Family stories provide clues to our family history. But we need to verify the traditional stories.

For example, my grandfather, Jan Chudzikowski, emigrated from Ukraine to Canada and settled in Vancouver, British Columbia. According to our family tradition, he returned to Ukraine and came back with my grandmother, Rose Rowyenyj, and three uncles (Max, Louis, and Joe). He returned again to Ukraine and came back with my other uncle (Walter). I wondered if it was really true that my grandfather made three voyages from Ukraine to Canada and traveled over 16,000 miles roundtrip. Also, Uncle Walter was always rather aloof from the rest of the family, and I wondered why.

Through research, I found the answers.

I knew that my grandfather had naturalized in about 1930 and changed his surname to Kirk. I searched the citizenship records index on the Library and Canada Archives website and found an entry for John and Rose Kirk.

I sent for a copy of John’s naturalization papers. I learned his date of arrival, August 8, 1909, and the ship he traveled on, the SS Mount Temple. I searched the passenger lists on microfilm in the Family History Library and found an entry for Jan Chudzikowski.

Then, last year, when the Canadian passenger lists came online through Ancestry.com, I searched my grandfather’s supposed other voyages. What I found was different from our family traditions.

  • I learned that my grandmother, Rosalia Chudzikowski, and her three children left on their own on September 17, 1911, on the SS Montfort to join their husband and father in Vancouver.
  • A brother, Izydor Chudzikowski, sailed on the SS Mount Royal on July 16, 1913, to join his brother in Vancouver. On the same voyage was his married sister, Jawdocha Kujbida, coming to join her husband, also in Vancouver.
  • Walter came with his aunt and uncle in 1913. His parents had emigrated earlier when he was a small boy, and he felt abandoned.

So, there were three voyages, but my grandfather only was on the first one in 1909. He probably sent money to Gramma and his siblings to help them with their voyages.

I feel that he was the “pioneer” in our family, because all the rest of my Ukrainian side of the family came after he did, between 1909 and 1922, to my home country of Canada. I also have an appreciation for my Gramma, who traveled over 8000 miles (over two continents and an ocean) with 3 little boys. She died when I was 6 years old.

Family traditions are good leads to help get the facts about your ancestors, but remember that they are sometimes just “nice stories” to tell. It is important to verify, to learn the real story.

Comments (17)

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  1. If Valerie Appleton is watching this site my grandfathers name was Lawrence Randall Sparling and he was from MO. he died somewhere maybe in the mid 60s around the age of 45. Does this sound like the same person?

    Randy Sparling 07 November 2011
    6:19 pm
  2. A family story, I have heard for at least 60 years tha one of my Grandfathersl was in the Brigham Young party that founded Salt Lake City., and later move to Council Bluffs as part of the RLDS. I have found zero records to support this. Any ideas? I am also searching for information, re Hugh Haley Cunningham who lived in the Sacramento CA area around 1940. He is my birth Father whom I have never met, or seen records or pictures. Ideas?

    Frank Panico 29 May 2011
    5:24 pm
  3. Looking for Death records of Pedro Francisco Vasquez Revada . Born 1734 . In Lugo, Spain . Move To Texas in 1800. Died in texas but unable to find death date . Where do I start to look for grave for great grand father. Thank you for information.

    Claudette Floyd 09 May 2011
    4:14 pm
  4. I am researching the Dugan Lineage. I have a little bit of info. I am pretty sure they came over from Ireland. Dont know for sure. If anyone can help, I would appreciate it. Not just where they came from, but any of the Dugan family. The first name I have is Charles William Dugan. Thanks

    Sonya Dugan 07 April 2011
    6:14 pm
  5. I would like to know why the only cenc. you have is 1930?

