There is only one type of story in the world. Your story. — Ray Bradbury, Zen and the Art of Writing
In late 2014, I did some searching on-line in regards to my father. I knew his name and I knew where he lived in the years I had met him (in the 60s). I didn’t know at the time he was my father, but only learned that after my mother’s death in 1969. My interest in genealogy in general began in the 90s when I was researching to get my Irish citizenship.
So, I stumbled upon a marriage notice from a 1968 edition of the Herald Statesman, the local newspaper for Yonkers and the surrounding area referring to Robert George Koch as the son of George Koch Sr., who would have been my father. So I then searched for Robert Koch and found several family trees on a genealogy website, showing his (our) two brothers and his (our) father’s parents; his grandfather was born in Frankfurt (Oder) in Germany and his grandmother in Kraków, then in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. This confirmed what I’d been told about my father’s German-Polish roots. I also learned that my father had died in 1993 in Florida.
In early 2015 I decided to try and contact Robert and sent him an email. I had some spurious contact with Robert in that year, but he seemed unsure of our connection as half-brothers. Then for Christmas 2017, Sé bought me a DNA kit from Ancestry.co.uk. When I got the results back in 2018, I got a very close match for Robert Koch (they suggested first cousin or uncle).
It wasn’t until 2019 though that we were in contact again. Briefly in the early part of the year, then later when he when he emailed me to say his niece and her family were coming to Ireland and would like to meet up. And so we did.
Through Jeanne, I met her three sisters and brother (Kathy, Steve, Resa and Eileen), all children of my eldest half-brother, George, Jr, who died in 2018. I also learned of two other nieces (Katie and Michele) from my middle brother, Doug.
Rob and his wife, Judy, have a son, Chris, who lives in Idaho. In fact, he was the mayor of Bellevue, Idaho for a time.
Sé and I had planned on attending a Koch reunion in Florida during the summer of 2020, but the covid-19 pandemic stopped that from happening. So aside from a couple of zoom calls, I’ve not had a chance to properly meet my family on my father’s side as of yet.
But I have not been neglecting my mother’s side of the my family. Also through more on-line searching, I was able to locate a second cousin in Offaly. From her, Renee, I learned that my great-grandfather had been married twice. Her grandmother, Julia, had been the daughter of his second wife, whose name was the same as my own great-grandmother, Mary. So, some of my grandfather’s siblings that I had learned about were actually half-siblings.
So also in 2019, not long after meeting Jeanne, Sé and I traveled up to Offaly to meet Renee, her husband, Michael, and her uncle (my mother’s first cousin), Colm.