Trouble with Geneology in a Recalcitrant Family

My Great-Grandpa Frank had some brothers and sisters–Caribel, Barlow, Ralph, and Clyde (because I guess my great-great-grandfather and mother were trying to start an Old West Town, singlehandedly). My dad knew some of Ralph’s children. Not well, but he remembers my grandpa going to visit them and some of them coming to visit the him. Barlow’s grandson is the old man in Marshall I talked to a few years ago. His son is down in Memphis. Clyde, as far as I know, didn’t have any kids.

Which left Caribel. At some point in the census records, she became “Belle” but she may have also been called Carrie. There is no dead Belle Phillips or Carrie Phillips or Caribel Phillips who fits her (born in 1869, lived in Eaton County, Michigan). But it seemed to me that she should be easy enough to find, with enough patience, because her dad was born in Michigan and her mom was born in Ohio.

So, armed with a potential first name (or three), a set of facts that must be true about her parents, and a birth year and knowing that the Phillipses, though ostensibly not close, tended not to stray too far from each other, I looked for a married woman with those names, that birth year and those kinds of parents whose husband was also from Eaton County Michigan.

I found Carrie Cole, married to William T. Cole. They lived in Grand Rapids which, though not Eaton County, is not very far from it. And it looks like I can order a marriage certificate, which would tell me for sure who Carrie’s parents were. Score!

But wouldn’t it be easier to just ask my dad and his siblings if they remember any facts about their great-aunt that might lead to confirming if this was her?

So, of course, my aunt insists that her dad never talked about the Phillipses and that they were not close, not even the siblings. She doesn’t know. Which, okay, fine. Obviously, there’s a lot of bad blood (for good reasons) on the Phillips side, but the Phillipses weren’t dead to each other. Like I said, my dad met Ralph’s kids. My uncle knows Barlow’s grandson–he put me in touch with him. And I just Facebook messaged the grandson of my dad’s Aunt Vi (my grandpa’s sister), a guy I’ve known my whole life and who sits with us at all family events, and asked him if he’d ask his mom.

If the Phillipses never talked and were not at all close, how do I know the grandson of my grandpa’s sister?

My dad just rolled his eyes when I told him that my forays into asking my aunt about things. He said I should know by now that I’m only going to get decent information from his brother, not his sister.

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