Just in time for the holidays, a woman’s lifelong quest to find her brothers is over. It took more than fifty years.
Valerie Calhourn is close to this story. One of those lost boys is her husband.
It turns out a chance posting on a genealogy website led to this life-changing meeting.
John Elkington never knew his father. Until a few years ago, he had no idea he had a sister.
“It’s very sad. My mother was a good person but she just decided to leave and move away and never told us about our family,” Elkington said.
John’s mother later told the boys their father was dead. She had their last names legally changed.
But their father wasn’t dead. He remarried and had a little girl.
Mary Jeanne Jacobsen told us she remembers seeing a picture of two little boys. Her father told her “this is John and Chris. They are your brothers.”
Jacobsen said, “My brothers were lost. I looked for them and could never find them. But, I thought I was looking for John Jacobsen and Chris Jacobsen in Chicago."
But their names had been changed to Elkington. And, the boys had no idea they had a sibling until they y found their father's obituary a few years ago. They also discovered their father was alive for much longer than they had been told.
Elkington said they didn’t know what to do with that information
"It’s a strange thing because you've been told something all your life and it turns out not to be the way it was."
A family member posted the new information about John’s family tree on a genealogy website.
Alison Elkington said, "I did the whole tree and once you put a tree on Ancestry dot come, other people can see your tree. “
Mary Jeanne's cousin saw the post, knew the family wanted to find John and his brother and sent a message.
It took a couple of years and a lot of shared information before the Elkington’s were ready to follow up.
Last summer, the cousin found a picture of John in the eighth grade.
Elkington said, “It kind of verified this was a real story. It was a picture of when I was in the eighth grade.”
He called the cousin. They talked for a long time and he got his sister’s email. Jacobsen describes what happened when she got it.
"I think I'm your half-brother. And, as soon as I read it I said...’oh my god I have a half-brother.' I knew the name John but not Elkington. I read it and was overwhelmed."
One month later, Mary Jeanne came to Memphis to meet her new family.
John said, "When she got here, it was just special. I feel like I've known her all my life."
It is likely their paths crossed at some point. John lived in Nashville and graduated from Vanderbilt University in 1970.
Mary Jeanne was a television reporter there a few years later. John returned frequently for work.
John never really knew his father but Jeanne is filling him in.
It's a union made possible after 50 years thanks a chance posting online.
The information was posted on Ancestry.com
Cox Media Group