On the Transitional Genealogist's Email List this past week they have been discussing Non-Paternity Events vs. Adulterers. Quite interesting I might say and if you are interested you can read the emails on the archives page at: TGF list
Everybody has them in their families, the only difference is, do they talk about it or do they stuff the information in the back of the closet and in hopes that no one would come looking. In my family there are two known non-paternity events, at least two that we know about currently. One event was a secret and the other was just out there and everyone knew. There is one adulterous relationship back in early Maryland that is rumored in the family, but that has yet to be proven. We'll talk about that juicy bit another day...
My Granny's (Dollie) "non-paternity" event occurred in 1909 in Putnam County, Ohio. The story goes that Carrie got pregnant from someone who was boarding at their house and worked on the railroad. Frank & Samantha Littrick (Carrie's parents) sent Carrie away to a "farm" to have her baby. Meanwhile, Samantha stuffed her dress to imitate a pregnancy. When Carrie came back Samantha "had" her baby. Dollie was raised as Samantha & Frank's child and Carrie was married off a couple of years later. Carrie had nothing to do with Dollie's upbringing and did not see her much at all during her life. This was told to me by a few different cousins, but according to Dollie's children they knew nothing about the whole story (hence the reason it was a secret in our branch of the family). Dollie's original birth record lists her mother Carrie and an unknown father. All of Dollie's other records list a variety of combination of Samantha, Carrie and Frank as parents. To date, nothing has been found to point to a father for Dollie.
Our other "non-paternity" event was for my other side of the family. My Great Grandmother, Ollie Minnie Laymire was working on neighboring farms in WV for extra money for the family when she was raped, according to her daughter, my Grandmother. She gave birth to Rex Posten Laymire in 1918, two years later she married my Great Grandfather (John Rogers) and he "adopted" Rex and his name was changed. As with Granny's birth, we don't know who Rex's father was, but our only clue is the name Posten. There were people with the surname Posten in the area at the time that Ollie was living in WV.
I don't know about you, but I would choose to have the stories put out there and talked about. Obviously it is a tender subject with some, (you should have been there they day I confronted my Grandma about Dollie!!) but don't you think that the family has a same right to the information about how they got here as the person with the knowledge? My advice would be to step lightly but don't let the stories disappear with the last generation.