View Full Version : When you don't get anywhere.....

26-02-08, 16:06
Hi everyone,

PLease can I throw this out, I would love to hear your views on this.

After how many attempts at writing letters to relatives would you then stop and move on if you get no reply?
I always send a letter in snail mail, nice and polite and friendly, always apologise for bothering them but kindly ask for information etc

I have this second cousin who I know can fill in so many gaps in my family tree and she also would have a wedding pic of my grandparents which I am desperate for. My mum hasnt even seen her parent's wedding pic. Anyway, I have sent 3 letters now, I know they have gone to the right address as I have had it checked. The last one was even signed international delivery. :(
(This has been going on since July 07, so I have left big gaps in between each letter)

So I'm not sure what else to try now :(( I really dont want to give up because there is a wealth of info there.

Any advice much appreciated,


26-02-08, 16:54
Hi Ayla,
The same thing happened when I sent letters to relatives in Finland! :( No reply, and I gave up after the first one because I sent a letter to each family member of the same family (different homes) and no reply. I know one has MS so maybe that is the reason; health problems, but... Then I thought, well maybe they didn't read or speak English, but... still very disappointing. Also had the same experience with relatives of my husband here in Michigan. They are his cousins, and even have pictures of his mom who died when he was 15 yrs. old. He has no photos of his mother, and desperately would love to have one... but laziness plays a part too I guess! They're too lazy to look in their big box of unorganized photos, or use the excuse that they don't ever seem to have the time to look for them. He finally got a copy from one cousin, but she just printed it off her computer and the quality on a piece of typing paper isn't the same as taking it to a photo shop to have the original copied. I guess when you're into genealogy as we are and dealing with others that have no interest, it's almost impossible to get them to cooperate or to see your passion. Actually I find it heartbreaking. I don't know what the answer is. I've even gone so far as doing their ancestry, and sending it to them in hopes of getting photos in return... no luck! :mad:

I understand your dilemma,

26-02-08, 17:14
Thank you so much for your reply Denise. Oh if only I could get my hands on a box of old photos that maybe mean nothing to others but everything to me!
I feel for your hubby, copies on the computer are nothing compared to what you could have done. :(
I would love to see some pics of my grandparents because I dont know how they looked when they were younger. I only saw them a handful of times growing up as we lived in different countries, then they died. My mum knows there were lots of photos but her brothers couldn't find them. Photos are so precious really, they tell us so much. Hey ho!

I will wait a few weeks then write again, maybe I should just keep writing until they get so fed up that they do respond! If they dont want any contact then fine, but at least give me the info! :rolleyes:

26-02-08, 17:22
Hi Ayla,
Actually, to tell you the truth, I've had more help from complete strangers on my family!!! Sad, isn't it?


26-02-08, 17:28
Do you know what? It's the same with me. Complete strangers have copied and mailed things to me in the post because as an attachment in the email copy wouldnt be the same. So they take their time out, make copies, spend the money on postage and send them. Just like that. Even without me asking for it so when it comes as a surprise it is so lovely and touching.
There is a wonderful elderly couple in Finland who have this as a hobby, bless them. I dont know them at all, in the early days for me back in November they emailed me to tell me something about my great grandparents, they said they cant use the computer much etc. I wrote back and thanked them then a few months passed. Just this week I had a letter from them with a copy of an article about my great grandparents, in a newly published book . So they remembered me, remembered my family search,copied it and posted it. How thoughtful. I was so so touched.
Family eh!

Karen Norwillo
26-02-08, 19:14
I guess most of us have come across this in our searches. I have even gone so far as sending money to cover the cost of duplicating and mailing the photos, no photos. I'm at a loss what to do next. And this is here in the States. Karen

26-02-08, 19:27
I think that there are many members on this forum with the same experience as you have, me included. But thanks to "outsiders" I have got some information finally.

If your familymembers are not interested in genealogy it seems almost impossible to make them cooperate.

But don't give up! Try to find other ways to reach your goal! I'm sure that you will get your information sooner or later.

Last week I finally found a lot of "unknown" cousins here in Finland. I had no idea of were they lived or their names before. They were very happy to get a phone call from me and at least two of them wanted to know more about us. This kind of experiencies make this hobby so interesting.


26-02-08, 21:31
Thank you! I agree this is what makes it interesting. There's no way I'm giving up. I'm going to Helsinki in August, I will just have to have a stiff drink beforehand and go to knock on their door! :D

26-02-08, 22:24
Thank you! I agree this is what makes it interesting. There's no way I'm giving up. I'm going to Helsinki in August, I will just have to have a stiff drink beforehand and go to knock on their door! :D

First, the drink is on me, if you show up in august.
This hobby is all about patience, it has taken nearly 40 years to get to know what I know today about my relatives, and I still have unfinished branches, this is an never ending story.
The point is that one can come across the info searched in many suprising ways, but maybe not when one want it, it can take years, and voila! here is the missing piece I've been looking for all these years........

