he got a cruel revenge. That man put her right into a home. And that wasn’t all.
He then started talking to my mother, trying to figure out when it could have happened. He speculated that it happened around the same time he was having his affair, which was around 1966. My mother was shocked, since she was born in 1967. So my mother may or may not be related to the man she believed to be her father.
48. The Lion Of God
For context, my dad is the second youngest of 15 children. My oldest aunt has a son who is around the same age as my dad, we’ll call him Vince. Vince and my dad knew each other growing up, and always got along. Vince was even one of my dad’s groomsmen. A few years after that, Vince became very openly religious, and would try to get family members to go to church with him.
Except then my family started to notice that Vince would change which church he would go to after about a month. Fast forward to when I was a kid. There was a family get-together, and Vince and his girlfriend show up. It takes a dark turn. They start making people uncomfortable with their religious talk. Not the normal day-to-day stuff, but actually telling people they are going to heck for drinking.
They were also telling people that Vince is becoming a preacher and they need to attend his services, or else damnation, etc. According to my mom, I was really sick at this time and she took me to another room to give me some peace and quiet and hopefully I would stop fussing. She overheard Vince and the girlfriend in the next room talking about who they can single out and who would go along with them.
My mom freaked when she heard my dad’s name, and Vince saying that he would be easy to convince, and his job should be able to fund things. My mom immediately went and got my dad and told him what she heard. Dad confronts Vince, and a huge argument ensues. Vince ends up leaving and saying everyone is damned, they are Satan, etc.
The rest of the family then talked about what happened, and it all came clear. He was not a good guy. His sister had kicked him out because he was mooching off her, refused to get a job, and she found him taking money from her purse. My aunt had to do the same for the same reasons. The same story over and over. Basically, they realized Vince was just a scam artist trying to live off others.
Fast forward to the late 1980s, and not many people have heard from Vince recently. There is a huge family get-together again, and two aunts and a few cousins refused to attend because Vince was not welcome at the party. They were saying that Vince was the “Lion of God” and we were wrong to reject him. Another fight ensues, and the two aunts and handful of cousins don’t end up attending.
Fast forward to the mid-90s when my grandma passed. One of the two aunts comes to the funeral (the other had passed a few years earlier), with Vince in tow. Vince was warned that he could come pay his respects, but to behave himself. My aunt was timid and repressed near him, and was open and nice when he wasn’t around. It was really weird.
My parents didn’t want to talk about it. Later that night, I did some internet searches and found out the chilling truth. Apparently, Vince was now the leader of a religious cult. He sucked in my two aunts, about seven of my cousins, and about 30-40 various people through the years. All the same M.O.: They must give up their money and belongings to join and “serve God.”
He especially preyed on immigrants who came over by themselves. Basically, he bought some farmland, his disciples work the land, he sells what they grow/make, and he keeps the money. He is still active to this day, and many people who have left him have their own websites against him. It’s honestly head-spinning thinking about this guy.
49. A Brand New Start
My grandpa who passed in 2017 was a very quiet man and didn’t talk a lot. A few years before he passed, my mom (his daughter) told me why. Apparently, when he was around 10 years old back in the late 1930s or early 1940s, a girl around his age lived across the street. One time, they went out with his pistol to shoot at random things in the woods.
On their way home, there was a fence they had to get over to get home. My grandfather leaned his piece against the fence to help his friend. As she was going over, it fell over and went off, killing her in the process. After the authorities got involved, he was found to not be at fault, but the girl’s family stood out in the street at various times over the next two weeks, yelling “MURDERER” at my grandpa’s house.
He eventually couldn’t take it and ran away from home. Then in his teens, he met this guy named Rocky and befriended him. Rocky was supposedly in his early to mid-20s, and something happened where Rocky ended up passing and my grandfather took his name. I had always wondered why my grandfather had a different last name than his brothers. And it gets even weirder.
My dad was adopted and until recently, we didn’t know anything about his biological family. Well, thanks to all of the DNA tests that have become common, we ended up getting connected with his biological family. Talking to that part of the family, we have come to find out that my dad’s biological father has almost the same story as my mom’s dad. He also had accidentally taken someone’s life as a child, ran away from home, and changed his identity.
50. The Ex Files
I found this out about two weeks ago. In my teenage years, my grandmother started dating a rough guy. For about four years, we didn’t see her anymore unless we were picking her up from the hospital after he beat on her. Obviously, we were worried about her having this guy in her life. After a recent visit from my mom, I found out the whole truth, and it completely shocked me.
Apparently, my grandmother’s boyfriend was a large-scale dealer who routinely, and without consequences, beat people in public. The authorities wouldn’t pursue him, and people who knew who he was wouldn’t press charges. My mother and her sisters went to county law enforcement. When they learned the man’s name and looked up who he was, they literally gasped.
They were amazed that this individual was in their county, and said that they could not discuss him further without consequence. My dad worked for a major hotel and resort, and had the head of security (a retired secret service agent) make some calls. Two days later, an FBI agent showed up in the doorway of his office, flashed credentials, and asked why my dad was looking into this man.
After a brief explanation of the story, the agent told my dad “let it go,” and left. The man was in my family’s life from 1993-1997, when he passed from a heart attack. My grandmother also passed a few months later. We’ve speculated on everything from “mob boss” to “high value witness protection program participant.” I’m 40 years old and I still have no answers on this VERY dark chunk of my family’s history.