Family HIstory

The Old Country: In Nomine Patris

  • September 3, 2018


Upon reaching senescense, we tend to look back on our lives and begin to ask questions of ourselves. Questions we might have asked of our forebears when they were alive – not that they would have come up with any answers either. Questions like: “where did we come from?”; “what were our forebears like?”; “who were they?”; “what did they do for a living?”; “who are we?”; and ultimately; “what is that?”

Potential responses to these queries are often obscured by the weight of the years measured by the sheer volume of the accumulated baggage we drag along with us; the personal effects, memorabilia and property that one “owns” or has accumulated, commingled with memories that form a state of self-awareness that we construct over time by just being alive, one which we gradually empower, identify with, inhabit, become, and eventually wear as our name.

And in the process of internalizing such externalities, this baggage can become an adjunct of our personalities and in turn brand us, like the iPhones we stare into 150 times a day or the team jacket or the corporate t-shirt or the Gosia Baczynska (a surname to store in your memory palace) designer clothing we drape ourselves in, because as we embrace these accessories; the things, the ideas, the affectations, the prejudices, the desires, and even the people we have also christened with a name, we must admit to ourselves that they can in fact define us; a “Social Imperative” if we were to give it a moniker, that even if acknowledged can in effect personify us as well.  So personally, this compulsion to “know” myself — inhabit my name — has propelled me across ten time zones to “The Old Country” in an attempt to find substance and meaning in the identity I inhabit by examining who and what my antecedents were: the Past pointing to the Present morphing into the Future probing Finitude.

Likewise, in an age in which the perception of self in the context of external events, filtered though instanteous social feedback loops that are becoming more often than not algorithmically manipulated by minions of what author Shoshana Zuboff calls “surveillance capitalism”; neoliberal agents personified by big data tech and social media firms such as Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Palantir, and Facebook, whom not only deploy predictive algorithms to manipulate one’s perception of a universe seemingly composed of sets of often conflicting “facts”, but also use the results of those perceptions, scraped from everyday digital transactions and encounters, to forecast both group and individual behavior patterns within the real world – in her words being “informated“.  Thus each of us has to determine whether or not this self-image, manufactured from accumulated memories, imposed perceptions and accumulated physical possessions, which we have given our name to, coupled with the veneer we have cloaked ourselves in socially as our “identity”, is in essence either a singularity or a chimera; Fact or Fiction. This act of “Faith” – in who we are and/or what we have become along with the name we inhabit – burdened by the hubris of just being alive – might in fact just be a folk tale [байка] as well, created via a media-fabricated, pan-endemic, economically-driven addiction for seeking validation through what or whom we “possess” or are possessed by; a state in which we are compelled to derive selfhood solely from our perceived socio-economic status as individuals, and not collectively as members of the human race.

“We can no longer tell the difference between illusion and reality; indeed when a version of reality is not verified on our electronic screens and by our reality manipulators it does not exist. The skillful creation of illusion and the manipulation of our emotional response, actions that profit the elites to our financial and political detriment, have seeped into religion, education, journalism, politics and culture. They solidify mob rule and magical thinking.”

——— Chris Hedges. 12/17/2018.

Having originally been schooled (read indoctrinated) at a preparatory academy by The Soldiers of Christ — better known as The Society of Jesus or simply Jesuits – much like the recently beatified and “honorable” Justice Brett Kavanaugh — my subsequent journey through Life – as for most of us – has expanded consciousness to embrace the possible, broadened horizons to confront the unknown, and deepened compassion for the frailty and foibles of humanity, during which I’ve been fortunate to meet and befriend Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, Jews, Animists, Commies, Capitalists, and even one or two Evangelicals. Thus given that at its core theocracy is predominantly patriarchal, I am resigned to the fact that billions of humans from all walks of Life embrace religion as a significant part of their lives, which is one reason why I’ve evolved into an agnostic hoping for peace, parity, and relief from precarity. After all, Life is all about the journey not the destination which by the way, is Earth and most assuredly not Heaven..

I read somewhere that each of us is exposed to more than 400 discreet messages each day, specifically designed and targeted to get us to buy more paraphernalia we can’t possibly live without. Case in point; since the advent of the Mass Media, personally I’ve been exposed to more than 9.5 million (and counting) such messages. I’ve been programmed to be an ardent consumer, and so have all of us. So it is way past time to start examining ourselves and begin answering some self-referencing questions, set about dumping the bullshit, rid ourselves of emotional and physical baggage, and commence living in our own skin.  Sounds a bit like channeling Tony Robbins, no?

“Take That Bullshit, and Turn It Into Good Shit!

—- Fantastic Negrito

Well, the physical volume of my affectations is a fact – recently housed in a rat-infested storage locker – consisting of personal items that carried an association with memories of how I defined myself in the Past; an “identity” that begged for divestiture if I’m to invoke any Future during the remainder of my dotage. Part of this planned divestiture process was to be the passing on to others – selectively – the treasured items from life in the hopes that these priceless items would bear some semblance of their intrinsic value for the potential receivers as they had for the giver; one part of the tautological aspects of “Faith”.  One could argue that Faith is intrinsically a tautology — a self-fulfilling prophecy in that the very act of believing in a construct and repeatedly vocalizing this credo validates its reality for the faithful.  But then the opposite could be possible as well – like not believing in the holocaust or adopting a libertarian’s view of “big” government that could have the effect of making both disappear from the consciousness of the faithless.  Paradoxically, an equally compelling meme might be that the presumption of letting go will somehow set us free of the need for empowering objets de désir with Faith at all.  Yup.  Trust vs Lust: Humanity’s dilemma.

