29    Jul 20134 comments

MyHeritage discovers heirs for unclaimed assets confiscated during WWII

We have often discussed the importance of building family trees and how genealogy can be used to make exciting family discoveries.

Gilad Japhet, MyHeritage's Founder & CEO, read an article a few months ago concerning the compensation for Jewish-owned German property that had been confiscated by the Nazis during World War II.

The article linked to a list compiled by the Claims Conference of around 40,000 properties (homes, buildings, stores and factories) located in former East Germany. The descendants of these property owners are entitled to compensation.

MyHeritage notified Cati Holland that she was eligible for compensation (Credit: Oded Balilty/AP)

Gilad initiated a project to use MyHeritage resources to try and match the people on this list, the original property owners, with their living descendants. Continue reading "MyHeritage discovers heirs for unclaimed assets confiscated during WWII" »

12    Jul 201313 comments

Family reunion: Relatives reunite in Denmark

It began in summer 2011 when MyHeritage user Patricia Skubis (Madison, Wisconsin) stumbled upon a family discovery. Some two years later, she was in Denmark  on the way to meet her Danish family.

Birgit Thygesen Moses (left) and Patricia Skubis meeting for the first time at family party in Vejle. Image credit: Peter Friis Autzen lokalavi-sen.dk

For more than 30 years, Patricia searched for her Danish roots. She had tried various ways to connect the family history, but never managed to put the pieces of the puzzle together.

Patricia’s relatives had immigrated to the US in 1888 , and another branch had been in Australia since 1873. Twenty-seven years ago, Patricia, now 75, had connected with Alison Rogers from the Australian branch. However, Alison was also unable to find the Danish missing links.

One day, Patricia received a new Smart Match on her MyHeritage website. Her grandfather, Martin Thygesen, had appeared in another member’s tree, but not all the information matched completely. Her curiosity peaked, and she wrote directly to MyHeritage member Tage Therkildsen Thygesen for more information. Continue reading "Family reunion: Relatives reunite in Denmark" »

18    Jun 201312 comments

Our Stories: A daughter’s project

Chris's graduation photo

People catch the genealogy bug in many ways. For MyHeritage member Chris King (in Georgia, US), it was because of the Girl Scouts.

My daughter, Caitlin, was in Girl Scouts and had to do a family tree of three-to-four generations. I always wanted to know more about where my family was from, but had never thought about doing a family tree. I helped her with the project and together we went back several more generations.

Born Christine Carlton in Paget, Bermuda, in January 1969, Chris' father was in the US Air Force, stationed on the island. Her parents divorced when she was 3, and she, her sister and their mother moved to Georgia, where she grew up. Today she has four children and a step-daughter. She and her husband have been together for 12 years and married for nine, with six grandchildren and another on the way.

Continue reading "Our Stories: A daughter’s project" »

5    Jun 20131 comment

Our Stories: A family reunion in the Netherlands

A group of MyHeritage users from Holland and Canada met for the first time in Haarlem, Netherlands, in May.

Family photo outside the North Holland Archives

Joining them was our Netherlands country manager Denie Kasan, who documented their reunion at the North Holland Archives in Haarlem. Following is a translation based on his original post.

Continue reading "Our Stories: A family reunion in the Netherlands" »

23    May 201323 comments

Our Stories: The Mayflower and more!

There are so many ways to get bitten by the genealogy bug. MyHeritage member Melva Jo Wright of Florida (US) took over the research of her maternal aunt (Geraldine Martinez) when she died in 2004.

Her aunt’s four sisters helped with the research and each received a family history binder from their researcher sister.

Melva Jo’s maternal great-grandparents and their family: Norval Smith Channing (1878 PA-1955 PA) and Amanda Catherine (Pyle) Channing (1877 PA-1957 PA). Her grandmother (far left) is Rebecca (Channing) Lytle (1901 PA-1980 FL) (Courtesy photo)

Most have shared them with me, but I’m still waiting to hear from the others to complete their details in our family tree. I hope they contain some original pictures, as most of those I already have are copies.

Melva Jo, 60, has three children and three stepdaughters. Her mother worked at the Pentagon and her father was a stockcar racer, killed in a 1951 race. Her mother remarried, to an Army major, and the family lived in Germany and France.

