Begin New Search
Refine Last Search
Cemetery Lookup
Add Burial Records
Help with Find A Grave

Top Contributors
Success Stories
Community Forums
Find A Grave Store

Log In
James Bellert (#48157908)
 member for 2 years, 5 months, 9 days
[Add to MyFriends]
Bio and Links
Bio Photo
I was born at St. Vincent's Orphanage in Chicago. I spent most of my adult years and much money and time trying to find my biological mother. Finally, in 1996, Catholic Charities SOLD me a redacted biography of my birth mother. I had also obtained a copy of the Decree of Adoption in which her name was listed. I was able to use her name and the redacted bio to focus my search and finally locate her and her other children, both legitimate and illegitimate. When I made that discovery I was in the town in which my grandparents raised my mother and other kids and the town in which my biological grandparents were buried. It was the microfiche of the obituaries which led me to the discovery of my birthmother and her family.

Unless you are an adoptee, I don't think you can fully understand the feeling of connection and authentication as a member of the human race I had when I visited the cemetery in that town and saw the graves of my grandparents to whom I was actually biologically related. I went on to do a lot of genealogy research, now made so much easier by websites like Find A Grave and I traced my mother's side back to England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, in some cases back to the 1000's!

All that knowledge obtained because I found the graves of my grandparents! If I can help another person find that feeling of connection and authentication by posting a photograph of a marker or creating a memorial on Find A Grave to go with it, I couldn't be happier.

All is not warm and fuzzy, though. Not in my case. But mine is unusual as over 92% of all birthmothers welcome a reunion with the child they "adopted out." Illinois enacted a law in recent years allowing adult adoptees to obtain copies of their original birth certificates (but not their adoption records). I had always wanted a copy of my original birth certificate because I somehow felt it would give me authenticity as a human being. Maybe that sounds ridiculous, but it's a feeling shared by many adoptees. We weren't born, we were adopted! Well, virtually ALL of the entries about my birthmother on that certificate were falsified by Catholic Charities! Her married name was shown where it required her maiden name, her marital status was false, the number of previous births was wrong, and the address given as her place of usual residence was the address of the ORPHANAGE! The father's name is "Legally Omitted." That was legal lingo for "Bastard."

Learning about my genetic physical and mental health was only one of the reasons I needed to search for my birth families. It was less a reason for searching and more of an excuse to give to non-adoptees for why I wanted to search. At least non-adoptees might understand the need to know your medical history as a reason to search.

And the discoveries you make about health issues, both mental and physical, are not always what you hope to hear. My biological mother's family is rampant with diabetes and alcoholism, two afflictions I am fortunate enough not to suffer. And I discovered that mental traits may very well be genetic. Many of my biological relatives are reclusive to an extreme. And, that is one of my traits, I do admit.

I would do all the searching again, though. The greatest experience was seeing actual living people, and photographs of people, that I actually LOOK LIKE!!!

2015 UPDATE:

By the miracle of DNA studies, I found a genetic link to my biological father. I was linked to a man who is my predicted second cousin. This second cousin gave me enough biographical information to enable me to determine the man who was VERY probably my biological father! Without going into all the details, I am about 99% sure that this man is my father! I've explained all the reasoning to my wife (an extremely brilliant woman) who agrees that he is in all likelihood my father. Unfortunately, he died in 1977 and left no other children. Also, I'm not sure how I can verify with 100% certainty that he is my father. The second cousin has clammed up. If I had just a little bit more information from him, I could be absolutely certain. My biological half sister might know more about this, but I need to know more before I approach her. My quest for my heritage has been rekindled! Any suggestions are welcome!

PLEASE NOTE: In the spirit of being helpful, I had been posting obituaries to the memorial I created, and people often suggest I add an obituary to a memorial. But, I discovered a response by Find A Grave in their "Help With Find a Grave" section that obituaries may NOT be copied from websites or newspapers and posted to memorial unless you get written permission from the source to do so. I admit the wording to that response is a bit ambiguous, so I emailed Find A Grave to ask them if they can rewrite the response so it is more clear (they're considering it), and also to verify that I was interpreting the response correctly. Find A Grave replied that we may NOT copy and paste an obituary into a memorial unless we have WRITTEN permission from the souce. The written permission need not be posted but should be kept in case a problem ever arises. If you DO get written permission, then the rules in the FAQ response should be followed. So, this is why I will not post obituaries to memorials unless you have written permission from the source.
 Contact: Leave Public Message
Contributions to
Find A Grave
 • 14,395 Memorials Added
 • 14,337 Memorials Managed
 • 112 Memorials/Week
 • 22,784 Photos
 • 3 Photo Requests
 • 453 Volunteer Photos Taken
 • 14,902 Virtual Flowers
 • 7 Virtual Cemeteries
 • 97 Fame Ratings
 • 36 Sponsorships
 • 2 Friends
Search Contributor's Records