Autographed books and ephemera have always been inherently of particular value to this kazkar – not the least because I’ve have actually met and talked with many of the authors, even making friends with a few in the process. Plus I believe that the significance one attaches to these possessions likely has something to do with being either in touch with or in the presence of or the beneficiary of the creative process. The act of creation is an enthralling experience; akin to bringing a new Life into the world;  having ideas pop into your head when reading a passage from a book, viewing or shooting a video, listening to an incendiary Coltrane solo, or just composing a blog; seemingly engendered from the ether, or another Life stream, or an alternative universe, or from a conversation with a close friend, or seminal experiences from the distant past. Sometimes while reviewing part of a project, I’ll pause to wonder:  “Where did that come from?” I know, I know. Remember the old adage; “steal from one, it’s plagiarism; steal from many, it’s research”?

This connate sensation of being aligned with the creative process is at once humbling, mesmerizing, enlightening, inspirational, and visceral; much like looking into the eyes of the woman you love or upon first meeting one you are extremely attracted with. Yeah, that has always lit me up. Looking into her face – your whole world for an instant – you experience a rush of physical excitement because your Body senses the presence of ultimate creativity – a Vessel of Life; even though your Mind might not yet comprehend that what you are really staring into is the Face of Eternity. And this experience, verily I say unto you brethren, is as close as we mortal males will ever come to comprehending immortality. Fact.


Now, perhaps as a reaction to and envious of this conundrum, we males felt compelled to invent an alt-eternity belief system — “theology” — a concept that the universe (and the meme “Reality”) is a figment of the imagination of an all-knowing, immutable, immortal, and omni-present “intelligent designer” — and in a flash of brazen conceit gave this construct a white male human visage.

Wrap your head around it. We are all here because of a woman. All of us. And really, women do not need men in order to create babies. Women are fierce and powerful creatives to be nurtured and revered simply because the perpetuation of Human Life depends upon women being around – for Eternity. What could be more visceral? Stare into those eyes and be mesmerized guys. It is likely that women in fact could be the actual intelligent designers. See where these questions can lead?

Hmmm. So this begs another question, why then have men become so proficient in destroying the very essence of their limited biological function? The answer is “hubris”; to be fair a potentially fatal character flaw unfortunately not confined to gender. Why take the blame for causing the demise, destruction, and destitution of entire cultures when it can be validated as a “god’s will”? “Why worry? It’s cool. It’s our Destiny”.  Take the origins of the nascent United States.

You recall the slogan “Manifest Destiny”; an Anglo-Saxon inspired expansionist ideology of racial exceptionalism that was at least partially responsible for the genocide and eradication of the indegenous cultures and the expropriation of their land — not only in what was to become the United States, but the entire continents of North, Central and South “America” — somewhere close to 80 million lives. (Yes, patriots. The appellation “America” (an honorific for an Italian cartographer) is actually three geographical components of two continents, not just one country.)

“And that claim is by the right of our manifest destiny to overspread and to possess the whole of the continent which Providence has given us for the development of the great experiment of liberty and federated self-government entrusted to us.”

— John L. Sullivan 1845.

My internal “parrhesiastes” (just don’t get me started), dictates bringing up the meme surrounding the so-called spiritually aware nature of our “founding fathers”; a group comprised of elites, many of whom were slave owners or had indentured servants, and who professed to believe in an egalitarian society as long as it was controlled by an enlightened class endowed with a divinity’s blessings. Take for instance George Washington, the revered “father of our country”, whose surname is a namesake for both our Capitol and a State. He became rich along with other colonials after forming a “well-regulated militia”, deploying it to enslave and murder the indigenous inhabitants of surrounding territories, steal their land, then sell it to other “suitable” colonials.

“The Land Ordinance of 1785 established a centralized system for surveying and distributing land, with seized Native lands being auctioned off to the highest bidder. The “Northwest” (referring to the Ohio country) Ordinance of 1787 set forth a colonization procedure for annexation via military occupation, transforming to civilian territorial status under federal control, and finally, statehood.

“The maps contained in the land ordinances, which laid out land in marketable square-mile plots, were not new; they were the products of pre-Revolutionary colonial elites, including George Washington, who as leader of the Virginia militia took armed surveying teams illegally into Ohio country, making him one of the most successful land speculators in the colonies. The wealthiest colonists were all speculators; acquiring land and enslaving people provided the very basis of the economy of the first nation born as a capitalist state, and by 1850, it was the wealthiest economy in the world.”

Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz. Loaded: A Disarming History of the Second Amendment (City Lights Open Media) (p. 34). City Lights Publishers. Kindle Edition.

And as a result this guy has his visage carved on a mountain in what was once “indian” territory. What does that alone say about this country’s obsession with white male supremacy?

This xenophobic (read omnicidal) behavior “in sooth” comes from a species that is essentially an infant in Earth’s geological time frame — not even half a million years old — yet so narcissistic and unable to “see” beyond the nose on its face (if that far); a breed that in fact is able to conceive of its social paradigms and moral standards only when masked in its own image and created for its own benefit, validated by an imprimatur from a “Providence” whom can conveniently be both credited and blamed for the consequences. This is what being “human” has become and why humans – a finite species – will never comprehend the factors of its own demise let alone such concepts as Infinity and Eternity. Thus by extension, the human construct of an intelligent designer is just as vacuous. We’re just not that bright because if we were, we wouldn’t be facing the Sixth Mass Extinction. Fact.

