Steve John, an investment manager in New Jersey, tried to locate his extended family, but conventional genealogical research failed to produce results. Finally, he resorted to various Internet Google searches. In one, an entry from a professional book of mine (housed in the Library of Congress) was cited. It mentioned the unique experience of Syrian Ibraham John Ekery's Orthodox Christian family and his brothers, Tony Ekery and Leon John. At Christmas 2009, Steve John telephoned me in El Paso to verify the published material and obtain any additional information. He learned the following.

When Ibrahim Ekery's two brothers and a son emigrated from Jawaikhat, Syria, to the United States at the turn of the 20th century, one immigration officer listed one brother — Tony John Ekery — by his original name. A different official shortened the name of his brother Leon to Leon John. Later, when their nephew Sam Ekery arrived and identified himself as "the son of Ibrahim," immigration officials registered him as Sam Abraham. The immigrant family of Ekery thus was splintered into three surnames: Ekery, John and Abraham. Early families settled in Denura, Pa., with some families migrating from there to the El Paso, Texas, region.

Steve John and his brother George came to El Paso in May 2010 to become better acquainted with their relatives — those with surnames of John, Ekery and Abraham. Four of them came to our home and discussed the "miracle" that united the disparate families.

As Steve John left, he remarked to me that he would be continuing his genealogical investigations at the Mormon family history center just a few blocks down the street from his New Jersey home. I hope he meets the good folks there.

E.R. Stoddard is an emeritus professor from the University of Texas at El Paso.