Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Deciphering Cryllic: Finding Luts'k

I have been on the receiving end of a spate of DNA matches on my mother's side of the family. She would have loved this and I hope she is smiling in heaven. She frequently complained that all the interesting family stories were from Dad's side and I was learning nothing about hers.

There was a reason for this. Her father immigrated from Ukraine (Russia at the time) to Canada in 1911 and her mother's parents immigrated from the same general location (about 100 kilometers east) to Canada in 1893. My maternal grandmother was born in Leduc, Alberta, the following year.

I know quite a bit about maternal grandmother's father's extended Schalin family, which I learned from a book, Our Schalin Family, by Lucille Fillenberg Effa and published in 2003. I verified and extended that research quite a bit but never attempted to go back further in time than my 4 times great grandfather, Marcin Schalin.

About my mother's father's Lange family, I knew next to nothing, except the following:

My grandfather, Gustav "Gust" Lange's family tree

The family lived near Luts'k, Ukraine, which was then part of the Russian Empire. His birth was registered in the Luts'k district. My grandfather's father, Karl August, supposedly died of tuberculosis, leaving his wife, Karoline, with seven children. As the oldest, my grandfather, left home to find work and help support the family. He lived in Essen, Germany for five years before traveling to Liverpool to board the White Star Line's S/S Teutonic and immigrated to Winnipeg, Canada.

So where was Luts'k?

Ukraine from Google Maps

Google Maps gave me the location so that I could visually identify on a map in a language I couldn't read. Luts'k dates back to the 7th century according to legend. The first written evidence was dated in 1085. The Tatars seized it in 1240. Then Lithuania, then Poland, then Lithuania again soon after 1349. A century later, Poland again ruled the city and continued to do so until the partitions of Poland. Russia annexed Luts'k in 1795, the last of three partitions, which erased Poland from the maps of Europe. And so it was during the time of my grandfather.

Wikipedia provided the Cyrillic version of the name so I had something to visualize. Then I turned to the Society for German Genealogy in Eastern Europe for some answers and perhaps older maps. Locating Luts'k was fairly easy to find since I knew its general location within Ukraine and I was looking for a large city named Луцьк.

Luts'k, Ukraine in 1950

Finding Wilhelmina Schalin's ancestral home in Ukraine might not be so easy.

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