Porter County Reporter

Joyce has been a reporter for nearly 40 years, including 23 years with The Times. She's a native of Merrillville, but has lived in Portage for 39 years. She covers municipal and school government in Porter County.

Remember your Roots: Indiana State Archives

Members of my mother’s family, the Schulze clan, include my grandfather, Ernest, shown here with my grandmother, Alice, and their seven children, from left, Erna, Edna, Clara, Shorty, Jean (my mom), Helen and Margaret at this Memorial Day gathering in 1954.

Albert Henry Buckingham had been the bane of my genealogical existence.  

My second great grandfather on my mom's side, was a ghost during the first several years of my research into my family tree. I would spend hours looking for any clue as to who he was, then give up and set him aside.

I've written about my maternal grandmother in the past. Albert is Alice's father. Her mom died when she was an infant and story goes that she lived between an orphanage and an aunt's home. And Albert, he all but disappeared from the face of the earth.

I had found a couple of Albert Buckinghams living in Chicago at the turn of the century, but wasn't really certain which one was mine. 

My first solid clue was finding Albert's and Mary Alice Miller's marriage in the Cook County, Illinois index. His middle name was Henry. I knew then I was looking for an Albert H. or Albert Henry born around 1871. I then found Albert H. in the 1930 federal census, in a listing of Canadian soldiers during WWI and in the Cook County death index in 1934.

Still I wasn't sure if that was my Albert. There were a few discrepancies. Some documents had his birth date in February 1871, others in February 1872. The year he immigrated was also off a year between a couple of documents.

Anyone who had done genealogy for a time knows that discrepancies sometimes happen. Someone writes something down wrong. Someone can't read the person's writing.

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Then, last week, I got a message from Ancestry that I had a DNA match. I matched with Daryl, a third cousin living in Arlington Heights, Illinois. Daryl and I had never heard of each other before we got the DNA match. But according to the match, Daryl's great grandfather, George Buckingham, was brother to my great grandfather, Albert Henry.

I knew then I had found my Albert, and thanks to Daryl, a couple of generations before him.

Once I got that broader picture of Albert, of who he was, of what he did, I'm not sure I like him. He abandoned my grandmother, his first daughter, went on to marry again and have three more children. It seems he may have thought about abandoning them at one time too.

Albert enlisted in the Canadian army in 1917. I'm confident its my Albert because the birth dates are the same, the place of birth is the same and he lived in Chicago when he filled out the enlistment papers in Ontario. But, what confuses me is that he listed his next-of-kin as his brother John - my Albert had a brother John - instead of his wife Sarah and he listed his marital status as single. 

Was Albert going to leave this family behind too? I don't know. His record doesn't pick up again until that 1930 federal census showing he was back with Sarah and his family, living in Chicago.

Do you have a rogue in your family's past? Let me know your story. Drop me a line at joyce.russell@nwi.com with any questions, tips or stories you'd like to share.