Retired Jamestown Principal Connects With Sisters | News, Sports, Jobs

Pictured with Dan Bracey, a retired elementary school principal from Jamestown, his sisters Sue, Barb and Susan. A multi-year effort to track down information about Bracey’s adoption led to the discovery of seven sisters. Photos submitted

Sometimes the smallest steps lead to the biggest trips and the best rewards.

Dan Bracey and his wife, Elizabeth, took such a trip several years ago to gather information about his medical adoption. The former Jamestown Elementary and Middle School principal had no idea he would end up connecting with seven sisters and their families he didn’t know existed.

“The story sort of begins a long time ago because we tried to get information about my medical adoption only for our own children and for myself.” Bracey said. “After my wife scoured ancestry.com for my family history… in April 2016 my younger sister played a few games. My wife was a little skeptical at the time because you don’t know, but in April 2016 they were exchanging emails with ancestry com and then put two and two together.

Bracey found out he had two sisters at that time, but was stunned a month and a half later to find that two more sisters had appeared on Ancestry.com.

“I was taking a SAT test in high school and (Elizabeth) came looking for me and I said ‘Hey, what’s up?’ “ Bracey said. “And she said, ‘You have two other sisters.’ At that time there was Sue, Susan, Barb and Debbie. Then we found out Debbie had a sister, so there is another one.

In the photo, Dan Bracey with his niece Terry, his sister Cecelia and his niece Lisa.

The sisters he and Elizabeth located at that time were all on his mother’s side. They got together on July 4th of that year in Albany, because that’s where they were all born.

“The funny thing is that Sue and Susan grew up in Albany” Elizabeth Bracey explained. “For some reason Dan is the only one who ended up here. In fact, they went to the same church and didn’t even realize they were sisters. They knew they had been adopted and they knew each other.

When Bracey’s adoption cases were opened, he discovered that he had previously resided in an orphanage in Schenectady.

“I came here when I was three,” he said.

Elizabeth said Bracey remembers coming to the area by train.

“He was the only one to come down that far. she said. “Everyone really grew up in the Albany area and ended up here. We always joke and say it’s because it was to meet me.

Bracey said his wife continued to research and found he was what was considered a “baby stand” at the time. Elizabeth discovered that Bracey was born to a “Booth’s Hospital” to Buffalo.

“I think they were run by the Salvation Army and they were basically hospitals from which the children were adopted”, she said. “He was born there, but somehow ended up in Schenectady.”

Bracey then continued her research on her father’s side, which resulted in further relationships being formed a year and a half ago. A cousin contacted Elizabeth to ask if Bracey had relatives in Poland. Elizabeth said he didn’t know because he was adopted. The cousin asked a few questions, and they came up with the fact that Bracey’s birth name was Frank Anthony.

“She said, ‘Oh, wow, that was my uncle’s name'” said Elisabeth. “So he met his sister from his father’s side.”

“So that brought the total of half-sisters for me to six”, Bracey said laughing. “Then last year another sister appeared because her grandson was curious about his ancestors. He went through ancestry.com and the breadcrumbs brought another sister Pam back over a year ago to my mom’s side. So the grand total is seven sisters – six from my mother’s side and one from my father’s side.

In total, Bracey found seven sisters: Sue, Susan, Pam, Cecilia, Donna, Debbie and Barb. Barb, sadly, passed away two years ago from a brain tumor, however, Bracey was able to meet her and make a connection before that happened.

Elizabeth said there were some discrepancies in birth years between all of the sisters, so they are waiting to see if any more siblings turn out.

“We’re just waiting to see if there might be a brother along the way”, said Elisabeth. “It was cool – we were really lucky. His adoptive family had a brother, and it was in a very small family. I have a big family and his family is now much larger than my family. Some are in Texas, Florida and Albany.

“I have hundreds of nieces and nephews that I didn’t have before” Bracey beamed. “It’s pretty funny when I send birthday cards, I try to find childish ones because we never sent each other birthday cards. We send Christmas cards, Thanksgiving cards – we send all of those. It was awesome.

While some of the sisters were reluctant at first, their relationship grew stronger and was a source of joy and connection for the Bracey family.

“It’s weird because my daughter and Dan’s sister’s daughter Sue, if you’ve seen them, they almost look like sisters.” said Elisabeth. “They look so similar. It’s just kind of neat because growing up he didn’t have a face to connect with and now he’s got all these people.

Bracey said he and his family visited Texas a few years ago and had the opportunity to bond with their cousins. They have developed kinship with their cousins ​​in various ways over the years which has been incredibly valuable.

A few years ago, four of Bracey’s sisters and a few nieces and nephews visited Jamestown and got to meet his sister-in-law, Sara, and her family as well as his wife’s family. The group spent the long weekend traveling around the county and visiting each other.

Elizabeth said that when they meet a new sibling or family member, it’s an amazing experience in which the connection is almost immediately felt.

“It’s not embarrassing, nobody feels embarrassed” she said. “I feel a little bad that it hasn’t happened sooner, but beyond that everyone is very welcoming.”

While Bracey is happy to finally be able to fill in the gaps in her family medical history, the greatest reward has been forging new relationships with her newly discovered family members. He and Elizabeth visit his sisters in Albany three or four times a year. Before COVID-19 hit, the group gathered for a picnic on July 4 that included great-nieces and nephews.

Currently, the group is using technology to keep in touch.

“About once a month, we go to Zoom” she said. “We all go to Zoom on a Sunday night just to keep up with everyone”, said Elisabeth. “In fact, during COVID, when we were stuck at home, we would do it once a week. “

Bracey said he was delighted to have made these connections with his family. It encourages people who might be curious about their loved ones or family history to try ancestry.com or other such services.

“It’s good for medical information, which was the first reason we did it, but we never imagined I had so many sisters.” he said.

Elizabeth said she noticed a difference in Bracey since it all started – in a really good way.

“It’s filled a hole” said Elisabeth. “Dan has always been a balanced, grateful, pleasant, funny type of person, always with a glass half full. It made him still – I would say happier – but just more fulfilled. The hole is filled, but it’s not like you thought something was wrong because it was okay – it was right. But to have all these people, he has a big family now. “

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