Carolyn L. Braun (

The Case of the Genealogical “Nuts” …

This story was written by my mother, Shirley Olene, as part of her Shirley’s Second Sampler column in the  Echoes (senior citizen) publication (March 1990). Keep in mind that this story was written almost 30 years ago and research methods have changed – to some extent – because they are available electronically. The records you need to review have not changed. What you will find when doing genealogy is a story. There is always an interesting story or stories. Every family has a story worth telling.


Once upon a time (actually January 20, 1990) , three normally quite same people set out on an expedition in search of genealogical information.

Following a well-prepared map and written instructions (and only missing the location of a dark blue house), they easily came to their destination — a beautiful cabin situated on Long Lake, north of Turtle Lake, Wisconsin.

Waiting to greet them was a fourth woman, an expert on the Fuecker/Fadden connection (to which they all belong), who just happens to be the librarian for the Minnesota Genealogical Society (have to brag a little), besides being a second cousin to the above mentioned trio (okay, okay, so one is a second cousin, once removed).

Upon entering her home, it became very apparent that the fourth person, hereafter referred to as ‘Ozzie,’ had anticipated a multitude of questions for there were stacks of documents and files of data o the kitchen counter, the buffet and the floor. The dining room table was cleared and out came the notebooks and pens with which the visitors had armed themselves. And the chatter began.


Pens began to move rapidly. Obituaries were checked (an excellent source of information or confirmation of facts). Newspaper clippings (or copies thereof) were reviewed, as were military records and “intention to become a citizen” documents.


Stories of our ancestors were revealed, some of which could best be described as “skeletons in the closet.” For instance, there was the one about a notorious horse thief, one Dick Fadden. As reported in the Grainery Gazetter (and originally noted in the Red River Star, Moorhead, Minnesota; August 3, 1872), this man was quite adept at avoiding his captors and was still at large when the item was published. Another concerned brothers, Aaron and John Fadden(s) and a couple of their friends who were captured at Crookston May 5, 1904 and who admitted that they had robbed stores in Rockville and Cold Spring and also the post office at Rockville. (This item was found in the History of Stearns County Minnesota, Volume II, 1915.)

We heard about on John Fadden, a sloopmaster from the Eastward, who was found frozen to death one and one-half miles from his ship on Cape Cod on March 24, 1755.

I heard again the story of how my Uncle George, age 4, was accidentally shot to death by his brother, age 7, while playing with a gun.

All present reacted with glee and delight at the enthusiasm of the youngest member of the group who is just starting on the never-ending journey of genealogical research.

“Lunch is ready,” so notebooks and pens were temporarily laid aside. The conversation was still basically “genealogical,” with questions flying and clarifications sought.

I should mention at this point that Ozzie’s very patient and understanding husband, Jerry, was carefully avoiding us, though he did check in from his basement vantage point from time to time to see what ‘condition’ we were in.

Digging for information only brought on more digging. Soon out came the cameras (another family condition) to record the scene (both inside and out).


At this point, don’t ask who is related to whom. There will have to be a good deal of compilation of facts before we get everything straight, if we ever do.

Perhaps you don’t know anyone afflicted with this particular malady, but those of you who are will know whereof I speak.

After a couple of hours more, notebooks closed, but it took another two hours or so of talk before the intrepid trio reluctantly set their course for home, after just one more cup of coffee for the road.

If you see any of these glassy-eyed people, do not disturb but point them in the direction of the nearest bed – and, PLEASE, no more coffee!!

And Ozzie poured. 


I came across this article as I was de-cluttering again today. And, yes, I was one of those ‘nuts.’ It’s been 28 years and I am still doing genealogical research – hoping to put my years of research together. But, yet, there is always more to find. I recently found that my seven-time great-grandfather murdered my seven-time great-grandmother and may have escaped to England before he could be put in prison!!! I must pursue this story!!


Shirley Fadden Olene (1921-2001) was a columnist for the Princeton Union Eagle (Princeton, MN) – with her column titled Shirley’s Sampler and later for the Senior Federation Echoes publication (MN) – with her column titled Shirley’s Second Sampler. She also worked for ECM as a proof reader and as a correspondent for the St. Cloud Times.


Thanks for reading!! I hope you return. 






2 replies to “The Case of the Genealogical “Nuts” …

  1. Genealogy as a hobby has kept me from pursuing any of the other hobbies I thought I would have time for in retirement except reading. The sewing machine sits idle and the garden grows wild. I am a genealogy addict! I have six file cabinets full of papers, documents and books.I just love the hunt, the never ending mystery solving search!

    Liked by 1 person

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