8    Oct 20097 comments

User Story: World War II Child Discovers Secret Ancestry

Juergen Ulloth born in Kassel in Germany in 1946, has pieced together his past over a period of fifty odd years, finding out about the family secrets hidden from him. Now, at the age of 62, he knows all about the family's ancestry and has reconnected with his American family. Read below the truly incredible story of Juergen, a user of MyHeritage.com.

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Juergen Ulloth and parents

The first indication I had that I was not a child like the others was in the beginning of 1954 when, as part of a school project, my teachers asked me to map out my family tree. Consequently, I asked my maternal grandma about the family and she told me everything she remembered. I found out that her family came from the Cologne region of Germany over 100 years ago. But when asking my paternal grandparents about the Ulloth family history, their explanations about my father, grandfather and so on were confusing to me. That should probably have been an indication that something was not right in the family, but I only found out years later what it was they were hiding from me.

The story is that of my German mother and her impossible love for an American soldier in the Second World War, a history which

I share with some ten thousand other babies born from US soldiers during and after the Second World War. Most of them do not know anything about their fathers and some of them have had difficult lives because of it.

I found out about it in 1972, the year that I intended to marry. At that time, you needed to provide copies of your birth certificate to the town register. When the birth certificate arrived, the registrar said to me: 'Did you know that Ulloth is not your birth name? Your stepfather gave it to you when you were 7 years old.' I had never heard about this fact before. Up to that point my father was my father, and why not?

That's when my mother and (now) stepfather told me about my real father. My real father Malcolm, who was 19 at the time and my mother Gerta, 17, met in Kassel in Germany in 1945, as the Second World War ended. My father was sent to Germany with the US army and met my mother while driving through her home town. He was immediately struck by her long blond hair and good looks and offered to drive her home. That's how their love affair started. In 1947, while my father was temporarily back in the US, I was born. He came back to Germany for 2 and a half years and visited my mother as often as possible.

Juergen and father and the Kaiser car
Juergen, his father and the Kaiser car

I have some pictures of the time they spent together; one of them shows my mother and my father and the little "Billyboy" - me. On the other (the one displayed here on the left) you can see him and me as a baby sitting on a wonderful car, a Kaiser model which he won in a lottery. Can you imagine, he came and drove in a totally destroyed city just to be with my mother? Kassel, the city where they lived used to have a tank manufacturer and was almost completely destroyed in one night.

But their being together wasn't meant to be. They wanted to be married but the army priest told them they were too young. More importantly, American soldiers were not allowed, at that time, to marry the enemy's girls. Not being allowed to marry and the relationship being strongly against my mother's family's wishes, my father went back to the US in 1948 when he fell ill and my mother ended up marrying my stepfather Erich Ulloth in 1951.

My stepfather Erich was the son of a 'real' German. He and his two brothers had all been caught as prisoners of war in France - held captive by Russia and ironically, the USA. Erich Ulloth served in the navy with my maternal grandfather in 1943 and was held as a prisoner until 1951 in Russia. After his release he came back to Kassel to visit the family of the man with whom he had served - and who was still missing - and met my mother. Finally he married my mother - with the child of an enemy.

In 1973 my maternal grandmother died. But it wasn't until 30 years later that we found a shoebox that she had kept hidden, containing about 40 letters and photos from my American father that my grandmother had kept hidden from my mother. He had written the letters to my mother when he was back in the States asking her why she hadn't responded and if she had forgotten him. His last letter arrived 14 days before she married Erich Ulloth. It's a tragedy to think that my mother never got those letters, because my grandmother had kept them from her.

That's when I set out to find out who my father was. The US consulate here in Frankfurt helped me with my research, but they warned me that nothing was registered in the United States except the people who joined the Army or Navy so my search might be difficult.

During my search for him, I was fortunate to get in touch with a man who did his military service here in Germany, in a town near to where I live today. At first he told me that most records were secret - so I wouldn't be able to find any information on my father at all, which was a grave disappointment. But then he asked if I had a fax number because sometimes one receives a surprise fax. 10 minutes later I received the death certificate of my father with the address of the hospital, the doctor and his last known address.

I found out that he had died in 1999, just one day before my birthday. At the age of 58, I had to accept the sad reality that I had a biological birth father who I would never have a chance to talk to.

