Seeking Unknown Siblings

I was about nine years old when I noticed that I had blue eyes like Mom and Dad, while my two younger sisters had hazel eyes. Thus began my on-again/off-again search for the truth to this mystery. Eventually, I learned that James S. McDowell (1927-2012) was my birth father. This hazel-eyed man left 4-year-old me, my 2-year-old sister, and my pregnant mother on Christmas Eve 1951; however, I remembered him not at all. My young brain blocked out all memories before I was five, when, luckily, Dad married Mom and adopted us three girls. They proceeded to fill our family with two more girls and our baby brother, giving us an exciting, never-dull childhood.

Throughout my life, I learned that McDowell went on to father and abandon six more children by two other wives. In the mid-90s, I decided to contact him in order to discover some medical history. For some reason, my uncle’s wife had kept up with him and let him know what was going on with his first children, though why he cared is beyond me. She gave me his address and I wrote a note to which he quickly responded.  Diabetes was the main culprit in his family history. His mother died from it, and so did he. His sister died from uterine cancer. Good to know.

After a couple years, we spoke on the phone. A stranger’s voice that meant nothing to me. Besides health issues, he told me about my half-siblings, one of whom I started talking with a few months later. She was/is amazing and sweet.

In 2001, my husband and I met McDowell (Mac) and most of this Kentucky/Indiana family.  I never warmed up to Mac, but I instantly loved my new found siblings. We have visited several times and try to keep up with each other’s birthdays.

Two summers ago, a new half-brother in California contacted one of my Kentucky brothers. His mother had not been married to Mac when he was born, which was a few months before Mac’s third wife’s fifth child. Needless to point out, our birth father appears to have been a sexaholic cad, like his own father. However, all of his offspring are very kind and warm-hearted. So we are blessed.

I expect I am the eldest of his progeny only because Mac and Mom married in 1945, when they were eighteen and seventeen respectfully. On the other hand, the ten of us are in complete accord that the likelihood of more half-siblings is quite high. That is the reason I am writing this post – to reach out to others who may not know about the rest of us. Perhaps someone or their mother will recognize these photos of Jimmy McDowell.

Mom and Mac 1945Mac youngerMac at 34

After WWII, he became a traveling salesman for Southland Electrical Supply in Louisville. His territory included Indiana and Kentucky, perhaps Ohio too. He lived in Jeffersonville, IN and Louisville, KY. His hobby was fixing old radios. Sound familiar?


About Cyranette

I have been writing since I was 11 and am now a grandmother of 9. Aside from my family, I love writing, reading, movies, gardening, genealogy, and travel. I met my soulmate online and we've been married 19 years. I am a survivor of rape, abuse, and cancer. I believe in love, kindness, and common sense. I was born/raised in Indiana and have lived in Massachusetts, Texas, and California. I have visited: most of the United States, British Columbia, Germany, Austria, and Costa Rica. My husband and I would like to visit England, Europe, and New Zealand and to take a train ride along the Canadian/American border. I have written essays, articles, short stories, a romance novel, a self-help book, and several children's books.
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5 Responses to Seeking Unknown Siblings

  1. J.G. Leap says:

    I pray your search is fruitful!

    J.G. Leap



  2. jmmcdowell says:

    The name isn’t one I recognize from my line, but I haven’t carried many branches forward in time other than my own. There were several McDowell families that settled in Kentucky in the 1800s, but I haven’t figured out how or if they were all related!


    • Cyranette says:

      Thank you, sweetie. The Kentucky McDowells in my family line were slave owners; I have a few documents about this, which does not thrill me in the least.


      • jmmcdowell says:

        That is one way I can distinguish my immediate ancestors from the others. My McDowells were not slave owners. But many of the lines they married into were. Not something I’m proud of, either. I’ve done the Ancestry DNA testing, and I have a number of matches of African descent whose ancestors must have known those owners far too well. But if we were to meet, I would be happy to call them family.


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