12    Mar 20100 comments

Meet the family, Melbourne-style

One of the best parts about my current trip was the opportunity to meet new cousins in person.

Genealogists and family history researchers agree that this is one of the most exciting experiences we can ever have.

Have you ever met someone new and felt that you've always known them?

That's exactly the way I felt when I met my Melbourne cousins, Alexander and Jenny Katsnelson, their daughters Nelly (with a journalism degree, married with two beautiful children) and Fleur (an attorney), the grandchildren and Alex's brother Leon.

Alex and Leon's mother was a Talalay from Mogilev, Belarus. Although her branch moved to nearby Bobruisk, she always told them about the Mogilev family. Alex and Jenny left Belarus 30 years ago aiming for a better life for their family and settling in Australia. Leon and their father arrived later.

Below (from left), Leon, Schelly, Alex.

Cousins connected

I had located them in Australia, thanks to genealogy friends in Melbourne, and we made contact about seven years ago. Unfortunately, I experienced a computer disaster, losing much data along with contact information for the cousins down under.

My advice for computer users: ALWAYS back up your data. Our family has lost seven years during which we could have been in contact.

When I arrived in Melbourne, we checked the online phone directory and found Leon. On Wednesday, Alex and Jenny came to get me from my friend's home - they live only a few blocks away! - and the whole family spent the day together.

We looked at old photos, Alex and Leon recounted what they knew of their mother's family, and I showed them what I had found on their family from records discovered in the Minsk National Archives.

Jenny is interested in finding more information about her own Heiman family, which moved from Bobruisk to Riga, Latvia. We spent some time online as I showed Nelly and Jenny some of the major genealogy research websites, and demonstrated MyHeritage.com, of course.

We will spend another day together.

This time, we won't lose contact!

Have you found long lost cousins?

Where? When? How?

What was your experience like? Share your family reunion.

Search for your ancestors:

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