Family mystery solved randomly

I almost gave up hope on finding out where my paternal grandmother’s oldest brother was born. I have searched five town records without any luck.

Then, I was getting bored with my genealogy, thanks to a shortage of genealogy fun money. I decided to confirm whether my grand-uncle really attended the Alexis Don Polytechnic Institute in Novocherkassk, Rostov Region, Russia. I thought it would be cheap to confirm because I knew he attended the school in 1910 and went to Germany for practical training the next year.

The bill I got for my curiosity was $75 American dollars. My first reaction was “Are you kidding me?”.  As soon as I looked closer to the e-mail message and attached two-page document, I finally learned where my grand-uncle was born from his high school diploma. So, now I am relieved I can check off one more mystery as solved.

Last May, I learned my grandmother’s four other brothers were born in Pavlovka, Lugansk Region, Ukraine. Now, I know that grand-uncle Nikolai was born in Lisicansk, Lugansk Region, 65 miles southwest of where his four brothers were born.

I have learned from my paternal grandmother’s family that don’t assume anything about relatives. I first thought my grandmother and her five brothers were born in the same city, Taganrog, Rostov Region. Then, a cousin told me her grandfather (my grandmother’s brother) was born in Novocherkassk, Rostov Region, so I assumed all five brothers were born there.

I even gave Tallinn, Estonia, a chance as their birthplace. I finally got the correct birthplace for four brothers when I requested Nazi-occupation residency records on my grandmother’s brothers. But then I was disappointed when grand-uncle Nick’s birth record was not found in Pavlovka.

Lastly, I incorrectly assumed he was born in Kharkiv, Ukraine, because his parents married there 15 months before his birth. This is why I say Russian and Ukrainian genealogy takes lots of patience.

The fun part of solving this mystery is seeing the grades of grand-uncle Nikolai. This is something he probably never thought his grand-niece, whom he never met, would see.

My grand-uncle got 4’s in German language, French language, geography, history, mathematical geography, physics, Latin language and philosophy. He got 3’s in Russian language and literature and law. A 5 is the highest grade and 1 is the lowest and I know this from going to Russian-American school myself as a young child.

So, this all shows that if you wait, you’ll be surprised by what will be discovered.

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