A Smart Match™ Connected Me with an Unknown Branch of My Family in Argentina

A Smart Match™ Connected Me with an Unknown Branch of My Family in Argentina

MyHeritage user Marie Louise Gallay’s 20 years of genealogical research took a completely unexpected turn when she received a Smart Match™ from Argentina. Here is her story:

My name is Marie Louise, age 59, and I live in Cluses, a commune in the Haute-Savoie department tucked into the Alps of southeastern France. I’ve been researching an Italian branch of my tree for years — the family of an Italian great-great-grandmother named Angelina Tornanelli. Angelina was born in 1832 in Piasco, a municipality in the Piedmont region of Italy. She married my great-great-grandfather Joseph Gallay, who lived in the village of Chevenoz in Haute-Savoie, and it was there that she died in 1889. Their descendants continued to live in Haute-Savoie, especially from La Forclaz, a tiny village with only 200 inhabitants.

In September 2019, I started using MyHeritage’s free software, Family Tree Builder, to see if it could assist with my ongoing research on Angelina and her family. I’d been working on my tree for a long time, and I knew my family history well. I signed up for a free MyHeritage account and a free two-week trial for the paid Complete plan, and saw that the site was very helpful, so I decided to continue my subscription.

A Smart Match™ in… Argentina?

3 weeks after I began building my tree on MyHeritage, I received a Smart Match™ with someone in Argentina.

My first thought was, “This isn’t possible.” But I took a closer look: my paternal great-grandfather, François Brelat (1863-1940), appeared on the matching tree. He had 6 sisters and 2 brothers. No one, neither in my family nor in La Forclaz where my family came from, had any memory of anyone moving to Argentina. I was very skeptical and I needed more evidence to convince me it was true.

I sent Evelina, the owner of the matching tree, a message through the MyHeritage system and asked for explanations. What was the connection between us? She knew it well: her great-grandfather, Joseph Alexandre, was my great-grandfather’s brother and he set off for an adventure in Argentina at age 22 in the year 1890. He left his family in search of a better life and disappeared within the vast new country. Evelina showed me photos and historical documents, and I understood that she had researched the history of this branch of my family well. Her thorough work put all my doubts to rest.

A dream come true

While for me, this new connection was a complete surprise, for Evelina it was a dream come true. She had been searching for cousins in France for a long time.

Ever since that day in October 2019, we’ve been speaking to each other regularly every Sunday. She lives with her husband and son in Villaguay, a village in the Entre Rios region. Fortunately, her husband Hector speaks French… if not for his help, Evelina and I would have had to struggle to communicate with her French and my Spanish!

We started to get to know each other and right away, we felt there was a special bond between us. I felt immediately that yes, we are cousins, we are family! Now I’ve been following everything that happens in Argentina very closely — even the weather!

Thanks to MyHeritage, I discovered my Argentinian family. It’s bizarre to discover new relatives at the age of 59, especially since I’d been researching my genealogy for 20 years. It’s even stranger to think all this time, she was there in Argentina searching for me!

Naturally, Evelina invited me to visit her in Argentina. I immediately started planning to visit her in the summer of 2020, and we planned out 3 unforgettable weeks together. But then, of course, COVID-19 came and turned everything upside down. I had to cancel everything. The disappointment was immense. Maybe we will try to visit this summer, but nothing is clear at this point. Evelina and Hector would like to come to France in December. It’s hard to wait without knowing when we’ll finally be able to meet. So we have to be patient and make due with our Sunday calls.

The day we will finally meet in the airport in France or in Argentina — it will be pure joy!


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  • RS

    Randy Seaver

    April 29, 2021

    The world is smaller than we think…

    • E


      May 2, 2021

      So true, Randy!