Surprise! Finding Relatives by Arliss Treybig

On my first visit to Büdesheim, Germany, in 1987, I stayed and traveled with my cousin Gene Treybig and his wife Jane (now of Boerne, Texas). At the time, they had lived in Germany for 25 or so years. They took me to visit Büdesheim and meet the two gentlemen who had done my Burtschell and Braden family history research in church books. Several years later I discovered that Gene is descended, as am I on my mother’s side, from both the Burtschell and Braden families. Gene did not know in 1987 when he took me there that he was visiting the village of his ancestors as well.

Shirley Brandes Thomas and I were friends involved in many mutual activities during our four years at Wharton County Junior College and Sam Houston State. About a year ago I discovered we were kin, also through the Burtschell and Braden families. Shirley’s daughter, a teacher, attended our Burt(t)schell Family Reunion and discovered her school secretary is also a cousin.

Gigi Reese, of the Burtschell-Braden line, was a Clear Creek High School counselor several of the years I taught there. She moved to Clear Lake High School when it was formed and some of her students were at our reunion. A number of my students and yearbook staffs are Burtschell descendants. There is truth is the old saying: “Be careful; the person you talk about may be your kin.”

About the author
Arliss Treybig, El Campo, Texas, began doing genealogical research about 28 years ago. She says her research and meeting family here and in Germany has given her a different sense of who she is.

Story from:

“This has been a life-changing experience for both of us.”
Andre Gantois, France 

Allen Henderson of South Carolina took a MyHeritage DNA test to discover his roots and explore his ethnic background. Allen never imagined that he would find a brother in France whom he never knew existed!

During World War II, Allen’s father was a U.S. soldier stationed in Normandy, France where he met and fell in love with a French woman named Irene (Andre’s mother). They wanted to marry and build a home together in the U.S., but Irene decided that she could not leave her family. Irene’s brother (Andre’s uncle) was part of the French Resistance. He was captured and sent to his death in Buchenwald. After her brother was killed, Irene’s mother was inconsolable. She stayed in France as she didn’t want her mother to lose another child.

Irene hid the fact that she was pregnant from Allen’s dad. On her deathbed, however, Irene revealed that he was the love of her life.

Allen’s father went on to build a new life in the U.S. after the war and married Allen’s mother. He passed away several years ago, never knowing that he had a son in France.

After watching the results of a MyHeritage DNA test on Fox and Friends, Allen was also inspired to take a MyHeritage test to discover more about his ethnic origins and roots. Shortly after receiving his DNA results, Allen got an email from Andre’s wife, through MyHeritage, saying that he had a half-brother living in France!

It was very surreal because I just had no idea. I got to thinking how I could have a brother in France and then I remembered my dad fought in World War II on Omaha Beach and in Normandy. He was there from June 1944 to November 1945. So I thought that it’s possible.

Andre grew up not knowing anything about his family. All he knew was that his father was an American soldier. He had spent his entire life searching through historical records, trying to locate any information that could tell him more about his father.

He would often look in the mirror and think, “Who do I look like? Where did I come from?”

Now he has the answer.



From their earliest Facetime conversations, Andre and Allen were shocked by their remarkable physical resemblance.

In addition to owning nearly identical cats and both being partial to plaid shirts and sweater vests, they have even led similar lives. Like Allen, Andre worked as a part-time Evangelical pastor, which is quite remarkable given how small the Evangelical ministry is in France compared to the U.S.

Just a few weeks ago, Allen traveled to Nancy, France to meet Andre and his family for the first time.

The two men spent time getting to know each other by sharing stories of their families and looking through old photos.

Allen remarks, “This has been a life-changing experience for both of us.”

They are both extremely grateful that MyHeritage DNA has helped them to find each other. Allen is delighted to welcome Andre and his children into the larger Henderson family. Andre is thrilled to discover the biological family he’s been searching for his entire life.