Guido Cole is located in Mexico, while his family members are in Belgium, but if anything it has motivated him to research and re-establish family connections. And there was also the mystery surrounding his grandparents which needed solving.... read Guido's story below.
I started building my family tree at the beginning of this year but I already have 1590 people in my tree, about a tenth of them have been found through the internet. We've got 61 family members on the site.
I have lived in Mexico for the past 30 years and have lost many connections from my youth, even family connections. When I retired in 2006, I was interested in reviving those. Also, my Mexican wife has a very elaborate family which I never fully understood. To make sense of it I had the idea to build a family tree for it, an idea that than transferred to my other family too.
When I was building my tree I ended up at two family members with who I had contact sporadically in the past;
a cousin who had already researched and build a family tree which I could then build on and then another cousin of whom I didn't even know she existed. She, Christiane, is a widow and retired and she had a vast knowledge of the family, many pictures of them, as well as contact with those family members who also have family pictures. Right now, we have some 300 MB of older pictures on the site, arranged per family. Because I live in Mexico, Christiane and I divide the work: she researches the Flemish archives, while I arrange that information and research online. Christiane is probably the most professional researcher between us, as she now has a network of other researchers to build on.
My interest in my family's history was sparked by a number of different circumstances: as mentioned earlier, I wanted to revive my family connections but then there were other things: my father never said anything about his parents or grandparents but there was a rumour circulating there was something unusual about their past. Also, around this time last year, I received information from the National Geographic Society about DNA research with Gene Base, so I had several tests. They showed me I had Irish / English ancestry some 20 generations ago and pointed me to some relatives. I decided to build a family tree to record this information. Through them I also came in contact with a lady in New York, with who the results showed I would have a close relation (She was Jewish and her family history originated in the Hungarian Ghetto and Jerusalem), However, I could not trace in which way I was related to her. Even if this relationship through my mother and two other similar ones remain a riddle up to now, it has sparked my curiosity further and motivates me to keep looking.
I have traced different branches of my family tree back to different times, the branch Cole goes back now to 1681, where it was part of a tradition of textile workers, weavers and sellers. We have been able to trace them from Sinaai to Sint Niklaas. For the Seghers family I have been able to research them back to 1540 in Nieuwkerken and Tielrode and for the Verheyen family it is 1491 in Puurs; the Verheyen family was related to the founders of the famous Belgian Maes Brewery, Egied Maes, who founded the brewery mid 19th century in Puurs. All families originated in the Waasland, a region between Antwerp and Ghent, between the Schelde and the border of The Netherlands.
Apart from finding out about these histories from family studies others conducted and through my own research, I have also found a number of relatives through building my tree that I completely forgot about. It is great to have been engaged in this project because it has allowed me to make sense of where family members fit into the family picture. MyHeritage has been instrumental in finding ancestors; I have received many smartmatches and whenever I add an ancestor to the tree I look forward to the smartmatches as they often confirm or disprove the addition, or show new members.
..And in our research Christiane and me have also uncovered the secret of my grandfather: he married three times!