As I write this, I’m making last minute preparations for a trip to Lithuania.
My maternal grandmother, Helena Chmielewska, was born on 15 February 1897 in Trakai, Wilno Gubernia, Russia. The area is now part of the Republic of Lithuania. Historically, Lithuania controlled a large region of central Europe and the present republic is located very close to the geographic center of Europe.
My grandmother was one of two children born to Wincenty Chmielewski and Anastasia Wojnowska (or Wolnowska). My grandmother had one sister, Ona, born on 18 June 1899 in Likiskiai, County Butrimonys, Alytus Region, Wilno Gubernia, Russia.
The location I have for my grandmother is relatively uncertain. On various documents she listed her place of birth as either Trakai or Vilnius and she may have been referring to the general region where she was born, not the actual village. The information about her sister is also a bit uncertain, since no one alive remembers exactly where she was born.
Descendants of my great aunt Ona still live in Lithuania, and I’ll be visiting several of my cousins while I’m there. My cousin Liliana (Ona’s granddaughter) now lives in the United States with her husband and daughter, but Liliana’s other close family members still live in Lithuania.
Liliana is in Lithuania for the entire month of October and she thought this would be a great time for me to visit and meet the rest of her family. I agreed.
Liliana plans to show me the villages where her parents lived. We’ll also visit other villages mentioned in various family documents. She also plans to bring me to the Lithuanian State Archives in Vilnius where all the historical Lithuanian church registers are kept. We may be able to find the baptismal records for our grandmothers if we can find the right parish registers.
Suffice to say, I don’t expect to be writing again until I return on October 27. With luck, I’ll bring back lots of pictures and copies of lots of new documents.
Until then, Viso gero!
Copyright © 2007 by Stephen J. Danko