The Most Interesting Ancestor I Have in 100 Words – (Ancestor 22)

Randy Seaver on his Genea-Musings blog has put out a Saturday Night Genealogy Fun – 100 Word Genealogy Challenge to write a short story that includes the phrase “the most interesting ancestor I have” in 100 words. Here is mine:

The most interesting ancestor I have is John Marion Renfro. Born in 1846 in Illinois, John served as a Private for the Union, enlisting in 1864 in Rock Island, Illinois, and mustering out in October 1865. He married possibly seven times with only one known divorce, and had seven children. In 1893, a warrant was issued for his arrest for bigamy. He worked as a painter in Manhattan, Wyoming, Iowa, Chicago, and Kansas, where he spent his final 15 years. He died in Wichita on 20 December 1916, and is buried in Butler County, Kansas, with a Union grave stone.

John M. Renfro obituary, The Wichita Eagle [Wichita, Kansas], Friday Morning, December 22, 1916, Page 18, Cols. 3-4; Newspapers.com: http://www.newspapers.com/image/63180446/.
NOTE: Lawrence, Wesley, and Eugene are listed as his brothers. This is incorrect. They are his sons.

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4 Responses to The Most Interesting Ancestor I Have in 100 Words – (Ancestor 22)

  1. I just found out that one of my direct line ancestors was likely a bigamist. I was soooo surprised by the revelation, and frankly distressed. I’m still working on the details. Maybe I can prove he wasn’t…

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    • It is distressing, but it’s not who you are. It’s who they were. I believe that part of genealogy is removing our ancestors from the pedestals on which we have put them. It’s like DNA testing — be wary if you do not want to find out unwelcome truths.

      I just had to go with the flow. Chances were actually that once I found one wife, I might find more. What’s exciting about this for me with this particular ancestor, John Marion Renfro, is that I originally thought he only had the one child, my great-grandmother. Now, I know that I must have other cousins from his other children out there. It’s just a matter of finding them.

      It’s harder if it’s a closer relationship, like a parent or grandparent. My father was also a bigamist (and, hey, he could have had more marriages, because he was just an out and out cheater). My mother told me this when I was 13, so I think by the time I began his ancestry, I was becoming prepared for anything.

      I think it takes more guts to be a genealogist than many of us realized when we began.

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      • I agree with all of that. I think the reason this one has been distressing is that the entire rest of the family is full of crazy – incest, rape, bigamy, lawlessness and on and on. But the one bright light was that my ancestor couple nestled in this mess seemed to be stable. I’ll be fine once a little more time passes. They were the first part of the puzzle I worked on and now that I have solved the rest, I’ve come back to them. So much time has passed that I wasn’t expecting to find anything new about them, well at least not anything very big. But this is very big. He has more posterity from this other wife than from my ggrandma. Thank you for your encouragement. 🙂

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      • You’re welcome. Genealogy isn’t all fun and games.

        Liked by 1 person

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