We love bringing member success stories to our readers. They provide encouragement, offer tips, and show what can be accomplished. We especially like the stories of our younger members, which often spotlight social media.
Joe Tarsh of Manchester (UK) is only 21 and became interested in his family when he was 13.
I came to the realization that I wanted to know where I came from and a little voice at the back of my head told me that if I don’t ask now, then all the people who can answer may not be around to answer those questions much longer.
Born in London in 1991, his family moved to Hertfordshire, where he lived until 18. He then took a gap year, returned to the UK in 2010 and is now in his third year at university, studying for a degree in youth and community work.
He joined MyHeritage in March 2010 because he liked the site’s easy accessibility, found it simple to use and it had an incredible amount of data.
Joe has discovered many interesting things during his research, from dusty skeletons to fantastic living relations. He’s traced his maternal grandmother’s family, the Harker family, to about 1610 in Yorkshire, UK and his paternal grandfather’s family to Zasliai, Lithuania around 1730.
Until she passed away in 2011, I worked very closely with my maternal grandmother, although she wasn’t particularly computer literate, she allowed me to take her hand drawn maps and computerize them.
Today, Joe has just over 2,000 individuals in his MyHeritage family tree, with another 5,000-6,000 names still to upload. His relatives live all over the world, mainly in the UK, but also many in the US, South Africa, Israel and Canada.
During his journey down discovery road, he’s contacted many relatives around the world and become close with some of them.
Recently I was hosted by a fifth cousin when I went traveling in America in April.
In December 2010, Joe was in the UK speaking to a friend in America. Suddenly, she said, “my friend is here and she thinks she might be related to you.” The girl’s name was Miriam Tarshish, which had been his family’s surname until his great-grandfather decided to shorten it to Tarsh.
I chatted with Miriam for about 10 minutes, but we couldn’t work out a connection, still we facebooked each other, as students do, and thought nothing more of it.
A week later - on holiday in Israel - I was checking Facebook when my newsfeed indicated that Miriam was also going to Israel. I thought this was too much of a coincidence, so I messaged her number and said if she was around Jerusalem we should meet up.
Almost immediately, he received a message from her and two days later, he met Miriam and two of her cousins at a cafe in Jerusalem.
We opened our laptops and set to work. After an hour, we had hit a brick wall but we had reached some conclusions. Both our families came from the same town in Lithuania and both families were from the Jewish Levi tribe. This still didn’t confirm anything, but we had to leave it for a while.
Joe spent the next two months trawling whatever online Lithuanian records from about 200 years ago were available.
After much trial and error I finally got it, I found our mutual ancestor, Yankel Beinish Tarshish, born 1762 in Zasliai, and discovered that myself and Miriam’s father are in fact fifth cousins.
As more and more records are made available, we’re sure Joe will experience more exciting discoveries.
Joe shares some tips for beginning researchers:
- Even when you feel like you can’t continue, you can and should.
- Ask people while they’re still alive (and can answer your questions).
- Have fun doing it. If you’re not having fun, it’ll never be satisfying for you.
Thank you, Joe, for sharing your story.
We hope you enjoyed his story. Let us know in the comments below.