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.
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:
Happy Valentine's Day!
Today is a special day, filled with love and happiness. Millions of people around the world will send tokens of their appreciation to friends and family, and say "I love you" to their loved ones.
The best love stories are not ones from the movies or storybooks, but the ones that come from our own families. These stories stay with us as lasting memories and are passed down from generation to generation.
At MyHeritage, we know how important family and love are in our lives. Last week, we asked you to send in your family's love stories.
Love is in the air!
Valentine's Day, the day where couples express their love for one another, is only 4 days away. All around the world, romantics traditionally exchange candy, flowers and gifts and reminisce about how they first met.
How did your grandparents fall in love?
As Valentine's Day approaches, we invite you to share the amazing love stories or photos from your family's history for a chance to win a 1 year MyHeritage subscription.
Every family has love stories in their history. These are the stories that bring our families together.
Perhaps you have a sentimental photo of your ancestors together, from their wedding day, engagement or just out having fun?
What is it that inspires us to find family? One important part of MyHeritage member Janice Brown Moerschel’s family history was the story of her missing great-grandfather, Henry.
Born and raised on Staten Island, in New York City, Janice, 60, now lives in Spokane, Washington, in the Pacific Northwest, with her husband Thomas; they have two adult daughters.
Wouldn't it be exciting to read the diary of an ancestor who recorded his or her daily activities?
Matt Unger, a 40-ish software executive in New York, was handed his grandfather Harry Scheurman’s 1924 diary, written when he was 29 and had been in the US for 11 years. Matt has transcribed each journal entry at his website http://papasdiary.blogspot.com. Scheurman had immigrated from Sniatyn, then in Austro-Hungary.
Matt’s project received coverage in The New York Times.
As we hear more frequently these days, family history researchers are getting bitten by the genealogy bug at ever younger ages. Although Matt was given the pocket-sized diary for a fifth-grade family history project, it wasn't until Thanksgiving 2007 that he examined it closely and decided to transcribe it.
MyHeritage interviewed Matt via email and is happy to offer his comments on this wonderful and very personal project.
Family history researchers share a common passion. South African MyHeritage member Denise Wronsky Barnard, 55, has always felt an interest in history since she was a child.
However, as an adult, she has more time to conduct research and to spend time on her other passion – riding a Harley! Denise is also a photographer, a writer and loves to travel.
Born in Pretoria, where she still lives, Denise is married and has three adult children. She holds a Diploma in Architecture.
We asked Denise what she’s discovered about her family history.
MyHeritage members come to us in various ways. Maria Keep, 63, born in the Netherlands and now living in Australia, tried a free MyHeritage CD that came in a magazine.
Maria was born in Renkum, Netherlands. She, her husband and adult daughter and son live in Forster NSW Australia. She is a full-time caregiver for her husband who is vision impaired and suffers from total memory and short term memory loss.
Maria has been collecting family history for some four decades.
I am from a very big family and have always been interested in family history and had been collecting little bits of information on bits of paper and putting them in a book with the intention of putting it all together one day into a proper family tree record. I started collecting this information about 40 years ago.
By his own account, Norwood Wayne Newkirk says that reading and history were not his greatest passions as he grew up. Today that has changed, as he was the project manager for his family’s reunion held August 1-4, 2013, in New Jersey.
He holds a degree in electrical engineering and worked as a loss prevention consultant. Today he creates risk management systems as a senior account executive and computer application developer.
So what I have done over the past two years [since the 2011 reunion] in preparation for our 2013 reunion is not a far stretch from what I do vocationally. I see the issue and try to develop a solution.
However, as he went through life, he began to recognize that something was missing.
I found a church with teaching ministry that filled the void in my spiritual life and became very active in leading the Media Volunteer Ministry (it is in my genes). Yet there was an area still lacking.
I eventually recognized I had become distant from my family, not because I wanted to, but life situations and circumstances caused things to happen just that way. In fact, there was a time when I truly could not remember a large chunk of my past.
As life would have it, things changed and there was a rekindling of his family history. As family members grew older and died, it offered occasions for the family to come together more frequently than they would like.
It was on those occasions that I heard stories about family members including myself. Stories that made you laugh and stories that made you say, “Did that really happen?” At that point I began to understand what I was missing. It was family. Cousins that I grew up were now distant relatives.
At his grandmother’s funeral, a family pastor talked about thing his grandparents experienced over 92 years of their life and the legacy they left behind.
The Starling family could have written “Roots.” This revelation showed me the importance of family.
While some genealogists have been at it for only a few years, MyHeritage member Gary Fenton Kemp, 76, has been researching for decades.
Gary became interested in computers in the early 1970s. He also observed his parents, then in their 70s, trying to put together their genealogy by typing and writing everything out by hand. He knew that there had to be some way to use computers and began searching for a program that would be able to organize the data.
I found PAF and started using it. In 1987, I went to my parents’ home and spent three days entering data for 752 names.
Gary has many interests in addition to family history, such as surfing, fly fishing, geocaching, glider racing and lifting weights. He’s been an educator from kindergarten through university, and conducted teacher training programs in Fiji and elsewhere. Although now retired as a teacher, coach, high school principal and school district superintendent, he is still active, serves as a local school board member and as a Boy Scout merit badge counselor.
The San Tan Valley, Arizona resident has been married to Nancy for 54 years, has four children, 13 grandchildren, three great-grandchildren and four more on the way.