Saratoga is considered a hub for many great finds… Its natural springs, lustrous green landscapes and a vast lake. But for Timothy Winston Rapp - his find - was a loving family that he never knew existed.
After the loss of the man he thought of as his father, Rapp learned that he was given up for adoption after his birth, at the Vanderheyden Hall in Troy, New York. After sifting through documents and overlooking his birth certificate that read Winston Hale, Rapp began a search to learn one simple thing - the name of his birth mother.
"I don't remember when I was first told I was adopted; I really don't remember. I know I was young. In 1996 my adoptive father died, and my mother gave me my adoption papers. So, in 1996 I found out my name was Winston Hale when I was born, but with the New York laws, that's all you know,” said Rapp.
Alice May Murphy, born Alice May Hale, kept a secret her entire life, that not a single member of her family knew of; a child she had in 1944.
Hale married Joseph Murphy in 1952 and together they raised three children. It was a Christmas present from Bill Murphy - the youngest child of Alice and Joseph - to his daughter Katie that led to a bigger surprise to the entire family.
It was Christmas 2018, when Katie Murphy utilized her present – an Ancestry DNA test - a database that uses genetic science to connect familial relationships, Little did she know that in that database was a match to a family member that was unbeknownst to the Murphy clan.
"The Hales were like that. They kept their secrets,” explained Bill Murphy.
After decades of research and a DNA test, Rapp was superficially introduced to cousins upon cousins with relations to both his biological parents, but still could not be directly connected to his birth mother. That was until Katie finally got the results of her DNA test in March 2019. The pieces to a puzzle the Murphys didn’t know were missing - began to appear.
"I bought into it right away,” said Katie Murphy. “My dad was like 'no, no way.' And I'm like "dad, this is real, we just discovered a scandal! This is a scandal!"
Bill Murphy began the word of mouth search, beginning with his cousin John Ruston, who had the reputation of being the “know it all” about the family history. After a few speculations that were confirmed with Rapp’s birth certificate, and new connections made on the Ancestry DNA family tree, it was all becoming clear that Rapp was indeed the eldest child of Alice May Hale.
“All the hairs are starting to stand up on my back because now I’m starting to say, whoa this is it all! All the while I thought for some reason this was gonna be some kind of mistake,” said Bill Murphy. Then all of a sudden I think 'Oh my God! This is really true!”
With the convenience of technology and social media it didn’t take long for the Rapps and the Murphys to begin communicating with each other on a regular basis.
On Saturday, July 13, the Rapps, Murphys and Hales gathered for the first time since the discovery, at the Murphy residence in Gansevoort. Through the tears and hugs there were smiles as those who were once strangers celebrated becoming a complete family.
"I am 75, and I found my family,” said Rapp. I can't believe it."