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One of my major genealogy discoveries came as a result of a visit to cousins in Michigan. Because of my interest in genealogy, one cousin gave me a couple old photo albums that belonged to my mother's parents. Most of the photos weren't identified and I didn't recognize anyone, but I decided to make copies and send them around to all my relatives, hoping that they would know someone.

At the same time that I received the albums, another cousin showed me an old letter that was sent to her mother in 1910 from Polson, MT. Parts of the letter were missing, but it started out "Dear Cousin", and went on to mention the deaths of Esther and Harry, and the letter was signed "Bertha". None of us remembered our parents talking about a Cousin Bertha who lived in Montana. And I could not find anything in my genealogy files pertaining to this family.

I wrote letters and sent copies of the photos to every relative, and they were able to identify a few photos. But no one could recall a family with Bertha, Esther and Harry in it. Among the photos was one of two young girls with the words "Esther and Adelia" on the back. And there was a funeral remembrance card for a Harry Nyberg who died in 1910. I began to wonder if there could be a connection between the letter and the photos, so acting on a hunch I went to the library and got addresses of newspapers in the Polson area; then I wrote to each of them asking if there was any record of a Harry Nyberg dying in Jan. 1910.

There was no response from any of them and I was at a loss as to what to try next. I went back to the library and happened to see a file of genealogy material in the reference room. When I went through it, I saw the address of a genealogy society in Kalispell which is near Polson. I wrote to them, explaining what I had done and asked if they could suggest something else. In less than two weeks, I had an envelope from them containing copies of the death certificate for Harry Nyberg and the name and address of Pearl Nyberg which they copied from the Polson phone book. And they had gone to the cemetery and copied down the Nyberg names from tombstones!

Needless to say, I was delighted and sent them a thank you note along with a contribution. My next step was to write to Pearl Nyberg and ask if any of the names were familiar. She replied that Harry was her nephew who had drowned in Jan. 1910, Esther was his sister who had also died in 1910, Adelia was Esther's sister and Bertha was their oldest sister. They were all dead except Adelia who was in ill health in Reno. Pearl suggested that I write to Adelia's daughter Betty who lived in Great Falls because she had no idea how we could be related.

I wrote Betty and she answered by saying she was puzzled, too. So I sent copies of the photos, especially those taken in Erie, PA and California and Michigan after Betty mentioned that her grandparents had lived in PA and Michigan, and a couple of their children had gone to California. Betty confirmed that the photos were part of her family, but we still didn't know how we were related. She then sent me a copy of her grandmother's passport from Finland and when I saw the name I remembered seeing a similar name in my mother's father's family. A check revealed that Maja Sofia Matts-dotter Porko was the niece of my maternal grandfather and the daughter of his oldest sister.

Once the identity was confirmed, other facts emerged. Maja had left Finland to live with an aunt and uncle in !AuSable, Michigan. They happened to be my maternal grand-parents. Maja's daughter Bertha kept in touch with her cousin Alice in !AuSable after she moved to Polson. But after she married, they evidently stopped writing and there was no further communication between the two families. No one knows why. There's no one still living who would know, but it was exciting to discover new relatives. Betty supplied me with information on the entire family and we keep in touch. I was invited to visit her in Montana in 1986 and was able to meet some of the family. When I visited Finland, I made it a point to look up their relatives in Rödsö. They were so happy to hear about their relatives in America and gave me some snapshots and gifts to take back to them. Such a happy ending to my genealogy problem. I'm glad I pursued it to the end.

June Pelo

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