Facebook played an important role in getting Martin and Mary Anne Groen in touch with a relative from the Netherlands, who, a few months earlier, they didn’t even know existed. Hendrik Heerschop, 52, lives with his wife and two children in the Netherlands where he owns a business restoring gravestones. He is Martin’s third cousin. Hendrik flew to meet his newly discovered California relatives. They hit it off quickly as though they’d known each other their entire lives.
The experience started when Mary Anne received a peculiar message from Hendrik on Facebook, claiming to be her long lost relative. She considered dismissing the message but saw Hendrik was friends with Martin’s first cousin so she responded. Hendrik was trying to fill gaps in his family tree, but the brother to his great-grandfather was missing entirely. His luck changed when he found www.findagrave.com, and a gravestone in Platte, South Dakota. He left a note on the page and got a reply from someone looking for the same family. The two emailed and confirmed they were related. They exchanged family trees which filled in gaps on both sides. Before this, the American Groens had no knowledge of their family in the Netherlands. After the connection, Hendrik quickly got on to Facebook and emailed every one with the last name “Groen.”
The first stop on Hendrik’s US trip was in Platte, where he met new relatives and saw the town his ancestors immigrated to many years ago.
From a story by Aaron Carnes, Morgan Hill Times, Morgan Hill, California.