James Duck, With His Niece And Nephew, Margaret Girsham
And Her Brother Kenneth Johnson
After 20 Years Their Mystery Solved
By Aretha Jackson
(News Staff Reporter)
Margaret Johnson Grisham, 30, and her 11 brothers and sisters began a search for her mother's relatives 20 years ago. But that search never seemed to progress beyond the initial stages of inquiry, and just two weeks ago, Mrs. Grisham finally found out why.
In a casual conversation with her elderly father, Mrs. Grisham of 3057 Braeburn Circle discovered that 44 years ago her mother had changed her maiden name from Duck to Davis. The change was never a legal one, and apparently was never mentioned again in the 44 years since Bette Duck and her husband Thomas Johnson simply agreed upon it.
It wasn't long after that revelation, in-fact only a few days, until Mrs. Grisham was able to find the missing pieces in the family puzzle. The other half of the Duck—not Davis—family were found quite easily in New York city, the hometown they had never left.
James, 50, and Robert Duck, 63, who had not seen their late sister since she left home 44 years before, were suddenly confronted with a large family of Johnson’s which they never knew existed. It was an equal surprise for the Johnson's to find a family of about 20 Ducks and Ducketts (another name change) in New York.
According to Mrs. Grisham, the family has no idea why her mother, who died four years ago, never mentioned the name change. The Duck family also searched for the missing sister, but according to James, they too, had no idea of the name change.
“When, my father first mentioned the change," said Mrs. Grisham, “I didn't quite believe it. My first thought was ‘nobody's name is Duck’. When I told my sister, Lavenia Lincoln of Ypsilanti, she
was also skeptical, but we didn't have many clues to go on so we decided to try it anyway.”
The oddity of the name simplified the search consideralby. There were only two "Ducks” in the Manhattan directory, and one of them was a cousin. Although there are many other relatives in New York, according to Thea Duck, they all have unlisted numbers. “In fact, the Duck in the phone book had only been listed for the last seven months," said Mrs. Duck.
"When I first called New York, I still wasn't sure I had the right people," commented Mrs. Grisham, "so when my uncle returned the call I made to New York, the only mutual reference we had was my mother's middle name. It was "Magnolia' and she never used it, so only a family member would know it."
"When the man I was talking to said his sister’s middle name was Magnolia, I just about went through the celling."
Mrs. Grisham and her two daughters, along with three of her brothers and another sister flew to new York a few days afterward. James Duck and his family retrned the visit by coming to Ann Arbor last Friday.
"I just can't get over the fact," said James Duck pointing to Richard Johnshon with a grin, "that this guy here is my nephew.”