My 23 and Me DNA Results Are In

I got my results from my 23 and Me DNA test and I am actually a bit shocked. I had a heads-up because my daughter had her DNA tested previously and hers didn’t show something I was definitely expecting. My Ancestry DNA test says that it will be about 2-4 more weeks until I get the results. I sent them both on the same day.

My Compositon of Ethnic Groups

What About Our Native American Ancestors?

Although, I knew that many people discover that they don’t actually have Native American DNA, I was sure that we would have some. I was always told that we had two full-blooded great-great-grandmas who were full-blooded Native American (one Cherokee and one Choctaw) and then someone else more distantly related (Shoshone). With what we know about my great-great-grandma on my grandma’s maternal side, she definitely appears to be Cherokee (considering the stories, the fact that she lived on the reservation for at least two time periods, and had her daughter… and maybe more children on the reservation at Claremore, Oklahoma). She left the reservation when she was 16 (after her father died) and went to a school for the blind in St. Louis, Missouri.

So, either the 100% was a few generations further back (and only this one grandma) or we have been told incorrect stories. It can be like the game of telephone. A bit gets skewed more and more as the generations go. I honestly believe that we do have Native American and that our 100% ancestor is a bit further back. Our stories and the other details on paper would seem to back this up. How do I explain the darker skin tone of some of our family (my mom included)if we are not Native American after all? I’m not sure. I would absolutely LOVE if more of our family would take the tests, so we can get a more complete picture of our heritage since we all receive a random sampling of our parents’ DNA.

What Surprised Me the Most?

I was also surprised by the fact that I have some Iberian DNA. Not sure where that comes in. Right now, I am guessing from my bio father’s side. I knew about the Scandinavian and the rest. I really would like to know more about what the “Broadly Northwestern Europe” includes for my family.

As you can see above, I am 100% European. I was always told that we are most definitely “Heinz 57″… a little bit of everything.  I was told as a child/teen/etc that I was Native American, English, German, Welch, Dutch, Swedish, and lots more. Lately, I have found some things that make it look like some of our family lived in France for at least awhile, but is that where they were from? I don’t know. They later moved for religious freedom, so did they go to France for religious freedom originally? Who knows. I don’t know any of France’s history regarding this, at least yet.

I was also told that I most definitely did NOT have ANY Irish in me. The way my mom was SO extremely adamant about this (and the fact that I could easily pass as at least a bit Irish, especially when I was younger) hinted to the fact that my mom very likely at least thought that my bio father was Irish. When she did it this way, she was hiding a huge lie. She only did it a few times, but it was a telltale sign with her. I much later discovered that she described my bio father to others as looking Irish.


What About My Biological Father

So what have I discovered about my biological father and his family so far (in this last 24 hours)? I apparently have several second and third cousins on 23andme and one first cousin (and many more distant cousins). So far I have had communication with two of them: a third cousin and just a bit ago the first cousin. I don’t know how much the first cousin knows, but we should share a set of grandparents (the parents of my bio father). The third cousin has been able to already narrow it down to our common ancestor being my likely 3rd great-grandmother with the surname of Fancher. He can see this since he knows how some of our mutual DNA matches are also related to him. Pretty clever! He is planning to send me more information soon. I cannot wait.

I will keep you all posted as I discover more about my ancestors!


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Preparing for My Ancestry DNA Test

I am getting ready for my Ancestry DNA test by learning more and preparing a few helps I have found while researching this.

I highly recommend that you watch this video by Crista Cowen called “The Search for Biological Family“. It is FULL of really useful information.

For example: I really appreciate how she instructs us to connect our DNA test to a family tree and specifically the “right” family tree. I have my adopted family (even a lot of the family of my first “legal” father… as well as an extensive amount of my daughter’s biological father’s family) on my family tree. On my “official” tree, I was very clear about marking my other two fathers in ways to accurately reflect reality. They are technically not my direct line.

She also goes into why it’s really important to have your test linked to a tree (even if it is just you and your two unknown parents) and how to do that properly. The biggy here is that if you don’t have it actually attached it will show that you don’t have a family tree and many will just skip your possible match up…. at least until they are desperate.

I have re-created a couple of her forms to share with you, too.

The first one is my re-creation of her Common Ancestors chart. I looked online but couldn’t find the one by her, so here is my version. I also added a short blurb about how/why to use it. This can be useful in genealogy even without doing your DNA, but it can really help you narrow it down and focus when exploring your DNA matches.

Common Ancestors Chart

I have also re-created a PDF version of a basic Surname List Chart like Crista Cowen talks about in her video. I didn’t extend it out all the way to include ALL of the surnames. I stopped at 46 surnames due to coming to the end of a page and assuming you don’t know all the rest of the 64 to 2048+ surnames in your direct line (up to your 9th great-grandparents).

Here is a Surname List Chart as a Google Docs Spreadsheet. You can download and edit it for yourself (including adding lines for more surnames). I changed the format of the form so you don’t have to keep reminding others (or even yourself) that it is cumulative.

You add the unique surnames that show up in each generation of your family tree in the proper column and then continue that surname through all of the generations from then on. To easily enter the surname multiple times to include in each generation after it appears, I just copied (ctrl C) and then tabbed over one and pasted (ctrl V)… and continued all the way through to the 8th generation.

Here is a current copy of my Surname List Chart. Remember that I don’t have over half of my direct line since I don’t even know my biological father’s name.

If you haven’t already read it, you can also check out the Beginning of My Ancestry DNA Journey.

