Having had heart-warming successes in Northern Ireland finding personal connections that I could actually touch, I was tempted to explore my family roots in Scotland. Prior to planning this trip, I had vague recollections of a long ago Scottish connection through my paternal grandmother, but without the voice of my grandfather to bring that connection to life, I put it out of my mind.
But my brother did not. He enthusiastically researches all kinds of historical stuff. Without him, I would not have had anything to look for in Ireland. A couple weeks before I left on this journey, he sent me a reminder of Grandma Brown’s past. We were descended from a Brit named Sherburne and a Scot with an unusual French-sounding name. On a lark, I typed that name plus ‘Scotland’ into Google – it being the less common name and, I figured, more likely to bring pertinent info.
Right back at me came news article after news article of a famous – or infamous – fellow from Edinburgh. He had been a well-known boxer in the late 1900’s. Then he beat up a guy (badly) after which he killed another during a time he worked for some very serious crooks. The fellow in our family who eventually made in to the USA in the mid-1800’s had fled Scotland after believing he had killed his uncle (the uncle survived.) These two stories were a bit too close for my comfort, so to avoid a potentially embarrassing family history of extreme violence and prison sentences, I decided to let my attempts to pronounce Edinburgh fill my academic time in that city. Some family secrets you just don’t want to know.