First NameLast Name

Virtual Cemeteries
Crooked Creek (9)
Famous (71)
Maternal Birth Family (21)
Old Neighborhood (6)
Paternal Birth Family (12)
Seven Angels Victims (7)
Windridge Memorial Park a... (1)
Find A Grave Friends
Carol Girvin, Michael Stanley...
Messages left for James Bellert (368)[Leave Message]
Jean Franke
RE: Re: Clarence C. Franke
I did not know whether you would want to include that in bio - he was living in Algonquin either all or most of his life. I was surprised to find a reference to his death being in Coles Co.
Added by Jean Franke on Nov 21, 2015 9:21 PM
Thank You
Thank you so much for the Liautaud memorial transfer.
Added by Quercus2tx on Nov 19, 2015 8:15 PM
Nuernberger photos-Evergreen Cemetery-Barrington
May I have your permission to use your photos in my family tree? Thanks, Bob.
Added by Bjensen on Nov 15, 2015 4:19 PM
Michael Stanley Klimczak
RE: Memorial # 23362808
Thanks for responding, James. I was just in Barrington earlier today for lunch. Ever been to Chessies in the Ice House Mall?
Added by Michael Stanley Klimczak on Nov 04, 2015 7:14 PM
Michael Stanley Klimczak
Memorial # 23362808
Hi there again James. I was curious if you were related or were a friend of Connie Gilbert (memorial# 23362808). I saw you uploaded her grave pic. She was the wife of my mentor, Ralph. I saw Ralph today and we discussed Connie and fondly recalled how such a great lady she was. Just curious. Take care.
Added by Michael Stanley Klimczak on Nov 04, 2015 3:05 PM
Kay Kuebeler
Fred E or Ellsworth Mayhew Maynard
Thankyou for your cemetery pictures of the burial place of Fred E. Mayhew...his real name, you have him listed as Fred E. Maynard. He deserted his wife and kids. The kids, put up for adoption, but years later, almost seventy found each other. He is one of our black sheep in the family. But....your bio was quite interesting and I myself had two dna tests to see if my Mother was really my Mother. I am still unsure but keep up the good work. You are an angel in disguise.
Added by Kay Kuebeler on Oct 28, 2015 7:36 AM
Cathi Murphy
RE: May LaMotte
Hi Jim,
Absolutely! Please DO email me a picture of my Auntie May! Does the picture I posted here look like how you remember her? The last time I saw her must have been about a year before she died. She came out here to California to visit with my family and my Grandmother, Agatha Irene (Bonfield) Schmidt, her "sister-in-law". Even after the death of her first husband, Julian Arthur Bonfield (my Grandmother's brother), she remained a close family member. On her last visit with us in around 1969, she gave me the diamond engagement ring that she received from Julian who was killed on duty in 1926 with the Chicago Police Dept. She married Howard LaMotte just 2 months before I was born in 1953 in Chicago. She lived in Chicago nearly all her life. I would love to hear anything you might remember about her, since I only saw her a few times in my life as we moved to California in 1954. My email is: Thank you so much for contacting me! Cathi
Added by Cathi Murphy on Oct 24, 2015 12:51 PM
Michael Stanley Klimczak
RE: Your bio
Your reply doesn't surprise me, sadly. I had a similar situation arise when I tried contacting my grand-aunt's daughter (that's the daughter of my grandmother's sister on my mother's side). It's been well over a year now and she refuses to respond to me. I got in contact (for a brief while) with her teenage son (my 2nd cousin), but I guess he was told to not talk to me because he's stopped talking to me on social media. Despite all the evidence that I have that she's my 1st cousin (once removed) and her kids are my 2nd cousins, she simply refuses to talk to me. I gather it's because her mother and my grandma (the two sisters) hated each other; that's what my mother told me.
Added by Michael Stanley Klimczak on Oct 23, 2015 2:26 PM
Michael Stanley Klimczak
Your bio
I enjoyed reading the update to your bio, James. How exciting that you think you've found out who your biological father is! DNA tests are quite amazing as to what they can tell us about our past. Sad to hear, however, that your 2nd cousin has taken the vow of silence. I'm quite friendly with a 2nd cousin of mine. Has this 2nd cousin of yours given you any explanation as to why s/he will not talk? Wishing you the best of luck as your move forward in your search.
Added by Michael Stanley Klimczak on Oct 23, 2015 1:48 PM
Dave Milster
RE: Re: Clara Kuehnert
I'll check into and thanks for making the changes.

Added by Dave Milster on Oct 22, 2015 4:59 PM
[View all messages...]

Privacy Statement and Terms of Service