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Beginning My Ancestry DNA Journey

Beginning My Ancestry DNA JourneyI am finally beginning my ancestry DNA journey. I have wanted to do it for many years!

Besides the fact that I love learning more about my family history and finding out where and who I come from… I know extremely little about my biological father. I don’t even know his name.

What I Know About My Biological Father

Basically all that I know (or at least believe to be the truth) is that he was supposed to have had red hair and “looked” Irish. He was supposed to be about 6″7″ (which explains my height, at least before I shrank…lol) and he rode a motorcycle at least at the time of my conception.

They ran off from the Kansas City, Missouri area to Texas a little after my mom had gone through most of her recovery from a severe car accident that she was in. This trip to Texas would have been some time in the Spring or early Summer of 1967. (I was told that I was about a month early and was only 4 lbs 11 oz, so it seems correct.) I was born in early February of 1968.

They rode on a motorcycle. My mom seemed to have a real fascination with men with motorcycles. I remember noticing this when I was a teenager and didn’t understand that until 2000’s-2010’s when I learned about him and her riding on a motorcycle.  She never acted on it, but she seemed like a school girl around a few individuals and they both were really into their motorcycles. It was the only thing they had in common.

Anyway, when my mom discovered that she was pregnant with me and told him, he left her alone there in Texas. He didn’t even take her back to her home state.

I predict that he likely is a lot Irish or at least looks like it. His brief description, plus the fact that my mom was SO adament that even though she always said that I was “Heinz 57” (a major mix of ethnicities)…. that I definitely had absolutely NO Irish in me.

I discovered over the years that when she was SO adament like that, she was actually covering up a big lie she didn’t want discovered. Plus, I looked (especially as a young child) very Irish and as far as I know, there is no Irish from my maternal side.

My mom NEVER told me any of this. I accidentally discovered that my adoptive father wasn’t my biological father when I was 12 years old. I do, however, remember standing in front of a judge during my adoption proceedings (probably when I was about 5 years old). I got into some major trouble for discovering it, so I didn’t ask any questions. I had seen who I then thought was my biological father (Donald Irvin Schroeder). I remembered that and some other information about his family. One of the pictures that she ripped into pieces when I asked her who this man holding me was, was secretly put back into my baby book a few years later and before her death (which I believe she knew was coming). It hadn’t been there when I left for college a few months before. A big chunk was still missing, but the rest had been taped back together. She thought that she had my baby book well hidden, but I found it many times throughout the years to look at it, discover, and take notes for later.

When I was a freshman in college, I found Donald Schroeder through the military and talked to him two or three times on the phone. The first time was actually on THE day my mom suddenly passed away, March 20, 1987. It was about noon to 1pm on that day. She had already passed, but I didn’t find out until just after 4pm.  This was mostly because I was trying to process that first call and hadn’t returned to my dorm room. I had a message to call home when I arrived at band practice at 4:10.  You can read more about that day on this blog post.

I found out during the 2000’s to 2010’s that she had told a close friend of hers as well as my adopted father. They both told me the little bit I knew after I heard through the grapevine that my grandma told someone close to me that Donald wasn’t my biological father after all and some other things. When I talked to my grandma about it, she told me most of this and that an ex-friend of my mom’s (the one who caused the car accident and then switched places with my mom, so it would look like she was driving….) had introduced them.

I later found and contacted Sylvia with a combination of help from my grandma and Facebook, of all things….lol She denied remembering ANYTHING about him or even introducing them. I honestly don’t believe her, even though I didn’t let on that I knew anything about what she had done to my mom. She just sounded like she was lying and I know she had a major history of lying, so there you go. I do think that she knows. He may even be related to her.

I have somewhat recently received a picture of my mom and another man (who doesn’t fit the description one bit) who evidently traveled together. They are pictured beside a welcome to a state sign and holding hands. I really wonder who he was. It’s possible that he could be the one, but he wasn’t much taller than my mom and appeared to not look a bit Irish, so who knows. I’m not totally ruling this out, even though he definitely doesn’t look like he would ride a motorcycle. Besides, they weren’t dressed in something I would wear on a motorcycle.

Fast Forward to a Few Years Ago

Well, let’s fast forward. I had purchased a DNA test one of the many times they were on sale.

After I received it in the mail, I got really nervous about the possibility of learning who my biological father is. What if it goes bad? My mom’s “track record” for picking her significant others didn’t give me much hope that he would be a good guy. I don’t blame my mom at all for her choices, because I honestly feel like she did the best she could with what she had. I do, however, feel that she should have given me some major answers… even if it had to wait until after her death for me to find out. I would have understood this reasoning. Going to the grave as evidently the ONLY person who knows is quite harsh. I think that she likely felt she was not only protecting herself (by not admitting it), but possibly protecting me since she didn’t really understand the way I was and am thinking about the “not knowing”. She likely felt if I don’t know… it can’t hurt me. She always reminded us that if we didn’t have something good to say that we shouldn’t say nothing at all.

Even though I showed respect for my step-turned-adopted father and surely would have to my “legal father” (the man on my original birth certificate who married my mom a month and 2 days before my birth) if he would have given me the time of day (Donald Schroeder)… they both had some serious issues.

Plus, my biological father evidently left my mom alone and a few states away from home when she told him that she was pregnant with me. I therefore do not have a lot of confidence that actually meeting him would be a positive experience. I believe that I would much rather learn about him from a distance (on paper, internet, etc). Yes, people can change and if he is still alive, he would probably be in his 70’s. He MAY want to know about me now. Probably not, though, since I totally believe that it would have been really easy for him to find my maternal grandparents for many years, if he had just tried.

