Some hope resting on Estonia

The mystery of the birthplace of my grandmother’s brothers continues in a strange path. I wrote to the prosecution office for Rostov Region in Russia to ask where my grand uncles were born. The office had already released information from their communist-era prosecution files, AKA fabricated charges against my enemy Don Cossack family.

The first letter from the prosecution office did not include my grand uncle’s birthplace.  So I wrote a second letter asking for their birthplace and making a request to search for files on two other relatives. Files were not found on my two relatives and the office listed my grand uncles’ birthplace as Reval, Estonia.

My first reaction to seeing Reval, Estonia, as my grand uncles’ birthplace was “You got to be kidding.” I was told so many family documents were fabricated to ensure approval for U.S. immigration. I assumed claiming Reval as a birthplace was part of the plan.

I never had any faith my grand uncles were born in Reval, 1,024 miles from the birthplace of my grandmother, the baby of the family. Why would they be born so far away from my grandmother’s birthplace and the family’s last residence in the USSR? I also have my grand uncles’ Alien Files from U.S. Archives that show the U.S. immigration officials unsuccessfully confirmed their birth in Estonia.

Still, I am going to have some faith in this fact. I have e-mailed archives in Tallinn, Estonia, (formerly Reval) to see whether my grand uncles’ birth records can be found. I know U.S. immigration officials could not find the records in the 1950s. I am hoping after 60 years the records are more organized and I am not chasing phantom documents.

But if the records are not found, I do not have much hope of closing the book on this mystery. My hope is that the records will be found and I could next try to find my great-grandparents’ marriage record. My oldest grand uncle was born 15 months after his parents’ wedding, which hopefully happened in Reval.

As a backup plan, I have e-mailed Ukrainian archives in Lugansk and Odessa for two grand uncles’ birth records. My grandmother, who had a habit of lying, said her oldest brother was born in Lugansk. Another grand uncle claimed he was born on Odessa on several documents. On one document he stated he was born in Rostov on Don, not far from my grandmother’s birthtown.

If all of the family records are found in Tallinn, I will happy and frustrated. My grandmother told an elaborate story on a taped interview about how rich and well-known her mother’s family was in Kharkov, Ukraine. My hope in finding information on my great-grandmother’s family will be a dim light if the Kharkov story is proven false. This will be an interesting adventure.

2 thoughts on “Some hope resting on Estonia

  1. Jackie

    I am curious about this! My mother was born in Leningrad. Can I just write and request birth records? I’d love to do this for her birthday. I am actually trying to start my Russian family tree.

    1. Hi Jackie,

      It may be complicated to get her birth record. I am assuming she was born after 1919? Some archives want proof of ancestry and identity for communist-era records.. I recommend e-mailing cga@cga.spbarchives.ru. This is the e-mail address for St. Petersburg archives. Ask if the office has those type of records from her birth year and what is involved to obtain the record. It will take several weeks to get an answer. Include your postal address in your message. Good luck!

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