Oooo there's some juicy (and tragic) stuff on my mum's side.
I'm a little sketchy on the details as I've been told this verbally and haven't read the written version (yet!)
The family lived in Ireland until a couple of generations ago. (My great great? grandparents migrated to Australia)
Whilst in Ireland there was a fairly nasty Protestant-Catholic split which was highlighted when a couple of the daughters moved to the US, and one married into "the" Kennedy family. Their father cut all ties with these women, and insisted the family do the same, and then they all moved to Australia.
The disowned women's mother continued to keep in touch with them through letters which she kept hidden in a locked wooden chest, and she collected them over the years.
Eventually her husband found out that she was writing to the daughters and was furious. He demanded she open the chest, she refused. It escalated and he grabbed an axe to smash the chest. She threw herself onto the chest and he hit her instead, killing her and ensuring he spent the rest of his life in a prison hospital/mental assylum.
We also have (another Irish!) ancestor who helped build St Mary's Cathedral.
On Dad's side, the family were one of those given "lots" of the Australian outback, where they packed up their entire life and went to live in the absolute middle of nowhere with nothing and no one to help them, and worked on turning the land into the farm it is today. As a child I loved to visit the site of the original settlement, where my grandfather, as a child, lived in a small hut made of tree branches and tin!