Grandmother leaves behind a foundation for uncovering Baltic German roots

Vladislav Dominyak made one visit to archives and it sent him on an adventure that he had not planned.

He learned that Latvian archives placed birth records online after visiting the archives in Riga. Boom, there came the genealogy bug for the Russian man from Saint Petersburg.

“This defined my electronic habitat for the next year,” he says. “It is interesting that the awareness and structuring of information occurs in a spiral. As new information appears, I return to the already familiar photographs, compare people, places, etc.”

He takes advantage of his skills from his job, teacher of psychology at St. Petersburg State University, to study his family tree.

So far, he has 743 people in his family tree, dating back to 1722. Thanks to his grandmother with Baltic German ancestry, Vladislav, 48, had a great foundation to create his family tree for the past five years.

His grandmother kept the family documents highly organized, not knowing her grandson would one day create the family tree from her collection.

“The archive turned out to be very impressive: photos, metrics, letters, notes, diaries, even apartment bills,” Vladislav says.

He is enthusiastic about his genealogy hobby, but not his family.

“Mom is pretty skeptical. Father is positive, but without much interest,” Vladislav says. “When I start talking about what I have learned about one of my relatives, he quickly begins to get bored. But the closer the relatives, the more interest.”

He has met other people who share his excitement for genealogy but he has become accustomed to a certain reaction to his hobby.

“When people find out that I am engaged in genealogy, the most common response is a restrained, detached, respectful reaction: ‘Oh, yes, this is interesting.’ But there is usually no real interest,” Vladislav says.

As a child, he doesn’t remember people studying the family tree as a hobby. Relatives talked about family legends but that was it, Vladislav says.

His family’s focus is on yachting.  Vladislav prefers water-based tourism and kayaking.

Vladislav’s great-grandfather, Nikolai Alekseevich Podgornov, was a participant of the 1912 Summer Olympics in Stockholm, Sweden. His crew on the Norman yacht didn’t taken any prizes. Vladislav found information on his great-grandfather’s participation in the Olympics from an online search.

The interest in yachting continued onto his grandparents’ generation. His maternal grandmother Olga Nikolaevna Simakova (Podgornova) was a master of sailing and Vladislav believes she was possibly the first female captain of a small yacht team in the former USSR. Her husband and Vladislav’s grandfather took boating to a professional level as a sea captain.

Grandma Olga

Meanwhile, his paternal grandma Karina Ivanovna Nelius, daughter of a bank clerk, worked as an artist who was a student of noted artist Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin. She married a graphic artist.

Karina’s work is displayed at Museum of Art of St. Petersburg. See her work here.

Grandma Karina

Vladislav knows the most about his Baltic German ancestry from Latvia. His ancestors lived in Valmiera, Gazenpot, in addition to Riga, and arrived in St. Petersburg in 1904. He has discovered a paternal great-great-grandmother from Lisice in western Poland and learned of Polish ancestry from his mother’s family.

“Knowing who the ancestors were makes you feel better. I have someone to be proud of,” Vladislav says. “There is someone to look up to…By the way, the more I learn about my relatives, the more alive they seem to me.”

Follow this blog with the top right button to catch the next post in the series that brings light to how people from Russia and Ukraine study genealogy.

Previous posts from the Bending Curtain series:
Years of patience leads to an accumulation of discoveries
Ukrainian native inspired to research family after discovery of “American” ancestor
Keeping alive some notable ancestors in a Russian family tree
Coming back to Ukrainian roots through genealogy
Introducing “Bending Curtain: A Changing Tide in Genealogy in the Former USSR”

6 thoughts on “Grandmother leaves behind a foundation for uncovering Baltic German roots

  1. Janet Lemond

    Hello. I am Russian and Ukrainian. My maiden name is Mandrona when I checked I believe they were from the city of Lviv. Do you have records of any of these people? I think there are Mandronas still living in Lviv Ukraine. Thank you Janet On Sep 26, 2020 7:23 AM, “Find Lost Russian & Ukrainian Family” wrote:

    > Vera Miller posted: “Vladislav Dominyak made one visit to archives and it > sent him on an adventure that he had not planned. He learned that Latvian > archives placed birth records online after visiting the archives in Riga. > Boom, there came the genealogy bug for the Russian ” >

    Like

  2. What an interesting posting! Fun to read about what’s going on with genealogy around this wonderful world of ours Thanks for directing me over to see Karina’s work. Just wonderful!

    Like

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

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