(Note from Vicki – March 14, 2016 article from Legacy Tree Genealogists Project Manager
Perseverance Pays Off: A Lithuanian Case Study
One of the stories on our website (http://legacytree.com/case-study-mark/) talks about a case we’ve been working on for several years in Lithuania. This case is a prime example of how patience and perseverance can pay off in a big way. Last year our onsite researcher for this case was able to locate nobility records for this client’s family, which documented the family line back to an ancestor born in about 1450 AD. In the nobility papers were references to land transactions and other documents that the family had apparently presented to the Russian Empire in 1835 to prove their noble status. In recent months, the client’s goal was to determine if any of the ancestral estates/villages still exist today, and where they would be located.
With this goal in mind, our researcher visited the archives in Vilnius again, and located the original copy of a 1665 land document that had been referenced in the nobility papers. This document described the location of three of the family estates as being 32km away from a city that still exists in modern-day, and bordered by four different rivers. By then searching 20th century gazetteers, he found that the main estate (which appears to have incorporated the two smaller estates) still existed at least as recently as 1939. He then located a series of maps that were created in 1918 for that area, and presented them to the client. By piecing the maps together, measuring out 32km in all directions from the known city, and scrutinizing the names of the rivers listed on the maps, the estate/village of the ancestors’ origins was able to be identified. By superimposing the 1918 map over a modern-day map, and looking for the names of the rivers again, the location of the village today was found. When searching the street view on GoogleMaps, a tour of the area can be taken. While most of the homes and buildings are obviously newer, the area is still predominantly farmland, and the roads are mainly dirt. It is easy to imagine the inhabitants of 350 years ago living there, and really helps make the history of these ancestors come alive.
Though these results are amazingly extraordinary, this is just one example of what can be accomplished with enough effort and tenacious digging. Sometimes it may take months or years of searching, but by combing through all available records to find every possible source regarding our ancestors, incredible things can be discovered. The moral of the story is – don’t give up! If you’ve hit a brick wall with one or more of your lines, or you just want to know more about how and where your ancestors lived, keep in mind that more and more records are becoming available all the time, and sometimes the answers lie in dusty centuries-old books in archives far from home! Keep searching, and you may find answers that you never thought were possible.