They had been looking for each other for nearly 20 years
Clyde Folse may be the “Crappie Psychic,” but he never saw the answer to a 19-year-old double mystery in his family literally walk up to his front door and knock.
But that’s what happened.
Fresh from getting DNA results with Ancestry.com, Folse’s uncle Hubert Zeller in Thibodaux had news big enough to crack a story woven by Ruby Goldsby who thought she took her secrets to the grave. But she didn’t anticipate DNA and a family’s determination to find each other.
“My uncle (Zeller) has always known there was something that wasn’t right with his mom so he wanted the DNA test and ‘bam’ Cathy got a hit in her ancestors,” said Folse who is a native of Paradis and former resident of Des Allemands.
It turned out both Folse’s family and Cathy Bonaventure Stanley in St. Amant had been looking for each more than 25 yearsk.
They weren’t supposed to ever meet, but they did last Wednesday.
Zeller’s DNA results opened the door, but Stanley’s years of dogged detective work found the needed information that built a family tree that led to Indiana and then to Ruby in Louisiana.
“It was quite a journey for me,” Stanley said.
She started her detective work with Catholic Charities, which handled her adoption and is willing to help bring the two parties together, but for Stanley resulted in little information.
By 2014, she took an Ancestry.com DNA test and started seeing new cousins in her family tree. In 2016, with the help of a Georgia friend who helped her interpret the DNA results, found still more family members.
“At that point, I was able to figure they were all from Indiana,” Stanley said. “I made a mirror tree, where you try to put yourself in your tree, and all the relatives in there to see where you fit, and found three family lines: Goldsby, Cox and Pate.”
The trail led to Clarence Goldsby and Ruby Denham Goldsby.
“I could tell from all the relatives that is where I belonged so I started reaching out to them,” Stanley said.
Through these efforts, as well as social media, she found Scott Deckard, who had this to say about her questions.
“My God, are you sitting down?” Stanley said he told her. “Ruby and Clarence had three children. In 1940-41, Ruby abandoned two of the children (Shirley and Caroline). She took the baby boy Jackie and was apparently pregnant with your mother.”
At this point, the only communication anyone got from Ruby was to her sister, Aola (Deckard’s grandmother), that said, “I’m in South Louisiana. I had a baby girl. She looks like you and I’m never coming back to Indiana. Don’t try to find me.”
Stanley also connected to her Aunt Shirley (one of the daughters Ruby left behind and now 83) who agreed to take the DNA test, too, which verified she was her aunt. She wanted to help Stanley find her birth mother and her brother Jackie, whose whereabouts remains a mystery today.
When Goldsby arrived in South Louisiana she created a whole new identify, with a new date of birth, and her name became Tonya Teresa Miller.
According to Folse, her deception kept their families apart for years, leaving them dealing with a series of mystifying dead ends. It wasn’t until his mother died in 1993 that they learned about Stanley.
Although her adoptive family never hid it from her that she had been adopted, it was drastically different with Ruby and her daughter, who chose to keep birth and adoption a secret.
“When an adoptee sets out on this search, it’s really a roll of the dice. You don’t know if you’ll be accepted or
rejected, but it just never stopped me.”- Cathy Stanley
Also, no one yet knows why one night in Indiana in the 1940s she left pregnant and, with her one-year-old son Jackie in hand, crept out a bathroom window, according to her family. She left her husband a note saying, “I’m taking two and I’m leaving you two,” which were their two daughters.
“We’ve all wracked our brains and scratched our heads … what in the world did she do that she felt the need to abandon two children and leave to go to Louisiana, change her name and keep that hidden all those years?” Stanley said. “She even made up names for her parents and that they died in a train wreck.”
According to Folse, “My grandmother did all kinds of things to drive her husband off the path because he was looking for her. I loved my grandmother, but she had skeletons and even my mother kept the secret of us having a sister.”
It was only through Stanley’s determined detective work and with friend Cheryl Anderson’s help in Georgia that their story broke open last Tuesday so they could come together last Wednesday.
Zeller became the missing link in the family tree, but a common friend Keith Millet at Cathy’s request made the connection with Zeller, who confirmed Virginia was her mother and that Goldsby was Zeller’s mother.
“That’s when I figured out Tonya Teresa Miller was actually Ruby Goldsby,” Stanley said. “That explains why I couldn’t find anything past the 1940 census. It’s because Ruby Goldsby no longer existed.”
Millet contacted Zeller, and “The rest is history now,” she said.
When Stanley talked to Hubert, she said he replied that he’d been thinking of her his whole life.
“Hubert knew Virginia had given up a daughter ironically named Tonya Theresa in 1960 and they were all looking for me,” she said of her search for her birth parents finally coming to an end.
That call was last Tuesday.
“I basically hit the jackpot,” said Stanley, who invited all her new found family to her house in St. Amant.
It was a joyous union and especially so for Stanley.
Folse added, they were meeting with much anticipation.
“It’s taken us a long time to piece things together, but thank God it happened,” he said. “We’re ecstatic. It’s a day we will never forget. Finally, we’re getting to meet our long, lost sister.”
Stanley said she was worried about meeting them.
“When an adoptee sets out on this search, it’s really a roll of the dice,” she said. “You don’t know if you’ll be accepted or rejected, but it just never stopped me. This search started for me, but once I found Ruby had abandoned two of the children and likely changed her identity, my search became about my mother finding out the truth about her own family. She grew up believing she had no older siblings. She believed her father died before she was born.”
That all changed with finding her birth family.
Folse said he doesn’t mind not being the oldest member of the family now that Stanley is in the picture.
Together, they’re also going to work to resolve remaining mysteries in their life story.
No one yet knows why Goldsby left her situation in Indiana or where Jackie Goldsby is to this day.
Stanley is going to try to find him, but she is pleased with having found her family.
“My life is complete because this union has been the most wonderful thing,” Stanley said. “There was not one awkward moment. That connection was there.”