“Genealogy is not only the search for one’s ancestors, but the sharing of information with others," according to MyHeritage member Gary L. Roberts of Plano, Texas.
Born in Pennsylvania, Gary, 62, attended computer school and served in the US Army as a Morse Code Intercept Operator. Before his 2012 retirement, he spent 30 years working for Verizon Communications as a technical trainer.
Although an only child, he had many cousins on both sides of his family. He’s always been interested in his family history, but travel and work prevented him from working on it. Today, however, he has created a family website, and his travels have taken him around the world to China, Wales, Egypt, Sudan, Zimbabwe, Zaire, Singapore, Switzerland, all over Europe and to the Philippines.
His interest in family history began following the Catawissa (Pennsylvania) Bicentennial in 1974.
My second cousin wrote much of the book on the history of Catawissa. My Roberts family had a large number of family members (aunts, uncles, cousins) in the area and some history related to them. It was wonderful to read about the area and its history.
Kerry, 67, lives in Redmond, Oregon, with his wife Joyce and children Aaron and Amber, both college students. Born in Neodesha, Kansas, he received his biology BS and MS from Pittsburg State University (Kansas).
Now retired, his career has included a stint as a sonarman on the destroyer USS Brownson, as an FDA investigator, a radiation safety officer, a health officer and the owner of a computer store.
He caught the gen bug from his mother, who worked on her family’s history.
Our genealogical journeys begin in varied ways.
MyHeritage member Michael O’Toole’s interest began with a box of family photos and pages torn from a family Bible.
Michael, 59, was born in New Zealand and lives today in Sydney, Australia, with his partner Dianne and daughter Grace; his mother, Enid, and sister, Susan, live in Queensland, Australia.
Active in the apparel and textile industry for most of his life, including Levi Strauss New Zealand, he’s had his own product development and importing businesses.
In addition to family history, his wide-ranging interests include rugby, motorcycle racing, cricket and big game fishing. He enjoys international travel and is looking forward to a UK trip to visit his ancestors’ towns and villages in Nottingham and Leistershire.
Michael wanted to trace the history of his New Zealand O’Tooles.
I had very little knowledge of them. My step-grandmother- just before she died about 10 years ago - sent me a box of photos and family pages torn from a bible, so I had something to start from.
He began by Googling “O’Toole, Invercargill New Zealand.”
Rodolfo Almar Hegoburu, 68, has always been interested in his Basque ancestors.
Born in Argentina, he received a PhD (Physics) at the University of La Plata (Argentina) and did post-doctorate studies at the University of Nottingham (UK). He has worked in Argentina, UK, Canada and the US, but spends a fair amount of time in Argentina.
Now retired, he lives in the US with his wife. He has three children.
He’s been interested in his ancestors since he was a youngster.
However, I became really interested in doing some research in my family genealogy only a few years ago. The help of a friend – with a lot more experience - has been instrumental.
He’s become intrigued by the Basque people, in general.
Some say that they were the first inhabitants of Europe, with a language that seemingly has no relation to any other Indo-European languages. Their history is fascinating.
People look into their family history for all sorts of reasons. Australian Sylvia Baker, 62, had some special reasons for asking questions.
Born Wilhelmina Cornelia Steeneveld in Delft, Netherlands, Sylvia immigrated to Australia in 1957; lived in Matraville, NSW for five years; and later in Montrose, Victoria. Now retired, she lives in Manjimup, Western Australia and previously worked as a bookkeeper.
She was married to Lambertus Tip, and had two sons, Angus (born Wayne) and Jeffrey (now deceased).
Sylvia attended three years of primary school, began working and then married. At 37, she returned to school and began learning from the beginning!
At an age when most young men tend to look at the world outside instead of their own family roots, David Krueger, 15, from Germany, is already working on his family history at MyHeritage. He began his research at age 13.
In 2010, he “Googled” his own name, just for fun. He looked at the results and saw a family tree with many branches.
Under the picture was written: "My ancestors, determined by a genealogist." "It looks interesting," I thought, and clicked on it. I discovered more and more fascinating information about genealogy.
David went to his mother and asked about his grandparents, writing down their birth and death dates. When he asked about his great-grandparents, there was no room on the paper.
I quickly turned on my computer and looked for a way to represent this piece of information online, so that I had a clear view in a way I could understand (I was then 13).
Born and raised in a rural African village, Paramente, 45, attended a Christian mission school, attended secondary education and received an undergraduate degree (1989) in mathematics and education, and an MA.
Since then Paramente has worked as a teacher, school inspector and education administrator in Lesotho and South Africa. He studied international education in the UK in 2003, and was appointed a Lesotho diplomat – and posted to Dublin – in 2011.
My interest and research in family genealogy is one of my hobbies.
Thirty years ago, MyHeritage member Marcia K. Hanson, now 64, began gathering family information:
I talked to all the old family I could find (I began this when I was in my late 30s) and wrote down their stories. The stories were priceless, many were funny. It gave me an appreciation of who they were and the sacrifices they made to give their family a better life.
Marcia describes herself as a retired introvert who likes history, loves puzzles and is good with details. She enjoys having family stay in touch and loves to share family stories gathered during her research. Also an active volunteer, an avid reader and an average golfer, Marcia is certainly a busy woman.
There are many reasons why people become interested in their family history. It may be because of an inherited condition or the discovery of a previously unknown relative.
MyHeritage member Thelma (known as Thel) Brooks’ story includes both!
Born in Sydney, Australia, Thel’s interests were dancing, swimming and tennis. These days, it’s family history.
Now in her 70s and retired, she was a hospital office manager for most of her working life.
Married at 22, she and her husband, William John Brooks, were together for nearly 50 years. She has a daughter and a son, and four grandchildren. For 27 years, Thel was her husband John’s caregiver until his death in 2010.
Today, her life is devoted to her little dog, family and friends and she lives in Sunshine Coast, Queensland.
Thel first became interested in family history when her husband was diagnosed with an inherited incurable disease and she wanted to find out more where it came from. She then discovered, at 56, a previously unknown half-sister in Scotland:
This post appeared last week in our German blog. We've translated it to help Gudrun Giesemann find her father.
We're now hoping to help Gudrun, who's been searching for her biological father for over 30 years. She's tried everything, without success. Now we're asking our readers for help. Each bit of information could be vitally important for Gudrun.
Here's her story:
For over 30 years, I've been searching for my biological father whom I've never met. When my mother died in 1989, she told me that his name was SIDNEY or SYDNEY SMITH. Unfortunately, there are a lot of spellings of this common name.