I saw this last night on MyHeritage – 100+ Years Later, a Family That Exchanged Photos to Keep In Touch Across Continents Is Reunited – MyHeritage January 7, 2020: https://blog.myheritage.com/2020/01/100-years-later-a-family-that-exchanged-photos-to-keep-in-touch-across-continents-is-reunited/. It’s a much longer article on the link.
by Esther January 7, 2020
When 32-year-old Gonzalo Alexis Luengo Orellana of Chillán, Chile was a teenager, he received a package from his grandmother that would define the course of his future. His journey culminated in a DNA match through MyHeritage that solved a family mystery he’d been pursuing his entire adult life, and reunited a family torn apart by emigration 100 years after they lost touch with each other.
Gonzalo’s incredible story begins in the year 2000, when he was about 13. His mother was widowed not long before, and her mother — Gonzalo’s grandmother — sent them care packages every now and then, containing food and other items to help the struggling family. One time, she sent a set of old photographs that Gonzalo and his mother didn’t recognize. Some contained inscriptions that identified the people in the photos by name. One of them was Gonzalo’s great-great-grandfather.
“Seeing my great-great-grandfather’s face changed my life,” says Gonzalo. “It seemed unfair to me that I could see it, while my cousins and distant relatives could not.”
He decided then and there that he would do everything he could to find the other descendants of his great-great-grandfather and share this precious photograph with them. “Using phone books and the Civil Registry, I searched for my relatives so I could contact them and send them the photos, which I scanned in the library of the university where I studied.”
Gonzalo went on to become a teacher and a professional genealogist. “I have found that many of my friends are related to me,” he says. “When I find that connection, I get the same feeling you get when you welcome a new baby into your family.”
Though he found many relatives with whom to share the photo of his great-great-grandfather, he always wondered about the unidentified individuals in the other photos his grandmother had sent. The photos had been mailed to Gonzalo’s great-grandfather from Italy until the 1920s. “My great-grandparents died, and the contact with these Italian relatives died with them,” Gonzalo explains. One of these unidentified relatives was a woman named Rosa Ballestrero.
There was also a negative among the photographs, featuring Gonzalo’s grandmother and great-aunt Lilia, but the original photograph developed from the negative was nowhere to be found.
A few years ago, Gonzalo received a DNA kit as a gift and uploaded his results to MyHeritage. Every so often, he received alerts about new DNA matches, but none led to any amazing discoveries… until February 2018.
He was sitting at the computer at the Family History Center where he frequently conducts his research, reviewing a new match he’d just received with a man named Pietro Scattina from Italy. He took a look at Pietro’s family tree and was blown away: Pietro’s mother’s name was Rosa Ballestrero. As he perused the tree, more names jumped out at him that he recognized — and then he found Pietro De Fillipi, his own 3rd-great-grandfather… and great-grandfather of Pietro Scattina!