A Canadian Family

Natives, French Canadians & Acadians

Can a Son-in-law Solve a One Hundred Fifteen Year Old Mystery? | Installment 2/2

This is the second of two new guest posts from family historian Peter Lagasse!

In the first installment Peter Lagasse shared with us about his wife’s great grandfather, Benjamin Waterhouse, who had left his wife and three young children before 1910 and was never heard of again. Peter has been researching since 2005 to find Benjamin but had found nothing until last year in 2016 when some leaves (hints) on his tree appears.

After some research on a James Archibald Waterhouse that these hints share, Peter feels he may have discovered Benjamin Waterhouse. (Read his first installment why Peter believes this.) His first installment left us in suspense as he waits for any response from some queries he has sent out who has James Archilbald Waterhouse on their family tree.

The one hundred fifteen year old mystery continues. (Some names have been changed for personal reasons. They will be in italics.)

Peter has sent out his queries and begins to wait as he has done with other family members. Sometimes answers took a year or more to arrive from one of his queries, so he knew patience must be a virtue of any genealogist. It, therefore, comes as a surprise when Peter receives a call 24 hours after his initial queries.

Peter is returning from a meeting 24 hours after his initial queries when his phone rings. Peter picks up the phone and hears a lady asking if he is looking for information about a James Archilbald Waterhouse? Yes, is his answer and this is her response.

“My name is Nancy Wait and I live in Las Vegas. I received a call from my son stating you were looking for information on James Waterhouse. I am James Waterhouse’s granddaughter and I lived with him for the first seven years of my life.”

Peter nearly drops the phone or at least his mind begins to spin. Nancy Wait continues.

“You asked if James Waterhouse had ever shared having another family in Maine, USA or had made a death bed confession? I was there when he died and he made no confessions and said nothing about another family in Maine unless to his wife.” (Peter’s heart sinks.) “However, one of his daughters, Aunt Sally, shared with me she had done some extensive research about her father after his death in regards to settling his estate and she came to believe James had another family in Maine and his name was Benjamin. She had called from Turner, Maine, USA in the 1970’s to Benjamin’s son, Raymond Sr., but had got nowhere. Also, all of her brothers and sisters did not believe her. The last child of James died earlier in 2016, but Aunt Sally gave me her research material. I will need to call you back once I find it. I have just moved and it is packed somewhere.”



Peter hangs up the phone while sensing his genealogical bones shaking with many emotions. He has to get home to tell his wife, the great granddaughter of Benjamin Waterhouse, and also to have her call her father Raymond Waterhouse Jr. Both his wife and father-in-law are excited about the possibility Benjamin Waterhouse has been found.

During the next several days Peter receives a variety of information from James’ granddaughter, Nancy Wait, that leads him to ask if Nancy Wait and his father-in-law, Raymond Waterhouse Jr. would be willing to take a DNA test. If this James was the long lost Benjamin then both Nancy and Raymond would be grandchildren in the same generation. Also for Nancy and Raymond to have any DNA matches it would have to come from Benjamin/James since Nancy and Raymond had different grandmothers. They both agree to take a DNA test.

They take the Family Tree DNA test and sends it in. Now it is another waiting game of six weeks or longer. What will the results show? Will Nancy Wait ‘s Aunt Sally be proven correct or will all of James’ other children be proven correct? Only time and a little DNA from two individuals will give the answer. Will the son-in-law solve a one hundred fifteen year old mystery after all this time?

The test results finally arrive. The data is put in and up comes a number for Nancy Wait and Raymond Waterhouse Jr. They share 204 centimorgans of DNA. It means they could be second cousins, but Peter knows they do not share the same grandmother which means they could even be first cousins.

DNA can only tell a part of the genealogical story. A genealogist also needs to find out facts about a family. Peter knows the facts and with the DNA results he feels secure enough to say James Waterhouse and Benjamin Waterhouse are two names for the same person. The son-in-law does solve the one hundred fifteen year old mystery of his wife’s great grandfather!

May 22, 2017 - Posted by | .

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