Juergen and father
Juergen Ulloth and father

I was determined not to leave it at that. After I had the death certificate from the Veteran's office in Asheville I traveled to the US. I went there to the Register of Deeds and looked for family members with the same name as him: 'Ingle'. I found the marriage document of my father, on which it said he was married in 1952 to an American woman and this document was signed by two other Ingles, Dock Owen Ingle and Doris Ingle. So I looked in the phone book at my hotel and found a Dock Owen Ingle, called his number and a lady answered. I asked her about Malcolm Ingle and she (my aunt Doris Ingle) said to me that she remembered him well but that she didn't want to talk to me or about the family.

So I went back home, and I continued searching for other people with the Ingle surname using the internet, Official Registers, and other genealogy sites and then I found MyHeritage.com, which I've been using ever since.

With the help of these resources, and, very importantly, a Genealogy professional from South California, I made some progress on the history of my family, obtaining the names and dates of various Ingle's and traced their ancestors back to 1619. These ancestors are the famous Reynolds Tobacco family from Virginia and on the German side the Banthers, who I've traced back to 1700.

In 2006 I had a breakthrough, when I found a note of a divorce of a Mrs. Martha Lee Ingle from a Mr. Sparacino, Hendersonville (near Asheville). Sparacino is not a very common name like Ingle, so I searched for this name and found a Restaurant, 'Sparacino's', listed with only an e-mail address. I wrote to them, mentioning Malcolm Ingle again and a few hours later, I got a call from David Sparacino, who turned out to be the son of Martha Ingle and remembered his uncle Malcolm and told me his mother would like to talk to me. I got in touch with the Ingle family and visited Asheville again in 2007, where four cousins welcomed me. They all remembered my father and said he was like a 'big brother' to them. The first weekend in October 2007 we held a now-famous family reunion and there I met more than 70 American cousins, from Missouri, Alabama, California, Florida and of course from North Carolina. I'll never forget that moment of my life.

My genealogy is really very special but also wonderful because through it I have met all my family in the US and they treated me like a long lost son. The US Consulate told me, that I was a US citizen by birth and they gave me a US passport. It made me very proud as it recognizes my roots. Even more, what started out as a search is now my favorite hobby and I can say one thing for sure: Our ancestors have a lot to tell us and we should listen to them.

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Comments (7) Trackbacks (1)
  1. What an awewome story!
  2. Loved this story. My German Mom and American Dad met in Germany 1946 and wanted to marry but they were also discouraged. After jumping through alot of hoops and red tape they finally married and had our brother a year later. They they had a hard time getting permission to leave when my father was transfered. After many trials they were finally given the OK and have been married over 60 years. I am one of six children who are very glad that they hung in there and would not take no for an answer. Thank you for sharing your story.
  3. my name is Jason Ingle, your father Malcom was my great uncle.
    doris and dock are my grandparents. matha lee is my aunt. i would like to get in contact with you somehow. I know you tried to contact my father david bradley, could anyone help with this?
  4. I was deeply touched by your story, but what ends well, is all well they say.
    I have been involved with Gene logy, very recently, but from child hood, I had a desire to know who was my Grand Father/Mother, from my dad side and same from my mother side. I happen to know my Grand mom, my mom's mom, that all the love she showered me, is still a great memory for me.
    I am on the journey, to find my family tree, and God willingly, once I succeed, it will be a great honor to my ancestors to where we came from. I am settled here in Auckland, NZ originally from India.
    May be at some stage, need your help, it may be great idea, if I could get a reply from you on my email ID, for our future chats.
    Best Wishes from your friend.
    A Talwar, AKL, NZ, talwar1948@gmail.com
  5. My husbands Father,Carvie Lee Johnson met a girl in England before being shipped to N.Africa during WWII. His commander rec'd a letter about a girl he left behind in England that was pregnant ,but he and my Mother in law were making wedding plans and the commander choose to keep the letter a secret until after the wedding. Well my husband and his Mother came to this country and nothing else was said about the English girl except my husband overheard the story and that he had a sister.He has always wondered about her.We have no idea where to start looking.I hope she or someone who knows her ,sees this.
  6. LIinda Johnson - what year did he leave England and where was he stationed?
  7. Linda, I think your husband could be my uncle.My mothers real father was an American GI in WW2 and his name was Carvie Lee Johnson.I really hope this is true as my mother has spent her life wondering about him and possible relatives in the US.

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