History teacher uncovers 'unbelievable' family secret through Ancestry.com research: 'That's messed up'
Digging into your family’s ancestry might be a fun hobby, but it might also inadvertently turn up some long-kept secrets.
That’s what happened to Emily Glankler, a high school history teacher who runs the podcast and TikTok account known as Anti-Social Studies. She shared her story with her followers.
“The craziest ancestry story you will hear today (it involves world wars and FAKE DEATHS),” she wrote in the post.
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She further explained the situation in an interview with In The Know.
The story revolves around her great-grandfather, who she knew as Alfred.
“My dad doesn’t remember a lot about him. He died when he was pretty young. But he does remember that he was very quiet and spoke in a ‘strange accent’ that sounded vaguely Eastern European, which is weird because they always told us that his last name, my maiden name, was French or French Canadian,” she said.
She explained that, 20 years ago, her dad (Alfred’s grandson) met another man with the same last name, which had never happened before. They began chatting, and the man described his own father in a way that reminded Glankler’s dad of his grandfather.
The man then explained that it couldn’t have been the same person because his father had died many years ago in an oil rig explosion in Texas. Glanker’s dad grew up in Texas, so he thought it seemed pretty suspicious.
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Separately, Glankler said her grandmother was looking through old items when she found a photo of Alfred from World War I listing him under an entirely different name: David.
Members of her family brought this information to Glankler. A major history buff, they suggested that she should figure it out. That’s when she first started working through the mystery on Ancestry.com.
She dug through old censuses, military documents and other records. Eventually, she found that “Alfred” was actually “David” all along. He wasn’t French either — he was Jewish and Eastern European.
She claimed she found that “David” got married in Maine then left to fight in World War I but never returned. Actually, he did return… to Texas, where he got married and took on the name “Alfred.” There, she claimed he faked his death and took on a new identity as the great-grandfather she thought she knew.
“That’s two fake deaths and three families — we’re the third,” Glankler said.
She told In The Know that she’s been doing this research for a while. She recently logged in to Ancestry.com again and found tons of information supplied by other users. She praised the collaborative nature of the site.
“I found all of these, like, newspaper clippings about him passing bad checks around places right after World War I,” she said. “There was also a registration card for World War II. As my dad put it, he thought his military length of service was just a suggestion.”
Ancestry.com reached out to her to help her do more research thanks to her viral post, which now has nearly 2 million views.
“Everyone’s very fascinated by my great-grandfather… the scoundrel,” she joked.
Glankler’s research is still unfolding, and the best way to get updates on her story is to follow her on TikTok.
Commenters are certainly invested in the drama.
“I feel like I need a whole Netflix series on this,” one wrote.
“Real life Don Draper,” another said.
“Unbelievable,” a third commented. “That’s so messed up.”
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If you liked this story, check out this article about a woman whose DNA test results led her to question her true identity.
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The post Woman uncovers shocking family secret through ancestry website research appeared first on In The Know.