Family Secrets – A Follow Up On Dirty Laundry

On October 7, 2016 I published a post about Family Secrets and posed the question of whether you should air dirty laundry.

This post has been removed from this site. I made this decision out of respect for family privacy.

I had hoped that this would be a topic that could be discussed openly.  Perhaps other family members might contribute to the family history.  Maybe they would be able to embellish or dispel it.

People are not perfect, nor have they been since the days of Adam and Eve.   And, I hoped we might all look at our heritage in terms of the best of times and the worst of times.

It is a great blessing that our family lines have survived and we are here today.

Any of my family or my subscribers who is looking for the original post, please email me at and let me know.

Reaction to Family Secrets – Should You Air Dirty Laundry?

Although the post received positive feedback and a great deal of interest in general, the post also managed to offend some of my family members.

I apologize to them.  I was insensitive to how the story might be perceived in some circles.  Never in a million years would I want to cause pain or embarrassment to anyone in my family.

This goes to the heart of the question that the article addressed.

Should You Share Family Secrets?

Should you air dirty laundry?  What should be shared on the internet?

Many family members find any stories about family history to be fascinating.  But, the idea of sharing it on the internet can be source of contention. And, they have a point.  When you put it on the internet, it is out there for the whole world to see.  There is no longer any privacy.

In order to protect the privacy of my family, yet still address the topic, I am posting here a revised and edited version of the original post.

Following is a revised version of the original post on Family Secrets

Family members sometimes bury secrets for a long time, wishing them away.  They even cut out parts of their own family tree.

I read a story about a whole second family a Christian man had no business bringing into the world!  Imagine what a surprise it would be to know that you have half brothers and sisters who you never knew existed.

I even read one story in which a young lady was shocked to find out that she was related to the infamous Mason family.  It just goes to show that there is often a leak! Somebody spills the beans!

Growing up on Franklin Street, our family had little else besides the honor of our family name.  My parents would guard it and protect it as best they knew how.

We grew up without two nickels to rub together.  But, we stuck our chests out and held our head high, because after all, we were special.

We knew that we were special because our parents taught us to think of ourselves that way — after all we had a rich Scottish heritage!

We Had a Rich Scottish Heritage

I wrote an article recently, Eight Ways to Preserve a Family Legacy.  I repeat part of that post here:

We were having tea with dessert one night when I was about ten. I asked Mom about her Irish grandparents. I wanted to know what she could tell me about my grandfather.

Mom hesitated and sighed. As I kept pressing her, she stopped and gave me one of those serious looks and said “You know, Margaret, there are some family stories that are better left unsaid.”
“Left unsaid? What do you mean?” I asked.

To this she replied: “Just leave it alone! You might find out things you don’t want to know.” Well I wonder what that meant! Now I really wanted to know!

Protecting the View of Your Family’s Heritage

Usually Mom played along with me when I asked “why” or “how come” questions.  But, this time she tried to evade me lest I go down a path that might be a source of trouble.

My mother died in 1990.  This was before the internet became a common source of information around the world.

But she would have been appalled had she known that I would publish anything private, anything hearsay, especially something disparaging about the family.

She used to call me “a wee blather!” and I guess I haven’t changed much.

Family Secrets – If Only the Coos Could Talk

Highland Cow
Highland Cow

The highland cow in the photo above, may or may not be the same breed of cattle that my great-grandfather raised or butchered, as their were numerous breeds of meat cattle in Ireland at the time.

I depict the Highland Cow (pronounced Heelin Coo) because it is so beautiful and majestic.  The Heelin Coos stole my heart when I was in the highlands a little over a year ago.

Please take a minute to watch this U-tube video and imagine yourself taking the high road on the bonnie banks of Scotland.  For this where the

Highland Cows keep the family secrets of the ages.

They have been around since the 6th century A.D. and are known to be as hearty as reindeer in the snow.

Now, my great-grandfather was originally a farmer in Oghill, County Derry, Ireland where my granddad, Peter was born.  They later moved to Longford, where great-granddad also became a butcher.

