When I was growing up and I would ask my father about my grandfather (my father’s father) I would be told that he died when my father was a baby. My father’s answer was that he died when my father was a baby and he didn’t remember him. OK. I can understand that but my father never related any stories about him that may have been passed down to him. It was as if when my grandfather died he ceased to exist. It was like his life was erased when he died.
I started my family research because I was interested in finding out about my other uncles, Wasyl and Mykola. I had met my Uncle Ivan when he came to visit from Ukraine in the 70’s. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the foresight to ask him for any details about the family or about my grandfather. Opportunities missed are opportunities lost. But at that time I had no interest in researching my family’s history.
So fast-forward a couple of decades (to the 1990’s) and I start to research my family history and like many others just starting out I’m a newbies who really doesn’t know what he’s doing. I started out with in using Family Tree Maker to enter my family information and used the built-in web page builder to publish the information. In doing so I got an e-mail from someone in Australia who told me that her grandfather’s name was also Mychajlo Iwaniw and he was from the village of Lutowiska. Coincidence? Could it be that my grandfather didn’t die as my father told me?
I think one of the things that one has to remember is that divorce was a stigma. It could be that my grandfather divorces my grandmother and instead of telling my father that his father left he was told that he died. That is what I am currently searching for in the old records from Galicia/Poland. Prior to the end of World War I the area where my father was born would have still been considered Galicia and part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It was only after 11 November 1918 that the Austro-Hungarian Empire was broken up and Galicia ceased to exist. Technically, my father was born in Galicia, Austria. So, my search involves finding any records containing Mychajlo Iwaniw from Lutowiska from about 1880 through the 1920’s. The record may be in the archives in either Lviv, Ukraine or Przemysl, Poland or both.
This is a case where it may be necessary to hire a professional researcher who is local to the archives and can actually locate all of the relevant records. There has to be either a death record for my grandfather or multiple civil marriage records for him.
In my ongoing research of my family history one of the interesting items I seem to have uncovered is that there were numerous Iwaniw families throughout the Galicia in the old Austro-Hungarian Empire. In just attempting to find records about my own grandfather I came across a few records that matched his name but other data on the records didn’t match up.
Specifically, as I explained in my previous post, More mysteries uncovered, I mentioned 2 separate passenger lists that contained a record for a Mychajlo Iwaniw. There was the NY list that showed Mychajlo Iwaniw arriving at Ellis Island in 1912. This Michajlo’s record shows that he was born in Sloboda. Although the age is close to my grandfather’s estimated age this couldn’t be the same person because all information I have is that my grandfather was from Lutowiska, which is about 3 hours driving from Sloboda.
Now, the other passenger list shows a Mychajlo Iwaniw Iwaniw arriving into the Port of Philadelphia in 1911 and the final destination being the Wilkes-Barre are of Pennsylvania to visit his brother Mytro. This record also shows that this Mychajlo was close to my grandfather’s estimated age. But it also shows that his wife’s name was Kasia Iwaniw. Both of these names from this record are a mystery to me. This is the first time I have seen a reference to either Mytro or Kasia Iwaniw. This record is the one that I started to pursue to look if I can find any records in the old church records from my father’s old church.
I attempted to locate these church records online in order to search them. I’m using the records/catalogues from FamilySearch.org and help from members of the Ukrainian & Galician Genealogy groups on Facebook. The problem with these records so far is that they are NOT indexed so I have to manually view each page and try to find the info that I need. So, my search has expanded to include the following names:
- Mychajlo Iwaniw (with a birth father of Wasyl Iwaniw, my great-grandfather)
- Mytro (or Dmytro) Iwaniw (with a birth father of Wasyl Iwaniw, my great-grandfather)
- Kasia (or a derivative) Iwaniw (with a spouse of Mychajlo or Michael) Iwaniw
One of the things that I found out is that there were quite few Iwaniw families but I cannot determine if any of them are related to my family. I found a record referencing a Wasyl Iwaniw but from a village about 2 hours drive from Lutowiska. Can’t be the same person as my great-grandfather because the information I got from my father was that he was a landowner of a large tract of land in the village. There were records of other Iwaniws whose names I didn’t recognize. They very well may be relatives but I can’t make a connection.
In searching out the name of Iwaniw in FamilySearch.org records the search results will return over 800 records of Iwaniws in the United States and Canada. So, it’s important to stay focused on one path/branch in researching the family history or risk being pulled in countless different directions.