I challenge the readers here to at least come up with an alternative viewpoint or to prove me wrong (hoping privately that I am). I mean it is way past Time for Life Creators to take charge — before it is too late so I nominate womenkind. Just herd all of the guys into a bar somewhere, stuff them with nachos and chicken wings, and make them watch re-runs of Game of Thrones or the World Cup. That should get them riled up enough to be potent sperm donors, no question.

Anyway, I really just hope at this point that you’re still reading this post because going around the block sometimes is preferable to taking a shortcut through the alley — something I learned personally in my youth an eternity ago on Detroit’s East Side when, after dashing through our backyard into the alley in pursuit of the Good Humor ice cream truck one Summer afternoon, I impaled my foot on a nail protruding from a castaway two-by-four. Of course at that tender age, I was very impressionable. Once after viewing an episode of Superman (The Man of Steel) on our new 12 inch Motorola TV, I wrapped a silk table throw around my shoulders and jumped off the roof of the garage believing I could fly. Hubris (and the innate power of the Mass Media).


So now you know why (among other mishaps) I walk so funny, which is also why I have trouble physically keeping up with the women in my Life (mentally is a completely different discussion although ultimately with similar results), so much so that I have to admit to myself that women are just too smart and fast for me (perhaps because genetically they have to be). A case in point — documented in our previous posts — is traipsing along (both mentally and physically) in the wake my travel guide Diana Borysenko while she took over the search of State archives in Lviv and Ternopil… foraged through the cemeteries in Burkaniv and Zolotnyky (see below), digging up evidence on the names of our Ukrainian ancestors: the Babijs (Babiys), the Palychatas, the Chudas (Khudas), and the Lemiszkas (and as The Grid will reveal, far more).

Okay, the kazkar in me also cannot resist yet another story, one that I trust will help illustrate both how and why we all should express our admiration for Diana’s creativity and thank her for the time and effort she has devoted to us so far. Now, be sure to take notes because there’ll be a quiz at the end of class. Whomever is the first relative to get everything right gets a Pysanka. (News flash! We have a winner! See below.)

A TALE [Казка].

Diana had planned an excursion that would eventually take us back to the villages of Burkaniv and Zolotnyky to check out both cemeteries, then swing South and eventually East to visit Bukovina and Podolia before heading back North to Lviv, a tour that would necessitate a night’s layover in Kamianets-Podilskyi, site of an absolutely spectacular 14th Century castle [See our galleries on these sites]. It had rained the day before while we had hung around Lviv and attended a Chinese Embassy cultural event that featured a theatrical troupe and from Beijing along with local performers promoting economic ties between the two countries.

So bright and early on a Friday morning we set off in “Mary” headed initially for the 70 km trip to Zolotnyky and nearby Burkaniv. After leaving the primary route between Lviv and Ternopil, the GPS directed us onto a rural two-lane road that wound through forests, farmland and pastures where we were the sole vehicle for what seemed kilometers, motoring through an area so remote that we encountered few living creatures other than a gaggle of geese and a couple of chumaks toking on cigarettes as we zipped by them and on to our destination.

I should pause the narrative a bit to mention a couple of things; one being the physical quality of cemeteries in both villages and the second being what we were looking for in them — namely tombstones bearing our extended family surnames which were in Ukrainian – exclusively of course. As you can readily see by checking out the cemetery photo galleries, both cemeteries – Burkaniv especially – were overgrown with fresh green ground cover due to recent rains, which made searching for grave markers a bit more difficult because you had to be very careful where you placed your feet since the foliage was still damp and thick enough to cover old or abandoned gravesites that had no markers.

Plus there was another potential physical impediment to our progress; the possibility of encountering rodents and snakes, hidden among the weeds and tall grass. Of course none of this mattered to Diana who, once we arrived at the Zolotnyky necropolis, set off sure-footed among the tombstones and ankle deep foliage in search our family markers. And when she found one, she would point out its location for me before plunging back into the underbrush in search of another. Fearless.

So what again were we looking for? Well, gravesites that bear inscriptions identifying the remains of either a Babiy (Бaбій), or a Chuda (Худа), or a Palychata (Палихата), or a Lemiszka (Лемисзка), that’s what. Now we have to keep in mind that each of these surnames — in fact all surnames in both boneyards — inscribed on the grave makers are patronyms. In every case a tombstone is inscribed with the paternal surname of the deceased — not the maiden surname (which in fact is also a patronym). This is another way of stating that culturally a woman derives her socio-economic status solely from her relationship to a male, either a companion or a forebear which, if you’re a Бабій, can be both as we will see later on.

Okay. We know that one of our paternal great grandmothers was named Kseniya (Lenka) Lemiszka – Gramma Anna Chuda’s mother. The other was Grampa Ivan’s mother — a Maria Palychata. Among the archival records for the Pidhaytsi Region that Diana has found so far, there have been many “Maria Palychatas” over time, both because “Maria” is a very common given name here and there are a lot of Palychatas in Zolotnyky.

