I'm looking for any helpful hints on these family mysteries. Please don't hesitate to contact me. You can remain anonymous.

Case 2: Hilda's Committal

Mary Hilda McKinnon, daughter of John D. McKinnon and wife of Augustine "Gus" Sutherland, was living at Glenside Hospital, a mental health facility in Boston, in 1930 according to the US Census. I have a letter from Boston Psychopathic Hospital dating back to 1931, where she was kept for 9 days and found to be not committable.

Hilda is described by surviving family members as a sharp, driven, and capable woman who definitely had her wits about her.

People- women, in particular- got thrown in the ol' "looney bin" for just about anything back then. Postpartum depression, alcoholism, having a differing opinion-- you know, crazy people stuff. :)

I have two theories at the moment:

  1. A miscarriage? Hilda never had children of her own. I have no idea why. It's possible she found out she couldn't or had a miscarriage and was briefly hospitalized.
  2. Something to do with Grandpa? My grandpa was born in 1929. Could she have been involved in a way that got her into trouble?

Gus was living near the hospital when she was living there. This gives me the impression he supported her and was not sending her away. Hmmm...

Case 1: My Grandfather's Adoption - 90% Solved

There is only one surviving letter detailing my grandfather's adoption.

According to this letter, Joseph Christopher McKinnon was born Joseph A. McInnis in 1929. His mother, Mary J. McInnis, was a domestic and his father was "never stated publicly".

He had to be boarded, as his mother could not have her with him due to her work, though the location of his boarding is not mentioned.

Raphael "Ralph" McKinnon and Angela McKinnon informally adopted Joseph in 1933. As per one of Ralph's letters, it seems he was brought by Ralph by boat to Oakland, CA. From where is unknown.

Where was Joseph Born? Where was he boarded?

This photo appears to have been taken and sent to the McKinnons prior to adoption, while he was still boarded.

Angela states that she and Ralph knew Mary McInnis's family, but of all the letters, photos, and newspaper clippings she saved, not one contains a clue to Mary J. McInnis's identity. There are clippings, however, of other McInnis descendants: Rev. Emmett W. McInnis and Surgeon Lieut. Frank MacInnis.

In addition, Ralph's sister, Mary Leona McKinnon, married a Joseph Daniel Sylvester "Syl" MacInnis. Was this all coincidence?

Ancestry DNA gives us some clues...

My mother and I both took the AncestryDNA test. Our closest DNA matches were descendants of John Daniel and Ellen M "Nellie" McKinnon (Burke).

Had we really been related this whole time?

My Grandfather was a McKinnon.

One of my DNA matches with the same family tree was a predicted 2nd cousin to my mother. That means they would share the same great grandparents, John and Nellie. From this information, we can deduce that my grandpa Joe was John and Nellie's grandson.

But of John and Nellie's children, who could have been Grandpa Joe's birth parent?

They all look so innocent, don't they?

Since the mother was listed in legal proceedings as Mary J. McInnis, we can assume Mary Hilda and Angela were not his mother.

My DNA match's grandfather was John Joseph "Jack" McKinnon, and our DNA relation was not close enough for him to be the father.

That left Paul and William.

Paul was married, so I immediately suspected William, but...

The further I dug into Paul's life, the more suspicious he became.

A letter mentioned marital problems between Paul and his wife, Margaret "Rita" Phelan. In city directories, he was regularly listed at a separate address from Rita.

My closest DNA match was adopted. He was given the name Paul at birth and was told his father died before he was born. Paul died just months before he was born. In the 1940 census, Paul was living at the same address as my DNA match's birth mother.

Could Paul have been responsible for two adoptions?

Paul and Rita never had children of their own.

That concludes everything we know thus far about my grandfather's adoption. I am eagerly searching for any family clues, or even research advice, that might help me solve it.