Among her exciting discoveries: the Mayflower’s John and Priscilla Alden are her direct ninth great-grandparents. She's also related to writer Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, President Abraham Lincoln, Clement Clark Moore (who wrote “The Night Before Christmas), as well as Orson Wells, Marilyn Monroe, Dick and Jerry Van Dyke and Ricky Nelson, to name a few.

Continue reading "Our Stories: The Mayflower and more!" »

26    Apr 20131 comment

Our Stories: Hidden families and an opera singer

We never know what our unique family histories may reveal, and MyHeritage member Kathleen Whitfield, 60, of the UK, is no exception.

Her childhood was spent in the UK with her parents and older brother, who lived some 250 miles from any blood relatives. Neither of the siblings ever met their father’s family or had any living grandparents they knew about.

Although they occasionally visited their mother’s sister and family in Lancashire and another sister in London, the only details they were told about their father’s family was that his Irish father was an opera singer, their father was born in London, that he had siblings, but he had lost contact with his family. Kathleen was told she was named for her father’s mother. Further, she discovered that her paternal grandmother was really Kate Constance, not Kathleen!

William C. Green, Kathleen’s paternal grandfather (Courtesy Photo)

Kathleen got “into” family history because her husband’s niece conducted fascinating research into his family. Continue reading "Our Stories: Hidden families and an opera singer" »

8    Mar 20131 comment

International Women’s Day: Your stories

International Women’s Day has its roots in the North American and European Labor movements.

It was first observed in the US on February 28, 1909, in honor of the 1908 worker’s strike when women protested against poor working conditions. A year later, The Socialist International met in Copenhagen and established a Women’s Day to honor the women’s rights movement.

The first International Women’s Day, in 1911, took place in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland. Women rallied for worker’s rights, the right to vote and to hold public office, among other issues.

Today, International Women’s Day is observed worldwide: Continue reading "International Women’s Day: Your stories" »

14    Feb 20131 comment

Valentine’s Day: Your Stories

Millions around the world will send flowers, write love letters and say "I love you" to their families, significant others and spouses to mark Valentine's Day today.

We each have our own romantic stories. Whether a first love, a first kiss or discovering a secret admirer, these stories are memorable moments.

At MyHeritage, we know how important  family and love are in our lives. Last week, we asked you to send in romantic stories of proposals, marriage and love from your unique family history.

Here we share a few of our favorites on this special day:

Continue reading "Valentine’s Day: Your Stories" »

20    Dec 20123 comments

South Africa: Fashion, photos and family history

Leigh Toselli with her sons (from left) Devin, Rowan and Kieran

Leigh Toselli with her sons (from left) Devin, Rowan and Kieran

Listening to family stories as a child sparked Leigh Toselli’s interest, but - for her - it’s all about photographs and their stories.

A South African fashion, beauty and decor stylist, Leigh, 52, lives in Johannesburg with her French photographer husband Patrick and three sons (Devin, 25; Rowan, 23; and Kieran, 20).

Her biography reads like an A-Z of fashion, and she’s worked on every facet of image in the industry. She authored a series of books on beauty and image, and was also co-presenter of the South African version of the BBC show, What Not to Wear.

A few years ago, Leigh was trying to find a way of restoring, filing and sharing old family photographs.

Old photographs that gather dust seem so sad; all too often these are neglected and the names and faces forgotten. So I started asking the older generations to put names and anecdotes to the photos.

Family trees didn't really interest me, as they were simply a list of dates and names. That is, until I realized I could put faces to the names! Suddenly, my family’s history became a fascination - seeing family resemblances and spotting faces in old albums became a bit of an obsession.

Continue reading "South Africa: Fashion, photos and family history" »

14    Dec 20121 comment

Family History Discoveries: Your stories


Many MyHeritage members have made remarkable discoveries through their family history research.

For example, David thought that an entire branch of his family had died in WWII. Through a MyHeritage Smart Match, he discovered that they had survived. Read about how the families were reunited.

Read about Howard who found a long-lost cousin living in his own hometown!

We also helped to reunite half-siblings Ronald and Anneliese.

We publish these stories because we think they're a great way to inspire all of us in our family history research. Who knows what story we'll uncover with the next relative we add to our family tree.

If you're interested in sharing your inspiring story or breakthrough, and having it published in this blog, send it to stories@myheritage.com.

The MyHeritage team

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