Monday, July 6, 2015

Motivational Monday - If you're looking for family, keep a public tree!

 My great grandfather, Johan August Johannesson came to America from Jönköping in 1869 and settled near McPherson, Kansas. He homesteaded there and married the neighbor girl, Ida Matilda Johnsdotter (Johnson) from Kalmar. He always told about a younger brother back in Sweden but by the time we began looking 100 years or more later, too much time had gone by and ties had been broken.

Uncle Don (one of my dad's brothers) and I have looked for relatives in Sweden for years with no luck. I put what I knew on Ancestry in my public tree there several years ago. As I learned how to use Arkivdigital, I added what I found to that file. It was online for years and although it had been instrumental in finding many cousins on my mom's side, we never made any progress on the Swedish branches.

Meanwhile, in Jönköping, Sweden, a woman in her mid eighties named Gunnel, often wondered what happened to the part of the family that had gone to America. Her grandfather, Anders Johannesson told of a brother, Johan and a sister, Brita who had emigrated from Sweden to America in the 1860's.

Then at Christmas 2012, Gunnel received an iPad as a gift from her children. As she learned how to use it, she decided she would try to find her family in America.
Johan August Johannesson
and family in Kansas

Anders and his family in Sweden.
The next April, I received a message on Ancestry from an 86 year old woman from Jönköping (from her new ipad) saying that she thought we were related. I was very excited but also afraid of being disappointed if I found out that it wasn't a match. After MUCH checking and matching of our information, I finally allowed myself to believe I was communicating with the granddaughter of my great grandpa's younger brother, Anders. I just about reached hero status among my aunts and uncles and of course my own dad who has since, died just for having put the family tree on ancestry where it was found.

Gunnel and I have been emailing back and forth for the last two years. We send greetings, family information, questions and answers, and plenty of pictures (old and new). It has been wonderful!

I'm writing this to motivate others to keep a public tree online. The benefits outweigh all.

Come back tomorrow for Travel Tuesday. Yes, it's what you think! (hint, hint!)

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