It is always exciting to hear a story in the news about a genealogist who has managed to track down their long lost relatives. Imagine, working on your family tree, and having your research lead to living relatives who never knew you existed! It can be infinitely more satisfying to be able to visit with these “new” family members in person than it is to wonder about what some of your deceased ancestors might have been like when they were alive.
For one family, old letters led to long lost family members. Frank and Sharon Coppola, and their daughter Doreen, teamed up to work with some old letters. These handwritten letters dated back to the 1920s. Years ago, these letters were written to Frank's mother and grandfather, who are now both deceased. The letters were written by siblings and cousins who were, at that time, living in Italy. The Coppola's are Americans. The letters were written in Italian, so the Coppola's needed to translate them from Italian to English before they could understand the information they contained.
Most letters have a return address written on them, and this was the case with these old letters. This allowed the Coppola's to send letters of their own to the addresses in Italy where the original letters came from. I think this was an excellent idea to try! What happened next? Some of the letters they sent were to addresses that no longer existed, so those letters got returned to them. Luckily, one letter got to a postman, who looked at the surname, and delivered the letter to a family who lived just few blocks away from where the letter was supposed to be sent. That family, the Valentinos, turned out to be the surviving decedents of the family members who wrote the old letters to Frank's mother and grandfather all those years ago! Since then, the two families have kept in touch, and arranged to meet.