My current situation involves uncovering what appears to be some deep hidden mysteries surrounding family secrets and ancestry; possibly involving murder, white collar fraud, lies, betrayal, identity theft, stolen land, property, wills, estates, and hidden assets. For years, it’s been extremely difficult obtaining any information regarding my family’s history until now. I believe that I’m extremely close to uncovering something that my relatives have purposely kept hidden from me for quite some time.
I started researching my ancestry many years ago, but gave up because there was a lack of data, so it seemed hopeless. However, upon discovering loads of new information about my ancestry from my father’s side, I decided to explore my mother’s side of the family once again. My mother’s name is Margaret, who was born in Darlington, South Carolina but raised in Winston-Salem, North Carolina by her mother’s aunt named Thelma. My mother’s father was killed in her younger years and she spent most of her life separated from her mother, and siblings. The oddest thing about this family situation is the fact that my grandmother had 12 children and decided to give away half. Sadly, the only children she gave away were the children with the last name McNeil. It would have made sense if she was in a bad place financially and couldn’t afford to care for such a large number of children.
However, that doesn’t appear to be the case because after giving away all of the McNeil children to relatives, my grandmother continued on having several more children with a man named George Zimmerman. I also, found it strange that no one could give me any tangible information regarding my grandmother or grandfather. Besides this, was the fact that my mother said that her father had left her and her siblings land and property that she never received. She said that her relatives spent years fighting over who would get what. A few years later, my mother said that her oldest sibling Nettie Mae who was overseeing the assets, got tired of my grandmother (Mary Louise) pressuring her over the land; so she supposedly just gave it up and allowed my grandmother to sell the land without giving my mother or her siblings anything. I couldn’t help thinking to myself that it all seemed a bit strange. Like what type of family would deprive a man’s children from their rightful inheritance? When I asked my mother why she didn’t fight for a portion of the assets that were left to her; she said that it was too late and that she didn’t know how to go about it at the time. Like I said before, it didn’t make much sense to me then, and as an adult, it still doesn’t make sense to me now. Many things just don’t add up.
Another red flag for me, was my DNA results. After close examination, I realized that the only DNA matches I received came from my father’s side of the family and no matches were found from my mother’s side of the family. Luckily, just a few days ago, I was able to locate the obituary of the man who is “said” to be my grandfather; Daniel McNeil. It was extremely difficult finding any information on my grandfather on the internet, on ancestry sites, genealogy sites, or any sites containing vital records. It’s almost as if someone tried to wipe any traces of my mother’s father side clean….what immediately came to my mind was a cover-up, but why? What really happened to my mother’s father? Hell, was he even really my mother’s dad? The small amount of information I’ve found so far had misspellings and variations which could easily lead to questioning whether a person had the correct records or not. For example, the McNeil was spelled McNeal; with an A instead of an I, and some of the dates of birth seemed off. But moving on; the obituary was found in the Florence Morning News Paper, dated Saturday, December 20, 1975. The News paper article stated that funeral services for my grandfather was conducted on a Sunday at 3pm, at Mitchell-Josey Funeral Home. The burial was said to held at Round O Baptist Church Cemetery. The Obituary stated that my Grandfather Daniel McNeil Sr., was born in Darlington County, a son of David and Pearl Smith McNeil. At the time of his death, he was employed at Cox Lumber Co. Surviving was his wife ( my grandmother) Mrs. Mary James McNeil of Brooklyn, New York; four daughters, Miss Nettie Mae McNeil, Mrs. Brenda Deloris McMillian, Miss Mildred McNeil, all of Brooklyn New York, and Miss Margaret McNeil of Winston-Salem, North Carolina; a son Daniel McNeil Jr, of Jackson, North Carolina, two sisters, Mrs. Alene Drawham of Latta and Mrs. Charily or Charity McNeil of New York City; a brother, David McNeil of Columbia; also five grandchildren.
Now, a major point of concern for me is that it has been extremely difficult locating info on my grandfather’s siblings as well. For instance, Drawham is a very rare name so it should be easy to locate those who have it. Because Alene Drawham was already mentioned in an obituary in the newspaper; there were both physical and digital records connected to her; so it seems out of the ordinary that a google search would come up completely empty. Furthermore, the few ancestry records available show both Drawham and Drawhorn on some of the same documents, so any descendants could have had a change of name just due to errors made back then. On the other hand, those errors could have purposely been made to coverup any connections to my grandfather and his blood relatives that could have lead to uncovering the truth about his death.
Many times, I remember, my mother saying that she would like to know more about her father’s side of the family; their background, and locations to better understand herself and where she comes from. My mother told me that my grandfather’s murder was shrouded in secrecy. No one seems to know what happened to him. His death has been a mystery up til this day. The only thing they knew for sure was that his death wasn’t an accident because his body was barely recognizable and officials didn’t even have the exact time of his death. In other words, there’s no telling how long his body laid rotting before someone found him. My mom said the only way they were able to verify my grandfather’s body supposedly was by the watch they found on his wrist….to be continued….