As fate would have it, while I was busy shooting a short panoramic clip of the Zolotnyky burial ground, Diana called out to me: “James. What is the given name of your great grandmother Palychata?” “Maria”, I answered. Turning off the camera, I gingerly made my way over to where Diana was standing alongside a woman of about 60, dressed in black with a black babushka covering her head. I turned the camera back on and Diana introduced the woman as “Maria Palychata” — her maiden name. No kidding. It turns out that she had just buried her husband nine days previously after a lengthy illness, so she was still in morning, but having heard from Diana that I was most likely kin, was thoughtful enough to suggest we contact her father – a Palychata who was in his eighties – to see if he had any information to offer about his antecedents. After talking with him over the phone. Diana confided that he could not be of any help in reaching back more than 100 years, evidently afflicted by the same ancestral tabula rasa miasma as myself that only data provided by a missing generation or by happenstance gleaned from the State archives could fill in.

In our previous post “The Old Country – Salt of The Earth” we explored the direct links to our family lineage found and recorded by Diana from both the Ternopil and Lviv State Archives; but she also uncovered a great many marriage, birth, and death entries in those Greek Orthodox Church folios that contained references to others bearing our Slavic extended family patronyms, so many in fact that the sheer presence of these records — even in the absence of any direct lineage ties — invites speculation as to possible ancestral connections — so guess what we’re gonna do. We’re going to embellish Facts with some Fiction and Faith.

But first we’ll use some scientific methodology to examine and parse these relevant surnames. It’s called “onomastics” — the study of the origin of proper names. When scanning these archival documents — inscribed in ornate yet often indecipherable longhand — in Latin, no less — you tend to focus on surnames since that’s why you’re looking at these tomes in the first place and in the second place there are time constraints. The archives do have “office hours” so you have to be both efficient and thorough which is as concise a description of how Diana works as anything. It is only afterwards, when you have “unlimited” time and the mental and physical space to actually examine what was recorded in those 19th and early 20th Century logs that you begin to discover other bits and pieces of information that the scribe who recorded the events in question deemed important enough to enter in the record.

Take for instance whether a child’s birth/baptism was “legitimate” or not and if not what was the mother’s occupation. In some instances she might be listed as “serva” or maid to “nobility” (surely a misnomer) and hence mistress to the lord of the house at least until a baby was conceived.

Or in the case of a marriage, who the witnesses were including the parentage of both celebrants and notations as where and when the “bans of marriage” had been announced (you know the whole “if anyone should object to this union, let him step forward or forever hold his peace” piece).

But for me what stood out in these painstakingly recorded, stored, and (now) well preserved logs of parochial events were the names — and not just surnames that as above are often the center of our attention, but the given names as well. So what do they “mean”?

For the male gender, aside from the ubiquitous Joannes (Іван) “gracious”; Gregorii (Григорій) or “watchful”; Basilius or Vasily (Василь) meaning “royal”; Paulus or Pavlo (Павло) interpreted as “rare”; Petrus or Petro (Петро) meaning “rock”, Ignatius [Ґнат] meaning “ardent” or “fiery”] ; there also are given names honoring Greek gods or Orthodox Christian martyrs executed by the Romans. For males there are names like Panteleimon [meaning “All Compassionate”] , Onesimus [meaning “Beneficial” or “Profitable”], Onuphrius [meaning “He who is Good” or “He who is Happy”], Procopius [meaning “Progress”], and Dionysius [meaning “Bright” or “Divine”]; and Thecla (Theoklea in Greek); Parascaevia (Paraskeve in Greek) meaning “Preparation”, Tatianna (Roman origin, honoring Saint Tatiana) meaning “Fairy Queen”, and Apollonia (Apollo) for females.

The more popular female given names are Maria (Марія) or “beloved”; Anna (Анна) meaning “grace”; Anastasia coming from the Greek word anastasis (ἀνάστασις), meaning “resurrection”; Magdalena (Маґдалена) after Mary Magdalene; Catharina or Kateryna (Катерина) meaning “pure”; Ahaphia or Agatha from the Ancient Greek word ἀγαθός meaning “good”; and the very popular and also very pertinent Kseniya (Ксенія) which is the Russian equivalent of the Ukrainian Oksana [Окса́на] and the Greek Xenia [ξενία] meaning “hospitality”.

Last names can have “meanings” as well, not only having as its source a paternal lineage, but also can derive its etymology from the first name of a male progenitor; as in for instance the Irish surname “O’Brian” — literally “of Brian” or the Russian “Ivanovich” — “from Ivan” or the Scandanavian Johanssen – “John’s son” or take our guide Diana’s surname “Borysenko” — “enko” being an appendage unique to Ukraine originating from the Cossack era that signified a court-favored social status for the family given it — in this case the family of Borys or Boris which means “fighter” (which in Diana’s case is quite relevant). So this is more evidence of why patriarchy plays such a strong role in how a culture perceives itself, something we as Babiys evidently cannot hide behind since the moniker бабій has been culturally associated with being “somehow” pre-occupied with women (babas). Just check out our earlier post on the Babiy surname.

On the subject of “ancestor” the Wiki claims:

“Some research suggests that the average person has twice as many female ancestors as male ancestors. This might have been due to the past prevalence of polygynous relations and female hypergamy.”