Why Do I Want to Find Out

So given all that… Why would I want to learn who he is?

There are a few reasons:

  1. It is a horrible, open-hole feeling not even knowing who your biological parent is!
  2. For a genealogy enthusiast, it’s even worse, I believe, to not know a whole half of your personal history. I don’t know where over half of my ancestors came from and I have a whole half of my family tree totally blank!
  3. I honestly believe that I very likely have several other half sisters out there somewhere. Maybe brothers, too. I believe that he could have easily left several others in the same condition and have been told throughout the last three decades that I look, act, and sound JUST LIKE a handful of other ladies close to my age in a few different states. My guess is that I will find several half siblings and hopefully at least one knows something. I would also love to have more siblings, because I love family! I would want to get to know them.
  4. With my chronic illnesses, some of which are thought to be genetic, it would be nice to be able to learn about my family’s health histories. Here again, I can only fill out half of those forms. It makes me feel incomplete.

So where am I now?

I finally found my DNA test (I purchased earlier) last week when working on converting our extra room into my home office. This morning I have been watching a show called “Long Lost Family”. I know… fitting, right? So, I got my kit ready and then watched a video on YouTube about how to do the test. I was nervous, because so much could be riding on this. After watching the video, I started to open my kit and discovered that the blue liquid was not longer a liquid. I called Ancestry and asked them about it and was informed that it is indeed too old and that they will send me a replacement one in the mail. It will be about five to ten business days. I will then do it ASAP and return it. I am definitely ready now; although, I am still really nervous. I am now 50 years old and it’s definitely time to know.

What Do I Expect to Discover Regarding My Nationalities?

Honestly, I think that knowing my luck and the fact that I am SOOO much lighter than my mom and some other family members, that I likely didn’t get much of her Native American DNA. Even though there is supposed to be much less of things like Swedish, Dutch, and Welch in me, I will likely have more of a percentage of those DNA bits from her than the Native American, since I feel I look more like those nationalities. That is really a disappointing possibility for me, but one that I know could turn out real given the science behind getting DNA from your parents.

If that happens, I will want more of my family members to take the test. Especially my mom’s biological brother and youngest biological sister. They both seem like they could have much more Native American DNA than me (as well as my mom’s oldest sister who is really light like me).

If you happen to know ANYTHING about my biological father, please contact me. I’m actually assuming that maybe someone (likely a cousin of my mom) knows more, but doesn’t realize that I do not know and would really like to. If that is the case, please let me know. Feel free to ask other family members or longtime friends for me as well. I really appreciate any information that I can gather.

Have you done the DNA testing? If so, what did you discover? Tell me about it in the comments below.



Posted in DNA Ancestry, PORTER ~ BOWLES ~ MEREDITH ~ SMITH, WILLIAMS ~ FRARY ~ WURTZ | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Cousin Relationship Chart

Have you ever wondered what something like “Second Cousin Once Removed” means or what exactly is your relationship to a more distant relative? Well, this chart is one of the easiest to understand!

The top version is in color and even includes the “Percentage of Genetic Similarity” between you and another relative. I included the black and white version if you want to print out the chart.

If you have trouble figuring this out, let me know in the comments below. Include how you are related to the other person, so I can figure it out for you and tell you how I did it.  For example: “this person is the grandchild of my 3rd great-grandparent” – which by the way is first cousin thrice removed… unless, of course, he is in your direct line and therefore your great-grandparent…lol). Just remember to go in a straight line until you reach a branch (aka an aunt or uncle) and then slide over and continue down to the person you want. Easy peasy with THIS chart!

I have the charts saved in Google Docs for you to download or to simply print from here. If you have any trouble viewing the two-page Google Doc, please let me know in the comments section below.

Cousin Relationship Chart


Cousin Relationship Chart in Black and White

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Captain William Smith

Quintons BridgeCaptain William Smith was an important Revolutionary War Veteran.  He was instrumental in keeping the British from advancing further in the area, but at a significant loss of men. It was 1500 to 300 and was a trick, but they managed to stop them anyway. Captain William Smith made it to safety afterwards on a horse who had been shot twice and with a bullet wound that grazed his head.

His son, who was my hubby’s 4th great-grandfather, was born a little over two years later, so ya! we are extremely glad that he survived the Battle of Quinton’s Bridge!

Captain William Smith’s farm is also right there at Quinton’s Bridge and has a small cemetery there. Just don’t mix up our Captain William Smith with the Captain William Smith who was the brother of Abigail Adams. I got all excited at first and then discovered that there were two of them.

Here is more information about the Battle of Quinton’s Bridge: The Battle of Quinton’s Bridge. It sounds like there is plenty to see there at the bridge as well as on his farm. I would love to go there someday.

Actually, 30-40 died, but otherwise this is correct.

Captain William SMITH (December 10, 1742 – April 28, 1820) was the father of Washington SMITH (June 22, 1780 – November 22, 1823), who was the father of John Peter SMITH (August 23, 1808 – December 14, 1871), who was the father of Washington H. SMITH… who I have to say, resembled my father-in-love a bit… (July 29, 1846 – October 10, 1930), who was the father of Elizabeth “Bessie” Young SMITH (October 1, 1882 – September 24, 1955), who was the mother of Leonard Smith PARKER (July 30, 1904 – September 1, 1988), who was my hubby’s paternal grandfather.

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Irvin Henry SCHROEDER and Elsie Rose HERZ

Irvin and Elsie SCHROEDER’s grave at Skyline Memorial Park cemetery in Monee, Will County, Illinois.

