Tracing Your Family Tree Online
These are just a few amazing stories of how the Internet helped people reconnect with a part of their family's past.
The Aunt She Never Knew She Had
Katherine Wandersee had never given much thought to her family history, but after her mother passed away, some of the notations her mother had made in the family Bible caught her attention.
"As I was leafing through the Bible, I noticed that there were passages underlined," Katherine says. "All of the passages had to do with telling the truth and wanting the truth to be known. That night I went to bed and [thought], 'I can't believe I didn't know anything about my mother.' That finally made up my mind that I [was] going to try to find her family."
Katherine began her search the old-fashioned way, by writing letters to the government. She also turned to the Internet—which she credits for leading her to the truth her mother wanted her to find. Katherine learned that her mother, her brothers and her sister were placed in an orphanage, and when her mother was 11, she ran away. Katherine also found out that her mother had taken the name of her older sister, Betty, and with this information came the discovery of an aunt she never knew she had!
A Forgotten Relative Remembered
(Discovered on the Ellis Island Foundation Web site: http://www.ellisislandrecords.org/) Mr. Martin Napoli, Jr. called the Ellis Island Foundation to express his thanks because he had discovered in his search the record of his father's sister, Maria, who died at the age of eight during the journey to America. This discovery brought him to tears, realizing that no one had spoken about or knew about his Aunt Maria until he found her on the ship's manifest along with the rest of his father's family. He was so moved that he went to church and lit a perpetual candle in her name. He said, "You have no idea what that site has done to our family. I promise you that Maria will never be forgotten."
A Lifesaving Discovery
Another woman we know (who asked to remain anonymous) found out her family had a genetic blood disorder that was being passed down from generation to generation. She did some research online to identify her extended family. They all went to be screened; some even had some life-saving preventive surgery.