9    Aug 20120 comments

MyHeritage: A Basque connection

Rodolfo Almar Hegoburu

Rodolfo Almar Hegoburu

Rodolfo Almar Hegoburu, 68, has always been interested in his Basque ancestors.

Born in Argentina, he received a PhD (Physics) at the University of La Plata (Argentina) and did post-doctorate studies at the University of Nottingham (UK). He has worked in Argentina, UK, Canada and the US, but spends a fair amount of time in Argentina.

Now retired, he lives in the US with his wife. He has three children.

He’s been interested in his ancestors since he was a youngster.

However, I became really interested in doing some research in my family genealogy only a few years ago. The help of a friend – with a lot more experience - has been instrumental.

He’s become intrigued by the Basque people, in general.

Some say that they were the first inhabitants of Europe, with a language that seemingly has no relation to any other Indo-European languages. Their history is fascinating.

Rodolfo was surprised to learn that most of his family came from a very small town – Barcus - in the French Basque Country.

In 2006, the population was only 741 people. Although my family dates from the 1500s, when the population was larger, I am still in awe when I imagine my ancestors making a living there. One day, I hope I will be able to visit Barcus and feel closer to my roots.

He joined MyHeritage.com two or three years ago, and likes it.

I like the support I have received when I needed it, the ease with which one can add/edit family members. And I particularly like the different charts we can produce at the Web site.

Most members of his family are just happy with Rodolfo doing the work and sharing his findings.

From left: Hernan Almar, Mauricio Almar, Rodolfo Almar and Joshua Johnson

From left: Hernan Almar, Mauricio Almar, Rodolfo and Joshua Johnson

He has more than 600 individuals on his tree. Most live in Argentina, but many distant relatives live in France – those whose ancestors did not emigrate.  He adds that he believes that more Basque live outside the Basque country than in it.

I certainly have had many Smart Matches, which have allowed me to increase considerably the size of my family tree. Most of these matches come from families with common ancestors in the Basque country. Unfortunately I have not been able to meet them due to the distance, since most live in France. Also, my French is very poor and that makes communication more difficult. However, I have been able to correspond with them in French, English or even Spanish.

I also had Smart Matches with people with common ancestors on my Spanish side. The Spanish arrived in Argentina as far back as 1520.

Although Rodolfo has not discovered any previously unknown or long-lost relatives, his ongoing research recently revealed that his paternal and maternal families may have had a connection in the distant past. He’s still researching it.

I recently discovered that my great-grandmother was a cousin to a great-aunt. Thus, my maternal and paternal families join somehow before my parents met. Although it is not terribly important, I still find it amusing and interesting.

He shares some tips and advice for those beginning their research:

Start by asking a lot of questions of your living relatives. Don’t be discouraged if they don’t seem interested. Some, particularly older ones, may have bad memories of their past that they may not want to share. Keep trying! Also, familiarize yourself with all the tools that the Internet, including MyHeritage.com, provides to help us in our quest for finding out where we come from.

Thank you, Rodolfo, for sharing your story.

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