27    Sep 20138 comments

South Africa: Family history and a Harley

Family history researchers share a common passion. South African MyHeritage member Denise Wronsky Barnard, 55, has always felt an interest in history since she was a child.

However, as an adult, she has more time to conduct research and to spend time on her other passion – riding a Harley! Denise is also a photographer, a writer and loves to travel.

Born in Pretoria, where she still lives, Denise is married and has three adult children. She holds a Diploma in Architecture.

We asked Denise what she’s discovered about her family history.

My father passed away in 1994. Two years prior, we sat down and he dictated all the family he could remember. Years later, I found that large piece of paper and decided to see what else I could find out. What a journey it has been!

She has discovered children that her cousins never knew their parents had had, connections to the Nazi SS, Boer war gold, abandoned children raised by others, burial places of many forgotten family members.

I wish my Dad could see all this!

Denise joined MyHeritage about four years ago. “It is easy to use and the Smart Matches™ are awesome,” she says.

Is her family involved? That’s a definite yes!

I have roped them all in. Some were shocked to see how many direct relatives they still have.

Many of her relatives are also members of the family site.

It has turned the family on its head! I regularly send updates which usually results in more questions and answers.

There are more than 600 people on her family tree and they live all over the world: South Africa, Canada, South America, USA, England, Germany and Holland, to name a few.

Additionally, Denise has so many Smart Matches™ that she has difficulty getting to them all. She is a member of many of her Smart Matches™ sites, which are also from all over the world.

She has discovered unknown and long-lost relatives.

Yes, I have! One in particular stands out. I met a lady at my daughter’s school and we became friends. Over coffee one day we got to talking about family. It turned out she is my first cousin - who is on my tree - but I never knew her married name!

Perhaps Denise’s most significant experience was when she found the graves of her great-great-grandmother, who came to South Africa in the 1880s, and her son, Denise’s great-grandfather.

Nobody in the family, not even my late father, knew where he was buried. I also discovered that I am half-Jewish!

Denise’s main tip for beginners just starting out on their geneajourney is to persevere. Keep researching and discovering information.

Did you enjoy Denise’s story? What family discoveries have you found out? Let us know in the comments below.

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Comments (8) Trackbacks (0)
  1. Great story.

    One interesting story I found out in my research was that my Great Uncle was a well regarded Antiquities dealer prior to WWII in Berlin. One of his clients was Sigmund Freud.
  2. What a fascinating story! We'd love to hear more about it.
  3. I have recently found concrete proof that my great grandmothers sister Katherine Neumann had a year long affair with Albert Einstein! Their love letters are kept in Austin in jarusalem!
  4. Very interesting story and amazing dedication to complete this work, well done!
  5. *museum
  6. Denise I would like to contact you. Is that possible?
  7. Great work Denise.I'd just like to know if you got your family to contribute towards your research financially.That is my biggest hurdle.
  8. P. Malan

    Please do - my e-mail is denise@saol.com

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