Friday, March 13, 2009

Princess for a Day

I've known my family's "secret" since I was a teenager. My grandparents were 1st cousins. I admit to being a bit surprised when I filled out my first family tree chart and asked my mother about it. She told me that they had been raised as cousins but the marriage was OK because her grandmother had been adopted. I was reminded today by Mom that I must remember to point out that Anna was adopted whenever I write about her parents. This is a very big deal to her - a mere shoulder shrug for me.

My great-grandmother, Sarah Ann Camfield Carlisle, was known as Anna or Annie and was the one who saved all of the letters that I've been sharing. She was the adopted daughter of Michael and Sarah Ann (Wisner) Camfield. The story that I remember hearing was that a man brought infant Anna to Sarah and Mike and asked them to look after her for which they were originally paid. At some point the payments stopped but Anna was loved and Sarah and Mike raised her as their own. Nothing was ever said about Anna's mother nor is it clear if the man was her father.

Today while visiting Mom, we were talking about a letter I found that talked about Anna being adopted but gave me no clues. Well Mom piped right up and told me the story. It seems that the Prince of Wales was touring the United States and while visiting Chicago he enjoyed the company of many women and left some of them with illegitimate children. Mom had no idea how Sarah and Mike became involved but they dealt with a lawyer who paid them to be foster parents for Anna. They fell in love with her and decided to adopt her and when the adoption was final the payments stopped. So my great-great grandfather was Edward VII and therefore I'm a Princess!

My mother is not known for joking around and I must have looked skeptical because she asked me if I had ever seen a picture of her father in his army uniform. I told her I have a couple and she said that all I had to do was compare them to pictures of the Prince of Wales at about the same age I would see the resemblance. I argued that Anna was born in Onondaga Co, NY according to census records and her obituary but I had to admit that I still have not found the family on the 1860 census but I know they lived near Chicago in the mid 1860's.

I left Mom's and went back to work and spent all of my downtime thinking about the possibilities and how I could go about proving this. Would DNA testing provide an answer? Would I find newspaper articles about the Prince's visit to Chicago?

I got home and started looking at information on Edward VII. He was a ladies man and had several mistresses so it's not unreasonable to think that he might have dallied with several women in his youth. He is possibly the great-grandfather of Camilla Parker Bowles.

The story quickly unravelled when I looked at the dates. Albert Edward was born 9 November 1841. Anna was born 5 August 1853.

I'm left wondering why Mom had never shared this version of the tale of Anna's birth before. When I told her what I had found she was very disappointed. She has had some memory problems of late but she seemed quite sharp today.

Oh well, it was fun to think I was a Princess for a few hours and it made for an entertaining afternoon.


Nikki - Notes of Life said...

I bet it was fun to think you were a Princess :D One can dream anyway!

Tipper said...

A neat story-even if it wasn't true. Does make one wonder where it came from-if it was really about one of your other family memebers-or if it was just made up to explain her adoption.

Becky Wiseman said...

I'll bet, in your mother's eyes, you are still a Princess!

Anonymous said...

Great story! Oh well, I'm sure being a Princess is highly over-rated anyway!

Alana said...

What a great story. My grandparents were also 1st cousins, actual 1st cousins. My great grandfather and my great grandmother were brother and sister. I found this out about 3 years ago and quite surprised.

my Heritage Happens said...

Love this story, fun, and great read! Thanks for sharing!

Elyse said...

Great Story! So what if you aren't a real princess - you sure got a great story to share!

When I was little and my parents would tell me something that I didn't like, I would sit on the back porch and say that I was waiting for my "real" parents (who, in my mind, were the queen of England)...I wanted so badly to be a princess. Lol!

Greta Koehl said...

I had some Quaker ancestors who were first cousins. They weren't supposed to marry non-Quakers or first cousins, but sometimes there was no one else to choose from.