AT RANDOM: A family ‘secret’

Exploring one’s family history can sometimes reveal the proverbial skeleton in the closet.

Exploring one’s family history can sometimes reveal the proverbial skeleton in the closet.

For those who have done their own research in museum archives, or online on one of those ancestry search websites, the revelation that a relation had a secret or did something immoral can come as a bit of a shock.

Maybe great-great grandpa was a slave owner, or grandma had a half-sister she didn’t know about.

Nowadays, it’s a lot easier to uncover our past history and ancestry. And sometimes it just leads you to more mystery.

That’s been my case with a certain someone that could be related to my maternal grandfather’s side of the family – or not.

It’s always been sort of a joke in my family of who this “secret” relation is because of the last name he shares with my maternal side.

Could he be a distant cousin? The off-shoot of two family factions? After all, there are not many descendants of the motherland, Ireland, now living in North America who share the last name of Bulger (actually, there are even less Fronemans, but that’s a whole different story).

The subject of many books and a just released film starring Johnny Depp, James “Whitey” Bulger could be our long, lost relation.

After seeing the film on the weekend, I certainly hope not. He wasn’t a nice guy.

For those of you, like me, who have read Dick Lehr and Gerard O’Neill’s book, Black Mass, and have seen the film of the same name, you know Whitey Bulger was a dangerous criminal who led a band of thugs, known as the Winter Hill Gang, named after their South Boston neighbourhood, in many organized-crime-related activities, including murder, in the 1970s.

Whitey’s brother, William “Billy” Bulger, however, was an outstanding citizen, president of the Massachusetts senate at the time and later president of the University of Massachusetts (a post he resigned once it was found out what his brother had been up to).

Whitey basically got away with his crimes for almost a decade. He was enlisted as an informer for the FBI by his childhood friend, FBI agent John Connolly, who wanted to take down the Italian mafia. (You can’t make this stuff up!)

Eventually it all caught up with them. Connolly was convicted of racketeering and obstruction of justice charges stemming from his relationship with Whitey Bulger and the Winter Hill Gang.

But before Whitey could be charged, he bolted and was on the lam for 12 years before he was captured in 2011 and convicted on 19 counts of murder. Now 85, he will linger this life, and the next, in jail and purgatory.

It’s possible Bulger could be related to our family as he does have a Canadian connection.

In the 19th century, it is recorded that a few Bulger families left Ireland and settled in Canada. One of them, William Bulger, came to Canada in 1825 from Co. Wexford in Ireland, and settled in St. John’s, Nfld.

He was Whitey’s great-grandfather, whose descendants would eventually make their way to Boston.

According to my family records, my great-great grandfather, Daniel Bulger, settled in the Ottawa Valley in the 1880s and came from around the same area of Ireland as the other Bulgers.

He took a different route in life – becoming a school trustee. In fact, a one-room school house still exists on the property where my great-grandfather settled. The property has survived through four generations of my family, and the house is now owned by my mom’s cousin.

The relation between our two families back in Ireland is a little cloudy, so who knows, it could simply be that we share a name. But for what it’s worth, the family “secret” is out there still to be uncovered.

Rest my soul.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Lake Country looks at big-ticket projects

Bottom Wood Lake Road construction are the biggest investments

Hillview Elementary students Emma Li and Mina Nadeau were awarded by the Premier’s office for winning the annual holiday card contest. (Karen Rogers photo)
Vernon students’ art featured on Premier’s cards

Hillview youth chosen for annual holiday card contest

Sunnybank
COVID-19 related deaths at Oliver, West Kelowna and Vernon senior care homes

Sunnybank, Heritage Retirement Residence and Noric House recorded deaths over the weekend

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
253 new COVID-19 cases, 4 more deaths in Interior Health over the weekend

More than 1,000 cases in the region remain active

A portion of 34th Street will be closed to through traffic as of Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021, while sewer upgrades are underway. (City of Vernon)
Sewer upgrades to close Vernon road

Motorists are to expect some delays around portion of 34th Street starting Wednesday

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C. adjusts COVID-19 vaccine rollout for delivery slowdown

Daily cases decline over weekend, 31 more deaths

Interior Health confirms vaccination of priority populations has begun in Salmon Arm. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID-19 vaccinations underway in Salmon Arm

Interior Health confirms vaccination of priority populations has begun

This is the location, 3240 Skaha Lake Road, of where BC Housing plans to build a four storey supportive housing project for the homeless and at risk of being homeless. (Jesse Day Western News)
Penticton mayor and MLA concerned about new BC Housing project

‘Penticton already has its fair share’ of BC Housing projects

Interior Health declared the COVID-19 outbreak at McKinney Place long term care home over Monday, Jan. 18, 2020. (File photo)
COVID-19 outbreak at McKinney Place care home declared over

‘This has been one of our most challenging outbreaks so far,’ says chief medical health officer

Penticton Bylaw officer Glenn Smith, as well as resident Zak Laycock (not pictured), received the Governor General Award from the Royal Canadian Humane Association to recognize their heroism in a summer 2019 incident. (Contributed)
Bylaw officer and Penticton resident given awards for intervening in sexual assault

Bylaw officer Glenn Smith said he was simply in the right place at the right time

A female prisoner sent Langford police officers a thank-you card after she spent days in their custody. (Twitter/West Shore RCMP)
Woman gives Victoria-area jail 4.5-star review in handwritten card to police after arrest

‘We don’t often get thank you cards from people who stay with us, but this was sure nice to see’: RCMP

An elk got his antlers caught up in a zip line in Youbou over the weekend. (Conservation Officer Service Photo)
Elk rescued from zip line in Youbou on Vancouver Island

Officials urge people to manage items on their property that can hurt animals

An Abbotsford man was killed in a motor vehicle accident on Highway 3 on Monday, Jan. 18. (Black Press file photo)
Abbotsford man killed in Highway 3 crash near Hedley

Fatality was discovered by passing tow truck driver

A Trail man has a lucky tin for a keepsake after it saved him from a stabbing last week. File photo
Small tin in Kootenay man’s jacket pocket saved him from stabbing: RCMP

The man was uninjured thanks to a tin in his jacket

Most Read