I’ve had a couple of people ask me how and why I got started in researching my family history. I had to think back but essentially I was curious to know if one of my uncles, who was never heard from after WWII, was still living somewhere in the world or possibly I could connect with a descendant of his. My uncles name was Wasyl Iwaniw and he was born in 1903. The only picture I have is the scanned photo below.
I just started asking my father questions about him. When I got the required equipment I borrowed the hardcopy photo from my parents and scanned the picture.
I knew about my father’s other siblings and I met my dad’s other brother, Ivan, when he came to visit us from Ukraine. My Uncle Ivan was born 1908 and had 5 children. I also got some family information from him when he was visiting. But his visit was prior to my interest in the family history so I didn’t get the details that would be of use to me later on. Unfortunately, my Uncle Ivan passed away in 1981.
My father had another brother whose whereabouts are unknown also. His name was Mychola Iwaniw and he was born in 1910. He was also never heard from after WWII.
The last sibling of my father’s that I knew about and living in Ukraine was his sister, Marika Iwaniw who was born in 1905 and had 3 children. My Aunt Marika passed away in 1992. She was the last of my father’s siblings.
Because I am the first generation that was born in the US my information is limited to what I was able to get from my father. I have very little documentation and what documents my parents did have have been sequestered by my sister. I have an extremely low probability of getting my hands on them so I have to use other methods to try to acquire the documentation I need.
Previously I posted my discovery of my family’s information on the passenger list of the Blatchford that brought them to America from Germany. As I stated before, hearsay is good but documentation is gold. I also had come across church records from my father’s village in present day Poland before and still need to visually scan those microfilmed records.
Well, now I’ve found out about a web site that has digitized the records and lists from Displaced Person Camps in Germany from after World War II. The web site is called International Tracing Service and pertains to the people who were in Nazi concentration camps, labor camps, and ghettos. My parents met while they were interned in a labor camp in Ulm, Germany. I’m hoping to find some information about my family on this site. Otherwise, I’d have to write to someone in Germany to see if I could locate any records. To that point, I heard from someone on another genealogy group that suggested that I check out another person’s web site, Olga Kaczmar’s genealogy site. I was informed that Olga’s site had a lot of information on gathering information from Germany. I’ve added that to my To-Do list.
The Service is still adding to their digitized collection so if I don’t find anything now I’ll have to come back. I use Evernote to keep track of these web sites and articles that I find useful and may want to refer back to in the future. And when I get a chance, I’ll update the links found on the right sidebar.
As I posted before in a previous article, I had found information on the ship that my family “supposedly” came into the US on. I say supposedly because that was what I was told. Hearsay is good but documentation is gold. In searching FamilySearch.org I decided to research my father’s name. I heard that FamilySearch was making available the Port of New York’s passenger lists of those entering the country through 1957.
I located the passenger list that included my father, mother, and sister. Now, I had documented information about them and their entry into the US. The passenger list confirms that they did arrive on the Blatchford, they did depart from Bremerhaven, Germany. Some additional information from the list was that they embarked on the 8th of June 1950 and they arrived at the Port of New on the 24th of June 1950.
In order to enter the United States my family had to provide an address where they were going to live in the US. That information is also included on the passenger list for my family.
Little by little I am confirming and building documentation pertaining to my family history.
As I posted before, I have limited amounts of records to research in the United States. I am the first generation of my family to be born in the US so my research takes me immediately to Eastern Europe for both my parents.
With the help of other Ukrainian family researchers from a maillist I belong to, I was able to locate some records to help me with my family research. It was suggested that instead of focusing on the specific surname at FamilySearch.org, that I instead search out my father’s home village. When I did that I came up with a lot of records regarding Lutowiska. These records were microfilmed by the LDS but haven’t been transcribed or indexed. This makes it a major challenge.
What I will end up having to do is to visually scan each frame of the microfilm looking for the relevant information. To add to the difficulty is the fact that there is no table of content and everything is written in cursive. Just one set of birth, marriage, baptismal, and death records is 879 individual frames. When I did a quick perusal of random pages, they didn’t seem to be in any alphabetic order but were in date sequence. That doesn’t help if you don’t know the specific date of an event. Another issue is the date ranges of the records that are available (i.e. 1864-1879) which then precludes me from searching for events that happened outside of that range. And lastly, there is a disclaimer with the records that some records were not able to be scanned because the pages were too damaged to scan or too faded/illegible to scan.
But this will be a long and tedious undertaking and hopefully will pay off by finding the records I need. I have found an online tool, Evernote, that is of great help in saving whatever information and resources I do locate so that I can go back to them at a later date.
A while back when I was browsing the Internet reading articles pertaining to genealogy research I came across one that outlined the steps in putting together stories for family histories. Essentially, the article stated that you take 15 minutes each day and write down everything you remember about a specific family member or a family event. I thought the idea was a great idea. Unfortunately, I didn’t save or bookmark the article but if I ever come across it again I will post the information on this blog.
I started to think about my family’s past evens and one long forgotten one stuck in my mind. This memory goes back many decades and it wasn’t the even that sticks in my mind but a comment my father made. The event was a trip that my father, my mother, and myself took to Detroit MI. I don’t remember my sister being there so she might have been away at boarding school. That means that I must have been about 9 or 10 years old at the time. We were travelling to Detroit to stay with some friends of my parents and were going to attend a wedding in Windsor, Canada. The wedding itslef was not really memorable, at least to this 10 year old. But was was memorable was the name of the couple getting married. The name of the groom escapes me, which is unfortunate. However, I remember the bride’s name was Iwaniw. Her parents were divorced which was a point of discussion with my parents. How were things goinjg to be handled for the ceremony, etc. I don’t remember details of the conversations but I remember that the divorce was not a pleasant one. I can’t even remember the faces of anyone involved in wedding party.
I do remember one thing. I remember asking my father how the Iwaniw’s from Windsor Canada were related us. I remember my father telling me that they weren’t related and that the Iwaniw name was a common name in Ukraine. At that time I accepted the answer. But now when I think about it it doesn’t add up. For one very simple reason. Why would my parents be invited to a wedding and drive 400 miles to attend that wedding if they were not related in any way? Now, decades later this makes no sense.
There’s also an additional point to this story. It has always been suggested that if you want to start researching your family history talk to you living relatives. But as this story points out you may not get the whole story or even the right facts.