[APG Public List] Tracing Living Descendants, Two Stories

Craig Kilby persisto1 at gmail.com
Sun Sep 20 10:02:51 MDT 2009

When this thread first appeared, I mentioned that my only two  
experiences in trying to find living descendants did not have happy  
endings. Here the two stories:

1.  This one started out innocently enough. It was some time in the  
late 1980s when I was a state legislator. I was bored one night at my  
apartment and decided to see if there were in Kilbys in the local  
phone book. There was one. I called the number and had a nice long  
talk with a delightful woman. Her husband had died a few years before,  
but she said she knew absolutely nothing about him or his family,  
other than he came Wilkes County, NC. She explained she had always  
some suspicions about him, as he adamantly refused to ever discuss his  
childhood or family prior to his arrival in Missouri. She added that  
on day, the Social Security office had come out to see him personally.  
He quickly walked away the SS employee so that whatever was discussed  
could not be heard by any family member.

This doesn't sound like a story that would finding still alive, but it  
did. I got busy trying to find records on this man in North Carolina.  
I wrote to schools and local Kilby researchers I knew. We had a name  
and a birth date, and this should not have been to difficult a chore.   
But read on.

To make a long story short, I found the person by that name and with  
that birthday, still very much alive. When I reached this man, he just  
said, I need to talk to your client in person by telephone. We  
arranged a day and time. The lady came to my office at the capitol.  
After we reached him, I left the office and waited downstairs (these  
offices are arranged in mezzanines.

ONE HOUR LATER, she came out of the office in tears. Absolute tears.  
She was visibly shaken to say the least. Now that the husband was  
dead, the "real" Kilby decided it was time to fess up. What had  
happened years before was quite a shock. The "faux" Kilby had gotten  
himself into some very serious trouble in NC. So much so, it was  
decided he should leave Dodge permanently. The two concoted an escape  
plan that was very clever. And it worked. The "real" Kilby stold his  
family bible and a picture of his mother. The two took off to  
Tennessee. At a hotel there, the real Kilby gave the "faux" Kilby the  
bible, the photo, his SS card and other ID (This was all sometime in  
the 1950s). Armed with these items, the faux Kilby went to Missouri  
and simply started live over with a new identity. The police were hot  
on the trail, but when they got to the hotel in Tennessee they only  
found the real Kilby and there was nothing they could charge him with.  
(The real Kilby never told anyone the truth about this until this day.)

The charge against him had been homocide. To what degree I don't  
remember. Then even more skeletons were let out of the closet. We  
learned the real name of the faux Kilby, who was the illegitimate son  
of a professional boxer from New Jersey and a circus performer, a  
local woman. That was all quite a shock too.

The nice lady asked me that I never tell anyone about this, as she did  
not want her children to ever have to know the truth. This was not  
always easy to do but I kept me word. Her son was active in local  
politics and I would see him from time to time.

Years later, living back in St. Louis, the phone rang one evening. It  
was the lady's daughter. She told me her mother had died and that she  
had found my name in her papers. There was only Craig Kilby in all of  
Missouri at this time, so it was not difficult to find me. I knew  
instantly what was coming next. The daughter only that I had done some  
work on her father. I told that that was true, but that I had promised  
to never reveal the details of that effort. Well, after a little  
while, I did not see how it would matter anymore if I told her. Were I  
in her shoes I'd want to know. So I told her the whole story.

She did not break down in tears, and simply said they'd always known  
there was some unsolved mystery regarding the father and she was very  
happy to finally learn of it. I think it more to her that her mother  
had kept this a secret that she took to her grave to protect her  
children than anything else.

So, in  a way this not all bad. An old man in North Carolina got to  
cleanse his conscience, and the truth did finally come out and put  
closure to it. But I can never forget the absolute devastation this  
inflicted on a woman who sitting at home one night minding her own  
business and I called her out of the blue on a whim. I vowed never to  
do this again.

This note has became too long. I'll have to save up the other story  
for another post. This one does not have any happy endings.

Craig Kilby

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