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.
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.
Mike, 79, lives in Burtonwood, Warrington, UK. Now retired as a lecturer in computers and with the disabled, he received an Honours B.Ed from Manchester Metropolitan University. He has four adult children from his first marriage and three step-children from his second marriage.
He was born in Holland before WWII to English parents from Hull. Following the war, he moved to Belgium until 1952, when he joined the Welsh Guards and attended Sandhurst Royal Military Academy. He lived in the US for eight years and returned to the UK in 1964.
Mike became interested in family history when he traced his mother’s side to 1500 and discovered some 900 ancestors. On his father’s side, he found only 1,770 people because his great-great-grandfather had been sent to Tasmania as a convict in 1837 and was killed there. Along the way, other people have asked him for help on their family trees.
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.
Niels, 56, was born in Vindum, Viborg, Denmark and lives with his wife Hanne Moeller Hansen, an intensive care nurse, in Roedkaersbro, Viborg. They have three grown children: Louise is an oil industry design engineer, Marie is an assistant attorney and Christine is a nurse.
He studied electronic engineering and graduated in 1984.
Niels has worked in the wind turbine industry as a development manager in the electronics department. Today he works at a small electronics company making high-end audio equipment as a production technician.
He became interested in family history quite by accident.
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.