Two years ago I traced Dad’s family tree on his father’s side. We never really knew much about Dad’s side of the family, and truthfully Dad wasn't a great source of information either. His mother died when he was 21, when she was just 35 years old (that’s right, she was 14 when my dad was born). His father died at 57. So both of Dad’s parents were dead before the age of 60. Both had heart attacks.
Dad has one brother and three sisters. One sister died about 15 years ago. Dad is close to his brother, but not as close to his sisters. So in trying to learn more about Dad and where he came from, he was not much help. All he could provide were a few nicknames of people, and a photograph of his grandfather which, on the back, read “William Amos Troutman”. That was all I had to go on.
I visited my parents this past weekend, and along with my older sister Kim, the four of us set off on a day trip to a small township in Pennsylvania called Deal, to locate Dad’s grandfather’s burial plot at Twin Churches. My dad’s grandfather, William Amos – the man who launched my search – fathered four children: my dad’s father and three daughters. Or so everyone thought. When we finally located the tombstone, we discovered that William Amos was also buried with two other daughters – one born in 1924 who died two years later, and one born in 1933 who died the same year (Dad’s grandmother remarried and is buried with her second husband in another town). Until we visited the cemetery, these two additional “aunts” of my dad were a complete mystery. To everyone.
My dad then drove us to the plot of land that used to be the site of a small red house, where he was born. Now it is just large pasture. He remembered a few things like farms and roads – not bad for a man who had not been in this location in 55 years. We took lots of pictures, and at nightfall, my dad recounted the day as one of the most gratifying of his life.
I’ve started to research his mother’s side of the family now, which is proving far more difficult. But I will keep trekking. The look on my dad’s face at the end of that day is enough to keep me searching for who he is for the rest of my life.