Irvin and Elsie SCHROEDER were the parents of the man that I consider my “official” father at the time of my birth. I believed that he was my biological father from the time I accidentally discovered information when I was 11 or 12 until I was told that he probably was not my biological father in 1987 (by their son over the phone after I found him when I was a freshman in college). My grandma later told me that she did not think that they even knew each other soon enough. I believe that there is still a good chance that he MAY be my biological father since I look a lot like him and nobody knows the “other guy”. Either way, I would really like to meet a cousin or two from this family. This family was part of my very early life.

Anyway, I did a lot of genealogical research on this family and find it rather interesting. I will post more as time goes on. This side was a lot easier even though I never met any of them, because the families lived in the same locations for years and have more unique names that are not nearly as common.

Irvin Henry was born on September 18 or 19, 1911, in Grant Park, Kankakee County, Illinois, to Henry Martin SCHROEDER (July 7, 1877 – February 11, 1951) and Minnie Christina KOENNING (July 1, 1885 – October 20, 1942). Irvin died on December 17, 1971, in Kankakee County, Illinois.

Elsie Rose HERZ was born on July 27, 1924, in Peotone, Will County, Illinois to John Henry HERZ (April 17, 1885 – June 10, 1972) and Marie STOLZENBACH (September 20, 1888 – February 3. 1957). Elsie died on June 28, 1983 in Clinton, South Carolina.

Irvin and Elsie were married on May 3, 1942. They had Donald Irvin SCHROEDER on May 7, 1944 in Grant Park, Kankakee County, Illinois. They also had one daughter and two more sons, I believe. This is because of a card I found to me from them when I was a baby.

Elsie remarried on September 1, 1984, in Parker, Texas to Minyerd W. Ownby when he was 67 and she was 61. As far as I can tell, Elsie wasn’t buried with her second husband. It’s possible that I just haven’t found it. According to the grave stone, she was buried with her first husband. but I am not sure.

Donald and my mom, Carol Elizabeth WILLIAMS, were married on January 6, 1968, in Kansas City, Missouri. I was born just over a month later on February 8, 1968, in Independence, Missouri. Donald was on my original birth certificate as my father. He was stationed in Maslow Heights, Maryland by March 29, 1968, where I found that my mom and I joined him. I am not sure when he got stationed there.

I’ve found Irvin Henry SCHROEDER in the 1920, 1930, and 1940 Censuses living with his parents. He married Elsie when he was about 30 years old.

Here is the SCHROEDER family in the 1940 Census.

Name: Henry M Schroeder
Respondent: Yes
Age: 62
Estimated Birth Year: abt 1878
Gender: Male
Race: White
Birthplace: Illinois
Marital Status: Married
Relation to Head of House: Head
Map of Home in 1940: Sumner, Kankakee, Illinois
Farm: Yes
Inferred Residence in 1935: Sumner, Kankakee, Illinois
Residence in 1935: Same House
Father’s Birthplace: Germany
Mother’s Birthplace: Germany
Occupation: Farmer
House Owned or Rented: Owned
Value of Home or Monthly Rental if Rented: 20
Attended School or College: No
Highest Grade Completed: Elementary school, 8th grade
Hours Worked Week Prior to Census: 60
Weeks Worked in 1939: 52
Income Other Source: No
Native Language: German
Social Security Number: No
Usual Occupation: Farmer
Usual Industry: Farm
Usual Class of Worker: Unpaid family worker

Household Members
Name  ~  Age
Henry M Schroeder     62
Minnie Schroeder     54
Irvin Schroeder     27
Martin Schroeder      23
Irelon Siepker     31  ~  Female white housekeeper. She only had an education of 6th grade, was single, and worked 60 hours a week. Her income says 260.

There was also a brother, Alfred, who was about 4 years older than Irvin, but no longer lived in the household.

Irvin’s details on the 1940 Census are:
Irvin Schroeder
Age: 27
Estimated birth year: abt 1913
Gender: Male
Race: White
Birthplace: Illinois
Marital Status: Single
Relation to Head of House: Son
Home in 1940: Sumner, Kankakee, Illinois
Inferred Residence in 1935: Same House
Occupation: Farmer
Attended School or College: No
Highest Grade Completed: Elementary school, 8th grade
Hours Worked Week Prior to Census: 60
Weeks Worked in 1939: 52
Income Other Sources: No

Here is the 1930 Census with Elsie’s family:

Name: John Herz (Elsie’s dad)
Age in 1930: 45
Birth Year: abt 1885
Gender: Male
Race: White
Birthplace: Indiana
Marital Status: Married
Relation to Head of House: Head
Home in 1930: Washington, Will, Illinois
Street Address: Pauls Road
Dwelling Number: 172
Family Number: 178
Home Owned or Rented: Rented
Radio Set: No
Lives on Farm: Yes
Age at First Marriage: 30
Attended School: No
Able to Read and Write: Yes
Father’s Birthplace: Germany
Mother’s Birthplace: Germany
Able to Speak English: Yes
Occupation: Farmer
Industry: General farm
Class of Worker: Working on own account
Employment: Yes

Household Members:
John Herz  45
Marie Herz  42
Emil Herz  13
August Herz  12
Elenora Herz  8
Elsie Herz 5

In the 1940 Census, there was also another son, Clarence Herz who would have been born about 1931, but Elsie wasn’t listed in that one (she would have been about 15 years old).

Posted in SCHROEDER ~ KOENNING ~ HERZ ~ STOLZENBACH | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment


Today is the 30th Anniversary of my mom’s death. March is always really difficult for me.

