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Did anyone get into these genealogy sites to find/meet relatives?

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  • Did anyone get into these genealogy sites to find/meet relatives?

    I'm curious if you have a genuine desire to find and possibly get to know people you are related to using FamilyTree or Ancestry.

    If so, and you've made contact, how did the interactions go? Meaning, did you make a new friend, or did they tell you in some sort of passive way that they weren't interested in making new friends?

    I'm interested in hearing if based upon your experience, whether it's worth it or not to reach out to relatives you discover.

  • #2
    My primary interest is proving some of the lines in my tree where there is inadequate documentation. This can be pursued/done with TG segment matching at Gedmatch.

    Of my 16 gg grandparents, 5 of them have brick walls and with names like Davis and Johnson, trying to find their parents without finding documents has been a challenge.

    I think I have filled in some blanks with segment matching which has been my goal.

    So, interacting with my cousins in a protracted manner has not been an objective; our interaction has been to the extent that we share information. Most of those I have contacted have been very friendly and helpful when/if they responded.
    Last edited by Biblioteque; 1 May 2018, 11:23 AM.

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    • #3
      Biblioteque: Anecdotes like yours are nice and I've definitely contacted people to try and push through some barriers.

      But I think your experience also reminds me that people are drawn to genealogy sites for different reasons.

      Many people taking these DNA tests have absolutely no desire for genealogy...they just want to know their genetic makeup so they get their DNA tests and move on.

      Many people who go further and build trees and are into the actual genealogy are in it for different reasons. Some want to know where they come from and have absolutely no desire to build a sort of added community in their lives. For myself, what drew me into genealogy was trying to discover if my direct family really is the last of my line on the side of my last name. Are there others out there who share a common ancestor with me? And if so, where do they live and what are their lives like?

      But then I'm coming to realize that my motivation is not a commonly shared one. I've made contact with two second cousins through these sites and the response was fairly similar: "Hey nice to meet you. Here's a little bit about me and my family. This is my number, call me sometime when you have the chance, but don't really cause I won't answer. Kay, buh byeee!!!"

      I think it's kind of shifted my perspective into one of "well, maybe trying to meet relatives through these sites isn't a good idea. Just leave them be and focus on finding ancestors." I read others experiences however and I see a few people who have sincerely formed friendships out of their searches. So this is why I'm curious on people's perspectives on the idea.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by cjm View Post
        I think it's kind of shifted my perspective into one of "well, maybe trying to meet relatives through these sites isn't a good idea. Just leave them be and focus on finding ancestors." I read others experiences however and I see a few people who have sincerely formed friendships out of their searches. So this is why I'm curious on people's perspectives on the idea.
        That reminds me that I need to check up on a fourth (half) cousin once removed. Finding her tree and then comparing DNA solved a major brickwall for me with a third great grandmother.

        Jack

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        • #5
          Originally posted by cjm View Post
          I'm curious if you have a genuine desire to find and possibly get to know people you are related to using FamilyTree or Ancestry.
          Yes. I'm on all three major sites, and also on GedMatch.

          If so, and you've made contact, how did the interactions go? Meaning, did you make a new friend, or did they tell you in some sort of passive way that they weren't interested in making new friends?
          I enter any new relationship by trying to be helpful and friendly, to contact and connect with anyone who is distantly related to me. (BTW, these are your distant DNA relatives, which is a bit more than just "friends".) I always write polite and outgoing invitations of inquiry. Fewer than half of them ever respond at all. Frankly, that's the nature of most people on these sites and many others here have voiced similar response rates. Some know nothing, and therefore can contribute nothing, and some probably see genealogy as a freebie, information due to them by others who are related to them, with no effort involved on their part.

          I'm interested in hearing if based upon your experience, whether it's worth it or not to reach out to relatives you discover.
          In my case I have traced all my ancestral lines (now including many extended trees with hundreds of names and all their vital stats) back to around 1800, before which there are no earlier records extant. This involved dedication, expertise and money spent to accumulate the data. The problem is that very few of those that I have contacted have done that amount of extensive research. In the few cases where I have been able to provide a distant cousin with a tree of how we are related, it was because they knew the names of their grandparents and their great-grandparents, including knowing their village of origin in Europe. Surnames and locations are very important, as knowing those elements are essential. Few people, now of younger generations know such things today. If they can't or don't discover them, then we can't connect.

