I thought I was finally going to make a breakthrough on my great-grandmother’s family. But, nope. Kazan archives could not find my great-grandmother’s birth record, even though I had her full name, birthdate and birthplace from her high school diploma.
All that archives found was two listings of women with the same name and birth year. One had a tradesman father from the city and another came from a peasant family in a nearby village. Archives could only give me the first names of both parents.
Then I asked whether archives’ records could be searched for information on siblings, aunts and uncles of my great-grandmother. Nope, again. The archive office requires birth, marriage or death years for searches. It was nice the staff searched for my great-grandmother’s birth record for free. But if people are willing to pay for record searches, why not do it? It is hit and miss with archives of the former USSR for which ones will do paid searches.
Now, my search moves onto archives in the Crimea of Ukraine. My great-grandmother graduated from a woman’s gymnasium there. I searched for the school in Ukrainian on Google and found a forum posting that shows the archives in Crimea has my great-grandmother’s school’s records. Now, does it have the records of my great-grandmother? I hope to find information in the records to help me make some progress in studying her family.
I am lucky to know where she attended school and was born. My father’s half-sister had her grandmother’s school records hidden in her apartment. She was a hoarder. I never expected to find such gems in her apartment.
My great-grandmother’s family is a mystery. My great-grandmother was born in Kazan, 550 miles east of Moscow and now the capital of the Republic of Tatarstan. Then, she attended high school in Kerch, southern Ukraine, more than 900 miles southwest of her birthtown. She then had her first child in Lugansk, eastern Ukraine, 190 miles northeast of Kerch. My great-grandmother later had more children in Novocherkassk, Rostov Oblast, another 120 miles away in southern Russia.
The story gets more weird because my grandmother claimed on a taped interview that the family originated from Kharkiv, eastern Ukraine, 570 southwest of my great-grandmother’s birthplace, where the family was noble and wealthy. Then, I recently discovered from a residency record my brother got from a local archive office that a cousin or a niece of my great-grandmother lived with her in Taganrog. This niece or cousin was born in Novocherkassk, 129 miles east of Taganrog. The relative had arrived in Taganrog from Armenia.
My Skibinsky family was rich. My great-grandmother bought the house where she lived with her husband and children. She also bought houses for her six adult children, according to family stories. The money came from her beloved Aunt Sophie. But the amount of moving this family did makes them sound like gypsies.
The lessons I am learning are that don’t assume anything in researching Russian ancestry, that it was too hard to move around Russia back in the day and that the family stories will make any sense. In the end when everything is figured out, there will be complete satisfaction and I will have a wonderful story to tell.