Hmmm. “Marrying up” and polygynous as in polygamy is okay — but not polyandry? Meaning “what’s good for the gander, is not good for the goose”? For me this Wiki reads a little like the recent story of a corrupt politician caught with his pants down and his fingers where the Sun doesn’t shine who then put the blame for it all on his wife in effect admitting that she was the only responsible person in the relationship. Men can be such pussies.

Have you heard this before ladies? You can skip this “name game” part and come back for the fun stuff where we bring up the possibility of incest and/or mate-swapping. Do you recall that berry-picking couple in Dolyna dishing about a local “бабій” in our second blog about Babij Mountain? (I meant it about note-taking.)

The point here is that these Orthodox Church archives — as well as literally all genealogical sites — are set up to track paternal surnames when documenting the lineage of families, as if deigned by ‘intelligent” design both culturally and theocratically (since god is supposed to be male, I guess). Females — even though we humans can apparently be related to twice as many as our male antecedents — tend to get “lost” in the “trees” strictly because of how the “Name Game” is structured. And while we’re at it, why not ask how it could be different. Seriously, what would feminine surnames and a system that kept track of them be like? But let’s agree not to use names associated either with celebrities, movies, or song lyrics.

Okay, we already (or should) know about “Babiy” and from Daniel, a neighbor down my street who is from Poland — which is right next door to and was once included in the Western half of Galicia — we found out that “Chuda” (pronounced Khh-yoo-dah) means “thin” or “skinny” or “sickly” so its origins are most likely Polish; as are probably those of the Palychata (pronounced Pal-ee-kha-ta) clan which means someone with curly hair (“poly” or many “hats” or curls). The origins of Koslowska are probably similar or related to a place name, and Lemiszka (lem-ee-zh-ka) could refer to members of the family of Lem, among them a Stanislaw Lem who was a very famous Polish science fiction writer whose most famous work is Solaris. However the latter assumption is likely just another байка.

FACT AND FABLE (Факт і Байка).

Also in our post “The Old Country: Salt of The Earth” we documented the search for and discovery of a paternal lineage that stretches back to the turn of the 19th Century. Through the diligence and resourcefulness of our guide and translator Diana Borysenko, we found direct links via Panteleimon Babiy and his four siblings, to their parents Ignatius [Ignat] Babiy and Magdalena Kurys whose short-lived daughter Catharina (5 months) provided the key link to Ignatius’s parents Thomas Babiy and Anastasia Baczynska as well as Magdalena’s forebears Thomas Kurys and Helena Grochowina, all from the village of Burkaniv (then Borkanow) in the Pidhaytsi (Podhajce) region of Ternopil (Tarnopol) oblast.

A subsequent review of the photos Diana took from both the Ternopil and Lviv State archives disclosed that not only Thomas and Anastasia, but both Ignatius and Magdalena plus Panteleimon and his spouse Maria Palychata had contemporaries with the same surnames but who, with the exception of Panteleimon, sadly revealed no direct links either to siblings, cousins, offspring or in the case of Thomas, antecedents. Anastasia, however, again courtesy of her grand daughter Catharina’s birth record [see photo] had a partial notation as to her father’s given name which we subsequently were able to confirm as “Thomas” and her mother’s as “Helena Grochowina”. And as we intimated before, the distaff side of the tree gets lost in the forest often with oblique references to parentage in a death or birth record, albeit with typically a bit more lineage branches in the case of a marriage.

LEMISZKA (Лемисзка).

The earliest record Diana found on a Lemiszka is the marriage of Josephus Babij (37) [see photo] , son of a Joannes (John I) Babij and a Maria Lemiszka to Brigida Furkiewicz (18) on 18 February 1849, which would mean John (I) and Maria were married at least as early as 1811 and probably born sometime in the late 18th Century. This is also the earliest record we have of a Babiy, making John (I) a contemporary of Thomas Babiy. Just as an aside, by “contemporary” we mean “possibly related”; as in an antecedent, a sibling, a cousin, or offspring as yet un-documented.

A few months later we have the marriage of an Andreas Lemiszka (18) to an Anna Pomsta (16) on 11 November 1849, listing the groom’s parents as Procopii Lemiszka and Sophia Babij meaning that they in turn were married by at least 1830 and born around the turn of the 19th Century as well which extends the possibility that Procopii and Maria Lemiszka (above) could be closely related.

Next we have to skip a generation to view the birth of Alexius Lemiszka to Francisius and Anna Krysko on 25 October 1863. Francisius was the son of Mathaei Lemiszka and Catharina Swinko whose mother was Natalie Chuda. This meant that Francisius & Anna were married at least by 1862 and probably born in the 1840’s placing Mathaei and Catharina’s births sometime in the early 1800’s thus making Mathaei and Procopii (above) contemporaries.

Lastly there is the death of a Maria Lemiszka (II) on 10 March 1911 at the age of 20 whose parents were Theodori Lemiszka and Catharina Bojkowska. That’s it. So far no direct or indirect linkages to either a Paul or Kseniya or Lenka or Xenia Lemiszka who would have been born sometime in the 1860’s or 1870’s and make either Alexius and/or Theodori a possible close relative to Kseniya.

You get the picture now. These records can lead you up, down and sideways spanning a timeline of more than 100 years for two agrarian villages with a combined population of less than 5,000 souls as of the end of the 19th Century.

PALYCHATA (Палихата).
Compared to deaths and marriages, we didn’t find as many birth records for Palychatas, but that may have more to do with our sampling process than the actual term of events.

