Many people enroll in the genealogy classes offered by Kaskaskia College in hopes of finding out more about their family trees, and are often rewarded by the discovery of a branch or twig they were unaware of. But for Jim Hopkins of Mulberry Grove, attending genealogy class resulted in a whole new tree.
Jim, born in 1946, was adopted by the Hopkins family as a baby, and knew nothing whatever about his birth family. His wife, Linda, urged him to find out what he could, but he held back out of respect for his mother. With her passing, Jim and Linda were free to find out what they could. They didn’t know where to start and hoped that attending Donna Ruble’s Genealogy class at the KC Vandalia campus would help.
Donna Ruble was the right person to talk to. She is very familiar with genealogical software, and had the experience of searching for her own missing family members. “Donna went to bat and found gobs of information,” Linda Hopkins said. “She had the drive and the passion.” As a result, Jim discovered that he had an entire family that had been searching for him as well.
Jim grew up as an only child, and was amazed to discover that he had two brothers and a sister by his birth mother.
In speaking with the wife of one of his brothers, Jim was saddened to discover that his birth mother and all of his siblings had already passed away, the last brother only six months prior.
While Jim and Linda have not yet met with any of his birth-family members, they did receive a large number of photographs that allowed Jim to see some family resemblance between himself and his brothers.
Next for Jim and Linda is finding information on Jim’s birth-father, a task complicated by not having a name or confirmed contact to aid their search. Donna Ruble suggested a DNA search to help narrow down the possibilities and give Jim an idea of his genetic origins.
Donna Ruble conducts genealogy classes regularly at the Kaskaskia College Vandalia Campus. For more information, please contact the Vandalia Campus at 618-283-1780.