In 2016, Daniela Antoniades Jordan who resides in the USA, together with her whole family, took a DNA test to discover their ancestry.
She soon received an email from Mary Mertl, saying she was her father’s second cousin from Virginia. They quickly built a friendship, and began chatting in Messenger constantly. The more they communicated, the more Daniela became interested in finding out more about her extended family. Soon, they met a few other cousins and decided to start a Facebook group, to which they could direct all new, interested cousins to go. They had no idea how big the group would become!
Meanwhile, in 2017, an unknown cousin contacted Androula Lysandrou asking if she knew a man by the name of Costas Lysandrou – she certainly did, it was her father.
It transpired that the cousin, Becky Low, was a descendant of Androula’s father’s brother, Zacharias Lysandrou. Both brothers had moved to England from Ayia Triada around 1930. Becky and Androula are now not only cousins, but close friends.
Androula then did a DNA test which led her to discover so many more cousins. She eventually joined the Facebook group and now helps the founders, who are her cousins, administer it.
Androula said, “The need for people to connect with their heritage/roots/family was so popular that we set up a sister group for people from Yialousa and the surrounding villages. These discoveries have taken me on some adventures and have connected me to family I never knew existed who have brought joy and much love to my life.”
She added, “As you will be aware, to find records in Cyprus can be frustrating as the area we are from is occupied by Turkey. Furthermore, as they are not digitalized, this makes research extremely difficult.”
Androula continued, “19 Carlisle Street in London is synonymous with the earlier Cypriot migration. The first Greek coffee bar was opened at that address in 1929 by George Lefkaritis, with Yiannis Lillitos joining him as a partner. Many Cypriots had no permanent address and used 19 Carlisle Street for their correspondence.”
On a recent trip to the UK, Daniela organised a get together for cousins/DNA matches.
The gathering was held on Wednesday 8 February at Paxtons Head in Knightsbridge, London, and another took place in Belper, Derbyshire on Saturday 11th February.
Approximately 33 people attended in London and 13 in Belper.
All those present didn’t know each other, excluding immediate family, and have only connected as a result of a DNA test.
“Daniela is the keeper of our Yialousa Family Tree and with the help of all our DNA matches and people from Yialousa, we are slowly starting to piece together our history. We would encourage everyone to consider doing a DNA test if they are interested in their heritage. A family tree is a great gift for future generations to know their roots,” concluded Androula.