Siblings find brothers, sisters they didn#039;t know existed

Published 12:00 am Sunday, July 3, 2005

Brothers and sisters often have strong bonds, but for five people who have only just discovered they are related, the bond becomes remarkable.

Sue Beckholt, Manya Gene McKnight Frowine, Dale Eugene McKnight, Lugene McKnight and Rutherna "Sta" McKnight have all found out in the past few months they have brothers and sisters they never knew about, including each other.

All but two have different mothers so their one connection is a man for whom none of them care, their father.

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The siblings believe their father has had at least nine children by eight different women, some of whom he had married, over a period of more than 20 years. Now that they have found each other they are on a search for all their other brothers and sisters.

"We're trying to find the rest, if there are any more out there," Beckholt said. "I'm sure there are more that aren't in this area spread out all over the country."

Each said they do not care about their father, they just want to find their other siblings to fill the gaps.

"This is not about (our father)" Frowine said. "This is about our brothers and sisters."

And thus the story begins.

Beckholt began looking for her birth father in 1995. Beckholt felt she was overweight and wanted to know the medical history from that side of her family. She was adopted at birth by her mother's sister so she already knew that side.

After some help from her family and an adopted brother who had already found his biological siblings, Beckholt found she had a sister two years into her search.

"When I started finding people I got excited," Beckholt said.

She made contact with that sister and spent an entire day with her.

Beckholt called the experience truly wonderful. The newfound siblings met with family members, looked at old photographs and went out to eat.

"I became obsessed after that," Beckholt said.

She continued on, making contacts at the Briggs Lawrence County Public Library because her mother told her her father was born in Ironton, though he has since moved away.

Another eight years passed before Beckholt found anyone else.

"It's all the emotions you can think of, the waiting," Beckholt said.

Beckholt said there were ups and downs as she would become obsessed, then quit for a while with no progression.

Then one day the long search paid off. Through a cousin, she found Sta and Lugene McKnight, who have the same mother.

Those three, and their cousin, met for the first time this March.

Beckholt invited the first sister she found to the gathering. At that time, Beckholt said the woman told her she wanted nothing to do with the family and they could count her out.

"I bawled," Beckholt said. "I was very upset. It hurt a lot. Rejection isn't easy to deal with."

Those emotions were remedied when she met Sta and Lugene McKnight who, Beckholt said, ran straight up to her car in the parking lot of the hotel.

"That whole weekend was great," she said. "It was a great, wonderful feeling."

The three continued their search and discovered between them they knew of two more siblings, another sister and a brother, Frowine and Dale McKnight. Then Sta McKnight tracked them through the Internet.

Beckholt, Frowine, Dale McKnight and Sta McKnight finally got together, after many long phone calls, coming to Ironton recently to continue their search and pull together family connections and use library resources and the Internet.

"With us, we've lost all those years, but when we start talking it's like we've known each other for years," Beckholt said. "We'll three-way and sit on the phone for hours."

"If it's something good we'll call each other. If it's something bad we call each other. If its something we need to worry about we call each other. We just picked up where we never had each other," Frowine said. "It's just like whenever we talk it's like we've known each other all our life."

"We all get along great and we are all thankful for each other," Beckholt said.

It is even more of a surprise for Dale McKnight who now has sisters.

"It was kind of a shock to me because I knew of the two girls (Sta McKnight and her sister) but not that there were five or six," Dale McKnight said. "I never had sisters and now I have four, maybe more. I know I have more."

Sta McKnight joked they could now braid his hair and tease him like sisters do with brothers.

While in Ironton, they even located another brother. But the discovery did not produce quite the same reaction.

Dale McKnight was the one who spoke with their new found brother on the phone. He said he was polite and acknowledged they had the same father but did not want anything to do with an extended family.

"We were saddened, all of us," Dale McKnight said. "At least we found him."

They know of nine siblings so far, including each other, and though they have not made direct contact with two, the five are close.

Despite the rollercoaster emotions, they are all determined to reach out to anyone who might be a sibling.

"Even if they don't want to be part of our life, we would at least like to meet them or at least let them say 'yes, I am here, but I don't want anything to do with you' so we can at least fill the gaps," Beckholt said. "And we can move on and it can be the five of us and we're happy."

The group said it is important that people know it is only them who are seeking their siblings.

"The fact that we know there are still three for sure that we know of out there and we can't find them. We've looked and we can't find them, so we don't even know if they would want to talk to us," Sta McKnight said. "It's the not knowing that is the hardest for me. Knowing that they are out there and not knowing how to get in touch with them."