User Story: Father and son construct family history

User Story: Father and son construct family history


This story was sent to us by Terry Dean Oscar Romstad, a keen genealogist and convert to MyHeritage’s SmartMatching. His matches have allowed him to find and get in touch with relatives all over the world in places ranging from the Channel Islands to Norway. He’s even placed some of his father and mother’s ancestors together in 15th century France. He writes:

The Romstad FamilyIt all started in 1976 when my father Oscar retired and needed something to occupy his time. I gave him a Commodore 64 and a Roots program; he went on from there entering data and information from local family relatives and more generally learning about the world of genealogy. Once a year I returned home from my military service to help him by solving computer issues but also getting a list of people I could visit in my travels to help him with his research. By 1999, my father’s vision was failing and I took over the controls from him. We made email and chat connections over the Internet which thrilled him to no end. Imagine what MyHeritage would have meant to him had he not passed away at age 94 in 2004.

When my father had to stop his research because of ill health he had 1,800 people in his files.

I added over 3,200 individuals to his Norwegian file and created files for my mother and my wife’s ancestors. Together they exceed 20,000 people.

Today I am the head of the Scandinavian Special Interest Group for the St Louis, Missouri area. I have begun to learn Norwegian, Swedish and Danish languages as related to family history. I have taken one 7-week tour of my ancestral dairy farms in Norway to get the feel of my father’s family. Today, my days and work areas are completely dominated by my hunt for family members. Even my wife has joined the hobby as the ‘sleuth of the Internet.’

I have found many family connections all over the world. I have traced several families in my ancestral tree to 1000 A.D. because I have access to written records in Norwegian and English.

Because my file extends for 17 generations on several family lines, I have “discovered” my common, distant heritage with several USA presidents and the royal family of Great Britain. Besides Norway, I have found ancestors from the Channel Islands, Normandy in France, Germany (Bavaria and Schleswig-Holstein) and, recently, Japan.

Many of those connections have been made using MyHeritage. I have received thousands of SmartMatches. The small green indicator on each person’s box with a SmartMatch has been, by far, the nicest touch. My research has been enhanced by the many, many matches that pop up. In fact I get so many that the MyHeritage program only displays a portion of them. The ones which include photos of my relatives have been the most exciting since I have never met some of them face to face.

The first discovery involved a SmartMatch with common ancestors of a gentleman in Western Australia and the second discovery was a gentleman in Norway whose ancestors were great grandparents of my paternal grandmother. These ancestors still have many descendants living on the farms my grandmother often visited as a girl. We have exchanged photos and other bits of information. A Norwegian cousin whom I have known for several years spoke to my “new”cousin and found that she had ancestors and relatives in common with him as well.

I have interacted with at least 12 “cousins” because of MyHeritage and my family uses MyHeritage in English, French and Norwegian. The most surprising find was a lady who grew up with my brother-in-law and had lost contact. Our SmartMatch and subsequent emails allowed me to call my brother-in-law with contact information of her. He was especially interested in finding her mother to reminisce about their childhood. The mother, was especially interested to get in touch because she had never pursued her heritage until my email and phone call to her daughter. My brother-in- law and her made contact about a month ago and I will meet all of them when we visit Washington State soon.

Along with my research have come some interesting stories, for example, there seems to be a circle created by joining the maternal and paternal lines at one juncture. My maternal grandfather Julius hailed from a well-connected family on Jersey Isle, part of the Channel Islands, off the coast of France. He was educated in Paris and the family has a long heritage leading back to William the Conqueror. More notably, he was related to the former royal families on the Middle Ages. Most had lived in what is now Normandy. His family moved to western Canada and the United States in the 1880s.

My paternal grandmother, Gunhild hailed from a seaport in central Norway. Her ancestors were farmers, teachers and merchants. I traced the line of merchants back to a Sebastian Whit(e) born in London but escaped capture by Mary, Queen of Scots. He went with his new bride to Norway. Sebastian’s grandfather seems to have left Normandy due to religious differences with the reigning monarch. So if I look back only 12 generations, I have family roots in Normandy on both my father and mother’s blood lines.

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  • Nicolas

    March 13, 2009

    Compelling story!

  • Joannah

    March 17, 2009

    I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don’t know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


  • Simonn

    March 22, 2009

    I found your site on Google and read a few of your other entires. Nice Stuff. I’m looking forward to reading more from you.

  • Phyllis Walton

    April 10, 2009

    Can a family tree created in FamilyTree Maker, be opened with your Program? I have thousands of people and do not want to have to re-enter everyone in a new program. However I am not enamored with FamilyTree Maker and would like to change, if possible

  • Linde

    May 4, 2009

    Dear Phyllis,

    If Family Tree Maker allows you to make a gedcom file (an acronym for GEnealogical Data COMmunication; a specification for exchanging genealogical data between different genealogy software) of your data then you can easily transfer your tree to myheritage. (Most genealogical programs recognize this format) Once you have a gedcom file, find the homepage at, select the ‘got a gedcom’ option and take it from there. Good luck!

  • Leslie Brost

    June 3, 2010

    Well I do not understand how I ended up on a Mar 09 Blog. However I went to see the Terry Dean Oscar Romstad family tree and found nothing. So what is anyone talking about. Where is the tree????? So where is the large family tree he is talking about?