Meet the New Family Members

Melbourne Adams
Birth name Gerald Benedict
It is not very often when a family discovers a whole new set of cousins.  People who lived near you and you crossed paths with but never realized they were related to you.

This happened to the Benedict family this fall.  Through the use of DNA, Facebook and phone calls we were able to establish a relationship between the Benedict family and the Adams family of Middleville, Michigan.

But let me go back to the beginning.  Wally Benedict is my husband's father.  His parents,
Walter and Sarah Benedict raised a large family near Grand Rapids, Michigan.  Wally had always said that there were 13 children in the family.  However, there was only information
about the births of 11 children.

Phyllis, the youngest child of Walter and Sarah had a vague recollection that there was a child named Gerald but there has never been any record of Gerald Benedict.  She felt he was the oldest of the children but someone her parents never would talk about.  The only information we had about Gerald was that he was born in 1913.

After a recent trip to Aunt Jean's funeral, I began to do some more genealogy work.  Through the use of DNA tests, Tom matched as a first cousin with a man named Arden Adams from Middleville, Michigan.  Arden and I had corresponded and recently he suggested that I call his sister, Phyllis Adams Raab,  because she had some family information.

Arden Adams-second child of Gerald

Phyllis Adams and I began were able to connect by phone.  She told me that her father, Melbourne Adams, had been adopted from Grand Rapids.  He was born in 1913 and that his name at birth was Gerald.  Using the strong DNA match with Arden, and the birth date of Gerald/Melbourne, we have determined that Melbourne Adams was actually Gerald who was born to Sarah Benedict in 1913 and was given up for adoption shortly after he was born.
 Melbourne was known as Shorty
With his son Leeland

Phyllis Adams Raab, Arden Adams and I had many phone conversations comparing notes about the family.  Melbourne (Gerald) was raised on Parmalee Road north of Middleville.  His parents were turkey farmers there.  Melbourne and his wife raised 8 children there. So the Adams family lived near-by to the Benedicts but never knew of the relationships.  Gerald/Melbourne passed away in 1996.

Our daughter, Jennifer, worked at a Caledonia supermarket in the early 1990's.  She now remembers seeing a customer on several occasions and thinking, "That man looks like he could be Grandpa Benedict's brother."  We now know that yes indeed, it was probably Grandpa Benedict's  (Wally) brother.

We decided to meet face-to-face.  Two weeks ago we all came together at TK Kitchen in Middleville.  Gerald's four living children came. Phyllis and her son George, Arden and his wife Ruth, Leland and his wife Yvonne, and Steve were the descendants of Gerald attending.  Aunt Phyllis came with her daughter-in-law Patti.  Tom and I rounded out the group.

It was a blessed time of hearing about the lives of each family member.  The new cousins are looking forward to meeting more family members in the future.

Arden & Phyllis in front
Steve, Tom, Leeland, Phyllis in back
 There are still unanswered questions about why Gerald was given up for adoption.  It is sad that Gerald never had the opportunity to meet his biological family although he lived close by.  His children are hoping to make up for that in the future.

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