Diana found the earliest Palychata record to date in the Lviv Archive depicting the marriage of Gregorius Palychata (35) [see photo], son of Basilius (I) Palychata and Barbara Byto to a Thecla Krupa, daughter of Basilii Krupa and Maria Michaliszyn on 4 July 1849, effectively meaning that Basilius (I) and Barbara were married at least by 1813 and born sometime during the last 2 decades of the 18th Century. Gregorius and Thecla would have a daughter Joanna, born on 10 May 1856 whose midwife was a Martianna Lemiszka.

Then there is the marriage of Dionysius Palychata (21) [see photo], son of Basilius (II) and Barbara Sicorelski, to Apolonia (I) Koslowska [Kozlowski] (16), daughter of Valentini and Magdalena Burko, on 8 February 1850 which initially caused some excitement. First because Basilius (II) and Barbara would have married by 1828 at the latest plus they would also be of early 19th Century vintage making the two Basiliuses [Basiliii?] contemporaries. Second and more importantly, remember that our 2nd Great Grandmother Apollonia (II) Koslowska would have been married to Onesimus Palychata near the same time frame in order to have given birth to daughter Maria for she in turn to have conceived her first child who would tragically be stillborn and nameless in 1890.

This alternative line does not hold water however, since Dionysius and Apolonia (I) did indeed have a daughter, Petronella, born on 3 July 1860 [see photo] but sadly Apolonia (I) would pass away on Christmas Eve (Gregorian Calendar) 1862 at the age of 28. It might be plausible that our Apollonia (II) could also be the daughter of Dionysius & Apolonia (I) but her father would have had to change his name from Dionysius to Onesimus and there is (as yet) no record of our Apollonia’s birth nor that of an Onesimus Palychata (her husband) in the 1860’s time span.

There was another record of a marriage dated 12 June 1870 between Elias Palychata (20), son of Stephanus and Julia Kosowicz, and Maria Bojkowski (18), daughter of Lymonis and Anastasia Skuszka which meant that Stephanus and Julia married by 1849 at the latest and were probably born sometime in the 1820’s.

Then there were the deaths. Diana and I looked at a lot of them especially in the Ternopil Archives. The plan was to search for records that would indicate when Paul Chuda passed away, since family oral history had it that he was deceased by the time his daughter Anna at 18 emigrated to Ellis Island in 1913. More on that later. Along the way Diana shot pictures of a trove of Palychata death notices, the earliest being that of a Magdalena Palychata, stillborn daughter of Romani Palychata and Magdalena Zara on 4 August 1865. Plus Romani Palychata – or perhaps a namesake – lost two sons within a three year span: a Joannes (John) at 66 on 15 December 1910 and a Nicolaeis at 64 on 27 June 1913 who was married to a Tatianna Kosowicz for more than 40 years. This would make both Joannes and Nicolaeis contemporaries of Elias (above) who would have been born in 1850. So there is a lot of empty space yet to fill.

CHUDA (Худа).

A quick view of our little database sorted for births with the last name “Chuda” reveals eight Annas, including our Gramma Anna, whose birth record [see photo] was recently obtained from the Ternopil archives. The list also includes her cousin, our “Aunt” Anna Chuda (Popenik) whose father Philippius was probably born in the 1860’s; plus an Anna who died in 1911 at 47 also of mid 19th Century origins (1864); then two Annas, each born to contemporary relatives of both Anna (1864) and Philippius, both girls born in May of 1894; next the earliest Anna born on 31 January 1850 to Theodorus (I) Chuda, son of Andreas Chuda and Anastasia Srebvna, and a Maria Puszkarz daughter of Skochi and Julianna Cruciko, making Andreas and Anastasia turn of the 19th Century vintage; next the “Seventh” Anna born in 1904 to Maria Jurkiw and Basilius Chudawait for itson of Paul Chuda and Xenia Lemiszka making him a sibling of Gramma Anna’s and our Great Uncle. Lastly, the latest Anna was born on 10 October 1909 but who died 6 months later her parents being Timothaei Chuda and Thecla Wujeczeso who were probably born in the 1880’s.

Then we have the elusive Paul Chuda who likely as not was born sometime in the 1860’s, qualifying a whole slew of documented Chudas uncovered by Diana as his possible contemporaries, beginning with Philippius, “Aunt” Anna’s father. There is the above cited Anna (1864) who died in 1911. Then there is an Andreas, married to an Anna Lemiszka who gave birth to a Petrus (1892) and Vladimirius (1912); a Theodorus (II), married to Maria Galanty who gave birth to Catharina (1892) and Joannes (1890); a Stephanus, married to Anna Boyko who gave birth to four children all in the 1890’s; an Elias, whose parents Theodorus (I) and Maria Puszkarsz gave him siblings Josepha (1964) and Anna (1850) above, who was married to Helena Baruk who in turn gave birth to one of the 1894 Annas; a Gregorius (II) Chuda, son of Romani and Pelagiae Galanty who also gave him a sister Ahaphia, who was married to a Maria Saniocka who in turn gave birth to the second 1894 Anna; and another Gregorius (III) Chuda (1854-1911).

Skip back a generation to the 1830’s where Diana found a Tatianna Chuda, born in 1837 who died in 1911; the afore-mentioned Theodorus (I) Chuda and Romanii Chuda; plus a Danielis Chuda whose son was Gregorius (II); and an Anastasia Chuda all of whom were likely 1830’s contemporaries.

