Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Big Shake Up in My Little Family Tree

Sometimes you make genealogical discoveries that aren't all rainbows and unicorns. Sometimes you learn things about your ancestors that are so surprising they make your head want to explode with all the new facts coming out of left field.

This is one of those times.

It started with an email in my box. Someone sharing some marriage information with me. It was a marriage record for J. A. Lenertz. I have one of those, but I didn't think he married again after his wife died. My grandpa never mentioned anything about having a stepmother.

The subject appeared to be my great-grandfather, but I needed to confirm this for myself before I'd buy it. So I did.

Above is a 1936 marriage record for my great-grandfather, John Lenertz...and a second wife. He remarried after my great-grandmother died, yet this is the first I've heard of it.

Who was this lady? I found her in the 1930 census. She was a waitress in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, the same town where my great-grandparents lived.

In my hunting and snooping around, I revisited the death certificate of my great-grandfather. It included the name of his second wife.

How did I miss this? Well, to be fair, there are a ton of errors on most of the Lenertz death certificates I possess. Also, my great-grandmother went by many names other than her birth name. I just figured Genevieve was another one of her names. Besides, my grandfather was the informant on this certificate. Why didn't he mention a stepmother named Genevieve ever in the three decades that I knew him?

But gets better. And by better I mean worse.

My great-grandmother died December 24, 1935. My great-grandfather remarried on March 16, 1936. Yeah. Do the math on that mourning period.

This wasn't a happily ever after marriage, however. My great-grandfather died about 10 months later.

So there you go, family of mine. Sorry to stumble on this little surprise in the tree, but facts is facts. At least you have something to talk about at the next family gathering.

My question to you, family, is this: did you ever hear Buster talk about Genevieve?


  1. You know, they didn't seem to talk much about these things in the "olden days". My grandfather married his second wife 10 days after his divorce to his first wife (my bio-grandmother) was finalized. It took me a long time to piece everything together...and I'm sure there are still details I don't know.

  2. I hear you! I just discovered a hitherto unknown wife for my husband's great-grandfather yesterday, and it's thrown me a bit. Secrets don't last long with nosy descendants...

  3. I'm there, too! I found my great grandfather's brother buried with some woman I've never heard of. Further research shows he divorced wife #1, she took her maiden name back (must not have been too common in the 1920's), he moved to another state and married a divorcee. I sure wish I knew the whole story on that one.

  4. Oh, you finally put the pieces together. I always wondered how long it would take a good genealogist to figure it all out. I guess the cats out of the bag. Genevieve was a stripper from Bartlesville and Grandpa was having an affair with her. Grandma found out her and the affair and killed herself on Christmas eve. Grandpa had a bad heart and couldn't handle the young gal and had a heart attack while visiting Kansas City. So now you know the whole story. Hell no my dad didn't tell us anything about a step mother but my story is as good as any and I'm sticking with it. Keep up the good work, find enough dirt and you'll have enough for a best seller. I hope you don't turn up that I'm not your dad because I've thought that all along. I know one thing for sure, your mom is your mom and you are you. You're the best. Is there a rich uncle we don't know about?