My mom and me around Christmas 1970. I was in a Christmas program at church (hence the choir robe I am wearing) and my mom was about 8 months pregnant with my sister.

March at a Glance

March  4, 1947  ~ My mom’s birthday (Carol Elizabeth WILLIAMS)
March 16, 1922 ~ My grandpa’s birthday (Carlton Nathanial WILLIAMS)
March 20, 1928 ~ My grandma’s birthday (Ruby Irene PORTER)
March 20, 1987 ~ My mom’s death
March 21, 2012 ~ My mom-in-love’s death (Bernice Ann WATMOUGH)
March 27, 1929 ~ My mom-in-love’s birthday

My mom, sister, and me (on the right) while on vacation summer 1971.

As you can see… there are too many important days that all take place in one short month. My mom passed away 16 days after she turned 40 years old. This was 4 days after my grandpa’s birthday and 4 days before my grandma’s birthday.  You can read about what my mom did the week before my grandma’s birthday that year in my post One Pie for Grandma and One For Everyone Else and more about her in general at My Grandma Ruby Irene PORTER WILLIAMS.

When the day of the funeral was first discussed, the man at the funeral home suggested March 24th. We were all like, no we can’t do it that day, because that is Grandma’s birthday. Grandma quickly said that she was ok with that and she felt it should be on her birthday.

Until Grandma passed away, I had one good event and one terribly sad event on the 24th, so it kind of evened it out a bit and sort of helped in a way, I guess. However, when Grandma passed away on May 13, 2010, and the family wanted to have her funeral on my hubby’s birthday, May 17… it really upset me, but I really did not have any say. I mentioned it and the fact that my son and I were actually supposed to return home the day before. I was told that was going to be the day. I didn’t really have a problem changing my plane tickets, but didn’t want hubby’s birthday to forevermore be saddened by sharing the same date as my grandma’s funeral. If you ever have any say in a situation like this, I highly suggest avoiding it.

Anyway, 5 years ago on March 20, 2012, we got “THE” call that my mom-in-love was probably not going to make it through the night. It was the 25th anniversary of my mom’s death. You can read all about that night on my post Bernice Ann WATMOUGH, but the short version is that the 30 minute drive into the hospital that night definitely brought back too many memories of the several hour drive home from college the night I found out about my mom’s sudden death exactly 25 years earlier. She held on into the early morning hours of March 21, 2012. I still haven’t figured out if that was a good thing or not. I think it helps that they do not share the same date, but it definitely would have been better if the call had not come on March 20th.

Carol Elizabeth WILLAMS SCHROEDER LAKEY ~ Christmas at the red house at 17244 Montgall in the early 1970s

Basically, the month of March is just SO full of birthdays and anniversaries of death of some of my closest family members. Some years are MUCH better than others and some definitely are not. This year is pretty much right down the middle other than the realization that it has been 30 years since I lost my mom and 5 years since I lost my mom-in-love. It kind of helped when I realized that last week would have been my grandpa’s 95th birthday. There was some sadness over losing him much sooner than I would have liked, but it was a good day of remembering some of the great times we shared. You can read about My Grandpa Carlton Nathanial WILLIAMS, Sr., too.

March 20, 1987

I was in my freshman year of college. It started out like any other Friday on campus. During one of my morning classes, however, I suddenly doubled-over in severe pain. I had to leave and go to a doctor. By the time I arrived there, the pain was gone and we could not figure out what was wrong.

I also had something suddenly come over my the weekend before. I was suddenly extremely sad and quite inconsolable. I wasn’t sure what exactly was wrong, but kept thinking about my mom. I couldn’t reach her at home, because she was at the KC Opry my uncle owned. I made a quick call there and was assured that my mom was ok and working, but didn’t have time to talk (obviously… it was always busy around that time). After my mom’s death, I was informed by my grandma that Mom had passed out later that night. She wasn’t breathing, but then suddenly “woke up” and everything was fine.

I talked to her on the phone that week in between. She was a bit scatter-brained which definitely was unusual. She was repeating things, forgetting what she sent in my most recent care package (I received about one a week.) Her last one was actually about double the size, too. I believe that she knew something was wrong. (Remember that she also gave Grandma her birthday pie a week early, too.)

My mom Carol and I believe Donald SCHROEDER (my father at the time of my birth)

Anyway, on March 20 after going to the doctor I stopped by the mail pick up on campus. I received a letter that day from the US Navy. I had sent off a request for information for Donald SCHROEDER, the man I believed was my biological father. I was never told that Jack LAKEY was not my father, but I unexpectedly found out when I was 11 or 12 and also remember the judge from when I was adopted when I was probably about 5 years old. I wasn’t supposed to know and my mom went to the grave with that secret as well as the one that my biological father is likely someone else that nobody else knows of his name.

This letter actually helped and the timing was just right. I felt reassured that day (after I found out that my mom had passed away) that I still had one biological parent alive and that I was going to be able to find him. I didn’t feel as much of an orphan because of this letter.

I hung around outside (not returning to my dorm room) thinking about how this information could possibly change a lot of things and dreamed about what he was like until time for Symphonic Band at 4:10. As soon as I arrived in the band room, I was told by my band director that I had an important call in the office. That was weird! I also saw a strange look on his face as well as the face of the secretary. They knew.

I was told that I had an important message to call home as soon as possible. When I called, my younger sister answered. She was telling me that I needed to come home as soon as possible, but would not tell me why. It was just an emergency. I told her that she had to tell me what was going on. She then blurted it out in anguish and I soon joined her. The secretary was then talking to someone else that was at our home. All I could say repeatedly was that No, it wasn’t true and I wanted to know how.

