It’s been a while since I updated my research status. Since the last update I’ve really not been able to get any more information. I’ll have to go back and review what I’ve accumulated so far and pick up where I left off. I also need to go back to Arolsen Archives- International Center and see if I can find additional information.
I’ve pretty much concluded the review of the data I received previously from Arolsen pertaining to my father. I have a fairly good understanding of my father’s timeline in Germany from 1942 to 1950. I know that he was taken from his home in Lutowiska, Ukraine to Germany in 1942 as forced labor. Up until the end of the war my father worked as a farm hand. Then in Ulm, Germany my father was a cobbler (shoemaker) until he and the family emigrated to the US.
I may need to hire a professional genealogical researcher located in Ukraine to physically go to the archives and located my father’s vital records. But I need to get additional information as to which archives and which specific records. I also need to properly vet prospective researchers before I hire them. If anyone has any input or ideas about this I’d appreciate hearing from you.
One thing that seems to be given in conducting my family research is that there will be more questions than answers. One thing that I do periodically is do a search on FamilySearch.org records for the surname of IWANIW. I completed one such search a few days ago and came across a new record that I hadn’t seen before.
The record was a record for, who I believe, is my paternal grandfather Michael (Mychajlo) Iwaniw from the Pennsylvania, Philadelphia Passenger List Index Cards, 1883-1948. (See below) This does confirm what I was told by my father that my grandfather came to the U.S. for a short while and that his destination was the Wilkes-Barre area of Pennsylvania. This record also contradicts another passenger list record that I found on the Ellis Island site for another Mychajlo Iwaniw.
The PA list shows that Mychajlo came from Lutowiska, Austria (the old Austro-Hungarian Empire) while the NY list shows that Mychajlo was from Sloboda, Austria. The PA list shows his destination as Ashley, PA (near Wilkes-Barre, PA) and the NY list states his destination as Chicago, IL. The PA list shows his arrival date as July 11, 1911 and the NY list states he arrived on November 16, 1912. PA list states he was going to stay with his brother Mytro Iwaniw and the NY list stated he was going to stay with his nephew Mykola.
Now, this record raises more questions. There are 2 additional names have come up:
Kasia Iwaniw is listed as his wife. I only knew of 1 wife, my father’s mother Matrona Smoliw. The date on this form is 1911 which is 7 years before my father’s birth. Is this Kasia a previous wife? What happened to her?
The record makes reference to Mytro Iwaniw, a brother. It’s entirely possible my grandfather had a brother who came to America years before. If he was living in the U.S. when my father was born he may not have been told of him. My father always said that his father died when he was a baby. I have information that I am trying to confirm that makes me doubt this story.
In the NY list that Mychajlo Iwaniw was traveling to Chicago to visit with his nephew, Mykola. I can’t make out the last name from the form (see below) but I still plan on investigating this further.
So now you can better understand the reason my title for this posting. More mysteries as I get deeper into my family history.
Anyone who has been doing their family research for a considerable period time can expect to run into a mystery within that history. I had requested information from Arolsen Archives (formerly International Tracing Service) for information/documentation pertaining to my father, Theodor Iwaniw. I submitted this request in September 2018. A few days ago I received a response from Arolsen Archives which included 44 pages of scanned documents. Arolsen Archives also offered to provide wriiten evaluation of those documents which I graciously accepted. This will require me to wait a little while longer.
Well, I’ve encountered my mystery. That mystery has to do with an inquiry form that is dated 16 February 1989. There’s also letters regarding another inquiry in 1968. Are they related? The letter from 1966/68 makes reference to my sister as being the person making the inquiry. But my sister was living at home at the time. She did go with a group to tour Europe shortly before that time period but she was residing at home with us. The letter dated 1968 has the letterhead from the The American National Red Cross in Washington D.C.
The inquiry form dated 1989 has the letterhead from what seems to be the Red Cross/Red Crescent in Moscow. The language for the fields on the form are in both German and Russian. The information completed is in German. The person making the inquiry is listed as Maria Elisseewa and as daughter. I am not aware of my father having another family. There is a possibility but I think it may be a low probability.
The inquiry forms/letters from 1966/68 are more numerous and do not clear up very much. This will require some extensive research on my part but I will have to wait until I get the written evaluation from Arolsen Archives. If anyone has any information on Maria Elisseewa or suggestions as to my next steps, I would be greatly appreciative in hearing of them.
In doing my family research I have had to rely on verbal information I have received from my parents. One of the things that I was told was that my parents came from Ulm, Germany to America. I presumed that they were interred in the labor camp there during WWII. I presumed that there time in Germany was spent in Ulm, that they met there, got married there, and my sister was born there.
Again, verbal information. I decided to search and find any and all documents pertaining to my parents time in Ulm, Germany. To that end I made contact with someone working a the city archives in Ulm, the deputy director Ulrich Seemüller. I gave him as much information as I knew but he wasn’t able to locate any information. He e-mailed me back asking for the name of the companies that my parents worked at while in the forced labor camp. That information I didn’t have. I replied that all I knew was that my father said that he was a cobbler (shoemaker) while in Germany.
So I was pleasantly surprised when Mr. Seemüller sent me another e-mail providing me with documentation of useful information. What his information provided was that 1. yes, my sister was born in Ulm, Germany, but 2. while my parents were living in Ulm, Germany at that time, they were married in Sulmingen, Germany. Wow. I didn’t know that. Now, I get to update the information I know and have a whole new locale to search.
My next step will be to contact Mr. Werneke in Germany pertaining to this new information that I got. Mr. Werneke has done extensive research on labor camps in Germany. Hopefully, he can help me research those in the Sulmingen/Maselheim region.
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.