12    Nov 201312 comments

Our Stories: 50 steps to a family connection!

Some family history researchers begin their geneajourney quite by accident, as did MyHeritage member Niels Bjerre Hansen of Denmark.

Niels, 56, was born in Vindum, Viborg, Denmark and lives with his wife Hanne Moeller Hansen, an intensive care nurse, in Roedkaersbro, Viborg. They have three grown children: Louise is an oil industry design engineer, Marie is an assistant attorney and Christine is a nurse.

He studied electronic engineering and graduated in 1984.

Niels has worked in the wind turbine industry as a development manager in the electronics department. Today he works at a small electronics company making high-end audio equipment as a production technician.

He became interested in family history quite by accident.

Niels made this graphic to show his family connections (Click to zoom)

I have friends in Utah, and their father died in October 2012. They emailed me pictures from the funeral. I had some difficulty putting names on all the faces in the pictures. One evening, I downloaded MyHeritage Family Tree Builder and made a limited family tree of the Utah family (BROUGH), and set profile pictures for the individuals.

That was so much fun that the next morning, I found more of their ancestors from what I could find on the Internet. After that, I began to put my own family into the Family Tree Builder. We have some family history books in the family, and I put them into the tree.

Niels has discovered some interesting things about his family history.

In my work entering my family members into Family Tree Builder, word spread and soon two unknown cousins emailed me with an overwhelming amount of new material. So I discovered I was related to almost everyone in the county.

He joined MyHeritage about nine months ago.

I began my family tree using MyHeritage. When I had used it for two weeks, I upgraded to PremiumPlus, as I estimated I would eventually have 5,000 relatives in the tree. Today, 10 months later, I have more than 17,000 people on my tree.

Is his family involved in his research?

My closest family are not at all interested in my heritage work and they are bored hearing about it. But I have made contacts with distant family members who are interested in family history and who have helped me very much. They are members of my site.

Currently, Niels has 17,737 people on his tree and about 85% of them live in Denmark. The rest are distant relatives, and some 4,000 individuals are in Utah or other places in the United States related to the BROUGH family.  

Niels has had many Smart Matches.

I have used Smart Matches a lot, but have learned to be critical and analyze the information. Some have incorrect relatives in their trees which they have picked up from not-so-careful use of Smart Matches.

He shared this story about his research:

I have some friends in Utah - the BROUGH family. I met them in 1979 when I was in Utah for six months for an  F-16 course in the US Air Force. I had then lost their contact details. In January 2012, I found them on Facebook and contacted them. We emailed frequently and I created their family tree as I indicated above. Now I might have 4,000 relatives of their family in the tree.

The Brough family’s maternal side was the Hess family. I discovered that I had an ancestor named Nickel Hess (1621-1691) from Germany. The Hess ancestors in the Utah family came from Switzerland. I wanted to prove a connection but quickly realized that it was an impossible job. There are a huge bunch of people named Hess in Germany and they might not be related. But I kept my eyes open for opportunities to prove the relationship.

Then on 2 May 2013, a lady from North Dakota, USA made a Smart Match in my tree. I was curious how she was related. I went into her tree and searched for the surnames. I saw she had a Kimball and remembered that my Utah Brough family tree also had Kimballs.

I copied the lines from the North Dakota site into my own tree to Lone Kimball (1896-1971) in the North Dakota site. The next job was to connect Lone Kimball to Heber C. Kimball (1801-1868) in my Utah-Brough tree. I went on www.FamilySearch.org and traced Lone Kimball and Heber C Kimball back. When I reached David Kimball (1671-1743) there were hits. They had a common father. One son, Jeremiah Kimball (1707-1764) was the line to the Utah Brough family, and another son, Aaron Kimball (1710-1760) was the line to my family. The connection was proven! Fifty steps from my Brough friends to me. That is how Smart Matches can help you!

In June this year my wife and I visited our Brough friends in Utah and saw them for the first time in 34 years, and they gave me a lot of credit for proving the relationship between our families.

Niels shares his tips for those just beginning their research:

Put in as much information you have into MyHeritage. If you have relatives you cannot immediately connect to your family - just put them into MyHeritage as unrelated. Then, in the future, you might be lucky to connect them using Smart Match.

Did you enjoy Niels’ story? Do you have a family history story to share? Let us know in the comments below or email us at stories@myheritage.com.

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Comments (12) Trackbacks (0)
  1. I have read your journey, and it has been amazing how you have thousands of relatives. I also see that you are from Denmark, and that parts of the world always interest me because my maternal family history begins in Danish West Indies that was once owned by Denmark before the Americans came in 1917. Folks are always visiting the Virgin Islands, St Croix in particular from Denmark there are groups called the friends of Denmark, Many of them have begun their family research as well and so amazing how they are finding relatives that once occupied this region. Thought you might be interested in taking a look at some of the databases you may start with stx.visharoots.org

    Continue your great journey. I too am on a genealogical journey as well.
  2. I would like to know how Niels got his chart to be in blue and red boxes and in three different familes (I have 3/4 different ones)..thankyou Christine Snowdon
  3. It was pictures from my father's funeral and trying to connect the kids to their parents and the names to faces that initially sparked Niels' interest in genealogy. The amount of care, work, time and number of people he's put into our Family Heritage Tree has been mind boggling and very exciting to our family. It has been wonderful for us all to reconnect & to learn that connection has gone deeper than any of the rest of us had a clue! I couldn't help but notice this article was published on Nov. 12, my father's birthday. What a great gift!!!
  4. Very interesting. I used to work for a man named Harry Hansen. He was from Denmark. His wife's name was Edith. His family before world war 2 was in shipping in Denmark. His nephew, and a friend, from Denmark came to visit in California back in the 80's. As they were being driven over the Altamont Pass to San Francisco, they insisted on getting out of the car to take pictures of "wind mills" that were made from the company they worked for in Denmark.
    I realize that Hansen is a common Danish name, and that wind mills are a big product of Denmark, But may be a connection.
  5. Very inspiring case. Pushes me to get deeper into my heritage even when non of my immediate family shows any interest. I am from India. MyHeritage is a great help but 250 mem restriction is limiting.
  6. Answer to Christine Snowdon. The graphic was not made in MyHeritage Family Tree Builder, but made manually in Microsoft Publisher.
  7. I have a cousin whos family name was Bennallack that come to California in 1870 to work the mines and she married a Hansen whos family was from Denmark. Maybe they are related.
  8. Great story, Niels. Couldn't help but notice your name is also the name of my ex-husbands ancestor, only they spelled it Hanson. I have been tracing that line. He was born in Lejre and immigrated to America in 1881. Did any of your Hansens come to America and settle in Michigan? It can't hurt to ask, right?
  9. Well done Niels You make my efforts look like a kindergarden trail!! I was doing great using just information my late father had (certificates etc.) until i came across a photo. on the back he had written "my grandmother Lewin". Huh start again Lewin was the male Christain name through the family from 1800. Yours is inspiration indeed so i shall carry on.
  10. Great story!
    Get my compliments for your successful search.
    From Italy.
    Sergio.
  11. Нильс,действительно.дело это очень увлекательное,интересное и нужное.Я, 16 лет назад, спросила у своей тёти про старшее поколение.она мне продиктовала всех кого помнила.Я записала на бумажке,через год тётя умерла и я поняла,что больше чем она мне никто бы не рассказал. С этого листочка я и начала составлять свою родословную.потом появился интернет и оформлять стало намного дегче.Сейчас у меня уже почти 500 человек .И я то же не останавливаюсь.
  12. Это здорово! плохо что труд годичный усилий не храните и заставляете по новому регистрироваться!

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