The biggest brick wall in my own family history is my great-grandfather, John Crumpton. He was born, as far as I can determine, around late 1870 or 1871 in Kentucky. At least, so his census answers usually said (though his age wandered quite a bit). There is no birth record that I can find, and I do not know the specific identity of his parents. The first and only childhood record I have of him is the 1880 US Census for Cainsville, Harrison County, Missouri, where a 9 year old John Crumpton is listed as “adopted” and living with Albert and Fannie Hickman, an older couple whose grown children had married and moved out. I don’t know if his residence there was long term or not; thanks to the loss of the 1890 US Census, my next record of him is in 1900, at age 29, living as a boarder with a family named Purdy in Saline County, Missouri. This is where it gets complicated. John Crumpton had a younger brother (as shown by DNA, probably a half-brother) named Jesse Thomas Crumpton, who was listed in the 1880 census as a “boarder” with that same Purdy family in Saline County, Missouri. His census answers always indicated he was born in Missouri, rather than Kentucky. I have no idea how two children of the same mother ended up separated by over a hundred miles, a full six hundred miles or more away from at least one of their birthplaces. I believe that John Crumpton came to Saline County to find Jesse, but there’s little to no evidence of any interaction between them in later years; John Crumpton’s wife never even knew he had a brother, and refused to believe Jesse in later years when he claimed to be. (Jesse had, by then, changed his name to that of his adoptive family, Purdy, which made the connection harder to credit.) Until the last couple of years, that’s all I knew about John Crumpton’s origins and youth. Thanks to a couple of DNA tests, however, we’ve gotten a bit more. I match, at about the level of third or fourth cousins, with a number of people who are known to be descended from the family of William Crumpton, Jr. (1805-1860) of Barren County, KY. I also match with some who are descended from the family of Jesse Emerson (1808-?), also of Barren County, KY. So I’m pretty sure that John Crumpton’s parents were children of those two men. Unfortunately, William Crumpton had eleven children still living in 1870, and Jesse Emerson had nine. Some can be eliminated because they were female, married, and having children with their husbands during and after the time in question, or were too young (Jesse Emerson’s youngest four children were between 6 and 13 in 1870). All the other males are possibilities, as it’s quite possible that the births of John and Jesse were not, shall we say, within the bonds of matrimony? And before someone goes researching, there was one known marriage between a Crumpton son (Marion) and an Emerson daughter (Lucy), and they did have a pair of sons in 1872 named John and Jessie. But both of those men are recorded in every census, had marriages and children and death certificates in Kentucky or Indiana, so they are not the same people as my great grandfather and his brother, who lived and died in Missouri. I have DNA matches with several descendants of that Crumpton/Emerson marriage, and I’m quite strongly related to many of them due to the double relationship (John Crumpton having been either a three-quarter sibling or a double-first-cousin to Marion and Lucy’s children). I have not yet had the funds to go to either Kentucky or Missouri and research this in person, nor to pay someone there to do so. So I’m stuck with this gap in my tree, where I know who my great-grandfather’s grandparents were, but not his parents.