Skipping back another generation to the end of the 18th Century or the first decade of the 19th Century, reveals through an obituary a Maria Chuda who was married to a Simon Chamarizuk who died in 1863 at the age of 70; Andreas Chuda, father of Theodorus (I); and a Gregorii (I) Chuda who was Anastasia’s (1830) father.

Most of the deaths that were documented, save those of Tatianna, Gregorius (III), and Anna (1864) were that of children below the age of three, underscoring the era’s high infant mortality rate for such a sparsely-populated remote community. You can view the archival records of the Chudas in our gallery entitled “Chuda Archives“.

BABIY (Бaбій).

In our earlier post “The Old Country – Salt of The Earth” we examined the ancestral records Diana discovered from both the Ternopil and Lviv State Archives, and via them managed to establish a direct link from a Thomas Babiy and his spouse Anastasia Baczynska, both born sometime around the turn of the 19th Century, down through his son Ignatius and his spouse Magdalenna Kurys, he born on 22 December 1825, through their 1860’s era progeny which included Panteleimon, Grampa Ivan’s (John) father. Well, you can sense where I’m going with this.

Did 3rd Great Grand Dad Thomas have possible contemporary Babiy relatives? Is the Pope Catholic? Okay, so he’s not Greek Orthodox (however in light of current events maybe he and the rest of the Roman rite clergy might consider a switch), but there is a record, documented by Diana that discloses the earliest yet discovered Babiy antecedent whom is… guessed it….a Joannes (John I)….whom had to have been born circa 1785. He was married to a Maria Saniocka — another surname that is prevalent in these archives — probably around 1810 or 1811. The record in question is the chronicle of the marriage of their son Josephus then 37 to Brigida Furkiewicz then 18 in 1849. [See above]

The couple then proceeded to have five children, all girls including two named Catharina (yes – two), as a result paternally speaking, that particular lineage ended with the death of Josephus. So were John I (1785) and Thomas siblings or cousins? Did John I (1785) and Maria have additional offspring? The answer to both is the same. Unknown.

Then there is a Nicolai Babiy, probably born around the same time frame as Thomas but later than John I (1785), whose wife was Anastasia Stephanowicz (1806-1859). They had a daughter Maria (I) (1824-1850) who apparently never married; which by temporal inference (used a lot nowadays especially by recidivists via social media to validate corruption as progress and racism as greatness) segues nicely to the 1830-40’s generation and possible contemporaries of 2nd Great grandparents Ignatius I and Magdalena. And remember my prodding before about taking notes? Things are about to get muy complicado.

Sometimes you have to take two steps forward in order to take one step back which is the case for a Gregorii Babiy, most likely of the same 1830-40’s birth vintage as Ignatius & Magdalena, who married an Anna Lemiszka probably in the 1860’s. Gregorii and Anna had at least one child, another Ignatius (II) [1860] who in turn married an Anna Barabasz. They had two daughters; Magdalena born 4 April 1892 – the godfather being Great Grandfather Panteleimon Babiy; and Thecla [see photo] born in 1895, whose birth record [See image] provides the inspiration for this generation-hopping so necessary in pinpointing Gregorii as a close relative of our 2nd Greats Ignatius I (1825) and Magdalena. You’re still taking notes, right? Because, if you can believe it, these archives take us on an even more convoluted trip…

Okay. We’re back in the 1830’s — 1836 to be precise — when another contemporary of Ignatius (I) was born – a Vincentius Babiy who married Helena Sywulska in 1867 and who died in 1890; leaving no record of offspring nor direct link to anyone else in the Babiy clan. Pretty straightforward. Then there is another Maria (II) Babiy (parents undocumented) born in the 1830-40 time frame who married a Panteleimon Pekielny (or Pekielna) in the 1860’s giving birth to a Sophia who eventually marries a Joannes (John II) Babiy in the 1890’s, giving birth to a Basilius (III) [see photo] in 1893, meaning himself, his father, his mother and his maternal grandmother as it turns out — wait for it — are all Babiys. Isn’t this fun? [No wonder “Бабїй” is the 117th (out of 10,000) most popular surname in Ukraine.]

Still from the temporal perspective of the 1830-40’s; we have yet another Joannes BabiyJohn III — (it’s like the Popes if they were hetero) — born in that time frame, parentage undocumented, who eventually marries an Anastasia Powerh in the 1860’s. They have a son Mathaeus. There is also a Michaelis Babiy (parentage undocumented), born in the same time/space continuum as John III, who also marries in the 1860’s to an Anna Porovczny. They have a daughter Magdalena Babiy who marries Mathaeus Babiy (above) and they have a child Petrus (II) [see photo] born in 1894, meaning both of Petrus’ parents are Babiys – and a little more than kissing cousins. Grab you socks and hold your………tongues ’cause it’s not over yet.

Another contemporary of Ignatius I and Magdalena Kurys — born in the 1830-40 time span — and again with no [as yet] documented parentage — was one Eliae (Elias) Babiy. Eliae married a Maria Huckaluk sometime in the 1860’s and the couple proceeded to have three daughters — Anna, Catharina, and Ahaphia. Anna married an Onesimus Stangret [see photo] in 1882. Catharina married a Petrius Sosnowski in 1892 and they have a son Petrius in 1893. However, sometime in the late 1880’s at least by 1889, by accident or design Onesimus and Ahaphia get together and conceive a daughter Tatiana who is born in 1890. No record of what happened to Anna, Onesimus’s wife and Ahaphia’s sister. The couple also have a son Joannes born in 1892.