          Over a span of several years, I can count on one hand those whom I was able to prove the distant cousin relationship, usually back to their being a fourth cousin, with our common ancestor found in the previous generation.

          So don't despair. But don't expect a high rate of return, either.

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          • #6
            No, I did not get into genealogy (over forty years ago) to meet family. I already had hundreds of cousins. Came from families on both sides who thought having as many children as possible the next best thing to sliced bread.

            However, over the years I have met dozens of new cousins on my side and my husband's side of the family. I've visited people in their homes for dinner who I did not know before researching and have actually spent a couple of nights with a half 1st cousin 1 X removed of my husbands. We are now good friends. This is saying a lot because my husband and I are both reserved introverts.

            Many of these 'new' cousins and I are friends on FB now.

            So, no I did not start my search to meet cousins. I started it to complete a family tree but the search has turned into something different....meeting people and helping cousins find their parent/parents.
            Last edited by Tenn4ever; 2 May 2018, 12:11 PM.

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            • #7
              I met a DNA match. Her father (deceased) and my grandmother (still living) are first cousins. My grandma and her sister had lost touch with that side of their family and all three of us went to meet her. She also brought her husband and another cousin who later got tested. It was a good visit and we still keep in touch through cards and e-mail. My match and her cousin are granddaugthers of a local famous man who started a furniture store.

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              • #8
                I've been doing family history off and on for about 15 yrs.

                Just recently I tested first with FF and then Ancestry. I've had a about 70% response rate, even if the response was that they don't have any names or places for their tree. On FF, a match contacted me and we have discovered we are 4th cousins on my maternal side. He has info that I did not, and vice versa. We have a cordial ongoing exchange.

                On Ancestry, I'm now in contact with someone (2nd? cousin) from my father's side. She knows virtually nothing of our common side of the family and is excited to encounter me. The only downside was that I was hoping to meet someone who knew more than me, because a cousin that inherited most of the documents and photos on that side of the family threw them away and no tree was ever constructed.

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                • #9
                  SuzeSoCal;451548]
                  I've been doing family history off and on for about 15 yrs.
                  I've been doing geanology for about 50 years (I started when I was a teenager) and I say this not to brag, but the longer you do it, the more you learn from it.

                  Just recently I tested first with FF and then Ancestry. I've had a about 70% response rate, even if the response was that they don't have any names or places for their tree. On FF, a match contacted me and we have discovered we are 4th cousins on my maternal side. He has info that I did not, and vice versa. We have a cordial ongoing exchange.
                  This sounds like you come from a good family - one that usually shares and is cooperative. Not all families are that way. We all come from 'the good, the bad and the ugly' and we get to cope with whatever our forebears did, as best we can.

                  On Ancestry, I'm now in contact with someone (2nd? cousin) from my father's side. She knows virtually nothing of our common side of the family and is excited to encounter me. The only downside was that I was hoping to meet someone who knew more than me, because a cousin that inherited most of the documents and photos on that side of the family threw them away and no tree was ever constructed.
                  Don't despair. From what you mentioned, you are now dealing with those who lived in the previous few generations before you, at most. Sure, it would be nice to have available tangible memories (photos, etc.) of those who came before you. But remember this: the history of what came before you, even though some may have willfully destroyed their heritage still remains there, recorded in documents they could not destroy. That's what genealogists do and what we discover. We are history detectives.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Carpathian View Post
                    SuzeSoCal;451548]

                    Don't despair. From what you mentioned, you are now dealing with those who lived in the previous few generations before you, at most. Sure, it would be nice to have available tangible memories (photos, etc.) of those who came before you. But remember this: the history of what came before you, even though some may have willfully destroyed their heritage still remains there, recorded in documents they could not destroy. That's what genealogists do and what we discover. We are history detectives.
                    Thanks for the words of encouragement Carpathian. Unfortunately, my paternal GPs were immigrants from the Russian Empire, now Belarus. Hard to track records, language barriers, etc. No one can even with any certainty list our GP's siblings. One cousin who is in limited contact with a great-uncle there--the cousin can't seem to convey what info I want (right now, who were his uncles and aunts). I get discouraged.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by SuzeSoCal View Post
                      Thanks for the words of encouragement Carpathian. Unfortunately, my paternal GPs were immigrants from the Russian Empire, now Belarus. Hard to track records, language barriers, etc. No one can even with any certainty list our GP's siblings. One cousin who is in limited contact with a great-uncle there--the cousin can't seem to convey what info I want (right now, who were his uncles and aunts). I get discouraged.
                      "Hard to track records, language barriers, etc."

