MyHeritage member Dayne Skolmen, 24, of South Africa, has been working on his family history since he was 14, when a family tree school assignment caught his interest. His ancestors come from Norway, Germany and the Netherlands.
Dayne lives in Port Elizabeth, and is currently completing his Master of Technology (MTech) in Information Technology Research at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University.
His grandfather, Thorbjorn Christian Synnestvedt Skolmen, died at 81 when Dayne was only 3.
As part of our global initiative to digitize cemeteries, MyHeritage was contacted by a couple with an interesting idea that allowed them to embark on an international adventure.
Michael Kerr and his wife, Sabrina Rowe, decided to leave the comfort of their home, and bicycle across Europe, stopping to photograph entire cemeteries on the way. All the photos are being shared with the community for free on MyHeritage and BillionGraves.com.
This year marks a century since the beginning of World War I. To commemorate, we share the touching story of Italian soldier Cesare Mele, from Sezze, south of Rome.
While the Central Powers consisted of Austria-Hungary and Germany, Italy decided to remain neutral in 1914, and eventually joined the Allies (France, UK and Russia) in May 1915. Once they entered the conflict, 650,000 Italian soldiers died, 947,000 were wounded, and 600,000 disappeared or were captured as prisoners of war.
Some people begin with traditional family history and turn to genetics to find more connections, but MyHeritage member Peggy Shackelford, 64, of Southern California began her geneajourney to understand the genetics in her family.
She has two grown daughters and three dogs. She holds a BS in computer and management sciences and works as a business intelligence developer. Although born just outside Chicago (in Hammond, Indiana), Peggy grew up in northern California. Her work involves analytical research and developing business intelligence software.
About 30 years ago she started the journey to discover her family roots. Armed only with some family stories she began her research. It was very hard going back then, she says. There was very little available online and most of her research involved sifting through microfilms of census records to find people and clues.
Raymond (Ray) Malenfant always thought of looking into his family history, but it remained at the back of his mind until after his mother died.
We know all too well stories of family history research that begin only after a death in the family - too late to ask questions. Although it makes research more difficult, it is a great motivator to delve into family history.
Ray, 66, is now a retired civil engineer. After receiving his B.S. in Civil Engineering from Northeastern University (Boston, Massachusetts, 1971), he moved to Dover, Delaware with his wife Ellen and their son, then 2. He now lives in Marydel, Delaware - retired since 2008. He has two sons, Mark, 45, and Jon, 42.
After trying to start a home inspection business in a slow real estate market, he discovered genealogy, and hasn't looked back since!
Our members have such interesting stories, both personal and genealogical!
Pieter Brink, 74, was born in Johannesburg-West, Transvaal, South Africa, and today lives in Pretoria. He is bilingual in Afrikaans and English, gets along in German and converses in several Bantu languages such as Chinyanya, IsiTshwana, Sesutoe, Tzonga, Zulu and Xhosa – although he says he’s not fluent.
He began as a bank clerk in 1956, worked at several businesses, even at a gold mine, was a Christian missionary in Zambia and later retired as a deputy director of organization and work-study in public service. The new chapter of his life began on April 24, 1994, the same day the New South Africa was born, and he is a missionary and family historian/genealogist.
When he was 15, his father sent him from Wolmaransstad in the west to live with his grandmother Marja in the east at Belfast, Transvaal, where the family farms are located. That’s where his interest in family history began:
Thank you to everyone who entered our competition to share their stories.
We received so many amazing entries - tales of intrigue, mystery and discovery - with exciting twists and turns.
In genealogy, discoveries are not an end, but rather a beginning. Each door opened may lead to many more discoveries over time.
We hope to showcase the stories individually, although we are sharing excerpts from the winners below:
MyHeritage has some of the most fascinating members. We were delighted when we received the story of Anneliese Horst, 81, who was born in Chile and now lives in the US.
She has a law degree, a foreign language teaching certification, and teaches Spanish at Queens University (Charlotte, North Carolina, USA).
I was born in Santiago de Chile into a very large family; my parents were Mario Horst and Erna Pretzer. We spoke Spanish and German at home and went to school in Valdivia, Chile, a beautiful city in Chile’s Lake Region.
I studied law in Santiago and, in 1961, spent a year in Bonn, Germany studying criminal law. In 1962, I married Ernst J. Foerster, moved to Lima, Perú, where our son Hans was born. In 1969, we moved to Mexico City, and a year later to St. Croix, US Virgin Islands where our daughter Andrea, was born.
MyHeritage members come from around the world and they are some of the most interesting people we know. Today we’ll explore Susan Soyinka’s journey that took her back 200 years, more than eight generations and across four continents.
Send us your user story at firstname.lastname@example.org for a chance to win a Kindle!
In two of the wonderful user stories we've recently published on our blog, Mike uncovered his friend's ties to Queen Elizabeth II and Janice finally discovered what happened to her Irish great-grandfather who went missing in 1885.