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  • Paul McArthur

My Family Tree

Updated: Nov 9, 2022


About 40 years ago my father and mother drove to Gainesville to have lunch with me. After lunch I was driving the car back to the dorms and my mother told me a story. The reason for the story was my sister was married, expecting her first baby and concerned that both grandfathers were diabetic. That led to my mother coming clean about a 20 year old secret.


She said the man we'd grown up calling Grandpa was not her paternal father. Our paternal grandfather was a mean man who abused his two daughters. One day my former gun toting, cigarette smoking, motorcycle riding, baby blanket crocheting, Christian grandmother named Grace pulled a gun on my grandfather named Harold and said "no more" then moved from New Jersey to Tampa, FL.


She met a nice man name J. Warren Thompson and got married. My mother and aunt were teenagers at the time. My grandmother's wedding picture hung in their home office for years and my sister and I never questioned a thing. That was just Grandma's wedding day photo... we didn't ask how come mother and Aunt Jo are in Grandma's wedding picture.


It gets better.


Zoom ahead 40 years to a visit by my cousin in November 2021. We were talking about family history when I inadvertently tricked her into revealing a secret when I said... and you know about how my grandfather is not really my grandfather? That led to a 60+ year old secret being revealed.


She said yes... Mamie (our grandmother) was an unmarried pregnant woman (the daughter of a Methodist preacher) who met Wade Hampton (our grandfather) who was a police officer at a restaurant on his route. He found out about her situation and offered to marry her.


Uh... that's not the grandfather I was talking about. I was talking about J Warren Thompson not Wade Hampton McArthur. The cat was out of the bag. Both of the men who I knew as grandpa growing up were not biologically grandpa.


It gets better.


My father never mentioned anything about his father. We do not know if he even knew. I think his 3 brothers knew but, my mother's sister didn't even know. If there is anyone who would've known it would've been my aunt.


It gets better.


I thought I knew who my father's father was so, I took the Ancestry.com and 23andMe tests to see if they would provide a link. They revealed nothing I was interested in. I was irritated.


It gets better.


My surviving uncle (Nelson) took the two tests and the results revealed something nobody expected. I "AM" a "true" McArthur. That's impossible. I did not think the man who was really my grandfather WAS a McArthur. I have 22.6% McArthur DNA. It would've been half that if I was just related to my grandmother only. That means I am related to a McArthur just not my "grandfather".


It gets better.


My cousins knew all about this 'situation' but they didn't know THAT detail. They were just as surprised.


It gets better.


My grandfather had 2 brothers, H.E. and Ralph. H.E. was a wealthy owner of a car dealership in Madison, FL. H.E.'s wife had no children and his wife wanted NOTHING to do with his family. Ralph was a drunk who had children. We never interacted with either of them. One of the brothers HAS to be my grandfather.


It gets better.


We have no way of determining which brother is my paternal grandfather and it doesn't matter anyway.


It gets better.


One time my mother told me "alcohol does not do well in our family". Does that mean she did know or was it a reference to her father? I do not know.


It gets better.


This means my 3 uncles are technically half-uncles.


It gets better.


My father's 3 brothers are technically his half-brothers and his cousins at the same time..


It gets better.


The funny thing is diabetes is what started unraveling the secret years ago. From what I know Wade Hampton AND Mamie were both diabetic. It is likely that one or both brothers were diabetic, too. I don't think I got the diabetic gene.


It gets better.


My father had prostate cancer. Two of his brothers had prostate cancer. My mother's maternal father died of prostate cancer. The cancer gene is passed down through the mother. I had prostate cancer, too.


It gets better.


One of my uncles (Bert) married a woman who was pregnant by another man as well. He raised Cheryl as his own daughter. Cheryl died a number of years ago. Uncle Bert died earlier this year.


It gets better.


That means I have 3 men in my life (J Warren, Wade Hampton and Uncle Bert) who were willing to step up and marry women who were either already pregnant by another man or who already had children. What a legacy. (I know what the bible says. I'm just trying to be positive here.)


It gets better.


There is one more story I am not at liberty to publish online. It follows along the same lines above. One day I may share that story as well.


If Mamie had never told a soul then I would never have known any of this.

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