I wasn’t told how, what happened, when, etc. I got my boyfriend at the time to drive me the several hours home…. all the while with my imagination trying to figure out all of the possibilities. That definitely did not help!

I couldn’t figure out how she could have died since she wasn’t sick… as far as we knew. She smoked a lot and didn’t like going to the doctor even though she was a nurse (by then substitute school nurse and Girl Scout camp nurse).

It also didn’t help that my boyfriend at the time got us good and lost on the way home, too. He later became my first husband, mostly because of my mom’s death. He had already asked me to marry him, but I had said that we needed to wait until after graduation. Because of things in the home, I told him on that ride that I would marry him, but it had to be right after the semester was over, because I couldn’t go back and live in that home. It wasn’t simply because my mom passed away there (which I later found out), but because of other dysfunction.

Looking back, I could have easily moved in for the summers with my grandma or probably even one of my mom’s best friends. Those scenarios never crossed my mind. By the time that we arrived in Belton, he was my fiance.

I found out after I arrived that she suddenly passed away in the kitchen probably about the same time I doubled over in class on the other side of the state. I have no idea what was going on, but my grandma and I and a few others in our family apparently have done this from time to time with significant others.

They did not do an autopsy. I don’t know why this wasn’t required. They told us that it likely was a “heart attack that triggered a stroke”. Since then, my sister and I have wondered several times if it was actually something else. It would definitely help us, her biological daughters, know potential health problems we may have inherited.

The Visitation and Funeral

My mom on July 4th. That look is because I was going to be in REAL trouble for taking her picture (which she usually avoided at ALL costs). This would have been in the early 1980s.

The night of the Visitation was a rainy one. The funeral had been planned for the next day at the funeral home. There were SO many people who came to the visitation and were even standing out in the rain waiting in an extremely long line just to come support us and attend the visitation/viewing. The visitation lasted much longer than planned, too, in order for everyone to get in. The people who worked at the funeral home decided that it was obvious that they would not be able to hold everyone who would likely come in their funeral home. They arranged for the funeral to be moved to a big church in town on the next day.

It was surprising and humbling to see everyone who was there to support our family and loved my mom. She was one who never knew a stranger and had been involved in various things like being a Girl Scout leader, camp nurse for years, PTA President several years, etc, etc… She was a LPN, but was mostly a stay-at-home-mom from the time that she married Jack LAKEY in 1971.

Camp Prairie Schooner Staff ~ This was our first year there. My mom, Carol aka Stitches, was the camp nurse for several summers and I was the first official “Trading Post Clerk”. I wasn’t paid until the next year (or the one after that). My mom is in the back and 5th from the left. My camp name was Gopher and I am the last one on the right in the second row.

The church was quite full the next day. If you really know me, you know that I do NOT like speaking in front of people. I try to avoid it at almost any cost. There was a letter written about my mom and how much of a difference she had made. It was from one of the teachers at one of the local schools. All of the teachers from Hillcrest Elementary (mainly) who really wanted to come to the funeral could not, because there were only so many substitutes available. There were THAT many who were really close to my mom.

The letter was amazing! Someone mentioned that it needed to be read at my mom’s funeral. I immediately said that I would read it. I surprisingly held it together and evidently did a really good job of reading this letter in front of everyone. Of course, as soon as I got back to my seat, I pretty much lost it. I am still to this day, surprised that I could do it and so thankful for that teacher’s letter as well as honored to have the opportunity to do that for my mom on that day.

I was just 19, but I remember a lot of this like it was just yesterday. It is strange being 9 years older than my mom ever was. I cannot imagine my mom being 70 years old. WOW! She will always be 40 in my eyes.

Important Dates and Details

Carol Elizabeth WILLIAMS was born on March 4, 1947, to Carlton Nathanial WILLAMS (March 16, 1922 – July 15, 1991) and Ruby Irene PORTER WILLAMS (March 24, 1928 – May 13, 2010) in Humansville, Polk County, Missouri.

Carol had three full biological siblings and two adopted siblings.

Carol married Donald Irvin SCHROEDER (May 7, 1944 – probably still living) on January 6, 1968, in Kansas City, Missouri.

I was born just over a month later in Independence, Missouri, on February 8, 1968. From the time that I was 11 or 12, I had believed that Donald SCHROEDER was my biological father. Now, I do not believe that he is my biological father even though I look a lot like him. He told me in 1987 that he probably was not my biological father and my grandma later told me that they did not know each other until after I was conceived. I have only talked to Donald twice in 1987. I have been told that my biological father was 6’7″, had red hair, and drove a motorcycle. I believe that he was or at least looked Irish. Things my mom said as well as my grandma’s impression was that he was very Irish. I need to do the DNA testing so I might find out.

I believe that Carol and Donald divorced in late 1970. It could have been any time from August 1968 to January 1971.

Carol married Jack Fredrick LAKEY, Sr. (February 27, 1927 – October 17, 2003) on January 27, 1971, in Kansas City, Missouri. My sister was born about that time and her biological father was Jack.

My mom passed away suddenly at our home on Chestnut Avenue in Belton, Missouri at 40 years and 16 days old. She was buried on March 24, 1987, at the Belton Cemetary.

If my mom was still alive, she would have 4 biological grandchildren, several step grandchildren and several step great-grandchildren.

The last picture of my mom and me together. This was at my high school graduation in May 1986.

I miss you terribly Mommy!  You left us WAY too soon!   ♥


You can read my dedication of the poem “She Is Gone” to my mom, grandma, and mom-in-love here.