    Ralph H. Leidy 01 April 2011
    7:47 pm
  6. Milas Fink and Elsie Polk Thompson were not married on Oct. 29, 1911. Elsie Polk Thompson was the mother of my Grandfather. His father died when my Grandfather was 14 years old. He was born in 1898, so my Great Grandfather Ebenezer Thompson didnt die until after 8/5/1912. Vital Records in NC are hard to come by for this time period. When I find the true date of his death and the true date of marriage of Elsie and Milas Fink, I will updater further. Thank you

    Bev researching Thompson and Fink names in North Carolina 29 March 2011
    6:14 pm
  7. INDEXING ERROR THAT NEEDS FIXING.... United States Census, 1880 for Robert Richardson Name Robert Richardson Residence Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Birthdate1788 Birthplace Virginia, United States Relationship to Head Father Spouses Name Spouses Birthplace Fathers Name Fathers Birthplace Virginia, United States Mothers Name Mothers Birthplace Virginia, United States Race or Color (Expanded) Black Ethnicity (Standardized) American Gender Male Martial Status Widowed Age (Expanded) 92 years Occupation NARA Film NumberT9-1169 Page 309 Page Character D Entry Number 1744 Film number 1255169 Household, Gender, Age, Child Mary Richardson, F, 43 Robert Hill, M, 23 Margarett Hill, F, 22 Leda Richardson, F, 20 Olivia Hill, F, 6M Robert Richardson, M, 92 THE INDEXING SHOULD READ AS FOLLOWS... United States Census, 1880 for Robert Hill Name Robert Hill (father of Mary A. Richardson + William Hill) Residence Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Birthdate1788 Birthplace Virginia, United States Relationship to Head Father of Mary A. Richardson Spouses Name Spouses Birthplace Fathers Name Fathers Birthplace Virginia, United States Mothers Name Mothers Birthplace Virginia, United States Race or Color (Expanded) Black Ethnicity (Standardized) American Gender Male Martial Status Widowed Age (Expanded) 92 years Occupation NARA Film NumberT9-1169 Page 309 Page Character D Entry Number 1744 Film number 1255169 Household, Gender, Age, Child Mary Richardson, F, 43 (widow and Head of Household) Robert Hill, M, 23 (brother of Head) Margarett Hill, F, 22 (sister-in-law of Head) Leda Hill, F, 2 (daughter of Robt + Margaret Hill) Olivia Hill, F, 6M (daughter of Robt + Margaret Hill) Robert Hill, M, 92 (father of Head)

    Clive Haddock 27 March 2011
    5:11 pm
  8. Interesting point you bring up. How do you get to the real story, when everyone has a different one, and the records arent there to prove or disprove a story? For instance, my mothers birth certificate has the wrong middle name for her father. The name on the birth certificate is using her grandfathers middle name, not her fathers. Yes, there are some stories that would make this a very hurtful thing to dig into. Are some things better left alone?

    Sheryl Parsons 21 March 2011
    9:30 am
  9. I investigated a family story....turns out my 2nd great grandfather wasnt a bigamist

    Sarah 21 March 2011
    2:11 am
  10. I know very well that my mother was born in Frankfort, Kansas on May 4, 1916. Also that she married Lawrence R. Sparling who was born in Missouri. My mother died in February 1988. So why doesnt any of this information come up on any of your programs?

    Valerie Appleton 18 March 2011
    10:11 pm
  11. Am looking for relatives by name of Stewart. Or some info about Arbroth, Scotland.

    kay STEWART 15 March 2011
    10:24 am
  12. My father and mother got married in lane south carline her mother got the known 40th acker and mule after salvery. my mother attended school up to the 3th grade. However,my great grandmother on my father side recived the thing but she also got the plantation house.

    Ruebin shaw 14 March 2011
    4:39 am
  13. My grandfather was Allen shaw and his wife was mary shaw, but his great grandmother was a slave on two diffrent faimlys. one was the White family and the was the Shaw family.

    Ruebin shaw 14 March 2011
    4:27 am
  14. I as suprised to notice that the marjority of the library staff showing the records to the person in pursuit of family history do not wear the white cotton gloves while handling the historical documents and books. I was always told this was very essential to assist in perserving the documents as the body oilscan cause further damage to the documents. The assistance of knowing where to look was very rewarding.

    Anna Knaebel 13 March 2011
    6:30 pm
  15. Yes, this site is so good and we can do a lot of things

    William Corrêa 13 March 2011
    8:42 am
  16. how can you furnish a correction on records you personaly know are incorrect

    dianne lecroy white 09 March 2011
    7:08 pm
  17. It is important to verify, to learn the real story. ...and research, Id venture almost inevitably, can and will re-write many of those family traditions...most times welcomed, sometimes regretfully. And oh those skeletons just waiting to be uncovered.

    Brklyn Bridge 09 March 2011
    10:06 am

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