Longtime MyHeritage user Eliška Potužníková, 24, of the Czech Republic, had a breakthrough on a previously unidentified photo thanks to the MyHeritage photo tools. Her experience beautifully illustrates how the Photo Enhancer and MyHeritage In Color are more than just fun ways to connect with your ancestors — they can be valuable genealogical tools as well. This is Eliška’s story.
I grew up in the place where my maternal grandpa was born: Slavošovice, a small village near Klatovy in the Czech Republic. My parents, my brother, and I always loved to hear my grandpa’s stories about his family and his life. My mum showed me a hand-sketched family tree when I was 10 — just 3 generations for both of her parents, and my paternal grandpa started sharing stories about his life around that time as well. He showed us hundreds of photos of his ancestors and relatives and the places where they lived.
The year after my maternal grandfather died, I decided to embark on my own journey to research my family tree. Thanks to my grandpas’ stories, I had plenty of information from their sides. However, my grandmothers didn’t have the same storytelling culture in their own families, so I knew very little about their sides of the family and it’s been more of a challenge to find information about them. I enjoy it, though — I feel like a detective!
When I started building my family tree, I tried to find a chronicle of the local history of our village, but none existed yet. So I decided to write it myself, and chose this as the topic for my bachelor’s thesis. The project helped me learn so many things about my maternal grandpa’s family, which has been living here since the 1650s. Thanks to my 2 years of long, hard work, the inhabitants of our village became interested in our history and some of them started building their own family trees, too.
Researching my family has changed my life in so many ways. I even managed to resolve a century-old conflict between siblings in my family! A certain forest that belonged to an ancestor was left to just the oldest sister in an ancestor’s family, and the other siblings didn’t understand why they didn’t receive any part of this inheritance. Well, I managed to figure out that the oldest sister was actually their half-sibling — she’d had a different father then the rest of the siblings, and it seems that she inherited the forest from him. This theory reconciled these quarreling relatives after more than 100 years.
Recently, a new discovery was made possible by the MyHeritage photo tools. I had this photo from my mother’s side of the family, taken in 1928, that showed around 30 family members standing together outside one of their homes, but because the photo was so old and faded and the faces so small, it was impossible to identify everyone in the photo.
But when I put the photo through the Photo Enhancer and MyHeritage In Color and showed the results to my mother, she immediately recognized her father, Jan Bayer, and his 6 siblings in the photograph.
My grandpa was born in 1924 and he is 4 years old in this photo. Previously, the oldest photo I had of him showed him at age 25. My mum couldn’t believe her eyes when I showed this to her, because her father as a 4-year-old looks like he could have been her twin!
My favorite story about my grandpa Jan is from the dark days of World War II. My grandpa became a forced laborer under the Nazis, and on February 15, 1944, he was transported to Leipzig, Germany to work for a German company. During this time, Leipzig was bombarded many times, and he recalled that as the bombs whistled through the air, everyone prayed to God — even the atheists. The company was eventually destroyed in an airstrike, but my grandfather survived and was transported to Raguhn. He made friends there from some other countries, including France and Belgium. After a few months, he and some of his friends from Bohemia decided to escape. They risked their lives and managed to sneak onto a freight train that took them back home. Unfortunately, two days later my grandfather was caught by the police and sent to prison. His brother says that he returned from prison in a sorry state, but my grandpa wasn’t broken. He was an optimistic, cheerful man with a good sense of humor.
Here are some more of my old family photos brought to life with MyHeritage In Color and the Photo Enhancer:
I am so grateful to the MyHeritage team for these wonderful tools! I joined MyHeritage at the age of 15, and I love everything about it. I’d tried some other programs before, but Family Tree Builder, MyHeritage’s free desktop software, is so easy on the eyes. My family and I enjoy every new update to MyHeritage — from photo colorization to Deep Nostalgia to MyHeritage DNA.
My love for family history guided me towards my current career path. I received my Bachelor’s degree in Education from the University of West Bohemia, and am currently studying towards my Master’s to become a teacher of history and the Czech language.
If you are researching your own family history, here is my advice to you: be patient; ask your family and relatives lots of questions; take care of your family photos, and write down the family stories.
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Source: My Heritage