French Man Discovers Half-Sister in Texas and Finds Their German Roots

French Man Discovers Half-Sister in Texas and Finds Their German Roots

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With many people around the world stuck at home last spring, many turned to genealogy and began delving into their roots. Gian Carlo David-Faliva, a 74-year-old MyHeritage user from France, jumped on the bandwagon and started to dig deep into his family’s past, with a mission of finding his father’s family. After so many years not knowing what had become of his father, thanks to his MyHeritage DNA results, his family mystery was finally solved. 

Born in 1946 in Turin, Italy to a French mother who had met an American soldier at the end of World War II in Germany, Gian Carlo knew almost nothing about his father. He knew that his first name was Joseph, that his last name was Richer ’or Reicher’ and that his division had left Turin to continue the war in Germany when his mother was only two months pregnant. From that point on, his mother never saw Joseph again. 

Gian Carlo’s mother, Ida, at the end of WWII

Life took its course, and his mother Ida returned to France, and married a few years later. Gian Carlo was adopted by his new stepfather. Gian Carlo in turn married and had children, but he always felt a big void, not knowing the identity of his biological father. He wondered if the American soldier was still alive and out there somewhere. When the global pandemic hit, Gian Carlo finally had the time to dedicate to researching his father’s whereabouts. 

He recalled seeing a story on TV about DNA testing, he decided it was time for him to try one for himself. He purchased a MyHeritage DNA test and from there, things moved quite quickly. 

One month after sending in his DNA sample, Gian Carlo received an email that his results were ready. Besides his Ethnicity Estimate, which in and of itself was fascinating, Gian Carlo was shocked to see some close DNA Matches with MyHeritage users from the U.S. His closest matches included a first cousin or nephew with 13% shared DNA, and another cousin with 11% shared DNA. 

Gian Carlo jumped on the chance to contact his matches, and he wrote to both. While his message to the first cousin/nephew went unanswered, he did hear back from the cousin, Beverly, who lives in Texas. After several exchanges back and forth, Gian Carlo and Beverly decided to work together to determine their exact relationship. 

Beverly, Gian Carlo’s newfound cousin

Beverly’s mother’s maiden name is Reichert and so Beverly decided to investigate the story of one of her mother’s uncles, Joe Reichert, who died in 1996 and about whom she had known very little.

Beverly spoke with Joe’s daughter Jo Ann, also a native of Texas. After their conversation, she was convinced that Jo Ann was Gian Carlo’s half-sister. It turned out that their DNA had already been matched, as Gian Carlo’s highest match, of 13% shared DNA was to none other than Jo Ann’s son! Jo Ann then took a test herself, which confirmed the family link with Gian Carlo: the two have 27.4% shared DNA!

Jo Ann and Gian Carlo discovered that they were both born in the same year, 9 months apart. Gian Carlo learned that his father, Joe Reichert, had been deceased for a long time, but was finally able to see photos of him and find the family resemblances. 

Joe Reichert (left), and son Gian Carlo (right)

Since first discovering their relationship, Gian Carlo has been in regular contact with both Beverly and Jo Ann. He hopes to travel to meet his Texas family in the near future, when it is easier for them to travel to one another. 

After receiving basic information about his father’s family, Gian Carlo was able to trace his family back to 18th century Germany and the journey of the family as they emigrated to Russia before arriving in the United States. As the family historian, he’s now able to teach his newfound American family about their German roots! 

Gian Carlo is thrilled to have found a welcoming family, answering a lifetime of questions, and helping him make peace with his heritage. “Thank you very much to the MyHeritage team who do a very good job and make people like me happy.” 

In anticipation of his big trip to the U.S. which will likely be loaded with many emotions, Gian Carlo is currently improving his English. He also continues to expand his family tree, in the search of even more relatives!

If you have unanswered questions about your own heritage, consider taking a MyHeritage DNA test today. 

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