On a lark, this weekend I was engaged in one of the traditional pastimes of “old people” – the Family Tree.

In short, like most things with my life, it’s complicated…

Most of the complication is that I left home in 1986 and that was pretty much it for my family ties – I’ve spoken with my mother once since then, for about a half an hour back in 1994. So all I really have to go on is pre-’86 information and 1970’s era memories of the summers I spent in Ohio with my grandparents.

Another part of the complication is that I’m adopted, which means that all of my birth records were altered in 1973 and there’s no real indication of what things were prior to this. The original documents won’t become public record until after I kick the bucket, so I’m left to piece things together from altered or partial information.

For example, the copy of my birth certificate I got from Ohio is a weird inverted photocopy of a microfiche file from 1969, complete with embossed stamp of authenticity, but has the name of my adoptive father on it – which didn’t happen until 1973. I’m guessing this is done for legal / privacy reasons – but it’s annoying if you’re trying to piece things together.

Fortunately I have a really good memory for details and still recall a few key bits of information from the early 70’s…

All in all the whole process has been fascinating, and it turns out some of the tall tales I was told as a child were true – like my great-great grandmother on my mom’s side was one of the Hatfields of the infamous Hatfields and McCoys.

My mom’s family is pretty well documented as they came in from Germany for the most part and not only filled out all of the immigration paperwork in excruciating detail, but were also very helpful any time a census rolled through the neighborhood.

They also tended to stick together until one or the other died, and only then would remarry – which limits the number of name changes and step-children. Good Catholics I guess.

The Bendix line were generally machinists going all the way back to Germany. For example my grandfather worked in the shop his father ran that was built by his grandfather – Valentine Bendix – in Hamilton Ohio. Valentine’s father, Jacob, was born in Prussia in 1834 and is as far back as I can go without paying for access to international records… Maybe someday.

That machine shop, according to a series of 1920’s and 1930’s business listings, was located at 1740 See Avenue in Hamilton Ohio…

Funny story: one of my earliest memories was being in a bassinet on an upper floor that had a half-wall overlooking the lower floor, and there was a baby gate with a “child proof” latch on it… I defeated the latch on the gate, then the sliding part of the bassinet, and then took a tumble down a flight of stairs much to my mother’s terror…

The house where this happened belonged to my great-grandmother Creech according to my mom, and great-grandma Creech was listed as living at 1740 See Avenue in Hamilton when she passed away in 1973.

I vaguely remember the front of the house, but didn’t have the address until I went poking around – and then ran into the current Google street view being an empty lot. Fortunately Google Earth has a nice view of it from 2010, before it was razed in 2011, and it looks like how I remember.

The view in Google Earth also shows the large machine shop on the other end of the property. So my first real memory took place in a house that saw, counting me, five generations of the Bendix family through some hard times. Pity it’s gone now.

I’m guessing as great-grandma Creech passed away in 1973, that my next memory being at my grandfather Bendix’s house was because she became ill. I recall being in the north-east bedroom which was painted yellow, in a bassinet, playing with a tracked Tonka-Toy and working out why I couldn’t get the rubber tracks off it because the carrier for the wheels wrapped over the treads and formed a loop that I couldn’t get them past…

I was a weird kid – even at the age of 3.

My grandfather, Elmer, was my hero as a kid – he was an amazing human being. But when my grandmother, Dorothy (Link) Bendix, passed in 1984 – two years later he remarried to Dorothy (Miller) Bendix… So both wives have the same first name, and the second one has my adoptive father’s last name – unrelated – and this confuses things to no end when you’re looking through fifty year old hand-written notes.

One discovery this weekend was the life and times of my biological father, who passed in 2010… My mother never really talked about the Hampton side of the tree, and I still don’t really know why they broke up.

The divorce was a big enough deal that my mother converted from the Catholic faith to the Seventh Day Adventists for a few years…

Anyway, finding this information required all of my skills, as all I had to go on was a last name and a memory of a week at my grandfather’s house when I was like 5 or 6. The house was on the outskirts of Oxford Ohio, at the end of what I recalled as a twisty road. Beyond the end of the road, behind a large chainlink fence, was an area I wasn’t allowed to enter under any circumstances… My grandfather drew out some examples of these hourglass-shaped concrete pits that had been filled in, but occasionally had to be filled back in as the fill dirt fell from the upper part, through the narrow neck of the pit, and into the lower area. If anyone ended up in one of these things, it was pretty much game over.

