Man tracing actor Wayne's history in Madisonville

Robert Augsdorfer/The Messenger John T. Wayne was in Madisonville this week searching for information about the man he says is his grandfather, legendary actor John Wayne

A man who claims to be John Wayne's grandson visited Madisonville on Monday to gather more information on the actor's friendships and history in the area.

Author John T. Wayne is currently researching John Wayne's travels through Kentucky as he builds evidence of his father being an illegitimate child of the actor from an alleged affair in Hickman in the early 1930s.

"I've found it to be a real labyrinth of information," John T. Wayne said. "Right now, it's all circumstantial, but it gets to a point where all this circumstantial information comes together and it can't be a coincidence."

On his visit to Madisonville, John T. Wayne claims the actor had a close relationship with town native Walter Ruby in the 1930s and 1940s. According to John T. Wayne, the actor was a lifelong friend of Ruby and frequented his farm in Madisonville. While the author doesn't know how Ruby and Wayne met, he theorizes their mutual affiliation with the Masonry could be the origin of contact.

Wayne said he wanted to put the word out on the actor's local history in the area in hopes of learning more from the community.

"I just want to put feelers out here while I can," he said. "I'm just wondering if anybody knew my grandfather and had stories about him to fill me in on."

The discoveries made in Madisonville are slated to be included in his upcoming autobiography, "An American Heritage." According to Wayne, the book will be based on his struggle to uncover the truth about his ancestry that his father and grandmother were adamant to keep hidden.

The author said he was inspired to write the autobiography for people to learn more about John Wayne's unreported past as well as a regular man's struggle with the truth about his family.

"As I've traveled around, I've noticed so many people deal with this kind of thing in their own life," he said. "I have a friend who just found out she had a brother and she's 62. You know, this is so prevalent in American society to uncover secrets like this."

While the original purpose of his visit to Madisonville was research-oriented, Wayne said he has also found lifelong friends in locals Steven and Theresa Ray of the Hopkins County Genealogical Society.

He said he recently discovered his father had another birth certificate sealed in Frankfort, and he has found connections in Madisonville that will help him fight to obtain it to further prove his ancestry.

"I've learned that truth is like a bubble in the middle of the ocean," he said. "It'll come up sooner or later."

Wayne plans more visits to Madisonville later this year, with an official telling of his story slated for January 2020 to be coordinated with the Genealogical Society.

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