Exploring the Bonds of Cousins: Uncovering the Special Relationships within Extended Families

I have made several cousin connections through Ancestry.com. With many, we exchange emails or notes. My experience has taught me that most people use Ancestry.com primarily to take DNA tests and aren’t that enthusiastic about building family trees, making connections, or sharing information. But sometimes you get lucky like me and meet Linda! Linda, while researching her Piromallo grandmother, came across my tree and sent me a message. Although I suspected that my grandmother’s aunt may have come to America in 1905, but could never confirm any concrete connections between our trees. Over the next 18 months, Linda and I exchanged messages sharing known and new information as well as stories and photos. I invited Linda as well as some members of her immediate family into our Family Facebook group; my own research in Italy had provided more details than Linda could ever hope for.

Recently, Linda hired a researcher that provided information that began to support my theory; I was 100 percent certain; Linda still had doubts. But earlier this year she took her first DNA test – BINGO 3rd cousins once removed! Soon thereafter Linda sent us photos showing us as being directly related. Her Great Grandmother and my Grandmother had been 1st cousins so this was exciting to witness first hand!

After 18 months of exchanging notes via email and phone, Bob and Linda finally met face to face for the first time. Linda brought Gene as her companion; I invited Paul over, as I knew he had much knowledge of my family’s background. Amazingly, Gene and I lived only about three blocks from each other in Flushing NY for four years – I moved in when my cousin left their apartment, while he remembers visiting as my grandmother was his second cousin. My first cousin Nancy and Gene’s mother Josie were close, with Nancy serving in his mother’s bridal party and possibly my father taking photos for her big day. Additionally, Julia, my dad’s elder sister, and Linda’s grandmother Beatrice all maintained a close bond that could only be described as familial ties. Linda shared another interesting fact with me – Gene’s mom worked for my grandfather during the 1940s and 50s at Sorrentino Brothers embroidery shop in NYC that manufactured bridal crowns and veils – Linda brought beads saved by her grandmother from this shop to show us!

Gene brought over his mom’s wedding veil for us all to see. Unfortunately, these connections had long since been severed, leaving us all to wish that more questions had been asked of our parents and grandparents when they were still here.

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