MyHeritage members come to us in various ways. Maria Keep, 63, born in the Netherlands and now living in Australia, tried a free MyHeritage CD that came in a magazine.
Maria was born in Renkum, Netherlands. She, her husband and adult daughter and son live in Forster NSW Australia. She is a full-time caregiver for her husband who is vision impaired and suffers from total memory and short term memory loss.
Maria has been collecting family history for some four decades.
I am from a very big family and have always been interested in family history and had been collecting little bits of information on bits of paper and putting them in a book with the intention of putting it all together one day into a proper family tree record. I started collecting this information about 40 years ago.
She was a computer magazine (no longer in print) subscriber which included free programs to try. One was MyHeritage.
This gave me the incentive to start putting some of my information into a more formal format.
Maria comes from a very large family (she had 10 siblings) and it was important for her to have the information should any other relatives become interested or, as it happened, needed it for a school project.
We immigrated from the Netherlands to Australia in 1954 when I was just 4, so I have very little memory of any relatives in the Netherlands. I never knew my grandparents and only met two aunts when they visited Australia, so there was a large family that I knew nothing about.
As many readers of this blog have also experienced, Maria left the asking of real questions too late. Her oldest sister – whom they had always relied on as being the keeper of family history – died suddenly 12 years ago.
My father (one of nine children) died at about 65. All his family had passed away at an early age which made it difficult to find information. My mother (one of five children) only died three years ago at 98. However, during the last 10 years or so, she often got people and dates mixed up as I asked questions.
Maria thus relied very heavily on MyHeritage Smart Matches™ to check the information she had and to fill in gaps.
I find that I am still occasionally finding a snippet of information, maybe a date of birth or death, which I didn't have and each discovery of a new tidbit of information is always exciting.
Although Maria has not had too many surprises, she has been able to contact some previously unknown cousins. She’s very interested to remain in contact with them, even if only occasionally.
Here are the names she is researching:
--My father’s family: Schelle, Von Avontuur, Penninx, Mustaers, Van Heeslwuijk, Sterkx, Van Der Boggart, Hendrix, Goijers, Schellen, Van Oers. Maria’s tree for her father’s and mother’s family is at nearly 800 individuals, most of whom lived in the Netherlands.
--My mother’s family: Van Hees, Wynen, Ver Bunt, Van Heesch, Schalk, Verhaere, Van Schalk, Van Spijk, Strijp – some 336 people, who mostly lived in the Netherlands.
--My father-in-law’s family: include Keep, Richard, Godfrey, Simmons, Elmer, Tobin, Bates, Larkins - some 415 people, most of whom lived in Tasmania and the UK.
--My mother-in-law’s family: Keep, Bennett, Stevens, Eatly, Holtham, Ball, Smith, Waldon – some 247 people, most of whom lived in the UK. Holtham is of Spanish descent.
She is also collecting information for her husband's family and had great pleasure in being able to tell her father-in-law that his great-great-grandfather was a convict who had been transported to Tasmania.
Is her family involved in the project? Maria has learned that most of the family is not really interested, with the exceptions of a few of her nieces.
However, I suspect that somewhere down the line there will be someone who is as interested as I am, so I will be very happy to be able to share with them.
Maria has discovered that it has been much easier to collect information for her father’s and her father-in-law’s families.
It seems that my mother's family and my mother-in-law’s family are unwilling to take the time to pass on the information I need. Is this common of all female members?
This is a disappointment to Maria and leaves gaps that she would like to fill.
I find the birthday reminders we get in our email box a help sometimes. For instance, I got a message about an upcoming birthday of a cousin. I sent him a birthday wish and, after thanking me, he told me that his birthday actually wasn't until another date. So I was able to change the MyHeritage details with this new correct bit of information. I love the birthday reminders from MyHeritage.
What does Maria like about MyHeritage?
I’ve tried other free versions of family tree programs before MyHeritage but have found this the easiest and most efficient and I never continued with any other program beyond putting in just a little information as a trial.
She began with the basic version of MyHeritage, with separate trees for her father, mother, and her in-laws.
When my father's got too big, I paid for the Premium version. I have my parents’ information on the same tree now, but I want to add my in-laws’ families in the future.
Maria says that this is very much an ongoing project. She suspects it will never be completed, but she’s having a lot of fun trying.
Finally, she shares tips for beginners just beginning their research:
- Start with one member of the family, either your mother or father and work backwards until you have gone as far as you can before starting on the next one.
- Don’t get frustrated if you don’t get back to it for awhile.
- Try and change errors as soon as possible.
- Watch out for the order of the date (day-month versus month-day). "I had so many dates wrong before I realized that the month came before the day!" she wrote.
- Most of all, enjoy!
Did you enjoy Maria's story? Do you have a story to share? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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