During the year 1891 my grandfather, Peter sailed from the shores of Ireland to the shores of Scotland with his brother Patrick.

My grandfather, Peter would have been eighteen years of age at the time.  Brother Patrick was twenty-two years old. They settled in Uddingston, Scotland and started a new life.

Peter married an Irish lady.  But much to my mother chagrin, she was often sent back to Ireland to work on the farm in the summers.  Chasing chickens and having to wring their necks and pluck their feathers was not Mom’s cup of tea.

Mom and Dad focused on teaching us the rich heritage they shared by having the good fortune of being Scottish.

Should you air your dirty laundry?

I don’t know.  I guess it depends on what the family secrets are, whether they can be verified, and how the family feels about revealing private family affairs.

It is possible to share stories and other family history, without plastering it all over the internet.

But whatever life your family lived, I believe that it is up to us to pass on the family stories and create a family legacy for the next generation.

Family history becomes so much richer and more real when we can get the best glimpse of what happened between the date of birth and date of death.

Most people want to know what happened in the dash between those dates.   Whether or not a story is flattering, they might like to fill in a bit of history about the family – for better or worse.

Every bit of family history can teach us a lesson or puts perspective on the life, the loves, and the times our families endured.

We come to understand – have a basis with which to come to terms with our own lives, our own mistakes, our own family secrets.

Learning Family History From Genealogical Studies

Sites like where people search family history over the generations, are immensely popular.  We can find out about our family tree and who our relatives were.  We can learn when they lived, where they lived and when they died.  It is obvious that most people want to know more about their family heritage.

There is even a new one being advertised on TV now, that does DNA testing.  DNA testing can tell you something about where your ancestors have been.  Some people find surprises. However, I didn’t find it very revealing when I had a DNA test through

No amount of scientific testing can tell you the hows and the whys and the wherefores of your family heritage.  It is up to us to pass along our own legacy.

Only we can help the generations to come by filling in and recording some of the blanks in our own family history.  Otherwise, they are lost forever.

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3 thoughts on “Family Secrets – A Follow Up On Dirty Laundry”

  1. My Great Great Grandfather came from Ireland to America in 1836, How he did it no one knows but some how he ended up in Lafayette County MO in 1847 and engaged to my Great Great Grandmother. There was a problem, her Father was a Methodist Minister. So before the wedding her Father and James Ferrell Larkin agreed that if he wanted to marry her, he must promise to not raise any children as Catholics. James Ferrell Larkin made the promise. Well, they ended up having 9 boys and 1 girl, lived through the Civil War, which was fierce in Lafayette County. They were even attacked by the Yankee Army. Anyway, come to find out James Ferrell Larkin would hitch up the mule to the old buckboard, and take one kid at a time over to Waverly from Corder and have that child baptized by the Father into the Catholic Church. He never mentioned this to Mary Jane Poisel. Somehow the kids didn’t mention it either. How’s that for a “don’t tell Mom” moment ? Sometimes I’d like to think that James Ferrell Larkin just got so worried about his kid’s souls he couldn’t help himself. The truth is probably that James Ferrell Larkin was a survivor. He would do what he had to survive, or do what he had to set things right in his eyes. One things for damn sure he did not accidently baptize 9 kids one at a time by mistake. Now, most of the family finds it funny, matter of fact, funny as hell. My brother and I every now and then will ask each other “What do you know? You’re a Catholic.” It sure wasn’t funny when the family finally figured it out. Which by the way, took them the next generation to do ! It didn’t seem to be a big deal to the generation trying to rebuild after the war. One upshot of this whole thing none of us are very religious. None of my cousins are big church goers. My brother always says he wouldn’t mind going, he just feels like he’d go to the wrong church and then what? Well, if I lived in Ireland during the time your ancestor did I’m not sure how much temptation I could avoid myself. Family secrets, we all have them.

    1. I think you make a good point. We all do have family secrets. Fascinating to here about your family. You have a real story to tell. Hope you have all this written down somewhere so that the memory of this can be passed down for future generations.

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