Making Connections with

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When I was a senior in high school, I took a basics economics class, required for graduation. It was pretty easy (Thanks, Mrs. Clark); the teacher (Hi Mrs. Clark!) was very nice; and I honestly don’t remember anything from the class. (Sorry, Mrs. Clark.)

What I do remember is turning the page of my econ book to see a sidebar article about a woman whose profile and success in business was in my high school textbook as an encouragement to students. However, what stood out to me was not that not her success, but her name: Guetzkow,which was the original spelling of my maiden name, Getskow. There weren’t many Getskows or Guetzkows in my social circle, so I set out to find out if we were related.

It was 1989 and the internet was operated by a squirrel in a cage, so there was no quick way to contact a total stranger on the other side of the country. Instead, I picked up pen and paper and wrote a letter. I have no idea what I said or who I even mailed it to. But, I got a letter in return from a very distant, twice removed, kind of long-lost relative.

What transpired was a year’s journey back in time. I spent the next year researching my family tree and learning all about our family’s history. I got books from the library, visited specialty stationery stores for family tree forms, and wrote to county recorder’s offices around the country.

In an age before widespread PC usage and the internet, family history was weighty research.

Today? Not so much.

I find it so interesting that one of this month’s advertising sponsors of LifeasMOM, makes it super easy to make connections with far-flung family members. And with Father’s Day right around the corner, climbing around in your family tree sounds like a great family activity.

Here’s what has to say: is the most popular family network on the web – with a staggering 56 million users worldwide. The free family history website connects families to each other and to their past. It’s quick and easy to build a family tree online – and you can invite other family members to help with the project. Once you’ve started it’s really quite addictive.

A unique tool called Smart Matching actually finds matches between your family tree and over 17 million other family trees worldwide…often helping you make fascinating discoveries about your family’s history or even to connect to long-lost relatives. really makes family history accessible for anyone.

The site is also a great place for storing and sharing family photos and other special memories – a keepsake and reminder of what makes a family’s legacy so unique. Get your Dad to scan and upload those dusty old photos of his ancestors…and share the stories he remembers.

Once you’ve built your family tree and uploaded some photos – your family site on offers something for the whole family to do with Dad. Youngers kids can challenge him to an online family memory game on the site and the older kids can send a greeting via the site (without having to expose their Dad to all their Facebook shenanigans!). So in short, if you’re short of cash this year – starting a private family site on is a great, alternative gift for Father’s Day from all the family.

As always, take precautions when sharing confidential information on the web, but it is possible that you can renew old relationships and make connections with family all-around the world, using

Have you ever found a long-lost relative?

Disclosure: is an advertising sponsor of LifeasMom.

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  1. First, laughed right out loud at the squirrel running the internet in 1989 part!

    Second, through I got an email from a gentleman in Belgium. After emailing back and forth several times we discovered we are in fact related. When my branch of the family tree came to “Amerika”, his stayed. He shared all his research on that side of the family with me. He even apologized once for not being able to get back farther than 1690!! 🙂 There was a bit of a language barrier (especially on my part–my Flemish is terrible!), but it was a great time and made the world feel a little smaller.

  2. Yes, I have found a long lost relative. Through a website, I was able to get in contact with my mom’s third cousin. She had done research and had incredible connections to our past. We are Cherokee(my great-grandfather was born on an Indian reservation). My grandmother was very embarrassed, because growing up where she did, there was a lot of prejudice toward Indians. My mom’s third cousin knew that we were in the Wild Potato Clan(for real!), and one of our relatives walked the Trail of Tears with her white husband. There was also a Cherokee relative saved because of missionaries sharing the Gospel. My dad has also done research using a website and found that we have European royalty. How exciting! He spent a lot of time and also connected with a distant relative to find out that we are Occaneechi.

  3. I am adopted and found my birthmother online about 11 years ago and in turn found some of my birth family but my birthmother is adopted too, so there is still some searching to do! I would love to find some members of my adoptive family’s ancestor’s too.