in search of...FOUND!
In the search for my dad’s biological father, as I mentioned in my last post, I found and have contacted my dad’s paternal first cousins Rich and Jim.
Through Facebook, I had some short conversations with Jim. He’s 81 and he would have been too young to remember anything about my dad, in fact, he wouldn’t have been born when these things were going down. He told me that his older brother Rich would know more about my dad and his biological father, (Uncle) John.
I asked Jim if he thought his brother would be contacting me and was told he didn’t know. I was anxious, hoping to hear back from Rich since I told him that I would let him decide if he wanted to respond.
Finally, about a week ago I received a phone call from Rich. It was a month and a half after I had sent the letter. He left a voicemail. In it he said “I just called you back pertaining to your letter. I don’t know if I can help you with much but I’ll try. You can call me back anytime. Thank you”
So, now it was back in my court. I wanted to call back immediately but I have this thing inside me that always cautions me. So, I decided that I would call him back on Monday because it was my OFF day that week and I didn’t have anything pressing and wouldn’t have to rush though.
I called and here is what I found out…
Rich was 14 when his Uncle John Pallister died. He never knew that his Uncle was married or had a son until after John’s death (1944). Nobody ever talked about it. For some reason, Rich's mother Dorothy decided to let Rich in on the secret but only after John died. And then it was never brought up again.
John never remarried.
John joined the National Guard (along with Rich’s father Philip) when WW2 broke out. He was stationed on the Alaskan Highway when it was under construction. He was part of the crew that guarded it, built it and took care of it. He started becoming ill and they shipped him home. He died a year or two later from stomach cancer.
When John died, his mother Matilda purchased all the plots (graves) for the family; for her, her third husband, her sons and daughter and her sisters. They are all in the same area.
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Rich then told me a bit about the Pallister family:
John's father's side is French Canadian.
John's mother (Matilda Boisjolie/Pallister/Gerschow/Brouillard) is a native-born Detroiter and was a part of the "Native-born Detroiters" club. More will be learned by visiting the Detroit Public Library.
The Pallister family belonged to St. Anne Parish in Corktown (Mexican Town) by the Ambassador Bridge. Family was baptized there, married there and the family even had a pew just for them. The parish is now run by the Mexican community and there is a bit of a language barrier. But they will bring out the old book with everyone's names for people who are looking up their genealogy.
Matilda (my paternal great-grandmother) was married 3 times. She married James Pallister in 1899, he died. She married Charles Gerschow in 1928, he died, she married Elphege Brouillard in 1935, he died...she out-lived all of her children. Her only daughter, Dorothy (Slabouz), died in 1967 and Matilda died a month later. She was 87. She had a sister that lived to be 92.
One of the intriguing bits of information that my dad had always questioned most of his life, Rich confirmed…
Pallister Ave. in Detroit is a part of our family lineage. The first house on the block was lived in by a Pallister and thus the street is named Pallister Ave.
More to come…