My genealogy research in the town of Strilbychi (Strzelbice in Polish), in Staryi Sambir (Stary Sambor) Region of Lviv Province, Ukraine was one of the most special experiences in my life and it will always be.
I had a feeling it was going to be unusual when I started it but I would have never imagined how much and what it will lead me to. I had visited the village before once, it had been a couple of years before I started my career of a genealogy researcher and tour guide in Ukraine. I worked for Lviv company at that time and it was a very short and pleasant visit to the home of the parents of my colleague who originated from Strilbychi. The friend died in an accident later. I did not have any chance to be present at the funeral which I still regret very much..... I was only able to come to put flowers on the gravesite later.
I started Strilbychi genealogy research project in June 2014. One of the goals was finding the living family in Strilbychi and connecting them with the family of the ancestor who emigrated to US. Before going to the village I researched lots of records in the archives, metric records among them. Strilbychi St. Mary Greek Catholic church metric records are available in Lviv Historical Archives (as of 2014, the records since the later period may already be there too by the time you read this story) and it made it possible to make a solid family tree and get links to the family residing in Strilbychi nowadays:
- Strilbychi Greek Cathlic birth records: 1784-1854, 1830-1875, 1876-1899, 1875-1929
- Strilbychi Greek Catholic marriage records: 1784-1854, 1846-1889
- Strilbychi Greek Catholic death records: 1784-1854, 1855-1887
I also had the copies of the cadastral map of the village since the 19th century and the numbers of the houses of my clients’ ancestors. I compared the old map with the nowadays map of the village. To my huge surprise the local research in the village lead me to the gates of the household of my late friends’ parents who remembered me although I visited them many years ago and who actulally appeared to be the family of my client! It was a shock for them....
Andriy’s parents told me that it had always been his dream to reestablish the lost contact with the American family. I did not know about it. He talked with his parents about it often and he tried to find the family several times but he failed. It was very special to be able to fulfill his dream now, even after he passed away. I can only imagine what kind of feeling Andriy’s parents had when I visited them....
It was quite an experience for all of us…..For me it was like meeting Andriy (my colleague’s name, the same as mine) again, and unexpected return to the past... I saw many pictures of Andriy and his family on the walls in the house... I also met his grown up sons – twins who came from Lviv to spend summer vacations with grandparents. I only remembered them as small kids who came to visit Andriy at work: we sat in the same room in the office. It revived lots of memories and thoughts....
Well, I still have mixed thoughts about it all but I am just sure that it did not happen by chance. I suppose it’s the sign I am on the right way and I do what I should do.