How to find Grandma

Finding a female member of the family that did and does not wish to be found. That lived a block and a half away from the daughter she gave away,and never approached her. That remarried two times at least, and had 8 or 9+ children. Children that did not even know of their other siblings or her other marriages.

  • A maiden name.
  • Birthdate and parents names.
  • The name of the first man she married at 16.

All on a yellowed,folded old marriage certificate signed by (maternal great-grandma)grandma’s mother and singed by (maternal)grandma in 1940.

Divorced,then killed on a motorcycle on her way to make a living in California,so the entire adopted family always explained to the daughter when she asked.

Keep all the little slips of paper and post-it notes you write names and clues and ideas on. The stack is, well, staggering. Even sad at times.

My husband even hired a person to search on the computer for the name and addresses of someone that might be my great grandma as I had her name on the marriage certificate,this was in 1994 or 1995. I did not have a computer yet.

Several times I gave up because I would become so obsessed that I could not sleep. Now,when I say that, I always keep in mind that I did not have a computer,a smart phone,or the Indianapolis library close by because we lived in Colorado. I just had continual conversations with my mom. We would brainstorm for months. At night, or when I was driving,waking up,walking behind the stroller,at the grocery store,cooking,cleaning,reading, I would go mad trying to piece together all the different scenarios. All the lies my mom was fed,reverse them,and convince myself,ourselves,that she was indeed alive and living.

Over 65 years later, she was wondering who would figure out where she was. When I figured it out,and I did through persistence and obsession,I called my mom who just happened to be visiting Indy going to the Indianapolis Fair. I had found the site and would go as far as I could searching and finally found an open family tree. There in a paragraph, was a short couple of sentences and some names listed after that tied this woman to us.


Get a notebook to record every bit of info you find and also start a record log on the computer. Get on a site like so you can search old records and start a family tree. Even if you don’t pay for ancestry right away,you may find clues that lead to a tiny little bit of info that leads to a little bit more. For me this certain trail to find my grandma lasted for over 20 years.

Searching for her with no current last name,who gave away her two oldest children in the mid-forties, was not an easy mystery for me to solve. My biological grandpa (nicknamed Pug)and her (nicknamed Ginger),divorced in 1944 after my mom was born. They had an older child,a son,two years older than my mom and he was raised by Pug’s parents. His parents did not want to raise a girl. My mom was later adopted by an older couple that were babysitting her. So the story is told.

Tromping through tangled family lies,running along rabbit trails ,and pushing through family secrets:Not one person in the whole family,biological or adopted would share anything at all to help find her except for an aunt that said she lived in a city close to Shelbyville, Indiana. At the time I did not know that I would even be interested in the search.

Found her and that she had lived a block and a half from my mom as she grew up. Had other children that might have played with and went to school with her.


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