Search for grandma’s childhood home reveals family secrets

The curiosity of where my grandmother lived as a child was supposed to be just that. Records for her village were supposed to be destroyed during bombings in WWII.

Luck finally came my way in the form of a man who loves studying the history of his hometown, my grandmother’s former village. The acquaintance from a forum, Oleg, finally found the street where my grandmother lived as a baby.

Oleg hinted at that there was more than an address coming my way. I stopped my imagination from going too wild about what else I would learn about my grandmother’s childhood.

As soon I read the records Oleg found in archives outside of Kiev, Ukraine, I was shocked but not surprised. Great-grandpa was hosting an Evangelical Baptist church in his house in 1921, a time when the government killed people for practicing religion. (See Wikipedia’s page on persecution)

My great-grandfather was known for being very religious. He left behind two journals of biblical passages. His longest letter to his children about his family’s history, included a plea to his son to become a preacher. That plea fell on deaf ears.

Great-grandpa was even tenacious enough to send his sister in the USSR packages of clothing with hidden biblical passages when he lived in Berlin, Germany. No one was going to stop him from sharing his faith.

He was smart enough to keep the church quietly in a resort town, where people on the street where my great-grandparents lived and kept the church probably assumed a large family was gathering on a regular basis.

Then, my great-grandfather took his faith to a more noticeable position. Almost a year after he brought the church into his home, a document from archives shows he acknowledged the church as an official member of the Evangelical Baptist Union of Kiev. My great-grandfather signed the document as chairman of the board for the Evangelical Baptist Union of Kiev.

Nothing else is known about how long great-grandpa was hosting a church in his house nor serving as chairman of the board.

But today, a newer Evangelical Baptist church exists in my grandmother’s village, now a 35,000-resident suburb with high-rise apartments. The church (pictured below) has been open to the public for 50 years.



My great-grandfather’s name of Tikhon, meaning quiet, served him quite well. He hid a marriage and a child from his second wife and a church in his house and kept quiet about his work with the Evangelical Baptist Union of Kiev.

Finding the address where my grandmother crawled as a baby has shown one piece of information can lead to so much more.

Previous related posts:
Unimaginable breakthrough comes after years of hoping

Thanks for skimping on your taxes, great-grandpa

21 thoughts on “Search for grandma’s childhood home reveals family secrets

  1. Nancy Cramer

    Your diligence has served you well. So happy you are learning all these wonderful things about your ancestors!

    Nancy McKinney Cramer
    Myrtle Beach, SC

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have visited my Grandfathers home location in Czana, Poland. The church there was built in 1846 and has been in continual use since then. He was Baptized in 1884 and came to the U R in 1904. My sister and are going back to Poland on June 26, 2017. On his sidn sheet at Ellis Island he listed Galacia as home country. They always said they were Ukrainians and went to Uke. Church. Czarna is well into Poland now, can you provide any info that I can research that area. I have used a Lemko Husbard and Wife for f touring and interpreter. Any info you can provide to aid me on this venture will be appreciated. john T Hubiack ( Hubiak)


  3. How do you get started with a blog and getting someone to come read it, as well as getting the awesome information you are getting?? My Grandmother was born in Russia in the Volga region, the daughter of German immigrants into Russia. They came to the USA in the early 1900’s and I have no problem tracking them at that point, but my Grandmother would not talk about Russia to her children, so I have very little to go on. Where does one begin??

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It has taken me almost 6 years to get to this point. I do a lot posting on forums for the Russian speaking world. I haven’t gotten anywhere with the English language forums. I suggest keep asking older relatives for letters and photos. Maybe this post will help- It also helps I used to work as an investigative newspaper reporter. Keep trying eventually you’ll have some great surprises.


      1. Thank You, Vera, I have been following your Blog for some time now and will continue to do so. I am always amazed at the information you are able to come up with and it keeps my hopes up! I will check out the site you added in your post and I wish I could say there were older relatives I could continue to ask, but they are all gone now. I am searching for the generations that come after me. I will not give up the search, though, until I can no longer type on my computer! Thanks for your help, and thanks for your great Blog!

        Liked by 1 person

    2. My Mom’s ancestors were also of German heritage who migrated to Poland in the 1790s and then to what is now Ukraine between 1861-63 before immigrating to Canada in the 1890s. I joined SGGEE, the Society of German Henealogy in Eastern Europe and that has really helped my research. They concentrate on Poland and the historic region of Volhynia (parts of Belarus, Poland, and Ukraine now). There is another society that focuses on Germans from Eastern/Central Europe who immigrated to yeh U.S. but I can’t remember the name. I’m sure Googling will find it.

      Know the history — country borders changed frequently and it is very interesting. Place names changed when borders changed. Old gazetteers and maps are invaluable. Many places no longer exist. Most counties didn’t convert to the Gregorian calendar until the 20th century so dates won’t always match. Find a date converter. Knowing your families’ religion is also important when browsing through archives.

      And be patient!


  4. Pingback: Friday's Family History Finds | Empty Branches on the Family Tree

  5. My mother’s ancestors were also German Baptists. Most of them left when Russia began persecuting them for not bein Orthodox but some remained and were replicated during WWI and WWII. The family stories diverge so dramatically it is hard to fathom.

    Your great grandfather sounds like a character — religious but with a secret family.

    Congratulations on discovering this new information.


  6. Pingback: Friday's Family History Finds | Empty Branches on the Family Tree

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