As my fathers surname was Brown it was quite difficult to trace him. Of course, only the information mothers revealed could be recorded in official records, and as it turned out later not only his hometown but also his middle name were recorded wrongly, and everyone but the military only knew him only by his middle name Harlan.
Back in the 1970s when I started my search no one in the United States nor in Germany was able to or wanted to help. The soldiers right to stay anonymus was protected, and in Germany a mother's right to keep the facts to herself was valued higher than the child's right to know its own descend. This has changed considerably in the meantime.
My grandma, whom I loved dearly, told me not to be too upset as I had quite an ancestry to be proud of and that my maternal ancestors have lived in the same town for more than three hundred years. She also told me that she and my grandpa wouldn't allow their daughter and my dad to get married. If she only said that to comfort me, I don't know but her telling me about my maternal ancestors and me not knowing anything about my paternal family got me started with genealogy. I wanted to belong and at least know one half of my roots. My grandma patiently taught me the old german script and deciphering the old handwriting. She was able to read and write the old script as it was still taught when she went to school in the early 1900s. I was hoping to find a trace of my dad while researching my ancestors. I have now researched my maternal ancestors in Baden, Germany back to the early 1400s, my paternal ancestors in the United States in South Carolina, Georgia and Kentucky back to 1774, and my sons paternal ancestors in the dutch-speaking province of Flanders, Belgium back to 1614.
When I started my search I didn't know that I would have to search for that trace of my dad for so many years. But even if I had known that wouldn't have stopped me from searching. Often times I wanted to give up but then, after a few months the longing started again. I have searched countless avenues that often ended in dead ends, but in the end I can say it was worth all the effort.
As is often the case my mother also wouldn't talk about the subject at all, she wouldn't even tell me a name. It was not until some years later that I got some information, not from her, of course, when I was of age. It was the year when I turned 18 that the law was changed and one became of age at 18. I had hoped for that change so much - three years less to wait to get access to my records. But, when I went to see my records all the information I got was that my file had already been sent to me. I hadn't received anything of course. It was probably actually sent but not handed over to me. About six years later I finally got some information. I wasn't allowed to actually look at my file, not even touch it, but was able to ask questions. I finally got a name, hometown, which later turned out to be wrong, his military unit and age. I started searching - one year, two years, ten years - nothing. After thirty years of searching, interrupted by the birth of my son and living and working in the United States and for the US Military, one day, when I was about to give up for good, the miracle happened. I finally found my family and received my first letter from my dads sister shortly before Christmas 2000, making this a very, very special Christmas. The pictures feature my dad (on the left) while in the Military and the other while he was with the Kentucky State Police.
After many years of searching, the longing and the heartache and the many unanswered questions, turning each stone to discover nothing, always searching for the 'other half' I was successful but it was a very long way and took me many years to find my paternal roots. I would like to tell you about myself, my own search and what I do now to help others in similar situations.
Unfortunately, my dad already passed away in 1984 at the age of 61 years. At the time I was living in the United States, but didn't know where he was at. He was married three times but I am - as far as I know - his only child. He was a Veteran of World War II and was stationed in Europe with the U.S. Military from 1943 until Nov 1945. The unit, together with many other troops, crossed the ocean on the ship 'Queen Mary' from New York to Glasgow, Scotland, then by train to South Wales. Later they convoyed to Southampton, England where they stayed about a month, then boarded the LST (Landing Ship, Tank) to cross the English Channel. His unit, Btry A, 774th Field Artillery Bn landed at Omaha Beach in the Normandy, then moved on to , Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany. His highest rank attained was that of a Sergeant, and he earned three Bronze Stars. In 1947 he separated from the military at Fort Lewis Washington to became a State Trooper for the newly established Kentucky State Police. In the early 1950s he went back into the Military and to Germany. He was in the 867th Field Artillery Bn at the time.
My grandma was right, I have every reason to be proud of my ancestry. So has my son. His paternal ancestors from Flanders were among the first settlers in New Amsterdam (New York) in the early 1600s. Both his granddads were WWII veterans his dad a Viet-nam veteran, and both, his maternal grandpa and his father became police officers after being honorably discharged from the military. It was a very sad day for us when my father-in-law passed away in 2001. He was a wonderful and kind man who dearly loved his family and his German grandson.
Throughout the years I have not only gained a lot of knowledge about seaching for biological parents and genealogy research but have also met many helpful people, some of them have become very dear and close friends who have not only gone out of their way to help me but whom I have been able to help in return with their own genealogy and searches for missing family members.
Over the past years I have been able to help many people find their missing link, ancestors, lost friends, birth families as well as living family members, birth fathers and grandfathers who were stationed overseas during WWII and post WWII.
I am a member of the genealogical society in Baden-Wuerttemberg (since 1985), the West German genealogical society in Cologne which covers the area west of the Rhine river, and I am a member of the German war graves commission.
To assist others in their quest to find lost family members, friends, ancestors and descendants I have set up SearchingForYou, a professional tracing service. I enjoy helping others in their search for family members, ancestors and descendants and being able to help connect them with their lost family or friends. If you need help with your search please don't hesitate to contact me. I will do my very best to help you.
In case you are looking for the content about my ancestors and all the files, transcriptions, immigrant details et cetera I was sharing here on my previous website, all of this can be found here (opens in a new browser window).
My name is Mary-Ann and I live in Baden-Württemberg, Germany. As I know now, I was named after my paternal great-grandma. My interest in genealogy and my ancestors began when I discovered that my biological father was not the man I knew as my father, but an American soldier.