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My Grandpa Carlton Nathanial WILLIAMS, Sr

Carlton Nathanial WILLIAMS, Sr.

Today (March 16, 2017) would have been my maternal grandpa’s 95th birthday.

My grandpa putting me to sleep by playing his harmonica. My aunt is in the back.

He was the best Grandpa!!! I was extremely fortunate to be able to spend some amazing one on one time with him for many years, especially when I was younger. This was even though we lived about an hour apart.

I also remember when my mom would bring grandpa one of his favorite treats from her: a can of sardines. I know, right? Anyway, I would always jump up onto his lap and he would share one with me. The truth is… I thought that they tasted terrible, but I wanted one and even pretended to really like them, because this was one of our special things between us. 

Grandpa also was the one who would take me to the bus for camp when I was going to the one further away from home (when I got into my teen years). Those couple of times were terrific. I remember going to get some kind of goodie (doughnuts and cocoa, I believe) and going with him for a little while to the golf course where he kept the grounds green and perfect. I was like, “I get to go to work with Grandpa!” We weren’t there that long. I think he probably just turned on some sprinklers or something before it was time to take me to the meet up place, but I never forgot those precious days with Grandpa.

My grandma was a wonderful person who I got to know even more starting after my mom suddenly passed away when I was 19. This was 16 days after my mom turned 40. By the way, the 30th anniversary of her death is in 4 days (March 20, 1987).

But my grandpa… he was my personal hero of my childhood. I always felt amazingly safe with him and truly knew that he really cared about me. I felt extremely special to him and I needed that.

Helping Grandpa With His Chores

I loved going out and helping him do his chores on the farm when I was little. I got upset if we did not get to the farm soon enough for me to be able to go out and help him.

He once had this cow named Blaze. I loved Blaze. One time when I didn’t get there in time to help him on the farm, we were sitting at the table eating and my grandma was proudly telling my mom that this was Blaze. Proudly, because evidently the meat was so good…  I questioned what she meant and she unfortunately explained.

I obviously couldn’t eat anymore. There was A LONG time after that where I wouldn’t eat anything that I knew or thought was beef. Just in case… We ended up eating a lot of “pork” during this time. Yes, grandpa also raised pigs, but I figured out later that I had eaten a lot of Blaze when my mom had me convinced that it was actually pork (so I would eat it).

From then on I never wanted anything we would eat in the future to have a name. I do know that there were times that my grandpa “sold” a cow or pig, but I’m thinking that we often had some of them, too.

When I grew up and lived on a couple of farms, I could never name the livestock, because of this reason. I could raise them and even have them butchered as long as they didn’t have a name.

Grandpa Got Me In Trouble… lol

Grandpa got me into trouble when I was in 2nd grade because of something that happened while I was helping him with his farm chores.

He had killed the turkey we were going to have that day while I was out helping him. I apparently was fascinated with how they could still jump around etc afterwards.    When I went back to school, my teacher had us do one of those “What did you do over Thanksgiving break” kind of pictures and write a few sentences.

Well, she asked for it. LOL I drew a picture with what I saw…. in full color and details. Spurts from the top, and more. I even included the ax, all the body, and what it would have looked like afterwards….lol   Evidently, it was quite realistic…    

My mom was called into the principal’s office, because the teacher was “concerned” about my mental health and probably my welfare. I was informed by my mom to NEVER write or draw pictures again of what I saw on the farm and my grandpa got chewed out over the phone that evening.

Grandpa’s Namesake

(There are actually a couple of other namesakes of Grandpa’s, but not with the particular name of Grandpa’s that I chose.)

There were SO many wonderful times with my Grandpa!!! He is actually why I named my son what I did.  We named him after one of grandpa’s names. I got this idea back when I was about 13, but already knew to keep that idea a secret if I wanted to be the one in our family to “get” that name…LOL  I think I mostly got lucky with this name, because our family has A LOT more girls, so not as much competition for the best boy names. We have SO many girls that a lot of the best girl names were taken years ago, including the name I had decided I wanted to name my daughter after a school friend had moved away.  

Grandpa’s History

Carlton Nathanial WILLIAMS, Sr was born to Arthur Jacob WILLIAMS, Sr (October 13, 1889 – December 1965) and Martha Agnes “Mattie” FRARY (July 27, 1900 – July 6, 1923) on March 16, 1922, in Fort Scott, Bourbon County, Kansas.

Grandpa’s mom, Martha Agnes died when Grandpa was only about 15 months old and she was almost 23 years old. She left her husband, Arthur Jacob, with three-year-old Lena Genevieve and my grandpa.

Lena died when she was only 10 or 11 years old. By this time, Arthur Jacob had married Ethel Helen WURTZ, whom I grew up knowing as my great-grandma. I remember knowing from a really young age that she was Carlton’s step-mom, but she was the mother who raised him. She lived to be 94 years old and had about 10 or more children of her own with my great-grandpa, Arthur Jacob, whom I never knew.

Grandpa enlisted in the Army on September 20, 1940, in Fort Levenworth, Kansas as a Private in the Cavalry. He was 18 years old, was 6 foot 2 (I believe he grew 2 more inches later), and was 155 pounds. He was released on August 27, 1943.

My step/adopted father, Jack Fredrick LAKEY, Sr. also was in World War II. Neither of them would ever tell us much about their time in the service. I would really like to at least know a little bit about their service to our country.

