Thriller Thursday: Muriel Ince Michaels

The email from Mount Royal Cemetery just arrived!

I'm so excited, I'm practically singing the Canadian national anthem!

The fact that my grandmother is Canadian probably means that I should have learned their anthem too. Even though Americans largely think they're too good to learn anything about Canada.


Here's the email they sent me:

Hi Mrs. Collins,

I have received your online request and I have searched our records and I have found;

Name: Muriel Michaels nee Ince
Widower of Albert Michaels
67 yrs. Old
Date of birth: October 30, 1913
Date of death: January 2, 1981
Date of burial: January 6, 1981
Birth place: Nova Scotia
Place of death: Royal Victoria Hospital
Burial location: L 7153-A


Grace Polifroni

(She called me Mrs. Collins. I still get excited when people do that! Sorry, newlywed thing.)

So not only did I get her burial location and the rest of her birth information, I got a SPOUSE! Now you need to understand why this is so intriguing to me.

My grandmother's name is Emily Doyle, maiden name Michaels. She had a brother, named Richard Michaels, neither of whom were raised by their parents. I was told that Richard was placed with an aunt and uncle who essentially adopted him, while my grandmother was raised in a foster home. Richard and Emily didn't even know they were siblings until they were going to their mother's funeral in 1981. And yet they both have the last name Michaels. And here now is a husband/father? with their same last name.

Now, family legend says < grain of salt > that Muriel was a black servant and had a child with the master of the house where she was working, and the child was my grandmother. < /grain of salt > It certainly would account for how dark she was, how dark my father was, and how dark I am--but you don't just believe an accusation of infidelity because someone tells you it's true. But once I found out she has a brother, and now Muriel's married husband, with the same last name? 

They're all hiding something here. And while I do think it has something to do with someone either being black or being mixed, I can't say for certain at this point. However, I did discover one thing yesterday by sheer providence alone.

So, I've told you I'm Mormon. One of the things Mormons believe is that God talks to His children, and He does it all the time. The problem with most people is that they wouldn't even know His voice if they heard it, and when He does speak most people just don't listen. When He is able to get through to us, it's called personal revelation. And personal revelation is how we're taught to learn the truth.

Well, I was watching Ask A Slave on YouTube, minding my own business, when I had one of these moments of personal revelation yesterday. And it was really as I saw a lot of other parts of my life falling into place around what I heard that really makes me feel like it's true.

If one of my ancestors was black, and living in Canada, that means that at some point he or she was a slave. That was the message. If I want to know the truth, I have to be looking through black records.

As I thought about what I was told, different pieces also began to fall into place. The Underground Railroad was the escape route out of slavery, and Canada was the ultimate goal for any runaway because that's where freedom was. So, it stands to reason that if I have a black Canadian ancestor... I may not only have a slave, I may have a runaway.

Even as I say this, I can feel that it's true all over again. I can feel it in my heart. Maybe not the part of them being a runaway, but definitely the part of having black or slave ancestry. What this means to me personally are thoughts for another day. I will say this--I feel like a hole in my identity has finally been filled.

I am thrilled that such a breakthrough only cost me $5. I couldn't be happier with the information I received. Anyone else who is thinking about buying information from the Mount Royal Cemetery in Montreal, do it. It's worth every penny.