David Brazille Plunk and his biological sister, Gertrude


My proverbial brick wall is that of the ancestry of my great grandfather, David Brazille Plunk and his biological sister, Gertrude.

He is the beginning of my Plunk line and I can’t find who his parents were in the conventional manner of bible records, birth records, census, etc.  The reason is that his surname, Plunk, is an assumed name.

He was unofficially adopted by William Henry Plunk and Sophia Angeline Niswonger Plunk and simply assumed their surname.  Who were his parents?  When did he come to live with his adoptive parents?  What were the circumstances?  These are all questions I want answered.

Being an adopted child myself (step parent adoption), I say that he will always be a Plunk and in my heart, his parents are William Henry Plunk and Sophia Angeline Niswonger.  So why the hunt?  Simply because his biological parents had a story that should be told.  Regardless of the circumstances of how or why, those parents are still my ancestors. 

The story I heard from David’s wife, Rosa Belle Kelley Plunk:

“There was this picnic.  At the end of the day, when everyone was gathering their belongings and children, there were two children no one claimed.  David and Gertrude.  David went to live with the Plunks and Gertrude went to live with another family.”

The questions!  Is this really what happened?  Were they just abandoned at a picnic?  Or, did the parents already have it arranged that these two other families would take the children in? 

A version that one of my aunt’s tells is that David didn’t know the Plunks weren’t his parents until William Henry Plunk was dying and told him on his deathbed.  I disagree with that version for the following reasons:

1.  As an adult, David told his sons he remembered having a sister, Gertrude.

2.  These sons located her and she didn’t recall having a brother.  No one recalls who raised her, whether she was married, or anything other than her name was Gertrude, or Aunt Gertie.

3.  David told his children that he thought his parents were “some kind of show people” because he remembered his parents going out a lot at night and leaving him and his sister in “rooms”.

4.  On the 1900 U.S. Federal Census, Union, Doniphan, Missouri, David’s relationship to William Henry Plunk is listed as a boarder. William Henry Plunk, the adoptive father, died in 1926.  David’s 12th child was born that year.

I do not see how he could have possibly found out in 1926 that the Plunks were not his parents and at the same time have memories of his biological parents and a sister.

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Rose Plunk
    Nov 14, 2014 @ 00:55:32

    I am Rose Plunk daughter of Vessie David Plunk. Dad told me that his father was taken in by the Plunk Family and that Gertrude was taken in by the Niswonger family who were cousins. Gertrude married and her married name was Pulliam? That David his father and Gertrude were most likely twins and that they were taken away from a prostitute in town that would tie them to the bed while she (their mother) worked. That was why grandpa David didn’t ever like to talk about his real family. That many years later, they (David and Gertrude) were named in the will of their real grandmother who was a Smith (unknown first name) who was from somewhere in Indiana, and that she had left them “beet” land. Neither Grandpa David nor Gertrude would take take the land, because “If that family would have loved us, they would have sold the land to find us” That was the quote my dad told me. Hope that helps someone in the family further their efforts. Last I knew Gertrude lived in California somewhere unknown with her son who was also in WWII.


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