My great-grandfather was given a great name by his parents- Tixon. He was true to the meaning of his name- quiet.
Hardly anyone knew much about his life even though he lived 89 years. He probably thought keeping to himself and not talking much would keep his life and secrets under wraps.
Then me, the nosey great-granddaughter, started questioning his life. Why didn’t he marry a woman from his village? Why did he marry my great-grandmother at 39 years old? It was awfully strange for a man born in the 1880s to wait so long to get married and have kids.
Then his secret marriage and child were finally revealed, thanks to a researcher I’ve known for 5 years in Kursk, Russia. I have pestered him for years to find other records on his family due to many village church records missing from regional archives. Finally, the researcher found duplicate church records.
Out came great-grandpa’s secret marriage to Clavdia in 1905, followed by the birth of his son, Constantin, in 1906.
For years, I have asked older relatives whether my great-grandfather was married before my great-grandmother. He kept this under good wraps.
My great-grandfather even brought his younger daughter to a small city near his family village before World War II. Does this daughter, who is still living, know that she had a half-brother? Was the topic of another wife and child avoided during that visit? Did the wife and son die young?
These questions can’t be asked of the daughter because talking about the past just raises her blood pressure. This daughter also has the same problems with secrets. She won’t reveal the true identity of her oldest daughter’s father. I’m awaiting DNA test results to put an end to that mystery.
But my great-grandfather wasn’t quiet about everything. He complained his parents had too many children in a letter to his own children. After coming home after a long visit to Siberia to check for business possibilities, his childhood home was filled with more babies.
He wasn’t exaggerating about “this problem”. The last sibling documented in church records was born when my great-grandfather was 28 years old and his mother was in her late 40s. She gave birth to 12 children from 1880-1909.
Now, the assumption was that many of his siblings died young because he only spoke of three brothers and a sister in his letter to his two children in the USA.
Then, my researcher discovered a marriage record for Alexandra, a military record for Nikita and a baptism record with Kosma as a godfather of a nephew, all siblings never mentioned by my great-grandfather.
More information is on its way when my researcher has time later this year to look at more records. I refused to give up on learning about my great-grandpa’s family so soon enough I could be in contact with his family after losing contact during World War II.