The Case of the Missing Grandfather, part 1


My dad, in 1928.

Now that I’ve had such a great streak of luck recenty, it’s time to climb down my Shively tree for a while and head up my Allen tree. (But to everybody who’s left comments about the Shivelys on my posts, don’t let that stop you!)


Growing up, I had an interesting assortment of grandparents on Dad’s side of the family. I had Grandmommy and Grandaddy Allen but I also had Grandma Gray. Grandmommy and Grandaddy Allen were actually my father’s grandparents—it was explained to me that they had adopted my father as a small child and had raised him; Grandma Gray was my dad’s mother. I didn’t question this too much as a child—they all looked old to me! But as I grew up, I noticed that I seemed to be missing a grandfather somewhere.

When I was in elementary school, Grandma Gray went to live with my father’s sister, Aunt Sue, to help her raise her two sons, my cousins Mark and Mike. We’d stay at Aunt Sue’s house when our family made the four hour trip to visit Dad’s hometown in Missouri. On of these visits, I was playing with my cousins when an older gentleman came by the house whom my cousins called Grandpa. I was confused—I’d never seen this man before, but if I shared Grandma Gray with my cousins, shouldn’t this man also be my grandfather?

When I turned to my dad and asked him that very question, he shook his head “No” and it was obvious even to a little kid that the discussion was over. But that didn’t stop me from thinking about it. A lot. By the time I was in junior high, I had formulated my own explanation for this mystery, and it later turned out to be correct.

In 1977, I was finishing college and planning my wedding with my first husband. One night Dad called us all together and told us he had something to tell us. His mother, Grandma Gray, had been an unmarried teenager when Dad was born in 1928. His father, Alton Blosser, had left town before Dad was born. In light of my impending marriage, my parents thought my sisters and I should know the whole story of our family. (Our response to this announcement was basically “Duh!” but Mom and Dad were astounded that we had already figured this out.)

A couple of years after Dad was born, Grandma met and married Claude Gray, with whom she had four more children. They later divorced, which was why I never saw him until that day at my aunt’s house. Not long after their marriage, Dad went to live with his grandparents Della and Walter Allen aka Grandmommy and Grandaddy Allen. Both families lived in the same town, and my father grew up knowing both his mother and his half-siblings.

But the other part of my dad’s announcement was more surprising: He had recently found his biological father, who had agreed to meet him. Dad was hopeful that they would remain in contact, but that turned out not to be the case. To be continued…

—Nancy


Family Tree Firsts is an ongoing blog series featuring newbie genealogist Nancy Shively of Skiatook, OK. Read all her posts at Family Tree University.

2 thoughts on “The Case of the Missing Grandfather, part 1

  1. I began working with genealogy when both parents and most of the older family members were alive and they were the toughest “Brick walls” I ran into.

    I am looking forward to “rest of the(your) story”.

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