Douglas “Grayfeather” Salyer and his son James are reunited recently in Ada after over 40 years. (Ada Herald/Darla Crownhart)
Douglas “Grayfeather” Salyer and his son James are reunited recently in Ada after over 40 years. (Ada Herald/Darla Crownhart)

ADA — In this age of technology and the internet, finding a person should be relatively easy. For Douglas Salyer, known to most folks around here as Grayfeather, and his long lost son, James McKenna, the search went on for years before they finally made contact and had a happy reunion over the weekend in Ada.

For years, both parties searched the Internet with limited information available to them. Grayfeather had known his child’s whereabouts after he and his partner split up, but he lost all contact after mother and son moved back to Rhode Island. Unbeknownst to him, the son, Douglas James Salyer, had been renamed upon adoption by his new stepfather when he was just around the age of two.

Although he grew up with a brother, James said he felt at times like something was different about him even though he had no reason to believe he was not being raised by his natural father.

James, who has dark brown hair and eyes, said, “My mom’s all Irish; she married a guy who was full Irish. My brother’s got the blue eyes. I always felt different because I always tanned really well, and he would always burn. I would think, something’s different about this.”

James has since learned of his Native American heritage from his father’s side.

Things changed around the age of 11, when James McKenna found his adoption papers in a box while rooting through his closet. When he confronted his surprised and dismayed mother, she dismissed his discovery as being part of her past which she did not want to talk about. James said his quest to find his real dad started then, in 1981.

“Over time, I tried to pry information out of her. I moved out when I was 16. In the early ’90s, a friend worked at a phone company and we looked at all the Salyers in Ohio. It seemed like a daunting task.

“Always in the back of my mind, I was thinking, I got a dad out there. I gotta find him,” James said, “and then the Internet comes around. Even on that, for years thinking I could find him this way, and never really having enough info. About seven or eight months ago, I pushed my mom for some extra information because that’s my heritage. It’s where I came from, and I want to know who I am.”

She finally divulged Grayfeather’s middle name and his birthdate.

“In 2009, his picture was one of the first pictures coming up as far as looking up Douglas Salyer. I used to be like, imagine if that’s my dad, but it was Douglas Grayfeather Salyer, not Montgomery.” James said.

Grayfeather said, “I always thought I would never find him, because I tried and tried and tried.”