In business since 1996
- Krause House Info-Research Solutions -




Lynda Jean Richards, b. Rimmer, m. Krause










I should note here that in 1989, during a six week tour and visit to the Soviet Union, Elva and I met members of a Woytovich family in the village of Strelno in Belorussia where I was born, but they claimed not to be related to Pavlo and his brother, Ivan. Some of the villagers had been notified through relatives of a friend of mine (Lida /Lagodich / Baggs of Kingston, Ont.) that we would be coming, and a half dozen ladies met us, including Anna Alexandrovna Woytovich and her husband, and Ooliana Michaelovna Woytovich, who claimed to have been my baby sitter when I lived there. We were surprised and overwhelmed to meet them, but also somewhat embarrassed that we had not thought about some kind of gifts or even chocolates to pass around. One of our bags temporarily left behind at the hotel in Brest was packed with gifts of clothing for my many second cousins in Russia, and I had no idea whom I might meet in Strelno. Besides, the jet lag and difficulties in getting to the village from Warsaw had apparently left us mentally sluggish.

Anna showed us through her log house which looked as if it had been there for a hundred years, but said that the original house that I lived in had been moved, and that this one was constructed in its place. It had the same old fashioned brick oven that I remembered, and the little pond where the kids skated during the winters in the 1920's was still there across the street from our house. Much had changed, of course. They had indoor plumbing, a TV set and radio, but no car. A combine lumbered along the dusty unpaved street while we were there, on its way to the collective farm where the villagers worked. The ladies that met us that afternoon were dressed in simple peasant clothes, as if they had just taken a break from harvesting in the fields. In response to my question about how they liked the farm work, Anna's husband said that there were too many bosses and not enough workers. It had been decided to combine their farm with another one to improve efficiency, but the expected improvement did not occur because the management and supervisory staff had not been reduced.

What bothered me later about the visit was that we had not been invited to have a snack or cup of tea, which was not at all in the Ukrainian tradition. Out west in Saskatchewan and also in Welland, mother would always bring out or offer something for guests before they departed, and other Ukrainian families that we knew did likewise. At first I thought that perhaps it was because they were subjected to the fallout from the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, and didn't want to offer us irradiated food. Or perhaps they felt restrained by the presence nearby of the Intourist driver who had brought us there in an official car, for he might have been suspected of being a government agent. Since coming across Pavlo Woytovich's letter to father about his brother Ivan's unpaid debt, however, I began to wonder if perhaps the Woytoviches there were actually my relatives, but were embarrassed to admit it in case I knew about that past history. Anna told me that Ivan had no family, but that might have been a cover up. Perhaps if she thought that I knew about Ivan's debt, she decided not to treat me as a guest or relative, in case I would bring up the subject. Come to think of it, she had not mentioned her husband's patronymic name, which might have been Ivanovich, in which case he would really be a relative. Getting records there seems to be impossible; the old church documents had been destroyed during the war, and cemetery markers of wood had long since deteriorated. It was suggested that perhaps some office in Pinsk might be of help in getting information about my ancestors, but I haven't taken time to investigate.  ...