                      No kidding. Did you think that your search would be an easy 'walk in the park'? Eastern European genealogy can be a very tough nut to crack, due to the obstacles you mentioned.

                      Feel free to contact me privately. I will try to help you if I can.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by SuzeSoCal View Post
                        Thanks for the words of encouragement Carpathian. Unfortunately, my paternal GPs were immigrants from the Russian Empire, now Belarus. Hard to track records, language barriers, etc. No one can even with any certainty list our GP's siblings. One cousin who is in limited contact with a great-uncle there--the cousin can't seem to convey what info I want (right now, who were his uncles and aunts). I get discouraged.
                        Belarus is not the end of the world. It might be very different from those of its neighbours that are in the European Union, but it is a hospitable country.

                        I would like to encourage you to go there for a visit. In my experience, people would be very happy to share with you what they know about their ancestors (and have - if any pictures are left). World War II has scared Belarus to greater extent than most of other countries, quite often people memories are all what is left. A scorched-earth policy was applied first by withdrawing Soviet administration, then by withdrawing German forces.

                        Your family could be Belarusians, Lithuanians, Poles, or Russians, but I would not ask about that, since criteria used there and used in the US tend to be very different. A generation ago it was not uncommon to have something written down in the official papers, declaring something else in a daily life, while the family life was adhering to none of the above.


                        Good luck - Mr. W.


                        P.S.
                        Would such a travel be a cultural shock? Definitely, yes. Coffee is different (it might be better though) and probably everything else you can think of and is not an American product would be different too. Learning the Cyrillic script is probably the easiest and the most useful preparatory step. (Not handwriting, just reading/transliterating printed Cyrillic.)

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                        • #13
                          Yes and no.

                          Yes, because we were hoping for a match that might lead us to a one of my gt-grandfathers. We're still working on that one.

                          I was fairly happy with the rest of the genealogy and back to the early 1800s on most branches. The tree was nearly "done"
                          . A fourth cousin has been working on one tree (from our mutual ancestors) for over twenty years now, so I concentrated on other branches.

                          We now have a group on Facebook sharing all sorts of things (photos, images from Bibles, snippets from newspapers etc). Dozens of descendants have tested (three more recognisable descendants received their results this week alone) and there is such a weight of numbers now that we're able to really use all this DNA to try to take it back further (and we have).

                          So it has become quite social, but it's only as social as anyone would like it to be and they're free to participate as much or as little as they would like.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by dna View Post

                            I would like to encourage you to go there for a visit. In my experience, people would be very happy to share with you what they know about their ancestors (and have - if any pictures are left). World War II has scared Belarus to greater extent than most of other countries, quite often people memories are all what is left. A scorched-earth policy was applied first by withdrawing Soviet administration, then by withdrawing German forces.
                            A friend took her family to Poland and Belarus to research her father's family, and to obtain records. He always considered himself Polish, but was born in what is now Belarus (whereas his siblings were born in what is currently Poland).

                            They had a wonderful time BUT had no idea about the severity of the winter there which did hamper their progress. Napoleon didn't get it either. They were there for Christmas and some roads outside main centres were impassable. Cemetery visits were very impractical because the snow was covering some of the headstones, plus after being out of the car for 15 minutes they were already getting extremely cold.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by ltd-jean-pull View Post

                              They had a wonderful time BUT had no idea about the severity of the winter there which did hamper their progress. Napoleon didn't get it either. They were there for Christmas and some roads outside main centres were impassable. Cemetery visits were very impractical because the snow was covering some of the headstones, plus after being out of the car for 15 minutes they were already getting extremely cold.
                              Winter in any Northern European country is cold. Winter in Poland is not known to be excessively harsh. Googling any village in any country will tell you what the current temperature is there. Russia is a different story, as Napoleon discovered. He probably didn't have access to "Russian anti-freeze", as the locals do. <LOL>

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