Bill Hutchins’ quiet life in suburban Chicago was turned upside down –— in a good way —this year when he discovered a large branch of his family tree in Danville.
“It was astounding, almost life changing,” he said in a telephone interview. “I thought I had only half of a family.”
His Danville-area cousins are just as thrilled at the discovery, and have welcomed Bill and wife Marty into their family.
Miriam Boothe of Perrysville, Ind., said the local relatives are thankful that the couple has come into their lives — and this is the perfect gift for the holiday season.
Bill had been brought up by his maternal grandparents, Edward and Mattye Buchanan, in Menasha, Wis., and didn’t know anything about his father’s side of the family. He was 3 months old when his parents divorced; Bill saw his father, William G., once a year, but the man never spoke about his background and relatives.
Bill, an industrial designer now living in Park Forest, recently compiled a biography of the Buchanans. While researching the Hutchins side, however, he hit dead ends.
In June, Bill went to a genealogy site and entered the name Fred Lew Hutchins (a relative he had heard of) in the search box. He was amazed when a photograph of his great-uncle popped up. That photograph — which had been posted by Salvador Hutchins of Danville — matched one Bill had in an album given to him after his father’s death in 1982.
Stunned, Bill e-mailed Salvador immediately, asking: Could we be related?
An hour and a half later, Bill was surprised to receive a phone call from Miriam.
“I called him and everything started,” Miriam recalled. “He knew very little about his father’s side of the family. He thought all of the Hutchinses were dead.”