Week #31 – Cousins
Thorolf and Kari about 1949
Week 31: Cousins. One of the best experiences in family history is meeting with new cousins found through your research. Tell us about your favorite cousin meet-up. How did you discover each other? Where did you meet? What type of information was exchanged and how did it benefit your research?
There were several names running through the background of my childhood. Names like Munger, Dvorak, and Gist. When I began researching my ancestry these names came back to me but I could not relate them to my genealogy. One day when I was looking around on ancestry.com, I came across a tree for the Dvorak family. As I looked at the tree and read the associated stories, I realized this was the Dvorak family of my childhood memories. Betty Jane and I were playmates until the family moved away in the mid 1950s. I never knew her mother Lily was my dad's first cousin. My dad's father immigrated from Norway in 1892 with his sister and brother. Another brother followed them later and the third brother Thorolf Hansen remained in Norway to raise a family. Thorolf's daughter Lily immigrated to the United States in 1939 and met and married Otto (Bud) Dvorak. Their daughter Betty Jane was two months older than I.
After losing touch for about fifty years, Betty and I have been back in touch via e-mail. The best part is that Betty told me about her Norwegian cousins and gave me her cousin Kari's e-mail address. This spring my daughter and I flew to Norway for the Legacy Family Tree Cruise. At the end of the cruise we planned a couple of days in Norway in the hope of meeting Kari. The day the ship returned to Norway, Kari and her husband picked us up at our hotel and took us to their home for a typical Norwegian meal. Two of their daughters and three of their grandchildren also came to meet us. It was a wonderful visit and there were lots of pictures to take. I even got to hold and take photos of the medals Thorolf received from the Kings of Denmark, Sweden and Norway for his efforts as a resistance fighter during WWII.
Meeting Kari and her family, seeing Thorolf's medals, and visiting her childhood home have truly brought my Norwegian heritage to life and filled in the missing branches of my family tree.