A family secret came to light because my great-uncle Gus (Thomas Augustine O'NEILL) told his brother, Cyril. Before he died, Cyril told his daughter, Monica, and she told me a few years ago.
|Thomas Augustine ("Gus") O'NEILL 1908-1998|
Gus told Cyril that he was paying child support for the child of a female friend of his. This baby wasn't his, but he was a beautiful, generous man and was doing this to help his friend, and I guess, to spare her some shame in the insular mining town of Cessnock, New South Wales, in the 1920s and 1930s.
The child was actually fathered by the local Catholic priest. Gus was aged 18 in 1926 and 28 in 1936, so I have concentrated on those years. Using Trove, Electoral Rolls on Ancestry, and the Official Directory of the Catholic Church in Australia website I was able to compile the table below of which priests were based at Cessnock parish during this time. Nobody alive can be sure about which priest (if any) is the baby's father, but hopefully if one of that child's descendants is ever curious they'll have some information to start working from. Obviously, this child and their descendants won't show up in my DNA matches. In case their family story is this Gus was their father, I have added a comment to Gus' public profile in Ancestry to state otherwise.
I don't know that Gus ever told any of his five sisters about this, but he did tell his brother. I know that women keep their own secrets within a family, for example, that somebody "had to get married", that someone else went away for a few months to stay with an aunty and came back thinner than they left, and stories like that. Hearing this story from Monica made me wonder if there are certain stories that are only passed around by the men in a family.
What do you think? Do you have any family stories that are particularly gendered?