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People Divulge Their Weirdly Interesting Family Facts

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Families are full of all kinds of secrets and surprising moments, and it’s important that we keep them in the family.

But sometimes, in the anonymity of a Reddit thread, some of the truth comes out.

Redditor QueenMoogle asked:

“What are some weird or interesting facts about your families?”

There was talk of family trees.

“I placed my newborn for adoption (open adoption, chose the family myself). A few years later my sister got pregnant and placed her newborn with the same family.”

“So the children are growing up as siblings and are cousins by blood. (This was over 20 years ago.)” – ihateknickknacks

“Not that unheard of but my husband likes to tell people about when he first met my family. He went with me to visit one side (my Mother’s family) for Thanksgiving and met many of my Uncles, Aunts, and cousins.”

“The next day, we were going to have Thanksgiving on my other side (my Father’s family). When we walked in the door that next day, he stopped and his eyes got really wide, and he loudly whispered, “These are the same people,’ and I went, ‘Yeah, I know… surprise!'”

“My mother’s brother married my father’s sister and my mother’s other sister married my father’s first cousin.”

“And then if that isn’t confusing enough, my Grandmother and Grandfather were first cousins when they got married. (legal as he was adopted as a teenager).”

“My Grandmother said she did this so she never had to change her last name and she was the only girl short enough for him. My Grandfather was only 5 ft 2 inches and my Grandmother was 5 ft. Both came from Canada. Out of their 8 children, including two sons, the tallest is one of my aunts at 5 ft. 4 in. Luckily my mother (5 ft) married my dad who was 6ft 2 inch so we at least have some height in our family.” – Tbjkbe

“We recently found out that I have at least 5 half-siblings because my parents decided it would be nice (and financially beneficial) for my dad to make some donations around the time I was born.” – BananaMantis

Some had some tough family history to accept. 

“My great grandfather got in a fight with his sister when he was 12, said ‘F**k this,’ asked for work on a boat as a cabin boy, got on a ship, and left England.”

“He never went back. We have no idea if that side of the family even knows he survived, but I kind of want to go to the English town and tell my distantly extended family, ‘So you know that little kid in your family history who just sort of disappeared? Well, he lived! Surprise!'”

“Another great grandfather stole a cannon from China (which my grandfather blew up accidentally with my dad nearby), then left his future descendants a letter, telling us, ‘If you still have this last name and go to this part of China, don’t mention your name. They might still be pretty p**sed off that I stole their cannon.'”

“A few generations back, a dude got kicked out of Norway for getting his maid and his sister pregnant. When he got to the US, he then befriended another guy from Scandinavia and stole his wife.”

“It’s funny because part of the family laughs about this, and part refuses to admit it ever happened even though we have proof it did.” – Vonozar

“My great grandmothers maiden name was Messerschmidt. rumor has it that a relative designed the Messerschmidt planes in Germany during the first world war. There’s no way to prove it though.”

“And on the other side of the family, My great-great grandfather’s name was James Potter.” – shroomie19

“My great uncle was in the car with JFK when he was assassinated.” – Sterling_-_Archer

“My grandfather was the first Black aerospace engineer in the United States.” – cycloneju51

“My great grandparents both worked for Thomas Edison, which is how they met. That great-grandmother is super bada**, too… she came to the States when she was 15 and didn’t speak English, just as the German Depression was getting bad.”

“She had to teach herself English and raise enough money to bring her starving family over from Germany to join her here. She lost all her savings in the US stock market crash and had to start all over, but she did it!”

“Okay, I talked to my mom and I was mistaken. Only my great-grandmother worked for him originally, and she met my great-grandfather while in NYC with Edison and his second wife.”

“She went out with a friend who was also German, who brought her out with a group of German friends, which is where she met my great-grandfather. After they were married, he too went to work for Edison, and that’s where I got the story mixed up. I’m sorry for the error!”

“Also, a commenter asked how they thought of him, since Edison was known as kind of a jerk. I copied my reply from another comment here:”

“So I asked my mom, and she said that her grandmother never felt he liked her very much. She was maid to him and his second wife toward the end of his life.”

“When she brought him meals or came in to tidy up, he wouldn’t speak to her and wouldn’t even make eye contact.”

“He was able to be up and walking around the grounds and conversing with others though, and he always wondered if it was because of her station, or because she was German.” – joey1115

Others were incredibly impressed by their family histories. 

“We only die in March. Dogs, grandparents, uncles, we all die in March.” – AnarchyBea

“I had an ancestor who lied about his age to join up with the Union Army in the American Civil War in 1861. He fought in most of its bloodiest battles: Antietam, Shiloh, and Gettysburg to name a few.”

“He survived all of those to come home to the family farm at the end of the war, where he promptly died of a fever he had picked up in camp.” – captainthomas

“My grandad was poisoning my nan’s tea with rat poison for ages. She was documenting it and told the police, they did a huge bust on him and arrested him in front of all their kids (inc. my mum).”

“In court, he admitted to it, he agreed to all the charges, he did the deed. Eventually, the judge, flummoxed, asked ‘… But why?'”

“And his answer was, ‘Because we agreed to it.'”

“Apparently, they had made an agreement to use rat poison to home-treat her deep vein thrombosis (this brand was basically a blood thinner so the rats couldn’t clot when they got injured, and they both distrust doctors). This woman is crazy and I fully believe my grandad’s side.”

“The case got thrown out of court.” – Howlingz

While some secrets are hard for us to accept, especially when they relate to our families, many of the truths in our families are what helped form our families into what they are, from the family tree itself to important involvement in history.

Written by McKenzie Lynn Tozan

McKenzie Lynn Tozan lives in North Chicago, where she works as a poet, freelance writer, and editor. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from Western Michigan University, and her BA in English from Indiana University South Bend. Her poems have appeared in Rogue Agent, Whale Road Review, the James Franco Review, Thank You for Swallowing, and elsewhere; and her essays and book reviews have appeared with Memoir Mixtapes, The Rumpus, BookPage, and Motherly, among others. When she's not reading and writing, she's in her garden or spending time with her family. For more, visit www.mckenzielynntozan.com.