If there is no trace of an incident, I suppose a family secret can be lost forever. If it's particularly scandalous or important, there might be stories told. When I found a news clipping of a legal notice, it aroused my curiosity. Ezra Copeland was never married according to my research. The notice said otherwise. In the notice, there was the unnamed (unknown) wife of Ezra Copeland. So I began hunting around.
From this notice, I gathered stories from the living Copelands. I then tracked down other members of the family because they were named in the lawsuit.
I found out that Ezra did bring home a wife and her son. The woman wanted money, and she got it and went away. But she must have wanted more money because Ezra tried to sell his share of the farm. The buyer forced a sale of the land so that he could get 'fair market value.' Ezra's brother Emery bought the farm at auction, paying off the man who bought Ezra's share, and presumably paying off the other Copelands - who had not intended for the farm to be sold.
I had to decide whether to put this into my book. In my book, I have "conversations" with each of the Copelands. Ezra and I talk about his days as a wheat thresher and then he is grumpy when he asks if I am going to put in that stuff anyway, and that he's not going to talk about it. I do put it in, and his sister Clarissa explains the lawsuit and says that she forgave Ezra and took care of him to the end of his days. It was a good way to preserve the truth - because the Copelands could have lost the land entirely if Emery Copeland hadn't stepped up and bought the entire farm at the forced auction.
Emery's children George and Virginia still own the Copeland farm.