I have some branches that simply seams to go up in smoke, a thing that I simply do not believe, but sooner or later I'll get them:-)

The main point is that the nearer you are coming to present time, the harder (or more costly) it's to get the information needed, and this can be even worse if all the planned laws will take affect.

Lasse Holm

26-02-08, 22:55
First, the drink is on me, if you show up in august.

You are on! I'm like an elephant, I never forget! :D

I understand how it will take me years, this is why I am starting with the present and working backwards. I really would like to find living relatives and then work backwards. I never did much History at school (That's my way of saying I didn't like it as a teenager, awful teacher!):D but I now have a deep interest in finding out how my ancestors lived, where they lived etc and the history of Finland and also, what it was like when my great aunts went to America in 1912 etc

I agree so much about never knowing when something will turn up, through the unlikeliest of places last week I discovered purely by chance something which made me realise I had been looking for a wrong name for years. Within 24 hours of finding this out, I found lots of second cousins in Oulu. Wonderful!


26-02-08, 23:11
I never did much History at school (That's my way of saying I didn't like it as a teenager, awful teacher!):D


When I went to school, we only had to memorize names and years, this doesn't suited me, so my grade on history was low. But now when I have a reason to be interested in history, I try to find all the bit's and peaces, at least concerning my family....
BTW, our teacher wasn't awful, she was only old:-)

Let me know your favourite drink and size, is it half a pint or the full pint in this case:-)


26-02-08, 23:13
:D :D you are funny!
Well, I think I need a quick shot of something really strong before I go knocking on any doors, just for a bit of courage :D
Then after that I will probably be shaking like a leaf so forget half measures, a whole bottle will do :D :D :D

27-02-08, 21:31
Hello again Ayla!

I have followed your trials in finding your Määttä-relatives in Oulu. I do not know how far you have reached, but maybe I could help you.

On Friday this week I am going with a group of cross-country skiers to Vasaloppet in Sweden. In my group is a man from Oulu, Jorma Määttä. I do not know if he is of any "interest" to your work, but if you want to know something, you could send me a private message what kind of information you want, so I can show him and see if he can help you. Maybe he is your second cousin!

If I were in Helsinki the same time we could have a real party...


27-02-08, 22:51
Hi Christian!

Lovely to hear from you again! Thank you so much for your very kind offer.

Also, it seems my reputation precedes me (with your talk about a party) :D
Party, did someone say party? :D :D Why not! I will post here when I will be in Helsinki and we can get together for a drink! It would be lovely to meet up with some forum members, it really does feel like a wonderful family here.

Anyway, onto the Määttä family. I am interested in EVERY Määttä because in this game you just never know when you will hit the jackpot!:D

But, I doubt Jorma is connected to my family :(( Apparently mine was from Joensuu but this is even debatable. In fact, my great uncle (through marriage) was John Määttä who was born 15 Nov 1880.

He apparently went to the States soon after 1912. He was a tailor who was employed by Marshall & Renchard in Birmingham, Michigan. He had a daughter called Tilly/Matilda with his first wife in 1912. The poor woman died in childbirth in Joensuu, then he went to the States, called for his daughter when she was 11. By then he had married my great aunt Aina, sadly they had no children so my line stops there.

However, I am still very interested in finding out about him because his daughter Tilly had 5 daughters, if only my great aunt Aina had them, they would have been my cousins! I am in touch with her eldest daughter who is desperate to find out any information as none of them had any info about their Finnish family. It is so sad. I really feel for them so I said I would look into John Määttä for her in the hope that I can find some information for her about her family.

Sorry for the long post! There is no way I would have fit all this in a private message as you have to keep messages short and I can talk for England. Then I would have had to wait a few minutes between posting each message etc so here I am. :D

Also,the more exposure I have about my grandmother's family the more chance someone will see it and have news for me....you see, it worked for you! :D So I don't mind posting all this here.

So, Oulu? I doubt he is linked to my great uncle John, but then I never thought that I would find my Brander family in Oulu and Kemi but I did so in this game,again, anything is possible.

Do please ask him just in case, the information above is all I have on him unfortunately, not a lot :( As always, we have to try everything!
Thank you sooooo much for thinking of me and for helping.

Cross country skiing to Sweden, sounds fantastic, I wish I could come, it is so boring here in London, nothing but earthquakes at 1am zzzzz :D :D


21-03-08, 13:12
Was it you Lasse, who said that the first drink is on you if I turn up in August?
:D :D :D

You see, I told you I was like an elephant, I never forget! :)))

Well, get your diary out, I'm coming to Helsinki! I booked the flights yesterday, I will be flying into Helsinki on the evening of the 1st August, staying for 2 weeks and leaving on the morning of the 15th August.
If anyone else fancies meeting up for a drink then it will be lovely to meet you! I'm not sure where we are staying yet but it will be somewhere right in the centre ;)

Happy Easter everyone!