But two years later in 1894, Ahaphia — not letting the grass grow between her toes — has another daughter Magdalena [see photo] — but this time by a Dionysius Stangret, Onesimus’s brother or male kin or migrating chumak. My how those бабиси get around..and not just the males either. Правда?

So this has to be one version of how the бабиси “байка” got started..right there in the remote agrarian village of Burkaniv — sort of Ternopil’s version of Peyton Place? I’ve been there, albeit more than 100 years on, but I can tell you all that Diana and I saw were warm, open-hearted town folk and flocks of geese — or on second thought, maybe they were storks? I’ll try to resist blaming it all on the water in the River Strypa.

Okay, now for the quiz. (You thought I was kidding?)

1). What does Pidhaytsi mean? (Hint: you have to read all of these posts.)
2). Who was John IV? (Hint: He was not a pope.)
3). What are the five names for Leo’s Town?
4). What does chuda mean?
5). What does Ahaphia mean?
6). Who are Ruthenians?
7). What does the slavic term “бaбій” imply?
8). What are pigs-in-a-blanket?
9). What is babiyeeka?
10). What does “Galicia” derive its name from?
The first relative who answers all of the questions correctly gets a pysanka. Oh wait. There’s a bonus question: What’s a pysanka?

So why the quiz? Well it’s a test to see if you are actually reading these posts. These posts are about your heritage; about who you are, where you come from, what your lineage is, and how you can easily find our even more by actually visiting the places where it all began. Just think about all the varenyky (pirogi) and borsch you can eat.; chocolates so rich they’ll make your eyes water; museums and cathedrals galore; a Folk Architecture open-air museum and park; 14th Century castles; crafts fairs; music & dance festivals; you name it.

You will have an informed, talented, dedicated and resourceful contact as your guide/translator/driver Diana Borysenko whom you can also book for tours and leave trip commentary on her website at and/or, and all you have to do is get on your computer or mobile device — keeping in mind there is a 7 hour (Atlantic) to 10 hour (Pacific) time differential — and give her a ping. You will never regret it and then you can buy your own Pysanka from the master artist – Halina Syrotyuk-Pyatnychuk.

Anyway, we will be updating this post with additional information as often as Diana can dig it up for us, so please check back on a regular basis because we like having you as a soundiing board. You know the adages about “one hand clapping” and a “tree falling in the forest”? How else are we to know if we’ve been heard unless you visit and leave a comment? To do so, please visit our “Welcome Page”, click the “About Us” link and follow the instructions for creating an account wirh us. It won’t cost you a “red cent”. Maybe we should add that to our quiz list as well?

***Postscript*** Winner! Winner! Chicken Dinner. Well not the chicken but the egg (which could also be from a goose), skillfully transfigured into a true work of art by Halina. And that clever reader is Brother John Babij — who actually read or watched all of our posted content on the Old Country. And you thought I was just blowing off steam? Okay, some of that too. Congratulations Brother John (who is actually John V).

For now you can view the cemetery photo galleries of the Burkaniv and Zolotnyky cemeteries by clicking on the links provided.

Also you can view the marriage, birth and death archival records for our Slavic extended families on the Galicia Archives page. Just click on the archive thumbnail you wish to view. For these Photo Galleries, as with photos included in the body of this and other posts, clicking on the thumbnail picture will expand the image for easier viewing. Click the “X” box at the top right to close.

Plus thanks to Diana, you won’t want to miss the photo galleries of our excursions to Chernivtsi in Bukovina; the Kamianets-Podilskyi and Khotin Castles in Podolia; and the Olesko and Pidhirtsi Castles in Lviv Oblast. You’ll get to see how the 1% lived in the 14th through 19th centuries.

We also have photo galleries from our visits to Dolyna & Kolomyya, Lviv, and Ternopil that you won’t want to miss.

And remember, you can read the complete saga of our 2017 trip to Ukraine published earlier in our blogs: “The Old Country — Ternopil Oblast“, “The Old Country — Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast“, “The Old Country — Lviv Oblast”; plus from our 2018 visit: “The Old Country — Salt of The Earth“; and our most recent addition, “The Old Country — Between The Forceps And The Stone” in which we expound upon our mortality, the social media driven pandemic of alternative realities, and the joys of air travel then expand upon finding more ancestral links in the archives and meeting actual living relatives – something for everyone to wrap their heads around and wag their tongues about. Just follow the appropriate links.

Also be sure to watch our latest videos “live” and in color on our travels to The Old Country: the Psyanka Masterclasses featuring Folk Art Master Halyna Syrotyuk & our glorious guide Diana Borysenko, Yours Truly plus most recently Two DB’s – brothers Dan And Dave. Add to that two travelogues documenting our tours of Galicia: The Old Country – Galicia, and just released “The Old Country – Echoes In Time“. Of course, don’t forget to share the links with your friends.

And if all of this doesn’t whet your whistle for a visit to our ancestral homeland, check out Diana Borysenko‘s website for links to all of the tours, masterclasses, activities, and ancestral heritage services she provides.

Dedicated in memory of Oksana Romanivna Savchyn, Deputy Director of Ternopil State Archives, Ukraine.

© Kazkar Babiy ™ MMXVIII.

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