I Reunited a Pair of First Cousins Thanks to My Family History Research

I Reunited a Pair of First Cousins Thanks to My Family History Research

Frede Skou, 80, from Copenhagen, Denmark, discovered a relative that he’d never heard of through genealogy research and decided to try to find him. Thanks to a MyHeritage DNA test and some additional research, he managed to track down two granddaughters of the relative — who hadn’t known of each other’s existence — and make the connection between this pair of first cousins.

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Here is his story:

I joined MyHeritage in 2016 as my brother asked me to take part as a member in his Family Site. After researching historical records in the Danish archives I discovered that I had a cousin that I had never heard about on my mothers side. His name was Hugo Müller from Århus, the same city as myself with an age difference of only 10 years. As I could not find any documentation regarding Hugo’s death I got my hopes up that he could still be alive. Maybe I could find him. 

As the research became interesting it was time for me to build my own family tree. At the end of 2019 I decided to do a DNA test with MyHeritage out of curiosity.

I didn’t have any expectations but believed that I had nothing to lose. I was not impressed by the initial DNA result, as all matches seemed weak and irrelevant. I continued my genealogy research and made interesting discoveries on the way, but the question regarding Hugo remained.

Photo of Joe Hugo Müller

Sif’s father, Joe Hugo Müller. He was first named Joe, but after his father’s death, his mother added Hugo to his name

Due to Covid-19 I suddenly found myself spending hundreds and hundreds of hours on genealogy. My attention was suddenly brought to a DNA-match that appeared on my account at the end of March 2021 with a woman in her late 30’s. Her name was Sif Laigaard and we shared 4.3% of our DNA. I reached out to her on the MyHeritage platform and mentioned Hugo Müller. Sif replied the same evening and confirmed that this was her paternal grandfather. She told me that he was a sailor and had died in 1955 when her father was 3 months old. Sif appeared to be the grandchild from Hugos second marriage and lived in Viborg (Denmark), not far from where I grew up. She told me that there should be an older daughter of Hugo’s from a previous marriage who was about two years old when he died. 

Suddenly there were two interesting leads to follow up on regarding what happened to Hugo, and so I decided to contact the shipping companies that could be relevant.

The first shipping company that I reached out to claimed complete confidentiality on any records of their employees which left me with no answers. When reaching out to Denmark’s biggest shipping company Mearsk I decided to be a bit creative. I told one of the workers there a true story about how my goddaughter had been named after one of their ships, the Clara. The man was impressed and agreed to help out. A couple of days later I received a photo of the ship Hugo had been working on while sailing to the Far East. According to the shipping records, Hugo had suffered from a hernia and needed surgery. He was hospitalized in Port Said in Egypt and seemed to recover well from the surgery, so they brought him back on the ship. Not long after the ship continued its journey in the Mediterranean, Hugo passed away. He was buried at sea, which was the reason why there were no records in the public archives regarding Hugo’s death. 

Now the question regarding Hugo’s first wife came to focus — and yet another MyHeritage member had information to share with me, which in turn brought me to Hugo’s daughter. She was supposed to have had a daughter herself, but I could not find anything regarding her. I later got to know from another MyHeritage user that she had been adopted as a teenager and changed her name. This made the process more complex, but I tracked down the name at last and managed to locate yet another grandchild of Hugo, the first cousin of Sif. Her name was Anna Sophie Malmberg, she was in her early 40s, and she was living in Berlin. 

Anna Sophie havde dette billede. Det var den eneste minde om hendes bedstefar Hugo. Hun blev indsat oven på hans portræt.

This photo was the only memory of Hugo that Anna Sophie had in her posession. A photo of her was inserted above his portrait

Neither Sif or Anna Sohie had any idea of any biological relatives except for their closest family members. I managed to connect them to each other, and the 3 of us finally met in Germany last summer, which was absolutely lovely. We have developed a beautiful relationship, have been in touch ever since, and look forward to meeting again soon.

I have come to realize that there are so many factors involved to achieve discoveries like this, and if I didn’t say that luck plays a very big part of the process, I would be lying — but I could never have done this without MyHeritage. 

If you’ve also made a life-changing discovery through MyHeritage, we’d love to hear about it! Send us your story via this form or email it to us at stories@myheritage.com.

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