21-03-08, 14:10
Looks like it was me :)

Let's see if we can meet up then.


Ed Koski
21-03-08, 22:19

I feel like you ............... I have been to Finland at least 12 times with my wife or without or with my oldest Daughter who is in her 40's or on my OWN...
Why: basically, to find MY FAMILY..

I am related to families going back to 1500's and I have dozens of Books on OUR FAMILIES from Finland after attending the Family Gatherings ..

I have had my Story & Pictures published in the Local Newspapers.

I am am "noted" on Web Sites of our Family c/w picture in Finland.

Our family Farm houses are in the Local Village/Town Museums.... and to make matters worse: I have the Museum Director as my "distant" relative at one of them.

To make a summary:

We came to Canada in 1889 - 4 families to one Town ( and 100 years later )

Nobody knew they were related to each other in that City in Canada

I went to Finland and met my Relatives there ... 4 families living on one Town or very close ( 100 years later and they did not know they were related )

I come from Canada and have all these Records and nobody wants to believe they are related to people in the SAME VILLAGE.

I have the same problem in USA and Canada and also in Australia and some are almost on my same Street .... !

It appears that when I approach them for "Headstone Info"" ....they think I'm making money on this... or maybe I also want to know "how much money they have in the Bank" .. !

I am from Families that go back to 1500 .........

Finns are very Proud ......but they have made children who are VERY STUPID
and I don't care from which Country ...... and they are my relatives !

Ed Koski
Ontario, Canada

Kaj Granlund
22-03-08, 21:25
have you tried to post on Hiski? There ought to be genealosgists in Joensuu that can help /and want to help if the relatives do not want to. well , those not interested i genealogy do not undertand the importance for us to find pictures or information.

27-03-08, 15:25
Well, that second cousin from my grandfather's side I was telling you about........he replied! Finally, after how many months!
Ok so I know that he didn't know who I was and that I even existed but still!
He apologised bless him. Said it was all the virus problems with emails in Finland etc so he was nervous about opening my email as I was a stranger (although I did write our great grandparents names in the subject line, hoping that this would help him understand that the email was ok)

It was only because I never gave up and wrote an email every 2 weeks for 3 months. This made him curious, he opened the email and voila! I should be finding out lots of information now about my grandfather and his family :) :D

He was so apologetic at the delay and now I have phone numbers, addresses, emails, mobile/cell numbers etc. Wonderful!

Soooo, I just wanted to say that persistence can work and pay off! I am a stubborn girl and I don't give up easily! So, if you are having similar, just keep writing....you never know!


Kaj Granlund
27-03-08, 20:46
Sounds like you have some roots in Finland ;). How come -lol
My cousin in RI said they always had blamed their Swedish roots for being stubborn until they found out they were from Finland and that this was very typical for our family.

02-06-08, 05:11
Good luck in your searches Ayla.

I've been in contact with a Finnish cousin for about 15/+ years, and have constantly requested any information on the family they may have.
They have a daughter that does the correspondence to me in English as I do not know Finnish.

In all these years, they have never sent any information that I do not already have (which has been very little).
Instead, I have been sending them information as I find it.

One of the mysteries - for several generations the name of "Niemi" was used as a last name.
My Grandfather supposedly used the last name of "Ojanpera", even though all of his siblings used "Niemi" as their last name.

After all these years, I received a letter with a passing comment made of a visit to an Uncle with the last name of "Ojanpera"!!!

It turns out that several of the relatives worked together on an "Ojanpera" farm at one time, and several of them kept Ojanpera as their last name.

All these years of always asking questions - even in regards to the last names, and finally an answer!!

03-06-08, 00:00
I have the opposite problem - my Finnish cousins and my cousins in Sweden, email me all the time with updates and pictures. Its my family here in Canada that will not help at all.

I am so thankful to have found this site because it was through here that I found my Family.

03-06-08, 10:47
Thank you Ruusu! I am getting there very slowly! I have learned to be very organised when I ask them my questions, sometimes I have to repeat them again and again and also be very specific about what I want.
When I write them in numbers I think it makes it easier for them. Now I understand it when Lasse said to me some months ago that this will take me many many years to do! :))
Hi SusanR, that is great that you have all those contacts willing to help you, wonderful! I agree wholeheartedly about this site, it is a wonderful place to be and everyone is so helpful. I have found out so much about my family in the USA that I would never have been able to do alone.
All the best to you both too,