In researching I discovered this was a design used for settling ponds used in older waste water systems. So all I had to do was find an old 70’s era wastewater treatment facility near Oxford – and here in the 21st century everyone has access to satellite imagery at will…

Once I found a few potential locations, one stood out as being on McKee Ave – which rang a bell – and the last house on the street, from street view, has a gazebo in the back that I remember being built during the summer I was there.

Now I had a street address and a name – and the rest took about four hours to uncover.

It turns out that William Allen Hampton was born in Oxford Ohio, spent most of his life in Oxford, was a mechanic by trade, was married and divorced several times, and passed away in Nevada a year after my grandmother Hampton passed in 2009.

If I’d not been adopted I would have been William Hampton IV – which is kinda cool.

Another funny story: The joke is that every Gen-X kid had to deal with a kidnapping before the age of 18 – in my case this is absolutely true…

It was 1972-ish when my biological father came to the carport door of my grandfather Bendix’s house, and I toddled over to him and we left to go to my grandfather Hampton’s house… The problem here is he didn’t tell my mom and apparently they were divorced at the time – so the police were called as a kidnapping had occurred.

Nothing much happened from this as it wasn’t nefarious – it was just my dad wanting to spend time with me before I was moved to Colorado – permanently. I recall the ride back to my mom in the patrol car, where I got to wear the policeman’s hat and play with the switches in the console that ran the lights and siren.

My adoptive father’s family information is incredibly sparse, which is weird (or the reason) for a guy who was so obsessed with family lines.

I now know that my adoptive grandfather was a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine for the USDA. He passed away on the 14th of July, 1975, in Indiana. I would have been six years old – which is probably why I never met him.

Oddly, I found this newspaper clipping from the 21st of April, 1975 – just a few months before Samuel Miller passed:

It appears he was attempting to divorce my adoptive grandmother, but never finalized it because he passed away before everything could be filed.

My grandmother lived out the rest of her years on his government pension, eventually buying the house in Golden that my father acquired when she passed in 1985.

I guess things do work out for people on occasion.

In the process of doing this I’ve also tried to track down portions of my ex-wife’s family – which is even more complicated than mine… I’ve still not figured out who her father was as her mother was married at least four times, with children in each marriage, and some marriages overlap – so there are a lot of obfuscated lines to follow.

My ex-wife’s mother passed away in 2005, and a two of the husbands have also passed on, so some of the marriage records are public record now – it’s just a matter of taking the time and effort to unravel it all. Something I’m just not that interested in, to be honest.

I met my ex’s mom, Deb, and my ex’s nine year old at the time half-brother, Adam, on our way back to Colorado in 1990. It turns out that Adam unfortunately passed away in 2012. He was a pretty cool kid and it’s sad to hear he passed on so early in life.

The overlapping marriage thing isn’t unique to my ex’s mom… In 2005, when I got divorced from my ex, I discovered she was still married to her first husband, Paul, when she married me in 1990 – making my divorce an annulment. So I was never technically married even though the paperwork is still available…

And she divorced Paul a year later in 2006.

Speaking of Paul – I met him a few times in Framingham and he was a pretty nice guy – anyway he passed away in 2018… This makes me feel old…

My ex remarried in 2016 – and I really hope this one works out for her.

All in all it was an interesting waste of time over the weekend.

Everything I did was in the free trial of ‘’ with the ‘’ free trial, and I’ve set it all public so it’ll be there forever if anyone gets a wild hair and wants to reference any of it.

I’d give the work I did between 80 and 100 percent accuracy, depending on which family. My mom’s family is easy and several people have bits and pieces done already, so I could cross-reference things. The two fathers are a bit more sketchy because no one seems to care. And my ex’s family is a horror show – good luck with that future investigators. 🙂

Listening to "Days Go By" by Coastal