One of the cool things about being a Mormon genealogist is the deal FamilySearch worked out with some of the major players in online genealogy. In exchange for records access, help in digitizing and indexing, and other side benefits, MyHeritage, Ancestry, and FindMyPast offers free access to many of their resources to members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I've worked extensively in Ancestry over the years, and done a little with FindMyPast, but haven't really done much with MyHeritage. After listening to some of the commercials for it in the Extreme Genes podcast, I thought I'd give it a shot.
I uploaded a gedcom of my family tree from my RootsMagic 7 database, and it was ready within just a couple minutes. That's a lot faster than I anticipated! I poked around for a bit, looking at how the tree layout worked, and then had to move on to other things. But over the next couple days, I started getting emails of record matches, and not just a few either. The email I got today listed 20 ancestors with multiple hits each. This was either going to be very promising, or very tedious. I was hoping for the former. So I went in and started looking at some of the record matches.
Interestingly enough, the person at the top of the list was Howard John Sarbu, the husband of my grandma Sally's sister Bettye. I didn't have a lot of info on him, so I started looking through the matches. I noticed that most of the early hits were newspaper articles, which can sometimes be goldmines of information. I read through a few of them, and was very impressed by what I read.
Howard worked as the manager of the Sidney office of the Montana State Employment Service. As such, he was mentioned and quoted in the paper in articles relating to employment outlook, farm worker hiring levels, and other interesting information. The first article I read talked about how he was interviewed regarding farm worker hiring levels being higher in 1962 than they were in 1961 by almost 100%. It must have been interesting work seeing how people were being employed, and satisfying to see more people finding work.
The next article was the one that impressed me. It spoke about how Howard gave a speech at a meeting of the local chapter of the Disabled American Veterans, speaking about the need for disabled veterans to have employment opportunities, and to keep them connected and informed of those opportunities. Howard was himself a veteran, having served as a warrant officer during World War II. Therefore, it seems to me that this was probably not just an occupation for him, but probably a cause with some personal value and connection to him. I find it very admirable that he was such a public advocate for a worthy cause like standing up for disabled veterans.
So far, within only a few minutes of searching MyHeritage, I've found some really interesting family information. I'm excited to see what else turns up on this site, not just in breaking down brick walls (though I hope there is plenty of that!) but putting meat on the bones of my family tree.