Where did you come from, Martha?

Martha Bond Henry 1881 This is my great grandmother Martha L. Bond Henry. Family lore has it that before she married my great grandfather she was married to a man named Carroll. There was a daughter named Sarah, as well a baby who died. Mr. Carroll died. Martha married my great grandfather. Sarah shows up in one census and is gone by the next. That same family lore has it that she went back to her father's people.

After my mom died in the fall of 2013, I found this tintype of Martha in the photos my parents had kept. My dad had written a little bit about his family, but Martha died before he was born and he knew nothing about her past.  He quoted part of an old note of my grandmother's saying "She was a beautiful woman, but she had no liberty to express her personality. She could not read. She was gentle and sweet in her disposition and did as she was told."

(i'm pretty sure Grandma Effie would never have called herself a feminist, but she was one all the same. My dad used to talk about a job his dad had in the 1920s. When my grandfather felt called to preach, my grandmother took over the job. For half the salary. Because she was a woman. Even though she was now the breadwinner. She never got over the injustice."

After I found the tintype, cue months of obsessive Ancestry.com searches. I spent week chasing a Martha Jane Bond born in the same year, but it turned out she wasn't my grandmother. On the other side of the country, a woman was researching her husband's relatives from the mid-1800s - including a family named Bond. Thanks to Ancestry's DNA tests and a lot of joint sleuthing of places and names, DNA and records, it seems very likely we share great-great grandparents.

I'm not sure why, but it's very satisfying to have solved this 15-month puzzle.  
So cool! I've had a lot of fun researching my family stories. I haven't used Ancestry.com because I don't want to pay the International rate. Mostly I've just found stuff online for free. It's very addictive. And it's all about stories, which I think is what is my draw to it.
There are so many untold stories out there. I was doing family history work one day and I found one ancestor with a tiny note on his profile: "Killed by pirates." No other details. No ship name or battle site or anything. But he was killed by pirates. THIS is why my grandmother wrote a family history book on her deathbed. Someday, people are gonna get curious.
Wow! Killed by pirates!?! That's even better than my relative who was charged with pig bewitchment.