I remember one time when the subject came up and I was in my early teens. I’m pretty sure that I was the one who had asked the question. They were both sitting there and I was watching them.  They did not really show much, but they looked at each other in a knowing way. That always intrigued me, but also told me not to ask again. They did not want to even think about it. It honestly was one of the closest times I experienced between the two of them, though. They were definitely communicating with each other in a secret, knowing language of a soldier.

Carlton Nathanial WILLIAMS, Sr and Ruby Irene PORTER WILLIAMS

Carlton Nathanial WILLIAMS (Grandpa) and Ruby Irene PORTER (Grandma) were married on October 14, 1944. Together, they had 4 biological children and 2 adopted, as well as caring for over 30 babies until their adoptions and over 20 foster children during their life together.

Carlton Sr. and Ruby Irene’s Descendants to date:

6 children
16 grandchildren
22+ great-grandchildren (and counting)
12+ great-great-grandchildren (and counting)

My grandma told me that grandpa was an Agronomist. I just looked that up and Agronomy is the study of agriculture dealing with field-crop production and soil management. I know that he did not go to college, so this was all learned the hard and old-fashioned way… through hard work and experience. He worked for MANY years at the Rockwood Golf Course in Independence, Missouri. He was in charge of keeping the grounds at the golf course green and perfect. He was also (as you read above) a farmer.

Carlton and Ruby Irene WILLIAMS with their two oldest children. My mom is the girl in the middle.

My grandpa and grandma had also earlier been migrant farmers (at least part of the time with some of their children along with them). You can read about my grandma’s thoughts of being called a migrant farmer as well as all about her on my post: My Grandma Ruby Irene PORTER WILLIAMS.

Grandpa passed away on July 31, 1991, after an extremely long battle with cancer. I believe it was well over 10 years. By the time he passed, it was throughout his whole body and (the way I understood it) included both paths (or courses) taken throughout the body. (For example: as it was explained to me… cancer in certain organs often lead to cancer in the next organ, and then the next… Grandma said that he had 2 paths going through his body. I believe it began in his brain or colon and over the years continued to grow in more places. Grandma said that part of his cancer was genetic, which we have seen throughout our family, and part of it was likely from some Mustard Gas in World War II.) His long, hard battle with cancer was why Grandma chose not to do any major treatments when she had cancer.

Grandpa looking like I remember him.

I was fortunate to be living back in the area (after college) when Grandpa passed away. I was also honored to be able to help Grandma care for Grandpa near the end, too. I was living with them for several months and then only about a half hour away for the remaining of that year that he passed. He often thought that my mom was still living, but only about my age or younger. He usually knew who I was, who my mom was, and that I had a young daughter at the time… but the details of our ages and that she had passed away would throw him off. I didn’t ever try to explain it, because he was a proud man (and cancer tries to take that away from you) and I didn’t want him focusing at all on the fact that his daughter was gone.

I miss Grandpa ALL THE TIME! He was my main strong and positive male role model and male caregiver in my early years. He is totally worthy of telling you all about him in even greater length than I have today as well as having three people now named after him!

I miss you and love you SO much Grandpa! Happy Birthday!


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John CAMPBELL, Sr. and Mary COUCH CAMPBELL ~ Tombstone Tuesday

John Campbell Sr Tombstone John CAMPBELL, Sr was my fifth-great-grandfather on my mom’s maternal side. He was born in 1763 in Orange County, North Carolina to  Patrick CAMPBELL (1724-August 27, 1799) and Elizabeth JAMES (death in 1830). John died in 1867 in Perry, Kentucky.

Mary Ann COUCH Mary Couch Campbell Tombstonewas my fifth-great-grandmother. She was born in 1772 in North Carolina to John C COUCH (1750-1830) and Mary “Polly” BOONE (November 14, 1746 – 1781). Mary Ann died in  1853 in Perry, Kentucky.

John and Mary were married in 1790 in Wilkes, North Carolina and were the parents of Rebecca CAMPBELL.

Rebecca CAMPBELL (1810 – 1880) and William Riley HOSKINS (born in 1802 and died after 1880) were the parents of Elizabeth Ann HOSKINS.

Elizabeth Ann HOSKINS (September 1828 – December 28, 1855) and Moses Franklin PORTER (January 20, 1826 – December 26, 1900) were the parents of Daniel Marion PORTER. Elizabeth died the day that she gave birth to Daniel and his twin. The twin lived until sometime in 1856, but was unnamed so likely only lasted a few days (he was born four days before the new year). Elizabeth left Moses with six children including the twins.

Daniel Marion PORTER (December 28, 1855 – February 27, 1925) and Caroline Adele GILBERT (1864 – 1895) were the parents of Charles Oscar PORTER.

Charles Oscar PORTER (April 2, 1884 – April 19, 1946) and Mary Irene Saphronia Jasmine SMITH TARTER ROBINETT TARTER PORTER (July 4, 1890 – June 25, 1947) were the parents of Ruby Irene PORTER. Mary Irene’s maiden name was SMITH. She had four marriages with at least two divorces (to the same man). Her husbands were Fred S. TARTER, Mr. ROBINETT, Fred S. TARTER, and Ruby Irene’s father Charles Oscar PORTER.

Ruby Irene PORTER (March 24, 1928 – May 13, 2010) and Carlton Nathanial WILLIAMS (March 16, 1922 – July 15, 1991) were the parents of my mom.

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Rodney Allen McClure

Rod McClure ~ Best Friend for over 31 years, Brother-in-Law for 29 years, and Best Man of my husband at our wedding.

Rod McClure
January 27, 1961 – June 11, 2016

Read the beautiful write-up about Rod on the Western Pacific Railroad Museum.


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