Imagine having absolutely no idea that you’re a descendant of royalty. MyHeritage.com user Jennifer Pelot Rysewyk, like many people, had little knowledge her family’s past.
Her Grandparents were rural farmers and her parents were factory workers, hence Jennifer presumed that her roots were working class. Jennifer, from Wisconsin, began researching her family history last year, and can now lay claim to being related to some of the most infamous royals in history.
Jennifer began building her family tree on MyHeritage.com, primarily in an attempt to trace her father’s family originating from Germany and Poland. However the most fascinating discoveries were to be found on her mother’s side of the family.
Having made a living by farming for several generations, Jennifer discovered some surprising connections on this side of the family to many members of European royalty.
Many of us find skeletons in the family history closet, and John Hancock from London is no exception. In his family, the name ‘Jane’ had been passed down for generations along with rumors of a murder, but nobody knew anything for sure. While doing his research, John discovered the murder of a Jane Maria Clouson from the 19th Century, confirming the truth of these claims. The crime, originally believed to be an early Ripper murder, is still shrouded in mystery. Here John shares in his own words the story of the event and what he’s found out about it.
Jane Maria Clouson, daughter of James and Jane Clouson (formerly Hancock) was born in April 1854 in Deptford. She had one older sister called Sarah who died of consumption in 1863, a younger brother called Charles, who died young and one younger sister called Maria. Jane’s mother died when she was 13.
At the age of 14, Jane began working as a servant/maid for Ebenezer Pook, who owned a printing business with connections to The Times of London. Pook had a number of children, one being only 3 years older than Jane. His name was Edmund Walter Pook. He said that he suffered from ‘fits’ and could not be left alone. He also claimed to be a music hall entertainer.
David Greenberg has been researching his family history for nearly 40 years, all this time believing that a large part of his family had perished during the Holocaust. So you can imagine how David was ‘‘flat out speechless’’ to discover otherwise, thanks to a Smart Match on MyHeritage.com. This is a tale of how fate divided a family, and how MyHeritage helped reunite it.
After immigrating to the USA in 1902 to follow in the footsteps of other siblings who braved the crossing, Isaac Relkin (David’s grandfather and Rebecca’s brother), then aged 24, left behind much of his family in Kovno (Kaunus), Lithuania, and began a new life as a milliner in Brooklyn. Isaac (affectionately known as “Ike”), though born in Kovno traced his roots to Kedanaiai Lithuania. Kedanaiai was a major center for making women’s hats and that is presumably where various members of the family inherited the art.
Don’t be mistaken in thinking that family history is a simply a popular pastime for old folk or for serious genealogists. We’re witnessing an increasing number of young people becoming interested in researching their family’s past. Many are actually becoming genealogy experts themselves!
So the bottom line is that it doesn’t matter how old you are, family history is a great hobby for everyone. After seeing their great work and reading their thrilling stories, we’re feeling pretty pleased with ourselves that our site has helped children still at school make such tremendous accomplishments with their family history research.
We recently interviewed three MyHeritage.com users whose passion for genealogy at their age just amazed us. Here we share with you their stories:
"Thanks to MyHeritage.com discovering my family's past has been a fun and rewarding experience”
David Kaufmann, 16 years old, Spain.
This story, originally posted on our French blog, is a recollection from MyHeritage.com user Madame Madina Touré on how she traced her roots around Africa, and reconnected to many lost branches with her own MyHeritage family site. It is told in her own words.
I was born almost half a century ago in the middle valley of the Sénégal river, on the Mauritanian banks. My parents and two of my grandparents were also born there. This province, Kayhaydi (Kaédi, for the French colonizers), was the largest in the province of the Bosséa to which it belongs. This province is part of the Futa Toro territory, straddling both banks of the Senegal River populated mostly by Haalpulaaren (speakers of Pulaar/Fulfulde, the Fula language).
Linda Saliamonas-Avery, from St. Augustine, Florida, began researching her family tree some time ago and ended up with mountains of information. In August 2009, she decided to commit this to print with her own, custom-designed photo book. This is the story in her own words.
When my mother-in-law died, I inherited all of her pictures, which included those of her uncle. Then when my husband died, I actually realized that mine was the oldest generation in the family and once my husband’s cousin, who was born in Estonia, died, no one alive would know who the pictures were of, and the old family history would be gone. So, I decided, with my cousin’s help (by computer) that I would sort and label the pictures, and create an album for each of my children.
As we got to talking, we soon realized that Donna had a great passion for her family history research and had worked out how to get the most out of her MyHeritage.com account. We asked if Donna would be willing to share some of her experiences with the community, and tell us a bit more about her family story. We hope you enjoy the interview!
This post was written by our colleague Denie, who lives in the Netherlands. We have translated his Dutch post into English and hope you will enjoy his truly beautiful family story!
This post is dedicated to the story of a very mixed family. A family which embodies centuries of global migration. A family that today might be characterized by a specific appearance, but has roots in almost every continent on the globe. It's my own family: A family of Dutch, French, Germans, Africans and Javanese, Israelis, Muslims, Huguenots, Lutherans, Dutch Reformed, Roman Catholics, and Protestants.
While I could talk for hours about my family history, I will keep this post very brief. Generally, I consider Suriname the central location for our family. After all, this is where my family's diversity is centered.
It didn't take long to realise that Jean had a great passion for family history research and had worked out how to get the most out of her MyHeritage.com account! It also didn't take long for Jean to respond when I asked her if she'd be keen to share her story with our readers.
Below are Jean's open and honest answers to some questions I asked her about her life, family and why she uses MyHeritage.com. I hope you enjoy them.
Hi Jean. Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I am a semi-retired classical musician, teacher and writer, living in Johannesburg, South Africa. I am married with two married grown-up children and two grandsons.
This post first appeared in the Spanish MyHeritage blog and has been translated into English for all to enjoy.
It was written by MyHeritage community member Kenneth Arthur Marlow Araujo and his wife Betty Edith Dons-Blædel
An interest in genealogy - researching who our elderly have been and what they have done, the problems they faced and how they resolved them - is common to most who dare to publish a tree, starting with their parents and grandparents, and continuing as far back as they can.
This search probably involves a desire for identity, of belonging, that today is exacerbated by the speed at which changes take place, cosmopolitanism prevails in society in general. The mass of human beings.
In his Politics, Aristotle said that humans are social animals. In fact, today we live in cities, like cattle or flocks, without identity. Whoever we are, we have the feeling that there are thousands like us, and we have the feeling of fading into a gray background. Grayed by the speed with which our lives run.